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"Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, saluteth you, always striving for you in his prayers, that ye may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God."— Col. iv. 12.
IN the first chapter of the Epistle, we had Paul praying, here we have Epaphras. The prayers of both had reference to this one thing—of such supreme consequence is it in the Christian life— the will of God. Paul prayed that their hearts might be filled with the spiritual knowledge of God's will; then they would walk worthy of the Lord to all pleasing. Epaphras prays that their lives may be so filled with that will, that they may stand complete in all the will of God. Paul says that he does not cease to pray thus. Of Epaphras, he says that he always strives for them in his prayers. In both cases the relation to God's will is to be no partial or divided one—but whole
and entire, as expressed by the word all. Paul asks that they may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom, to walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing. Epaphras strives for them in his prayers that they may stand complete in all the will of God. Nothing less than all God's will is to be the standard, the desire, the prayer, the hope of the believer.
To stand perfect in all the, will of God—the believer's only standard. How can it be otherwise? The will of God is one whole, all equally Divine, and beautiful, and blessed. All, all of equal obligation, equally needful for our peace and perfection, with equal provision made for its performance in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The will of God is so entirely one with the nature, the perfection, and the love of God, that to neglect or refuse any part of it is making it impossible for God fully to reveal Himself to us and to bless us. As perfect and complete as the will of God is as a whole, ought to be the believer's acceptance of and surrender to it as his only standard.
Paul and Epaphras regarded this as an attainable measure of perfection among the Colossians. There are many Christians who admit that the words express the Scripture standard of duty, but rob that admission of all its power by counting it impossible. The standard is only an ideal one, not really practicable or practical. They regard it very much as the law of Moses, with its demands that never can be fulfilled. They do not understand the words, "Ye are not under law," which demands what you cannot do, and gives no power to do, "but under grace," which demands only what it will give and work in you, and so enables you to do all it demands All His will is God's standard for us actually asked and provided for; let it be ours too. Your Father asks nothing less; let nothing less be what you ask of Him and offer Him.
To stand complete in all the will of God—the believer's one desire. Desire is the one great power in the world that urges and enables men to undertake and accomplish what at first sight appears impossible. When a man has set his heart upon a thing, difficulties only rouse his energy and increase his power. Oh that Christians might be taught and trained to set their heart upon "all the will of God" as their highest and only blessedness, upon "standing perfect in it" as the one hope of their calling! It is to be feared that the preaching of the will of God has not had the same place as the preaching of the grace of God. Men have not seen that as the grace is nothing but the will of God manifested, and as it came through Christ doing that will, so its one object is to unite us with that will, and have it done in us as it is done in heaven. Doing the will of God has been something additional, a supplement to what the grace of God has done, an expression of gratitude, instead of being the very door into all the love, and salvation, and blessedness out of which the grace came and into which it leads. If we understood this, how every desire for help from God for salvation, and happiness, and the enjoyment of His love would be identified with a standing complete in all that will in which God is revealed and is alone to be found. Let us set our heart upon this.
To stand perfect in all the will of God—the believer's continual prayer. The teaching about the knowledge of God's will, and the standing complete in God's will, comes in connection with the telling of Paul's unceasing prayer and Epaphras' striving always. It is not earnest thought, or clear apprehension, or strong desire, that will bring us what we need—but unceasing prayer. Doing the will of God is the life of heaven, because God is there, and works His will without hindrance in all the holy spirits who are wholly yielded up to Him and ever wait upon Him. It is from God in heaven that this heavenly life of doing His will must come down. And it will come down and be carried on and maintained in us just in proportion as we too wait upon God, yield ourselves to Him, and continue offered up to His Holy Spirit to work in us. Whether it be in the quiet, steady perseverance of our daily prayer, or in the fervent striving in seasons when the need and the desire are specially felt, or in the inward supplication of the heart that prays without ceasing—it is only the life that is continually looking upward, and depending alone upon God's working His own will in us, that will feel that God's standard is not too high, because what the word of His mouth demands, the power of His hand performs.
To stand complete in all the will of God—the believer's sure hope. Paul and Epaphras were praying out of their blessed experience. We, alas! have grown so accustomed to use words in prayer for things we never expect. They lived so under the power of the Holy Spirit, they saw, notwithstanding so much to grieve and disappoint them, some whom they could call spiritual men, and they knew that in answer to their prayer it would be given—men "filled with the knowledge of God's will, in all spiritual wisdom," men " standing complete in all the will of God." Let us pray without ceasing, let us strive always, for the churches or the saints with whom we are connected, that these two prayers may be fulfilled in them. Let us to that end ask God to reveal in ourselves and our experience their full truth and meaning. Amid all disappointment let us say: My soul, hope thou in God I I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance! Let us set our hope upon God, who worketh all things after the purpose of His wilL "God must ever be God alone. Heaven and the heavenly nature are His, and must for ever be received only from Him, and for ever be only preserved by an entire trust in Him." God alone can work His will in us. In a heart that prays and waits without ceasing in dependence upon Him, He can and will do it. Oh, let us believe that these precious words of Epaphras' prayer are not vain! in them the Holy Spirit reveals the sure hope of every believer who will trust God. Let us not doubt, but " stand complete and fully assured in all the will of God."