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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
August 8, 2010
The Prayer for the Colossians – Part 2
As important as prayer is in the life of a believer, too often our prayers are poor and ineffectual because we follow the example of other Christians instead of the examples given to us in the Scriptures. This morning we continue to examine the prayer Paul and his companions in Rome made for the Colossians believers as an example of how we ought to pray for one another. In this particular section of the prayer, we also uncover several deep and wonderful truths about our salvation from sin that should drive us to ever deeper gratitude for God’s amazing mercy and grace extended to sinful man.
Context – vs. 9-12
Paul has written to the church in Colossae because he has received a full report about their condition from Epaphras, the man that had brought the gospel to them. There are some very serious issues that have developed in that church. In the first half of the letter Paul will identify and warn them about heretical doctrine that some among them were teaching. In the last half of the letter Paul will address their manner of living by correcting some of their behaviors and encouraging others. However, Paul begins this letter in Colossians 1:3-8 by giving thanksgiving to God. Paul kept his perspective in balance by keeping in mind the larger picture instead of concentrating on just the current problems. Epaphras had told him what was going wrong, but he also reported what was going well, so there was great cause for thanksgiving too. The Colossians had responded well to gospel and this was demonstrated in their faith, its growth in them, and their love for one another and all the saints. (See: Paul’s Thankfulness). We would do well to follow Paul’s example and remember the larger picture even when we need to admonish a fellow believer over
their sin. Even though correction is needed, look for and give thanks to God for how He has and is working in that person’s life. Then also remember to encourage godly behavior and not just confront the sins.
In the next section of this letter, Colossians 1:9-14, Paul tells them the nature and content of the prayers they have been making on their behalf. Follow along as I read through this prayer: 9 “For this reason also, since the day we heard [of it], we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please [Him] in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” [NASB]
The reason they were praying is because of all that Epaphras had told them. The nature of their prayer was “unceasing” in that it was without hindrance because they were conscious of both God’s hand at work and their needs which only God could supply. They would give thanks, offer general prayers and ask the Lord for specific petitions on their behalf whenever they were brought to mind, and with Epaphras being present, we can be sure this was quite often even as they prayed for many other people. (See:
The Prayer for the Colossians, Pt. 1) .
The major request of their prayer was that they “be filled with the knowledge of God’s will.” In keeping with Paul’s desire that every believer becomes fully mature in Christ (Colossians 1:28), they were praying that the Colossians would be permeated with a full knowledge of the will of God, and that they would also have the spiritual wisdom and understanding to apply that full knowledge to every day life. Knowledge without wisdom results in educated foolishness, and they needed understanding in order to discern between the true and the false, the good and the bad.
The result of this should be the fulfillment of the desire of the prayer that they “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please [Him] in all respects.” Their manner of conduct in life should be in keeping with their calling by the Lord to be followers of Jesus. The prayer then goes on to express four characteristics that demonstrate this walk that pleases the Lord. The first is “being fruitful in every good work.” When the Holy Spirit controls our lives it will be seen in both our manner of conduct (Galatians 5:22-23) and in the good deeds themselves which will cause others to glorify God (Ephesians 2:10; Matthew 7:17-18). Second, such a walk with God will result in an increasing knowledge of God as the believer continues to mature. Third, the Lord’s strength will be seen in the disciples of Jesus which enables them to face both difficult circumstances and endure difficult people with joy knowing that God uses trials and tribulations in this life to make us mature (Romans 5:3-10; James 1:2-4). Finally, a proper walk with the Lord will result in giving thanks to God for all that He has done. The humility necessary to be saved from sin continues in life. No one will repent of their sin without first being poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3), and God is opposed to the proud and gives grace only to the humble (1 Peter 5:5).
This prayer points out four reasons for thankfulness to God in Colossians 1:12-14. First, the Father “has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” Second, “He delivered us from the domain of darkness.” Third, He “transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” Fourth, in the Son “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” All of these reasons for giving thanks are related to our salvation. This morning we are going to look at each of these reasons in greater detail so that we will have a greater knowledge of God’s will and His work in us so that we might respond in walking in a manner worthy of our Lord and give proper thanksgiving to Him.
Qualified – vs. 12.
