"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. He has delivered 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." - Col. 1.11-14
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Scripture is a marvelous source of revelation. Sure, nature can teach us a great deal, but nature is a flawed source of instruction because of the curse laid upon it due to sin as well as our depraved faculties that mar and taint our reasoning. It is through the glory of special revelation in divine Scripture that we see the glory of God and the state of man for what they are (though not yet in their fullest intensity). This passage was at the end of the text used in the sermon at Coram Deo yesterday. This passage was one that, like so many others, I had read through a number of times and had not felt the weightiness of what is says. Sovereignty.
We are strengthened in spite of our weakness by the power of God. In this life we are surrounded by various temptations and trials that vary in their intensity. Sometimes we are mildly annoyed or inconvenienced while at other times we are brought to our knees weeping and begging for release. Often times, even during the most pressing situations, we find ourselves feeling alone having to grit our teeth and bear our problems simply by endurance of will power. Over and over again we fail and are forced to come to terms with our failures. Our self sufficiency is many times so deeply routed in us that we try to control the uncontrollable and we recall the "many" times we have succeeded by our own volition. But occasionally there are times where we are faced with reality that we cannot succeed, that we are defeated. As Christians we have one of the most glorious truths guaranteed for us by this scripture. We are called to endure and we are called to wait on the Lord with patience but we can have similar assurance to that which the Apostle gave to the church in Pilippi. It is God who has come alongside of us to will and to work out what he has called us to do. While we struggle in this life, from the great things to the small, we can do so with joy because we are given strength from the stores of heaven, from the greatness of our God, we can now endure all things.
We are qualified for glory, we do not earn it. The fact that there are things in this world that are out of our control is a much easier pill to swallow than the fact that we are incapable of doing anything to save ourselves. They are connected, sure, but the thought that we have no say in our eternity is a cause for much unrest. We want to say we have contributed something. Many people are willing to forgo the idea of self-salvation, but they boast in their choice. They are no better, but they made the right choice (read: they bent accepted Jesus, while others apparently refuse to bend the knee). What does it mean, however, when the passage speaks of the Father having qualified us to share in the inheritance? Abram was a pagan from Ur when God came to him. There was nothing about him that merited this special affection, but it was given to him by God who promised him his inheritance. It is precisely from this weakness and nothingness that God has always chosen his people so that his glory might be magnified above all else. We are called, then, to be a people who give thanks to the Father who in our destitution has called us to himself and has given us all things.
We are no longer slaves to darkness and sin, but have victory through redemption. It is also from the quickening of God, from his life giving vitality, that we can now not only endure, and we not only have a divine inheritance, but we can also have victory in this life in the here and now. We taken, picked up and moved if you will, from the "domain of darkness...to the kingdom of (God's) beloved Son". This is more than just a status, though it is that. We should never shirk off or minimize the truth that even in our failings, we are bought and paid for by Christ. We are his children and have his righteousness imputed to us so the sting of death and damnation is once and for all removed from his children. This however points to something else as well. In light of the rest of the text, the forgiveness of sins is joined together with our new found strength and our future inheritance. We now have the power and ability to do good. As Christians we are no longer dead in our trespasses and sins, but we are alive in Christ. We were baptized into his death and his ressurection, we are given, in this act of God, the blessed Spirit who has freed us from the bondage of death and sin. We are now free to actively pursue what is good. When we fall we have strength. When we are reminded of our past we are shown our future glory. When we are faced with sin we have the ability to turn away and turn to Christ who is our righteousness and in turn we can participate in that righteous as we do good deeds and put to death the body of sin in our members.
This is just a taste of the glorious truths contained in the Scriptures. May we continue to submit ourselves to them and learn at the feet of our God. May we give him thanks as he teaches us great things from his law and applies the gospel to our lives.