Sermon 2465. Our Omnipotent Leader
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, MAY 17, 1896.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, APRIL 29, 1886.
"And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to Me in Heaven and on earth." Matthew 28:18.
I INTEND chiefly to call your attention to this verse, but it will also be necessary to refer to the rest of the chapter-"Go,therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teachingthem to observe all things that I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen"
Our Savior was always with His disciples until the time of His death. After His resurrection He was with them often, but notalways. He came and He went mysteriously-the doors being shut, He was suddenly there when they least looked for him. Or Heappeared to them as they walked by the way, or while they were fishing, or when they came to the mountain in Galilee, theappointed rendezvous. On this particular occasion-I am not quite sure whether it was when only the eleven were gathered together,or that more memorable occasion when He spoke to over 500 brethren at once, which many who have well studied the passage thinkis more probable-at any rate, on this occasion, the Savior made Himself very much at home with His disciples. According tothe most proper translation of the text, "Jesus came and talked to them." There was a holy familiarity in His communicationswith His disciples. He spoke to them as a friend. He came into close contact with them in friendliest familiarity. The gloryof that time to them was that He was there and that He spoke with them! It does not matter where it was, He was there, andwherever He pleases to be the center of the group, there is sure to be a memorable gathering. Brothers and Sisters, I wishthat we were always on the lookout for our Lord. I am afraid that in our assemblies we often think and say, "So-and-So wasthere, and such-and-such a minister spoke to us." But the best meeting is when Christ is there and when He, Himself, by HisDivine Spirit, speaks familiarly to our souls!
Notice what it was about which our Lord spoke to His disciples. He was going away from them. His bodily Presence would nolonger be enjoyed by His followers until He should so come in like manner as they were to see Him go up into Heaven. But Hislast talk, or one of the last talks He ever had with them before His ascension, was about Himself and His work. It was a timeof taking them into His secret, explaining to them the partnership which the Father had established between Him and them,and making them to know the fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ which was now to cover the whole of theirlives. You see, He begins by speaking to them about His own power-"All power is given to Me in Heaven and on earth." We arenot fit to go out to work for Christ till we truly know Him, ourselves, and also know something of the Divine power whichHe is prepared to give to us. It is well for us to learn the lesson, ourselves, before we attempt to teach it to others. Gonot out to all nations till you have first gone into your closet and had fellowship with the Master, Himself! You will blunderin your errand unless you go forth fresh from His blessed Presence.
Then, what were they to do but to act for Him? "Go, therefore, and teach all nations." They were to teach those nations onlyabout Him! He was to be the great Subject of all their teaching. The correct word is, "disciple all nations." They were todisciple them, not to make them their own disciples, but His disciples. He was to still be the Teacher, the Rabbi, the Master-theywere only to go forth to do His work, not their own. Brothers, we must not try to form a party of which we shall be the head.We must abhor the very thought of any such action! We must gather the nations to Him! Otherwise, we are not His servants,we are our own servants, or rather, our own masters. We are renegades and disloyal if we do that. "Go, therefore, and discipleall nations," was the command of Jesus Christ to His disciples.
And they were to baptize those who were made disciples, but it was to be in His name, in association with that of the Fatherand of the Holy Spirit. He who is not, as a Believer, baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, is not baptized atall! The name of Christ is inseparably linked with those who are baptized according to the Scriptural fashion. So, you see,whether it is preaching, or whether it is discipling, or whether it is baptizing-we must keep close to Christ. It is all alongthat line we preach Him, we make disciples for Him, we baptize in His name.
And when those who were made disciples were baptized, what was to be done next? "Teaching them to observe all things thatI have commanded you." The shepherding of the sheep must still be in our Lord's name! We do not found a church in any othername but His. Neither do we know any rule or order or book of discipline but that which He has left us. He, alone, is Kingin Zion, and only what He teaches is authoritative. The explanations given by His servants we must judge by the tests He hasgiven to us-but the Word of the Master is to be obeyed and accepted in its entirety. "Teaching them to observe all thingsthat I have commanded you." O Brothers and Sisters, there is no true work done for Christ unless we always put Him in Hisright place and keep ourselves in our right places-Himself the Omnipotent Leader and Commander of His people-and ourselvesHis servants in all things, seeking even in the smallest matters to be obedient to His revealed will!
