Category Archives: Church

Colossians 2:6-7; Brief Thoughts

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

“Walk,” meaning to conform one’s life in a certain direction or to follow a particular pattern. It is such as simple exhortation… walk. Throughout Scripture, God’s people are instructed to “walk.” Abraham is told to walk to a land God would show him. Moses and the Hebrews are forced to walk around in the desert. Joshua is told to walk around a city. The Kings are told to walk in the statutes that God has given them. The prophets call the people to return to walking in the way God has given them. Jesus calls his disciple to walk after him. And the Apostles call Christians to “walk in [Christ]” (v.6). The term “walk” is used 96 times in the New Testament and is commonly used to refer to a general pattern of life.

Paul exhorts Christians to live a lifestyle that is consistent with Christianity. Exhortations are instructions that are based on previously established facts or commonly held beliefs. Paul’s exhortations to “walk” are based on the reality of the indwelling Spirit of Christ in the heart of all who believe. Because Christians have trusted Christ and are subsequently changed by that faith, Paul says, “walk in Him.” In other words: live a lifestyle consistent with that claim of faith.

The life of a believer is one that is “rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith…” and is marked by an abundant and prolific “thanksgiving” (v.7). First, the believer’s faith is “rooted” in Christ. Consider for a moment what it means to be “rooted.” This means that the source of nourishment and strength are drawn from a foundational relationship with Jesus Christ. For Christians the source of life in Christ. As it is with roots, so it is with Christians. The deeper the roots go into the foundation, the stronger the life of the plant. Further, any progress in growth as a Christian also results from Christ. Alongside being “rooted,” Christians are also “built up in [Christ].” Christians derive their strength and encouragement from Christ and knowing Him. He is the source of encouragement and strength.

Another defining Characteristic of those who “walk in Him” is that they are “established in the faith.” Christians have a strong faith. It is strong because it is not dependent on the work of the person, it is dependent on Christ and what He has already accomplished. Paul uses the term “faith” here to describe the collected system of beliefs and doctrines common to Christians. These doctrinal truths that Paul asserts the Colossians are established in are basic to all Christianity. The collected truths that Jesus Christ die for sins, has risen from the dead, ascended into heaven, and is returning one day to reclaim all creation for Himself, is made strong in the heart of a believer precisely because Christ’s Spirit has indwelt those who believe in Him (see further 1 John 2:27). Those who “walk in Him” are marked by a faith that is strong and growing.

Notice that this exhortation to “walk in Him” is followed by descriptors that are past tense. The characteristics of “rooted,” “built up,” and “established” are all traits that already exist in the life of one who is called to “walk.” The faith of a believer is the foundation and strength that one depends on in order to walk in the way of Jesus. It is because of the firm relationship and growing knowledge of Him that believers are able to “walk.”

Believers are marked by gratitude. Gratitude stems from an accurate understanding of God’s work with the heart. True believers recognize the worth they bring to the table of salvation. They know all too well what wretched beings they were before Christ. They are aware of the depth of their sin and disgrace and as a result. They are aware of the death that once claimed their souls. Christians know that they have been redeemed by mercy and not personal or corporate merit. It is not the merit of the Christian or the community that redeems the believer. It is the life and sacrifice and of merit of Jesus Christ. That is the motive for thanksgiving. Thanksgiving marks the heart of a believer. Imagine what this world would look like if every person who claimed the name of Christ were identified as incredibly grateful people who look and live like Jesus. Would it not be a sight to behold!?

 

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Colossians 2:1-5 pt. 2; Brief Thoughts

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. [1]

As believers come together, becoming fully dressed through their mutual progress in knowledge and understanding of Christ, the character of Christ becomes manifest among them. The character of Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. As the community of faith grows together, Christ is manifest among them. What a joyous thought! The keeper of all wisdom and knowledge is the means by which Christians attain “full assurance.”

