Life-Study of Colossians, Chapter 55

ROOTED IN CHRIST TO ABSORB
HIS RICHES

Further help concerning the practical enjoyment of Christ is found in 2:7. According to this verse, we have been rooted in Christ. This word implies the existence of soil. Christ is the rich soil in which we are rooted. In a foregoing message we pointed out that this rich soil contains many marvelous elements: the fullness of the Godhead, the headship of Christ, Christ’s circumcision, His burial, being raised up with Christ, the wiping out of the ordinances, and the stripping off of the rulers and authorities. Colossians 2:9-15 is a description of the elements of the soil implied by the words “having been rooted” in 2:7.

We are rooted in Christ, who is the rich, fertile soil. Having been rooted in Him, we should go on to absorb His riches. As a tree absorbs nourishing elements from the soil through its roots, we also should absorb the riches of Christ into us. The elements absorbed into a tree from the soil enable the tree to grow. Thus, a tree’s growth depends upon the nourishment it absorbs through its roots. Since we have been rooted into Christ, we should remain in Him in a practical way day by day. In our experience, we need to stay rooted in Christ. However, if we forget Christ in matters such as eating and drinking, we are not rooted in Him in our experience. When we eat our food, we may not remember Christ. After our meal, we may spend some time in prayer. But even at the beginning of our prayer, we may not actually and experientially be rooted in Christ, for we may pray many unnecessary things. But in His mercy and patience, the Lord waits until we begin to pray in a genuine way. Then in our experience we absorb Christ’s riches. However, when our time of prayer is finished, it may happen that we do not go on to assimilate what we have absorbed of Him. According to the Lord’s words in John 15, it could be that we do not abide in Him.

In the morning many saints spend time with the Lord. However, even though they spend a certain amount of time with Him, they may not absorb much of His riches. The reason is that they are in too much of a hurry. If we would absorb the riches of Christ into us as our nourishment, we should not be rushed. We cannot absorb anything if we are in a hurry.

We should not only absorb the Lord in the morning, but we should be like trees continually absorbing the riches of the soil. This means that we must learn to practice the continual enjoyment of Christ. We should let every physical thing be a reminder of Christ, for all these things are shadows of which Christ is the substance. The clothing we put on each day should remind us of Christ. We should put Him on in our spirit and by our spirit. Drinking a glass of water should remind us to drink Christ by the exercise of our spirit. To follow this practice is to be rooted in Christ and to absorb His riches.

TENDER ROOTS

If we would absorb the riches of Christ as the soil, we need to have tender, new roots. Do not let yourself get old, but be fresh and renewed day by day. Pray to the Lord, “Lord, I want my consecration to be fresh, and I want to open to You anew. I want my roots to be tender that I may absorb Your riches. Lord, don’t let my roots get old.” If our roots are tender and new to absorb the riches of Christ, we shall grow automatically with the riches we assimilate. This is to enjoy Christ and to experience Him subjectively daily and hourly. This will keep us from being defrauded of our prize. But if we do not remain rooted in Him to absorb His riches, in a subtle way the enemy will defraud us of the practical and continual enjoyment of Christ.

HEEDING PAUL’S WARNING

Although there are millions of Christians on earth today, almost all of them have been defrauded of their prize of the enjoyment of Christ. They believe in Christ, have received Him, and perhaps have even paid a price to follow Him, but, like the Colossians, they have been deprived of the enjoyment of Christ. All Christians, including us, need to heed Paul’s warning not to allow anyone to defraud us of our prize. We should not allow anyone to carry us away from the enjoyment of Christ. Christ is the body, the reality, of all the positive things in the universe. As we enjoy the positive physical things, we should be reminded to enjoy Christ. If we do this, our daily living will be full of the enjoyment of Christ. Then we shall be rooted in Him, absorb His riches, and grow in Him.

