Thursday, September 16, 2021

2021.09.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Colossians 1:9–12

Read Colossians 1:9–12

Questions from the Scripture text: What has the apostle been doing since he heard about the Colossians’ faith, love, and hope (Colossians 1:9)? With what has he been praying that they would be filled? What is the purpose of this knowledge, and wisdom, and Spiritual understanding (Colossians 1:10)? How pleasing to the Lord is this worthy walking? What fruit do such people bear? In what must they increase in order to bear this fruit? How else must they be enabled (Colossians 1:11)? Strengthened by what? According to what? For what two things must they have such strength? With what do they exercise this patience and longsuffering? As they wait joyously, what are they to give to Whom (Colossians 1:12)? Of what has the Father qualified the apostle and his readers to partake? 

We’re disqualified for the inheritance of saints, but the Father (Colossians 1:12a, cf. Colossians 1:3) has brought the Colossian believers into the faith, love, and hope for which the apostle has just been expressing thanksgiving in Colossians 1:3-8. This has triggered something for the apostle: not just thanksgiving for what God has done, but also prayer for what remains to be done—to be actually prepared and actually brought into that inheritance into which they have been adopted.

The Father has qualified them, now the apostle prays that He would fit them. In short, Paul prays that they would be made holy. The way Colossians 1:10 puts it is that they would walk worthy of the Lord. But let us not think that obedience is easy, for Colossians 1:11 tells us that in order to walk rightly, we need to be strengthened with almighty strength. And Colossians 1:11-12 tells us the surprising (?) source of this strength: joy and thanksgiving. That brings us back to the “main” request in Colossians 1:9: that they would be filled with knowledge, wisdom, and spiritual understanding.

The more they understand, the more joyous and grateful they will be, which will strengthen them unto a life of good works in this knowledge of God. Putting this together, as the apostle prays for them to be filled with knowledge, he’s giving us the content of theology, the fruit of theology, the usefulness of theology, and the result of theology.

The content of theology is “His will.” This is the knowledge that is gained in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. More specifically, however, His will has been to adopt us as holy heirs (Colossians 1:12b–c). Such glad knowledge produces the fruit of theology: among other things, joy and thanksgiving. What gladness and gratitude belong to those whom the Father has adopted in contradiction to their unworthiness!

That brings us to the usefulness of the theology. Because this joy and thanksgiving are about what God has unstoppably determined, and because they come as the fruit of God’s work, they are the means by which believers are empowered with God’s own power: “strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power.” We mightn’t feel all-powerful, but the joy that we have is empowered by this limitless source. With unlimited power beneath us, and an unlosable inheritance in front of us, we can be patient and longsuffering through anything! Now that’s useful theology.

Finally, the outcome of the theology. One false thing that I sometimes hear is that there are wicked people who have good theology. What they think or say may have some accurate features, but theology that is not lived can never be good. The knowledge that Paul prays for is not an end in itself, because it is ultimately knowledge of a Person, from a Person, for a purpose: “that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work.”

By the Lord’s answering this prayer, the saints in Colossae would be made fit for glory, and would indeed come to partake in the inheritance for which Christ was their qualification from the Father. Theology that produces such an outcome: that’s good theology. It’s theology to pray for yourself to have, for all believers to have.

What place does learning theology have in your life? How much of the content is the Father’s plan to bring you into the inheritance of the saints? What patience-strengthening joy do you get from it? What kind of life is it producing?

Sample prayer: Our Father, we adore Your glory. There can be nothing better than to know You and belong to You. And though we had sinned against this glory, You gave Your Son for us to qualify us to be Your adopted children. Forgive us for when we lose sight of how certain our salvation is—for when we become joyless, impatient, anxious, and lose our strength for serving You. Restore to us the joy of our salvation, and renew in us a right Spirit we ask, through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

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