Do not fail to notice that all this is to be done in association with Himself-"Lo, I am with you always." "It is not enoughthat you preach My Gospel, baptize in My name, teach all nations that I am the Lord and Master of the house and bid them allobey My will-you must also always have Me at your side. You will do nothing worth doing. You will spend your life in failureunless you keep up perpetual communion with Me. 'Lo, I am with you always.'" This must be the case with us till this dispensationcloses and it shall only close by our being with Christ in a still higher sense. We shall then go from His being with us toour being with Him-from spiritual fellowship to an actual, visible, corporeal fellowship! We shall be like He when we shallsee Him as He is. He shall stand in the latter day upon the earth! He shall reign gloriously among His ancients and, untilthen, it is our privilege to abide at His side and never venture to go forth unless we feel that He goes with us, making ourpreaching and teaching in His name to be of effect upon the hearts and consciences of men.
I have missed my purpose in this preface if I have not brought out this line of thought-that if any of us would receive acommission for Christian service, it must come from Christ Himself! If we would carry out that commission, it must be in loyaltyto Christ! And if we hope to succeed in that commission, it must be in a perpetual, personal fellowship with Christ! We mustbegin to work with Him and go on working with Him, and never cease to work until He, Himself, shall come to discharge us fromthe service because there is no further need of it! Oh, that we did all our Church work in the name of the great Head of theChurch! Oh, that we did all Christ's work consciously in the Presence and in the strength of Christ!
Still only introducing my main theme, I shall ask you for a minute or so to consider the grand statement which our Saviormade. "Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to Me in Heaven and on earth."
"All power." Read it, if you like, "all authority." It is not so much force that is meant, as moral power. Christ at thismoment possesses a royal authority-by might, it is true-but chiefly by right. His is the power which comes of His merits,of His glorious Nature and of the gift of the Divine Spirit who rests upon Him without measure. The word we translate, "power,"has a wider meaning than that-you find a good instance of it in John 1:12-"As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God," where the word, "power," might be rendered, "privilege,"or, "right," or, "liberty," and yet be also correctly translated, "power." Christ at this moment has all rights in Heavenand on earth! He has all sovereignty and dominion and, of course, He has all the might which backs up His right. But it isnot mere power in the sense offorce-it is not the dynamite power in which earthly kings delight. It is another and a higherkind of force which Christ has, even the Divine energy of love. He possesses at this moment all authority in Heaven and onearth.
"All power," He says, "is given to Me." That is to say, He has it now. You and I are not sent out to preach the Gospel inorder to get power for Christ-He has it now! We are not sent out, as we sometimes say, to win the world for Christ-in thestrictest sense, it is His now! He is the King of Glory at this very moment! He is, even now, Lord Over All, King of Kingsand Lord of Lords! All authority is given to Him. I shall not try to explain the particular time when it was given, but Iremind you that it has been given. That great act is accomplished! Our Lord Jesus holds in His hand the scepter which givesHim power over all flesh that He may give eternal life to as many as the Father has given Him. He already has in His handthat scepter with which He shall break the nations as with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces as a potter's vessel! Hehas not to go up to His Throne-He is already enthroned. He has not to be crowned-He is already crowned, as we have said, Kingof Kings and Lord of Lords!
"All power is given to Me." This is not merely the power which Christ possesses naturally by His Godhead, or a power whichcould be compassed entirely by His Manhood, for that must necessarily be limited. But it is a power which can be containedwithin that blessed complex Person, the Christ of God. It is as the God-Man, the Mediator between God and men, that all mightis bestowed upon Him as the reward of the travail of His soul-boundless authority-so that now He can say, "All power is givento Me in Heaven and on earth."
All power "in Heaven" belongs to Christ. That is, all power with God. You remember how Elijah prayed and opened Heaven byhis prayers? The Christ of God is greater than Elijah! You know how men of God have been blessed with remarkable force andenergy in their pleadings-but the intercessions of Christ are more powerful than all the intercessions of His people-yes,in one sense, they are the power that gives effect to all the intercessions of all the saints! It is He who puts power intothem and into their petitions. Of course, as Christ has power with God, He also has power over all the holy angels and allpure intelligences. All power of every kind that has to do with heavenly things and heavenly places is in the hand of Christ.
