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Hidden in Christ
By David A. DePra
That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. (Col. 2:2-4)
You cannot separate the knowledge of the Truth, or of wisdom, or of any worthwhile knowledge, from the Person of Jesus Christ. IN HIM are these things found, indeed, IN HIM they are HIDDEN.
This will seem odd to those of us who think that Truth is information or doctrines ABOUT Christ. No. Doctrines describe to us how to live, and describe to us what God has done for us, and are necessary for teaching, etc. But Jesus Christ isn’t a doctrine. He is a Person. And according to the Bible, we must know more than facts about Him. We must have a personal knowledge of HIM.
In the epistle of to the Colossians, Paul gives much teaching, as he does in all of his epistles. Yet despite this, he prays for MORE. He prays that, "their hearts must be comforted….unto all riches of the FULL ASSURANCE OF UNDERSTANDING." Understanding of what? Bible facts? Theological concepts? Of how to run a church? Of doctrines? Nope. The understanding of which Paul speaks is one that is not found by mere study. It is an understanding of Christ HIMSELF: "IN WHOM are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." That is the understanding Paul prays that they might have – and that we might have.
But how many of us really have a clue as to what Paul is talking about? And more importantly, WHY don’t we have a clue? The reason is actually found in the very passage from Colossians we are discussing. IN CHRIST, and in Christ alone, are HID these treasures. Thus, unless you get into personal business with Christ, and into a corporate business with Christ, you won’t have a clue. And frankly, many Christians don’t know how, why, or even that there IS such a thing as a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ.
You see, Satan is the great master of using SUBSTITUTES for Christ – good, religious substitutes – as a means of keeping us FROM Truth in Christ. Thus, instead of a personal relationship with Christ, churches merely teach facts about Him. Instead of an atmosphere which fosters repentance leading to holiness and freedom, many churches create an atmosphere of a Sunday morning country club. Instead of the true gifts of the Holy Spirit operating through ministry, we settle for credentials, degrees, and learning. Above all, instead of making Jesus Christ our reason for existing as a church, we instead make, "having a church," the reason.
Paul tells us that ALL the treasures of God are found in the Person of Jesus Christ. Thus, it does not matter how nice, good, religious, or seemingly profitable what we are doing seems, if it is not IN CHRIST, then we are not going to get far spiritually. Indeed, what we are occupied with may distract us to the point where we have no frame of reference for those treasures which are, in fact, hidden in Jesus.
Isn’t it strange that the treasures of wisdom and knowledge would be HIDDEN in Jesus Christ? What does this mean? Why would anything be HIDDEN in Christ if God wants to reveal to us His Son?
Well, actually, the fact that everything is hidden in Christ is the whole point. God does want to reveal to us Jesus. The fact that ONLY in Christ is the Truth means that it is only by God’s revelation of Christ that we can know the Truth.
We must see this. All Truth is found in the Person of Jesus Christ. There is NO Truth outside of Him. Therefore, only if God, by His own initiative, reveals to us Jesus, can we know any Truth.
So we see that God isn’t HIDING Truth from us. That isn’t the sense in which Paul writes. No. What Paul is saying is that all Truth is wrapped up in Jesus Christ, and that it is only by God’s revelation of Him to us that we can know the Truth. The Truth is HIDDEN IN HIM – that is – if you want to know Truth, you have to know Jesus.
Another thing all of this means is that the revelation of Truth is progressive. Just as you don’t get to know a person all at once, but must learn about them, so it is with Christ. We must learn Christ if we want to know the Truth. This takes time and experience. There isn’t any other way.
Jesus is the Truth
But you have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus. (Eph 4:20-21)
We cannot learn the Truth unless we LEARN CHRIST. The Truth is IN JESUS. This is a difficult concept for some people because we just cannot get away from the notion of learning facts and information. NO! Those things have their place, but are not the same thing as knowing a PERSON!
