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A quiet and side debate in Christianity has been going on for centuries. Many of us probably don't know much about it and most of us probably don't care. Indeed, in many ways, the debate itself may appear irrelevant, though in reality it is not.

This debate deals with the nature of Christ's work on the cross. The issue is about whether Christ's death on the cross atoned for a limited number of people or if all people of all times were covered by Christ's blood.

Those who believe that Jesus died for all people look to the classic verse of John 3:16. They say that John 3:16 teaches "God so loved the *world*" and they say this use of the word "world" indicates that God's provision of salvation extends to anyone--God's salvation is not fixed, limited or just for specific people. They also go one to say that since this verse says "...whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" therefore, "whoever" must mean that the offer is open to all. Additionally, they also cite other verses such as 2 Peter 2:1 which says that false teachers deny "the Master who bought them..." and 2 Peter 3:9 which says that God does not wish anyone to perish...

I'd like to take a moment to add my two cents to this debate.

Now, at the outset, we need to understand that I'm not saying that we can just sit back as the frozen chosen. Nor am I saying that we don't have a responsibility to go out and reach the world for Christ. Likewise, I am not saying that God does not love the world, or that if someone comes to Him, He will reject Him; indeed, anyone who does come to Him, comes because God is drawing them to Him (John 6:44) and that all who do come to Him will be accepted by Him (John 6:37).

So the debate is not about these matters of practicality, but more about the theoretical extent of Christ's atonement. Often the terms thrown around are "Limited Atonement" versus "Universal Atonement." If it's not clear by now, I land on the side of "Limited Atonement" though I prefer to call it "Particular Atonement" or "Definite Atonement" or even better, "Full Atonement" because only those who are born-again have their sins fully atoned.

We need to begin by understanding what the Bible says about atonement. The very term “atonement” is literally the words “at” and “one” and “ment” all put together. The Hebrew word “atone” is the word “kapar” which is what we get “Yom Kippur” from (e.g. the Day of Atonement). At its root, kapar meant to “cover” –it was used of the pitch that covered Noah’s Ark in Genesis 6:14. Once our sins are covered, God’s wrath is turned away and we are no longer His enemies.

The book of Leviticus establishes the basis for our understanding of atonement. Leviticus explains that our sins need to be covered by an innocent life. When it is, we are “at one” with God—that is, that our sins are removed and we are in fellowship with God. Every Jew that had their sins atoned for were forgiven and in a right relationship with God (Lev 4:26, 5:16). This covering, this Yom Kippur, was only available to believing Jews. In fact, if they did not believe, Leviticus 23:29 says that they should be cut off from their people. The Jews were the first of God’s people to believe in a particular atonement—that it was only available to those who would rightly recognize what God had provided.

 

I believe that the vast majority of Bible-believing Christians believe in a "Limited Atonement" though they may not say it this way. Here's why:

When we use word "atone" we are saying that Christ's blood fully covers our sins. If our sins are fully covered, we have full access to God and heaven after we die. Thus, if every person was fully atoned for by Christ, then every person would be heading to heaven--this is called Universalism. But no Bible believing Christian believes in Universalism because scripture clearly explains this is not the case. For instance, where is Judas now? Jesus said of him in Matthew 26:24 that it would have been better for him not to have been born. This can only mean that Judas is not in Heaven right now, but rather in Hell. Therefore, if Judas is in Hell right now, we can all agree that there is at least one person in Hell (though in reality, scripture indicates there are many more). So my question is this: If Jesus fully atoned for all of Judas' sins, why is he in Hell? Some might say, "Because of his unbelief. That's the only sin that cannot be forgiven." While I may not agree with the merit of this statement, the statement itself confirms my point: Jesus did not fully pay for every sin of every person because there are some people who He did not pay for their sin of unbelief. Therefore, they have at least one sin that has not been atoned for and thus we all agree in a Limited Atonement! Hooray!

Now, so far I've given some logical reasons to help settle the concerns of those who believe in an Unlimited Atonement. But what surprises me about this debate is that we are so unwilling to let scripture speak for itself. Indeed, scripture makes it quite clear that only a limited, specific group of people will be elect--that is, chosen by God for salvation. Passages such as Ephesians 1:5, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 1 Peter 1:1-2, Colossians 3:12 all indicate that we are selected and chosen by God to be in Christ.

