COLOSSIANS-SERIES NR 2
Theme: Paul’s prayer overheard > Col 1 : 9-14
The Apostle Paul truly knew what it was to have a burden for prayer. To bear a prayer-burden. Intercession in particular. To stand before the Lord in the interest of others. To intercede. Of Jesus himself we read how He sometimes prayed with loud cries and tears (Heb 5:7). And He was reverently submissive to His Father and was heard.
The Apostle Paul was not personally involved with the establishment of the church in Colosse. Epaphras was. But from the moment that the news reached Paul that a church had been established in Colosse, he began to pray for them. Without ceasing. That means that he persisted and persevered with it.
That is saying much, because we all know how difficult it is to persevere with prayer. Particularly if it seems as if there is no answer forthcoming from God. Certainly it is the Holy Spirit who creates and maintains this perseverance in our hearts.
We find then, in 1:9-14 a prayer of the Apostle Paul. And it is very insightful, because we can literally hear what he is praying. We eavesdrop on his prayer. We get insight into the content of the prayer of an apostle. Just think about that!
Well, what did he pray? That is what we will look at this morning. We are going to look at the main elements of his prayer to discover what riches are contained therein.
Notice that Paul is praying to God the FATHER! He is not praying to Jesus or the Holy Spirit. Yes, he is praying to the Lord Jesus and the Spirit, but he is addressing God the FATHER. It is not wrong to address the Lord Jesus, or even the Spirit. Although we do not find an example anywhere in the NT of someone addressing the Holy Spirit in prayer. But to the Lord Jesus certainly. Think about Stephen – while they were busy stoning him : “LORD JESUS, receive my spirit”.
But, strictly speaking we pray to the Father, THROUGH Jesus’ work of atonement in the POWER of and enabled by God the Holy Spirit. That is exactly what the Apostle is doing here. The Holy Spirit is the Person in the Holy Triune Deity who executes the will of the Father in a practical way in our lives. He works at ground level. For example: It is the Spirit who creates/gives/works wisdom and understanding inside the believer’s heart and life (verse 9).
What exactly is the Apostle praying?
1THAT THE FATHER THROUGH THE WORKING OF THE SPIRIT WOULD GIVE THE COLOSSIANS WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING SO THAT THEY WOULD CLEARLY KNOW HIS WILL!
This “will of God” has nothing to do with everyday things like “I wonder what God’s will is: must I take that job, or not..” or “is it God’s will that I continue with this friendship…?”.
Naturally all these matters are important, and it is essential that Christians should acknowledge the Lord in all things. But in verse 9 the “will of God” is a very broad concept. We could say it is about the complete redeeming work of God in the Lord Jesus Christ. The entire Gospel-message.
Being a Christian is not something static. There is constant growth and development. And Paul is praying that the believers in Colosse would develop a deeper insight and understanding into the depth of the Gospel-message. Knowledge and understanding in Christ and who He really is, and that they would fathom the depth of His redeeming work.
The false preachers who troubled the church at Colosse, boasted therein that they had a “deeper knowledge “. They had received it through special dreams and visions, they pretended. They pretended that they could hear the Lord’s voice speaking to them audibly. They told the church that the ministry of the Apostle Paul was merely the BEGINNING, but have not yet brought the true depth. THEIR (the false preachers) ministry was ostensibly needed to lead the people further in more depth than what the message of the Apostles could achieve. The teaching of the apostles only laid the primary-school level, but their (the false teachers) teaching was the ACTUAL teaching which was essential for a Christian.
They told the Colossians: “These things that Epaphras taught you are very nice and right and good. But it cannot possibly bring the FULL blessing and fullness of the Lord into your lives. But WE have received from the Lord the secret of the fullness. Come let us teach you. Listen to our teaching and watch our You Tube videos”.
Exactly as some charismatic groups still do even today.
Contrary to this, Paul said NO! “If you believe in Jesus Christ you ALREADY HAVE the fullness and blessing! You cannot go deeper than what you already are by faith in Christ, and holding onto the teaching of the APOSTLES. All that must now happen is that the Spirit must deepen your knowledge and insight THEREIN! That is the true process of growth of the true believer.
And there is absolutely no other practical way for this than by the two proven methods of prayer and reading of the Bible! Because remember: In the Bible we have the teaching of the apostles. They are dead, but their teaching is recorded. And through prayer the channel between the Lord and ourselves are wide open! Too wonderful for words. So simple!
2TO LIVE A LIFE WORTHY OF THE LORD BY BEING OBEDIENT TO WHAT THEY KNOW TO BE HIS WILL
The knowledge and insight that we gain and wherein we grow, must lead to obedience. We must not just hear it and then walk away and forget what we have heard. Like looking into a mirror and turning away forgetting what you saw – according to James. We must GIVE HEED to what we learn.
