Colosians (4)

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The Founding of the Kingdom Of the Lord Jesus (Col 1:12b-14)
Advancing the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ in a Disorderly World
Dr A Asumang
Introduction
In most of his letters, it is Paul’s common practice that just after his introductory salutation and prayer-thanksgiving report he provides an indication of the main idea of the letter combined with a description of his personal circumstances. That exactly is what happens in Colossians 1. Here Paul’s statement of his main idea and description of circumstances stretches from 1:12b-2:7. Often what Paul does in this section is to start by first broaching the main idea, frequently neatly tagged on to his prayer-thanksgiving report, then he explains his circumstances, before he restates the main idea in a more elaborate form.
We found that format when we were going through Philippians. Phil 1:1-5 is the introduction and prayer report. In Phil 1:6 Paul briefly broaches his main idea. Then in Phil 1:7-26, he provides a long description of his circumstances, before the elaborate statement of the main idea of the letter in Phil 1:27-30. A similar thing happens in 1 Corinthians. Introduction in 1:1-3, prayer-thanksgiving report in 1:4-9, broaching of the main idea in 1:10, description of his circumstances in 1:11-17, then the full statement of the main idea in 1:18-24, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…”. Paul doesn’t always follow this pattern; but it is so in several of his letters. It is a similar pattern that we have here Col 1:12b-2:7. As always however there is a slight modification which gives Colossians its own unique imprint. First, Paul broaches his main idea in 1:12b-14. As we shall shortly see, this describes the Founding of the Kingdom. Instead of proceeding to describe his personal circumstances, Paul instead describes the Supremacy of Jesus in Col 1:15-23. I title that section as the Founder of the Kingdom. This is a wonderful passage. Jesus, Paul says, “is the image of the invisible God the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (1:15-17). And so it goes.
It is as if Paul is saying, “You, who belong to the Kingdom, Behold our God, Seated on His throne, come let us adore Him. Behold our King, Nothing can compare. Come let us adore Him!” What a blessed passage!
Maybe, God willing after we finish Colossians, we should set it, and perhaps Phil 2:5-11, we should set these two Christ Hymns aside, and reflect on them. That is what is unique with this section of Colossians. After speaking about the Founder of the Kingdom, Paul then describes his circumstances as a Faithful Minister of the Kingdom in 1:24-2:5, before fully stating the main idea in Col 2:6-7, Fortifying or Advancing the Kingdom. That is how the beginning of Colossians flows.
Our focus this morning is on Col 1:12b-14, the Founding of the Kingdom. As a follow on to, and strictly speaking, as part of his thanksgiving-report, Paul writes, “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”.
Qualified to Inherit the Kingdom
This piece of the thanksgiving report is summarized by the clause in 1:12b: “the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light”. What follows in 1:13-14 expands on 1:12b. In other words, qualification to share in the inheritance of the saints in light was achieved through three processes, namely,
1. By Rescuing Us from the Domain of Darkness: 1:13a; He has delivered us from the domain of darkness
2. By Relocating Us into the Dominion of the Son: 1:13b; [He has] transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son
3. By Redeeming Us from the Debt to Sin: 1:14; In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins
Rescue, Relocation and Redemption! These three together explain what God the Father has done in 1:12b. And we will look at these three shortly. Before then however, let us throw a searchlight on 1:12b; “the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light”. The key terms here are (a) qualified, (b) share, (c) saints in light, and (d) inheritance.
You were qualified
The word qualified speaks of a complete step change, a dramatic leap in our status before the Father. It is not a gradual evolution of status, with little bits of change here and there. That is not qualification. Qualification is a quantum irreversible change in our status. That is the idea. Regardless of how long a couple has been engaged, they are nevertheless unqualified as married couple. Until that moment, when before God and witnesses they exchange vows and get married. From that moment, an irreversible transformation of their status occurs. They become qualified as man and wife!
Paul uses the same word in 2 Cor 3:5-6 when he talks about letters of accreditation for ministers. He says, “our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit”. That word translated as “sufficient”, or in the NIV as “competent”, is the same word here in Col 1:12b as “qualified”. By the single stroke of the Spirit’s Pen, Paul and his colleagues became accredited, competent, qualified, and certified to become new covenant ministers. That is the kind of transformation in status Paul is talking about. A quantum irreversible act through which God the father caused you to share in the inheritance!
You are Qualified to Share
That word share is also important. In the marriage analogy, as soon as the ceremony is done, the woman acquires a total share, she becomes a partaker, she takes complete ownership of the man, and so also the man, his wife. Share in Col 1:12b is even more powerful than that. For, that word share, portion or partaker is a technical theological term used in the Old Testament to describe the special irrevocable inheritance that God bequests to His children. So David for example says in Ps 142:5, the Lord is “my refuge, [He is] my portion in the land of the living”. That is the idea here. Not just that God has qualified us to share limited resources with each other. No, more than that! We are qualified to partake in God Himself. He has become our portion, we share in Him! Amen! Second Pet 1:4 says a similar thing: “He, [God the father] has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire”. What a privilege!
You Share with the Holy Ones, the Saints in Light
The phrase “saints in light” is a bit awkward, and so some interpreters take it as referring to angels. Especially, with “in light” tagged on to it. After all, in the Old Testament, the term “the holy ones”, is used for angels. So for example, Zechariah prophesies in 14:5b, “Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him”, which we should take to mean the hosts of angels with Him. In 1 Thess 3:13, Paul similarly prays that God may “establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his [holy ones] His saints”. So it is understandable when some interpreters take Col 1:12b as saying that God has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the angels. Now if this interpretation were correct, it is in itself a massive thing indeed. That would mean pagan nonentities like you and I, have, at a single stroke of God’s benevolence come to share in the inheritance of angels. That would be massive indeed!
More often however, Paul uses the phrase, “holy ones”, not for angels, but for believers in Christ. In fact of the 39 occasions that Paul uses the term “holy ones”, 36 definitely refer to humans, one to angels, and two could be either. Certainly the 3 other occasions that Paul uses “holy ones” in Colossians (1:2, 4; 26) refer to believers, not angels. So we should take “holy ones” in Col 1:12b, in the same way, for believers. What we have been qualified to receive then, my brothers and sisters, is far greater than what this world with all its goods can offer. And it is greater than what angels enjoy. We are qualified for something far greater than what angels are qualified for! Isn’t that marvellous!
