Colossians 1:12
giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.
Sermons
Divine Meetness of the Saints for Their InheritanceT. Croskery Colossians 1:12
Thankful for InheritanceAlexander MaclarenColossians 1:12
Thankful ServiceH. J. Wilmot-BuxtonColossians 1:12
The InheritanceGeorge MacDonaldColossians 1:12
The Inheritance of the SaintsW.F. Adneney Colossians 1:12
A Comprehensive Apostolic PrayerG. Barlow.Colossians 1:9-12
A Worthy WalkFamily ChurchmanColossians 1:9-12
All PleasingJ. Vaughan, M. A.Colossians 1:9-12
Filled with the Knowledge of His WillT. Binney.Colossians 1:9-12
Fruitful in Every Good WorkW. Arnot, D. D.Colossians 1:9-12
FruitfulnessBishop Davenant.Colossians 1:9-12
Fruitfulness and ProgressJ. Spence, D. D.Colossians 1:9-12
God Known Imperfectly But ReallyH. W. Beecher.Colossians 1:9-12
Intercessory PrayerC. H. Spurgeon.Colossians 1:9-12
Knowledge of Divine WillBishop Davenant.Colossians 1:9-12
Life a WalkJ. Daille.Colossians 1:9-12
Multiform FruitfulnessC. H. Spurgeon.Colossians 1:9-12
No Work Must be DeclinedC. H. Spurgeon.Colossians 1:9-12
Paul's Desire for the ColossiansJ. Morison, D. D.Colossians 1:9-12
Spiritual Knowledge and its Practical ResultsC. H. Spurgeon.Colossians 1:9-12
The Blessed OccupancyF. B. Meyer, B. A.Colossians 1:9-12
The Essential Connection Between Knowledge and PietyW. Arnot, D. D.Colossians 1:9-12
The Experimental Knowledge of God the End of All Christian EndeavourDean Goulburn.Colossians 1:9-12
The IntercessionE.S. Prout Colossians 1:9-12
The Knowledge of GodE. D. Griffin, D. D.Colossians 1:9-12
The Knowledge of the Will of GodS. Martin.Colossians 1:9-12
The Necessity of Christian Fruitfulness to Divine KnowledgeW. Arnot, D. D.Colossians 1:9-12
The Necessity of Divine Knowledge to Christian FruitfulnessW. Arnot, D. D.Colossians 1:9-12
The PrayerA. Maclaren, D. D.Colossians 1:9-12
The Use of Spiritual UnderstandingBishop D. Wilson.Colossians 1:9-12
The Value of Intercessory PrayerI. S. Spencer, D. D.Colossians 1:9-12
Walk WorthilyT. Stork.Colossians 1:9-12
Walking So as to Please GodJ. H. Evans, M. A.Colossians 1:9-12
Sanctified KnowledgeS. Charnock.Colossians 1:9-14
Spiritual KnowledgeG. S. Bowes.Colossians 1:9-14
The Apostolic PrayerU. R. Thomas.Colossians 1:9-14
The Apostolic PrayerU.R. Thomas Colossians 1:9-14
The Best KnowledgeJ. Spencer.Colossians 1:9-14
The Kingdom of God's Dear SonR.M. Edgar Colossians 1:9-14
The Knowledge of the Divine WillW. B. Pope, D. D.Colossians 1:9-14
The Power of Unceasing PrayerColossians 1:9-14
Prayer Leading Up to the Person of ChristR. Finlayson Colossians 1:9-23
Meetness for HeavenO. Winslow, D. D.Colossians 1:12-14
Meetness for HeavenW. Baxendale.Colossians 1:12-14
Meetness for the InheritanceC. H. Spurgeon.Colossians 1:12-14
Meetness for the Inheritance of the Saints in LightW. A. Butler, M. A.Colossians 1:12-14
Meetness for the Saintly InheritanceG. Barlow.Colossians 1:12-14
The Father's Gift Through the SonA. Maclaren, D. D.Colossians 1:12-14
The InheritanceT. Guthrie, D. D., W. Birch.Colossians 1:12-14
The Inheritance not the Reward of MeritW. Birch.Colossians 1:12-14
The Inheritance of LightPaxton Hood.Colossians 1:12-14
The Inheritance of the FaithfulJ. Morison, D. D.Colossians 1:12-14
The Inheritance of the SaintsW. Jay.Colossians 1:12-14
The Inheritance of the SaintsR. Watson.Colossians 1:12-14
The Joy of LightH. J. W. Buxton, M. A.Colossians 1:12-14
The Love of the FatherE.S. Prout Colossians 1:12-14
The Saints in LightH. Melvill, D. D.Colossians 1:12-14
Unmeetness for the InheritanceT. Guthrie, D. D.Colossians 1:12-14
What is InheritanceT. Guthrie.Colossians 1:12-14
Giving thanks to the Father, who made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.

