Sermon on Colossians 1:1-14
Text: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people — 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world — just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Isn’t it nice how everything has been growing lately? The seeds that were planted last spring have grown up. The Lord blessed us with rain recently. The sun has been shining. Though the humidity is more than we might like, the crops sure seem to love it. We are in the middle of the growing season. You and I are, also, in the middle of another growing season. The thing that is growing that we are talking about this morning is our faith. It is growing through our contact with the gospel. Today we pause and THANK GOD FOR THE GOSPEL’S GROWING SEASON. 1. It Takes Root In Our Hearts. 2. It Bears Fruit In Our Lives.
First, let’s get some background on Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Colossae is in the middle of modern-day Turkey. The Christian congregation was not started by the apostle Paul, though he was certainly familiar with it, as the first part of his letter indicates. He talks about the fact that they had “heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people.” (Verse 4) It appears that the occasion for this letter was the fact that some false teachers had come into their midst. When you read the letter, you see that their false teaching had elements of Judaism, in that you had to follow the Old Testament regulations. There was also the idea that these teachers possessed a higher knowledge than what had been taught to the Colossians. The basic teaching was not enough. You have to search for deeper meanings and, then, you will be a “Real Christian.” Throughout this letter, the apostle shows the Colossians that knowing Christ is true knowledge, and in Christ you have everything you need for salvation.
The sufficiency of Christ is spoken of in verses 13-14, “[The Father] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” First, Paul notes our former state. We were in “the dominion of darkness.” This is the state into which we are all born. We are born sinful, which puts us out of the kingdom of God. Compounded to this state is the fact that we still sin every day. For example, there may be times when we get bored hearing the same old message from God’s Word again and again. It would be so much better if there was something new. However, God has told us all that we need to know in his Word. It is right there. We don’t need to go searching for hidden meanings. Any time that you and I have ever been bored with God’s Word or disregarded it as unimportant, we have sinned. Add to that all the other sins that you and I commit over a lifetime. On our own, we are definitely in “the dominion of darkness.” We would have been there forever, away from God’s love. We would have felt his righteous anger for all eternity.
However, it says that the Father “has rescued us from the dominion of darkness.” This divine rescue mission was carried out by Jesus. He perfectly carried out his Father’s will. Where you and I have, at times, disregarded God’s Word, Jesus did not. It was important for him to be in the synagogue on the Sabbath. Then, his divine rescue mission took him to the cross, where he paid for all of our sins. Paul makes mention of the fact that in Christ, we have “redemption.” The word “redemption” means that a ransom price was paid, and we have been set free. No longer does God look at our sins, for they are no longer there. We have “the forgiveness of sins.” Please note that this is something that we have. It is not something that we might have, if we do all of the right things. It is something that we do have because of the redemption that Jesus brought about. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection have “rescued (us) from the dominion of darkness.”
Furthermore, the Father “has brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.” The Father transplanted us into the splendor of his eternal Eden, the kingdom of his love. The Holy Spirit began his work in you and created a faith that trusts in Jesus, alone, for your salvation. It was a small plant, at first. We might think of a sprout or a seedling. However, that simple, little faith in Jesus was enough to save you. We thank God that the message about Jesus, the gospel, has taken root in our hearts. Because of that message, faith was created, and we will be with God forever in his kingdom of glory.
The effects of the gospel do not stop the moment that we are brought to faith. It continues to have an effect on us. That is why Paul prayed for the Colossians as he did. He wrote, “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way.” (Verses 9-10) The gospel’s message guides the believer in conduct worthy of the Lord. The more thoroughly God’s children come to know him, the more they will mature in their faith-relationship with him, and the more they will desire to obey him by thinking, doing, and saying things that are pleasing to him.
