Summary: Sermon 4 in a study in Colossians
“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”
Every Zorro or Robin Hood movie I’ve ever seen, and I think I’ve seen them all, contains at least one scene where a victim of the villain’s tyranny is either standing on a scaffold, rope around neck and about to be hanged, or about to have his or her head cut off, or about to be shot by a firing squad, and at the penultimate moment the hero swoops in, swinging on a rope or riding a horse or dropping from a nearby rooftop and literally plucks the poor victim from danger, removing him or her to a place of safety.
If the Greek terminology of Colossians 1:13 is understood, it is that sort of picture that will come to the mind of the hearer. God the Father, at the penultimate moment, symbolically speaking, swooped in and plucked us from the power of the dark one.
Of course, my analogy is far from perfect. In truth we were not innocent victims at all, and the word that is translated ‘power’ in some translations and ‘dominion’ in the NASB denotes authority, freedom to act, jurisdiction. In other words, the devil had a legitimate claim to us due to our rebellion against God.
So God the Father did not steal us from the grasp of the bad guy, we had to be redeemed; purchased back. Today we’re going to talk about the Hero who did that.
Now the first thing I want you to see here is that although Paul mentions giving thanks to the Father and in verse 13 says, ‘For He delivered us…”, that is not meant to say that the Father worked alone in all this.
That would be an impossibility. The triune God was significantly at work in the plan of salvation. The Father ordained it, the Son carried out the work and the Holy Spirit applies it to men.
Paul understood that, certainly. After all, he is the one who taught it to us. He gives thanks specifically to the Father here because it was Christ who purchased our access to the Father’s Throne and it is the Comforter given us Who has brought us life from above so that we might approach that Throne and receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb 4:16).
He also specifically mentions the Father at this point because it was God the Father who, through the atoning work of the cross, declares the one who responds to His call through faith to be justified and places the believer, as Paul says here, into the Kingdom of His beloved Son.
He could have just said, ‘…the Kingdom of His Son”, couldn’t he? He might even have said ‘The Kingdom of Heaven’ or ‘The Kingdom of Christ’. Any of those terms would have been correct and Biblical.
But he said ‘beloved Son’, and there is plenty of Scripture evidence to back up the claim that the Father loves the Son. It almost sounds silly to say that. Aren’t they one? From eternity to eternity has there not been the perfect unity of the Trinity? Yes, that is Christian theology. But I wonder how often people think deliberately about the love the Persons of the Godhead share.
It certainly is a love that transcends our understanding. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13, now we see as though looking at a dim reflection in a mirror. We can only understand in part… a very small part… because that love is extended to us as His chosen ones.
And I just talked about this recently so I’ll be briefer here, but John tells us that God is love, and since love must have an object, and since we know that before time and before Creation there was only God, then saying that God is love actually supports the doctrine of the Trinity.
Of the Son, the Father says that He is pleasing, that He is loved, that He is to be attended to with the creature’s undivided attention. Let’s read three passages, all from Matthew’s gospel
“…and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (That was at the baptism of Jesus)
“Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, And He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles.” (There Matthew was identifying Jesus as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 42)
“While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” (You should recognize those words from the account of the Mount of Transfiguration)