Please enjoy our guest musician Frank Nichols! Audio for sermon starts around 8:30.
Last week We discussed how just like Paul and the Colossians, we all have been created, converted, and called. That in our new life we are now Saints, holy, pure, consecrated, God’s People. Just like the Colossians we are now all Brothers and sisters IN CHRIST. That No longer are God’s people, defined by their blood relationship with their kin, but by the blood of Christ, their identity is now rooted in Christ as family. We read about the faith and live that comes from the hope, the hope created by the power of the gospel, the same Gospel that Epaphras brought to the Colossians, that bore fruit to create the very church this letter was written too, the same powerful life changing gospel that I will continue challenged you to take outside these 4 walls.
It is Critical when we read this letter that we remember he was a real person writing a letter to real people like you and me. He wrote to encourage them in their walk and help guide their way towards Walking faithful to God and away from false teachings that burdened them.
Last week we worked through the greeting and thanksgiving sections, so today we will address the prayer that Paul had for the Colossians. Paul gives us a guide this morning that we can look at in two ways, first as what we need to walk with the Lord, and that what the church at colossae needed is also what the church at new union needs today, that what he prayed for them would become a reality for us now. Second, to look at Paul’s prayer as a guide for us to pray for others, by inserting their name, and by inserting our own as well.
9 For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,
Paul begins this prayer by connecting it with the words of Thanksgiving in verses three through eight, for this reason, points back to the report of epic for us concerning the Colossians in addition to giving thanks to God Paul is now interceding for the Colossians on their behalf. By admitting that he has not ceased praying for them Paul is highlighting his constant concern for the Colossian believers. He says he has not ceased praying and asking God on their behalf.
Paul Didn’t know directly all the issues facing the Colossians, but he knew the pressure they were under from outside influences, the same pressure that all other churches he wrote to face from the flesh, the world, and the enemy. The same pressures and distractions we ourselves face today. The Colossians believed in Christ though none of them had ever seen him, unlike Paul and the apostles that had seen Jesus, these were the second generation Christians, who came to faith through the gospel, through faith and not sight, not so far removed from us. So He never stopped praying for them though he had never met them, yet how many of us today have stopped praying for those who desperately need it, those that feel the pressure from all these outside influences, that are Christians or are poorly taught Christians buying into the false gospels of today centered around prosperity or works. As we discussed last week, we must pray for other Christians, other churches, other families that are suffering or lost.
Maybe your prayer life is not great because you don’t have one, or maybe it’s not great because you don’t participate in it how God intends, maybe you are not praying enough. think of how often the son of God had to pray, so how much more should we who are caught in the flesh, caught in the fallen world need to be in prayer, the Bible says constantly. Yet even if we could get the volume of our prayers right, our prayer life would be lacking without prayer for others, we are called to be selfless with our new lives and that standard does not change when it comes to our prayers, consider it giving, even serving, when you pray for others, because there are many people that are in need our prayers more than we ourselves need them, and we need prayer without ceasing. So build your prayer life around interceding for others as Paul did here so that they may be filled with the knowledge Of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
Paul prays, first, that the church would be filled with the knowledge (epignosin, “full knowledge”) of God’s will. Some scholars believe a kind of proto-Gnosticism was at work in the Colossian church.
Gnosticism comes from the Greek word for knowledge. Gnosticism is a false religion based upon placing special focus on knowledge, there were different approaches, but these religions believe That there is a special secret knowledge given only to a few special people that holds the power to get them out of this imperfect material world and closer to a perfect spiritual realm.
Some Gnostic groups saw Jesus as sent by the supreme being, to bring knowledge to the Earth.
So Paul’s language here may be taken as confrontational to those false teachings and yet encouraging them in Christ.
“Knowledge” paves the way for Paul’s argument that full knowledge can only be found in the gospel of Jesus Christ, an argument we all read more fully later on in the text. In this context “to be filled with the knowledge” is to obtain both a fullest knowledge as well as to be completely certain of God‘s will, moreover what Paul emphasizes in his prayer is that this knowledge must come from God, not from human traditions or sources. The “knowledge of his will” is the knowledge of what God has done through Jesus Christ and what it means for us and the world around us. this mentioning of God's ”will” is not concerned primarily with gods private plan for individual believers but rather focuses on his salvific will, his plan of salvation that has been accomplished in Christ.
