Our All Sufficient Christ
2 Corinthians 12:19; 2 Peter 1:3
2 Peter 1:3: "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."
As Christians we find complete sufficiency in Christ and His provisions for our needs.
Our Savior's divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness.
Human wisdom offers nothing to augment that.
Every Christian receives all he or she needs at the moment of salvation.
Each one of us must grow and mature, but no necessary resource is missing.
There is no need to search for something more.
When Jesus completed His redemptive work on Calvary, He cried out triumphantly, "It is finished."
The saving work was fulfilled -- completed.
Nothing was omitted.
And all who have received that salvation are granted everything pertaining to life and godliness
through the true knowledge of Christ. (2 Peter 1:3)
In Him we have wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30)
His grace is sufficient for every situation. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
We are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Him. (Ephesians 1:3)
By one offering, He has perfected us forever. (Hebrews 10:14)
We are complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:10)
Nothing could be added to those.
So to have the Lord Jesus Christ is to have every spiritual resource.
All strength, wisdom, comfort, joy, peace, meaning, value, purpose, hope,
and fulfillment in life now and forever is bound up in Him.
There is no reason anyone who believes the Word of God should struggle
with such a self-evident truth.
But a widespread lack of confidence in the sufficiency of Christ is threatening
the contemporary church.
Too many Christians have quietly acquiesced to the notion that our riches in Christ,
including Scripture, prayer, the indwelling Holy Spirit and all the many other resources
that we find in Christ are simply not adequate to meet the real needs of the christian.
Entire churches are committed to programs built on the presupposition
that the teaching of the apostles, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer
as found in Acts 2:42 are a adequate agenda for the church as it prepares
to enter the complex and sophisticated world of today.
It is sad to say that many Christians are not aware of the truth about the sufficiency of our Lord.
The church is in dire need of a renewed appreciation of what it means to be complete in Christ.
The failure of modern Christians to understand and appropriate the riches of Christ
has opened door to all kinds of aberrant influences.
Bad doctrine, legalism, liberalism, humanism, materialism, and secularization
-- to name a few -- are corroding the foundations of our Christian faith.
Those satanic assaults are more subtle and therefore, dangerous, and is succeeding
with alarming effectiveness.
In the past decades, theology has become more and more humanistic.
The focus has shifted from God to people and their problems which has replaced
worship and evangelism as the main program of many churches.
Psychology is important, but many seminaries are training ministerial students more
in psychology than they are in preaching.
Evidently, they believe therapeutic assistance can accomplish more good in Christian lives
than the preaching and teaching of the Word of God.
Listen to almost any talk show on television or on Christian radio and you will see this.
Or visit your local Christian bookstore and notice the proliferation
of what is called "Christian" recovery books.
You can find that more Christians are becoming more dependent on therapist
and support groups and other similar groups than they are in Christ and His church.
This shift in the church's focus did not grow out of some insight gained from Scripture.
Rather, it has found its way into the church from the world.
It is an attack at the most basic level, challenging the the confidence of Christians
in the sufficiency of Christ.
2 Corinthians 12:9 says, "My grace is sufficient for you."
That is what the Lord said to the apostle Paul.
The average Christian in our culture cynically views that kind of counsel as simplistic.
Can you imagine one of today's professional TV counselors simply telling a hurting caller
that God's grace is enough to meet that need?
Contemporary opinion is more utilitarian, valuing physical comfort more than spiritual well-being,
self-esteem above Christ likeness and good feelings over holy living.
Many Christians seeking a sense of fulfillment has turned away from the rich resources
of the all sufficient grace of God.
Instead, they are engrossed in a fruitless search for contentment in the hollowness
of human teachings.
Another evidence that many are losing confidence in the sufficiency of Christ
is the fascination of the church with pragmatic methodology.
Many churches have de-emphasized preaching and worship in favor of entertainment,
apparently believing they must lure converts by appealing to fleshly interest.
It is to them as if Christ Himself were in some way inadequate, and many church leaders
now believe they must excite the fantasies of people in order to win them.
This is precisely the problem that plagued Israel throughout the Old Testament.
Again and again, the Israelites put their confidence in chariots and horses, alliances with Egypt,
fleshly wisdom, material wealth, military might, and other human means
-- anything other than
the sufficiency of their God.
Refusing to rely on their ample spiritual resources brought them only failure and humiliation.
Yet, the church of today is behaving exactly like Israel did in the Old Testament.
Where will it end?
The church is foundering in a swamp of worldliness and self-indulgence.
We desperately need a generation of leaders with the courage to confront the trend.
We need godly man and women committed to the truth that in Christ we inherit
spiritual responses sufficient for every need, for ever problem, and for everything
that pertains to life and godliness.
2 Corinthians 9:8: "God is able to make all grace abound to you,
that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed."
Somewhere, I read the story of a pastor who was conducting a series of revival meetings
in another state.
He was staying in the home of some close friends who lived a few miles away from the church
in which he would be preaching and he would travel to that church.
