The apostle Paul had a great burden of heart. That great burden of heart for the people of God is recorded for us in Colossians 2:3. It was this: That we would know that in Jesus Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
The reason why Paul was so burdened and concerned that we know this was the presence of influential, yet false, teachers in Colosse. In the context he declares that there will be, throughout the history of the church, those who are active, powerful, and influential in propagating false teachings. There will be smooth teachers of the lie. Smooth teachers were at work already among the Colossian Christians. Smooth teachers passed themselves off as the “knowing ones.” They would tell the believers that fullness was not in Christ, but was in their own system of thinking. In the presence of such beguiling false teaching and teachers, Paul’s burden was that the Colossians (and you and I) would know that Christ Himself is the full treasure of wisdom and knowledge.
This is the burden that we have in the Word of God. Our burden is that you would know that Christ Himself is the treasure of wisdom and knowledge; that, apart from faith in Jesus Christ, you cannot know anything rightly. And, unless all of your learning is placed at the feet of Jesus Christ, your learning is folly, an idol, and your own conceit.
Christ is the hidden treasure of wisdom.
Let us consider that today: Colossians 2:3, “In whom (that is, in Christ) are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
The word “treasure” is, literally, “storehouse,” or “treasury,” or “vault,” a place where something that is precious is kept for safety. Christ is the treasury of wisdom and knowledge. Those precious and priceless gems are to be found in Jesus Christ. If you are to have wisdom and knowledge as your own, you must find them in the Christ of the Scriptures. You must be brought to attachment to Jesus Christ, the attachment of faith. You must have access to Christ. You must have the key to Christ if these treasures are to be opened up unto you. His mind, by grace, must be in you. His word must teach you. His Spirit must rule over you. All other wisdom and knowledge are counterfeits, they are mere imitation jewelry, they are frauds.
The words “wisdom” and “knowledge” are very similar and yet have slightly different shades of meaning. The word “knowledge” means “to see” or “to see into” a thing, thus to understand. It refers to the grace to see into a thing, to have personal insight, to have personal understanding of a certain thing. “Wisdom” is the ability to apply one’s knowledge. Spiritual wisdom is the ability to apply what one knows from the Word of God to one’s own life.
Now these things, wisdom and knowledge, are to be found in Jesus Christ. That is because Christ is the Word of God (John 1:1, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was God”). Jesus Christ is the Word of God. That is, He is the One who makes known the truth of God and makes known God to us. Christ is made known to us in the Bible. Jesus Christ is made known to us in the Word of God, which is the inspired and absolutely true Word of the living God.
Would you be wise? Would you have knowledge? Would you attain to understanding of the truth which alone can give you peace? Then you must come to the storehouse: Jesus Christ, who is made known to you in the Holy Scriptures.
There is no other wisdom. There is no other knowledge. All other wisdom and knowledge are falsely so called. They are really conceit, folly, and ignorance. This was the point of the false teachers and the false teachings threatening the Colossian believers. That false teaching ran like this. The false teachers would come to the Christian converts and say, “Oh, no. We do not deny Christ and the Bible. The Bible is very good. Insofar as it goes, it is a very valuable contribution to your quest in gaining wisdom. But fullness, a broader and richer view, a view which is more adequate to meet and to answer the big questions of life is to be found in other things. You must add to Christ. Specifically, you must follow our vigorous rules and submit to our religious ceremonies and begin to worship angels. Then you will be this well-rounded individual, this complete person, with a very open mind, and you will have a better understanding of these great questions of wisdom and knowledge.”
To this the apostle Paul responds, “Colossian believers, these are false teachers. They are attempting to beguile you. They are trying to spoil and ruin you. They are filled with conceit and with pride.”
It is very important that we take just a moment to note how these false teachers were working against the Colossian believers. In verse 4 Paul tells us that they used persuasive speech. We read, “And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.” They used speech which was intended to convince and to persuade, very smooth. It was something which Paul had intentionally discarded. He says in I Corinthians 2:4 that he did not come with excellency of speech when he preached the gospel. He did not simply come to turn a phrase and to bring leading questions and be smooth in his conversation. But he brought the simple gospel with straight-out words.
Not only do these false teachers bring their false doctrine with persuasive speech but, according to verse 8, they were attempting to spoil the Colossians; they were attempting to carry them away; they were attempting to bring them into their own corner and have them added as a “notch to their gun,” so that they could parade them before others as being now their converts and trophies taken out of the hands of Christianity.
Still more, the apostle tells us that these false teachers worked with a show of sincerity and humility. Evidently these people displayed a great deal of commitment to their own philosophy and way of life, a commitment which led them to deny themselves certain things in terms of this life.
What was Paul’s response to this false teaching? Was his response, perhaps, that he was willing to negotiate with them? Was his response that, well, these false teachers, although there are some things we need to be careful about, nevertheless they bring to us a very valuable contribution to our faith and we can learn something from them in an interesting dialogue? No. The apostle Paul says that this is deceit, this is a false show of humility. All of their tactics, all of their words, are but a mask covering their conceit and their pride. They are men who refuse to submit to the Word of God. In response to it, Paul says, I would have you know that in Jesus Christ, as He is revealed upon the pages of God’s Word, the Bible, in Christ are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. You are complete in Him. If you take away faith in the holy Scripture, faith personally in Jesus Christ, you have simply thrown away the treasury of knowledge and, ultimately, you can know nothing except your own conceit and emptiness.
