God's Great Actions
(Colossians 1:9-14)
By Paul Robison

One believing woman puts it this way: “One night, I had a dream.  I was walking along the beach with the Lord, and across the skies flashed scenes from my life.  In each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand.  One was mine, and one was the Lord's.  When the last scene of my life appeared before me, I looked back at the footprints in the sand, and to my surprise, I notice that many times along the past of my life, there was only one set of footprints.  And I noticed that it was at the lowest and saddest times in my life.  I asked the Lord about this, 'Lord, You said that once I followed You, You would walk with me all the way.  But I notice that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints.  I do not understand why You left my side when I needed You the most.'  The Lord replied, 'My precious child, I never left you during your times of trial.  Where you see only one set of footprints, I was carrying you'” (Powers in Swindoll, 236).  A man of faith puts it this way: “What matters supremely, therefore, is not, ... the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it—that He knows me.  I am graven on the palm of His hands.  I am never out of His mind.  All my knowledge of Him depends on His sustained initiative in knowing me.  I know Him because He first knew me, and continues to know me.  He knows me as a friend, one who loves me, and there is no moment when His eye is off me, or His attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when His care falters” (Packer, Ibid).
 
Before looking at our text today, we want to quickly look at ten passages.  These passages use words that can help us to define and understand more clearly, the words in our text.  We'll hit these fairly quickly, then we'll make an application, and then we'll see how the text reveals some of God's actions.  The first passage is Luke 12:25-26: “And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  If you then are unable to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?”  You cannot make yourself taller through worry.  We don't have the ability or the power to make ourselves grow.  Now the opposite of this would be to be able or to be empowered to do the desired action.  The next passage is Ephesians 6:10: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”  The word “might” can be translated “force, strength, or power”.  When we think of God's creative powers, the galaxies He's created, our solar system that He's created, our planet with its mountains and oceans, mankind, plants, and animals, how can we help but call this God “The Almighty”?  “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was, and is, and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8).  Can anything rival God's might?  The next passage is 2 Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”  “This treasure” refers to the Gospel and the knowledge of Jesus, and that message resides in people, the earthen vessels.  There is a moral power, an excellence of soul, that comes from God and that Gospel!  Aren't we thankful for this moral power helps us to be better people?  The next passage is 2 Corinthians 12:12: “Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.”  As an apostle, Paul was able to perform miracles.  Paul is reminding his readers at Corinth that when he was there, he was unswervingly loyal to performing these miracles among them.  There is a deliberate purpose in his performing them.  The next passage is James 5:10: “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.”  Those old prophets persevered, didn't they?  Despite persecution from their own countrymen, they constantly and boldly spoke God's truth!  That's half the passages now.  Thanks for hanging in there. 
 
Now the next five, and then we'll show how the concepts here apply.  The next passage is 2 Corinthians 3:5-6: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”  What does a football player do before he comes on the field?  He puts on his equipment doesn't he?  Paul is saying that God has equipped or shaped him to be a minister of the new covenant.  Being “fitted” to this service was not Paul's doing, but God's work in Paul's life.  The next passage is 2 Timothy 3:11: “... persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured.  And out of them all, the Lord delivered me.”  Paul is looking back to his first missionary journey, and he is reminding Timothy of how he was persecuted.  Right outside of the city of Lystra, Paul was stoned and left for dead.  But from all the harm that Satan had tried to inflict, Jesus had rescued Paul and encouraged him to press on in his mission work.  The next passage is 1 Corinthians 13:2: “... and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”   Jesus taught in Matthew 17:20 that if we faith even as small as a mustard seed, we could say to a mountain to move from one place to another.  We could say: “Leave this place, and be transferred over to this location.”  Paul notes that even with the gift of such great faith, if we aren't motivated by love, then it's really a worthless action.  Now let's notice Titus 2:14: “... who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”   Jesus was the perfect Lamb substituted on our behalf.  His death has freed us from all our past wicked deeds.  With that freedom and purification, we are now His special people and we do good works in order to show our gratitude for what Jesus had done for us!  The last passage is Luke 7:48-50: “Then He [Jesus] said to her [the sinful woman]: 'Your sins are forgiven you.'  And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves: 'Who is this who even forgives sins?'  Then He said to the woman: 'Your faith has saved you.  Go in peace.'”  We see very clearly from this passage that Jesus does indeed have the authority and purity to be able to forgive people of all their past sins.  This woman lived under the old covenant, but today through baptism in Jesus' name, we too can have all our past sins washed away.  We too can enjoy Jesus' forgiveness.
 
