Strengthened with All Power
Gil Rugh

Copyright © 1997
Indian Hills Community Church
Lincoln, Nebraska

Colossians 1:10-14

After the first two introductory verses of Colossians, Paul spends the next 12 verses on the matter of prayer. In verses 3 to 8, Paul expressed his thanks to God in prayer for what God had accomplished in the lives of the Colossians. Then in verses 9 to 14 he interceded on behalf of the Colossians by praying for them and asking that God would enrich their lives in order that they might experience the fullness of His blessings in their walk with Him.

Each of these sections form one long sentence. Verses 3 to 8 are one sentence. Verses 9 to 14 are another single sentence. In some of our English Bibles they've been broken up into shorter sentences to make it easier to read, but they are one flowing thought from the mind of the Apostle Paul on the subject of prayer. And his prayer for the Colossians in verse 9 is that they will be filled with the knowledge of the will of God in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. He wants this knowledge to so fill them that it controls their lives. It shapes them in all that they are and all that they do. The Spirit produces the wisdom and understanding that enables us to know His will and carry it out. We mean spiritual wisdom and understanding. It's a wisdom and understanding in the realm of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit brings this wisdom and understanding to the heart and mind of a person. Note the emphasis on the words that we talked about - knowledge, wisdom, understanding. These are important reminders that God works through our minds.

Turn back to Romans 12:2, where Paul writes, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." This is similar to what Paul is writing to the Colossians. He wants us to be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Here we are renewed in our minds - made new in our minds - so that we might prove, test and discern what the will of God is.

We first are born into God's family by faith in Christ, then we grow. The means that God uses for the accomplishing of His purposes in renewing our minds is His word. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate..." - perfect, complete, everything God wants Him to be - "...equipped for every good work." He is enabled to do everything God wants Him to do. God's word is what He has provided to make us everything He wants us to be and to do everything He wants us to do. So as we take in His word, the Spirit of God takes that and renews our minds and enables us to have spiritual discernment and wisdom to do the will of God.

Another passage on that subject is 2 Corinthians 3:18: "But we all, with unveiled face..." He already addressed this matter earlier in that chapter. There is a veil over the face, blinding the eyes of those who have not yet trusted Jesus Christ. So when they study the Scripture, hear the sermon and read the Bible, they do not comprehend the message. But when you turn to Christ in faith, that veil is lifted. Then we are "...beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord..." Now we look into the word of God and it's like a mirror. But we see in this mirror not ourselves but the glory of God Himself revealed. As we behold in this mirror the glory of God, we are being transformed into the same image, the image of that glory "...just as from the Lord, the Spirit." Now see what happens. As we have come to trust in Christ and we continue to read and study His word, our minds are being made new by the Spirit. The Spirit is taking this truth and assimilating it into our lives as spiritual food to transform us into the character of our Heavenly Father so we become more and more like Him.

This is of utmost importance because much of what is taking place in evangelical Christianity today is moving us away from a focus on the word of God to a focus on experiences and emotions. I was reading an article in a Christian magazine this week about a revival that is taking place in Florida. You have to be impressed with the numbers and the activity. This has been going on - I don't know - for a year or so. Every night of the week, seven days a week. People come as early as 4 o'clock in the morning to get a seat for the evening service. That's not quite the problem we have. You say, "Wow, is God doing something here?" Regular church members have chosen not to come too often so that people can get in. You think, "Are we missing something that God is doing?"

1.Holy Spirit is a Teacher, not a Zapper

Then you begin to analyze what is being said about it. A medical doctor says, "You know, I had to get there. So I went to experience what God was doing." Then he said, "I got struck, and I just fell on the floor." Those who were there to observe say that he was motionless on the floor, except his hands kept moving about his face. He said when he got up after an hour, he didn't have any idea what happened. He said that's the way it is with the Spirit. It just hits you, and you don't know. It hit the pastor, and he just fell down like he was comatose for three hours . . . lay there on the floor. And this is going on all over the auditorium. I read this and say something is wrong because I come to the word of God and find that God's plan is not to bypass my mind and just zap me with the Spirit so that I'll get up and say I don't know what happened. If I just got hit and fell down, I say there is something wrong. God's purpose for discerning His will is knowledge, wisdom, understanding, taking in His truth and the Spirit changing me into conformity with the image.

