Focal Passage: Colossians 2:8-23
A few years ago George Barna reported his research that only about 10 percent of teenagers and young adults possess a biblical worldview. What does that mean, and what are the implications for the next generation? Basically, it means 10 percent believe the stories and the teachings of the Bible are true: creation, miracles, prophecies, the virgin birth, the resurrection of Christ, the belief that Jesus Christ alone gives salvation, the belief that Christ will return and the belief in a “real” heaven and hell. One implication of not having a pervasive biblical worldview is that fewer future adults will accept and keep the same belief system of their parents and grandparents. In Paul’s world he encountered, and faced head on, a number of non-biblical worldviews.
There were the libertarians and fatalists who lived by the creed, “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you die;” that pleasure was the chief goal and end in life. There were also the stoics and legalists who were ultra committed to rules and obligations. And there were Gnostics, who believed the path to heaven and God was found by achieving levels of special intellectual and/or spiritual (mystical) knowledge. Many of the Christians of Colossae had been raised with either no faith, or a synthesis of religious beliefs. Paul believed it was his calling and duty to help them understand the basics or “center” of their new-found Christian belief system.
Doctrine is important. Why? Because our belief system determines how we live. In this passage we have both the doctrine of salvation (v. 8-15) and sanctification (v. 16-23) explained. Our salvation is all about Jesus Christ. In verses 8-15 there are over a dozen references to Christ. In teaching biblical sanctification, Paul explained what is essential and what is not in Christian worship practices. The substance (who we magnify) of our worship is Christ. And we are to be wary of following those who put their faith totally in either ascetic practices or ecstatic experiences.