Think about it. You know lots of facts about your spouse or your best friend, or your child. You could probably write them on a piece of paper. But are those facts THE person? No. Are the facts you know about them the same thing as knowing THEM? No. Knowing a person carries with it something more than the facts we know about them.
If we have Christ in us, then we are ONE with Him by the Spirit. (see I Cor. 6:17) We are flesh of His flesh, and bone of His bones. (see Eph. 5:30) We are supposed to be developing the MIND of Jesus, and growing in an increasing knowledge of Him. This is MORE than facts. It is a personal experience of the living Christ that transcends academics! It is a MORAL and SPIRITUAL knowing. It is, if you would, a supernatural knowledge.
The reality is, in order to know Jesus Christ, there must come a revelation from outside of us into us. That’s the bottom line. We were not born with it, and we cannot acquire it with brain power, emotionalism, or any human effort:
But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor. 2:14)
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God. (1 Cor. 2:10)
In the end, Christianity is the result of having RECEIVED something from above. And the life – His life – that we receive, will progressively unfold to us in an knowing of Jesus the Person. However, ONLY if we remain open to God, and are willing to be adjusted for this Truth.
Jesus is the Truth embodied in a Person. Indeed, IN HIM dwells the fullness of God Himself, for He IS God. Thus, if you want to know Truth, you have to look at Jesus. He is the One whom God has sent to reveal all things to us.
Gnosticism taught that salvation was possible only by knowledge, and that it was up to man to find this saving knowledge of God within himself. Impossible. And heresy. The Truth of Jesus Christ is revealed knowledge – not inherent knowledge. The Holy Spirit must reveal Christ to us, and also do a work of the Cross to make it possible for us to receive it.
The terrifying reality is that Gnosticism is alive and well today – indeed – it saturates our churches. How? Well, we have unwittingly replaced God’s revelation of Christ to us with one we can achieve ourselves – through study and credentials. The deception that credentials, degrees, and the accumulation of Bible knowledge IS equal to knowing the Person of Jesus is exactly what Gnosticism is all about. The notion that knowledge – even Bible knowledge – equals true spirituality, is this very same heresy that John the apostle said was of, "anti-Christ."
So what am I saying, that we ought not study? If that is what you think I am saying, you haven’t heard a word I’m saying. I am saying that we need to KNOW JESUS CHRIST. We need to LEARN CHRIST. For it is ONLY in Him that there IS any knowledge – and that it is only by knowing Him that we have the proper frame of reference for even our Bible knowledge. This does not preclude study – it brings study alive. It makes the letter of the Bible come alive in the Spirit. So we should study the Word of God. But not simply to learn theology or facts. Rather, we ought to study the Word for insight and verification regarding God’s revelation to us of the PERSON of Jesus.
Right now, if you are born again, God wants to unfold to you the treasures that are hidden in His Son. He wants you to grow to know Jesus in a personal way that will set you free. This is, in fact, the whole purpose of God once you are saved. So we are not here talking about something that is reserved for a few. God wants this for every one of us.
Only God can reveal Jesus to the human heart, and then bring that through to an understanding. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. But how does God do this? How does He reveal to us Jesus Christ?
Well, first of all, let’s repeat something said earlier: God IS seeking to do this. Right now. If you are born again. Jesus said, "The Holy Spirit WILL guide you into all Truth." Not maybe. So the question is not how to get God to reveal to us Jesus Christ. The question is what we need to be doing to cooperate.
Thankfully, this is an easy answer: Surrender to God. Totally. Seek HIS kingdom and HIS righteousness, and HIS Truth in every avenue of life – through surrender. There is only one thing God requires of us – surrender. This surrender may not be passive. It may require obedience. But fall into the hands of the living God.
The consequences for falling into the hands of God are that you are in His hands. In short, surrender to God and you GET GOD. There is no other way to grow close to Him.