The reason for the debate is that there are other passages that likewise speak of what seems to be a universal atonement. For instance, 1 Timothy 2:6 says that Jesus “gave Himself as a ransom for all.” 1 John 2:2 says “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” Do these verses, and others, indicate that every person in the world is atoned for and thus in a right relationship with God? Well, here’s some further thoughts on this question.

The question, then, is not about what the Bible teaches, but how do we understand what these verses mean?

 

Sadly, the debate has been waged for centuries and I don't claim to have all the answers. Yet in the matter of John's references to the "world" (and by extension, Paul’s use of “all”) I think that his point is fairly clear.

The question, then, is not about what the Bible teaches, but how do we understand what these verses mean?

Well, the debate has been waged for centuries and I don't claim to have all the answers. Yet in the matter of John's references to the "world" I think that his point is fairly clear.

A study of John's gospel reveals that he admits to driving the reader to several conclusions:

1) That Jesus is God (John 1:1, John 5:18, John 10:10, John 20:28).

2) That we need to believe in Him for salvation (John 1:12, John 3:15-16, 36, John 20:29).

3) The offer of salvation is extended to all people (passim).

Now, Point #3 is the crux and requires careful study.

John uses the word "world" numerous times in his Gospel. It's the Greek word kosmos and has many facets to its meaning. the word itself is about as portable and elastic as our word "world" in English. Kosmos can mean earth/planet (e.g. the world we live on), the way of society (e.g. the way of the world), a sphere of being (e.g. the wide world of sports) etc. Now with all these semantic ranges of meaning, what is John's nuance in his gospel?

The answer lies in John chapter 4. Here we have John's account of how Jesus blew apart the dividing walls of Palestinian society of the day. In John 4, Jesus was talking with the infamous woman at the well. She had been rather loose in her morals and shunned even by her own people. Adding insult to injury, she was also a Samaritan, a rogue group of people who had an aberrant view of God and His Word. Clearly this woman had many strikes against her and if there was ever someone unfit for heaven, it was this gal. And yet, Jesus' lovingly offered her the words of eternal life.

Now to see how John chapter 4 decodes the word "world", we need to see that Jesus stuck to some important truths. In verse 22 He maintains that salvation is from the Jews. This quick statement is critical in this passage and cannot be overlooked. Saying that salvation is from the Jews is Jesus' way of affirming all that had been previously taught in the Old Testament, namely that God's solution to sin and God's renewal of the person to make them fit for heaven was only sourced in the Jewish religion. If anyone in that age wanted a relationship with God, they HAD to become Jewish. This gets to the heart of salvation and election--God has ALWAYS been particular in choosing His people. Just as a groom is particular when he chooses a bride to the exclusion of all other women, God has likewise been particular in choosing His bride.

So, the Samaritans were a hybrid Jewish spinoff; were they accepted too? The answer is No, by Jesus' words here, the Samaritan religion itself was invalid. Just because they worshiped the same "God" in name as the Jews, their religion had so many problems that it was incapable of producing salvation. In order to be saved, they needed to repent of their man-made, false religion, and they needed to come to God on His terms as Jewish believers.

So back to the story: Jesus meets this woman and something amazing happens to her. While we could go into great detail, it's suffice to say that the woman acknowledges her sin, repents, and goes to bring others to Christ as well. In this startling  turn of events a Samaritan woman is offered salvation, her people are offered salvation, and they gladly embrace Christ--not that they might become Jewish, but that they would become born-again and members/citizens of God's family through Christ.

Okay, now getting back to the word "world" in John's Gospel-- the most important key in all of this is found down in verse 42, where the people make an important and startling conclusion--a conclusion that decodes John's use of the word "world" throughout his gospel. In John 4:42 the people say, "...we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the *WORLD*." In essence, they realize and see that Jesus is from the Jews, He is God's prophet, He is God's Savior, He is God's appointment means of salvation. And yet, though Jewish Himself, Jesus' offer of salvation is extended to anyone in the whole *world* even though they are NOT Jewish!!! They have been getting the short end of the stick for a while--all along, they've been hearing from the Jews that they are not really God's people because they are not really Jewish. Up till now, the Jews were right to say this. But now that the Samaritans have heard the Gospel from Jesus the Jewish Messiah, they now understand that He is God's gift, not just to Jews; but to them (the Samaritans) too! And not just to them; but to anyone in the WORLD who comes to Him like they did!Their use of the word "world" here proves that they are not thinking of every single person, but rather every people-group can come to God on the basis of Christ's death.

