Theology: The Doctrine of God

Is Sound Christology Enough?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
Even the devils know who Jesus Christ is, but that kind of Christology does not save a sinner or produce genuine spiritual fruit.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Even the devils know who Jesus Christ is, but that kind of Christology does not save a sinner or produce genuine spiritual fruit.

Christology: The Wonders of Christ

The hallmark of the book of Colossians is the preeminence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Chapter one is perhaps the most content-rich passage in all of Scripture regarding the person and work of our Lord. It is a study in Christology. The Apostle Paul holds up Christ on large banners. He declares His person - His deity - His work as the creator of the universe - His fulfillment of all of the Old Testament types and symbols pointing to the promised Redeemer from sin - His work in coming into this world as the Savior of souls - His resurrection and ascension to the Father's right hand - His present rule over all things.

Sound Christology is Not Merely Abstract Theology

But Paul does not hold forth all of these wonders of Christ as mere theological facts in the abstract. That is never Paul's way, nor is it ever God the Holy Spirit's way throughout the pages of the inspired Word. If we ever deal with Scripture as just so much abstract theology, then we have seriously and tragically missed the point.

Paul proclaims a Christology that is practical. He holds forth the person of Christ as the One who is, in His very essence, the antithesis - the total contradiction - of the very nature of this fallen world and the world system. He holds forth the wisdom of Christ as the total opposite of the way the world thinks. He holds forth the life that we have in Christ as the total opposite of the condemnation the world is under. He holds forth the life we are to live in Christ as a life that is to be the total opposite of the way the world lives.

Yes, we need sound theology. We need to understand who God is. We need to understand who Jesus Christ is. We need to understand who God the Holy Spirit is. We need to understand who we are - individuals created in God's own image. We need to understand what has happened to us - that our first parents fell into sin, that the image of God in us was severely marred and distorted, and as a result the entire human race has fallen under God's wrath. And we need to understand that Jesus Christ is the Creator God made flesh, and that God the Father sent Him into this world to redeem lost sinners through the shedding of His own blood on the cross.

But it does us no good only to understand these things as abstract facts. James 2:19, Mark 1:24 and 3:11, and Luke 4:41 tell us that the devils understand the facts about Jesus Christ, and they believe them at a certain level. Romans chapter one tells us that every human being understands the basics of theology, including God's eternal power and Godhead, simply by observing the created universe. But that kind of knowledge, even that kind of belief, does not save a person or produce genuine spiritual fruit.

Theology is of no use at all if it is not made practical. That begins with the issue of salvation. Knowing that you are a sinner in need of salvation, and knowing that Christ died to save sinners, is not enough. You must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, put your faith in Him and Him alone, in order to be saved. And it continues with every issue you face in living the Christian life. You must understand and submit to Christ's claims upon you as your Lord and Savior in order to live the life of a true believer. Theology becoming practical is the work of God the Holy Spirit, regenerating the sinner, and then indwelling the believer, illuminating His Word for us as we hear it preached, and as we read it and study it for ourselves.

The Practical Focus of Sound Christology

And that is exactly the kind of approach we find in the book of Colossians, and in fact throughout the New Testament. Paul constantly interweaves his exaltation of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ with practical instruction about how the Colossian Christians are to think, what they are to believe, how they are to live, and how they are to deal with the problems they are confronting in life - all because of Christ.

How practical is sound Christology? Consider the issues Paul addresses in the four chapters of the book of Colossians.

In chapter one, Paul focuses on these issues: Do you want to be fruitful in every good work? Then grow in your knowledge of Jesus Christ. Do you want to be strengthened spiritually? Then seek to understand more about Jesus. Do you want to understand the depths, the wonders of your salvation? Then learn more about what Christ has done for you.

In chapter two, Paul addresses these questions: Do you want to have God's protection against the deceptions of false teachers? Then learn more of Christ, because in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Do you want to live before God in a manner that is fitting for a believer? Then seek to be rooted and built up in Christ. Do you want to be on your guard against those who say you need more than Christ's work in order to be saved? Then understand, Paul says, what it means when I tell you that you are complete in Christ. Do you want to understand the nature of Christian liberty? Then understand who you are in Christ; understand the bondage from which Christ has liberated you.

In chapter three, Paul deals with these questions: Do you want to understand how to develop Christ-like character? Then let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom. Do you want to have a godly Christian home, and right relationships within the home between husband and wife and between parents and children? Then understand that Christ is the Head of your house.

At the end of chapter three and on into chapter four, Paul addresses these practical issues: Do you want to understand what your attitude should be as an employee in the workplace? Do you want to understand why it's important for you to do the best job you possibly can for your employer and for your customers? Then understand that your ultimate head, the authority in all these relationships, the One you ultimately answer to, is the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you want to understand how and why you should deal fairly with your employees or subordinates in the workplace? Then understand that you have a Master in heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ.

At the end of chapter four, Paul deals with these final questions: Do you want to know how to pray for me, Paul, and for my fellow laborers in the Gospel? Do you want to know how to pray for pastors, for the leaders of your church, for missionaries? Then pray that God would open the door for us to speak the mystery of Christ that God has now revealed. Do you want to have fellowship with others in the body of Christ, whether it's the people in your local church or others who are far away? Then understand that the focus of true fellowship with other believers is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Is the Word of Christ At Home in You?

A single phrase in Colossians 3:16 really sums up Paul's answer to all of these questions and issues: "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom." Literally, Paul is saying, let the Word of Christ be at home in you. Let God's Word live within you. Let God's Word settle down within you. Let the Word of Christ inhabit you. Let your relationship with the Word of God, and the Christ of the Word, be that kind of intimate, continual, ongoing relationship that you would desire to have with the person who is closest to you in your own home.

In addition, Paul says, let the Word of Christ dwell in you "richly" - in great abundance. Feast upon it. Take in everything that God's Word has for you. It's foolish to starve to death in a house full of the best food available. That's what you have between the covers of your Bible. Feast upon the Bread of Life. Finally, Paul says, let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly "in all wisdom." Look at every area of life, and every area of knowledge, through the infallible lens of the Word of Christ.

That is the practical application of sound Christology. It is the purpose of Paul's prayer in chapter one, verse nine: "that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power."

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