I. THE NATURE AND GLORY OF THE INHERITANCE. Whether we understand by it heaven or the blessings of the kingdom is immaterial, but the original suggests the idea of a joint inheritance, of which each individual enjoys a part.

1. It is an ancient inheritance. For "it is a kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:34). Its "Builder and Maker" is God himself (2 Corinthians 5:1).

2. It is bound up with the coheirship of Christ. (Romans 8:17, 18; Psalm it.) God makes us "heirs and rich in faith" (James 2:5). By virtue of the coheirship, it is a free, sure, satisfying, durable inheritance.

3. It is a holy inheritance. It is "with the saints." Only saints enjoy it with one another. "The pure in heart shall see God" (Matthew 5:8). No unclean thing shall enter into God's kingdom (Acts 20:32; Acts 26:18; 1 Thessalonians 1:10).

4. It is an inheritance "in light."

(1) The Lamb is the Light of heaven (Revelation 21:23).

(2) There will be clear vision in heaven's light. Whatever "makes manifest is light." "In thy light we shall see light." We shall "know even as we are known." We shall "see face to face." We shall dwell for ever "in the light of God's countenance." There will be no darkness there.

II. THE MEETNESS FOR THE INHERITANCE.

1. It is implied that we have no natural meetness for it. We could not merit it by our righteousness, and our spirits are out of harmony with its joys. There is nothing in us but "enmity against God" (Romans 8:7). The spirit which is in moral darkness cares not for the light.

2. The meetness is given to us.

(1) We are made meet by our calling, by our justification, by our adoption.

(2) We are made meet for it by our sanctification. The Father gives us, along with the kingdom, the disposition, inclination, behaviour of heirs, sons, kings, and priests.

III. THE AUTHOR OF THIS MEETNESS. "The Father."

1. It is he who hath begotten us to the inheritance. (1 Peter 1:3.)

2. It is he only who can pardon us and accept us.

3. It is he who is the Fountain of all holiness.

4. It is he who is stronger than all to preserve us to the end and crown us with final glory. (Jude 1:24; Ephesians 1:17.)

IV. THE DUTY OF THANKSGIVING. "Giving thanks to the Father."

1. A sanctified heart is ready to acknowledge the instrument by which good is received, yet more the Author of blessing.

2. It honours God to thank him. "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me" (Psalm 50:23).

3. A thankful heart is sure of a gracious hearing. The more thankful we are for mercies received the more ground have we to expect more mercies. - T.C.







Giving thanks unto the Father which hath made us meet.
1. These grounds of thanksgiving are but various aspects of the great blessing of salvation. The diamond flashes green and purple and yellow and red, according to the angle at which its facets catch the eye.

2. All these blessings are the present possessions of Christians.

3. Note the remarkable correspondence with Acts 26:17-18.

I. The first ground of thankfulness which all Christians have is that THEY ARE FIT FOR THE INHERITANCE. The metaphor is drawn from Israel's "inheritance" of Canaan. Unfortunately our use of "heir" and "inheritance" is confined to succession on death. In Scripture it implies possession by lot, and points to the fact that the people did not win their land, but "God had a favour unto them." So the Christian inheritance is not won by merit, but given by God's goodness.

1. Is it present or future? Both: because whatever may wait to be revealed, the essence of all which heaven can bring is ours to-day who live in the faith and love of Christ. The difference is one of degree, not of kind. He who can say, "The Lord is the portion of my inheritance" will neither leave his treasures behind by death, nor enter on a new inheritance. Its beginnings are here but as the "earnest," limited, in comparison, as the tuft of grass which used to be given to a new possessor, when set against the broad lands from which it was plucked. Here the idea is that of a present fitness for a mainly future inheritance.