The first reason stated for giving thanks to God the Father is that He“has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”
The hope of a heavenly inheritance is an important part of believing the gospel. Paul had already expressed his thanksgiving to God concerning this back in verse 5 (because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel . . .”). Paul is now expressing in this prayer that they would be doing the same as a demonstration of their walking in a manner worthy of the Lord and pleasing Him. Thanksgiving is the proper response when we consider what God has done in saving us from our sin and its consequences and adopting us as His children so that we are counted as saints – His holy ones.
Paul’s description of God’s action in these two verses should remove all human pride that we can or have somehow made ourselves worthy to receive God’s favor. The ancient heresy of Pelagius still runs strong to various degrees in several theological systems. Its central idea is that there is enough goodness in man that he can by his own efforts and actions gain a place in heaven for himself. Some groups teach man is good enough from birth to achieve this while others add some religious ritual to the mix to take care of any sinful aspects so that the person’s goodness can then earn them their spot in glory. Baptism is a key ritual to accomplish this in several religions. Roman Catholicism has not only baptism but also all its other sacraments. Even many who call themselves evangelicals have fallen into this theological trap and have made what were supposed to be responses of belief into actions of salvation. Listen carefully to salvation testimonies and you will be surprised how often the person will go back to something they did as the means of salvation. “I was baptized,” “I came forward at the altar call,” “I raised my hand when the evangelist asked,” “I prayed the sinner’s prayer.” While all of those things could be good and the legitimate response of faith, all of them are also infected with the “I disease.” The expressions used place emphasis upon what the individual has done to gain God’s favor and a place in heaven instead of what God has done for them despite their wretched, sinful condition.
In the five hours I was at evangelism booth at the fair on Friday morning and afternoon, every person that came in and took the good person test thought they were good enough to go to heaven. That was not unusual. What was unusual is that they all continued to insist that were still good enough even after their failure to keep God’s law was pointed out. Most people usually will at least admit they are not good enough when their sin is exposed. However, each of these were convinced in their own minds that their good outweighed their bad and therefore God would welcome them into heaven. They insisted they were qualified to make it on their own. Paul disagrees.
Paul specifically points out here that it is God the Father that qualifies us to be among those that receive His inheritance. The verb used here, iJkanovw \ hikanoô, means “to make fit,” “sufficient,” “adequate,” and hence, “qualified.” It is an aorist active participle showing that it is the Father that has taken the action upon the people He has so qualified. People cannot make themselves sufficient because all of our righteous deeds are as filthy rags before our holy God (Isaiah 64:6), and any and every sin condemns us. The soul that sins must die (Ezekiel 18:4) and everyone sins (Romans 3:23) so that there all are corrupt and none does good (Psalm 14:2-3). Every human is completely unqualified to receive anything from God except His just judgment and condemnation. Only God can qualify us for His blessings and Paul will explain in verse 13 & 14 how God makes a sinful human sufficient and adequate in righteousness. But what exactly has God qualified us for?
The phrase used here is “to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” The particular Greek words here (meriv” / meris = portion / share and klh’ro”/ klêros = lot) reflects the inheritance the descendants of Abraham received when they entered the Promised Land and each tribe received its portion according to the casting of the lot – the results of which were determined by God (Proverbs 16:33).
God has determined what each Christian will inherit from Him. What do followers of Jesus inherit?
There are several aspects to our inheritance. The first and foremost is eternal life. In speaking to His disciples in Matthew 19:29 Jesus said, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life.” Keep in mind that when the Bible speaks of eternal life it is not referring to just length of life, for even the wicked will continue to exist for their judgment and condemnation is eternal (Matthew 25:41). Eternal life refers to knowing God and eternal existence in His presence which is our blessed hope (John 17:3; Matt. 25:34; 1 John 5:20; Titus 2:13).
Related to this is the phrasing in Hebrews 1:14 that speaks of angels rendering service “for the sake of those who will inherit salvation.” This in a very appropriate idea because children inherit and those who are saved are those who have received and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ so that they have been given the right to be called the children of God by adoption (John 1:12; Ephesians 1:5).
