Nothing Else Needed
We would all like to be able to find everything we need in one place. Walmart has fabric, medicines, furniture, electronics, clothes, the eye doctor, McDonalds, oil changes, pets, books, toys, plants – and now they even have groceries. You can do your banking, get your prescription, and sip some Starbucks without ever leaving the grocery store. Even the drug store has toys, clothes, eggs, and electronics. Electronics manufacturers give you discounts if you will buy your computer, monitor, printer, scanner, digital camera, handheld, and big screen TV from them. You can get your bank account, life insurance, health insurance, auto insurance, homeowners insurance, mortgage, investments, 401k, IRA, and college savings account from the same place. You can get your home phone, cell phone, high speed internet access, and cable television from the same provider. It must be inherent in our very nature to try to find everything we want in one place.
Everything we could ever need is available in one place, it’s just not Walmart, Citibank, or Verizon. It’s all in Christ. Colossians 2:10 makes a very bold claim. It claims that you are complete in Christ. You personally have everything in Christ.
In verses 8-15 Paul shows the magnificent position that we have in Christ. He does this for a reason, which v.8 tells us: “that no one will take them captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” This is another theological section, but it has a very practical goal. We will not spend the time to talk about what he means by “philosophy and empty deception,” and these concerns that he has. Because these will be much more easily understood in connection with verses 16 and following, where he will explain it much more fully. So let’s go on to verse 9.
In Him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form. We already talked about this when we looked at Colossians 1:19 “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him.” Christ is full deity in a body. He is fully God and fully man at the same time.
Then He makes this bold claim. “In Him you have been made complete.” This word complete is the same word as the word “fullness” in verse 9. If you have a pen you might want to circle those words and draw a line connecting them:
In Christ full deity dwells in bodily form
In Christ you have been made full; you are complete in Christ; you are filled to the top with everything you will ever need.
To develop this, I want us to consider two questions: how is it possible, and how is it practical?
First of all, how could it be possible that you and I, weak and rebellious sinners, could be complete? How can it be possible that people who are bound by earthly bodies and plagued by our sinful flesh could ever be complete? If we look at our lives with all of our failures and frustrations and confusions and doubts and conflicts, words like “messed up” or “ill” would be better descriptions of our condition than full, whole, or complete.
How is it possible? Note carefully the phrase in v.10 “IN HIM you have been made complete.” Verse 11 “IN HIM your body of flesh was circumcised” away. Verse 12 “You were buried WITH HIM in baptism” and “raised up WITH HIM.” Verse 13 “He made you alive together WITH HIM.” Look back at chapter 1:27, where this great mystery is “Christ in you.” Look ahead at 3:3 “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Listen to I John 4:13 “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” Think about the illustrations Jesus used: I am the vine, you are the branches; I am the head, you are the body; I am the bread of life and you must partake of Me; I am the bridegroom and you are the bride. Listen to I Cor. 1:30 “But by God’s doing YOU ARE IN CHRIST JESUS, who became to us wisdom from God and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” Romans 6:5, 8 “If we have become UNITED WITH HIM in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection…. Now if we have DIED WITH CHRIST, we believe that we shall also LIVE WITH HIM.” Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are IN CHRIST JESUS.” Romans 8:10 “If CHRIST IS IN YOU, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”
This is the answer to the question “How is it possible that I could be complete?” This answer is both very simple and impossibly complex. At salvation, you are brought into union with Jesus Christ. You are in Christ, and Christ is in you. Because you are brought into union with Christ you have everything that is Christ’s. Every spiritual blessing you have is because of this union. As one writer puts it “all the merit and infinite worth of Jesus Christ becomes the shared experience and possession of every believer.” His righteousness is on your account; His inheritance is yours as well; His acceptance before the Father is yours. “All the merit and infinite worth of Jesus Christ becomes the shared experience and possession of every believer.” It is that simple.
But if you think about it for very long, you get brain freeze. It is too much to handle. We use the word “mystical.” You are in a mystical union with Jesus Christ. The word “mystical” doesn’t mean that it is weird; or that it is not real. It means that it is a spiritual truth that is beyond our comprehension. With our human limitations, we cannot fully grasp it. So it is both very simple to explain and impossibly complex to completely understand. You are in Christ; Christ is in you; so all that is Christ’s is yours. That is union with Christ.
