The Value of a Christian Worldview (Colossians 2:2-3)
I have had more than a few Mormons ask me to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, asking God to show me if it is true. I refuse to do this. I am more than happy to tell them why. The first reason I give is that “I don’t need to pray about it.” As one evangelist said, “I don’t lack wisdom in this area.” A second reason for not asking God whether the Book of Mormon is true is that such a prayer would be sin.
I hope you will not think me conceited for saying so, but I give this same answer to every religion that denies the truth of Scripture. I don’t need to pray about Buddhism, Hinduism, Scientism, Evolutionism, atheism, or agnosticism. I have no need to pray over Islam. I don’t ask the Lord to show me whether or not the Jehovah’s Witnesses are true. In fact, I believe that I would be in sin to pray and ask God to show me whether or not these things are the truth.
For that matter, I have not prayed over the Bible or Christianity this way either. Why would I? Why would I ask God to show me if He is telling the truth or not? What good would that do? If God isn’t telling the truth, how would it help me to ask Him if He is telling the truth? If God doesn’t speak, why would I ask Him? If the Bible is a lie, then God will not answer me anyway. And if God is true, then it is rebellious, arrogant, and vain for me to ask Him to prove to me that He is telling the truth.
From time to time, I will hear a foolish Christian confront religious error by playing a game of “let’s pretend.” “Let’s pretend that God doesn’t exist,” they say. And they think that by pretending that God doesn’t exist, they will be able to prove that He does. That is silliness.
We might as well try to prove that logic exists by pretending that it doesn’t. If logic doesn’t exist, I can’t use it. If I can’t use logic, how can I prove that it exists? For that matter, I might just as well try to prove my own existence by assuming my own non-existence. This sort of argumentation leads us nowhere but down into the pit. And with good reason, for this kind of argumentation comes out of the pit.
When the Colossian believers confronted unbelieving error, they were troubled. Error weakened their faith and their resolve, as it always will. Paul wanted to comfort their hearts. In the first chapter, he told them of his prayers for them, that among other things, they might be strengthened with all might (1:11). Now, Paul wants to comfort (strengthen) their hearts. Paul believed that this would be accomplished in part by their communion with the saints in their local church — “being knit together in love.” But this would also be accomplished by a solid Christian worldview — “being knit together… unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ…”
Paul wants to help them with their epistemology. This is vital for them, in order to avoid the pernicious error of Gnosticism. Paul does not want them confronting Gnosticism with Agnosticism. He does not want them to lay aside their Christian worldview and take on a sort of “neutral” position, judging between the claims of the Gnostics and the claims of Christ. Christ is our creator (1:16-17). In Christ, all the fulness dwells (1:19). And in Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
The Colossian question was a question, not of “who is right,” but a question of epistemology. How do we know anything? We know because God made us, and gave us minds that might reason and know the truth. God made a world that could be known, and gave us minds that could know. A perfect match, we might say. But then, we must also understand that we cannot separate the truth from God, as if truth stands independently from Him. Jesus is the truth (John 14:6). God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). And therefore, we can only know through Him. We can only know what God has revealed and enabled us to know. Knowledge does not bring us to the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord brings us to knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).
All the riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God would strengthen the believers then, as they will now. “Full assurance” speaks of a “well-settled judgement” (Matthew Henry), a confidence that does not doubt the truth or call it into question. The word “understanding” continues the idea of “being knit together.” It is the genitive singular form of the Greek word synesis, and has to do with a union or confluence. Paul wants these believers using their full intellect in full confidence, their minds united to the truth. The word “acknowledgement” is the accusative singular form of epignosis — full knowledge. The Greek preposition eis is used twice here — unto all riches, and to the acknowledgement. Eis can also be translated “into.” This is where Paul wants the Colossians to be, in a spiritual sense. He wants their full intellect immersed in the full confidence of the fulness of knowledge. This will keep them from Gnostic error.
When confronted with error, nothing comforts like the strength, the power of a Christian worldview.