You'll find that there are some other threads in activity like what is taking place in Florida. The one who professed that revival would come was Yongy Jo. I think his name is David Yongy Jo now. It used to be Paul Yongy Jo. He changed it to David Yongy Jo. I think I would have kept the Paul and changed the Yongy Jo. But he's had a huge ministry in Korea for a number of years, and it has a real mixture of some very unbiblical things. All this to say you and I as believers need to be alert because there is an attraction to these types of people because we don't want to miss out what God is doing. When we see thousands of people being drawn to something, we say there must be something to it. But I must always stop and look at the word of God and say, "What is God's plan in accomplishing His work today?" Otherwise, I may allow myself to be diluted. Remember as we move to the last days and then ultimately into the days before the second coming of Christ to earth, the deception will be so great that if possible even the very elect would be deceived. We want to be discerning and our minds are a key part of what God is doing.

Come back to Colossians chapter 1. This is just not something for the mind. We don't want to just fill ourselves with knowledge. According to Scripture, the knowledge we take in - if it's truly understood and taken into the life - is to fill us. It is to control us. It is to shape our lives, our walk, our behavior. Paul prays to be filled with the knowledge of His will, verse 10, "so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord." You walk in a way that is pleasing to Him in every respect. The work of the Spirit in making new our minds, in giving us wisdom and understanding so we are controlled by the knowledge of His will is so that we can conduct ourselves in a manner consistent with our God.

Paul elaborates on what it means to walk in a manner worthy of God with four participles. The first is bearing fruit in verse 10. The character of God is produced in the life of one who has been born into His family and now is experiencing the ministry of the Holy Spirit in his life. The fruit he is bearing is the fruit of the Spirit set forth in Galatians 5:22-23. The second participial phrase is that we are increasing, or to be increasing, in the knowledge of God. Again, that word knowledge comes into play. There is to be growth in our knowledge of God, and we grow by knowing God. So the Christian life is not a stagnant life. It's not one that gets old. There is growth and development.

2.We Require God's Divine Power

The third phrase, and this is where we were when we left off our study last week, is "strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might..." It takes a power beyond your own to walk in a manner worthy of God and that is pleasing to Him in all respects, We are not able to live lives that are pleasing to God in our own strength. We are not able to live lives that accomplish God's purposes in our own strength. We must be strengthened with all power according to His glorious might. There is a repetition of words here. The first two words strengthened and power are forms of the same word. We have in English dynamite, dynamo, from this Greek word. We might say strengthened with all strength or empowered with all power to get the idea of the same words used, but strengthened with all power gives you that sense. "...according to His glorious might...." The word might is a word used of the power of God in the Old Testament. His might, His power, His strength. That's what it takes.

Back up to Ephesians, chapter 1. As you might expect, Paul is praying for the Ephesians. He's in a long sentence, so we will break into verse 18 where he says, "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened..." So again, you see he wants understanding. He wants perception. " that you may know . . ." Jump down to verse 19: "and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might." So again, the emphasis is on God's power, God's strength, God's might, which He brought about in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenlies. The same power of God that brought about the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and established Him at the right hand of the Father in heaven is the power that must work in our lives if we are to walk in a manner worthy of God, if we are to please Him in all respects.

Look over in Ephesians, chapter 3. Paul is praying again, verse 14: "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father." Verse 16: Praying "that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man." Paul realized that the Christian life is a life beyond our ability. It can only be lived by the divine power of the Holy Spirit who indwells the child of God. And we must be willing to submit to His power and walk in His enablement. A trap that entangles us from time to time is that we think we can handle it. We say we don't want to bother God with the little things, only the big things. That's when we delude ourselves into thinking we can carry out God's purposes through our own strength.