Knowledge, wisdom, and understanding are often found in Jewish traditions, most significant is the reference to the spirit linked with wisdom and understanding as this is a common theme in Exodus and Isaiah and proverbs. In any case Paul’s prayer is that God‘s entire people would be filled, by filled It means saturated, made full, with this spiritual Wisdom and understanding. Because if we are full of his goodness and truth, there is no longer room for doubts, fears, or misunderstandings or false teachings, only Gods life giving truth.
10 so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God,
So again just as when we receive our new life in Christ we also receive a new purpose, so to being filled with the knowledge and understanding of God's will has a specific purpose, so that we would walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. This is not just us storing up biblical facts that we never use, when we receive that knowledge and understanding it should transform and affect the way that we live. In Psalm 86:11 it says this teach me your way lord so that I may walk in your path.
If you take anything away today remember this, you Cannot separate faith from faithfulness, Paul never emphasizes truth and knowledge without also emphasizing living out that truth and knowledge. This is the same line of teaching laid down by Christ when he told the disciples, “not all who say Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but only those that do the will of my father within them.” Anybody can talk the talk, but it is in their actions that the words of their mouth are affirmed. Don’t separate your life in sections of sacred and secular, of saying one thing and doing another. there must be a Balance between knowing and doing, between doctrine and devotion, we all must seek this in our relationship with God, there are many here who know much and do little, while others know very little but do much, neither is complete, both can be dangerous to themselves and others, that we would become hypocrites. So we must seek a balance. faith without works is dead but works not based on the will of god will be fruitless.
Some of you may still be caught up on that phrase, “to walk worthy of the Lord” because you probably think like I did, “how could I ever be worthy of Him?” Or you may think “I’m not worthy of him,'' if you’re thinking like that this morning then let me encourage you by telling you just how right you are, on our own, in and of ourselves we are not worthy and cannot walk worthy. We cannot make ourselves worthy of Him. But through Christ, and by our Faith in Him, for those who have received God's grace, there is a fitting way to now respond and live within that grace, within Christ. This walk is not how nonbelievers can find themselves in God's good graces, but how Christ’s disciples are to walk in God’s good grace. That’s what Paul is talking about here, and it is a way that is fully pleasing to God.
This doesn’t mean that everything you do this side of heaven will please the Lord, our lives are still prone to sins and shortcomings. But take hope that there's a way that we can walk that can fully please God.
Think about it this way If you’re a parent or grandparent of a young child, And that child comes to you on your birthday or Mother’s Day or any special holiday And they write you a note door draw you a picture to tell you what they think of you, tell you how much they love you, appreciate you, if it’s a young child it’s almost a guarantee that something is going to be spelled wrong, they will have colored outside the lines or made the son purple and the grass pink. When you get that gift from them, do you look at it, find all the errors and say, this is clearly imperfect, this is full of mistakes, So you wad it up and throw it away? No you were pleased because even though it’s riddled with mistakes and flaws you are pleased and their desire to show you their love for you. So in the same way though or be obedience is imperfect, there is a way that we can walk that is still pleasing to him.
So let’s finally talk about what will this look like in our lives. The subsequent participles in vs. 10-12 give definition to what Paul means by a worthy walk.
First, walking worthy means “bearing fruit in every good work”. “Bearing fruit” is a repetition from vs. 6 when Paul is talking about the power of the Gospel. In the same way that the gospel bears fruit and grows around the world, Paul expects that the Colossian believers will bear fruit and grow in good works. The Thanksgiving section points back to the work of God among the Colossians, and this intercessory prayer points forward to their responsibility as believers, “every good work” may also point back to “the love that they have for all the saints” in verse four. Often in Paul’s writing the phrase good work also denotes a way to witness to those outside of the church. “such as in Romans 13:3, Galatians 6:10, and Titus 3:1” So in either way “good work” should not be understood in a legalistic sense of the word good, but should be seen in the light of showing love to others whether they be inside or outside the church. This gives us a better perspective on what is most pleasing to God here, that the best way for us to bear fruit with our fellow saints is to show them love( or also joy peace patience kindness, goodness, so on though the greatest is love) through service and prayer, and that the greatest way for us to bear fruit and serve nonbelievers is to witness to them and share the Gospel and the hope it holds for all. This past week I attended an evangelism training workshop held by the GBMB, and As we talked about all the different ways of doing outreach and serving our community it was mentioned that when we do things to meet people’s physical needs, if we are not sharing the gospel with them at the same time, then all we are doing is giving them a more comfortable place to stay before they spend an eternity in hell. So let us please God and bear fruit by loving and sharing the gospel.