This inheritance is an “inheritance [which is] imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven” (1 Peter 1:4). It is also one that is guaranteed for the Holy Spirit is “given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of [God’s own] possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:14). All of this means that it is an inheritance we have now though the full benefits of it will not be until we are translated from these bodies into our glorified ones at the coming of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:50 makes it clear “that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” We look forward to that future change.
Another aspect of our inheritance is the kingdom of God in the millennial reign of Jesus on this earth. Revelation 20:6 tells us that those who are part of the first resurrection (believers) “will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.” This will be the fulfillment of Jesus’ statement in the Sermon on the Mount that the meek would inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).
Multiple Scriptures make it clear that the unrighteous will not receive any part of this inheritance (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:5). It is an inheritance only for the saints, and they are those who are called out by God to be separated from the world unto Himself. Paul adds the additional description “the saints in the light” to make a sharp contrast between God’s saints and those still in the darkness of this world. The term “light” is often used throughout scripture to describe purity, holiness and the manner of life of those who are followers of the Jesus. 1 John 1:5-7 explains, “And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and [yet] walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Delivered – vs. 13,
The first part of verse 13 begins the explanation of how God qualified us to be saints. It also reveals why man cannot save himself. “He delivered us from the domain of darkness.” Just as light is often used as an analogy of purity and holiness, darkness is used as an analogy of sin and unrighteousness. The reality is that without God’s intervention we are trapped in darkness.
The word for domain (ejxousiva / exousia) refers to authority, power and control. Being blinded by the God of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) all were entrapped in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19). As Ephesians 2:1-3 explains, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Our very decisions and practices confirmed our sinfulness and love of the darkness.
The word delivered (rJuvomai / rhuomai) speaks of being rescued and set free. Man is naturally proud and does not like to think of himself as a slave to anyone or anything, but the reality is that we were slaves of sin (John 8:34) because we were obedient to sin (Romans 6:16). Such a slave cannot free himself for he loves the darkness instead of the light (John 3:19). It is God that had to take action if we were to be delivered from the domain of darkness. In order to rescue us from this slavery, God had to break the power of our previous master. Jesus broke the power of the devil when He became a man, lived a sinless life, died as the substitute sacrifice for sin and bodily rose from the grave (Hebrews 2:14-15).
However, breaking the power of the previous master would not be enough in itself to free slaves because they would only continue to obey their previous master even though his legal claim had been removed. God also had to enable us to be obedient to a new master – righteousness. Jesus does this through the preaching of the gospel which opens the eyes of those who had been blind. In Acts 26:18 Paul recounts the commission Jesus gave him to preach the gospel and “open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.”
Transferred – vs. 13
God not only rescued us from our enslavement to Satan and freed us from his domain, God also “transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” Rescue and transfer go hand in hand, but each places emphasis on a different aspect of the total action taken. Deliverance or rescue focuses on the actions taken to free the person from their former bondage. Transfer (meqivsthmi / methistêmi) focuses on being removed from one place and taken to a new one. The word is used in 1 Corinthians 13:2 of moving mountains. What is removed from one place is put somewhere else. When Israel fell to Assyria, the people were removed and transferred to other lands.
Having been freed from the devil’s power God would also remove us from the devil’s dominion and make us part of a different kingdom, that of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. How is it that God makes someone a part of this kingdom?
Remember that our inheritance in the saints includes being part of God’s kingdom, so this transfer occurs in the same way. Again, as John 1:12-13 states, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, [even] to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” The transfer occurs by means of adoption by God into His family. We receive the adoption as sons so that we are no longer slaves, but sons who can call God, “Abba! Father!” and if sons, then heirs through God (Galatians 4:4-5).
What the apostle John says here matches what the apostle Paul states in Colossians. This transfer of kingdoms is something done by God according to His will and not something man could do for himself. It does not come through your genealogy. It does not come because you want it or because someone else wants it for you. You are adopted because God wills it. How does that work out in practical terms in the life of an individual.