God's salvation is extended to ALL people of all nationalities. We see this in John 11:51b-52 which says, "...Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad." It doesn't matter if they formerly were radically sinful, from a the "wrong" ethnic group, or following a corrupt religion--if they come to Christ with humble repentance and faith, salvation is for THEM TOO! Salvation is no longer about national or cultural identity, it is about a reconciliation with God through faith and trust in Christ Jesus alone.

Lastly, even though the offer of salvation is meant for all nations, and is not limited to just the Jews, we need to remember that only those who are chosen (John 6:65) and called (John 6:44) can believe. Indeed, John 14:17 tells us clearly that the "world" cannot receive the Holy Spirit (John 14:17) because He has blinded the hearts/eyes/minds of some (John 12:40). Thus, in His high priestly prayer, Jesus specifically says, "I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours (John 17:9)."

Did you get all that? This is a brief summary of what John's Gospel has to say about God's offer of salvation to the world. On the one hand, you can't get much more election-heavy that John, on the other hand, indeed the offer of salvation is given to all nations. This doesn't mean that Jesus atoned for each and every person, but it does mean that His grace is available to anyone regardless of their national or cultural identity. 

This understanding of the word *world* unites with the overall purpose of John's Gospel. You may remember that according to John 20:31, his gospel is specifically an evangelistic book to be read and pondered by all people, not just for Jews 2000 years ago, and that the readers would call upon Christ as Lord and Savior. Just as John's Gospel is intended to be read by any people group in the world, likewise the Gospel itself IS God's message for the whole world. It's God's offer of redemption and salvation to all people. This doesn't mean that all people are universally atoned for, but rather the offer is open and extended to everyone.  These uses of the word "world" throughout John's Gospel indicates clearly that God's grace and mercy extends to all people for all times. Indeed, we worship and serve a great and mighty and good God.

Thanks for reading, I'd love to hear your thoughts too...

Thursday, 05 August 2010 07:38

TV - Whats Happened to Our Society?

Written by Russ Brewer
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Well, I've watched TV five times now...that probably sounds sound strange doesn't it? But it's true.

You might know this already, but it's been almost six years since we've had TV.  We've never paid for TV and when we moved here, the only choices were to pay for TV or buy expensive antennas. So we opted for nothing. But in this visual blackout, it's not that we've been in the dark all these years. Rather, between the Internet, magazines, Bloomberg Radio, and Netflix, we've been pretty well connected. 

But then, a couple of weeks, ago, Verizon started having all kinds of crazy problems with our Internet. Our speeds went to .14 mps (that's POINT ONE FOUR). Yikes! That's PAINFULLY slow, especially as web designers!

Well, after a couple of weeks of in/out slow/slower/slow service, Verizon 'sort of' told us that they couldn't fix the problem. So, alas we had to convert to Comcast, and of course, after rebates and all, the cheapest option was to include TV with our bundle. So now... we have working TV.

A bit like Rip Van Winkle, we are shocked and saddened by what we are seeing. What dismays us most is that for us, it is clear that the world has taken a turn down a dark and sinister course since we last watched regular TV five years ago. In the five times we've watched it since we've gotten it activated, literally **every time** has been distressing. 

I suppose you can tell us that part of the problem is what we are watching-- afterall, it's our choice to watch the news, or Fox TV or the A&E show "Hoarders". Yet at the same time, come on, it's the 10 O'Clock news right?

Yet quickly and unexpectedly, the news or the commercials take a turn that throws out an image or sound bite meant to shock me or draw me in. Whether its a 911 call of a person calling/dying, or the serious curse words said during a commercial, or just the dragging out of the lives of very cracked pots; the result is that I'm forced to hear or see something that is truly heart-breaking, disturbing, unsettling, etc.

Now I know what the common answer is: you can't live in a bubble and these things really happen, so we can't turn a deaf and blind ear to them. While that is true to an extent, and yet all these years I have not been blind to them. Like I mentioned, I have found, by and large, that my Internet news sources, and my weekly/bi-weekly magazine subscriptions, have given me an equal if not deeper insight into the realities of this world. Often I'm the most informed person in the conversation. The only times I am at a disadvantage has been having the heart-pain that many people have watching all day coverage of school shootings, natural disasters, etc. 