Our ability to attain wisdom and knowledge is dependant on our pursuit of Jesus. As we grow closer to Christ, we become more and more like him and we avail ourselves of the wisdom and knowledge that is in Him. There is no toil to which He has not an answer. There is no quandary that He cannot bring reconciliation to. He is the Lord and He has ALL wisdom and knowledge. It is not merely some… it is all. Oh Christian, if you would simply sit and delight yourself in the nature and work of Jesus, you would find an infinite treasure of wisdom and knowledge. You would find a peace that passes all understanding precisely because it contains all wisdom and knowledge.

As the Colossians read the words of Paul, the surrounding world was urging them to seek philosophical means to achieve their peace and happiness. The world around them purposed that the gods could be manipulated and bent to achieve the result of wisdom. The pagan culture was developing into a civilized, man-centered society that combined a kind of pagan mysticism with a humanistic approach to knowledge. What Paul espouses is entirely contrary to pagan mysticism and Greek humanistic philosophy. Mysticism says that one must do the work to get the gods to do what you want to be done. Christianity says Christ has already done the work and you have only to delight in knowing Him. Humanistic philosophy says that this life is all about amassing for self and that you will find life within yourself. Christ says that life is found in surrendering to Him and you will only find life in Him. This is what Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 1, contrasting the world’s wisdom with that of Christ.

Paul is concerned that the people of God may be deluded by the words of men (v.4). He is concerned that someone may be able to speak eloquently, yet deceitful words that would lead the people to error. The effects of erroneous philosophy and theologies are innumerable. The very fabric of life is laid waste when the foundational understanding of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is discarded. When Jesus is dismissed as a mere rabbi and Christianity is labeled as a non-transformative moralism, then all truth is dismissed. But Christ is not some mere rabbi! He is God incarnate and knowing Him transforms our nature! This is why it is so critical that Christians pursue knowing Christ. He is the truth. He is the storehouse of wisdom and knowledge. He is God made flesh so that you would be transformed from death to life. Seek Him!

Paul’s concerns are common among faithful ministers the world over. When we are absent from our people we worry that no one else will remind them of the word. When we are distant, our faith in God’s provision for the wisdom of others is tested. So it is with Paul. As he is absent from the Colossians, he wants to be assured that they are not taken in by various deceptive philosophies. Paul wants Christians to be steeped in truth and founded in Christ. It is this very firmness of faith that will bring gladness to the heart of true pastors.

Notice, it is the firmness of their faith. Not the prolific expansion of their numbers or the monetary success of their body. The firmness of their faith is what delights the heart of pastors. If a so-called pastor delights in numeric success over firmness of faith, then that person is not a pastor of Jesus Christ. The men who are called by God to shepherd God’s people are concerned with the people, not the size or monetary gain of the organization. Look for pastors to shepherd you who have the same heart as Paul. Look for men who are concerned for the firmness of faith. Look for churches that will teach sound doctrine and push you to know Jesus more deeply.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Col 2:1–5). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Impossible Prayers

Recently I was challenged by a message by Eric Ludy. He spoke in the message about praying “impossible prayers.” His challenge to the congregation was to pray in accordance with God’s character. God is immense! God created and sustains all things. He is powerful beyond what we could ever think or imagine. So, if we believe this, our prayers must exist in accordance with this truth.

At Sovereign Grace Fellowship, We’ve asked all the members to join in by making a list of a few impossible prayers that they can pray. What is so powerful about prayer is that God uses it to change the pray-er. Not only does prayer affect the circumstances that one prays about, it also affects the one who is doing the praying. I thought I’d share some of my impossible prayers below as well as some of the effects that have resulted within me from praying this way.