3.Faith Must be Pure, not Mixed with Works

Turn to Galatians, chapter 3. The Galatians were confused. First, they had to be instructed again on what salvation entailed. It entailed faith in the finished work of Christ, period. No mixing of the law. Not faith in Christ, plus keeping parts of the law. Then they had to have clarified for them what the Christian life was about. It's what we call the doctrine of sanctification - how you live now that you're a child of God. In Galatians 3:1, Paul speaks bluntly and directly. "You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by works of the Law or by hearing with faith? In other words, how did you receive the Holy Spirit? Did you receive the Holy Spirit by keeping the Law, keeping the Ten Commandments or another part of the Law? No. You received the Holy Spirit when you heard the message of Christ crucified for sin, and you believed that He died for you and was raised again.

Verse 3: "Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected..." - matured - " the flesh?" You see the trap. "Oh, yes, I was saved by faith. Now it depends on me. And if it depends on me, I need the Law to help me do it." No, God's plan was to save you by faith and now to strengthen you and enable you to walk in a manner that's pleasing to Him by faith. When you are walking by faith, you are trusting Him. When you are trusting Him, the Spirit produces His power.

This always raises the question: How do I know when it's the Spirit doing it and when it's me doing it? I am to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling because it is God who works in me. So you want me to just sit back and wait? If I feel like doing it, that means the Spirit is moving me? I sometimes have had people say to me, "I don't know if I ought to be studying the Bible. I don't really feel like it." I say to do it when you don't feel like it. "Well, then I might be doing it in the energy of the flesh. I don't know that I can sort out all the minute details of this for everyone." I'll tell you what I do. It's very simple. I try to discern what God's will is for me as His child through His Word. Then I determine by His grace that I'm going to do it. And I apply myself with all my energy to the accomplishing of that task. I pray, "God, only You can strengthen me to carry this out." I have to apply myself. It is work. It is hard work. But it's not work done in the energy of the flesh. It's work done in the power of the Spirit. That doesn't mean you won't get tired, that you won't get weary, that you won't get dragged out. But it does mean the Spirit will enable you to endure, and that's where we're going in Colossians 1 in just a moment.

4.Rules Don't Please God

A trap that I mentioned is that we think we can please God by rules and regulations. That's the difficulty I have with some organizations that want to set down a list of seven things you do, twelve things you do, six things you do, in order to be pleasing to God and to be all that God wants you to be. These organizations just become forms of rules and regulations. What we have to do is take into our lives the purity of the word of God in a regular way so the Spirit can transform us.

I don't have six rules for you to raise teenagers. I have one. Be godly. I don't have seven rules that commit you to be a godly man. I have one. Be godly. Take in the word. Be obedient. Grow. We want shortcuts. "Just give me some formulas. Give me six steps. Give me 10 steps. Twelve-step programs are probably the best." And on we go in our thinking. What do we tell our kids? Eat healthy, exercise and go on. Well, what should we do? Eat healthy. Take in the word of God. As you do that under the power of the Spirit and as you submit your will to His, He'll transform you in a miraculous way. His power will enable you to live according to His will for you. We want to move it over to the realm of the emotion. "Get me pumped up. Boy, that really cranks me. Yeah, now I'm committed to do it."

We know Satan has his counterfeit for everything. Mormons are strong on the family. Mormons do a lot of great things with their families. We appreciate the family life that is evidenced by Mormons. But that is not biblically-produced family life because their doctrine of salvation is totally contrary to the word of God. What I'm saying is that you can adhere to certain rules, certain patterns, and in certain areas have a semblance of godliness, but only the Spirit produces true godly character from within. We want to be sure that we are developing true godly character. We are satisfied for substitutes today, and the worse our society gets, the more open we are for substitutes because we are just glad for something that looks good. "Let's be thankful that it looks good." No, God is not operating that way. He wants the real thing. He wants it to be genuine. That's what we are talking about in Colossians.