But what I'm seeing on TV is especially troubling because it's reality shows degrading into voyeurism and freak side shows, but with a bleak, nihilistic, hopeless perspective. It is painfully obvious to me that over the past five years, that the American public has increasingly become calloused/immune/inoculated/desensitized to life. The TV stations are out-shocking one another with ever-increasing tantalization hoping to grab more eyeballs and advertising dollars. PT Barnum maxim is being lived out to its grossest extent: "you can never underestimate people's bad taste." 

Aside from the obvious moral implications that are most important to me as a pastor (an unholy society that rejects God is doomed both in this world and in eternity) but from sheer logic, we are collectively wounding our souls as a nation. Within us is God's holy image. Within us (for those who are born again) we are filled with His Spirit. Within our hearts is the conscience, designed by God, to be warning lights to trouble. And yet, TV is marring God's holiness within us as our minds are focused, each evening, on topics/themes/images that dishonor Him. He cannot be with us during those hours in front of that TV. Thus, the hours we watch TV are by and large hours out of fellowship with Him. No wonder there is such joylessness in our country! 

Likewise, by having all of these gruesome images paraded before us, we develop an incorrect perspective on the dangers and evils of the world around us. While we should never be naive, likewise, it's not as though Charles Manson is crouched below our windows at night. 

Speaking of Charles Manson, all of this evil paraded before us also feeds our flesh to enjoy things that are evil. People who feast on these evil topics each night will actually grow to like, admire and desire to follow these evil doers. The conscience becomes seared and rather than disdaining evil, we are drawn to it. 

Another obvious problem here is that the media is amazingly effective at brainwashing its viewers. The media companies have immense budgets to present their doctrines in the most beautiful, compelling, interesting light. Thus, even if they are wrong, they are able to persuade by the sheer quality of their presentation. As I watch these shows, I keep looking over to my wife and saying to her, "the world is insane!" Indeed, it clearly is.

Well, I could go on and by now you're probably not thrilled to hear what I'm saying. These are just some quick thoughts in this early stage of having TV. Am I glad I have it? I'm not sure. Still looking for something redeeming about it that is better than the time I spent playing with my kids, working on projects, studying God's Word....so far, my favorite part of having Comcast right now are the music channels.

Now, where's my remote???

Saturday, 28 February 2009 14:31

Joy Despite Economic Turmoil

Written by Russ Brewer
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The Lord actually wants us to have a better quality of life. Jesus said in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” This abundant life, this joyful life, only comes when our soul is brought to Life with Christ’s life—that Christ Himself abides in us. It is a profound truth that until a person’s dead heart and soul are brought to life by Christ, they will not truly know what true, lasting and enduring joy and peace can be. That certainly was the case for me. Perhaps the breaking of people’s hearts in these harsh economic times demonstrates that for some, their spirituality was not truly a work of Christ, but of their own mind/childhood/upbringing/culture.

Paul talks about this growing abundant life in Philippians 1:9-10 where he says, “And it is my prayer that your love may about more and more with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” We see from these verses that 1) Our love must grow 2) Our love will grow in knowledge 3) Our love will also grow in discernment 4) Application of that growing knowledge and discernment leads to a growing recognition of that which is morally right (and by extension also that which is morally wrong) 5) Recognition of that which is right leads to purity and blamelessness as God’s Spirit directs our way. This purity and blamelessness here is not the groaning of a killjoy, but rather, as Hebrews 12:11 says, it is the peaceful fruit of righteousness. The fruit of blamelessness is an increasing sense of peace and joy, even if life’s trials come our way.

Some folks might find these concepts elusive, and at many times they have been out of my own grasp. But I have learned, in my own walk with Christ, that diligence and faithfulness in these fields does in fact yield the harvest of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. When there has been a famine of these in my life, it has always been because I have stopped breaking up the hard ground of my own soul and have stopped planting the seeds of the Word of God and stopped growing in knowledge/discernment and stopped applying that knowledge and discernment to life, that my life might turn and align with the ways of God, the ways of His purity and His blamelessness. Psalm 16:11 says of God, “In your presence is fullness of joy.” Life can be joyful and abundant, but that joy and abundance is not found along the paths of the world, but rather in the sphere of God and His holiness.

Have I arrived in all of this? Not at all, I write as a learner, not a master. These are just some reflections from my time with the Lord this morning. And I’m trying out this “facebook note” thing.

