About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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Chapter 1:3 - 14

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Thanksgiving And Prayer (ch. 1:1 - 14)

Paul opens this section in verse 3 by saying that he always gives thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when he prays for these Colossian believers.  As I point out so many times, Paul uses this phrase "God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ".  There is only one God.  The God that Christians serve is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He is not the God of any other name under Heaven, no matter how important that name may be.  To believe in the one true God of the universe, you must first believe who Jesus Christ the Lord is, because the God we serve is the Father of Jesus.  Therefore, if you believe that Jesus was not God in a human form while He was on earth in a human body then you donít believe in the true God, because God is the Father of Jesus.

The truth that God is a Father and that He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is very important in this day when the push is on to unite all religions, especially Islam and Christianity.  Muslims do not believe that God is a father because they do not believe He ever had a son.  Therefore, logic dictates that the god of the Muslims is not the God of the Christians.  It thus makes no since for Muslims and Christians to join in worshipping the same god because they just don't worship the same god.  People just don't seem to get this logic these days.  It's a lie from satan.   

Why does Paul give thanks to God for these people?  Verse 4 provides us wit the answer.  It's because he hears of their faith in Jesus and their love for one another.  The words faith and love are two words Paul often uses together.  He believes that true faith will express itself through loving actions (Galatians 5:6).  Faith is productive.  Faith is not stagnant.  Faith is an action word.  Faith produces good works of love.  Our salvation is not based on any type of good work that we can do, but once we have genuine faith; once we have true trust in Jesus: we will begin to do good and loving things.  These good things do not keep us saved.  Only by maintaining our trust in Jesus do we stay saved.  These good works will bring rewards some day for us in Heaven.  See 1 Corinthians 3:12 and following. 


We should be reminded that faith is simply trust.  If we have faith; if we believe, we trust.  When we say we have faith in Jesus it means that we trust Him.  As a matter of fact, we are not only to trust Jesus for our salvation; we trust Him with our very lives, all of who we are. We as Evangelicals have stressed the point that we must trust Jesus for our salvation, our entrance into Heaven, but there's more to faith than that.  We are to trust Jesus with every aspect of our lives because He is not just our Saviour but our Lord.   


Most commentators say that when Paul wrote this letter he had not yet visited these believers.  It is for this reason the text says that Paul "heard" of the faith and love these people had.


In verse 5 Paul goes on to say that this faith and love "spring from the hope that is stored up for them in heavenÖ"  Paul is not suggesting here that their faith and love comes from something that they are hoping for in a worldly sense, meaning, maybe I'll get what I'm hoping for.  It's not something in the future.  Paul says that what they hope for is already in Heaven for them.  It's real and tangible, right here and now in the present tense.  The Greek word translated as "spring up" suggests "laid up".


What are these people homing for that is already stored up in Heaven?  Jesus went to Heaven to prepare a place for us as stated in John 14:1-4.  All that Heaven is belongs to us right now.   We don't have it in our earthly hands, but it is ours.  It's what Christians throughout the decades have called the glorious hope of the saints.  It's our inheritance and upon our death it will be in our hands.         


Just as these Colossians heard and received the truth of the gospel, so the whole known world was hearing this gospel from the lips of Paul and others.  People everywhere were believing the good news of Jesus, and it was producing good fruit in their lives.  Many people understood Godís grace in all its truth as Paul says in verse 6.  The gospel is based on truth.  It is truth.  Jesus Himself is ultimate truth as He said in John 14:6.  This is the fundamental reason why I am a Christian.  I have come to understand that Jesus and what He has to say is the ultimate universal truth.  I, therefore, have no other logical choice but to give all of whom I am to Jesus.  All other truth comes from this universal truth which is found in Jesus alone.  If this is foundational in our thinking, we will not likely depart from the truth of the gospel.  If we come to Jesus for any other reason or for benefits He has to offer, then there is a chance we will not stick with Him through thick and thin.  Sooner or later, when things get rough, we may leave Him. We will begin to doubt His reality since we based our choice to serve Him on what He should give us, not on who He is.  Too many so-called Christians fall away when what they expect to get from Jesus doesn't arrive on their doorstep.  They get discouraged or angry and just give up.  Being sure in the very beginning that Jesus is the ultimate truth of the universe will give us a good foundation for our faith, our very lives.  More than salvation and all that it consists, Jesus offers me Himself.  He is enough.


Note in verse 7 Paul says that the gospel is bearing fruit throughout the known world.  This leads me to think of the term "church planting".  The modern concept of an apostle is a church planter.  Missionaries today go into the entire world with the hope of planting churches.  I do not see this as the calling of either an apostle or a missionary.  Paul's calling that is clearly stated in Acts 9 when he gave his life to Jesus was not to plant churches.  His calling was to proclaim the name of Jesus to Gentile kings and to the people of Israel .  Paul preached Jesus.  Paul preached the gospel, and, it was this gospel that produced fruit.  What is the fruit of the gospel Paul had in mind here?  I believe it was people giving their lives to Jesus.  Only then, when a number of people gave their lives to Jesus were community of believers formed.  Only then, did Paul concern himself with matters of church.  Paul was not a church planter.  He was a proclaimer of Jesus.


Note the term "God's grace in truth" in verse 6.  The gospel is all about God's grace.  In this context grace means God's unmerited favour.  His unmerited favour, as Paul points out here, is in truth.  That means there are boundaries to God extending grace to us.  He just doesn't extend grace everywhere, anywhere, and to anyone.  For example, grace is extended when we repent.  God doesn't save those who reject Him.  His grace is limited by His truth.            