And Christ also has all power, "on earth." That is to say, He is Lord over all the earth. "The sea is His and He made it:and His hands formed the dry land." He is Master of all Providences-His hand always holds the helm and steers the ship thatcarries His disciples. He is Master of all kings and of all politics and when, at times, we tremble for our beloved nation,there is no real need for us to do so. "The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of the isles be glad thereof."Christ has all authority over all the sons of men and all the forges of nature. From the stars that light up the brow of midnight,to the deepest law that works in the heart of the earth, the Lord Jesus Christ is Master of them all! All power, He says,is given to Him in Heaven and on earth! This is a statement which would need a far fuller explanation than I can give it inthe time at my disposal just now-I want, rather, to make use of it in this way.
I. First of all, let me say of this statement of our Lord-"All power is given to Me in Heaven and on earth"-that WE GREATLYREJOICE IN IT.
I do not know that our Divine Master could have said anything to us that would have made our hearts thrill with a sweeterdelight than we derive from these words-"All power is given to Me." Beloved, do you not wish all power to be given to Himwhom we love? I confess that nothing makes me rejoice more than the fact that He reigns. I do not feel any sorrow so muchas the sorrow of seeing His Truth trod in the mire and I know no joy that ever thrills my soul like that of knowing that Jesusis still set as King upon the holy hill of Zion, that He still reigns and that, "He must reign till He has put all enemiesunder His footstool." Is there any power you would like to keep back from Him? Is there any power you would like to investin someone else? Is it not the delight of your soul to think that He could say, even when He dwelt here among men, beforeHe had ascended to the Father, while yet He talked as others talked with His poor disciples, "All power is given to Me inHeaven and on earth"? Do we not feel ready to shout, "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" when we know that this is really the fact?
We delight also, dear Friends, to know that all power is in the hands of Christ because we are sure that it will be rightlyused. Power in the hands of some people is dangerous, but power in the hands of Christ is blessed. Oh, let Him have all power!Let Him do what He will with it, for He cannot will anything but that which is right, just, true and good. Give Him unboundedsovereignty! We want no limited monarchy when Christ is King! No, put every crown on that dear head and let Him have unrestrictedsway, for there is none like He. He is more glorious than all the sons of men and it is our joy to know that all power isgiven to Him in Heaven and on earth!
This also furnishes us with good reasons for often going to Him. I love to think that all power is in Him and none in me,for now I cannot stay away from Him. I am obliged to knock at His door and if He asks me why I come so often, I must answer,"It cannot be helped, my Lord, for all power is with You! If I had power to provide for myself, I might try to do so, butsince, without You, I would die of hunger, I must come to You for every meal and every snack, yes, for every breath and everypulse." Yes, it is even so because all power is given to Christ that we rejoice that we may always go to
Him! Will you chide a babe because it longs for its mother's breast? How can it live without its natural nourishment? Andcan you chide our feebleness because it loves to hang upon the Omnipotence of Christ?
We are glad, again, that all power is given to Him because He is so easy of access. It is difficult for those in need to speakwith kings, but it is not difficult for them to tell their needs to the King of Kings! It is not easy to present a petitionto an earthly prince, but it is very different with those who have requests to bring to the Prince Immanuel-His door is alwaysopen to suppliants and His ear and heart are always ready to listen to their supplications. Call upon Him when you will, Hewill never repel you! Come to His strength whenever you may-that strength will flow out to your weakness and make you strongin the Lord and in the power of His might! I leave that first thought with you-we rejoice that all power is given to Christ.
II. Secondly, WE SEE THE PRACTICAL OUTCOME OF THIS TRUTH. "All power is given to Me in Heaven and on earth. Go, therefore."