Come back to Colossians 1:11. Paul is praying not that they will follow these three regulations, but that they'll be strengthened with all power according to God's glorious might "for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience..." When we are walking according to the strength that God provides, we will be able to endure the trials and difficulties that will come our way. That's one of the purposes of trials and difficulties. They sift the genuine from the false. Remember the parable of the sower who went forth to sow seed? Some of the seed fell on shallow ground and immediately it sprang up, but it withered when the sun came out. Jesus' interpretation was that some people respond quickly when they hear the message of the truth, but it is only superficial because when trials, difficulties and persecutions come, they wilt away. They are gone. When one has been truly been born again by faith in Christ and now has the Spirit of God empowering and enabling his life, he has endurance when it is needed. It's hard. Life can be tough. And for the believer it will be tougher because 2 Timothy 3:12 says "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." So we not only have the normal trials that come to us as humanity, we have the added trials that come to us because we're walking in a manner worthy to God, pleasing Him in all respects.

The words steadfastness and patience are closely related. When they are used together like this, they underscore the difference that each brings. Steadfastness means to endure under difficult circumstances. It's a compound Greek word - hupomone. Hupo is under. Mone is a dwelling place. You live under difficulty, under stress, under pressure. Note that Paul isn't praying for the pressure to be removed from their lives, but that they will have the enabling power of God to strengthen them, to be steadfast, to keep on under the pressure. The word patience means an endurance that does not retaliate. It's a word used of God in the Greek translation of the Old Testament when He is slow to anger. He does not retaliate. So here, under the pressure, those enabled by the Spirit are patient. They don't retaliate. They don't strike back. We sometimes say, "Well, I lost it. I just lose it in certain situations." Maybe you ought to let the Spirit empower you. This word patience is among the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. It's what He produces in a life. I don't have it, and I always find out I don't have it myself when I think I can handle it on my own rather than say, "Lord, I need your character produced in my life." What I'd really like to do is lash out. I'd like to strike back. I'd like to settle things. But God produces that enduring character of patience and steadfastness.

I've found after 30 years or so in the ministry that one of the things I look for in people is endurance over time. I have to say I've appreciated the trials and difficulties and struggles that come in ministry because they are a sifting mechanism where true endurance is demonstrated. That happens in our personal lives. I have to learn to say, "Thank you, Lord, for this trial. I'm learning to endure. I'm learning to trust You, and to draw upon Your power in ways I haven't had to draw on before. Lord, that's good for me. This trial has become a blessing in my life because I am experiencing the power of God in a way that I have not experienced before." That's what our trials do for us. That's why, as James 1:2 tells us, that we can "consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials." These are God's means for developing His character in us.

5.Intense Trials Produce Joy

Next in Colossians 1:11 is this word joyously - "...for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously." It is literally a prepositional phrase - with joy - and it can go either with what goes before or what goes after. So it can be attaining all steadfastness and patience with joy, or it can be with joy giving thanks. Both are true biblically. I think there's something to be said for what goes before - "...attaining all steadfastness and patience; joyously" - or with joy. That's because thanks conveys the idea of joy. But the world can be stoic, so to speak. There were stoics in biblical times. They were people who were resolute and would endure through anything. We also have people that way today. They have the stiff upper lip. They endure. But it's a unique quality of a believer to have steadfastness and patience with joy. There is actual joy in the heart and life of that person during the most intense and unpleasant trials because the Spirit is producing it. Joy also is a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22, and if you've been a believer very long you've experienced it. There's something remarkable. The pain is almost overwhelming. The trial seems to be crushing, and yet while I am experiencing it, God has given me a joy for which there us no human explanation. It's the work of His Spirit in our lives. Let me just remind you of an example. In Acts 16:25, Paul and Silas are at Philippi. They've been beaten. They've been cast into prison. They've been put in the stocks in the inner prison. It's midnight. They're in pain. Humanly speaking, everything has gone wrong. What are they doing? They are singing hymns of praise to God. They're showing that steadfastness, patience with joy.