2. The inheritance is, "in the light," a realm where purity and knowledge and gladness dwell.

3. From this it follows that it can only be possessed by saints. There is no merit, but there is congruity. If it be a kingdom of light, then only souls who love the light can go thither, and until owls and bats rejoice in the sunshine there will be no way of being fit but by ourselves being "light in the Lord."

4. But men not perfectly pure are fit. The Colossians were made meet at their conversion. Incipient faith in Christ works a change so great as to fit us, for although it be but as a grain of mustard seed, it shapes from henceforth our personal being. There is nothing in this inconsistent with the need of continual growth in congruity. True fitness will become more and more fit.

5. The land was parted among the tribes according to their strength; some had a wider, some a narrower strip. So as there are differences of character here there will be differences in participation hereafter. "Star differeth from star."

II. The second ground is THE CHANGE OF KING AND COUNTRY. In the "deliverance" there may be a reference to that of Israel suggested by "inheritance," while the "translation" may be derived from the practice of deporting whole bodies of natives from conquered kingdoms to some other part of the conqueror's realm.

1. The two kingdoms and their kings.(1) The power of darkness (Luke 22:18) implies harsh, arbitrary dominion, a realm of cruel and grinding sway. Men who are not Christians live in a subjection to darkness of ignorance, misery, and sin.(2) What a wonderful contrast do the other kingdom and King present! The Son who is the object of God's love. Wherever men lovingly obey Christ is His kingdom of light, gladness, hope, knowledge, and righteousness.

2. The transference of subjects. A great conqueror has come, and speaks to us as Sennacherib did to the Jews (2 Kings 18:31-32). If we listen He will lead us away and plant us, not as pining exiles, but as happy citizens in the kingdom which the Father has appointed.

3. The transference is effected the moment we yield our heart to Christ. When we die we shall change provinces, but not kingdoms or King, only we shall see the King in His beauty.

III. The heart and centre of all thankfulness is THE REDEMPTION WE RECEIVE THROUGH CHRIST.

1. Redemption is the act of delivering a captive by ransom. So it is the same as the deliverance of the previous verse, only what is there an act of power is here an act of self-sacrificing love. Christ's death breaks the chains, sets us free, and acquires us for Himself.

2. The essential element of this redemption is forgiveness, not only the removal of legal penalties, however. The truest penalty of sin is that death which is separation from God; and the conceptions of judicial pardon and Fatherly forgiveness unite in the removal of that separation and the deliverance of the heart and conscience from the burden of guilt and a Father's wrath.

3. Such forgiveness leads to that full deliverance from the power of darkness which is the completion of redemption. Forgiveness means "sending away" not only as guilt but as habit.

4. The condition of possessing this redemption is union with Christ. "In whom." We cannot get His gifts without Himself.

5. Redemption is a present and growing possession. "We have," or "are having."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

1. In the spirit of "joyfulness" Paul stirs up his brethren to gratitude.

2. This gratitude was due to God. They owed much to Epaphras, Paul, and Philemon, and others. Many are the subordinate cisterns out of which all have drawn refreshing water. But the water that is there, is there only because it has been supplied from the overflow of the inexhaustible fountain above.

3. God is "The Father"; not the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. my Father, yours, or ours; but absolutely the original, archetypal fountain from which all other excellent fatherhoods are derived. Full scope is thus left to the Colossians to claim their peculiar share of the blessing laid up in the Divine Fatherhood, e.g.

I. MEETNESS FOR THE HEAVENLY INHERITANCE. A desire is expressed that they should be led out beyond themselves. "Giving thanks to the Father who hath made" not you, not myself, Timothy and all true brethren; "us."

1. The inheritance. There are many heritages; some evil. This is "an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled," etc., and thus one in heaven, "an eternal inheritance" — in one word, perfected salvation. To the heirs of this angels are ministers, and they, being "heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ," are "heirs of all things," as they are Christ's and Christ is God's.