Grace and peace,

Russ
Tuesday, 03 March 2009 14:30

Total Transformation to Joy

Written by Russ Brewer
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When a person comes to Christ, their life is radically and permanently changed. They have been transferred from the domain of darkness, to the kingdom of light. This is more than just a positional change; it is the beginning of a total transformation of a person’s heart/mind and soul. This change is evident in Colossians 1:9-14 which we will be studying soon at our Tuesday Night Shore Café (http://www.thegracetabernacle.org/GraceLife/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=91&Itemid=374).

Five times in three verses, Paul uses the word “all” or “every” (Greek ‘pan’ or ‘pas’) to speak of the total impact of the Gospel upon a person’s life. Just as marriage totally transforms every aspect of a person’s life, likewise our relationship with Christ transforms every aspect of our lives.

Colossians 1:9-14 recounts Paul’s prayer for this young Colossian church that has relatively recently embarked upon the path of Christ. Paul, the faithful shepherd, cares for this young flock and has been burdened for them in prayer. These verses reveal the content of his prayers which is all about total transformation.

Paul prays that they would gain the knowledge of God’s will for their lives with “all” spiritual wisdom and understanding (1:9). He prays that their walk with Christ would please Him in “all” respects (1:10). And since this transformation cannot hope to happen in our own strength, Paul adds in verse 11 that he’s been praying that they would find God’s strength, that He might grant them “all” power by His glorious might that they might attain to “all” steadfastness, patience and joy.

The Gospel has a total impact of Christ. In another place in scripture, Paul says that we ought to “work out” our salvation (Philippians 2:12)—not with the sense of working ‘for’ salvation (for salvation can only come by the grace of God through faith in Christ’s death on our behalf – Ephesians 2:8-9) but rather the Greek wording behind Philippians 2:12 speaks to how our salvation impacts every aspect of our lives. Thus, Colossians 1:9-14 unpacks what Philippians 2:12 says in brief = the Gospel is to have a totally transformational impact upon our lives.

And all of this is where the joy in Colossians 1:11 comes in. What robs our joy? It’s when we live by our law, the world, or our own flesh. While these paths may have a temporary sense of fun, ultimately they are paths which draw us away from Christ and the source of joy (Psalm 16:11). Thus, as we are transformed by Christ, we have the inner light of His joy within us as we abide in fellowship with Him.

Okay, well at this point, my daughter has joined me on the bed with a bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup (I’m still recovering from yesterday’s outreach and apparently got a bit sick). Plus, there’s a foot of snow outside, I should go and enjoy it with my kids. We’ll leave the contradiction between me being sick and playing in the snow for another day!

Grace and peace,

Russ
Tuesday, 03 March 2009 14:28

Living By the Spirit: Colossians 1:9-12

Written by Russ Brewer
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Healthy babies grow and it brings such exuberant joy for parents to watch the development of their little gifts from God. Parents excitedly record and boast about how their baby is holding their head up for the first time, or when they roll over, or as they are starting to get up on all fours. Not to mention their glee when they first scoot along or begin to “cruise.” We delight in the nature growth of our children.

Likewise, there is a delight to God in our own, spiritual growth. Once a person places their faith in Christ, healthy Christians grow. We see this progression of growth in Colossians 1:9-12 where Paul lays out a progression of spiritual growth that is exciting and clarifying for the life of a new believer. Growing in God’s will > Wisdom > Understanding > Walking > Bearing Fruit > Good works > Increasing knowledge > Strengthened in Christ > Giving thanks.

In verse 8, Paul commends the Colossians for their “love in the Spirit.” God’s Spirit is in the process of training us to walk with Him and Paul explains in verses 9-12 how he constantly prays that they would grow in “spiritual wisdom and understanding.” The word “spiritual” here is the Greek word pneumatike and it speaks to the idea of one who has received God’s Spirit and lives according to their relationship with Him. That is, one who is governed by the acting force of God’s Spirit upon their life.

The experiences we encounter and the responses we give to life, by God’s Spirit, teach and train us in what is pleasing and useful to Him. Though we cannot see or hear God’s Spirit, we can sense and perceive His Spirit through our inner relationship with Him. It stands to reason, then, if we are to learn to walk with the Spirit, then God must teach us the “what’s” and “how’s” of this relationship with Him so that we might live in full, consistent surrender to His Spirit.