Second, “growing IN the knowledge of God”
At surface level this can be taken as saying we must attain more knowledge about God, but if we look at the original language we see that
“In the knowledge” is grammatically a dative which means we must understand it is expressing the realm within which growth can occur.
Again Pauls definition of knowledge refers to knowing who God is and what he has done through his son, so to put it plainly this isn’t talking about knowing more about God will make you grow and please him, it is saying that what you know about God and Jesus, “what you have heard,” you will grow in both your walk and your faith, and that will please the Lord. if you’re thinking that may sound backwards then remember Paul is the same one who said that all he needed to know was Christ and him crucified.
There’s no secret knowledge or amount of which will transform you into the Christian God wants you to be, it’s taking what you do know already and living it out that will grow you. this characterizes what Paul is saying and again points to the necessary relationship between knowledge and behavior. So it’s not increasing in the knowledge of God that will please him but in increasing or growing from the knowledge of God that we have of the gospel will please him and allow us to walk worthy of him. That’s not to say you need to quit learning more about God’s word, that’s just not wait he’s addressing here because we also knowing God’s word it says for us to meditate on this word day and night.
11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, so that you may have great endurance and patience,
So Third, walking worthy means “being strengthened with all power” (vs. 11). This is a present passive participle, indicating that the act of empowerment is carried out upon the colossians, they are strengthened by God, not by their own abilities.
Paul further expresses this idea by saying that the Colossians will be strengthened “according to His glorious might,” stressing the fact that the believers’ empowerment comes from God and is consistent with God’s power. “With all power” reinforces Paul’s focus on God‘s power in two ways. First the greek word for “all” as in its previous instances shows the completeness and sufficiency of God‘s power. Second the use of “power”, a highlights gods active empowerment. The focus on God‘s power continues with the phrase “his glorious might” the distinction between power and might is not clear but in Greek literature power often points to the potential to exert force in performing some function while “might” points to the power to rule or control, this distinction may also be applicable here where power points to God's strength enabling us to accomplish His will, while “might” points to his authority Established through his mighty acts in history, like when Christ rose from the grave.
Either way The purpose for this empowerment is “so that you may have great endurance and patience” (vs. 11b). Paul fully expects the Colossian church to persevere in faith, not falling prey to the heresy that threatens the church or any possible persecution associated with their faithfulness to Christ.
12 Joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light.13 He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. 14 In him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Vs. 12 gives the fourth and final participle that modifies the worthy walk for which Paul is praying. Walking worthy means “giving thanks to the Father.” Vs. 12b-14 describe three reasons for which the Colossians should give thanks. First, God has “qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (vs. 12b). Paul uses the word (“inheritance”), which is a.reference in the OT to the Promised Land. Also in the OT the Levite’s did not inherit land but it was said that they would inherit the lord, we could see this as a shadow of Christianity to come. In Romans 8 Paul writes how Christ “is heir to all things and how we are his co heirs.” So This is perhaps a reference to the new creation, the believers’ “promised land.” A land only made possible by the work of Christ on our behalf. Second, God has “rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves” (vs. 13).
He has rescued us, and he has transferred us. The transfer of citizenship given to believers from Satan’s dark kingdom to the Kingdom of the Son is a reason for their thanksgiving, Amen? Third, “In Him (meaning In Christ, again my favorite phrase here) we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”. “Forgiveness of sins” is set in apposition to “redemption” and thus gives a theological definition to the term. To be redeemed means to have one’s sins forgiven. It is this forgiveness that causes the believer’s thanksgiving.
But do we act that way? Do we celebrate how he has rescued us, transferred us, how God through Jesus redeemed us? That even when we don’t walk worthy, even when our faith is out of balance, even when we fall, we do all that IN HIM, IN CHRIST, we fall short into grace, we have forgiveness, so why should we cling to it, morn over it, when we could turn away from it in repentance, because our sin is no longer on us, we who could forever cause it and yet never be rid of it on our own, have a God who loves us so much that though he could never cause it, he rid us of it by taking it upon himself and overcoming it. So we are separated from our sin by being present in Christ, but the glory of God is revealed in just how far are we separated from it. Isaiah says as far as the east is from the west, as far as the heavens from the earth. That's why being thankful for Christ pleases God, Because God is pleased by the work of his son Jesus, so today I would invite you maybe for the first time to trust and rest in Christ’s work so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, pleasing him in every way.