2. It is the inheritance of "the saints." There are two classes among men. The inheritance belongs to the "holy ones."

3. It is in "the light." But it belongs not only to those who are in the light, but to those who are in the dusk.

4. For this God has made us meet to be "partakers," i.e., partners, sharers, which annihilates selfishness. Things are not equally distributed here, but they will be there; and even here, like an earnest of what is coming, one of the greatest of Divine boons, the light, unlike our farthing candles, is wondrously impartial.

5. For this we need "meetness," not for salvation, but for the heritage. Through sin we are disqualified. Happiness is interchangeable with holiness. Hence we need transformation. "Nothing that defileth shall enter" there.

II. THE GREAT DELIVERANCE.

1. The apostle was a rescued man, and so was Timothy, and the Colossians. They had all experienced emancipation and were free.

2. The Divine Father, who feels peculiarly at home in heaven, was the Author of their freedom, as He is of all liberty. Men have sold themselves, but as His offspring they have a right to the prerogatives of children, and God has come down in the person of Jesus to make them free.

3. This rescue is from the power of darkness.(1) Men are in the dark in reference to all that was most important to their weal; as to their own nature, the character of God, and forgiveness.(2) This darkness involves the obscuration of all that is fitted to impart delight. When we are out at night we might wander in the choicest gardens, and be surrounded with enchanting scenery, but it would be utterly blank; even if we were in delightful company we should not be able to adequately appreciate it."(3) More than this is involved. Darkness means danger, and hence the Colossians had been under its power, which is darkness personified. The idea is tyrannous power, power to do harm, because power in which malice predominates.

4. But the Great Father hath rescued us from this and translated us.(1) Paul intended a contrast between the two conditions which lie on the opposite sides of the line that is drawn by faith in Christ. The apostle delighted in this contrast, hence his frequent allusions to it — and no wonder (see Acts 26:17-18).(2) They were translated, i.e., transferred. The Jews were familiar with the idea. Again and again had masses of them been transported as prisoners of war. But this is translation not into slavery and degradation, but out of them. But Paul does not say as we might expect, into "light," but into "the kingdom of God's dear Son" — the kingdom of heaven where Jesus reigns. In the expression "the Son of His love" we see what we ought to feel towards Jesus. He should be our dear sovereign, and we should "love Him, for He first loved us."

(J. Morison, D. D.)

I. HEAVEN IS AN INHERITANCE. How prone men are to attach importance to their good works, and how averse is human pride to admit that our own righteousness is as filthy rags. This arises perhaps from the feeling that if our works are destitute of merit they must disincline God to save us. But how unscriptural is this fear. One would think that the parable of the Prodigal had been invented to refute it. In spite of what has been written, and the controversies that have waxed hot on the question, the fact that heaven is an inheritance proves that it cannot be the reward of good works.

II. HEAVEN IS AN HERITAGE OF FREE GRACE. We have no such legal claim to it as may be established by some earthly inheritance. Heirs have entered on the property of those between whom and them there existed no acquaintanceship. We are constituted heirs of heaven by virtue of sonship. Thus heaven is not merely an inheritance but a home.

III. THE HEIRS OF HEAVEN REQUIRE TO BE MADE MEET FOR IT.

1. No elevation from obscurity to honour, or poverty to affluence, represents the difference between a state of sin in which grace finds us and the state of glory to which it raises us.

2. What were the most tempting banquet to one without appetite, or the most beauteous scene to the blind? Just what heaven would be to man with his ruined nature, low passions, and guilty conscience. Incapable of enjoying its holy beauties and happiness, he would find nothing there to delight his senses. Such an inheritance would be like the gift of a library to a savage.

3. It is the curse of vice, that where its desires outlive the power of gratification or are denied indulgence they become a torment. What then would a drunkard do in heaven? Or a voluptuary, or a worldling?

4. Hence the need of being made new creatures in Christ; and, by reason of remaining corruption, of getting with the title to the inheritance, a greater meetness for it; of sanctification as well as salvation. It was the office of Christ to purchase heaven; it is the work of the Spirit to prepare the heirs. Thus renewed and sanctified we shall carry a holy nature to a holy place.

IV. AS HEAVEN IS THE GIFT OF GOD, SO MEETNESS FOR IT IS THE WORK OF GOD. By whatever instruments God executes His work, the work is not ours but His.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

I. THE INHERITANCE. It is —

1. God likeness. Christians are partakers of the Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Children inherit their father's nature; so we receive our heavenly Father's spirit, and the Divine nature is formed in us. We are conformed to the image of God's Son, who is the image Of the invisible God in gentleness, beneficence, and perfectness of character.