Some people improperly believe that we should shut down this inner interaction with God because God “does not work like this any longer.” More commonly today are those who believe that our emotional impulses are really God’s Spirit communicating with us. The first are often driven by the flesh because they no longer seek God’s presence in their lives. The second are often equally driven by their flesh as they improperly attribute their emotional reactions to the Lord. Both extremes are wrong and both extremes fail to understand the process of how God trains us to discern what is His Spirit and what is our flesh.

The primary classrooms where we learn to discern between the promptings of our flesh and the Spirit are trials and testing where God guides us assess the results of what we have done. Scripture calls these results “fruits” and gives us several passages which guide us to assess the fruit of our actions to determine their origin (e.g. Galatians 5:19-23, James 3:15-18,etc.). The overall teaching of scripture is that the fruit of the Spirit’s working through us will produce attitudes within us and conditions around us that are characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Likewise, when we have been governed by the flesh, our actions will produce “fruit” which is characterized by impurity, division amongst God’s people, following the world, etc. Results that include division, wrath, etc. are those actions that were prompted by the flesh.

The challenge for God’s people is to learn and be trained by the course of life so that we are able to discern the difference between operating by our flesh and the Spirit, hence being pneumatike that is, governed by the Spirit and not by our flesh. This training process can only happen gradually as we encounter various situations, respond with various responses, and over time discern what produced love joy and peace versus what produced enmity, discord and anxiety. In my early life, I was so often discouraged by my own spiritual failures, but what I didn’t understand was that each success and each failure was an opportunity for me to learn to discern the source of my actions and overtime, God used these lessons to bring me along the progression of becoming increasingly governed by the Spirit rather than the flesh. Each failure showed me that since the fruit was bad, the source was my flesh. Each success showed me the reverse. Each was important in my growth in Christ because each taught me over time to cease operating by the flesh in how to operate by the Spirit. These are lessons and truths I’m still learning now as I evaluate my own life in light of its fruit.

Like with my own experiences, I find that so often when people come to Christ they are so discouraged by their slow growth in Christ. As was the case for myself, it is possible that they have been so fully immersed and enslaved to the world, and the influence of the Spirit may be so foreign to our souls, that it takes an exceedingly long period of time for us to learn to uncouple our enslavement to the world, and to slowly wash and purify our hearts and minds with God’s Word and prayer. This person may be frustrated with their own slow growth in Christ because it takes a long time, requires much thought and meditation, and is inherently fraught with failures along the way. Yet their path must be walked and the sooner they can learn the skill of following the inner promptings of Christ and not their flesh, the sooner they will walk in the peaceful fruits of righteousness.

Well, at this point, my kids are up, bouncing around, and it looks like the my day has begun.

Grace and peace,

Russ
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Colossians 1:9 "For this reason sinced the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spirutal wisdom and understanding." What an encouragement it must have been to the Colossians to have read this verse. The apostle Paul himself has put them on his personal prayer list. This probably was a huge moment in the life of the Colossian church. Paul goes on to explain the content of his prayers as asking that God might fill them with the knowledge of His will with all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Being “filled” is the Greek word plyrothete which means fill, or fulfill much the same way as in English. Likewise, can also mean to complete. Here in this verse, Paul sets down what ought to be the heart prayer of us all—that we might be filled; filled with the knowledge of God’s will and filled with all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

I love the imagery here that Paul uses as he prays for the Colossians. He asked that they woudl be "filled" with knowledge of God's will and all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Being filled means being completely full. I think of a completeness and a soundness in my understanding. I think of a fullness and completeness of that which is of God and the absence of that which is of this world. I think of filling my bathtub, which is right now partially filled with kid’s toys, but if we were to fill it with water, as the water level rises, and if we never shut it off, it would eventually rise and overflow so that even the plastic sharks and boats would flow out of it because it is so filled with water. There would be water everywhere, and my wife would think I'm nuts, but the bathtub would be filled.

The person who is filled with the knowledge of God’s will with all spiritual wisdom and understanding is so overflowing with pure wisdom from God in part because they have been filled with the waters of God’s wisdom and partly because those waters have cleansed and pushed out the impurities and thinking of this world. And this is God’s will for us, that we be filled with the cleansing, soul-refreshing wisdom and insight that comes from fellowship with our God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Well, the natives have awoken and I've got to get on with the day.

Grace and peace,

Russ
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