Paul gives four examples of those things that please our Lord in verses 10-12. First, he mentions, “bearing fruit in every good work.” Good works are those things that we do to thank God for all that he has done for us. They are the thoughts, words, and actions that please God. A growing faith reveals itself more and more in the fruits of faith. In connection with this, I would ask you what happens when a tree has many leafy, but fruitless branches. It needs pruning and constant care so that it will bear fruit on all its branches. This is also true for the Christian as they strive to bear this good fruit for the Lord. We need to have the law prune away any attitudes and actions that are not in line with God’s will. The gospel gives us the strength that our branches need to bear fruit that pleases God. This is one of the things that Paul mentions that please our God.
The second is this, that we would be “growing in the knowledge of God.” What happens to a fruit tree that stops bearing fruit? It is chopped down, perhaps for firewood. As Christians, we need to make constant use of the words of God so that their spiritual maturing process does not become stagnated and stunted. It pleases our God when we are in his Word and learning from him. It comes in the form of our Sunday worship services. There we have opportunity to learn together of God’s amazing love for us. We also have our Bible classes, confirmation class, and Sunday School. We, also, take opportunity to read God’s Word on our own. The fact is, you can never know God’s Word too well. Confirmation does not equal graduation. Constant use of God’s Word means that we will enjoy the blessings and privileges of spiritual growth. The more we hear about God, the more we want to know about him. It pleases our God when we do this.
The third thing that Paul mentions that pleases our Lord is that we are “strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.” When a tree is first planted, you will often drive a post near it so that it can grow strong. You don’t want a strong wind to break that tree off. Consistent use of God’s Word helps a Christian remain strong and firm in the faith when the storms of life come our way such as family problems, illness, and job stress. As Christians come to know their Lord more deeply, he fills them with the spiritual strength to confess “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) Through the gospel, the Holy Spirit fills believers with his strength, not in a limited or sparing way, but in proportion to his limitless power. That strength enables believers to perform their tasks and live Christian lives confidently and without fear. It gives courage to endure hardships, persecutions, and temptations with brave patience. This is a fruit that the gospel produces in us.
The fourth thing that is pleasing to the Lord is that we are “giving joyful thanks to the Father.” God’s Word affects a person’s whole outlook on life. We rejoice because, as Paul says, “[The Father] has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.” Sinners whose sins are not paid for are not fit to live in the presence of the holy God. Nor do they have sufficient abilities or capabilities to earn God’s favor. However, our gracious God performed a miracle. He has made us fit, “qualified us,” for sharing the inheritance that waits for all of God’s people. That fact fills our hearts and lives with joy. This means that we can even rejoice in whatever troubles might come our way, because we have the promise, as is stated in Romans 8:28, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” We, also, have this assurance from Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Joyful living is giving thanks to God. It shows that we realize that everything we have comes from God’s good and gracious hand. This hope and joy come from the gospel’s work in us.
This does not mean that we will constantly walk around with a great big smile on our faces. We know that we will complain about how things are going. When we do that, we come to God in repentance and, having been assured of forgiveness, we go forward trusting in God’s gracious hand. This does not mean that tears will not sometimes flow. We live in a sinful world. We feel hurt, whether it be from a physical pain or an emotional pain. God understands that. Yet, in the midst of our tears, we have the assurance from God’s Word that he loves us with a love that can never be measured. As a result of this assurance, we continue on, knowing that God is right there beside us each step of the way. We know this because the gospel continues to point to all that God has done for us. It shows us the cross and says, ‘See how much he loves you. Because he loved you enough to sacrifice his Son so that you will be with him forever in heaven, he surely will take care of you, even at this time in your life.’ This hope and reason for joyful living comes from the gospel.
It won’t be long before people will start harvesting things from their gardens. You can buy some of these items in the store, but they seem to taste better when they come from your own garden. Not long after that, we will come into the fall harvest season. Even in the leanest of years, we are still blessed to get some sort of crop from the ground. Right now, we are in the middle of the growing season. The same is true of the gospel’s work in our hearts. Through the gospel, faith was created in our hearts, and we were planted into God’s garden. Even now, the gospel is bearing fruit in our lives. We thank God for the gospel’s work in our hearts. We pray that we would continue to grow in him and produce those things that are pleasing to him. Amen.
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