2. Eternal life. This is no blessedness to the wicked, for it is continuance in sin and misery; for the righteous it is everlasting holiness and happiness.

3. Heaven. It is pleasant to think of heaven as a state, much more so as a place — home.

II. THIS INHERITANCE CANNOT BE MERITED.

1. All the riches of the earth cannot buy it, nor all its valour win it. "Worthy is the Lamb... for Thou hast redeemed us."

2. It is our Father's gift. He is not like Jacob, who selected a favourite son. The inheritance is offered to all.

3. It is meant purposely for the children. Some men die without a will, but God has made special provision for us.

4. It has been purchased by the death of Christ.

III. THE INHERITORS. "Saints in light."

1. They see the love of God. Some may ask of their professed lovers, "do you love me?" But the saints in light do not need to ask this question of God.

2. They are eternal realities, which to others seem as dreams.

(W. Birch.)

? — The pay of a soldier is not inheritance, nor the fees of a physician, nor the gains of trade, nor the wages of labour. Rewards of toil or skill are earned by the hands that receive them. What is inherited, on the other hand, may be the property of a new-born babe; and so you may see the coronet, which was won by the stout arm of valour, and first blazoned on a battered shield, standing above the cradle of an infant. True, the ample estate, the noble rank, the hereditary honours were won. But they that won them are long dead, and underneath tattered banners, once borne before them in bloody fight, but now hung high in the house of God, the grim old barons sleep in their tombs. The rewards of their prowess have descended to their successors, who, holding these, enjoy honours and estates, which we do not grudge them, but which their wealth never bought, and their courage never won. Thus the saints hold heaven. In the terms of law, it is theirs, not by conquest bat inheritance. It has been won for them by Jesus Christ.

(T. Guthrie.)

When one of the kings of England said to the assembled barons, "By what right hold ye your lands?" they stepped forward before the king, and, drawing their swords, exclaimed, "By these we hold our lands." But no deeds of ours can obtain and hold the inheritance of the saints in light. When the first Napoleon had made himself Emperor, and was about to be crowned, the Roman Pontiff approached him bearing the crown; but Napoleon reached out his hand, took the crown, and himself placed it upon his head; then he stood up before the assembled multitude, as if to say, "My own arm hath won the victory, and my own courage hath lifted me to this position." But in our case, which of us can earn the inheritance of the saints in light? If our celestial position depended on our merits, I fear many of us would never get through the gate of the city of the saints.

(W. Birch.)

1. Turn from your inheritance of tears, anxiety, transitory stewardship; and you who have an inheritance of fame, respectability, etc., and lift up your eyes to the inheritance of light.

2. We have here an expression incomprehensible to many, but comprehended by a new illumination; as a bird of the greenwood may comprehend freedom, an antelope the wide wilderness, a creature of the waters its native seas. Thus not only by original but informed instinct do we comprehend the inheritance.

3. The text stands in contrast to that other inheritance from whence we have been delivered — the power of darkness, beneath whose sway we all were born, and familiarity with which enables us to appreciate the inheritance of light. We have heard of the salt mines of Cracow, where human beings labour and never see the eyes of the sun. To one born there how strange the stories of the upper world. It is a picture of the human heart without the Saviour; its faculties are all like spars and crystals in a cavern, and how hearty its rapture when it surveys its new world, and is made meet for the inheritance.

4. It is a purchased and promised possession, and is ours neither by purchase nor conquest. How could we, born in caves of darkness, have battled our way up to the terraces of light? How have passed through opposing hosts of darkness, and entered within the shining enclosures?

5. What is it? We can understand a human inheritance, park and mansion. The inheritance of light is our true and real being; pure vision; the insight of a holy nature. It represents a perfect union of the nature and the state. The mind and heart are full of light, and the light within creates light around. This is heaven; the residence of God who "is light," and of His people who are "the children of light." Even on earth we are able, in a degree, to rise to it. We know the light within, without, and beyond, and their respective glories.

(Paxton Hood.)

