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Whilst on holiday, my family and I recently visited a cathedral. My children were shocked, especially when a chap started playing the organ. They had never seen or heard anything like it. The grand piano didn’t look special, but its volume and grandness made my children stand in awe. When we walked into the cathedral, the place was very different to going to church on a Sunday, where they run in, listen, go to Sunday School and have squash afterwards. Their experience was very different as they stood in awe, never having seen anything like this before.
Are you glad that you are here – because you stand in awe of the God who wants to speak to you, the God whose hands flung stars into space, the God who knows each and every one, who wants to meet with us? Is that your prayer this morning, your expectation? Are you really glad to be here because you want to meet with God?
Can you imagine the church at Colosse receiving this letter? What was it going to say? It starts off like this, “To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae,” (Colossians 1:2a There’s a church there being born because Epaphras has taken the gospel to them and they’ve come to put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, Paul writes this letter to the church and addresses them and says, “To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae,” (Colossians 1:2a). This tells us they are Christians, faithful brothers and sisters in Christ, and they’re in Colosse.
Here is a group of Christians, they’ve been saved by God, they’ve heard the gospel. They are in Christ, and they’re also in Colosse. They are in Christ but are also in Colosse, in the world, a fallen world. There is a great tension in the Christian life; we are in Christ but also in the world, a place we’re called to live. This great rescue brings across many challenges. The Christian life is not a walk in the park. You’ve got to go through the week but after all the battles done, you get to church on Sunday, to meet with God. It’s almost as if you’re being re-armed, fed, ready to go on. The tension of living in the ‘now and not yet.’ So, this morning, are you glad to be here? Do you want to meet with God? Do you want to stand in awe of what God’s word says? Will you be changed by it? God wants to prepare you for this week ahead.
We have been rescued from darkness, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,” (Colossians 1:13). What a profound verse. He has rescued us from the domain of darkness. Only God can do that. He has rescued you, brought you into the light, into the Kingdom, through the Lord Jesus Christ in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Consider the cross. Consider what Jesus Christ has done. He came, was put on a cross. Darkness came over the land and He bore our sins so that we can be redeemed, so that we could be saved. He’s done that because we can’t do that ourselves. Sinners can’t save themselves. That’s why Jesus Christ came into this world. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). Darkness leads to death, to judgement. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). The Bible reminds us that you are loved, that I am loved. We stand before a God who has loved us with an everlasting love. He has chosen us before the foundation of the world. He set His love upon you. He knows you. He has called you out of darkness. Wonderful! You didn’t want to be rescued. You didn’t want to choose Him. But He showed you mercy and compassion. You didn’t deserve to be rescued, but God doesn’t want anyone to perish. He wants everyone to come to repentance.
People would rather say there’s no problem with the dominion of darkness because it means they’re in charge and can do whatever they want, when they want. The world says, ‘My freedom is what matters.’ The gospel is here because God wants us to reason with people. It’s not that we can pluck them out of darkness, but God wants us to reason with people. When we start reasoning with people, we see what it actually means to live in the dominion of darkness.
When you go and do things you think will make you happy, following your own rules, it doesn’t satisfy. Because it’s darkness, it’s difficult to know what’s right and what’s wrong. We need to pray for people, to pray for our world, to pray for our communities. When they’re stuck in the dominion of darkness they don’t know God. We need to pray for mercy. We need to pray for the work of God’s Spirit. We need to pray that the Holy Spirit would come and illuminate their hearts and their minds, so they begin to see God’s ways are His best ways.
My friends, do you find it comfortable talking to people about the gospel? Are you comfortable telling people about your experiences, about how you became a Christian, about the things you thought would satisfy you but they really didn’t? Are you willing to speak up? Are you willing to confront? Are you willing to have a gentle word, so that they really would be rescued from the dominion of darkness, brought into the kingdom of the Son He loves?
It’s a rescue. There’ a destination to the darkness. There is a darkness forever. We are reminded that there’s an eternity. Heaven is real. Hell is real. We have this wonderful opportunity to keep on going, witnessing to our friends and family, inviting them, reasoning with them about the hope that they too can have, coming out of the darkness into the kingdom of the Son.
On the front page of most of the newspapers this morning you’ll see an article. You’ll see a lovely picture and it says something like this, ‘The star of Centre Court.’ The star of centre court is Elena Rybakina. Born in Russia, then changed nationality to Kazakhstan. However, her picture is not on the cover of any newspaper. It’s not a picture of the winner of Wimbledon women’s final. It’s a picture of Kate Middleton. It’s political. The politics of what goes on the front page of the newspapers. It’s almost as if they’re trying to avoid the truth. Are we going to do that as God’s people or will we love people and do the most we can, in the power of the Spirit?
In prayer and petition, will we speak the truth? We know what it’s like to be plucked out of the dominion of darkness by God’s mercy and grace. We know the joy of being brought into the light, standing in awe of God, who wants to know us. We’ve been rescued from the dominion of darkness. Don’t we want others to be rescued from the dominion of darkness? Let’s pray for them. Let’s pray for God’s Spirit to come in power. Let’s plead with God, as maybe others too pleaded for our hearts, that God would do a work and He would bring that work to completion.
Reconciliation from God. “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,” (Colossians 1:21-22). Amazing! ‘Once you were’ – that’s the gospel. You were nowhere near God – alienated from God. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian, it doesn’t make you any more special. But look what He has done: He has reconciled you, by Christ’s physical body, through death, to present you holy. Now, because of what He’s done, you’re seen as holy. You have the joy of having your sins cleansed, to have the guilt removed. You know that you stand right with God. God doesn’t count your sin against you. You now have a new position before God. You are seen as His child. You belong to Him. You begin to come to know God.
Once you’ve experienced His grace, everything changes. You want to open your Bibles, you want to know more about it. You want to search, to ask questions that you’ve never asked before because you belong to Him. You want to know what His purposes are, what His plans are. Then you come under His care, the author of creation.
Knowing all of this, do you love God’s rescue plan? Do you hate the darkness, knowing that is where you’ve been plucked from? You know sin is lethal, bringing death and destruction. Do you hate the darkness? As a child of God, nothing will separate you from the love of God. As you hear God’s word, you pray God’s Spirit will make you more like Him each day.
There is something profound in Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Think about this rescue and reconciliation; how God in His wisdom, planned before the foundation of the world to send His Son into the world, planned for you to be chosen, sitting here listening to the gospel, planned for you to one day be with God in glory.
Think of this grand master plan of rescue and reconciliation, of being God’s people. Paul, with all the letters he wrote, and with all the doctrinal elements, with all the grand statements, what does he say about this great rescue plan? Just three words, “And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15b). Isn’t that staggering! It’s almost an understatement. ‘And be thankful.’
Are you truly glad to be here? That you have been rescued from darkness? You were not looking for a rescue, were it not for the grace and the mercy of God. He chose you. He saved you. He’s cleansed your sin. He’s removed your sin as far as the east is from the west. Are you ready today, despite all the scars of last week, to get going again? Are you ready this week to listen to God’s word and see your need to be more like Jesus? God loves you and wants the best for you. This week, will you go out in God’s strength and witness to others, praying for the work of the Spirit and their lives too, that they too will be rescued, that they too will find a relationship with God?