Text: Col 1:1-14
We are beginning our study through the book of Colossians. I have been waiting to teach this book for a while because it’s one of my favorites. In particular, the second half of Col 1 is one of the most beautiful, most profound sections in all of Scripture. It would serve us well as a congregation to get a good handle on this letter.
Today, I want to talk about the will of God. What is God’s will for your life? When we think about God’s will, I think we often think about “calling.” What is God’s calling for my life? And this means, basically, what am I called to do? Am I called to be a professor, doctor, missionary, pastor, social worker, computer programmer? If you’ve been here for a while, you’ve heard me say numerous times now, I don’t believe this is the right question to ask. Because when Scripture uses the word “calling,”it refers to our calling unto salvation. Calling is about salvation, not about what we do.
What we do vocationally is not the same thing as calling. God does give us various gifts and He presents us with opportunities to exercise those gifts. Especially, in a church setting, there are pastors with a shepherding gift, teachers with a teaching gift, and others that God in his sovereignty gives to His church as He sees fit. So I think a more appropriate term to use instead of “calling” would be “giftings” or “works.” Eph 2- God has prepared good WORKS in advance for us to do based on various giftings. We all have things to do, good works for which we have to labor, but the same way that you change jobs, our work for the Lord can change. I am working as a pastor here in Pasadena for the time being. There is no guarantee that God will have me pastor for the rest of my life. I am not God. I don’t know the future. Maybe I will be a missionary next year. Maybe God will send me back to the marketplace. Only God knows.
We like thinking of our calling in terms of what we do, I believe, because we are so results-oriented. Especially in our society, we place a high premium on our achievements, where you went to school and where you work and your job title, so naturally, we bring this mentality into our relationship with God and ask, what can I do with my life for God?
We have been trained to think, we worked hard in school and studied for many years to get a Physics degree, and along the way, we became a Christian, so naturally, we assume, God will open the door and allow me to be Christian professor so that I can be a witness for the gospel on a university campus and serve at the local church. If things pan out and all of your years of hard work studying and doing research in a lab pay off and you end up getting a professorship, glory to God. You’ve found your calling.
But if you don’t get a professorship, then I guess God dropped the ball and you haven’t found your “calling” yet. And since you haven’t found your calling, you’re kind of on the sidelines waiting for God to do something. Or, you are busy knocking on doors, trying to make it happen on your own. Either way, you feel restless or anxious until you figure out what you are going to do with your life.
God’s will for your life according to Scripture is vastly different.
Read Col 1:9-10. [READ]
What is God’s will for your life? It says it right there. Paul is praying for the Colossians to be filled with the knowledge of His will. What is God’s will for your life? What does knowing God’s will accomplish in your life and mine? Paul unpacks the answer in v10. God will is for you to walk worthy of the Lord. It’s not talking the talk, but it’s walking the walk. We all know how to talk about the Christian life. We have plenty of Bible knowledge. That’s not Paul’s concern. God’s will is not that we become expert talkers about faith. Paul is encouraging us to walk in a way that is worthy of the Lord. This deals with practice more than it does with having the right principles.
How are we going to walk worthy of the Lord and live out our Christian lives? God will is for you to walk worthy of the Lord. More specifically, to walk worthy of the Lord is to live in a way that is fully pleasing to Him. How do we please Him? Two things. First, bearing fruit in every good work AND second, growing in the knowledge of God.
Let’s look at the phrase–bearing fruit in every good work first.
This phrase about bearing fruit is preceded by a section all about fruit. Col 1:3-6 [READ].
Verses 5-6 discuss the message of truth. What is the message of truth? The gospel. The good news of Jesus dying on the cross and resurrecting from the grave 3 days later to pay for our sins and to give us a hope of an eternal future with Him. This is the gospel. And if you repent of your sins and place your faith in the Person of Jesus Christ and believe in the gospel, fruit will be born. In fact, Paul testifies that the gospel is bearing fruit and growing all over the world, just as fruit was born at the church in Colossae.
This is such an important point. If you remember anything from this sermon, please remember this. How can we be fruitful Christians that please the Lord? Answer: it is to hold onto the gospel, the person and work of Jesus.
I think we diminish the gospel when we treat it as if it were preschool level, Sunday school teaching only relevant the young kids in the church. Or we diminish the gospel when we think the gospel is only for non-Christians. Spiritually speaking, it’s kids stuff. I’ve been a Christian for my whole life. I’ve graduated from the gospel. Give me the meatier stuff. I’m an AP Christian. Sign me up for the Advanced Placement class for mature disciples. The gospel – it’s only useful for converting people. The gospel is something we tack on at the end of a sermon so that non-believers have a chance of becoming a Christian. At best, the gospel is like an initiation rite for the newly converted believer.