I. THE INHERITANCE.

1. It is our common state, just as there is a common salvation. An earthly inheritance is impaired by division, but here the number of possessors really adds to the happiness of the individual partaker. Though one star differeth from another in glory, all shine.

2. How shall we estimate the inheritance? Compared with this what is that of the worldling, of the Jews in Canaan, of Adam before the fall, of the angels? Angels can never know the pleasures of reconciliation.

3. What are we to think of the state of blessedness that is intended to display the value of that blood which purchased it?

4. The possessors are saints, holy beings, for "without holiness no man can see the Lord." They are partakers of God's holiness, but are encompassed with infirmities till they join "the spirits of just men made perfect;" then they will be presented "faultless before the throne."

5. The region. Hell is darkness, and so is the world. But the Church is light, and its members children of the light. And yet while here they are only able to survey the glimmering of the day. Now they walk by faith, mistake appearances for realities, are baffled in their inquiries, unable to discern their privileges and true friends. But it will not be always so, for heaven is all light — perfect, endless light.

II. THE MEETNESS FOR IT. Man is both guilty and depraved. Two things are necessary for his restoration — justification and sanctification, the one delivering from condemnation, the other bringing us into .communion with God; the one is a change of our state, the other of our nature; the one is derived from Christ's righteousness, and is instantaneous; the other from the Holy Spirit and is gradual. The one gives us a title to our inheritance, the other gives us meetness for it.

1. The nature of this meetness. The renewing of the Holy Spirit; giving us new views, principles, and habitudes. How is a man made meet for any earthly station? Take a youth: he is apprenticed, begins with the elementary parts and rises to the more difficult, till he reaches the knowledge of the whole, and then launches away for himself. A child learns to walk by walking; a musician learns to play by playing. So we are made meet for heaven by doing its work and enjoying its pleasures now. The work of heaven is to praise and serve God, and its happiness to be in communion with Him. This we enjoy now.

2. Its necessity. A man suddenly gains a fortune for which he is not qualified; the consequence is that "the prosperity of fools destroys them." The French, living so long under tyranny, were not prepared for the sudden enjoyment of liberty, and so ran mad. The higher the destination of a man, the more he needs meetness. God does not exclude the unregenerate from heaven, they exclude themselves. "Except a man be born again," etc. The impossibility does not arise from God's decree, but from the nature of things. The devil would be a tor ment to himself in heaven. Happiness does not arise merely from the excellence of the object, but from being right suited to it.

3. The author of it is God. The very operation shows this, "He that wrought us for this selfsame thing is God," etc. If we are a "building" we are "His workmanship;" if fruitful, "in Him is our fruit found;" if a tree, "of His planting."

4. Its sureness — "hath made us."

III. THE PRAISE. "Giving thanks." This is —

1. Deserved. God has infinite claims on our gratitude.

2. Distinguishing; more for spiritual than temporal mercies.

3. Practical. "Thanksgiving is good; thanks-living is better."

4. Never ending

(W. Jay.)

I. AN INTERESTING VIEW OF THE FUTURE WORLD AS INHERITED BY BELIEVERS. There are many such views in Scripture; here it is described as "light," indicating a place of splendour. Light arrays all nature with beauty.

2. Of ceaseless activity. Darkness and sleep are related. "There shall be no night there," but a busy array of spirits which never grows languid, noble exercise which will never end.

3. Of purity. Darkness is an emblem of sin; light of holiness. Evil covets darkness, courts error to stifle con science, which will work when in the light. A soul desirous of holiness comes to the light, that its deeds, if evil, may be corrected; and if good, be manifested that they are wrought in God. Here our holiness is imperfect, but in heaven the Church is "without spot." There we shall never sin through ignorance, or fail of duty.

4. Of permanent felicity. Night is an emblem of affliction; light of gladness. Sorrow courts the night, joy the day; and the vicissitudes of day and night are emblematical. Our blessings have their dawn, noon, and setting. But the saints are in eternal light, where no sickness blasts, no death devours, no injustice grinds, etc., and where no depression abates spiritual enjoyments, and no temptation clouds the sun of heavenly manifestations. The permanency of holiness gives permanency to bliss.