Each day someone from that church would pick him up, and then after preaching
there would be someone who would drive him back to the city and to the house of his friends.
On one particular night, it was after midnight when he arrived back at the house of his host.
As he approached the house, he saw the porch light on and assumed that his hosts
would be prepared for his arrival because he had discussed the time
that he would probably return.
So, as he got out of the car, he thanked the driver and sent him on his way
and urged him to be careful on his long drive home.
It was a long walk from the end of the driveway to the house, and it was a bitter cold night,
and as he walked toward the house his nose and ears were already numb.
He knocked gently on the door, but no one answered.
He knocked a little harder, and then a little harder, but still there was no reply.
He was feeling the intense cold, so we went around and beat on the kitchen door
and on a side window.
He knew that both of his hosts were hard of hearing, but there was no reply.
Frustrated, and getting colder by the moment, he decided to walk to a neighboring house
so he could call and awaken his hosts.
On the way, he realized that knocking on someone's door after midnight wasn't a safe thing to do,
so he decided to find a public telephone.
It was as dark as it was cold, and he wasn't familiar with that area.
Consequently, he walked for several miles.
At one point, he slipped in the wet grass growing beside the road and slid down
a bank into 2 feet of water.
Soaked and nearly frozen, he crawled back up to the road, and walked on
until he finally saw a blinking motel light.
He woke up the manager, who was gracious enough to let him use the telephone.
The bedraggled pastor made the call and said to his sleepy host,
"I hate to disturb you this late, but I couldn't get anyone in the house to wake up.
I'm several miles down the road at the motel.
Could you come and get me?"
To which his host replied, "Sure, we'll come and get you,
but did you remember that you have a key in your overcoat pocket.
I gave it to you before you left."
The pastor reached into his pocket, and sure enough, there was the key.
That story illustrates the predicament of Christians who try to gain access
to the blessings of God through human means, when all the time possessing Christ,
who is the key to every spiritual blessing.
He alone fulfills the deepest longings of our hearts and supplies every spiritual resource
that we need.
As believers in Christ, we have in Christ everything we will ever need to meet every trial,
any thirst, any craving, any difficulty because we possess Christ who is the key
to every spiritual blessing.
Christ alone fulfills the deepest longings of our hearts and supplies every spiritual resource
that we need.
Even the newest believer in Christ possesses sufficient resources for every spiritual need.
From the moment of salvation, each believer is in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)
and Christ is in every believer. (Colossians 1:27)
Every Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit.
He lives in us. (1 Corinthians 6:19)
John 1:16 says, "Of His fullness we have all received and grace upon grace."
So, every Christian is a self-contained treasury of divinely bestowed spiritual affluence.
There is nothing more.
There is no great transcendental secret, no ecstatic experience, no hidden spiritual wisdom
that can take Christians to some higher place of spiritual life.
2 Peter 1:3 declares, "His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life
and godliness through the true knowledge of Him who called us."
Those words, "the true knowledge of Him," refers to a saving knowledge.
To seek something more is like frantically knocking on the door seeking what is inside,
and not realizing that you already hold the key.
Satan has always tried to lure Christians away from the purity and simplicity
of an all-sufficient Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)
And he has always found people willing to forsake the truth for almost anything new and unusual.
One of the earliest denials of the sufficiency of Christ was gnosticism,
a cult that perished in the first four centuries of church history.
Gnostics believed that matter is evil and that spirit is good.
They invented heretical explanations of how Christ could be God (pure, undefiled spirit),
yet take on human flesh which they viewed as an entirely evil, material substance.
Gnostics taught that there is a spark of divinity within human beings,
and that the essence of spirituality is nurturing this immaterial side
and denying material and physical urges.
They believed that the chief means of releasing the divine element within a person
was through attaining intellectual and spiritual enlightenment.
Therefore, Gnostics believed that they were privileged to a higher level of spiritual knowledge
than the average believer, and this secret realm of knowledge was the key to spiritual illumination.
In fact, the Greek word, "gnosis," means "knowledge."
The gnostic heresy caused many in the church to seek hidden knowledge
beyond what God had revealed in His Word and through His Son.
Gnosticism was a very elite, exclusive movement, and sad to say, many in the church
were beguiled by those ideals and drawn away from their confidence in Christ alone.
Gnosticism was an attack on the sufficiency of Christ.
It held out the promise of something more, something higher, more complete spiritual resource,
and ignored the truth that Christ is all anyone could ever need.
For example, in Colossians, the apostle Paul was attacked in gnostic concepts when he wrote:
"All the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding,
resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself,
in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Colossians 2:2-3)
Paul warns believers against the emerging heretical methodology:
"See to it that no one takes you captive philosophy and empty deception,
according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world,
rather than according to Christ.
For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,
and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority."
Gnosticism never really died.
Strains of Gnostic influence have infected the church throughout history.
Now a neo-gnostic tendency to seek hidden knowledge is gaining new influence in the church
with distressing results.
Where imprecise doctrine and careless biblical exegesis are tolerated,
and where biblical wisdom and discernment count for little,
people always tend to look for something more than the simple sufficiency
that God has provided in Christ.