Now look back at Colossians 2:10 “In Him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form, and IN HIM you have been made complete.” Now that makes sense. How is it possible that a weak and rebellious sinner like myself be complete? Because I am in Christ, and Christ is in me, and all that is Christ’s is mine. That means I’m full. I have everything I could ever need. Because of my union with Christ. Your union with Christ makes your life complete.
Now, how is it practical that you are complete in Christ?
All we can do is just sample a few of the ways that union with Christ is practical. If we all got together and spent a day trying to think of every way that union with Christ is practical, we could not think of them all. Our blessings in Christ are too great to list. But let’s sample some:
YOU HAVE COMPLETE ACCEPTANCE IN CHRIST
This means that there is no need for works to gain acceptance. There is no need for you to wonder if you have done enough to make God happy. That is the burden that so much of the world lives under. They are in religions that teach that you have to do certain works to gain God’s acceptance. And there is this one question you can never get away from: how do I know if I’ve done enough? But your acceptance with God is not based on what you have done. You are accepted with God because Christ took all of your sins, died on the cross, and is perfectly righteous and perfectly accepted before God. You are in Christ, so you are accepted too.
YOU HAVE COMPLETE SECURITY IN CHRIST
John 10:27-28 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.” If you are one of Christ’s sheep; if you have eternal life; you have complete security. Why do you have a perfect guarantee of eternal life? Because you are in union with Christ, and He will exist in glory forever. So you will be with Him there forever. Guaranteed, nothing can change it.
YOU HAVE COMPLETE PEACE IN CHRIST
Do you ever fear the next month’s bills? Where the provision will come from? Do you ever fear what might happen to yourself or a loved one? Do you ever fear the future and what is coming that you don’t know about? You have complete peace in Christ. You are in union with Christ, and He has all things. You will always have everything you need. Romans 8:31 “What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” Why is God for you? Because He is “for Christ,” and you are in Christ. Listen to the next verse: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will God not also with Christ freely give us all things.” If God was willing to give Christ to die for you, will He not freely give you all things with Christ. If in God’s perfect wisdom you need it, you have it. Because you are in Christ. Those bad circumstances that “might happen” – if they do, God is dealing with you in perfect love and perfect wisdom because you are in Christ and it is best. There is no need to fear, no need to worry, when you are in Christ.
YOU HAVE COMPLETE PROVISION FOR GODLINESS IN CHRIST
II Peter 1:3 “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” You don’t need the traditions or rules of men – pray this prayer so many times a day and you’ll be godly. You don’t need the latest psychological theories. Listen to Larry Crabb, a well-known Christian psychologist: “Christians are realizing that their version of church involvement, time in the Word, commitment to do right, claiming God’s promises, and surrendering to God’s power is somehow not getting at the core troubles of their hearts…. In our heart, we know that our latest effort to follow Christ has left deep issues in our soul unaddressed.” Just following Christ leaves “deep issues in your soul unaddressed.”! So he has a solution: he will go on to say that you need to take a deep look inside. And especially dig down to your relationship with your parents. And you will eventually figure out that you are victim of your parents. We are all actually victims of our parents. And that is apparently the deep issue in your soul that Christ can’t address. You may have been greatly hurt by your parents, but you have complete provision for godliness in Christ. You don’t need Larry Crabb’s victim theories – you have everything you need in Christ.
COMPLETE FORGIVENESS IN CHRIST
If you have refused to confess and repent of a sin, you should feel the weight of that pressing upon you. But many Christians live in guilt and paralysis over sins that they have confessed, that they have repented of. They feel as if they owe something to God. They have to make up for their sin. They feel like despite the confession and repentance God is angry at them for their sin. They live under a perception of an angry God that they are trying to appease. Our sin does provoke great and just wrath from God – but Christ took our sin and all its punishment, including the wrath of God. You are forgiven not because you appeased the wrath of God but because Christ did. Not because you paid for your sin but because Christ did. You have complete forgiveness in Christ. Rejoice! Stop living under a weight of guilt, as if Christ’s death wasn’t enough for your sin! It was! Live in the reality of complete forgiveness.