It begins with God being “longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance“ (2 Peter 3:9). It continues with the Holy Spirit’s work to bring a person to conviction of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). They come to understand that they are sinful in breaking the commandments of God, that righteousness is found in Jesus and that God’s judgment will come upon the devil and all his followers. God extends grace by quickening the soul of the individual so that what was dead became alive in Jesus resulting in repentance of sin and belief in the person and work of Jesus so that they will trust His promises and seek to follow His commands (Ephesians 2:5). By God’s grace we are saved through faith in His Son which is reckoned to us as righteousness (Ephesians 2:8, Romans 4:5). We are therefore no longer under God’s condemnation but transferred from Satan’s realm into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Redeemed – vs. 14, In the Son “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins
Paul’s final point as a reason for giving thanks to God places emphasis on the means by which we are qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints in light, delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of His Son. In the beloved Son “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” This is also an additional reason that man cannot earn his own salvation.
Salvation cannot occur unless there is forgiveness of sins. Sin refers to all of our transgressions of God’s commandments from the least to the greatest. The word itself (aJmartiva / hamartia) refers to missing the mark of a perfect bullseye when shooting an arrow. Anything less than perfect righteousness before God is sin, and as has already been pointed out, the wages of sin is death. It was Adam and Eve’s failure to keep God’s prohibition about eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge that resulted in their separation from intimate fellowship with God, being kicked out of the Garden of Eden, and the process of physical death beginning.
While God is longsuffering and patient with man even to the point of overlooking their ignorance and not bringing their justly deserved judgment upon them quickly (Acts 17:30), He will eventually judge and He will do so without partiality (Revelation 20:11-15). Man cannot escape this reality on his own because there is nothing he can do himself to alleviate his offenses against God and make things right. Even the good deeds he might perform do not meet God’s perfect standard so that they are filthy before Him (Isaiah 64:6).
Our only hope is to find some way in which God will grant us forgiveness (a[fesi” / aphesis), a pardon for our wrongs against Him. Unless there is some means by which He will release us from our guilt and dismisses the charges against us, each of us will pay the price for our sins in the present and throughout eternity. We will be shut out from His presence and pay the penalty of eternal destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
Some people are not concerned about God’s future judgment because they think they are good enough, but as I have already pointed out that is a false belief. They may do better than others, but their deeds will convict them. Some avoid present worry and concern by simply denying there is a God or that He will judge. Such peace is short lived for it will all disappear when God calls them to account for their souls. Many people think God will continue to be longsuffering and just overlook their sins. God’s goodness and kindness to them in being patient should cause them to repent, but instead they are indifferent. They are storing up God’s wrath upon themselves when God will render to every man according to his deeds. Reality is expressed in Hebrews 9:27 which declares, “it is appointed for men to die once and after this [comes] judgment.” There is a God. He will judge and He cannot overlook sin forever because He is good and just. He is consistent with His own character and will carry out all of His promises including those of wrath and punishment upon sinners.
We need our sins forgiven. We are desperate for God’s pardon to dismiss our guilt, but there is nothing we ourselves can do to gain it. There is nothing with which we can bargain for it. The only thing we can do is be humble before our Creator and beg for His mercy. That is being poor in spirit and God does grant grace to the humble so that they can be included in His kingdom (Matthew 5:3; 1 Peter 5:5), but even God cannot grant forgiveness unless justice is also carried out. That is the reason why redemption is necessary and that it precedes forgiveness.
Redemption (ajpoluvtrwsi”/ apolutrôsis) is one of several Biblical terms that express different aspects of the work accomplished in Jesus’ death on the cross. Sacrifice speaks of the price of sin. Offering speaks of the voluntary nature of the sacrifice. Propitiation speaks of the turning away of God’s wrath. Justification speaks of our acquittal. Redemption speaks of the price paid to release us from our bondage. It is the ransom price. It is by redemption that God through Jesus breaks the power of the devil’s domain and transfers us to His own kingdom. The price of sin is high, but Jesus willingly gave His own life as the means of redemption to purchase us for Father. Because justice is met, we can be “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). God can extend forgiveness to those who humbly request it based on belief in Jesus and trust in His promises. We are pardoned because Jesus has paid the price on our behalf and Psalm 103:12 is fulfilled so that our transgressions are removed as far as the east is from the west.
