Thursday, September 23, 2021

2021.09.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Colossians 1:13–14

Read Colossians 1:13–14

Questions from the Scripture text: What has the Father done to us (Colossians 1:13a)? From what has He delivered us? What else has He done to us (verse 13)? Into what sort of place has He conveyed us? Whose kingdom is it? What more specific name is given to the Son here? What else do we have in the Son (Colossians 1:14)? Through what do we have this redemption? Of what does this redemption consist? 

In order for us formerly-disqualified sinners to be able to “partake of the inheritance of the saints in the light” (Colossians 1:12), a rescue operation had to occur.  We had to be delivered from one place (Colossians 1:13a). We had to be conveyed into another (verse 13b). For this to happen, we had to be purchased (redeemed, Colossians 1:14a). And this purchase is effective because it “secures passage” by way of forgiveness (verse 14b).

Delivered. Who? God is the One Who delivers. This may seem obvious, since this is a statement of thanksgiving, but how many act as if it is left to us. But we neither have the requisite love to seek our own deliverance (preferring rather to live under the power of darkness) nor the requisite ability to effect it (so that, even if we could somehow have preferred rather to be slaves of God in Christ, we would not have been able to break free from slavery to sin.

Whom? Us. The apostle brings himself into the formula here, alongside the Colossians. He had known himself to be the chief of sinners. There is not a single Christian who has not had to be rescued entirely by God’s power in God’s love. Christians may be made into grace-sustained heroes of a sort, which description they reject for themselves, grace-sustained as they are. But, one is not made a Christian by any sort of heroism, grace-sustained or otherwise. One is made a Christian by God’s own heroic rescuing of us.

From whence? From the power of darkness. Not just from the guilt of our darkness, though certainly that. Not just from alliance with darkness or allegiance to darkness, though certainly that. But even from its power. We could go to Romans 6 and see this truth at greater length, but a Christian is one over whom sin is no longer master. Its rule over him has been broken. He still sins, to be sure, but he has the liberty to reject it as master—in fact, we can rightly say that he does not have the liberty to continue to accept it as master, for all that he is belongs to another now, as we are about to see.

Conveyed. Believers have not just been brought out from under one master; they have been carried into the kingdom of an infinitely better one: “the kingdom of the Son of His love.” It is a kingdom of Sonship, where all have not only a glorious citizenship, but a gracious adoption. Its King is the only-begotten, but all who belong to His kingdom are shown such love that they are called the children of God (cf. 1 John 3:1–2).  

And just as God says of His Son, “this is My beloved,” so it is with all who bear the symbols of the Son, and are indwelt by the Spirit of the Son, and live in the service of the Son. The love with which the Father loves the Son from all eternity, within the Godhead, is bestowed upon them. He says of each one in Christ, “this is My beloved.

Redeemed. A purchase has taken place. There is something in the gospel that is akin to a retail receipt, and when we scan it to locate the purchase price we find the shocking words “in Him” (or, as our translation puts it, “in Whom”). Yes, the purchase price was blood, but consider Who it was that bled! Our own blood would not have been sufficient. The church had to be purchased by the blood of God (cf. Acts 20:28). The Greek text used in the church throughout the centuries does not include “through His blood,” for His blood itself required that He Himself be given for us and be given to us.

How was it that the Son came to bleed for us? From all eternity, He has no body. He cannot die. Indeed, He cannot suffer at all, which was necessary. The sacrifices that pointed forward to His redeeming work underwent not only the slaying and the bleeding but then the burning fire that sets forth a picture of the wrath of God. And so God—and specifically, the third Person of the Godhead—had to take to Himself not only a human body in order to bleed and die, but a reasoning soul that would be able to suffer. That is to say that the Son of His love took to Himself an additional, complete humanity, precisely that He could endure wrath. 

Redeemed! The purchase has zero “amount due”; it is “paid in full,” and what a marvelous payment! God the Spirit grant us to see its value, so that we may ever be full of thanksgiving for our redemption.

Forgiveness. We have just been thinking about redemption using the image of a purchase receipt. To understand this word translated “forgiveness,” another piece of paper may be a helpful image. This time, it is a bill of debt, but for us it says “cancelled.” It can mean released (of slaves), remitted (of debt), dismissed (of charges), or exempted (of taxes). What a great debt our sin was against God, and now it has been wiped out completely! That’s what this forgiveness is. 

Delivered. Conveyed. Redeemed. Forgiveness. Truly, the Lord has done a glorious—an infinitely, divinely glorious—work to “qualify us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light”! No wonder that the apostle added to this thanksgiving such eager prayers that the ongoing, sanctifying work to bring them into that inheritance would advance. Let us learn to pray for and desire sanctification for the same reason!

What has God done to qualify you to have heaven as your inheritance? How ought you to respond to Him? What must still be done for you to come into that inheritance? How do your prayers and habits prioritize this?

Sample prayer: O Triune God, in You is all true love and all true power! And it takes our breath away that in all of that love, You have loved us in the Son, and that by all of that power You have saved us in the Son. Forgive us for how easily we take Your glorious salvation for granted. When You have secured our inheritance in such a way, how grievous it is that we do not prize that holiness which we must have to come into that inheritance! So, grant Your Spirit’s ongoing work to stir up thankfulness in our hearts and produce holiness in our lives, which we ask through Christ, AMEN! 

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

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