  1. I pray that everyone who lives on my street would become believers in Christ Jesus. As I have prayed this, I find myself speaking more openly to my neighbors. I will see them outside and, instead of a simple wave and walk inside, I approach with the intent of spiritual conversation. This has extended beyond just my neighbors. I find myself talking about deep things with more and more people as I pray this prayer. The cashier at the store, the guy walking along the road, the city worker… every person I see and talk to becomes a valuable deep conversation. I’ve become “that guy.” My evangelistic zeal has increased as I beg the Lord to save my street.
  2. I pray that starvation and poverty would be eradicated in the United States and then that our country would use it’s resources to do the same in the rest of the world. As I have begun to pray for this on a regular basis, my own sense of gratitude has been developed. Sitting down to a meal, in a house is a pretty big deal now. The sorrow I feel for those who don’t have a place is only eclipsed by the gratitude that grows in me. I also have been more attentive to the needs of those who do not have food or a home. I know that I am more sensitive to the hunger of others now. I know that, though I have little, I have some and can help others who have none.
  3. I pray that every church in the west would teach the gospel with clarity and that the church would look completely different from the world. This prayer has made me less concerned with my own church’s numeric success. It has made me much more concerned with the salvation of souls and the discipleship of Christians. This prayer is really not a new one. It has kind of been a cornerstone of my life since the age of 22… So when we started SGF, we incorporated prayer for another church every Sunday. We receive no material benefit from these churches and we have no special connection to them other than Kingdom work. With our limited resources and size, we strive to partner with others in the gospel ministry in this way. As I have prayed for every church to teach and live out the gospel in a way that changes the perception of the church in the west, I find myself evaluating other churches based on their Kingdom efforts. Buildings, membership, and programs no longer impress. But, Kingdom work – that selfless effort of Christians to proclaim the gospel with no material benefit to ourselves, is all that matters.

So what are some impossible prayers you pray!? Post them in the comments.

Featured Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress”

There are few hymns and songs so venerated and transcendent as Luther’s A Mighty Fortress is our God. In the midst of trial and struggle against threats rejection, economic distress and even of death from the Rhenish Palatinate, Luther penned the words for this powerful hymn to reinforce the mission of the Protestant church. Faced with a choice, the priests who had followed Luther could either turn away from him and reject all that Luther had stood for or they could themselves be condemned by the Holy Roman Church and undergo the same rejection Luther suffered, potentially even leading to death.

When I have been slandered, this hymn has reminded me of God’s faithfulness and graciousness to me. I am reminded, when the world stands in opposition to the Gospel, He is our refuge and strength. No power of hell can overcome Him and no ill can defeat Him! Luther was concerned for the heart of his fellow priests and he encouraged their labor and efforts with music. Not a sermon, not a stirring pamphlet… music. Music engages us in a way that other mediums cannot. For me, it is in moments of toil and distress that I seek the Sabbath of

song, the solace of melody, and the poetry of truth! Luther saw the faint heart of fellow priests and sought strength in songs of God! Psalm 46 freshly on his heart and mind, the German theologian and pastor sat down and reminded all faithful Christians of these deep truths.

A mighty Fortress is our God,

A Bulwark never failing;

Our Helper He amid the flood

Of mortal ills prevailing:

For still our ancient foe

Doth seek to work us woe;

His craft and power are great,

And, armed with cruel hate,

On earth is not his equal.

 

Did we in our own strength confide,

Our striving would be losing;

Were not the right Man on our side,

The Man of God’s own choosing:

Dost ask who that may be?

Christ Jesus, it is He;

Lord Sabaoth His Name,

From age to age the same,

And He must win the battle.

 

And though this world, with devils filled,

Should threaten to undo us,

We will not fear, for God hath willed

His truth to triumph through us:

The Prince of Darkness grim,

We tremble not for him;

His rage we can endure,

For lo! his doom is sure,

One little word shall fell him.

 

That word above all earthly powers,

No thanks to them, abideth;

The Spirit and the gifts are ours

Through Him who with us sideth:

Let goods and kindred go,

This mortal life also;

The body they may kill:

God’s truth abideth still,

His Kingdom is forever.

In these four stanzas, Luther brings assurance that no enemy can stand against the Lord of Hosts! He is victorious and it is in Him and Him alone that Christians take refuge. Though all be torn asunder, Jesus remains, our mighty fortress.

In recent years, Shane and Shane has produced a version of Psalm 46 that is tremendously edifying as well. Go have a listen: Psalm 46.