Redemption allow us to be forgiven. Redemption delivers us from the domain of darkness and transfers us into the kingdom of His beloved Son. Redemption qualifies us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. No wonder giving thanks to God along with bearing fruit in every good work, increasing in the knowledge of God and being strengthened with God’s glorious might so that we might be joyful even when patiently enduring difficult circumstances and people are characteristics of walking in a manner worthy of the Lord and pleasing Him. All of this is predicated on being filled with the full knowledge of God’s will with all spiritual wisdom and understanding. That is why Paul prayed this way for the Colossians – and why we should follow this example and pray for one another in the same way.
Sermon Notes – 8/8/2010
Paul’s Prayer, Part 2- Colossians 1:12-14
Introduction / Context
It is best if we learn to pray following the examples given in _______________________
Epaphras’s report resulted in Paul is writing to ____________theology and encourage proper conduct
Paul begins his letter with _____________to God for their response to the gospel – faith, growth & love
Paul kept in mind the big picture and was ___________even when admonishing theological error and sin
They would give thanks, offer general prayers, ask ___________requests whenever they thought of them
The major __________of the prayer was that they “be filled with the knowledge of God’s will.”
The __________of the prayer was that they “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord . ..”
Walking in a worthy manner would result in: 1) “being ____________ in every good work”
2) An increasing ___________of God 3) Strengthened to face difficult circumstances & people
4) Giving __________ to God for His work in our salvation
Qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light – vs. 12.
Pelagianism – the idea that man has inherent ______________that allows him to gain a place in heaven
Do salvation testimonies emphasize what they have done to gain God’s favor or give glory to ________?
Some people insist they are _________enough to make to heaven even after their sins are pointed out
It is ______that has qualified (iJkanovw \ hikanoô) – made sufficient / adequate people for His inheritance
The followers of Jesus inherit eternal __________- Matthew 19:29
Our inheritance is ______________and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven (1 Peter 1:4)
Believers inherit a place in the Millennial Kingdom to be priests and _________with Christ (Rev. 20:6)
“light” is often used to describe __________, holiness and the manner of life of disciples – 1 John 1:5-7
Delivered us from the domain of darkness – vs. 13
Darkness is used as an analogy of _________ and unrighteousness.
Domain (ejxousiva / exousia) refers to _____________, power and control
Delivered (rJuvomai / rhuomai) speaks of being __________and set free
_____________ broke the power of the devil when He died as the sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 2:14-15).
Jesus also opened the eyes of the blind through the preaching of the _____________(Acts 26:18)
Transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son – vs. 13
Transfer (meqivsthmi / methistêmi) focuses on being removed from one place and taken to a __________
___________removed us from the devil’s dominion and made us part of the kingdom of His beloved Son
Those who receive and believe in Jesus are made _____________of God by God’s will (John 1:12-13)
God ____________the soul so that repentance and belief can take place (Eph. 2:5)
Redeemed – “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins – vs. 14
There is no salvation without the ____________of sin – missing the mark of God’s perfect righteousness
We must have forgiveness (a[fesi” / aphesis), a ____________for our wrongs against Him
Self righteousness, denial or complacent assumption will not avoid condemning __________- Heb. 9:27
We cannot earn or even bargain for ____________. We can only humbly plead for it (Matt. 5:3; 1 Pet. 5:5)
Redemption (ajpoluvtrwsi”/ apolutrôsis) speaks of the price paid to ______________from our bondage
We can be “justified as a gift by His grace through the ___________which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24)
Receiving His pardon, our transgressions are __________as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12)
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – 1) Write down all the verses mentioned. 2) Count how many times is mentioned. 3) Talk with your parents about what God has done to save people from their sins.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What is the context of the prayer in Colossians 1:9-12? What are the major elements in this prayer? What are the four reasons given in the prayer that we should be thankful to God? What does it mean to be “qualified” and how does that happen? What inheritance(s) do believer’s receive from God? Why can’t people be good enough to qualify themselves for heaven? What is the domain of darkness? Why are people in that domain? Why can’t they escape it themselves? How does God have to deliver / rescue people from it? How does God transfer people to the kingdom of His beloved Son? What is man’s part in this? What is sin and how pervasive is it in the human soul? What is forgiveness? Can man escape God’s judgment without his sins being forgiven? What does God’s justice demand in order for sin to be forgiven? How does God satisfy both His justice and love? What is redemption? How does Jesus’ death redeem sinful man? What thanksgiving do you owe to God?
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