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An Unstoppable Prayer
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An Unstoppable Prayer

Adrian Holloway on October 14, 2007 with 0 Comments

Colossians 1 9-14 – Preaching from ChristChurch London’s Sunday Service

This is the second talk in a series on the New Testament letter to the Colossians.

And on the menu tonight, there’s no a light starter, no entrée, no parma ham, no melon, so it’s straight into the main course of meat, potatoes and spinach.

Today we’re doing chapter 1 verses 9 to 14, but it’s been a month since the previous talk on Colossians, so it’s worth looking at the background to this letter, just to get us all on the same page.

This letter was written by Paul, when he was in prison, (probably in Rome) in around 62AD. And he’s writing to a group of Christians, who Paul has never met who live in Colossae in modern day Turkey.

Colossae is about 100 miles from Ephesus, and Acts 19 tells us that Paul had previously spent two years at Ephesus. And in Acts 19 and verse 10, we find Paul using Ephesus, as a sort of strategic preaching centre to evangelize the whole region. And it obviously worked because a man called Epaphras seems to have come from Colossae to Ephesus, and got converted as a result of hearing Paul preach about Jesus. Then Epaphras presumably went the 100 miles back to his home in Colossae, and told his friends, and a church started in Colossae.

And now, as we pick up the story, the Colossian church has been going for about 7 years. Paul is in prison, by this stage, and he’s just had a visit from his good friend Epaphras, who’s probably said something like: “Paul. the good news is that the church at Colossae is generally doing well, but the bad news is that they are being troubled by heresy.” And that’s one of the reasons why Paul writes this letter, to warn the Colossians against the heresy, which threatened to undermine the faith of this fledgling church.

Now Paul doesn’t spell out systematically what the heresy was. But Paul alludes to it here and there, especially in chapter 2, and we can sort of piece together from Paul’s various warnings and passing references, what the different elements of the Colossian heresy were. And in summary, we can identify 3 aspects or elements in the heresy. There was a Jewish legalistic element, there was an occult element, and there was also a Gnostic element.

I’ll explain some of the unfamiliar terms as we go along. And, as part of our introduction to the book of Colossians, let’s look at a few of Paul’s allusions to the heresy

SLIDE 2:
The heresy: The Spirit is good, but matter is evil. Therefore Jesus can’t be God because Jesus was in a material body and matter is evil.
(Reference Col 1: 15-20, 2:9)
Paul’s answer: Matter is not evil. The fully human Jesus is fully God.

First, the Spirit is good, but matter is evil. This is a key claim of a heresy, which became widespread in the Second and Third centuries called Gnosticism, and it seems to have been present in a very primitive form at Colossae. Now we might think that saying matter is evil is not too serious an error, but it is, and it gets you into real problems when it comes to Jesus who of course, did have a physical material body. So the Gnostics said: “you can’t have God in an evil material human body, that’s disgusting and ridiculous.” So the Gnostics down-graded Jesus to being very important, but not actually God. So these heretics were giving Jesus a place, but they de-throned him from a supreme place. Paul’s brilliant reply, Colossians 1:15-20, is a statement or hymn about Jesus’ pre-eminence in the universe. And it is read out in worship probably more often than any other passage of scripture.

And here are some of the other heretical ideas that were present at Colossae:

SLIDE 3
The heresy: You need to follow ceremonies, rituals and restrictions in order to be saved or perfected
(Reference: Col 2:11, 16-23, 3:11)
Paul’s answer: These were only shadows that ended when Christ came. He is all you need to be saved

You need to follow ceremonies, rituals and restrictions in order to be saved. This is the Jewish legalistic element in the heresy. Some were saying: “even though you’re a Christian, you still have to obey all the Jewish laws” to be saved. Paul attacks that, as he does in Galatians, by saying: “No, Christ is all you need.”

SLIDE 4
The heresy: You need to deny the body and live in strict asceticism
(Reference: Col 2:20-23)
Paul’s answer: Asceticism is no help in conquering evil thoughts and desires – instead it leads to pride

But the heretics insisted: “you need to deny the body and live in strict asceticism.” Whereas in Corinth, people were saying ‘the body is evil, so who cares, just indulge yourself, and go with the flow.’ Here, the heretics were saying, because the body is evil, and matter is evil, you need to deny your flesh, and live under self-imposed rules. You need to try harder. Paul counters by saying: “Self-imposed rules lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” In other words, Paul’s saying, making up rules for yourself won’t make you live a holy life. On the contrary, ‘Christ in you’ will make you want to live a holy life.