Look at 2 Corinthians 7:4: "Great is my confidence in you; great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort; I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction." Remarkable. But did that just happened to apostles? Look over in 2 Corinthians 8:2 where Paul is talking about the churches of Macedonia: "that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy...." It seems like a paradox. The Apostle Paul was no stranger to affliction. When he said they were having a great ordeal of affliction, you can believe it was intense. But they still had an abundance of joy. They were going through deep poverty, but they had a wealth of liberality. We say these things don't go together, but they do in a Christian's life because of the grace of God and the power of the Spirit.

Another thing to pick up here in 2 Corinthians 8 is that the Spirit of God turns our attention outward when we allow Him to work in our lives even during times of affliction. One of the ways I test myself to see if I'm really letting the Spirit work His purposes is to ask myself how much of my attention is on myself. My prayer life can become somewhat absorbed with me when the affliction gets intense and when the pressure gets heavy. I wonder when God is going to give me some relief. "Lord, you know this is more than I can bear." Wait a minute, Gil. That's a sign that you no longer are walking in the power the Spirit provides because one of the things the Spirit does when He controls my life is to direct my attention to others. He takes my eyes off me and turns them out there. That's what happened to the Macedonians. They have a great ordeal with affliction, but they have an abundance of joy. They are saying, "How can we help the Corinthians?" Paul is telling them, "Look, you are overwhelmed. You've got your plate full." They answer, "No, you got to let us help the Corinthians." They had joy in helping. That's a test you can use in your own life. When you feel like you are being overwhelmed with your afflictions, you say, "Lord, am I really letting Your Spirit empower me? Maybe, Lord, I need Your Spirit to take my eyes off of me and put them on someone else. Absorb me with someone else, not myself."

In Hebrews 10:34, Paul reminded those Hebrew Christians of when they "...accepted joyfully the seizure of your property." Their houses were taken from them. Their earthy possessions were taken, yet Paul said they accepted it with joy. Now I wonder what would happen if I went home and found out we lived in a situation now where the government took my house because I was a Christian. All my possessions were taken. Would I say, "Thank you, Lord, for the privilege of being identified with You. Thank you that I am so marked out as a follower of You that I've been privileged to lose everything for You. What a joy floods my soul to think that You would so honor me." That's what those Hebrew Christians did. When the Spirit of God produces His character in our lives, we keep our attention focused on God, on His work and on His people.

Back to Colossians, chapter 1. The third participle, then, is that His power strengthens us for difficulty, for trials. The fourth participle that helps us appreciate what it means to walk in a manner worthy of our God is "giving thanks to the Father..." Paul had expressed his thanks in verse 3. Keep in mind that he is not expressing thanks in verse 12. He offered his thanks in verses 3 through 8. Now he's praying that the Colossians will walk in a manner worthy of God, pleasing Him in all respects. That means they will be giving thanks to God themselves for what God has done and is doing and will do. Thankfulness is one of the outstanding characteristics of a true child of God. There is nothing so contradictory as an unthankful Christian. It's like talking about an unbelieving believer. You just can't put unthankful and Christian together. Joy in affliction? Yes. Wealth in poverty? Yes. Unthankful Christian? No.

6.We are Qualified for Heavenly Inheritance

We are to be giving thanks to the Father for what? Well, He "...has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light." So I put my perspective where it ought to be. Just as Paul was thankful in verses 3 to 8 for what God had done in the lives of the Colossians, the Colossians were to be thankful for what God had done in their lives and in the lives of others who believed in Him. How did He qualify us? By the salvation He provided in Christ. We'll see this as we move down into verse 14. We have experienced redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Christ. That qualifies us for a heavenly inheritance. In verse 13, Paul will talk about the fact that God rescued us, which further explains what it means to be qualified.

In my Bible, the word Light is capitalized, and I think that's accurate. The Light refers to God. 1 John 1:5 says, "...God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all." His perfect purity and perfect holiness reveals God. 1 Timothy 6:16 says God "...alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light..." God is light.