Now let's go the book of Colossians.  We've been looking at this letter that Paul wrote to the members at Colosse in about 62 A. D.  After his customary introduction and telling how the Gospel has been effective all over the world and in their lives, he begins to pray for them in verse 9.  Let's now read verses 9-14, and you can see on the screen how the passages that we read earlier are applied to this text: “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened [empowered, enabled Lk. 12:25-26] with all might [force, strength Eph. 6:10], according to His glorious power [that moral power or excellence of soul, 2 Cor. 4:7], for all patience [perseverance, deliberately unswerving 2 Cor. 12:12] and longsuffering [perseverance Jam. 5:10] with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us [made us fit, equipped, or sufficient 2 Cor. 3:5-6] to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.  He has delivered us [rescued 2 Tim. 3:11] from the power of darkness and conveyed us [transferred or moved 1 Cor. 13:2] into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption [freedom Titus 2:14] through His blood, the forgiveness [from the Source of forgiveness, Lk. 7:48-50] of sins.”   What a tremendous prayer Paul prays for a whole congregation of people whom he had never met!  One commentator observed: “Paul prays that the young church will grow in knowledge, in holiness, in spiritual power ..., [and in giving] thanks to God” (Wright).  Another commentator says that Paul prayed for this congregation's spiritual intelligence, for their practical obedience, and for their moral excellence (Wiersbe).  Another commentator was impressed with the phrases of completeness found in this prayer: all wisdom, fully pleasing, all might, all patience (Coffman).  Someone else noted that the Colossian brethren “must be impressed with the nature and importance of the true knowledge before being warned against that 'knowledge falsely so called' which was being pressed upon them. ... Right knowledge leads to right behavior, [and right behavior leads to right gratitude before God]” (Bruce).  We saw in the last sermon on Colossians how Paul prayed that the members would be filled with knowledge of God's will, would put their knowledge into practice, would be fruitful in good works, and would come to know God better. 
 
How let's look at this prayer and notice what it has to say about God.  Verse 11 states once again: “strengthened [empowered, enabled Lk. 12:25-26] with all might [force, strength Eph. 6:10], according to His glorious power [that moral power or excellence of soul, 2 Cor. 4:7], for all patience [perseverance, deliberately unswerving 2 Cor. 12:12] and longsuffering [perseverance Jam. 5:10] with joy.”  Our God is a mighty Being, and He can enable us with His glorious moral power to live with loyalty and with perseverance.  These traits are exactly what the members at Colosse would need since they had to contend with false teachers who were trying to lead them astray.  They were about to do spiritual battle, and Paul helps them to remember something that John also wrote to Christians struggling against false teachers: “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).  A loyal and a persevering spirit is the product of the settled conviction that God rules and His authority will prevail in every situation (Weed).  God, Jesus, and the Spirit form our spiritual anchor and we can affirm: “It is safely moored, 'twill the storm withstand, for 'this well secured by the Savior's hand, And the cables, passed from His heart to mine, can defy the blast through strength divine” (Owens).  Notice that this battle can be faced not only with loyalty and perseverance but also with joy.  Joy is what kept Jesus going according to Hebrews 12:1-2: “... let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  The joy of being reunited with God in heaven and being seated next to His throne got Jesus through all the agony and shame that Satan threw at Him during the crucifixion.  Christians can always battle the forces of evil knowing that those who follow Jesus can claim the ultimate victory, as the book of Revelation teaches us. 
 