SLIDE 5
The heresy: Angels must be worshipped
(Reference: Col 2:18)
Paul’s answer: Angels are not to be worshipped. Christ alone is worthy of worship.

Next, Angels must be worshipped. Here we see the occult element. The heretics were fascinated by mysterious heavenly beings, such as thrones, powers, rulers, authorities and angels. Paul says, “don’t worship any of them. Worship Christ.”

And one more,

SLIDE 6
The heresy: You need to get secret knowledge in order to be saved or perfected and this is only available to a select few
(Reference: Col 2:2,18)
Paul’s answer: God’s secret is Christ, and he has been revealed to all

The heretics said that you need secret knowledge to be saved.

So let me try and explain all of what we’ve just said. We know quite a lot about how Gnosticism developed, so with the clues Paul gives us, here’s how we might imagine a conversation going:

Let’s imagine, I’m a Christian, in 61AD and I go to Colossae Community Church which meets in Philemon’s house every Sunday. And I’m chatting to someone who’s sort of hanging around the fringes of the church, but I don’t realise they are a Gnostic heretic.

And they say: “Do you know, I had the most amazing experience the other night.”

And I say: “Oh really, what was it?”

And they say: “I can’t tell you, it’s secret. You wouldn’t understand anyway.”

And I say: “Oh go on!”

And they say: “Well OK, seeing as you’ve forced me to tell you, I’m a Christian like you, of course, but . . . I’ve come to realise that . . . there’s more.”

And I say: “More?”

They say: “Oh, yeah, much more. Last night, I had a vision, and an angel spoke to me.”

I say: “Wow, that’s amazing!”

They say: “And in the vision, the angel gave me a password to go up to the next level.”

I say: “A password? What was it?”

They say: “That’s special knowledge. I can’t tell you.”

I say: “What do you mean ‘the next level’?”

They say: “Well there are different levels of Christianity aren’t there. And the more holy you live, the more special knowledge you get, the more you abase and deny yourself, the more levels you climb. We’re all climbing to God aren’t we?

I say: ‘Are we?’

They say: “Yes. I mean obviously God is holy, so he could never have created the world, because the world is obviously a terrible place. You see, the real God created a lower level God, who created another God, and so on, and that’s why the universe is made up of thrones, powers, rulers and authorities and angels, and eventually, one of them made the world, and then one of the aeons or offshoots from that God was Jesus. And so what we need to do is work our way back up the steps or levels by strict obedience to the rules until we can know the real God.”

I say: “Wow! How do you know all this?”

They say: “Well, that’s the thing. I got it by special revelation, but you mustn’t tell anyone what I’ve just told you, because it’s a secret, but now you’re in the know.”

I say: “but hang on, surely that means that Jesus is just another power, sort of half way up the chain of command.”

They say: “Exactly, but just keep it quiet.”

I say: “But I thought Jesus was supreme. I mean that’s what Epaphras and Philemon and Archippus our church leaders always say, but you’re saying Jesus is just one of many.”

They say: “OK, look, you’ll never be able to understand it all in one go. Why don’t you come over to my house tomorrow night, and I’ll bring a few of my Gnostic friends, and we’ll explain it all to you. And we can pray together and who knows, you might get some special knowledge too.”

So something like that was happening on the fringes of the church.

And Paul is trying to rescue the situation, so he sends off a two man trouble-shooting team of Tychicus and Onesimus who carry this letter that we are about to read.

And Paul says this in Colossians 1:9, he prays an unstoppable prayer

SLIDE:
Title: An unstoppable prayer
9.For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10.And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,

SLIDE:
11.being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12.giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints 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.

Now let me ask you to do some of the work here. What do you think is the dominant thought in this passage?

SLIDE:
9.For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10.And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,

Is it in verse 10, ‘to lead a life worthy of the Lord’ or is the main request in verse 11? ‘to be strengthened with all power’. Or is this passage just a series of independent random petitions coming up out of Paul’s prayer life?

No, the basic petition is verse 9. Because, can you see that everything in verse 10 follows, he prays verse 9 “in order that you may” live the kind of life verse 10 describes.

This whole passage is one long sentence in Greek, with no full stops, and it all comes out of the all-important discovery of what God’s will is in verse 9.

The shape of this prayer in verses 9 to 14 has been likened to a tree, and, it seems to me that:

SLIDE:
Colossians 1:9-14 Paul’s prayer likened to a tree:

1. The main trunk – The main petition

is to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will (vs9) and the knowledge of God (vs10)

The main trunk or the main petition is to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will and the knowledge of God.