I have met with some Brothers and Sisters who have tried to read the Bible the wrong way upwards. They have said, "God hasa purpose which is certain to be fulfilled. Therefore we will not budge an inch. All power is in the hands of Christ. Thereforewe will sit still." But that is not Christ's way of reading the passage! It is, "All power is given to Me, therefore go, you,and do something." "But, Lord, what do You want from us when You have all power? We are such poor, insignificant, uselesscreatures that we shall be sure to make a muddle of anything we attempt." "No," says the Master, "all power is given to Me,therefore go." He puts us on the go because He has all power! I know that with many of us there is a tendency to sit downand say, "All things are wrong. The world gets darker and darker and everything is going to the bad." We sit and fret togetherin most delightful misery and try to cheer each other downwards into greater depths of despair! Do we not often act thus?Alas, it is so and we feel happy to think that other people will blend in blessed harmony of misery with us in all our melancholies!Or if we do stir ourselves a little, we feel that there is not much good in our service and that very little can possiblycome of it. This message of our Master seems to me to be something like the sound of a trumpet. I have given you the strainsof a dulcimer, but now there rings out the clarion note of a trumpet! Here is the power to enable you to "go." Therefore,"go" away from your dunghills, away from your ashes and your dust. Shake yourselves from your melancholy! The bugle calls,"Boot and saddle! Up and away!" The battle has begun and every good soldier of Jesus Christ must be to the front for His Captainand His Lord. Because all power is given to Christ, He passes on that power to His people and sends them forth to battle andto victory!
Yet is there another note in this trumpet call. "All power is given to Me, go, therefore"-"Go you." Who is to go out of thatfirst band of disciples? Is it Peter, the rash and the headstrong? Is it John, who sometimes wishes to call fire from Heavento destroy men? Is it Philip, with whom the Savior has been so long and yet he has not known Him? Is it Thomas, who must putHis finger into the print of the nails or he will not believe Him? Yet the Master says to them, "Go you; all power is givento Me, therefore go. You are as good for My purpose as anybody else would be. There is no power in you, I know, but then allpower is in Me, therefore go." "Go, you worm, Jacob, and thresh the mountains, for I have made you a new sharp threshing instrumenthaving teeth. Go in all your weakness, for this is your might-the might that dwells in Me! Go and teach all nations. Poor,weak, feeble, faulty, yet go because I have all the power you can possibly need."
"Go, go," says Christ. "But, Lord, if we go to men, they will ask for our passports." "Take them," He says, "all authorityis given to Me in Heaven and earth. You are free of Heaven and you are free of earth. There is no place-whether it is in far-offEthiopia, or in the deserts of Scythia, or in the center of Rome-there is no place where you may not go! There are your passports-'Allauthority is given to Me, therefore go.'" "But, Lord, we need more than passports, we need a commission." "Here is your commission,"says the Lord-'all power is given to Me'-and I delegate it to you. I have authority and I give you authority. Go, therefore,because I have the authority. Go and teach princes and kings and beggars-teach them all alike. I ordain you, I authorize you!As many of you as know Me and have My love shed abroad in your hearts, I commission you to go and-
'Tell to sinners round
What a dear Savior you have found.'
And if they ask how you dare to do it, tell them not that the bishop ordained you, or that a synod licensed you, but thatall power is given to your Master in Heaven and on earth and you have come in His name!" And nobody may say no to you.
"Moreover," says the Master, "/ send you with My power gone before you" Observe that, for I bring it, again, to your recollection.Christ does not say, "Go and win the power for Me on earth. Go and get power for Me among the sons of men." No, but, "Allauthority and power are already vested in Me. Therefore go. I send you to a country which is not an alien kingdom-I send youto a country which is Mine-for all souls are Mine. If you go to the Jews or to the Gentiles, they are Mine. If it is to Indiaor China that you go, you need not ask any man's leave-you are in your own King's country, you are on your own King's errand-youhave your own King's power going before you."
I believe that, often, when missionaries go to a country, they have rather to gather ripe fruit than to plant trees. As theLord sent the hornets to clear the way for the children of Israel, so does He oftentimes send singular changes- political,social and religious-before the heralds of the Cross to prepare the way for them! And this is the message which sounds withclear clarion note to all the soldiers of King Jesus, "I have all authority in Heaven and on earth, therefore, without misgivingsor questionings, go and evangelize all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the HolySpirit."
Thus, first, we rejoice in this grand statement of our Lord Jesus Christ, and next, we see the practical outcome of it.