The Identity of the Inheritance of the Saints
So, what is this inheritance? Well, in the New Testament, there are five different ways of identifying our inheritance. First, passages like Col 1:12b assume the reader knows what this inheritance is and so do not identify them (Acts 20:32, 26:18, Eph 1:11, 14, 18, Col 1:12, Col 3:24, Pet 1:3-4). Second, Heb 6:12 says, we Inherit the Promises. Then third, in Matt 5:5, Jesus said we Inherit the Earth. And there are debates as to whether by “earth” He was referring to this earth, or the new earth, or was metaphorically describing living in God’s eternal presence. Fourthly, we are said to Inherit Eternal Life or Salvation (Matt 19:29, Mk 10:17; Lk 18:18; Heb 1:14).
By far however, the commonest identity given to our inheritance is the Kingdom. We Inherit the Kingdom. So in Matt 25:34 for example, Jesus says that in the final Judgement, when the sheep are separated unto the right from the goats on the left, “then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”. In 1 Cor 6:9-10 Paul warns the Corinthians, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” He told them again in 1 Cor 15:50, “I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable”.
Galatians 5:19-21 says, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God”. Eph 5:5 goes: “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God”. So all put together, the thing that we inherit is the Kingdom. We have been qualified, Paul says in Col 1:12b, we have been qualified to share in the Kingdom. That is the identity of our inheritance.
We said from the beginning that the uniting theme of Colossians is Advancing the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ in a Disorderly World. Here in Col 1:12b, Paul broaches that theme by telling us how this kingdom is founded in the first place. It is founded by a single slight of the Father’s hand to qualify you and I to have a portion in His Kingdom! By this slight of the Father’s hand, the prophecy of Dan 7:18-22 was fulfilled: “The saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom for ever, for ever and ever…the Ancient of Days came, and judgement was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom”.
Colossians 1:12b says this is that time of fulfilment. And you have a share in it. Amen!
How exactly then was this qualification done? Col 1:13-14 tells us how God did it. He did it
1. By Rescuing Us from the Domain of Darkness: 1:13a; He has delivered us from the domain of darkness
2. By Relocating Us into the Dominion of the Son: 1:13b; [He has] transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son
3. By Redeeming Us from our Debt to Sin: 1:14; In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins
Rescued from the Domain of Darkness (Col 1:13a)
The Father qualified us by first rescuing us from the domain of darkness. “He [God the Father] has delivered us from the domain of darkness” (1:13a). He delivered us from the chains and the chaos of the world! And set us free from the strangle-hold of Satan and his demons. We were qualified when we received total independence from the enslaving shackles of the world of darkness. That is why we are now called “saints in light”. We no more exist in that domain of darkness! Praise the Lord!
I don’t know if you have heard of the story of Rev Richard Taylor of Cwmbran in South Wales, and what the Lord is doing through his ministry in what has been called the Welsh Outpouring. Google it and see! I for one have taken interest because Rev Taylor hails from Llanelli, where we first lived in the UK! Richard started off as a petty criminal and had his first stint in prison at age 15. By the time he was 18, Richard had clocked as many as 30 offences to his name. He became not just a drug addict but a well-known drug pusher on the streets of South Wales. To put it simply, Richard Taylor lived under the domain of darkness, bound by the chains of sin and Satan. Then one day, Richard was rescued from all that by the power of God. He attended Bible School in Birmingham, and is now the Senior Pastor of one of the fastest growing group of churches in the country. This Church is involved in lots of community initiates, acedemies, helping drug addicts and prostitutes and just hungry people on the streets. In fact Rev Taylor was featured on the BBC of all places not long ago. You may have heard similar stories before. Maybe, it mirrors your story.
Richard, you, me and all who have put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ became members of this kingdom, co-sharers in its inheritance, by the deliverance, by rescue from the domain of darkness unto the Light of the Son of God. That is how the kingdom is founded. By Rescue and deliverance!
Relocated into the Dominion of the Beloved Son
Paul then says, you have not only been rescued. You have been relocated, God “transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (1:13b). Your place is no more under the powers of darkness. Your place is now under the dominion of the Lord Jesus Christ. Your share is no more in the chaos, the disorder and the emptiness of the outer darkness of hell. Your share is now in the Lord Jesus Christ and His kingdom. You have been granted a new Passport embossed with His blood! You have been moved!
You have crossed the Rubicon. “God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness”, has shone in [your] heart to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). You belong to a totally new Kingdom ruled by Him. From now on, yes you live in this disorderly world; but are not part of it. You are a member of the ordered world of King Jesus. You are away from home, His ambassador in an alien land!
In testifying about his conversion, Paul told King Agrippa that the Lord Jesus said this to him: “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that [and listen to what Jesus says], so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:15-18). Wow! That is what it means to become qualified to inherit the kingdom. To “turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that [you] may receive forgiveness of sins and a place, a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me”. Friends, I am very sure of this, that this word that Jesus gave to Paul on the road to Damascus, it is this word that the Apostle has rephrased here in Col 1:12-14!
Redeemed from our Debts to Sin
The third component of the process of our qualification is redemption. “In whom [in Christ] Paul says, we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (1:14). The word redemption is really a commercial term borrowed from the slave market. It speaks of ransoming slaves from bondage, all debts paid off and more; set free to belong to another master. That is redemption. The manumission of a slave who from now on owes no man, no demon, and no world order, owes none of them nothing except to belong to Jesus the Son of God!
This idea of redemption is heavily laced with themes from the Exodus. In Ex 6:6-8, God told Moses, “Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD”. Amen! Israel was rescued from the domain of Egypt, relocated into God’s Promise, and redeemed from the tyranny of slavery in Egypt. That is the same idea here. In Christ, we too have been rescued, relocated and redeemed! That is how we became qualified to share in the inheritance of the kingdom.