You see Paul is homing in on knowledge, or the greek word is Gnosis, from which we get the word Gnosticism.

He mentions knowledge twice here because this is what the Gnostics were trying to seduce the Christians with, secret spiritual knowledge, so Paul wants the Church at Colossae to have genuine knowledge of God, so that they won’t go seeking any secret heretical knowledge.

The Colossian Christians were vulnerable because they didn’t have the whole New Testament yet. It was in the process of being written. Also, they were all young Christians. No-one in Colossae Community Church had been a Christian for more than 7 years. Paul desperately needed to root these Colossians in genuine knowledge of God, to avoid them getting deceived by heresy.

Someone may say: “Well now we’ve got the New Testament, any modern day Gnostics are hardly likely to deceive anyone, because now we’ve got the truth.”

Well exactly the opposite is the case. Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code is the most successful Gnostic book ever written. When that book first came out people were literally saying to me: “If you really want to know about Jesus, you need to read the Da Vinci Code.” I’d say, “why?” They say: “Because there’s secret knowledge in there about who Jesus really.” Now more recently, the historical inaccuracies in the Da Vinci Code have started to become common knowledge, but nevertheless, some people in your office, on your bus, living on your street genuinely think there’s been a conspiracy, to cover up the fact that Jesus was not God, after all.

So, even today, to combat heresy we need knowledge of God. We need to know God’s will, but Paul makes a broader point here, he’s saying . . .

‘to live a life worthy of the Lord and to please him in every way, and to bear fruit in every good work, you first of all need to know God’s will.’

God’s will is revealed in his word.

OK, the bible doesn’t tell me whether to eat Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, or Cheerios for breakfast, but the Bible does gives me principles, which, when I apply them, enable me to make most of the important decisions I need to make in life.

So can I ask you, are you, as verse 10 puts it, are you “growing in the knowledge of God?”

You say: “I don’t know. Give me a concrete example? How do I start?” Well start right here. Read Colossians. I want to encourage you, will you read Colossians over the next couple of weeks? And wouldn’t it be great, if we all worked through this book privately as we all work through it publicly on Sundays. Wouldn’t it be great, if as a church, we found ourselves as our passage puts it, “being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that we may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father.”

So if the main trunk of this passage is the knowledge of God, next we have . . .

SLIDE:
Colossians 1:9-14 Paul’s prayer likened to a tree:

2. The growing branches – the vital evidence
a) a life worthy of the Lord (verse 10) = Lifestyle
b) and may please him in every way (verse 10) = Obedience
c) bearing fruit in every good work (verse 10) = Service
d) growing in the knowledge of God. (verse 10) = Godliness

the growing branches – the vital evidence. This is what we all want. We want to live a life worthy of the Lord. We want to please him in every way, we want to bear fruit in every good work.

This is the goal.

Recently we got sent the brochure for Butlins. And on the front of the brochure it has just four words “Butlins – Kids love it.” And it had a promotional DVD in it, and when we watched it as a family, our 7 and 6 year old girls basically reacted like I do when I read Colossians 1:10. At each and every point they said ‘yes this is what we want.’

So the presenters came on at the start of the DVD, and said: “Kids like water slides.” And Esther and Bethany cheered. Then the presenter said: “Kids like dodgem cars” and they cheered some more. Then the presenter said: “Kids like Superslam Wrestling.” And they cheered some more. And the expression on their little faces as they listened to the presenters on the DVD was like, “at last someone understands me. Someone in this world knows what I really want, and now I know that there is a place in this world, where I can be truly fulfilled and that place is called Butlins.”

When the DVD ended, Esther asked me: “Daddy, where is Butlins?”

I said Esther: “Butlins is in Bognor.”

She said: “Daddy, take me to Bognor.”

So yes, we’re going. No more camping in France. We’ve booked a week being entertained each night by the X Factor finalists at Butlins Bognor.

So everything our kids want is at Butlins, everything we want is in Colossians 1, verse 10. Our goal is to lead a life worthy of the Lord, to please him in every way and to bear fruit – that if you like is the purpose of the tree. But what feeds the tree? How do we bear fruit? Well that brings us to:

SLIDE:
Colossians 1:9-14 Paul’s prayer likened to a tree:

3. The rising sap – the mighty power and joyful thanksgiving (vs 11-12)

being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father (Colossians 1:11-12)

You know when we are strengthened by God’s power, it is like a life-giving sap or juice that produces in us joyful thanksgiving, which feeds the plant.

