"THE POWER OF KNOWING GOD"
(A Message from Colossians)
Westgate Chapel 9/28/97 a.m. Colossians 1:9-14
PROPOSITION: The power needed to be fruitful, to grow, and to be strong is found only in the knowledge of God.
- KNOWLEDGE is growing faster today than at any other time in the history of the world.
- THE World Book Encyclopedia says that just in the area of published material, knowledge is doubling every ten years.....and the speed at which knowledge doubles is increasing geometrically.
- IN other words, if all the knowledge published between 1980 and 1990 doubled in that ten year span, we can expect it to double again sometime before the year 2000.
- THAT means that our generation should be getting smarter, at a rate much faster than our great grandparents, say in the 1800's.
- THAT is impressive isn't it?
- YOU would expect, naturally then, with this kind of geometric increase in knowledge, that the world would be in the process of becoming a better and better place.
- BUT, in fact, it is actually becoming worse.
* We have more knowledge now on drug abuse than ever before......and more drug users.
* You can find every self-help book you could want on marriage counseling.....how to communicate better, how to design a family budget, how to love your spouse....and for all of this we have more divorce today than ever in history.
* The field of psychology is pumping out volumes on everything from getting in touch with the inner you, the real you, the child in you.....only to discover that I am not OK and neither are you.
* Planned Parenthood has flooded the world with sex education, and now we have AIDS awareness curriculum flooding our schools......but recent research shows that we have more sexually active young people than ever and that in spite of the threat of AIDS no more people are taking precautions than before all the media hype about safe sex.
* Even in the church world today, our presses are pumping out more information than ever before on every subject from preaching for the Baby Boomer....to growing your church with drama and Monday night Bingo.....and yet the church is in serious decline in America.
- THE sobering fact is that in spite of the incredible increase of knowledge, worldwide, the world is not becoming a better place.
- AND this is exactly what the Bible predicted.
- IN 2 TIMOTHY 3:1-7 it says,
"There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- having a form of godliness but denying its power.....always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth."
- THE reason that we know more today than at any other time in history, but are not living smarter, is because we are denying the truth.
* Sex education that denies the truth about God and His purposes for mankind....will not do a thing to stop the AIDS epidemic or the tragedy of teen pregnancy.
* All the self-help and psychology in the world cannot help man overcome his neurosis.....unless he acknowledges THE TRUTH.
* Advances in technology may have saved time in the kitchen.....but the time freed up is not being spent in the presence of the living loving God, and therefore hasn't made man any happier than when he had to wash the dishes by hand or hang the laundry out to dry.
- THAT is the bad news.
- THE good news is that there is a knowledge that has the power to change life, improve life, and produce endurance, patience, and joy.
- ANY takers this morning?
- TURN with me to Colossians 1:9-14.
- THE apostle Paul is writing this letter to a church that finds itself in a Greek culture where knowledge was god......but, just like our day, isn't helping at all.
ii. the power of knowing god
- LET'S begin at verse 9.
"For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding."
- WHAT is "the reason" for Paul's prayer for the believers at Colosse?
- PAUL has heard of their faith, love and hope.....and the spiritual productivity of their lives in Christ.
- HE is praying and urging them forward.
- SO, since things are going so well for them, Paul prays that it may be even better.
- AND the object of his prayer is that they may be filled with the knowledge of God's will.
- THE reason for this prayer is that knowing God comes before living a life that is pleasing to God.
- THIS is in sharp contrast with the knowledge of the world that God calls foolishness....and actually puffs up its recipient in pride and self-sufficiency and doesn't really enlighten the inner man (I Corinthians 8:1-3)
"The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God."
- IT is only knowing God, personally, intimately, that is going to fill you and me with knowledge that will change us and do us eternal good.
- AND the means by which we receive this knowledge, Paul says in Colossians is
".....through all spiritual wisdom and understanding."
- WISDOM is "that settled condition of mind, controlled not by unaided human intellect, but by the Holy Spirit."
- UNDERSTANDING is "the application of wisdom to problems that require clear analysis before decisions can be made."
- THIS comes first in relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ....then it grows through the Word, and prayer and worship and the disciplines of the faith.
- IT is called knowing God.
- IT is what Paul prayed for himself in Philippians 3:10,
"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death....."
- THE Amplified Bible paraphrases it this way, "that I may be progressively and more intimately acquainted with Him..."
- KNOWING God is the only source of power that can really make a positive and eternal difference in your life or mine.
- THERE is no other lasting source of self help, inner healing, personal improvement or advancement.
- EVERY other method treats symptoms and not the root cause of the human sickness.
- THE reason for the difference is that worldly knowledge expands the intellect but knowing God transforms character.
