COLOSSIANS - Christ in you, the hope of glory!
Studies in the Letter of Paul to the Colossians
Part 1 - The Foundations of Christian Faith (Colossians 1:1-29)
4. The Worship of God the Father, for the Sake of the Glorious Goal of the Church (Colossians 1:12-14)
12 giving thanks to the Father, who made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; 13 who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the Kingdom of the Son of his love; 14 in whom we have our redemption,* the forgiveness of our sins;
Intensive prayer remained a decisive component in the life, thinking and proclamation of the missionary to the nations. He placed high value on giving thanks to the Father, from whom all motive, power and blessing flows. We should ask ourselves whether a joyous gratitude toward the Father has become a theme in our own lives and service, or if we still think that we can fulfil all of our duties and responsibilities in and of ourselves. Paul admonishes us to give thanks to the Father with joy, not as a painful responsibility, but as a thankful response to the unlimited grace that fills His love.
With a view to the future, the apostle drummed into the church in Colosse that it was not they themselves, but their Father in heaven who had made them worthy and able to address Him as Father. He had made it possible for them to return to Him and remain with Him. It was He who enabled them to have a share in His eternal glory. The Almighty had previously assured the Bedouin Abraham, for the sake of his faith and obedience: “Do not be afraid, ‘Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward” (Gen. 15:1). This great reward was not something that had been created, but the Creator Himself. The inheritance of the saints consists of the fact that the Spirit of the Father and the Son has taken up dwelling in them. Through the Spirit´s down- payment on earth, he has assured them that they already have been made part of the family of the Father. The glory and love of the Godhead dwells substantially in the saints who have gone on ahead – who now walk in the light, just as He is in the light (1 John 1:7; 3:2). Paul, who had seen the glorious Christ before Damascus, was convinced that the divine existence of Jesus, in the splendour and might of His Father, is also the goal of the elect. They believe on this Son of God, follow Him, and have already received a share in His resurrection, in His eternal life, and in His still hidden glory (Rom. 8:17-18; 1 John 3:2 etc.). Paul was well aware of this cloud of witnesses, who observe the course of history, and who excitedly await the next bold steps of the church of Jesus: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” (Heb. 12:1-2). Do you know some of these saints who have already been translated into their eternal home, who now look upon our decisions and deeds, who share in the coming of the kingdom of God? Paul himself is one of those who have “come home”, for he signed this text with the word “us”. That makes it certain that he, too, for the sake of the grace of Jesus alone, was made worthy to have a share in the inheritance of the saints who walk in light.
Our Salvation from the Dominion of Satan
Paul wanted to enlarge upon this thematic sentence of his letter by explaining to the Colossians how they, with him and all the saints together, had been made worthy and able to live in the light of the glory of God. He wrote: “You have been delivered from the power, the lies and the dominion of darkness”. This merciful deliverance is the setting free of Jesus, who collectively unbinds those possessed with the spirit of hell and then kindles in them the light of heaven.
Paul himself had experienced the existence of satanic power at work in him, for in the fanatical hatred of a legalistic student of Mosaic Law he had persecuted, tormented and killed followers of Christ. In so doing he thought he was actually serving the Lord of the Old Covenant, having not recognized the crucified and risen Saviour of mankind. Only when this Saviour blocked the way for him before Damascus and perforated him with His glorious light did he fall to the ground in dread. He had finally recognized both the reality of God as well as his own lost condition.
People in the dominion of Satan are blind to the reality of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They have only a shadowy realization of their sinfulness. The evil one has been a liar from the beginning and entices man to attempt self-redemption. Through these attempts they only become more hardened, fanatical, and unmerciful in their spirit, while claiming all the while to be decent, good and pious. Even the vilest sinners do not want to admit that they are ripe for hell, although they have an inkling of their distressful situation and their condemnation, often being plagued by evil spirits.
