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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 23 - Colossians 1:9-11 - Higher and Higher Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius




Higher And Higher.


     "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will, in all wisdom and, spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all, patience and long-suffering with joyfulness."-Colossians 1:9-11



     Look back on the previous verses. Hear first the apostolic benediction, 'Grace and peace.' Hear the thanksgiving of the manifested faith and love of the Colossian Church. Hear the exultation in the hope laid up for us in heaven. Hear the continued intercession in behalf of the saints (verse 9). It is to this intercession that we shall attend.

     I. The filling (verse 9).-The gospel comes to us as 'empty.' It brings the good news of that which will fill us. Often does Paul use this word: 'Him that filleth all in all' (Ephesians 1:23); 'Filled with all the fullness of God' (Ephesians 3:19); 'That He might fill all things' (Ephesians 4:10); 'Be filled with the Spirit' (Ephesians 5:18); 'My God shall supply (fill) all your need' (Philippians 4:19). The 'filling' in the passage before us is with 'the knowledge of His will;'-that is, of what He wishes us to be and do. The knowledge of God, and of Christ; this is what is elsewhere said to fill us. Here it is of the will of God. Yes, the knowledge of God's will is replenishing and gladdening and sanctifying; His will in loving, choosing, calling, pardoning, blessing us, making us sons, heirs of His kingdom, partakers of His holiness and glory. This knowledge is further defined by the expression, 'All wisdom and spiritual understanding.' Wisdom is not only the contrast of the false thing which went by that name among the Greeks, but it specially denotes largeness and fullness of comprehension; understanding refers more to common sense, or the aptness for using our faculties aright. The Colossians were to be wise men, men filled with true wisdom, and men skilful in using that which they possessed; and this not naturally, but spiritually. What we need so much is 'spiritual understanding;' an intellect prepared and disciplined by the Holy Ghost.

     II. The walking.-'Walking' takes in every part of our daily life. We are not to be slothful or sedentary, but to walk-as Enoch and Noah, 'to walk with God,'-as Abraham, 'before God.' Our walking is to be of no common kind, regulated by no common standard; it is to be 'worthy of the Lord;' worthy of the Master whom we serve, of Him whose name we bear. Further, our walking is to be 'unto all pleasing.' As Enoch 'pleased God,' so are we. As 'Christ pleased not Himself,' so are we not to please ourselves, but God,-'I do always the things that please Him;' for Christ was the true God-pleaser, Enoch but the shadow. Let our aim be not simply to 'obey,' but to 'please' God; to please Him always and in all things; for 'all-pleasing' is a wide word.

     III. The fruit-bearing.-This is the law of being; the seed the beginning, the fruit the end (Genesis 1:12); not by constraint, but by the law of the new nature, according to the incorruptible seed. A Christian life is to be fruitful from beginning to end. There are different fruits at different times,-fruits of childhood, youth, manhood, old age. 'Twelve manner of fruits,' or more, like the tree of life. In connection with this subject we notice the following things in Scripture:-(1) No fruit; (2) unripe fruit; (3) withered fruit; (4) scanty fruit; (5) ripe and plentiful. Here it is 'fruitful in every good work.' The way to be fruitful, and to ripen, is to increase in the knowledge of God. This is the wisdom of wisdoms, in comparison with which all earthly science and philosophy are as vanity. The knowledge of God! What an ocean! Infinite, eternal, inexhaustible! Life eternal is in it (John 17:3); joy and peace are in it; health and holiness are in it. This is the knowledge that fills and gladdens and purifies the human heart.

     IV. The strengthening.-Weakness, as well as emptiness, is our natural estate. We need power, superhuman power, divine power. This is given to us, and we are to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might; so that out of weakness we become strong, through Christ that strengtheneth us. God Himself is our strength and our strengthener. He strengthens us 'with might,' nay, 'with all might;' so that no power may be lacking; the kind of power and the amount of power being communicated or poured into us out of the heavenly fullness, the fullness of Him to whom all power is given in heaven and in earth. We have fullness of power in Him; in Him who has the fullness of the Spirit. This, too, is 'according to His glorious power,' or 'the power of His glory;' the power of which His glory is the exhibition and the measure; the power coming forth from that glory which rested over Israel, and did such wonders for them. This divine strength works to the production of 'all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness;' for without it we should grow impatient, and fret, and sink into gloom. The strength works patience and gentleness and gladness. Let us allow God to fill us with this power. He is willing to do so to the uttermost.

     V. The thanksgiving.-Our hearts are to be filled with thankfulness, and our lips with praise. Our attitude here is to be that of praising men. 'In everything give thanks;' thanks unto the Father; to Him who has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. How much have we to praise Him for! Did we but rightly understand and interpret the events of life, even the darkest and the meanest, we should be continually singing a new song; finding, each hour, new materials for it. Let us live lives of praise. Let us do justice to the love and faithfulness and wisdom of our God. Let us not suppose it possible that He can wrong us, or be unkind, or even ungentle. Let us put away bad thoughts, and thrust out all suspicion. Let us learn His love in all its constancy, as well as in all its depths and heights.