- LISTEN to what Dr. Jeffrey H. Boyd says on the subject. Dr. Boyd is the chairman of psychiatry and ethics at Waterbury Hospital, a Yale Medical School affiliated teaching hospital. In his book, Reclaiming the Soul, Dr. Boyd writes,
“If secular therapists teach clients to seek themselves to try to discover the vitality of their hearts, then they are traveling down a dead-end road of frustration. The self-centered goal of maximizing potential, fulfilling aspirations, and seeking autonomy, self-determination, and individuation is the road to destruction....Christianity is not about seeking to fulfill yourself, but about God seeking us. Self-denial and self-sacrifice are central in my understanding of the New Testament. Those who lose their lives (or themselves) for Christ will be given the vitality of life as a gift from God.”
- LOOK at Colossians 1:10-11a with me to see the power of knowing God.
" And we pray this (that you might know God) in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,(11) being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might..."
- PAUL says here that the power of knowing God is demonstrated in three practical ways.....and the purpose is that we may live a life worthy of the Lord and please God in every way.
1. BEARING FRUIT IN EVERY GOOD WORK
- KNOWING God causes us to bear fruit. It is not an effort. It is as natural as the apple tree bearing apples by being what it is....planted in the soil with water, sun and nutrients.
- BEARING fruit is a theme that seems to dominate a lot of God's concerns for you and me.
- WE are not in this life to please ourselves and get ourselves together just for the personal satisfaction of self-improvement or gratification.
- JESUS didn't come to be served but to serve.
- HE said that if we abide in Him we are to bear fruit in our lives, just like a branch in a vine and that if the branch doesn't bear fruit it will be cut off and thrown into the fire.
- IN most of the parables that Jesus taught He cast us in the role of servant. In fact in one parable He called us unworthy servants.
- THE fundamental premise of the Gospel is that we are saved to serve and bear fruit.
- THAT means that there must be internal growth going on that results in growth in God's kingdom in the lives of those God has positioned around you.
- AND "bearing fruit in every good work" sounds a lot to me like a consuming way of life.
2. GROWING IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
- HERE is principle number two in the power of knowing God.....The last part of verse 10 says that you will “.....grow in the knowledge of God..”
- KNOWING God is not a static thing.
- THE minute you and I stop growing we start sliding backwards.
- GOD says in Hosea 4:6,
"My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge."
- AND the way to this kind of growth in knowing God, is to obey the level of knowledge that you have now so that you will be given more.....which is growth.
- JESUS said, concerning the “knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom,”
“Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” (Matthew 13:12)
- THEN Jesus goes on to explain that the reason was because the people’s hearts had become callused.
- GROWING starts with a proper attitude towards God. Proverbs says that the fear of God is the beginning of all wisdom.
3. BEING STRENGTHENED WITH ALL POWER
- HERE is the third benefit of knowing God. Verse 11 says that you will be.... “strengthened with all power...”
- THE more you know God the more power you will have in your life to please Him.
- FOR every requirement there will be a proportionate release of power as you know God.
- NO matter how demanding the task you are called to do.
- NO matter how difficult your life is by human standards.
- THERE WILL ALWAYS BE POWER AVAILABLE TO MATCH THE DEMAND (Grace cut to size).
- AND it is a continuous infusion of power....not a one shot deal at the altar. The verb in the original language for “strengthened” is the continuous present tense.
- OUR resources for life do not depend on how we feel from battle to battle.....but they are measured by the power of God.
- AND that is because this power is "according to His glorious might."
- WHAT does that mean?
- GLORY is the shining forth of His majesty when He sees fit to reveal Himself to us...through His Word, in prayer, in worship.
- MIGHT is from the Greek word "kratos" and is used only of the power of God in the New Testament.
- AND when that "kratos" is revealed to us it becomes "dunamis" in us.
- AND that "dunamis" energizes us and enables us to live our lives in such a way as to please God.
iii. the results of knowing god
- THERE are some incredible benefits of knowing God listed in the next few verses of Colossians 1.
- VERSE 11b-12a says,
".....so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father...."
- PAUL gives us three results of the power of knowing God.
1. GREAT ENDURANCE
- THIS is the power to hang in there when you are being provoked...and resist the temptation to give up or retaliate if the provocation comes from human sources.
2. GREAT PATIENCE
- THIS is steady persistence, not passive, that reaches its goal.
- THIS is unrelenting endeavor in spite of difficulty.
3. JOYFULLY GIVING THANKS
- THERE is a way to face difficulty with a stoicism that folds its arms and puts a stiff upper lip on the tough times.
- STOICISM ends in self-sufficiency and shuts God and others out of your life.
- THAT is not God's way of responding to hardship.
- THE believer joyfully gives thanks, not in a fatalistic kind of way, but because Christ is the goal of His persistence....and He has all things in the palm of His hand.
- WHY thanksgiving?
- VERSE 12b-14,
" .......giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.(13) For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,(14) in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."
- THAT is the way in to this kind of knowledge that brings power for living.
- IT is only through faith in Jesus Christ.