Obedience means to GIVE HEED TO something. That is what it means to live to the glory of the Lord.
People sometimes ask: “How must I live to the glory of God? Must I stop smoking, must I throw out my tv, must I this, must I that?”
To live to the glory of the Lord means to heed the insight and knowledge you increasingly receive from the Gospel-message. In proportion to the light you receive, you give heed to it. And so you grow. And so the dry leaves drop from the tree, and the green ones remain.
3THAT THERE WOULD BE AN INCREASE IN EVERY GOOD WORK, BEARING SPIRITUAL FRUIT AND KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
Paul was not opposed to good works. Certainly he had learned that no one can get into (and remain in) God’s good books based on good deeds and be saved on that basis and be placed in a right relationship with God by it. It only happens once you place your faith-confidence on Christ’s cross-atonement at Golgotha.
BUT: The person who is reborn, SHALL produce (through the Holy Spirit) good works. And those good works are at the same time the proof and indication that the person is in fact reborn. Spiritual fruit is evident. And it also increases. It is not static. There is growth. Those are all clear indications that the Spirit of God has done a work in the heart and life of a person.
4THAT GOD WILL STRENGTHEN THEM WITH ALL POWER TO HIS GLORIOUS MIGHT SO THAT THEY MAY HAVE GREAT ENDURANCE AND PATIENCE TO PERSEVERE AND CONTINUE TO SERVE THE LORD
We often want to experience the power of the Lord for all kinds of reasons and in all kinds of circumstances. But the Apostle makes it clear that the affirmation of the Lord in a believer’s life have particular aim: With patience to persist and persevere to serve the Lord in the midst of the most difficult circumstances. It is about endurance and persistence and tenacity and patience. All the things human nature finds very difficult to do. But the Lord equips us out of a wonderful source: His OWN marvellous power. Think about it. That is the reason why believers throughout the centuries could remain standing in the most dreadful circumstances. Think about the martyrs, for example.
5THAT THEY WOULD JOYFULLY GIVE THANKS TO GOD WHO HAVE QUALIFIED THEM TO SHARE IN THE WONDERFUL INHERITANCE OF ALL THE BELIEVERS IN THE KINGDOM OF LIGHT
Just look what is written there! A believer is someone who can now already know with full assurance where he/she will be in the far distant future! Indeed something to be glad and excited and grateful for! I am going to be, and will be in the eternal kingdom of God for ever. Only based on the successful and perfect atonement of JESUS. Nothing of myself. It is God who let me qualify. It is the best message ever.
God let me qualify because He awarded/ascribed Jesus’s 100% passmark to me the moment I put my faith-trust in Jesus.
6THAT THEY WOULD REALIZE EXACTLY WHAT IT WAS GOD DID TO QUALIFY THEM FOR THE KINGDOM OF HIS LIGHT: HE RESCUED THEM FROM THE DOMINION OF DARKNESS AND BROUGHT THEM INTO THE DOMINION OF HIS SON – JESUS!
Here the Apostle now explains HOW God get His people to qualify for the eternal kingdom. HOW He with His own hand made (past tense) them part of the future kingdom. They now have a new inheritance. Like the nation Israel who took possession of the promised land. And they were ransomed out of the evil power of the Pharaoh – ransomed by the blood of the paschal lambs. The inheritance is not obtained by human effort. God has snatched the Colossians out of the power of darkness (plucked out of danger) and placed them under the dominion of Jesus. That is why believers live changed lives and are obedient – because they live under the dominion of a new king. WHEN did God pluck His people out of the darkness? On the cross of course. When darkness descended around Jesus. And when He brought us, by the Spirit, to the realization of our sinfulness and lead us to repentance and faith-confidence in Christ.
7THAT IT IS IN JESUS WHOM THEY HAVE RECEIVED REDEMPTION: THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS!
Literally: The random has been paid! As a slave was paid for in the old days. A new owner comes to pay for a slave to free him. He release the slave from his present cruel owner by handing over the money. To pay the price. Then the slave is immediately ransomed and free and released. Because the ransom has been paid for us by the blood of Jesus, we are forgiven. ALL our sins are forgiven. All. That is how powerful the blood of the Lamb is. And when you are forgiven, you are delivered and you are free. It is not a question of emotions and feelings to know it. It is a question to trust the Lord for it. He gives His Word and I must believe Him for it. It is only then that we experience our freedom. We cannot first experience and then believe. First believe and then experience. Forgiveness and deliverance is invisible realities. You cannot feel or see them. What you can see is God’s Word of promise. And as faith-confidence begins to cling to it, we also experience the deliverance.
Translated by Marthie Wilson