COMPLETE SATISFACTION IN CHRIST
Each of us is full of desires and lusts. For pleasure; for fame; for thrills; for feelings; for power; for acceptance; for toys and stuff. Proverbs 27:20 says “Hell and destruction are never full, so the eyes of man are never satisfied.” We always think the next thing will finally satisfy us, but it doesn’t. We have to have the next thing. The next pleasure, the next promotion, more money, more thrills, more stuff. It is like Hell, it never fills up and says “OK, that’s enough. I’m happy.” The eyes of man are never satisfied. Until Christ. In Christ you have something better. Jesus said to the woman at the well: “Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again.” You can’t take one big drink of water and never want another one. You’ll get thirsty again. Interesting that He said this to a woman who was on her sixth attempt to find happiness in a guy. Every time she tried to find satisfaction, she was disappointed, and she went on to try someone else. Never satisfied. So then Jesus said: “But whoever drinks of the water that I give Him shall never thirst.” Come to Jesus for the living water, and your thirst is forever quenched. You can be done chasing the next pleasure, the next promotion, more money, more thrills, more stuff. You have everything tat will satisfy. You already have it. Because you are in union with Christ.
“All the merit and infinite worth of Jesus Christ [is] the shared experience and possession of [you].”
COMPLETE BLESSING IN CHRIST
Some professing Christians (we are all tempted this way) spend their lives thinking: “Its rough being a Christian. The world gets to have all the fun, do all the cool stuff, get anything they want, do whatever they want. We have to sacrifice and go to church on Sunday and be good and pretty much stay away from anything that is fun. God’s just up there making sure we won’t have fun or get any cool stuff.” Eph. 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Ephesians 2:4-7 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ, and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:17 “if we are children of God, we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.” So you get everything that Christ gets. For all of eternity God will pour out His kindness on you because you are in Christ. He deals with you like He deals with Christ. So you are richer than the world’s richest man could ever dream of being. No more pity parties. Rejoice in your wealth, enjoy your wealth – you are in Christ.
This is, in some ways, a frustrating message to preach. Because we have only touched on the truth of union with Christ and we have only touched on what that means practically. I hope that you can see how in Christ you have everything – and I trust that the Spirit is at work in your heart, helping you to see how you can live in the reality of your riches in Christ. We have briefly touched on how these truths impact your temptations and desires, your worries and fears, your needs. But it will take a lot of time for each to learn to really in the reality of our union with Christ.
Life is complex and full of surprises and challenges and changes. Life is challenging enough without us making it more challenging. But many Christians do make it more challenging. They have many challenging issues to face – how will we ever be good parents; how will our marriage work; how can I actually do what’s right and please God; how can I get along with my family; how will we make ends meet. And so they just run to any idea that seems like it might help. This book, this idea, this teacher, this video series, this diet, this counselor, this support group. They are going 50 different directions trying to handle life. Their life is just a blur of complexity and confusion. For all of those challenges of life they need to just go one direction. Just go toward Christ. Love Him, listen to Him, live in the reality of Him, know Him, obey Him. And it will be all right.
I feel this temptation with the church. It is an overwhelming thing to be a part of a fairly new church, a church that is growing and changing rapidly. There is a temptation to worry and stress – am I being the right kind of leader; are we starting the right programs; are we advertising the right way; are we communicating rightly; do we have the right style; are we preaching and teaching too much this way or too much that way; how will we pay for this; should we be doing A or B or C; what’s going to happen when this happens. Etc. And I have to relax and say – if we just make Christ the main thing, it will be OK. If we exalt Him, live in the reality of Him, love the Word so that we have the mind of Christ for this ministry, and if we pursue the goal of being and making faithful followers of Christ, it will be OK. There will be challenges and hard decisions to make and surprises. But we’re in Christ – His body. Christ is in us. SO there’s no need to worry, no need to frantically scurry this way and that. We’re in Christ - live like it; love it; celebrate it; enjoy it. Don’t let the challenges of life steal that joy.