May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. – Colossians 1:11-12
In Colossians chapter 1, Paul prays the church would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will with all wisdom and spiritual understanding. As a result, the Christians would walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, they would be strengthened by His glorious power, and their lives would demonstrate thanksgiving because of their qualification into the kingdom through Christ. As Christians, we too can expect these manifestations of God’s grace in our lives when we are filled with the knowledge of God’s will, which comes by an objective understanding of God’s Word through the teaching and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
As we pass through this Thanksgiving season, let us consider what it means to give thanks to God and be filled with thanksgiving.
Paul writes in Colossians 1:12, we are to give
thanks to the Father who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
Though we are to give thanks to God for all of His blessings, provisions, answer prayer, and gifts to us, we are to especially give thanks to the Father for qualifying us for the Kingdom through the Lord Jesus Christ. But thanksgiving is more than offering thankful prayers to the Lord. We find in Romans 12:1 an exhortation from Paul,
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
Other translations render that our living sacrifice is our spiritual act of worship. What does he mean here? It is our very lives on the altar of praise. It is counting the cost and taking up our crosses every day, even unto death. This is our spiritual act of worship.
We show we are truly thankful for our redemption by surrendering more each day to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. By sacrificing ourselves for Christ and for others, we give Him praise He is due.
We are to love Christ sacrificially. We are to give up everything for Him and give everything to Him. Whatever is in the way of us becoming more holy, we must get rid of it. Whatever distracts us from a more intimate relationship with Christ, we must throw it away. Whatever is not noble, not pure, and not excellent, we must cleanse it from our lives. Whatever idol makes us stumble in any area, we must plead with God to smash it. However we are being disobedient to the will of God, we must repent and be obedient.
We are to love Christ! Whatever it is we sacrifice, always remember Jesus sacrificed more than we can fathom. We can never out-sacrifice Christ! He is worthy of any sacrifice we make for Him – anything at all.
This lifestyle of thanksgiving is firmly established in the qualification for our inheritance based on the merit of Christ alone. As we read in verse 14,
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
Beloved, knowledge apart from Christ and our deliverance into the Kingdom means nothing. It is because of our deliverance, our redemption, that we can be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, and this should give us great cause for great rejoicing and thanksgiving! And the more we know Christ and His love for us, the more we are compelled to be living sacrifices.
On being delivered into the Kingdom in verse 14, H.M. Carson writes in his commentary on Colossians and Philemon,
The Son who is the only begotten of the Father is not only the eternal object of the Father’s love, but is also the embodiment and expression of the Father’s love in His gracious dealings with men. Thus, to be translated into the Kingdom of His Son is to move from the loveless condition of darkness and death into a spiritual realm in which we have the love of God shed upon us. As a result, our relationship to our King and also to our fellow citizens is moulded by His love.
For the glory of God alone, Christ has delivered us from the power of darkness. He has delivered us from the power of the god of this world and from the power of sin. He has delivered us from a rebel kingdom and brought us under the sovereignty of our rightful King. Our justification means we have been redeemed and set a part once and for all, all because of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Before the beginning of time, Jesus agreed with the Father’s plan to come save His people from their sins. Jesus came to do the Father’s will to bear the fury of God’s eternal wrath in just a few short hours on Calvary. As we see in Isaiah 53:5,
But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.
Beloved, it pleased the Father to crush His only Son. And it pleased the Son to be crushed. It pleased Christ to be humiliated and crushed for His people, to be humiliated and crushed for us. And now, for the glory of God Himself, it has pleased Christ to deliver us from the power of darkness.
While we were wicked children of wrath, walking in darkness, enslaved to our sin, it pleased God to deliver us from our bondage by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. It pleased God to deliver us from His own wrath by the substitutionary work of Christ. It pleased Christ to purchase us with His own blood. And, beloved, it has pleased God to grant us eternal life, to know Christ, and to be known by Him. To be LOVED by Him!
Oh “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1). Meditate on this glorious truth, dear saints. Jesus told His disciples in John 15:9, and so He tells us:
As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.
Jesus loves us as the Father loves the Son. Oh beloved, keep your eyes on Christ! Rest in His grace and press on. Let us pray for one another that we would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, so we can know the width and length and depth and height of the love of Christ, that we would grow in the knowledge of His grace.
Being filled with the knowledge of God’s will causes us to walk worthy of the Lord, to be strengthened with all might according to His glorious power, and to present our bodies as living sacrifices of thanksgiving. By the grace of God, all of this is based on our persevering hope in our Redeemer.
Rest your hope fully in Christ, beloved. This hope is our commitment until the end. It is the anchor of our soul. Let us take to heart that God has caused us to be born again to a living hope, that we have an incorruptible inheritance reserved for us in heaven.
Let us, as Paul, be poured out as a drink offering, continuing to fight the good fight of faith, finishing the race, and keeping the faith, that we would obtain the crown of righteousness, waiting for those who long for Christ’s appearing.
Let us know God’s will for us by knowing Him through His word, that we would be conformed to His glorious Son. Let us live lives of thanksgiving on the altar of praise, and may these glorious truths be what we most thank the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ this Thanksgiving season, and every season.
Note: this article was adapted from my message given at the 2012 Super Bowl Outreach in Indianapolis, Indiana.