The Joy of Knowing All Things in Christ
This month we are aiming toward that special quality the Holy Spirit remains ready to bring into the heart of any believer. It is the quality of joy. Amazingly, it will have two companions—patience and longsuffering. All too often, these two, stand ready to rob the heart of joy. This is because too many of us seem to think that joy is the result of some good circumstance. Well, this is so—if the circumstances of our lives revolve around who we are and where we are in Christ.
See this prayer from Colossians 1:10 & 11 and remember it came from a man who was in chains. Paul wrote to the Colossians from the prison in Rome where he was held because he proclaimed that Jesus was the Son or God.
The following is an interpretation of Colossians 1:11-14 from J.B. Phillips’ New Testament in Modern English. This book of his was an inspiration to me in my earlier years of knowing the Lord. You should find this passage helpful and encouraging as you face what may seem to be the unlikely results of your having trusted the Lord Jesus as your Savior. I say “unlikely results” because many who come to the Lord soon find that the attacks coming against them come as surprises. There are many, new and old believers, who wake up to realize that things are happening in their lives that do not immediately bring joy. But then—without knowing from whence it comes, they awaken to the realization that there is a deep and most unusual joy at work in them. Paul captures some of this in the following:
The words in the title of this article seem not to belong together in the same string of words. But, Paul found they fit together quite well. The same was so of other early believers.
In fact, the saints who went before us even learned to include words like “shipwreck, shame, trouble, distress, perplexity and persecution” and then go on to speak of a rejoicing that could only be born from the heavens where they learned that Jesus is enthroned at the right hand of His Father. Here’s an example from Paul: For our light affliction, which is but for a moment—it is but a short time by comparison with the joy that awaits us—worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory—II Corinthians 4:17.
Paul wasn’t the only one to find joy in the midst of tribulation. While he was still …breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord (Acts 9:1), some believers were already …rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name (Acts 5:41). They were being dishonored and were enduring indignity and abuse on account of their testimony for Jesus. But in it all, they were happy. Can you figure that out?
We’ll discuss it later on. An amazing thing was taking place in them.
The first prophetic Word that came to Paul was most unusual in that it had to do with how he would suffer for the ministry into which the Lord was about to call him. Here’s what took place, as we find it told in Acts 9:1-20. Paul—then called Saul—was on his way to Damascus from Jerusalem to gather up the disciples of Jesus and take them bound as prisoners to Jerusalem. But, as you probably know, he met the resurrected and ascended Jesus on the way and was instantly changed. The brilliance of the Lord’s appearing blinded him and he had to be led into Damascus. His companions took him to the house of a man named Judas. Living in Damascus was a certain disciple of the Lord named Ananias.
Ananias was alarmed that Saul was on his way to Damascus. But in a vision the Lord appeared unto him, told him where Saul was and told him to go to him. The Lord said Saul was a chosen vessel …to bear His Name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. He went on further to say; For I will show him how great things he must suffer for My Name’s sake. (From Acts 9:10-16) Hesitantly, Ananias went and a miracle of healing took place as he laid hands on the man he had feared. He called him Brother Saul and delivered the message the Lord had given him. Something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes and he could see.
This man, later called Paul, became an instant witness that Jesus was, indeed, the Son of God. It wasn’t long before he became acquainted himself with the kind of suffering he had inflicted on others, all because he too began proclaiming that Jesus was the Son of God.
But—and here is the most amazing thing—this same man became the one who wrote from his prison in Rome: Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice—Phil 4:4. He discovered a joy deeper than any suffering ever inflicted on him because of His testimony. He also discovered: But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. —Phil 4:19
Paul never deplored suffering; he discovered its value. God enabled him to put to the proof that a Word from the Lord Jesus about being blessed in persecution was a true Word, of supreme value for all His disciples who, through the ages, would suffer persecution for His Name’s sake. It was also a Word of Truth to those who would simply be obedient.
LET US SEE THAT WORD from the Lord Jesus about persecution and rejoicing. We find it in Matthew 5:11,12. This is the last of the nine Beatitudes. The word “beatitude” has reference to the blessings Jesus pronounced on those who embrace His Kingdom. We interpret this last Beatitude as we interpret it from the Greek New Testament.
In the secular world in which most people live, what one might receive as the result of obedience to the Lord Jesus would not seem a good thing. What else might we say about the infliction of evil words and lies Jesus said others would bring against us when we are obedient to Him? But He called on us to rejoice whenever this happens. Why? because the reward is ours, even now, in the heavens.
There are some very significant things in what the Lord has said in the above two verses.
First is the word blessed. It is a plural form of the word makários. It might best mean, “Oh, the blessings and the joys that belong to those who are persecuted for My sake.”
Jesus went on to say, “Great is your reward in the heavens.” The Greek word from which reward is taken is miśthos. It means the wage or salary one receives for some service rendered or work done for another person. Jesus said, when speaking to people who give themselves to His Kingdom, your reward is great in the heavens.
When we look carefully at these words, we may discover there is no place for hirelings in the service of His Kingdom. By this we mean people who only serve Him for a reward, that is, for a salary. Jesus definitely said our reward, that is our salary, is not in the earth. It is in the heavens. These heavens about which Jesus spoke in Matthew 5:12 and about which Paul teaches in Ephesians 6:10-17 are present realms into which we have freedom of access now.