III. Thirdly, and very briefly, WE FEEL THE NEED OF IT.
Oh, Brothers and Sisters, if anybody in this place knows the power which is in Christ to make his ministry of any use, I amsure that I do! I scarcely ever come into this pulpit without bemoaning myself that I should ever be called to a task forwhich I seem more unfit than any other man that was ever born! Woe is me that I should have to preach a Gospel which so overmastersme and which I feel that I am so unfit to preach! Yet I could not give it up, for it were a far greater woe to me not to preachthe Gospel of Jesus Christ! Unless the Holy Spirit blesses the Word, we who preach the Gospel are, of all men, most miserable,for we have attempted a task that is impossible-we have entered upon a sphere where nothing but the supernatural will everavail! If the Holy Spirit does not renew the hearts of our hearers, we cannot do it! If the Holy Spirit does not regeneratethem, we cannot! If He does not send the Truth of God home into their souls, we might as well speak into the ear of a corpse!All that we have to do is quite beyond our unaided power-we must have our Master with us, or we can do nothing! We deeplyfeel our need of this great Truth of God-we not merely say it, but we are driven every day, by our own deep sense of need,to rejoice that our Lord has declared, "All power is given to Me in Heaven and on earth," for we need all power! Every kindof power that there is in Heaven and on earth we shall need before we can fully discharge this ministry. Before the nationsshall all be brought to hear the Gospel of Christ, before testimony to Him shall be borne in every land, we shall need thewhole Omnipotence of God! We shall need every forge in Heaven and earth before this is done! Thank God that this power isall laid by ready for our use-the strength that is equal to such a stupendous task as this is already provided!
IV. I must pass over much that I might have dwelt upon and say, in the next place, WE BELIEVE THIS TEXT AND WE REST IN IT."All power is given to Me in Heaven and on earth."
We believe in this power and we rest in it. We do not seek any other power. There is a craving, often, after great mentalpower-people want "clever" men to preach the Gospel. Ah, Sirs, I fear that the Gospel has suffered more damage from clevermen than from anything else! I question whether the devil, himself, has ever worked so much mischief in the Church of Godas clever men have done! No, we want to have such mental vigor as God pleases to give us, but we remember that text, "Notby might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord." The world is not going to be saved by worldly wisdom or by fineoratory-brilliant speeches and poetic periods win not souls for Christ! The power to do this is the power that is in Christ.And the Church of God, when she is in her right senses, does not look for any other power. I mean that she does not cringebefore kings and princes, and cry, "Establish us, endow us!" It is an old fiction that the royal touch can cure "the king'sevil." But it is an old fact that the king's hand brings an evil whenever it is laid upon the Church of Christ by way of patronage.No, kings and queens, we can do without you! If you will come to Jesus' feet as humble suppliants, you shall be saved evenas your subjects are, but the Church of God has a Kingdom that is not of this world and needs no help whatever from the kingdomsof this world. All power for the extension of the Kingdom of
Christ is in Himself-His own Person sustains His own Kingdom and we will not go to any other fountain of authority to drawthe power we need. The Church of Christ must always say to Him, "All my fresh springs are in You."
And, dear Friends, we believe and rest in this Truth, defying every other power. Every other power that can be conceived ofmay set itself against the Kingdom of Christ, but it does not matter! No, not one whistle of the wind, for all power is alreadyin Christ, and that which seems to oppose His Kingdom must be but the mere empty name of power. There can be no real powerabout it, for all power is in Him-both in Heaven and on earth!
This being so, we rest quite sure that even our infirmities will not hinder the progress of His Kingdom. No, rather, we gloryin our infirmities, for now the power of Christ will become more conspicuous! The less we have by which the Kingdom mightbe supposed to be extended, the more clearly will it be seen that the Kingdom is extended by the power of the King, Himself.
At the same time, all power that we have, we give to Him, because all power is His and all power that we ever possess, welay it under tribute for Him. Whatever is of good, or of brightness, or of light, or of knowledge in this world, we say, "Itall belongs to Jesus." And we set the broad arrow of our great King upon it and claim it as His.
O dear Friends, why are we ever cast down? Why do we ever begin to question the ultimate success of the good cause? Why dowe ever go home with aching head and palpitating heart because of the evils of the day? Courage, my Brethren, courage! TheKing has all power, it is impossible to defeat Him! A standard-bearer fell, just now, I know, and across the battlefield Isee the clouds of smoke. The right wing of our army may be shattered for a moment, but the King in the center of the hoststill rides upon the white horse of victory-and He has but to will it, He has but to speak a single word- and the enemy shallbe driven away like chaff before the wind!