 

5 Things I do to Start my Day.

I am not a morning person. I used to be, but then I had kids. I was once able to burn the candle at both ends and subsist on 3 to 4 hours of sleep a night. Now… not so much. But, I need to get going in the mornings. I’m a pastor, so I’m supposed to levitate off my bed at 4 am, pray for two hours, write a devotion, miraculously read the entire Bible, and have heard the voice of the Lord before 5 am. Right? No… I’m a real person. Don’t put that super-spiritual nonsense on your pastors. They are real people.

Often in the mornings, my mind is fuzzy and I drag to get out of bed. I get breakfast ready for my kids (I have four, 8-years old and under). I make my breakfast. I answer constant questions. You know, I get moving. It is difficult to get my mind going productively with four tiny people demanding your attention while simultaneously attempting to focus your energy towards thinking deeply about God, the meaning of life, and everything. There are some things I do that help me get my brain moving in the morning. Some of them may surprise you.

  1. One of the first things I do in the morning is take a deep breath. When I wake up in the morning, my brain immediately starts running. It fires off lists of the day. Not organized lists that can be written down. These lists are terrors of confusion! It’s like watching some sort of bizarre squirrel that is frantically searching for the food he buried three years prior. These thought squirrels race through my brain intermittently arguing with each other over priority and importance. “fix the fan, toilet,…” is interrupted by, “pray for X, and her, and…” is interrupted by, “cook the eggs, pour the cereal,…” is interrupted by, “call this, write that blog, finish that edit….” Then one squirrel will punch another one and chaos ensue. So… I’ve learned to breathe in the mornings. I will walk into the hallway, look at the wall or the floor, and take a deep breath. As I inhale I let the squirrels run. Then when I exhale I consciously force the lists to stop.

If you have never done this, it takes some practice to get to the point where it works. Follow the Augustinian method. Breathe in and say “Jesus Christ.” Breathe out and say, “Son of God.” Breathe in and say, “Have mercy on me.” Breathe out and say, “Your servant.” In this way, you’ll find your mind clears and the squirrels stop messing around. This breathing has become my opening prayer time to God. But, in breathing, I’m not talking, I’m listening. Begin your day listening, make the squirrels stop.

  1. Read my Bible. Ok… so this is a no-brainer for a pastor. But, this particular reading is not as spiritual as you think. This reading is often done on my phone for a minute or less. I pull up my Bible app, read a few verses, and then get busy getting the kids up and going while I have number 3 playing in the background. I read these verses quickly. The skies do not part and angels don’t sing. I rarely remember what I read though I’m always affected by it. This moment is just that… a moment to hear the Word and remind myself that God is speaking. Devotion time for me happens later on in the morning. Study time for me happens later on. Writing and engaging with the text happens later. This moment is simple. This moment is a pause. It exists to tune my heart and mind to listen. So… read a couple verses to get your mind going on the right track in the morning. Clouds need not part and you don’t have to walk away like some ancient sage. Just read a few verses and enjoy Him.

 

  1. Watch or listen to something funny. In the mornings I listen to some sort of satire or humor… nothing too long, just enough to get a chuckle or two. It helps to loosen me up and not take myself too seriously. Listening to satire in the morning reminds me that the world is still moving and I don’t need to worry about every little thing. I think God likes to laugh. If He didn’t, children wouldn’t be children. Laughter is good, so I try to laugh at the beginning of the day, it makes the difficult parts more palatable.

 

  1. Drink caffeine. I drink between 2 and 4 cups of hot tea in a day and at least one cup of coffee every morning. I took up coffee after the birth of my third child. Again… there is no deep philosophical reason to drink caffeine in the morning. I have four children who all want chocolate milk, and cinnamon toast crunch, and a banana, and a movie, and a book for daddy to read to them, and a toy that only daddy can reach, and a, and a, and a, etc…. So I drink some coffee to get going, no deep thoughts here: it’s just something that helps to get me moving.

