Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Colossians 1:12 – Giving thanks to the Father

It has often been said that the effect of divine grace in a sinner’s heart will be gratitude to the God of grace. Here Paul wants them to be thankful for something the Father did for them when they were converted (‘who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light’). A lot of different blessings are bestowed on conversion and sometimes we focus on a few of them, such as pardon and adoption into God’s family, and ignore the others.
What does Paul have in mind in this description? We need to break it down into its different phrases. To begin with, who are ‘the saints in light’? I suspect our initial response will be to regard them as the inhabitants of heaven who are now, as far as their souls are concerned, made perfect in holiness. Light is the domain that is the opposite of the kingdom of darkness, so ‘in light’ can also mean the location in which Christians live on earth.
Next, who are ‘the saints’? Normally, the term means all Christians, but here I think it refers to believing Jews. Most of the Colossian believers were Gentiles. If my suggestion is correct, then Paul was informing them that they had an equal share with Jewish believers in the God-given inheritance.
This leads us to consider ‘sharers in the inheritance’. It could mean the eternal inheritance that will be given to God’s people in the future. Obviously we are to thank God for such a prospect. Or Paul could mean that already we have access to some of the heavenly treasures to which we are heirs now. After all, the Holy Spirit is described in Ephesians 1:14 as the earnest of the inheritance. He gives us foretastes of God’s presence, of his peace, love and joy.
The Father has qualified his people for this marvellous privilege. Since the privilege is an inheritance, it is likely that the method of qualification is membership of God’s family.
Therefore Christians have to thank God continually for this great privilege, one which all the honours of earth cannot compare. Because it is a family blessing, Christians must thank God communally, that is they should express their gratitude when they are together. Further, they should thank God confidently because he will always keep his promises.

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