V. Lastly, and here I should have liked to have had much time, but I can only hint at what I would have said. If it is sothat all authority is given to Christ in Heaven and on earth, then WE MUST OBEY IT.
Christ says, "Go." Then, let us go at once, according to His Word, in the track which God's own hand marks out for us! Letus go and disciple all nations! Let us tell them that they are to learn of Christ and that they are to be obedient to Hiswill. Let us also baptize those who become His disciples, as He bids us do-"baptizing them in the name of the Father, andof the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
Next, let us be loyal to Him in all things and let us train up His disciples in loyalty to Him-"teaching them to observe allthings that I have commanded you." As He has all authority, let us not intrude another authority. Let us keep within the Master'sHouse and seek to know the Master's mind, to learn the Master's will, to study the Master's Book, to receive the Master'sSpirit and let these be dominant over all other power. And all the while let us endeavor to keep in fellowship with Him-"Lo,I am with you always." Let us never go away from Him. Because all authority is given to Him, let us keep close by His side.Let us be the yeomen of His guard. Let us be the servants who unloose the laces of His shoes, who bring water for His feetand who count ourselves highly honored to do so. "Lo, I am with you always," He says, so let us always be with Him.
And let us always keep expecting Him to return. The last words of the chapter suggest this thought-"even to the end of theworld," or, "of the age." You know that this age is to end with a glorious beginning of a brighter and better age. Thereforelet us keep looking for it. Servants, you will not serve well unless you expect your Master's return! If you say, "He delaysHis coming," you may begin to eat, drink, and to be drunk, and to beat your fellow servants. Let the expectation of your Lord'sreturn always keep you on tiptoe, with your lamps trimmed and your lights burning, for, perhaps this very night there maybe heard in our streets, the cry, "Behold the Bridegroom comes! Go out to meet Him!" May we all be so ready that this crywould be the sweetest music that our ears could ever hear! God bless you, Beloved, for Christ's sake! Amen.
HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"-775, 340, 324.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: COLOSSIANS1.
Verses 1-2. Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brethrenin Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul begins witha salutation in which he wishes the Colossian Christians the best of all blessings. It is the very spirit of our holy religionto wish well to others and I am sure that we cannot have a better wish for our dearest friends than this, "Grace be to you,and peace." Grace will save you-peace will make you know that you are saved. Grace is the root of every blessing-peace isthe sweet flower that makes life so sweet and so fragrant. May you have both of these blessings "from God our Father and theLord Jesus Christ"! There is no peace for you apart from this blessed combination-God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.Therefore, may you know your adoption and may you know your redemption!
3, 4. We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faithin Christ Jesus. We are not only to pray for those who have no faith, but the very fact that men have faith should lead usto pray for them. Where there is evidently life in the seed and it begins to sprout, let us water it with our prayers andwith our thanks, too. "We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heardof your faith in Christ Jesus"-
4, 5. And of the love which you have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in Heaven, whereof you heardbefore in the Word of the truth of the Gospel. "Faith"-"love"-"hope"-these are three Divine sisters which should always gohand in hand. We must never be satisfied unless we see in ourselves and in our fellow-Christians these three delightful fruitsof the Spirit of God! Notice the order here-faith, love and then hope. Perhaps the Colossians were a little deficient in thislast Grace, so the Apostle prayed constantly for them, "for the hope which is laid up for you in Heaven, whereof you heardbefore in the Word of the truth of the Gospel."
6. Which is come to you, as it is in all the world, and brings forth fruit, as it does also in you, since the day you heardof it, and knew the Grace of God in truth. We do not know the Grace of God in truth unless it brings forth fruit in us! Wemay know it with the head very correctly, but yet we do not truly know it unless it is knowledge in the heart, knowledge inthe inner man. We do not really know it unless it affects our lives and brings forth faith love, hope-faith, which lifts usabove the world. Love, which preserves us from selfishness. And hope which keeps us up under all trials.