 

  1. I listen to something intellectually challenging or educational. To get my mind thinking about deep things, I’ll listen to some sort of lecture while I finish breakfast, get dressed, and the like. Today it was a lecture on the effect of procrastination on the mind of original thinkers. Yesterday it was a lecture on the life of C.S. Lewis. These are short (20-30 minutes) and I listen to them while I am getting ready. If they are not done by the time I sit at my desk, I do not finish them. By listening to something like this, my mind is ready to run in a straight path. I can focus, my lists are now lined up (often literally written on a notepad on my desk), and I am ready to tackle the day’s work.

What do you do to get going? (leave it in comments)

What do you do to get going?

How to do a Corporate Worship Painting

I’ve been asked a few times in the last couple months how to do a corporate worship painting. Other ministers are anxious to expand their church’s understanding of corporate worship and they view this as an opportunity to do so. Here is an older post that explains what worship paintings are https://noviselkins.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/worship-a-collision-of-expression/

Below are a quick explanation and instructions on how to do it. Hopefully, you will enjoy.

Why Worship Painting?

“Worship is the reaction of the God observer.” –Kyle Dunn.

I’m pretty sure Kyle was quoting someone else, but he is the one I heard say this phrase. I remember hearing him articulate this truth when I was a sophomore in college. It shattered my pre-conceived ideas as to what it meant to worship. To be clear, I understood the concept of “worship as a way of life.” I grasped that you could “live a life of song before God.” But I was missing the simplification of the definition. Worship is reaction to God. When humanity is confronted by God, worship is the response to that observation.

Worship therefore, is expression. It is some form of expression in response to God. That expression can be anything, but it is an expression. Often in the western church we restrict that expression to song. Worship, in particular corporate worship is done solely in song or prayer. Not every worshiper sings. Some worshipers dance, some write, some compose poetry, some think deeply, some work and serve,… and some paint. All are valid expressions of worship. All can be done corporately. All require a little stretching from the congregations that choose to engage in them. But knowing God also requires some stretching. So stretch on!

Painting is particularly unique. It is strange and distant to most of us. Painting is not something that comes natural to our western culture. As a form of expression, it is hard to nail down. But it is, without debate, expression. So, it is a perfect form of expression to stretch our abilities. Further, painting can be reviewed. It is not something that is shot into the void like a song that we sing or a poem we recite. It is a form of expression that lasts and develops more meaning the longer we look at it. So, stretch… paint your expression of worship and enjoy.

How to do a Worship Painting

Several years ago I determined to stretch my own congregation’s ability to worship. We did a corporate worship painting together and it was awesome! I tried to plan this sort of worship at least twice a year. Below are some simple instructions on how to do it.

First step: Prepare your congregation

Teach on Worship. The first step is to get people to understand this is an act of worship. In order to do that we must do some teaching on the nature of corporate worship.

  1. Each of us brings our own unique expression to the canvas of worship- Much like worship in song, every person has a unique voice in worship. All the voices unite together in one song to God. So it is with painting. Each person has a unique expression through the brush. It is best when we paint the same canvas and those expressions interact.
  2. Those expressions are best when they interact with one another in praise to God- This is important. We must understand that worship is not a matter of better or worse. It is a matter of expression. God does not measure your worship by the guy sitting next to you. Rather, it is by your purity of heart.
  3. Sometimes our expressions cover over others or change others expressions- When worshipers unite, some voices lay foundations that others build on. Some voices are brought to the forefront and some exist in the background. So it is with corporate worship paintings. It is important to understand that your expression might be covered up or altered by someone else’s and that’s ok. It is in the laying down of the expression that God is exalted. Your expression is valued by God even when it is unseen by man.
  4. Worship is most beautiful to God when all the individual expressions of worship unite and combine to make one unique expression. – Here is the crux of corporate worship paintings! You are granted the privilege of joining in with a body of believers to worship the King of Glory. Make a unique expression of worship by allowing the voices in your congregation to respond to God.