Turn back to John, chapter 12. We have to walk through this carefully so that we're ready for Colossians 1:l3, a verse which for some causes confusion. Jesus' public ministry ended in chapter 12 of John. Chapter 13 begins with Jesus' last supper with His disciples. In verse 34 of chapter 12, Jesus speaks of His coming crucifixion, and the people are in confusion. They want to know how the Son of Man can be lifted up. Be lifted up is a reference to crucifixion because they laid you on the cross on the ground, nailed you to the cross and then lifted you up when they stood the cross in the ground. Verse 35: "So Jesus said to them, 'For a little while longer the Light is among you...' It's a reference to Him. He is God. He is the One who reveals perfectly the Triune God. "'...Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not over take you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.'" So we have the inheritance in the Light because we are sons of Light. He has qualified us by the salvation He has provided.

Back to Colossians. You can see that God is Light. Jesus Christ is Light because He is God. So "...the inheritance of the saints in Light..." - and we saw the saints back in chapter 1, verse 2. Those are the ones set apart by God for Himself. They have been cleansed by His grace, forgiven their sins, as verse 14 will tell us. Now there is an inheritance for them. They have become sons of Light as John, chapter 12, said. That inheritance is in the Light. It is in God's presence. Colossians 1:5: "because of the hope laid up for you in heaven..." - in God's presence. We're talking about what God has provided for us in the glory of His presence, our heavenly inheritance, if you will.

Look at verse 13: "For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son." He rescued us. Paul is saying basically the same thing as he did in verse 12 about us being qualified. He qualified us by rescuing us. He rescued us from the domain of darkness. Paul will say in verse 14 that we have redemption. The word redemption means to set free by paying a price. So He rescued us by paying the price necessary to set us free, and thus He qualified us for a heavenly inheritance. We're getting ahead of ourselves, but in verse 14 redemption is in the blood of Christ. The penalty for sin is death. His Son paid the penalty for our sin by dying on the cross so that we could be redeemed, rescued and thus qualified for a heavenly inheritance. "For he rescued us from the domain of darkness..." Other words for domain are authority, dominion.

7.Satan's Realm is Domain of Darkness

This exact expression - domain of darkness - is used another time in the New Testament. Turn back to Luke, chapter 22. This is when Jesus Christ was arrested in the garden. He challenged those who came out to arrest him that night and asked, "Why did you come out with swords and clubs? I've been around for a while. I've been in the temple. You could have arrested me at any time." Verse 53: "While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours." That expression the power of darkness is the exact expression we have translated the domain of darkness in Colossians 1:13. "This hour and the power - the domain of darkness - are yours." This was Satan's hour. So the domain of darkness is the realm of Satan and sin. The plan of God at this hour, with the arrest and crucifixion of Christ, was the hour of Satan and sin. They would crucify the Son of God, but God would use even the activity of Satan for the accomplishing of His purposes in redemption. That helps you understand the power of darkness - the time when Satan and His forces are at work. So when we read about the domain of darkness, we are talking about the realm that Satan rules, the authority of Satan. We have been rescued from the authority and power of Satan, the domain that he rules.

In Hebrews 2:14 we read, "Since then the children share in flesh and blood..." In other words, those whom God intended to redeem, to rescue, were flesh and blood. They were human beings. Jesus Christ had to become flesh and blood, a human being, so that He could pay the price for human beings. "Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, so that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives." This is the same thing we're talking about in Colossians 1. We have been set free from the power of Satan. We no longer are under the domain of Satan's authority. Our slavery to him and to sin has ended. 1 John 5:19 says "...the whole world lies in the power of the evil one." Literally, it says the whole world lies in the evil one. English Bibles have inserted the power to give you the idea that the whole world is under the authority of Satan, who in John 12:31 is called the ruler of this world. So this whole world lies in darkness under the power and authority of Satan.

Back to Colossians 1:13: "For He rescued us from the domain of darkness..." - the dominion of darkness, the power of darkness. Satan's authority over us has been broken. But note that we have not been removed from the realm of darkness. Satan is still the ruler of this world. He is still the god of this world, as Paul called him in 2 Corinthians 4:4. The whole world still lies in the power of the evil one. Although we are no longer under his authority, we have not yet been removed from this realm. That will happen. His power has been broken, but according to Ephesians 6:12 we still need the whole armor of God because we wage warfare "...against powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." I am no longer enslaved to Satan and sin, but I still live in that realm, if you will, so I have an ongoing warfare against the forces of this darkness.