So can I ask you, are you joyfully giving thanks to the Father? Do you have a reputation for joyful thanksgiving?

One response might be: “Well not really because so and so offended me”

Offence, if not dealt with it, blocks the sap, the life giving blood of thanksgiving from flowing throughout the tree.

People are going to offend us aren’t they! It is inevitable that you and I will be offended if we live on this planet for any length of time with other people.

But offence comes at different levels doesn’t it?

If a total stranger offends you in the street, a motorist or a cyclist, that only causes a temporary offence.

The greatest offences are caused by those who we know best – whose opinion counts in some way – and where we are emotionally involved! Now that could well be someone in our church couldn’t it?

Let me give you a humourous example, just to lighten the mood . . . a few years ago, I was playing rugby for a club called the Old Reigatians against Dorking. I was lying on my back in something called a ruck. And a ruck is a heap of players lying on top of each other. Anyway, both my arms were pinned by other players, I couldn’t move, and the ball had gone. The referee turned away to follow the ball, and then the opposition number 8 saw me, and saw I was trapped. So he ran up to me and knee-ed me in the ribs. I heard my ribs crack.

Now, of course, I was very brave, as you’d expect, I didn’t make a sound, I played on, for the rest of the game, and the rest of the season, and I’m only bringing it up now, as an illustration to help you.

But why did the Dorking number 8 do it? Was it because he hated me? No, I was just an opposition player. It’s true that I was having a great game at the time, and had already set up two tries from my fly half position. It’s true that I was dictating the game, and that I was probably the difference between the two sides.

But it was nothing personal, I was a total stranger, and he probably took someone out off the ball, every week.

So I wasn’t offended, I just thought, ‘that’s rugby.’

But my point is, what if the opposition number 8 had been Dave Stroud?

Unlikely I know. Because Dave, would doubtless, have been playing a higher standard of rugby.

But what if he had?

I wouldn’t have shrugged my shoulders and said: “that’s rugby”. Because of our existing relationship and friendship, and because of who he is in God, I would have expected something better.

If someone in the church, treats me you in a shabby way, you have got good reason to expect something better from them.

So we have been offended, and let’s say, to make the example, even more juicy, that we are right and the other person is in the wrong. What happens next?

Folks watch out! because it’s a trap. It’s the Devil’s trap. We have been offended, unless we do something about it, we are going to stay offended, which means we have no joy.

And the bait in the trap is that we have every reason to feel aggrieved because the other person really is in the wrong.

Folks, don’t take the bait!

Now don’t hear what I’m not saying.

After 10 years of working for a church, I am only too well aware that in this room there are people who have suffered appalling offences against them, and I’m not speaking about those right now. I’m speaking to those of us who’ve not suffered so much.

For the rest of us, I’m saying:

If your doorbell rang, you go down to answer it, and there’s the Devil on your doorstep and he says: “Hi, I’m the Devil. Please help me by endlessly rehearsing in your mind how much person X has offended you, and if you do it long enough, it will steal your joy, and make you a grumpy person and an unproductive Christian. You will live a sad and miserable Christian life, and you may end up being offended at God, and you’ll be no fun to be around. It will negatively affect your relationships at church, and at work, and it will waste some of the best months and years of your life.”

If the Devil said that to you, you’d say: “No! Clear off! I refuse to stay offended, because I do not want a miserable sad life for myself. I want to be happy.”

So the Devil never comes knocking like that, he’s much more subtle. He just wants you to hold onto legitimate grievances.

Meanwhile Jesus comes along, and he says: “Don’t hold onto offences. Love your enemies.”

You know the Bible says in Colossians 2, that when we got baptised, we died with Christ, we were buried with him.

So, if I am holding on to offences, then there’s still some flesh in there. I’m not totally dead.

But when you are dead, you have peace.

How do I know that? Because you can go to the graveyard and tell lies about the people in the graves and you’ll get no reaction. You can call them names, no reaction. Why? They are totally dead.

Let me just throw this out there. You cannot change the other person. (This is the most common trap that engaged couples fall into, thinking, ‘once we get married, I am going to change the other person.’)

Listen the other person is never going to change. Either you change or you are going to stay offended forever.

And if you want to be joyfully giving thanks as verse 12 says, then be careful what you say

You can’t do anything about what other people say about you, but you can do a whole lot about what you say about you!

I can say to myself:

“I belong to God and he loves me.”