Conclusion

One day, Jesus went to the lakeside town of the Garasenes. As soon as he got out of the boat, a man possessed by legions of demons, run out of the cemetery to confront Him. Mark says this man was so possessed that he “had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Mark says, night and day among the tombs and on the mountains, [this man] was always crying out and cutting himself with stones” (Mk 5:4-5)! What a chaotic world this man’s domain of darkness was. But that day this man met Jesus. And he was never the same. Mark says, Jesus commanded the demons to leave the man, and they immediately obeyed and left and entered the sea with a herd of pigs. When the herdsmen of the pigs then came to Jesus, what they saw was remarkable! Mark says, “they saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, they saw him sitting there, clothed and in his right mind” (Mk 5:15)!! The man, who previously could not be subdued, was sitting there at the feet of Jesus in His right mind! That day, these herdsmen saw the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ founded in this demoniac! No wonder they became “afraid”! They were filled with awe and wonder of this marvellous thing that had happened. Isn’t this man’s story, also your story?
Well, it is mine! And what more response can we together give to that marvellous transformation than to rise and sing Praise My Soul the King of Heaven!

1. Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Evermore His praises sing:
Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King.
2. Praise Him for His grace and favour
To our fathers in distress;
Praise Him still the same as ever,
Slow to chide, and swift to bless.
Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
Glorious in His faithfulness.
3. Father-like He tends and spares us,
Well our feeble frame He knows;
In His hands He gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes.
Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
Widely yet His mercy flows.
4. Angels, help us to adore Him,
Ye behold Him face to face;
Sun and moon, bow down before Him;
Dwellers all in time and space,
Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
Praise with us the God of grace.
Amen!

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