As we move on in verse 13, things will tie together, and, hopefully, it will become even clearer. "...and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son." I take it the kingdom of His beloved Son is a reference to the inheritance of the saints in Light we saw in verse 12. Ultimately, our heavenly inheritance will be the kingdom that He has prepared, and that will be in Light because we saw in John 12:35-36 that Jesus referred to Himself as the Light. We will experience the fullness of the Light of His presence when we are transported to heaven, and as we live out God's purposes in the kingdom He will establish on this earth in the presence of the One who will rule in that kingdom, the One who is Light - Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

8.Kingdom has Yet to be Established

I take it the kingdom mentioned here - "...the kingdom of His beloved Son..." - is the kingdom that was prophesied in the Old Testament, that was promised through the gospels and that is mentioned only a few times in the epistles. It's the earthly kingdom that Jesus Christ will establish. I'm amazed. I read a number of commentators who scratch their head and say because this is basically the only passage where the kingdom isn't clearly referred to as a future event, it must be something that is happening right now spiritually in our hearts. Wrong. He is speaking of something that is we call a legal truth, a positional truth, but it hasn't happened in reality yet because the kingdom hasn't been established yet. It's similar in a parallel kind of way to Romans chapter 8:30, where Paul says, "...these whom He justified, He also glorified." Now wait a minute. You're not glorified yet, and neither am I. But Paul says, "...these whom He justified, He also glorified." Well, that's not such an unusual way to speak because the prophets in the Old Testament gave many of their prophecies in the past tense. They did so because from God's perspective it was accomplished when He said it.

That's what we're talking about here. It's similar to Ephesians 2:6, which says we have been seated with Christ in the heavenlies. Now that's a position I have, but I've never sat down in heaven before the throne of God. And none of you have, either. But Paul says in Ephesians that we have been seated with Christ in the heavenlies. Someday I'll experience that. Now it's what we call a position. It is a legal fact, but it awaits its fulfillment. So don't go bonkers on me about the kingdom mentioned Colossians 1:13. We're not in the kingdom any more than you have been removed completely from the kingdom of darkness, the realm of satanic authority. Otherwise, you wouldn't need the armor for the ongoing battle against the forces of this darkness of this world. So you're still in this world, and 1 John 2:16 tells us: "For all that is in the world, the lust of flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world."

We have been rescued, and the power has been broken, but we haven't been removed from this realm yet. There will come a time, though, when we will be actually removed from the realm of darkness to the realm of the kingdom of His Son. That will be a physical bodily truth. So the kingdom in Colossians 1:13 is the kingdom that has been promised. As God's people, our inheritance ultimately focuses in that kingdom. It's heavenly in that it comes from heaven. It will be in the Light because God Himself ultimately will be the Light of that city because the millennium is the first phase of that kingdom. Then we move into eternity when heaven and earth merge and where we won't need the sun or anything else. We have a glorious future.

We've been transferred - rescued - from the domain of darkness. We've been transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son. That's our heavenly inheritance. There are numerous references that point to the fact that the kingdom is future. It is something we will inherit. There is a lot of confusion among Christians over whether the kingdom is present. They wonder if it's the kind of kingdom that exists in the hearts of people. The Old Testament prophesied an earthly kingdom, but Israel was disobedient so now the church is the kingdom. That's the Roman Catholic doctrine of the church. We're in the kingdom. That's the Lutheran doctrine of the church, in large part. Many Christians hold to what we call an amillennial position - no millennium, no earthly kingdom. They believe we're in the kingdom now and that it's spiritual in the hearts of people. You ought to be able to handle Colossians 1:13 because anybody opposed to a literal, earthly kingdom will want to tell you about Colossians 1:13. When they do, you take them to 1 Corinthians 6:9: "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?..." Then Paul goes on to list those who will not inherit the kingdom, and at the end of verse 10 he specifically says those he listed will not inherit the kingdom.