Paul boldly testified: The Father of Jesus Christ has freed us, the lovers of Jesus, from the dominion of Satan. He has placed light in us and translated us into the realm of His divine power. Satan has no more power or dominion over those who have been made a part of His kingdom through the Saviour Jesus. Our sins have been forgiven, for Jesus´ sacrifice of atonement justified us. The accuser of our brethren has been cast out of heaven (Rev. 12:9-12), so that now we are free! The Father and the Son have placed their life within us. Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). The one who thinks that hell, Satan and darkness are only fairy tales already lies in their dominion, for only in the light of God do we recognize reality (John 3:3, 5, 19-21). Jesus saves all who desire to let themselves be saved, who bow and confess their sins, who trust in their Saviour, and who bind themselves to Him for all time and eternity.
Our Translation into the Kingdom of Christ
At the end of a school year, students hope to be promoted to the next higher class. They are glad when this privilege is definitely granted them. Paul wrote the Colossians that both they and he had already been translated into the Kingdom of the Son of God. Where then is our gladness and thanksgiving?! At the last exam, concerning entrance into heaven, we all failed and at best received the grade “deficient!” Despite that we still passed – through grace alone! The merit of Jesus and His abilities has been placed to our account. For His sake alone we have been taken into the shelter and security of God – for all time and eternity!
Paul writes of the kingdom of God, the Father, as the kingdom of His beloved Son. Both are the same! The Father set His beloved Son as Lord and King over His kingdom. All authority in heaven and in earth has been given to Him (Matt. 28:18). He justifies every rank and file member of His people through His sacrifice of atonement, and pours His Holy Spirit into His cleansed followers so that they might live forever (John 1:33). The King gives birth to His people from within His own Self. The queen-bee is, in a small way, an example of this wonderful mystery.
The Kingdom of God is “rich” in love, for “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). Jesus is the love of God become man. The Son is as the Father, full of patience, power and mercy. His kingdom is nothing like a concentration camp, but serves as a place of peace and shelter for His followers. They become filled with His love, joy and unity and live to continually thank and worship Him. They gladly obey their Lord and Saviour, immediately and totally, for no one loves them as He does. Have you been translated into the kingdom of the love of Christ? Do others recognize this?
The Scriptures of the New Testament speak of the Kingdom of God the Father and of the Son 126 times, and 136 times of the Church of Jesus Christ. The church makes up the assault troops in the new creation of the Kingdom of God, those who have been liberated from the power of Satan. They then call out to the slaves of the evil one to become children of God, so that many might enter into spiritual freedom.
Redemption from Sin through the Son of God
Paul was sensible and clear-headed. He not only wrote about light and darkness, about God and Satan, but also expounded the central point of the matter regarding salvation. He pointed us to Jesus Christ. We have redemption from the dominion of Satan, sin and the wrath of God in Him alone. The Son of God, as the Son of Man, paid the ransom money for us. By His dying in our place, it became possible for us to be bought free from the slave market of sin and Satan´s dominion (Matt. 20:28).
Jesus paid for the guilt of all mankind, yet not all believe in His sacrifice to liberate us. Only in the ones who believe in Him and who shake the hand of blessing He extends them does the forgiveness of their sin become reality. Salvation has been completed, so that Jesus need not die again for Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and Communists. They have all been redeemed, yet don´t believe it! In so doing they, by way of their unbelief, cut themselves off from the salvation that was completed also for them.
Paul did not write this stirring interim report, which included his definition of the church of Jesus Christ and of her eternal righteous standing, as doctrine, but as a testimony and as a summons to thanksgiving. Who is it that joyously thanks the Father in heaven, right here and now, for the great privilege that has been given to him?
Prayer: Father, we exalt and praise You, for You have saved us from the dominion of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of Your beloved Son, who redeemed us from the slave market of sin with His own blood. In Him all our sin has been forgiven. Who are we that You should account us to be saints already?! We want to thank You and Your Son Jesus Christ for the rest of our lives. Amen!
Question 20: How did Christ save us from the dominion of darkness?