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[A] = summary lessons
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A Mini-Series is a small subset of lessons from a major series which covers a particular subject or book. The class numbers will be in reference to the major series rather than the mini-series.
Colossians 1:11-12 by Robert Dean
Includes communion service. Throughout the centuries, various “secrets” to the Christian life have been discovered. Why? It is simple: the Christian life isn’t merely difficult, it is impossible! There is no way any human in his own power can fulfill the commandments of God. We need special power. In the Church Age, this is provided by God the Holy Spirit. In this lesson we are looking at various aspects of how God strengthens us in our spiritual life.
Series:Colossians (2011)
Duration:52 mins 1 sec

Spiritual Power; Doctrine of Inheritance. Colossians 1:11-12


Colossians 1:12 begins to shift into a second area of thinking that has come into the mind of the apostle Paul as he is addressing the congregation. Every time we see the word "inheritance" related to the church it always throws the focus forward to our inheritance in the kingdom when the Lord Jesus Christ returns. What Paul does is move from the present tense mandate to walk worthy of the Lord to the reason, the motivation, which is because of what God is doing in our life today in preparing us, training us, for future inheritance and blessing when we will rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ.

The priority that we see here in Scripture is that first of all if we are going to go anywhere in the spiritual life we have to know something—the Word of God. That is the only way we can know His will, and from knowing His will, that epignosis knowledge, "with spiritual wisdom and understanding," that leads to application. So the first purpose is that we may be filled, but the second purpose is that we may walk worthy. Knowledge is toward a walk or a lifestyle with the Lord. The third emphasis that Paul has in terms of his prayer is that he prays that they are strengthened with all might. That is really based on a Hebrew idiom. There is a way of expressing something emphatic in the Hebrew language by doubling the verb. It just means that something is definitely true; it is a way of emphasizing something. So "be strengthened will all might" has the certainty of being strengthened by God. Then the last purpose, which we are focusing on now, is that we give thanks to the Father. Gratitude is an important part of the spiritual life because gratitude is related to the entire concept of grace. The giving of grace is an action that produces gratitude. 


Colossians 1:12 NASB "giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light." This verse is translated in a rather ambiguous manner as is typical of most translations with the participle. "Giving thanks" is really a participle purpose: "in order that we give thanks." Paul is praying for these different things in order that we give thanks to the Father. That is the main thought here that brings us to a little bit of a break as he reaches this pinnacle of his thinking in terms of what he is praying for in relation to the Colossian believers.

We should be praying this for our own lives, that we should be thankful and that we would be truly humble, truly oriented to God's grace and truly thankful for all that he has given us. There are many ways that we can be thankful to God, but Paul focuses our attention here with this next phrase that we find. He uses a participle again, this time with a noun and it has the sense of a relative clause, and it is correctly translated "the Father who has qualified us." The sense of that relative phrase is not just saying something about what the Father has done but this is the reason that we are to be thankful to God. We are thankful to God because He has qualified us, because He is the one who has qualified us.

What does he mean by being qualified? When Paul says that the Father qualified us, what sense is that? What He qualifies us for is to be sharers or to participate in its inheritance. But in what sense is this inheritance being discussed? We will see that there are two ways in which believers become heirs. One is an heir of God and the other is an heir of Jesus Christ. So God has qualified us for this inheritance. Which inheritance is it? It looks as if we are talking about a general statement of inheritance here. It could include both because we have our common inheritance—being an heir of God is true for every believer—and our inheritance in  terms of being an heir of Christ is based on the same thing (the focus is different), the same qualification; and that qualification is what occurs the instance we are saved. What qualifies us for anything from God? It is never what we do; it is what Jesus Christ did on the cross. That is the basic qualification.

This is really poorly translated when it says "who has qualified us to be partakers," as in the NKJV. There is no "be" verb in here. What there is, is a noun, meris [merij], which means a part or a portion, and it is literally translated "he qualified us"—there is a textual problem there and the better reading is in the Majority Text—"for the purpose"—it is a noun prepositional clause with the preposition eis [e)ij], indicating a purpose or a direction—"of a portion of the inheritance." He qualified us so that we would receive a portion of this inheritance. Literally: "who qualified us for the portion of the inheritance of the saints in the Light." The phrase "saints in the Light" simply refers to the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who, as he will state later on, have been transferred from the power of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son, which is the kingdom of light.

Quick review of the doctrine of inheritance:

We come to inheritance with this western legal mentality that inherit has the idea of getting something when somebody dies. But that is not the main idea of either the Hebrew word or the Greek word that is used here; it really has the main meaning of possession, property or ownership. When Christ becomes the heir of all things (Hebrews 1) who died to give it to Him? Nobody died to give it to Him, He becomes the owner by virtue of what He did on the cross. So the emphasis there is on His ownership, on His legal rights to something. That is the main idea there: possession, property, ownership. Biblically speaking, property can be passed on with the death of a person but that comes from the context; that is a secondary idea, the primary idea is just possession of property or ownership. Hebrews 11:8 NASB "By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going." Nobody died to give the land that God promised to Abraham, there wasn't a death; he didn't receive it because somebody died. It was a property possession that was given to him by God. Hebrews 1:2 NASB "in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things…" Nobody died to transfer the property title to Jesus. Inheritance always has to do with ownership of property or something. 