And the truth is that . . .

You are a new creation.
Your life has been hidden with Christ in God.
You’ve been ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven
You’ve been adopted.
You’re the son of a King.
Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ
God approves of you (Colossians 1:22)
God’s Holy Spirit lives in your body.
You are a joint heir with Christ. You share in his inheritance.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
You can do all things through him who gives you strength.
I am confident that he who began a good work in me will carry it on until completion in the day of Jesus Christ.
God’s working all things together for your good.
You’re part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.
And if God is for you, who can be against you!
Greater is he who’s in you, than he who is in the world.
The God who created the universe, parted the Red Sea, and raised Jesus from the dead, lives inside of you.

You are the only person in the universe who chooses which words come out of your mouth, and the words you choose to say will shape your future.

Because the Bible tells me that words are containers for power.

If you think and act according to who you really are in God, that will firstly help you to enjoy your life now. And, that will play a massive part in your future.

How can I be thankful right now?

Well, learn to cherish certain moments. Right now there are things that you get to do right now at this stage in your life, which are unique, wonderful things.

Every stage or station of life has it’s up-side. It is never all doom and gloom.

Jesus came from heaven to this planet so that you could have an abundant life. Jesus said: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full, or more abundantly.”

But if you allow yourself to have a poor self-image, if you feel negative about yourself, effectively wishing you had someone else’s life, or that you looked like someone else, (and that’s a modern disease by the way, no-one seems to be happy with their appearance, tall people want to be shorter, short people want to be taller) well if you don’t even like yourself, then you’re going to be grumpy a lot of the time, and you’re the one who’ll lose out.

You want to be happy. The reason you want a life that is different from the one you are leading at the moment is because you think if you do get that job, or that wife, or that husband, or if you looked like him or her, then you’d be happy. But you can avoid all that frustration and heartache and get yourself happy without any of that if only we will learn the secret of giving thanks for what we have already. You know there are some people who have never actually enjoyed where they are at in life, ever. There are some people who have never actually taken the time to enjoy their life and to be thankful.

I am talking about having a healthy attitude towards yourself and managing your emotions.

We have got to learn to manage our thought life. I used to think that there was nothing I could do about my thoughts. If I am thinking this negative thought, then I’m thinking it, there’s not much I can do about it. Wrong!

I can’t do anything about what comes into my mind, but I can do a whole lot once it’s in. If I don’t take that thought captive and throw it at the cross, then if I don’t act swiftly, I can entertain a negative thought, celebrate it, indulge it, rehearse it. The amount of time I’ve wasted re-running arguments in my mind, thinking all things I could have said, all the things I should have said, and all things that I would have said if I’d thought of them fast enough. I can tell you I’ve lost a lot of arguments in my time, but I’ve never lost a re-run. Or I avoid all that aggravation and stress, and I can take that negative thought captive and replace it with something true like Col 1 verses 13-15, which says I’ve been qualified for heaven, rescued from hell, and redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, shed for me, when I did not deserve it.

Friend, you and I have got to learn to separate our ‘who’ from our ‘do’. In other words, even though I do things wrong, I am sure about who I am. I am the righteousness of God in Christ, the bible says so, in 2 Corinthians 5:21.

You know this letter was written from prison. Paul had done nothing wrong, yet he ended up unfairly imprisoned. And he rejoiced in the Lord. Paul rejoiced in the lord when he was in a prison. You know, Jesus didn’t die so that I can have a new kind of misery and put a Christian label on it.

Jesus didn’t die so that I could have a new kind of misery and put a Christian label on it.

The bible says: Don’t complain. Be thankful.

The bible says: Do everything without grumbling or complaining.

You know, last month, I found I had half an hour between meetings, and I did something I’ve never done before, I sat in a coffee shop in one of those brick tunnels of shops at London Bridge station, and I wrote down a list of things to remind me of what I could thank God for.

Here’s what I wrote:

Things I can thank God for:

My first heading was: Spiritual:

1. I am no longer going to the hell, which I deserve
2. I am going to a heaven I don’t deserve
3. God loves me and has a good plan for my life

My other headings were:

Family:

Temporal: by which I meant, the fact that I have a roof over my head, that I have enough money to have eaten breakfast this morning etc etc and then health.

Health:

And I had three sections, past, present, and future, so I wrote down what God had done for me in the past spiritually, for example, that he’d forgiven me for my sins, what he’s doing for me now, in that he’s raised me up together with Christ, and seated me in heavenly places, and what he’ll do for me in the future, how he’ll glorify my body, in an instant I’ll be changed, and then I’ll live in forever, in the glory.