We are not in the kingdom. It's something yet to be entered into. It's something yet to be inherited. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:50: "...flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God..." He's talking to the church, but you can't be in the kingdom now because the church cannot be in the kingdom in physical bodies - flesh and blood. Verse 51 goes on to tell about the resurrection that will occur, giving us glorified bodies and fulfilling Romans 8:30: "...these whom He justified, He also glorified." We will experience that glorification at the resurrection. Then we won't have flesh-and-blood bodies, and we will go into the kingdom. It will be a physical kingdom, an earthly kingdom, but the church will be there in glorified bodies. There are numerous other references. You can look up the word kingdom in a concordance and trace them through the New Testament. They all refer to the future earthly kingdom into which some day we will be transported.

Come back to Colossians 1 so we can tie this together. We are talking about the kingdom of His beloved Son. It's the Son who is well loved and who is the object of His love in a special, unique way. That Son is the One, verse 14, "in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Redemption means to set free by paying the price. A slave could have been purchased in the market and the buyer could then set him free because he paid the price required to set him free. The penalty for sin is death. The wages of sin is death. In order for you to be redeemed, that penalty must be paid. Jesus Christ died to pay the penalty, so we are redeemed through His blood. Look at Ephesians 1:7: "In Him..." - Christ - "...we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace." His blood, His death, paid the price so we could be redeemed. When we are redeemed, we experience the forgiveness of sins.

9.Only Christ Could Pay the Price

The price paid to set us free was the price necessary for us to be forgiven. So when He paid the price to set us free, He paid the price necessary for the forgiveness of sins. That only happens in Christ. So you see that Paul is praying for these Colossian believers to be filled and controlled with the knowledge of the will of God. That is accomplished through the wisdom and understanding given them by the Holy Spirit, who will enable them to conduct their lives worthy of the God who calls them. The Holy Spirit will help them live in a way that is pleasing to God in all respects. That means you'll be bearing fruit because the Spirit of God at work in your life will be producing the character of God. You will be growing in the knowledge of God as you continue to mature in your new life in Christ. The strength and enablement for that life comes from the indwelling Spirit who is our sufficiency in every circumstance and situation. God never calls us to do what He does not empower us and enable us to do. Through all of this we are filled with thanks to God for what He has done for us in Christ - that He has qualified us for a heavenly inheritance, that He has rescued us from the domain of darkness to the kingdom of His Son. That's what it means to be qualified for a heavenly inheritance. You were rescued, so you are no longer under the authority of Satan and sin. One day you will be removed from the realm of darkness - Satan and sin - and placed in the kingdom of His Son. He's the One who has paid the price for our redemption. That's why 1 Corinthians 1:30 says that Christ is to us redemption because He is the One who paid the price.

Forgiveness of sin. How unique! We read a statement like verse 14 that says we have forgiveness of sins. but do you really know what it means to be forgiven and cleansed? Every sin, no matter how vile or ugly, is forgiven Forgiven! That's how great our God is. That's how wonderful His salvation is. Indeed, we are people who have much for which to praise our God. We should intensely desire to be filled with the knowledge of Him, to have spiritual wisdom and understanding so that our lives will conform to this pattern for His honor and glory. Let's pray together.

Thank you, Lord, for so great a salvation. Lord, it goes beyond our understanding the supernatural work that takes place when we experience that redemption, when we are rescued from the domain of darkness, set free, forgiven and qualified for a heavenly eternal inheritance. How we look forward to the time when we will experience the reality, the glory of the kingdom that You are preparing for those who love You. Lord, may we be a people who feed upon Your word, who are nurtured by it, who grow in it. Lord, I pray for those who have not begun the pilgrimage yet. Perhaps they are trying their best to be good, to be religious, to be Christian. It's so hard. It's such a wearisome task. They're losing strength; they're losing heart. Lord, may they pause and consider they are trying to do what only the eternal God can do in them. May they turn from their sin and bow before You in faith, believing that Christ died for them that they might experience the glorious liberty that comes through the redemption that's found through Christ. In His name, amen.

Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, © Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977. All quotations used by permission.

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