Verse 12 states once again: “... giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us [made us fit, equipped, or sufficient 2 Cor. 3:5-6] to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.”  Christians should be the most thankful people on the planet since they understand what God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit have done for them!  Psalm 100:4 should become our motto: “Be thankful to Him and bless His name.”  When you hear the word “inheritance”, what comes to your mind?  Some possible words might be: “a will, probate court, an executor, wealth, being one of the beneficiaries, a trust, a gift”.  Let's imagine for a moment that a large estate is to be divided among the beneficiaries of a will.  You are not a part of the family, but the writer of will states that you can also be in on the cut if you agree to do certain actions.  Would you do them?  “Well, if they are reasonable, probably so.”  So, here's the point.  God is offering everyone a chance at a heavenly inheritance.  In fact, Peter describes this inheritance as incorruptible, undefiled, and eternal.  Would you like to be among the beneficiaries of that inheritance?  Well, you can be, but there are some things that you have to do in order to be qualified as a partaker.  First, you must hear the Gospel.  Notice, a process in Acts 18:8: “And many of the Corinthians, hearing [there's the first action], believed [another action], and were baptized [the final action]”.  Two other actions are also involved.  Acts 11:18 states: “They glorified God saying, 'Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”  You must decide to get out of the sinning business, and you must also publicly confess your belief that Jesus is God's Son and you want to follow His teachings.  Acts 8:37 provides an example of that confession: “And he answered and said: 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”  If you will hear the Gospel, believe that Jesus can forgive and save you, turn from you past sins, confess Jesus as Lord, and be immersed into His name, then you will be “qualified or fitted” to be a partaker of God's eternal inheritance.  Well, what if you don't obey these actions?  You will be disqualified and will not be a beneficiary of God's eternal inheritance. 
 
Verse 13 affirms again: “He has delivered [rescued 2 Tim. 3:11] us from the power of darkness and conveyed [transferred or moved 1 Cor. 13:2] us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.”  Just as God rescued the Israelites from Babylonian captivity and transported them back to the Promised Land, so God now rescues us from Satan's dominion and transfers us over to Jesus' kingdom.  What a huge difference!  What a wonderful transformation has taken place!  Listen to how Hebrews 12:28 describes this kingdom: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”  Jesus' church will never be shaken or destroyed.  In fact, all those who have ever been in Jesus' kingdom will one day be reunited and then live together forever in heaven!  “The harsh rule of the prince of darkness has been exchanged for the wise [lordship] of Jesus” (Wright).  This kingdom's king is Jesus, the New Testament is its constitution, and those who follow Jesus are its citizens.  This kingdom has no territorial boundaries. 
 
Verse 14 states again: “in whom we have redemption [freedom Titus 2:14] through His blood, the forgiveness [Lk. 7:48-50] of sins.”  In Jesus, we are freed from all our past lawless deeds, and His blood paid the price for that freedom!  We are no longer the slaves of Satan, but now we have become slaves of Jesus and righteousness.  “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:22-23)!  Jesus has washed away our sins!  “There is no therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk [or live] according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. … For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:1 and 5-6). 
 
What great actions of God have we just seen?  God enables or empowers us so that we can persevere and show patience with joy!  The Almighty is our anchor.  Next, God qualifies or equips us to be partakers of the saints' inheritance.  We disqualify ourselves if we refuse to hear the Gospel, to believe in Jesus, to repent, to confess publicly, and to be immersed in His name.  He is preparing for us an incorruptible, undefiled, and eternal inheritance!  God also has rescued us from Satan's dominion and transferred or transported us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, to His church!  God redeems or frees us from all our lawless deeds through Jesus' blood!  And God in Christ forgives all our past sins!  Do we appreciate, praise, and thank this God for all that He has done for us?  In addition, as this introduction showed, He'll carry you through the weak times, He never takes His eyes off you, and His care will never falter.  God enables, qualifies, rescues, conveys, frees, forgives, carries, and cares!  With this kind of heavenly Father, why will you continue to reject living for Him and to disobey His Son?  God blessed the Colossian members and He wants to bless you as well.  Be baptized in the name of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit right now.