Summary: This message was part of an exposition of Colossians 3:12 and upholds the doctrine of election from an unconditional, Reformed viewpoint.
Transcribed From Cassette Message COL42 by Tim Crews
Copyright 2001 by author * This is a transcript, not a manuscript.
Open your Bibles with me to Colossians Chapter 3.
If you were to ask me what the underlying theme of God’s dealings with humanity is, I would unhesitantly reply, "The sovereign glory of God"; and by that I mean from Genesis to Revelation we find that all things -- all of creative history, all of redemptive history -- work out to the glory of God as he sovereignly orchestrates the happenings of the universe.
I think this is the greatest revelation man can experience, even greater than understanding God’s love, as great as that is. But there’s nothing greater than gaining a sense of the sovereign glory of God. I think back to Isaiah Chapter 6 where Isaiah saw the Lord and declared "Woe is me, for I am ruined!" And you might remember the angels, the seraphim, who were at the heavenly throne; they didn’t declare "Love! Love! Love!" (and again, I’m not trying to demean the love of God), but they declared "Holy! Holy! Holy! is the Lord God almighty!" The glory, the majesty of God, the theme that rings like a bell throughout all of Scripture.
Most of you are familiar with the story of Daniel. Daniel was a Hebrew prophet taken into captivity by Babylon under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C., and Daniel then served as a servant and as an interpreter of dreams to the king. And after several encounters with the power of God (and I want to specifically talk about King Nebuchadnezzar’s experience here, as it’s recorded in Daniel Chapters 1 - 4), it says that Nebuchadnezzar "comes to his senses". And you might remember that this follows his time of humiliation, where he’s banished out to a field and eats grass, like a cow. And it says that "he comes to his senses". And what does he declare when he comes to his senses? In fact, this he made a public declaration. He says,
"But at the end of that period..." (What period? The time of Nebuchadnezzar’s humiliation before God.) "...I raised my eyes toward heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored Him who lives forever, for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation, and all the inhabitants of the Earth are accounted as nothing, but He [that is, God] does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the Earth, and no one can ward off his hand, no one can say ’what hast thou done?’
Nebuchadnezzar came to his senses and declared what? The love of God? No! The healing touch of God? No! What!? He declares the sovereign glory of God!
Sounds like a lot like Psalm 135, verse 6: "Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps." Or Proverbs 16:9: "The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." Proverbs 20:24: "Man’s steps [that is, his ways] are ordained [or they are directed] by the Lord." Psalm 139:16: The psalmist declares, "Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance [that is, before I was even born], and in Thy book they were all written, The days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them." That’s a sovereign, majestic, glorious God. That’s a constant theme throughout Scripture. And we’ve seen it in Colossians.
I think back to Chapter 1, verse 1, Paul’s opening statement, where he says, "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the ..." what of God? "By the will of God". This means much more than that Paul sought God’s will and found it. God literally ordained Paul, not only to Jesus Christ, but He ordained him to apostolic ministry. Read Acts chapter 9 sometime. Paul (Saul at that time), breathing threats against the church, an antagonist against the church of God. God what? God knocks him to the ground! Literally! Saying, "Enter Damascus and I’ll tell you what you are going to do." And in Damascus there’s a man named Ananias, who’s going to serve as God’s messenger to Paul, and what does God say to him? "Go [to him, that is, to Paul], for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel." (9:15)
The sovereignty of God. Paul experienced it first hand.
In Chapter 1, verse 11 and 12, it says that "strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience, joyously giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light." The word "qualified", hikanoô, has the idea of empowering someone to do something. God has "qualified" the unqualified. Before Jesus Christ delivered you, those of you that know Him, you were Christless, stateless, covenant-less, hopeless, Godless, helpless. Your mind was darkened. You were dead. You were hell-bound. And what happened? God qualified you. Listen, if your salvation wasn’t the sovereign work of God then you’re not saved, because it would have been impossible for you to have extricated yourself from your sinful position apart from the enabling work of God. You see that throughout Scripture.