You know I often think about this, in the Old Testament, in the book of Exodus, in the wilderness it took the Israelites 40 years to make an 11 day journey. They could have got into the promised land in 11 days. Instead it took 40 years! Why? Because of their bad attitude.

They literally spent years going round and round in circles. Is that true of you? And then God said “you have dwelt long enough on this mountain” (Mount Horeb). I want to say today, that some of us have spent long enough stuck on some mountain or other, going round and round and round the same old stupid mountain, and it’s not bringing you any joy, it’s not making you any happier. And tonight you want to say: I’ve had enough of this! I’m not rehearsing this problem any longer!

You know on seven occasions in the Old Testament, the Israelites murmured against Moses, but in this letter to the Colossians on five occasions we are encouraged to be thankful, which is why I am emphasizing this point.

You may have all kinds of habits and ways of thinking that have been formed either by the world, or by the flesh. Some of them are learned behaviour either from ungodly people, or by Christians who had still had bad habits. You have got to re-new your mind in those areas, in order to get joy in those areas, and change your behaviour.

I discovered something a few years ago that came as a shock to me: Happiness is an inside job. We decide our level of joy. There are promises in the Bible that apply to every believer. And I am the only person in the universe who will determine whether I believe them or not. Some of us are waiting for someone else to change our circumstances in order to make us happy. The other person does not change, so we blame the other person for the fact that we don’t have more joy in our life. NO! Tonight, I want to challenge you to put a stop to that. We have to take responsibility for our own level of happiness.

OK, OK, someone says, “give me some more reasons to be thankful?” Well let’s look finally at the soil:

SLIDE:
Colossians 1:9-14 Paul’s prayer likened to a tree:

4. The underlying soil – the saving truths (vs 12 -14)

joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints 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.

Three things here to finish with. He has, firstly qualified you. (verse 12) You did not qualify yourself. God gave you Christ’s righteousness, and that is why you are now clothed with the righteousness of God. It’s as if, someone else took your driving test for you. Someone else went through that job interview for you. Someone else sat your final exams for you. You did not qualify yourself for heaven, Jesus did it for you. He lived the life you could never live and he died the death you deserved to die.

Secondly he rescued us from the dominion of darkness. (verse 13) Friend it’s not as if he rescued you from hell, he literally rescued you from hell.

And thirdly he had redeemed us (verse 14) he’s paid our debt. He’s bought us out of slavery and a slave’s death, by dying a slave’s death for us on a cross. And at the cross, we hand in our sin, as Jesus takes it upon himself, it’s nailed to the cross with Jesus. Martin Luther called this, the great exchange. We hand in our sin, we receive Christ’s riches, we become spiritual millionaires. Jesus became poor that we might become spiritually rich.

And that’s good reason to thank him.

Let’s stand. Maybe the band could come and join me . . .

Summary:

Well we’ve see four facets of this great one sentence prayer

1. The main trunk – the main petition.

2. The growing branches – the vital evidence

3. The rising sap – the mighty power of thanksgiving

and

4. The underlying soil – the saving truths

I want to ask you in closing, is there a blockage to the level of joy in your life? Are you holding onto any offence that has been committed against you?

If so, I want to pray for you. You know, for some of us even saying out loud that we forgive the other person, is too big a step for us at the moment. Some of us could not yet say: “I forgive you” and mean it. Others of us could say: “I forgive you” but you know what, unless and until the other person apologises, we are not ready to let go of the offence. The truth is we have technically forgiven them but we are still offended that the other person has never apologised. Folks, we cannot change the other person, we cannot ever make them apologise, but we can choose how we think, how we act and how we respond right now.

So let’s close our eyes. Now if you know that you’ve been offended by someone else, even if you are not ready to totally forgive that person, I want you to raise your hand and I want to pray for you.

Lord, there are all sorts of offences that have been done to the people in this room. There are all sorts of injustices that have been done. In this room, there are probably some unspeakable things that have been done to us. Lord I pray for every person, who truly wants to move on, that you would give them grace to forgive, even if they never ever receive an apology.

Lord you told us to love our enemies, and to pray for those who persecute us. Lord help those of us in this room now with our hands raised to genuinely pray for the person who has wronged us. To pray for them that the person who has so hurt us might genuinely enjoy your blessing, and receive forgiveness from you, just as in Christ, you have forgiven us.

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