In verses 7 and 8 we learn of a man named Epaphras.  He was the one who told Paul about the Colossian believer's faith and love.  Paul says that he was a faithful minister; minister meaning servant, of the gospel.  Here is a man that we know little about, but he, like many other believers were faithful preachers of the gospel.  I'm sure if we knew his story, it would be an inspiration to us all.     


Note the words "love in the Spirit" in verse 8.  Paul knows well that the Holy Spirit is vital in both the preaching and receiving of the gospel, as well as the working out of our salvation.  Simply put, we cannot demonstrate God's love as it should be demonstrated without the Holy Spirit's influence in our lives.


In verse 9 Paul tells his readers that he is praying for them. I wonder how many times Paul prayed each day, and for how long.  I wonder just what it would be like to see Paul in prayer.  His prayer is that God will fill these people with the knowledge of His will, through spiritual wisdom and understanding.  These are important words in light of the teaching going around in Colosse concerning angel worship and the over emphasis of a false spirituality.  Paul is saying that one can know Godís will through spiritual means, yet, the will of God that people claim to know should be full of true Godly understanding and wisdom.  Paul puts emphasis on understanding and wisdom. In Romans 10:2 Paul says the Jews have a lot of zeal, but it was not based on knowledge.  It was not based on real understanding of the truth.  Paul is not against zeal, or knowing Godís will.  He is for true understanding of the truth of the gospel that is found in Scripture.  Once again, we need to distinguish what is really Godís will and what is a figment of our imagination.  


Knowing God's will in a general sense and in an individual sense is important.  We need to understand where God is heading and we need to understand where He is leading us as individuals.  I believe Paul is just being simple and practical here.  Coming to grips with God's will is based on knowledge that leads to understanding which we can apply to our lives in all wisdom.  This is not a matter of flakey spirituality that I've seen so much in Pentecostal and charismatic circles.  


Verse 10 reads; "And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the LordÖ"  Paul goes on to say that knowing God's will is seen in doing good works that please God.  God's will is practical.  It's worked out each and every day of our lives.  We're not angels floating around the streets of our cities.  We're human beings, saved unto good works.  We get our hands dirty as we walk among fallen humanity.  That's God's will.  Therefore, as we walk among falling humanity and proclaim Jesus to a fallen world we must act appropriately as people worthy of who we now are in Christ.  This was Paul's prayer for these people. 


Also in verse 10, if we know God's will, live God's will, and please God in our lives, we will grow in knowing who  God is.  Isn't that what we really want?  Don't we want to know God today better than we knew Him yesterday?


One result of knowing God's will and living God's will is that, as Paul says in verse 10, we will live a life of endurance, patience, and joy.  Remember, these people are suffering for the name of Jesus.  Some of them might well be executed for their association with Jesus.  They need the ability to endure.  They need patience in the midst of the struggle.  They also need joy, despite all of the tragedy that surrounds them.  Paul says that these qualities are found in the "might" that belongs to Jesus.  


In verse 12 Paul says that the Father has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints.  Note that Paul says that itís the Father who qualifies us, not Jesus.  Why would Paul say that?  Well, when thinking of an inheritance, the inheritance comes from a father, not a son.  God is the Father.  Jesus is His Son, who is also our brother.  We share in the same inheritance that God gave Jesus.  What a wonderful truth to ponder over. 


In verse 12 the word "inheritance" is in reference to the kingdom of light.  That's the Kingdom of God.  Right now the Kingdom of God is on earth in a spiritual sense.  There will come a day when Jesus returns to earth and the Kingdom of God will come in a literal sense, meaning, Jesus will rule the world with a scepter of iron, and we the saints, will rule with Him.  In that sense, we share in the inheritance of the kingdom of light. 


In verse 13 Paul says that Jesus "has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness."  The first century church saw the world around it as being dark and sinful, thus the term "kingdom of darkness".  Look at what Peter says in Acts 2:40. "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation."  Peter, Paul, and the rest of the early church believed that there were only two kingdoms, the kingdom of darkness, and the kingdom of light, or the Kingdom of God.  Jesus has rescued us from this dark kingdom as a fireman would rescue someone from a fire.  The idea is to snatch someone out from the kingdom of darkness is quickly as possible, before it kills him.  There is a sense of urgency here that is implied in the word rescue.  I'm not convinced, at least in general terms, that the western world church has the same sense of urgency to rescue those caught in a dark world.  We probably don't have this sense of urgency because we don't consider the world around us to be as dark as Peter and Paul understood it.  If we understood how dark our world is and where people living in this darkness will end up, we'd live much differently.  


Note the present tense in verse 13.  We are already, right now in real time, living in the kingdom of light.  In one real sense of the word we live in another world.  I may be a citizen of Canada but my first allegiance is to the Kingdom of God .  I'm first and foremost a citizen of God's kingdom.     


Paul says in verse 14 that we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins through the Lord Jesus Christ.  Being forgiven of our sins is relatively easy to understand.   The idea of redemption is that Jesus has paid the price that was necessary to bring us back into right relationship with God.  The price that He paid was with his own life, with His shed blood on the cross.  He did not pay the price to satan as some think.  He paid the price to God Himself, His Father.  Jesus may have rescued us from the kingdom and the power of the devil, but the price He paid was not to the devil.  The price that He paid was paid in order to satisfy Godís perfect justice.  When thinking of a court of law today, Jesus paid our fine to the judge, the one who sentenced us.  Jesus went to prison on our behalf.  Jesus received the penalty for our sin so that we might stand acquitted before the Judge of all things. 


Jesus may have rescued us from the kingdom of darkness as Paul rightly says here, but in the long run, Jesus rescued us from God Himself.  If Jesus had not paid the price for our sin, had not redeemed us, we would all be eternally condemned.  We would all be subject to the wrath of Almighty God.  We really have been saved from God Himself.       


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