7, 8. As you also learned of Epaphras our dear fellow servant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; who also declaredto us your love in the Spirit. I like to read of these godly men speaking well of one another. Nowadays, it is thought tobe a distinguishing mark of faithfulness to be able to pick holes in the coats of our fellow Christians. Now, we cannot helpperceiving their defects and, sometimes, it is our duty to speak of them-and to speak of them faithfully-but let us also observeall the virtues that are to be found in them, otherwise we may despise the work of the Holy Spirit and rob Him of His Glory!How kindly Paul speaks of Epaphras, and how kindly Epaphras speaks of the Church at Colosse!
9. For this cause we, also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that you might be filledwith the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. If you have the Graces of the Spirit, it is importantthat they should be deepened, that they should grow through being fed with Divine nourishment. What the water is to the plant,making it further to develop itself, that is the knowledge of God's will to our gifts and Graces-they grow and become fruitfulthrough an increase in the knowledge of God.
10-14. That you might walk worthy of the Lord to all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledgeof God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, to all patience and longsuffering with joy-fulness;giving thanks to the Father, which has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who has deliveredus from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son: in whom we have redemption throughHis blood, even the forgiveness of sins. Now the Apostle is handling the string he most delights to touch! He is at home witheverything which concerns the welfare of saints, but when he begins to talk of his Lord and Master, then it is that he seemsto ride in a chariot of fire with horses of fire-and he grows mightily eloquent under the Inspiration of the Spirit of God!See how he talks of the great central Truth of God of the atoning Sacrifice-"In whom we have redemption through His blood,even the forgiveness of sins."
15-18. Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature, for by Him were all things created, that arein Heaven, and that are in earth; visible and invisible, whether they are thrones, or dominions, or principalities or powers:all things were created by Him, and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And He is the Headof the body. Note how Paul harps upon that one string, "He." See how much He dwells upon the Divine Person of the blessedLord Jesus Christ. He will never have done praising Him! He keeps on heaping up epithets to magnify that blessed name andhe truly was in the Spirit of God when he did this, for it is the work of the Spirit to glorify Jesus Christ. He makes Himgreat in our hearts and then we try to make Him great by our words and by our acts.
18-22. The church: who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. Forit pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of His Cross, by Himto reconcile all things to Himself; by Him, I say, whether they are things in earth, or things in Heaven. And you, that weresometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death,to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight. O, Beloved, as the sun is to be seen mirrored, not onlyin the face of the great deep, but in every little drop of dew that hangs upon each blade of grass, so is the glory of Christto be seen, not only in His universal Church, but in every separate individual in whom His Spirit has worked holiness!
23. If you continue in the faith grounded and settled, and are not moved away from the hope of the Gospel, which you haveheard, and which was preached to every creature which is under Heaven; of which I, Paul, am made a minister. How delightedhe is to have such a Gospel to preach, such a hope to tell to the sons of men! Oh, if we had to creep from a sick bed, orto come up from a dungeon-if we were aching in every bone of our body and if we were depressed in soul-this ought to be enoughto make us full of gladness to overflowing, that we have such a Christ to preach and such fullness of blessing to declareto the sons of men!
24. I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for Hisbody's sake, which is the Church. As if there were so much suffering to be endured to bring in the redeemed from the worldand so much self-sacrifice to be made in order that those whom Christ has redeemed may come to know of that redemption andmay be brought to Him. And Paul was glad to make up that which was lacking of the afflictions of Christ in his flesh, "forHis body's sake, which is the Church"-
25. Of which I am made a minister. This is a wonderful expression, "made a minister." The true minister is of God's making!A man-made minister must be a poor creature, but a God-made minister will prove his calling-"of which I am made a minister"-
25-27. According to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the Word of God; even the mystery whichhas been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: to whom God would make known what isthe riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of Glory. "Christ in you" isGlory begun, a sure pledge and earnest of a Glory greater than you can yet conceive! If He is in you, you have the beginningsof Heaven! You have, in fact, the excellence and flower of Heaven, for there is no Heaven but the Glory of Christ.
28, 29. Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect inChrist Jesus: whereunto I also labor, striving according to His working, which works in me mightily. If God's people strivemightily, it is because God works mightily in them! Nothing can come out of a man but what God puts into Him. We work to willand to do when He works in us according to His good pleasure. Oh, for more of the agonizing of the Spirit within us, thatthere might be more of agonizing in our spirits for the Glory of God!