Now notice: God will create, or allow, situations in your life wherein you must surrender. He will see to it that you come to the end of your rope. In your understanding. In your efforts to make yourself righteous. In your struggles with yourself, with Him, and with life. God will paint you into that corner. Then surrender to Him.
The characteristics of such a surrender are that you won’t have a clue as to what the outcome is going to be. You won’t. That will be veiled. Furthermore, you will not be able to trust your understanding of the situation. All you will know is that you must surrender – and yes – to a God who is likely not saying a whole lot to you. It will be like jumping out over a big canyon, with no real assurance that God will catch you, other than what seems to be a faint and remote promise of His faithfulness. In the end, such a surrender will be based on nothing about yourself – not even upon your ability to understand God. It will be based on HIS FAITHFULNESS ONLY. That is faith. And if we surrender, we will die a death that will result in a release of LIFE – of the power of His resurrection.
Life comes only through death. That is a fundamental spiritual principle. But the point here is that the life that comes forth will also carry with it the knowledge of the Son of God.
Read that again – the DEATH to your self, to your control, to your unbelief, will result in a greater breaking forth in His resurrection of life! But along with that greater release of life comes a greater knowledge of the Truth!
Why? Because it is all Jesus growing in us. You see, Truth isn’t a THING God shows us. Life isn’t a THING God gives us. No. Jesus is the Truth. Jesus is the Life. Thus, if you have a release of Jesus, you have both life and Truth. You get the whole package. It is all HIM.
If you have walked at all with Christ, and have been brought into a trial of any depth, you have already discovered that throwing a theological concept at your trial doesn’t help you. Even if you know all the doctrines of the Bible about trials and what God is doing in our lives through them, that Bible knowledge – as good, right, and valuable as it might otherwise be – will NOT get you through. It cannot bridge the chasm for you. Why? Because you need to DIE. You need to surrender. Theology and doctrine isn’t death, is it? And theology cannot produce LIFE.
I can personally testify to the fact that you can have an understanding of what the Bible says and means about these things – and be right on track. But then you come into a situation in life and you simply DO NOT understand God in it. Things do not seem to line up with your correct understanding of the Bible, and God’s promises. And worse, God is silent. He doesn’t explain Himself. Why?
Because we don’t need explanations. We really don’t. They won’t help us. They may, in fact, harm us, for we will tend to settle for them, rather than God’s real purpose. What we need is to surrender. To DIE. That is what God is bringing us to.
We often think God is apathetic or indifferent to us, because He doesn’t DO what we think He ought to do. We think He ought to be bringing us a deliverance. But He is doing much more. He is bringing us to a surrender.
God knows that the reason we cannot understand is that we don’t know Christ in that thing. Our confusion and frustration proves it. We haven’t learned HIM -- but just teachings about Him. Thus, information won’t cut it. This is also why God doesn’t explain Himself to us. We don’t need information and explanations – in the end they would do us more harm than good. What we need is Christ. And this is possible only through death and resurrection.
So we must surrender. Surrender to the fact that you are in the hands of God, and that He isn’t going to explain Himself to you. Die the death of relinquishing control. Die the death of selling out completely to the God who, right now, seems nowhere to be found. That is quite a death! But if you die it, God will raise you up. Then what you will have is a release of LIFE.
Funny thing about a release of the life of Christ through such a death: With it comes the revelation and knowledge of Him. THAT is how we come to know Jesus, and find those hidden treasures.
Paul said as much in speaking of His own experience:
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (Phil 3:7-11)
Jesus Christ is not like we think He is. We might have many true facts about Him. But He is beyond what we think – greater, more wonderful, and impossible to grasp. Thus, in order to know Christ, God must clear out of us all those things which hinder.
Here we come back again to the fact that we are born into this world without Truth. Yet we are born with much tendency to error, darkness, and sin. In order to receive the Truth, these things must be dealt with – cleared out. The trials are the things God uses. If we surrender to Him in our trials, the Cross is brought to bear upon them, and the way is paved for a greater release of Christ in us.
