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Jonathan Master (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor of theology and dean of the School of Divinity at Cairn University. He is also director of Cairn’s Center for University Studies. Dr. Master serves as executive editor of Place for Truth and is co-chair of the Princeton Regional Conference on Reformed Theology.

Article by Tim Bertolet

All Wisdom in Christ

July 8, 2015 •

A Christian worldview has its foundation upon God since God is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Since the Bible is God’s Word, the Christian worldview is shaped by the Scriptures. The Bible explains to us God’s view of the world to which our conceptions must conform. The climax of God’s self-revelation to us comes in the person of Christ who is over all things. It is of little wonder then that Paul describes Jesus as the One “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3).

This verse becomes very foundational for the Christian in the formation of their worldview. In Colossians, Paul is responding to some kind of error that the church has recently confronted. He warns them not to be taken captive by “philosophy and empty deceit” that is based upon “human tradition and according to the elemental spirits of the world” (Col. 2:8). A Christian worldview cannot be built on anything that is not “according to Christ” (Col. 2:8).

While scholars debate the precise nature of the heresy at Colossae, Paul’s own clues seem it indicate that it is a kind of legalistic asceticism that incorporates mystical elements and inappropriate applications of the Old Testament. For example, Paul warns the believers to not let others judge them over issues of food and drink but also festivals, new moons, and Sabbaths (Col. 2:16). The errors included asceticism, worship of angles, and reliance on visions (Col. 2:18). Whatever the precise nature of the errors or the exact meaning behind “elemental spirits of the world” (Col. 2:8, 20), clearly the ideas were self-made and not divinely revealed and lack the effectiveness to stop the power of sin (2:23). In short, the Colossians faced a temptation to add extra-biblical practices and spirituality to their worldview and patterns of behavior.

If that was the disease, the prescription is Christ. A high Christology and an understanding of the person and work of Christ is the vaccine that inoculates our worldview from the deadly viruses that abound around us. Jesus is the invisible image of God (Col. 1:15a). Not only did Jesus create all things but all were created for him (Col. 1:16) which takes the highest language of Old Testament monotheism reserved for the God of Israel, YHWH, and applies it directly to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is equally the sustainer of all things (Col. 1:17). Jesus is fully divine but now also exalted over creation in full humanity. He is the firstborn of all creation (Col. 1:15b), firstborn from the dead so that He is preeminent over all (Col. 1:18).

Looking out into the world we see that which Christ created and that which Christ presently reigns over as the One who is both fully divine and fully human, the son of David. Just as the king sets the laws of his kingdom, so also are all things rooted in Christ so that it is from Him we learn and understand how to build a worldview. If something doesn’t come from Christ, find its origin or source in Christ, or point in some way back to Christ then it cannot be part of a Christian worldview. All things are by Him and for Him.

We will not find treasures of wisdom and knowledge in man-made philosophy. We will not find uncover great truths or power in spirituality created by men or displayed in other religions. This is particularly important for the church today as she often seeks to incorporate eastern religious practices or intuit spiritual knowledge through methods similar to Gnostic or Kabbalistic practice. Why look for things in methods and manners that are “not according to Christ”?

But how does this relate to other fields of knowledge? How are these things found in Christ, if indeed “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” are found in Him? First consider for a moment what Paul is not saying. Paul is not saying that medicine, law, psychiatry, etc. should not be studied.  They should be.  Rather, Paul is speaking into a context in which believers were in danger of being lead astray by philosophy or patterns of thinking that are not rooted in Christ.

In other words, I believe Paul is talking about a person’s “worldview”. All things have their summation in Jesus Christ and all true wisdom and knowledge comes from Christ and will glorify Christ. So a medical doctor may be a great doctor and know how all the human body works, and perform excellent surgeries but if they do not see Jesus as the source of all their abilities, and the one who made the human body they understand lacks God’s understanding. If they do not take what they know about the human body and use it to serve Christ, then they lack genuine wisdom. Even more, a psychiatrist may have great insight into the function of the brain but apart from Christ he or she cannot help the whole person. A lawyer might know the law, and be great at arguing in the court room—but if they do not put Christ at the apex of their thinking—if they are not concerned with genuine justice or see how Christ is a fair judge—then their “lawyer-ing” has no genuine standard, no lasting value. Without Christ, we do not have a complete picture—or a worldview that encompasses the divine plan and purpose for all creation.

We are not going to find other sources of truth, knowledge, and wisdom that do not ultimately come from Christ, or glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. We will not find persuasive arguments about the meaning and purpose of life without Christ being the center. The sum total of all truth centers in the person and work of Jesus Christ. All Christian doctrine, all practical wisdom about how to live our lives, all true knowledge of God—all of it is found in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Tim Bertolet is a graduate of Lancaster Bible College and Westminster Theological Seminary. He is an ordained pastor in the Bible Fellowship Church, currently serving as Interim Pastor of Faith Bible Fellowship Church in York, Pa. He is a husband and father of four daughters. You can follow him on Twitter @tim_bertolet.



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