Second Step: Prepare your materials

Things you need to buy:

  1. A large canvas
  2. A can of spray paint to lay down a background color. (optional)
  3. A variety of acrylic paints (I always bought “Basic” brand acrylic paints. Tip: stay away from craft paints… they are lesser quality and you end up paying for it in the long run.)
  4. Nice paint brushes of various sizes.
  5. Paper/ Styrofoam plates to act as pallets for the paint
  6. Canvas Drop-cloths (buy a nice, large drop-cloth. You wont regret having it. It will protect the surface around the canvas AND add to the atmosphere whereas cheap stuff might detract.)
  7. Workable fixative spray and Crystal Clear Spray (Krylon brand clear coating for acrylic paints)
  8. Brush cleaning supplies: Some paint thinner to clean the brushes, mineral spirits, two jars, a tin can with holes punched in the bottom (optional.).

Things to do to prepare

  1. Decide if you want a background color and spray paint the canvas that color. Let it dry for 24 hours.
  2. Lay out your drop-cloth
  3. Lay your canvas out in a well-lit area that allows for access to the canvas from all sides. (I used floor lamps and spot lights to illuminate the canvas.)
  4. Put brushes, plates, and paints around the canvas.
  5. Pray that God would be pleased by the worship of His people. Pray that you would honor the Lord in your expression as a body. Pray.

Third Step: Enjoy worship.

  1. Explain what a corporate worship painting is. (See step one) You may want to encourage people to paint without words. Because painting is so unique, often we respond by writing words on the canvas and it can diminish the power of expression. So, sometimes I’ve made a rule that you cannot use words.
  2. Teach a passage of Scripture that will allow the observation of God.
  3. Play worship music
  4. Paint with them… I sometimes found it helpful to just go ahead and start. So, I’d pick up a plate and squeeze some paint onto it and start painting. It may take a minute for people to be struck with something, but once one person does, then usually the floodgates open.

Practically, the painting time looks like this:

  1. You explain worship
  2. You teach a passage
  3. You turn on some music and set the atmosphere to focus on the canvas
  4. You paint

Fourth Step: Clean up

  1. Clean the brushes (here’s a video for that) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIphtJDte9E
  2. Put some mineral spirits on your brushes and store them where they can dry.
  3. Spray the canvas with Crystal clear coat. This will keep the acrylics from cracking over time.
  4. Pick up all paints, throw away used pallets (if you’re going to do multiple days of painting you can put plastic wrap on the pallets to keep the paint from drying out. But there is no reason to try and preserve the paint if you are not doing multiple days in a row.)
  5. Hang the painting where people can see it in the weeks to come. This will serve as a reminder of what corporate worship is and will allow people to reflect on the work of worship.

Tips:

Prepare to respond to people who think this is too weird. It might be too weird for some. Ask those people for grace in understanding that different people worship differently and this is just one opportunity to do so. Assure them that their voice is not lost.

Prepare to encourage those whose expressions are covered up by other people. This is difficult to handle. Because worship is so personal, it is easy to take offense when someone knowingly or unwittingly covers your expression. That is why you must explain this carefully as a part of worship and encourage interactivity and respect for another’s expression.

Watch out for the one who is not worshiping but drawing something that has nothing to do with the Lord. I remember kneeling next to a boy who was painting his favorite football team’s emblem on our worship canvas. I recognized what he was doing and asked him, “Hey bro, can you tell me what your painting?” He was honest. I asked, “What does that have to do with God? Can you make it into something that praises God?” He altered his design and painted something different. It was an awkward whispered conversation. But it did the trick and worship was enhanced.

Overlook offense. Corporate worship is messy when it is done correctly. Just prepare to be offended.

Finally: touch the painting up afterward. I always had a few artists that would come and touch up the painting when we were finished. They were careful to only add highlights and to enhance what others had done. In this way, the corporate expression was not altered but enhanced.

Brief Thoughts; Colossians 1:9-10

9And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

The heart of Christian unity is found in the prayers of the saints. It is a unique character trait of the believer that permits such a response to the report of love in the Spirit. There is no desire for them to excel in fame or prestige. There is no passing apathy resulting from a competitive spirit. There is no desire to direct their steps and take charge of them. On the contrary, Paul prays for them to know God’s will and understand it.