Life – Not Information
Information and teaching ABOUT life cannot raise you in Christ. To be raised in Christ, you must die in Him. The use of the doctrine and teaching is to describe what God wants to do with us, is doing with us, and has done with us.
Christianity is not teaching about God’s plan – not merely information about even Jesus Christ. Christianity IS God’s plan through Christ. In short, Christianity is, "Christ in us" – it is HIS LIFE in us.
This was something Jesus told everyone who would listen, not the least of whom were the religious leaders of His day:
And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. You search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. But you will not come to me, that you might have life. (John 5:38-40)
We can expand this a bit: Salvation is not a theological concept. Salvation is not the product of knowledge, as Gnosticism teaches – not even true intellectual knowledge of the Bible. Salvation is LIFE.
Likewise, ministry is not a profession. Ministry is the impact of the life of Christ in me upon others. And Truth is not a list of Biblical doctrines – although it can be articulated in that way. Truth is a Person, and is lived and experienced – and UNDERSTOOD – only as we know that Person.
If our churches today understood just this one thing, it would change everything. The Body of Christ would come alive.
Paul’s admonition that all Truth is bound up in Christ is set over and against the pension people have for trying to find it in other things. That is really the entire theme of the epistle to the Colossians. Paul told them that they need to realize that it is IN HIM that all Truth is found, "And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words." Paul follows that warning up with these words:
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: (Col 2:8-10)
Paul isn’t talking about temptation to sin here, as we would normally define it. No. He is talking about things like, "philosophy and vain deceit," and things which are of, "the traditions of men." These might appear to be good and religious. But the deception is that they are used as a SUBSTITUTE for the reality of Jesus Christ.
What are some examples of this? Well, all the ways in which we use to grow churches. We think our church has grown when we have greater numbers. God says it has grown when there is more of Christ. See the difference? Yet this would fall on deaf ears in many of our churches. Indeed, it would not even be a matter of them rejecting it. They simply would have no frame of reference for it, and would think you are daft.
Philosophy and vain deceit often have to do with gimmicks and methods and mind games that some use to turn people into Christians, keep them in church, or develop a, "seeker friendly" church. But all of this is garbage. The problem with man is that he is dead and needs LIFE. And you will never get him there until he is brought to the place where he sees he is dead, wants life, and takes his proper position at the Cross of Jesus. Then he can be raised in Christ. Water down this fundamental message and you are not teaching the Truth. You are in fact DENYING it – denying the Cross.
So we see that it comes back to the Cross again. It always does. That is a great point of departure which Satan has sought to hide and distort. Why? Because once you deny the Cross nothing else is possible – and it doesn’t matter what you use for a substitute. Only through being crucified with Christ can we be raised with Him.
Satan loves to keep this Truth from the unsaved. But even if you are saved, he wants to convince you that you need not carry a Cross. He wants you to deny that there is an on-going need to die in Christ – which is really the outworking of the once-for-all union with Him in His death. For Satan knows that if we don’t die daily, as Paul said, that we cannot come to manifest more of His life – and therefore will not KNOW Jesus in Truth.
The number one goal of the Holy Spirit is to keep Jesus, not just as the central topic of conversation, but as OUR LIFE. In other words, He wants us to BELONG to Christ, live for Him, and come to know and manifest Him. Thus, the goal of Satan is to do all he can to deceive us into accepting something else as the Truth.
In the Person of Jesus Christ are HIDDEN all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Therefore, we cannot acquire these things by reading books. Or by being religious. Or through brain power. We can find them only by knowing HIM.
These treasures are hidden in Christ in the sense that they are not knowable unless we know Christ. Paul’s continual mantra in Colossians is, "in Him," "through Him," "in Whom," and, "in Christ. God has wrapped up all things in His Son – life, victory, and all knowledge. He says to us:
To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: (Col 1:27-28)
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