Oh, Paul knew the objections. Paul would be slandered by the intellectual world. They would say of him, “Oh, Paul is just a fool for this Christ. Paul knows just one note: all he can say is ‘Christ, Christ, Christ, in the infallible Scriptures’; that is all he can say.”
But even though Paul was ridiculed, he says, “I am not at all influenced by that slander. I am not going to stop, because I know one thing for sure: Christ crucified, the Christ of the Scriptures, He is the priceless treasury of all wisdom and knowledge. Apart from faith in Him and submission to His Word, you can know nothing, and you will end up a conceited fool. In His Word you are brought to wisdom and knowledge.”
But this has to be shown you. You have to be given faith to embrace this or it forever will remain far from you. Paul says that wisdom and knowledge are hid in Christ. What does that mean?
It certainly means that they are contained in Christ. Wisdom and knowledge are exclusive to Christ, and it is futile to seek wisdom and knowledge apart from Jesus Christ. But Paul means this: it must be revealed to you. Your mind and your heart must be opened by His Spirit. He must open your understanding. That is what it means that it is a hidden treasure. It does not mean that it is a secretive thing, that it is some mystery you have to unravel. The Bible is not a dark book that you cannot understand and need some kind of code to interpret it (you need to count the chapters, perhaps, and divide by four and take that number and count out words in sequence and then you get the crystal message). Oh, no. The Bible is very clear. You may take it up and you may read it. The Bible is profound. It is very deep. But it is very clear. And the Bible says to you, you are a sinner and you are in God’s hands, and God is not in your hand. It is very clear on that. But that it is hidden means that the problem is in us. We need to have our eyes open to see it or we will not believe it.
We read in I Corinthians 2:14, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” You see, it is not a matter of intellect, but it is a matter of the heart. Wisdom and knowledge are not equivalent to the intellect, but it is something of the heart. And man, apart from grace, is darkened in his heart and in his understanding. And he is filled with pride and conceit. We read in II Corinthians 4, “If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
Wisdom and knowledge cannot be obtained by man’s reason alone. What the world calls wisdom is foolishness with God. The glorious light of Jesus Christ must shine into your heart. A new heart and a new spirit must be given to you. God must open your eyes that you may behold wondrous things out of His law. And when you read the Bible, you need the Holy Spirit in your heart teaching you and leading you in faith to bow before Christ.
That is the key to this treasure. Submission, a submission of faith-an utter and unqualified submission to the Word of God, to Christ, a submission which is rooted in humility, the humility which says, “I can know nothing. I am prone to lie. I will distort and twist the truth. Unaided by the grace of God, I will pervert the truth.” Without humility and submission to Christ, you will never find wisdom in the Word of God. Though you may study that Word of God, though you may sit under the most brilliant of teachers or ministers, you can know nothing. God must teach you. And He teaches you when, first of all, He shows you your sin and your pride which is always there. And He humbles you so that you say, “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.”
Acquire this treasure. Spend long hours in the treasury of Christ learning wisdom and knowledge. Open the Bible. Hide it in your heart. As you are in the way, it will talk to you. When you sleep, it will keep you. When you are awake, it will guide you.
Become thoroughly acquainted with the Jesus Christ of the Bible. It is not the mere knowing of the name of Christ, but it must be knowing Him by the experience of your heart. And that can only come through the Holy Scriptures. Search the Holy Scriptures. For in Christ is to be found wisdom and knowledge. In Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, we read. Then you must set your all to acquire it and to delve into it. Make it a habit that cannot be broken to read your Bible. Put your Bible out and read it. Determine not only to have a Bible, but to read the Bible, and to read the Bible yourself, and to read it on a regular basis and with reverence. Attend God’s house and keep the Sabbath day.
Do you wish to have these treasures of wisdom and knowledge? Then whenever God’s house is opened and His Word is preached, you will be there. Hear the preaching of the gospel and be zealous to keep the Sabbath day. When you stop caring about the Lord’s day, you have stopped caring about your own soul. If you do not honor God’s house, you will not honor His Word, you will not honor Him. If you have no Sabbath, you soon will have no God except the god of your own imagination.
Still more. If you desire these treasures, pray. If you are to have wisdom and knowledge, you must pray. God will speak to you. But He will speak to you through the pages of His Word as you pray over those truths. In Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
The path of worldly men and women who govern their life by their own thoughts or the thoughts and opinions of men grows darker and darker every day that they live. The path of a Christian who receives the Word of God as the Word of God and as the revelation of Jesus Christ is a shining light, growing brighter and brighter.
The treasures of the wicked are moth-eaten and dust and vanity. They are fool’s gold and they slip out of his hand at death. The treasures of Jesus Christ are priceless, enduring, and satisfying.
Suffer this word of exhortation. Hear and believe this Word of God: In Christ are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Blessed are those who spend their lives delving ever deeper into those treasures. You will discover that your heart will be knit together in the love of God and you will possess the full assurance of salvation.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy Word. We pray, then, that we may go to Thee, to Thy Son and to Thy Word for wisdom and knowledge and that we may go in the confession that we of ourselves are ignorant and can know nothing unless Thy Spirit, through Thy Word, teaches us the truth. Wilt Thou be pleased to give to us, in ever greater degree, those treasures of wisdom and knowledge which are to be found in Jesus Christ, Thy Son. In His name do we pray, Amen.