LIFE-STUDY OF COLOSSIANS

MESSAGE FIFTY-SIX

HOLDING THE HEAD, OUT FROM WHOM
ALL THE BODY GROWS
WITH THE GROWTH OF GOD

Scripture Reading: Col. 2:16-19; 1:18a; 2 Cor. 3:17a; 2 Tim. 4:22a; 1 Cor. 6:17

Colossians 2:18 and 19 say, “Let no one purposely defraud you of your prize, in humility and worship of the angels, standing on things which he has seen, vainly puffed up by the mind of his flesh, and not holding the Head, out from Whom all the Body, by means of the joints and bands being supplied and knit together, grows with the growth of God.” The phrases “standing on things which he has seen” and “not holding the Head” are related to being defrauded. If we do not hold the Head but stand on things which we have seen, we shall be defrauded of our prize of the enjoyment of Christ. We should not allow ourselves to be defrauded by anyone standing on things which he has seen and not holding the Head. Whenever we ourselves fail to hold the Head, we are defrauded of our prize.

ENJOYING CHRIST AS THE REALITY
OF ALL POSITIVE THINGS

It is important to understand, in an experiential way, what it means to hold the Head and how to hold the Head. We should not take 2:19 for granted, assuming that we know what it is to hold the Head. Instead, we should dig into this verse and inquire of the Lord concerning its meaning. Then we shall be enlightened.

To understand properly what it means to hold the Head, we need to consider 2:16 and 17, where Paul tells us that Christ is the body, the substance, the reality, of all the shadows. Eating, drinking, Sabbaths, new moons, and feasts are all shadows of things to come, whereas Christ is the body, the reality, of these shadows. Based upon this fact, Paul warns us not to allow anyone to purposely defraud us of our prize. His warning in 2:18 and 19 is based upon the fact, revealed in verses 16 and 17, that Christ is the reality of all positive things. Those who seek to defraud us are the ones who stand on things which they have seen and who do not hold the Head. Thus, there is a connection between Christ as the body of the shadows and holding the Head. In other words, the very Christ who is the reality of all positive things is the One who is the Head of the Body. If we would know what it means to hold the Head, we must know what it is to enjoy Christ as the reality of all positive things. Without enjoying Christ in this way, we cannot experientially hold Him as the Head. With this as the background, we can now say that to hold the Head is simply to enjoy Christ as the reality of all positive things.

The genuine Christian life is a life of enjoying Christ. We need to enjoy the Lord all day long. We have seen that in speaking of eating, drinking, Sabbaths, new moons, and feasts Paul refers to matters of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly enjoyment. Actually, we eat and drink several times a day. In Paul’s use of illustrations in 2:16, he covers the whole span from the hourly enjoyment of Christ to the yearly enjoyment of Him. This indicates that we should enjoy Christ continually. When I drink a glass of water, I should remember to drink Christ. When I eat my food, I should enjoy Christ as the real food. Whenever we enjoy Christ in this way, we automatically hold Him as the Head. Thus, the best way to hold Christ as the Head is to enjoy Him. There is no better way to hold Christ than to eat Him. Just as we hold food by taking it into us and eating it, so we hold Christ by eating Him.

In 2:16-19, Paul takes a great leap, from Christ as everything for our enjoyment, which is on the ground floor, to Christ as the Head, which is the top floor of our experience. As we enjoy Christ as food, drink, air, and everything to us, we are uplifted by a divine elevator to the very height, where we hold Christ as the Head. But if we stop enjoying Christ, we immediately stop holding Him as the Head. Only when we enjoy Him do we also hold Him. This is not a doctrine learned from theology books. It is a fact of Christian experience. From my experience throughout the years I have learned that to hold the Head is to enjoy Christ continually. We are vessels made to contain Him, and we hold Him by eating, drinking, and breathing Him. By this we see that holding Christ as the Head is a very subjective matter.