Today, as never before, the church has grown careless and hazy with regard to biblical truth,
and that has led to an unprecedented quest for hidden knowledge.
This is new-gnosticism and three major trends in the church today indicate
that it is gaining momentum such as psychology, pragmatism, and mysticism.
I majored in psychology in college and seminary -- it is a subject which we should appreciate.
We need to learn a Christian psychology,
But the church has a fascination with humanistic psychology.
This type of psychology would have us believe that sharing the Word of God
and praying with someone who is deeply hurting emotionally is too superficial.
They believe that only those who are trained in psychology -- that is those with
this secret knowledge -- are qualified to help people with serious spiritual and emotional problems.
The acceptance of that attitude is misleading millions and crippling many church ministries.
The word, psychology, is a good one.
It literally means, "study of the soul."
As such, it originally carried a connotation that has distinctly Christian implications,
for only someone who has been made complete in Christ is properly equipped
to study the human soul.
But psychology cannot really study the soul.
It is limited to studying human behavior.
And, of course there is great value in that, but a clear distinction must be made
between the contribution behavioral studies make to the educational, industrial,
and physical needs of the society, and their ability to meet the spiritual needs of people.
Outside the Word and the Spirit there are no solutions to any of the problems of the human soul.
Only God knows the soul, and only God can change it.
Then, there is pragmatism.
Does the end justify the means?
Many evangelicals seem to be saying, "Yes".
Churches that are zealous to attract the unchurched have popularized every form of amusement.
The early Christians met to worship, pray, fellowship and be edified,
and then, they were scattered to evangelize unbelievers.
There are many in the church today that believe that church meetings
should entertain unbelievers for the purpose of creating a good experience
that will make Christ more desirable to them.
More more churches are eliminating preaching from their worship service
and opting instead for drama, variety shows -- and I heard of one church in a large city
that even had professional wrestling in their auditorium.
Some churches relegate the teaching of the Bible to a midweek service or to cell groups,
and others have dropped it all together.
Those with access to the "secret knowledge" tell us that biblical preaching by itself
cannot possibly be reliant.
They are saying that the church must adopt new methods and innovative programs
to grab people on the level where they live.
This is an attempt to achieve spiritual objectives by human methodology rather than
by the supernatural power of God.
Its primary criterion is an external success.
It will employ whatever method that draws a crowd, and stimulates the desired response.
It's underlying presuppositions are that the church can accomplish spiritual goals
by fleshly means.
It is saying that the power of God's Word alone is not sufficient to break through
a sinner's blindness and hardness of heart.
The wave of pragmatism sweeping the church today seems predicated on the idea
that artificial technique and human strategy are crucial to the mission of the church.
Many appear to believe that we can capture people for Christ and the church
only if our programs are imaginative enough and our sermons are persuasive enough.
Then there is mysticism.
Mysticism is the belief that spiritual reality is perceived apart from the human intellect
and natural senses.
It looks for truth internally, weighing feelings, intuition, and other internal sensations
more more heavily through objective, observable, external data.
Mysticism ultimately derives its authority from a self-actualized, self-authenticated life
rising from within.
It's source of truth is spontaneous feeling rather than objective fact.
The most extreme and complex forms of mysticism are found in Hinduism
and its Western reflection -- the New Age philosophy.
Thus an irrational and anti-intellectual mysticism is the antithesis of Christian theology,
and this has infiltrated the church.
In many cases, individual feelings and personal experience have replaced
sound biblical interpretation.
The question "What does the Bible mean to me?" has become more important
than "What does the Bible mean?"
That is a frightening reckless approach to the Word of God.
It undermines biblical integrity and authority by implying that personal experience is
to be used more than an understanding of Scripture.
It often considers private "revelations" and personal opinions equal to the eternal truth
of God's inspired Word.
So, it fails to honor God, and instead it exalts man.
Worst of all, it can -- and ultimately does -- lead to the dead the delusion that error is truth.
Extreme varieties of mysticism have flourished in recent decades.
Televised religious talk shows have showcased almost every conceivable theological
and interpretive whim by careless and untrained people -- ranging from those
who claim to have traveled to heaven and back, to those who deceive their listeners
with new truths supposedly revealed privately to them by God.
This kind of mysticism has spawned several aberrations, including the signs and wonders movement,
and a false gospel that promises health, wealth and prosperity.
It is simply one more evidence of the gnostic revival that is sweeping the church
and undermining faith in the sufficiency of Christ.
It is sad to say that the neo-gnosticism of today poses a more far-reaching threat
than did its first century predecessor.
For the leaders of the early church were united in their opposition to the gnostic heresy.
That is not true today!
What can be done?
Paul confronted gnosticism by pointing to our sufficiency in Christ. (Colossians 2:10)
that is still the answer today.
Scripture is sufficient.
God's grace is sufficient.
God's wisdom is sufficient.
God Himself is sufficient.
These statements show the incredible richness of the vast inheritance
that is ours in our all-sufficient Christ.
Sermon was adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White