The heavens are where Paul in Colossians 1:16 has told us that Jesus has created realms of spiritual government: principalities, powers, thrones and dominions. They were created by Him and for Him. Quite simply spoken, they belong to Him. They are the spheres of governmental rule that have been invaded by anti-Christ spirits and into which we are now released to go in the Name of Jesus to demand the withdrawal of those spirits. You have learned about this “warfare” in Ephesians 6:10-17.
Picture, if you can, where the manager of the company for which you work instructs you to go to collect the salary you have earned. In the Matthew 5:11,12 passage at which we have looked, Jesus has told us that if we have suffered and been persecuted on account of Him, we have a reward that is great. It is waiting for us in the heavens. Does this mean we can receive nothing till we reach heaven, which most people believe comes only after death, or after the return of the Lord? This is hardly so. We’ll see.
The Greek words translated in the heavens in the Matthew 5:11,12 passage, occurs frequently in Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians. There is a great deal about heaven that remains a mystery, at least to my own heart. It seems that much of the belief about heaven has come over on the Church through Gospel songs, many, many of which lead us to believe that our final destination is a place called “heaven” where we shall rest and have a glorious good time for ever. For many, that would seem to be the whole reward of our salvation. But, this doesn’t seem to be the case with Jesus, with the Prophets, with Paul or others who wrote in the New Testament. There is much waiting for us to receive from words ready to open to our hearts.
But, let’s just see some of what Paul revealed of the revelation that came to him, most particularly in his Epistle to the Colossians. There he told of the amazing work of the Lord Jesus that was done in the heavens. It was a work that is ours to know now.
But first, see in Colossians 1:5 that Paul told of …the hope which is laid up for you in Heaven, that is, in the heavens. In Matthew 5:12 Jesus used the Greek term,en tois ouranoiś. Take note that our reward, as well as our hope, is kept in store for us in the heavens.
Then see Colossians 1:16-20. This is a most significant passage. Here Paul makes use of the Greek term ta pańta. It is a little difficult to translate, but is very exciting and important. Literally it means “the all things.” But, we will be content to keep it as all things. We place verses 16 through 20 as they occur in the King James Version, taking note that ta pańta occurs four times, four very significant times.
This clearly means that all the realms of the heavenly Government were created by Christ, and for Christ. It becomes evident, however, by what we see in Ephesians 6:12, that these realms have been infiltrated by rulers of the darkness and spiritual wickedness that operates in high places. We have learned, however, in Colossians 1:13 that God has rescued us from the authority of the darkness. These forces of government, created by Christ Jesus and for Him but now infiltrated by insurgent forces of spiritual evil, seek to rule the nations. They also would rule us. They will be major forces of opposition to God’s Kingdom in the close of this age. They take their positions under the …prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience (the chief ruler of the authority of the atmosphere, the spirit now working as an energizing force in the sons of unbelief—Ephesians 2:2). Paul has told us in Ephesians 6:12 that presently we are to wrestle with these ungodly forces as they seek to rule our lives in opposition to God’s Kingdom.
But let us go on to see the verses that follow Colossians 1:16 as they tell of the supreme authority of Christ Jesus.
The things reconciled unto Christ are those thrones, lordships, principalities and positions of authority that were created by Him and for Him in the heavens. It is definite and clear that only those things created by Him and for Him are reconciled unto Him. We cover this in some of the “prayer starters” in the book we hope you receive this month. In it we will discuss further this matter of reconciliation. It has been a matter of confusion for some, but should no longer be the case as we gain the joy of knowing Christ’s triumph.
SOME TIME AGO , I had checked into a small hotel in South India. It was the policy of the hotel that guests sign a registry, placing the name of our hometown after our personal name. Shortly after I had gone to my room, a knock came at the door. On answering it, I found it was a man inquiring if I was the person registered from such-and-such a town. I told him I was. He was the next registered guest and was surprised to find someone there from a town not far from where he lived. After some conversation, he invited me to have breakfast with him the next morning. I found he was a businessman who had finished work with his business companions and wanted to take some time alone to explore India. There was no indication that he knew the Lord or had any idea about the principles of His Kingdom.
In the course of our conversation, after I had told him I served the Lord as a missionary, he wanted to know how I received support. Without stopping to think how I should answer him, I said, “We loose it.” This made no sense to him. So he asked for an explanation. In talking to him, I came to the realization there was no other answer. We knew nothing of going about seeking people who would pledge us their support on a monthly basis. We had, without really knowing it, attached ourselves to the Kingdom principles of buying the field as required of Jesus in • Matthew 13:44, of giving without reservation as He taught in • Luke 6:38 and the binding and loosing in • Matthew 18:18. Thus, I found myself speaking with a man who, as far as I knew, didn’t even know there was such a thing as the Kingdom of Heaven, much less of living out of its resources.
But, that’s where many of us are now being drawn to live, and many more have yet to learn to live, out of the reward that’s ours in the heavens. I can tell you this with deep conviction: the reward that awaits us in the heavens is boundless. God has more solutions to the problems of our support and our protection than there are birds flying in the heavens all over the earth. They all belong to His Son. Just read, and read again, Psalm 2. That’s where the Covenant Promise is made plain.
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