When we read about inheritance in Scripture most of the time it is related to rewards, not salvation. Rewards are something that is earned; salvation is something that is freely given. For example, Colossians 3:24 NASB "knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance." Inheritance is stated there as a reward for service.

Certain categories of people in the Old Testament lived in the land but they didn't own the land. They didn't have a portion or property right in the land. Where this will make a difference is when we come to those passages which say that people who commit certain sins won't inherit the kingdom, inheriting doesn't mean getting into the kingdom. It means having certain property rights within the kingdom. So that if you are a believer who shows up at the judgment seat of Christ and you don't have any service, any Christian life growth on which to be rewarded, then that text says that all your deeds are burned up but you are saved. You still enter into the kingdom; you just don't have property rights. In the Old Testament there were people who lived in the land, the inheritance and property of Israel, but they didn't own the land. They entered but they didn't have possessions. People like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived in the land but they didn't own the land. Numbers 18:20 NASB "Then the LORD said to Aaron, 'You shall have no inheritance in their land nor own any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the sons of Israel.'" The Levites, the priests, have no ownership of land in Israel; God was their inheritance. All inherit God but not all have ownership in the land. So there will be distinctions in heaven, distinctions in the kingdom between those who have ownership rights—Christians of today who will rule and reign with Christ, and those who through failure to grow and mature as believers will not have ownership rights, will not have rewards. But they will still be there and still enjoying the blessings and privileges of being there but they don't have ruling and reigning rights because they have failed to grow spiritually in this life. 

Though not all had an inheritance in the land all had God as their inheritance and possession. Psalm 73:26 NASB "My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion [inheritance] forever." Psalm 119:57 NASB "The LORD is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words." Psalm 142:5 NASB "I cried out to You, O LORD; I said, "You are my refuge, My portion in the land of the living."

In the church age Christ is given ownership of all things. He is the heir of all things and as those who are believers in Christ who are in Him we share in that ownership as a joint heir in Christ. How do we become a joint heir in Christ? That becomes clear from Romans 8:17 when it is properly understood. NASB "and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with {Him} so that we may also be glorified with {Him.}" See how that is punctuated; the comma comes after "Christ"—"heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ." They are linked together by the word "and" as if they are equal. The trouble is there is no punctuation in the Greek. You have to pick up the sense of this from the language itself, sometimes from understanding theology and what is said in other verses. The punctuation here is added by a translator who has interpreted the verse a certain way. If there is a comma after Christ then heirs of God and joint heir with Christ is the same thing. But if that is true, then look at the "if" clause: "if we suffer with Him." Are we heirs of God if we suffer with Christ? In other words, is salvation conditioned upon suffering with Jesus? We don't think it says that in Ephesians 2:8, 9. So it is really clear if our theology is right that that second statement, being a joint heir with Christ, has to be a distinct heirship from the first heirship, heirs of God. All believers are equally heirs of God, but only some believers are joint heirs with Christ—those who suffer with Him. What do we mean by suffering with Him? Basically it is learning to grow and mature in the Christian life. We all suffer because we live in the devil's world. So we understand suffering in that sense: because we live in a hostile environment and we have to learn how to handle that hostile environment by the application of God's Word; then we grow. But if we are not willing to handle the hostile environment by God's Word then we won't grow. Growth, then, becomes the basis for inheritance.

Christ is the heir of all things. How did He get to be that way? Christ's inheritance is based on His successful completion of His strategic victory on the cross. Hebrews 1:4 NASB "having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they." How did He do that? By accomplishing God's will for His life.

How did He do that? Christ's character in His humanity was developed by learning obedience through the things He suffered. Jesus in His humanity had to grow up and mature, just like we do. And He had to do it without sin, without relying upon Himself and relying only upon God. Hebrews 2:10 NASB "For it was fitting for Him [God the Father], for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect [mature] the author of their salvation [Jesus] through sufferings." Sufferings here is not talking about the cross, it is talking about the Lord Jesus Christ growing up in His humanity, having to deal with all the same issues in life that we have to deal with, and handling them on the basis of God's Word. Hebrews 5:8 NASB "Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered." So when Romans chapter eight says that we become a joint heir with Christ if we suffer with Him that doesn't focus on the cross; that focuses on just growing up and maturing as a believer, facing the challenges, the details and the adversities of life on the basis of God's Word. It tells us that His spiritual growth qualified Him for His inheritance. Psalm 2:8 NASB "Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the {very} ends of the earth as Your possession." What qualified Him for that was His obedience; what qualifies us for inheritance is that we grow up and mature as a believer, and that gives us that second category of inheritance.

Our initial qualification is the righteousness of Christ. That gets us the first category of inheritance, and we are all heirs of God. What gets us the second category of inheritance—being a joint heir with Christ—is when we mature, when we grow up, when we learn to walk worthy; which is what Paul is talking about in terms of a prayer in Colossians 1:10. That characteristics of that are to be filled with the knowledge of His will, to be strengthened with all might, and to give thanks to the Father. We give thanks to Him a) because He qualified us through imputation of righteousness; b) for being a joint heir with Christ in terms of our spiritual growth. So God the Father does all the work. He either does it through all the work at the cross or He does it through the Holy Spirit who is the source of our power in the Spiritual life.