BODY-CONSCIOUS

In 2:17 Paul says that the body is of Christ, but in verse 19 he speaks not of Christ, but of holding the Head. The reason for the change in terminology from Christ to the Head is that our enjoyment of the Lord causes us to become conscious of the Body. If we are those who enjoy Christ continually, we shall not continue to be individualistic. The saints who are individualistic are those who do not consistently enjoy the Lord. The more we enjoy Christ, the more we become Body-conscious. We should touch the Lord in the morning, but in the evening we should come to the church meetings. It is not normal to enjoy the Lord during the day and neglect the meetings of the church, which is His Body. Even if your environment does not allow you to attend all the meetings, inwardly you should have the sense that your whole inner being is with the saints in the church meeting. This consciousness of the Body comes from the enjoyment of Christ.

What we enjoy of Christ day by day is actually something of Him as the Head. This is the reason that when we enjoy Christ, He causes us to become conscious of the Body. According to our experience, we know that the more we enjoy Christ, the more intense is our desire for the Body. However, if we fail to contact the Lord for a period of time, we shall automatically neglect the church life or lose interest in the meetings. The less we contact the Lord, the more critical we become of the church or of the saints. We have an eye for the faults and shortcomings of others. This shortage of the enjoyment of Christ opens the door for the enemy, Satan, to come in to make us critical of other members of the Body. But if we begin again to enjoy the Lord, the door will gradually close. Eventually, if we are constant in our enjoyment of Christ, the door will be completely shut. Then, instead of criticizing the church, we shall praise the Lord for the church life, and we shall testify how much we love it. What brings about such a change is not admonition or correction, but the recovery of the enjoyment of Christ.

The dear, precious One whom we enjoy as our food, drink, and breath, is the Head of the Body. Because Paul had a thorough realization of this, he could leap from Christ as the reality of all positive things for our enjoyment to the matter of Christ as the Head. Since the Christ we enjoy as our everything is the Head of the Body, the more we enjoy Him, the more we become Body-conscious. This indicates that the enjoyment of Christ is not an individualistic matter. It is a Body matter. We need to enjoy Christ as members of the Body in a corporate way.

LOVING ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE BODY

In 2:19 Paul speaks of “all the Body.” The enjoyment of Christ keeps us one as members of the Body. The more we enjoy Christ, the more we love the other members of the Body. The enjoyment of Christ causes us to love everyone in the church life. Even those whom we find it difficult to love become dear and precious to us. However, if we do not keep on enjoying Christ, we shall despise certain ones in the church. Actually, the church and the saints remain the same; it is our attitude that changes. But if the supply of Christ is ministered to us and we begin to enjoy Him again, all the members of the Body will once again become lovable to us. We shall have the pleasant realization that, as members of the Body, we love all the other members.

It is the enjoyment of Christ which causes Him to be the Head in our experience. Christ cannot be our Head subjectively and experientially unless we enjoy Him. You may be told again and again that Christ is the Head of the Body, but you will not have any consciousness of Him as the Head unless you enjoy Him regularly. The more you enjoy Christ, the more you will realize experientially that the very Christ you enjoy is the Head of the Body. This realization will make you conscious of the Body and cause you to love all the members of the Body.

BROUGHT INTO RESURRECTION

In 1:18 Paul says, “And He is the Head of the Body, the church; Who is the beginning, Firstborn from among the dead.” The fact that Christ is the Firstborn from among the dead indicates that He is the Head of the Body in resurrection. Before His resurrection, Christ was not yet the Head of the Body. Ephesians 1 indicates that after His resurrection and ascension, Christ was made the Head over all things to the church. Hence, Christ’s headship is in resurrection.

Because Christ’s headship is in resurrection, the enjoyment of Christ spontaneously brings us into resurrection and saves us from our natural being. We all are natural. If we are not brought into resurrection through the enjoyment of Christ, we shall remain in our natural person. Praise the Lord that the enjoyment of Christ brings us into resurrection! The more we enjoy Him, the less natural we are. Once again, this is not a mere doctrine, but a fact of Christian experience.

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