What a tremendous prayer! That the Colossians would “be filled with the knowledge of His will” (v.9). He does not merely pray for some knowledge or a provision of knowledge. Rather, Paul prays that they would be filled with knowledge. Further, it is not simply general knowledge that Paul seeks, but especially the knowledge of God’s will. The will of God: that sovereign desire that will be brought to fruition. Paul prays that they would be complete in their knowledge of God’s will.[1] Imagine what it must mean to be complete in the knowledge of God’s will. Such knowledge would bring tremendous confidence. That very confidence that is needed to face trial and the strength to overcome sin are wrapped in the knowledge of God’s sovereign will. Take note, it is not knowledge of the specifics of God’s plan or His direct intention. Rather, it is a knowledge of His will specifically. Christians do not require knowledge of every detail of God’s plan, only the full knowledge that He has such a will and can be trusted. As the Christian becomes more aware of and confident in God’s will, the strength of their walk grows.

The knowledge of God’s will is accompanied and processed by “spiritual wisdom and understanding” (v9). This is faith that is complete. Complete faith does not merely trust in the knowledge that God’s will is sovereign, it also understands it and responds to it in wisdom. Christians who trust in God ought to live as the wisest among mankind. The wisdom of Christians ought to exceed the wisdom of the world, precisely because the nature of Christian wisdom is spiritual. The wisdom of Christians extends beyond the temporal world and exists in spiritual realms. As a result, the wisdom of Christians comes from a source that both influences and alters both temporal and spiritual realities.

Paul’s desire for the Colossians is that their lives would reflect the holiness of God. Christians live differently from the world around them. They live a life that is set apart. A life that is in pursuit of holiness. So, Paul prays that they would have the knowledge to enable such Christ-like living. Knowledge is given to Christians for the purpose of a changed life. A person who claims to know Christ and yet remains unchanged and unholy does not know the Lord. An unchanged Christian is not a Christian at all.

The life that is worthy is here explained in three descriptions each beginning with a participial phrase. The first description bears itself out in three simple phrases of verse ten. First, it is a life that is pleasing to God. That is to say, it is a life that delights in the word of the Lord and pursues holiness. It is not merely a passing delight. The life that is worthy is one that is “fully pleasing!” It is a life that delights God in every aspect. The Christian life is one that brings joy to the Lord not only in the view of the public but also in the secluded moments of privacy. Second, it is a life that bears fruit that is displayed in the work of the Christian life. The fruit of a Christian is not measured in tangible numbers or acts of people. Rather, the fruit of the Spirit is evident in the character of the Christian (C.f. Galatians 5). Yet, the fruit of the Christian life is born out in the works that Christians do to love their neighbors. It is revealed in “every good work.” Note that it is every work, not merely the ones that have been performed for an audience or in view of specific groups. The fruit of a Christian is displayed in all the works that are accomplished both public and private. Further, Christ admonishes His disciples in John 14 that the world will know His disciples by the way they love. Christians who bear fruit, work. Finally, the worthy life is one that increases in the knowledge of God. A Christian who does not grow in their knowledge of God is either starving their soul or they have not been redeemed. Either way, they are missing the delight and power of the Christian life. The worthy life is one that is spent tenaciously pursuing God. The worthy life is one that lays its selfish desires aside for the sake of knowing the Creator of the universe. The worthy life is a life surrendered to the pursuit of God.

The life of a believer is a changed life. It is a life that both defies the calls to success from the material world around it and embraces a tenacious love for that world. The Christian life is a life altered by the creator of all things. It is a life that is radical in its love towards others, relentless in its pursuit of holiness, and constant in its praise of God.

Oh Christian, how beautiful a worthy life is! Consider what our world would look like if believers genuinely pursued Christ so as to live a worthy life. Such great love would be displayed that the whole world would be forced to take notice. Indeed true Christianity has this effect on the community that surrounds it. When believers work to live lives worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the world around them is made more beautiful by the outflow of love that results from their pursuit of God. Pray, dear Christian that you and the other brothers in the faith would be filled with the knowledge of God. In that knowledge, the world will see the glory of God!

[1] The greek word used here indicates a completeness or fullness.