5. Of knowledge. We come out of darkness into marvellous light, but still we see through a glass darkly. The illuminated circle about us is enveloped in haze. Into the mightier plans of God even piety would humbly pry. Into the difficulties of some great doctrines we are sometimes urged to look. How many Bible texts are obscure, and is there one of which we see the fulness? Who would not have the mystery of his little life unfolded, and all prophecy converted into history, and, above all, rise tea nearer vision of God? But there we shall know as we are known.

II. THE MEETNESS WROUGHT BY GOD IN THE HEARTS OF THOSE WHO ARE RAISED TO THE ENJOYMENT OF THIS INHERITANCE.

1. A relative meetness expressed by "inheritance." Our natural heirship is forfeited by sin. Redemption has brought it hack; but we become heirs by becoming children, and we are made children by the faith which secures for us the blessing of justification. Till this there is no meetness of relation.

2. Personal meetness. "Saints." There is a correspondence between a hallowed state and heaven. A man who has a distaste for God's service cannot enjoy the worship day and night for ever. The man who shuns the light of truth could not hear the eternal light of God's countenance. The lover of pleasure could not relish its spiritual joys.

3. This meetness is the work of God.

4. Give thanks to Him for it in others and in yourself.

(R. Watson.)

I. THE MEETNESS. The subject excludes natural meetness: the only natural meetness man has is for hell, for the sinner has in him all the elements of it. Meetness for heaven refers —

1. To the renewal of the Holy Spirit. Heaven is the abode of the holy, and man must be partaker of a nature which corresponds with the purity and enjoyment of heaven (Ephesians 5:5; Revelation 21:27; John 3:3).

2. To the atoning work of Jesus. The meetness of the title, justification by faith.

3. To the adoption of the believer. God has made him a son, and so an heir.

4. To all God's disciplinary dealings with His people which are to meeten them for heaven.

II. THE INHERITANCE.

1. Heaven is our inheritance.

(1)For which we are destined (Ephesians 1:11);

(2)which has been purchased by Christ (Hebrews 9:15);

(3)which is "incorruptible," etc. (1 Peter 1:4);

(4)and of which we have the earnest here.

(5)Its vastness and illimitability is unfolded in Revelation 21:7.

2. Whose this inheritance is.(1) Who are the saints? Fanatics, says the world; the baptized, say the Tractarians; the Lord's holy ones, says the Bible, washed in Christ's blood, renewed by and possessing God's Spirit.(2) They are saints in light, which may refer —(a) to themselves as children of the light, who have the light of truth and holiness with out which intellectual or moral excellence is vain;(b) or to the glorified saints ix their present abode, which is the dwelling of Him who is "Light, and no darkness at all," the place of perfect purity and knowledge of which light is the symbol (Isaiah 9:19; Revelation 22:5; Revelation 21:23).

3. The saints are "partakers" of this inheritance. They have it already with all the saints of God, in foretaste and antepast.

III. THE PRECEPT based upon the subject. "Giving thanks."

1. To whom the grateful acknowledgment is made — "the Father." Heaven is the Father's gift.

2. On what grounds.

(1)The provision of a Saviour.

(2)The enjoying of the pre paring Spirit.

(3)The prepared inheritance.

(4)The upholding power which brings us safely to the inheritance.Conclusion:

1. Cultivate an habitual, growing meetness. Be not satisfied with present attainments.

2. Look upon all the Lord's covenant dealings with you as only preparatory to your approaching emancipation from all sin and sorrow.

3. Let the subject cheer you in bereavement.

(O. Winslow, D. D.)

The Epistle has been hitherto occupied with prefatory observations. Here Paul enters upon his principal theme.

I. THE OPULENT INHERITANCE PROVIDED FOR THE GOOD.

1. It is a present and prospective possession.(1) The saints even now "walk in the light as He is in the light." They have a measure of knowledge, but it is dimmed by many obscurities: of purity, but it is surrounded with imperfections: of joy, but it is moderated by sorrows. The prospective knowledge shall be unclouded, purity unsullied, joy uninterrupted.

2. It is a possession provided for the good. Not for the impenitent, the worldly. It is an inheritance where only the pure in heart can dwell.

3. It is a possession freely given. The legal heir has no need to work for his inheritance: he enters by right of succession, or testatorial bequest. The saint enters upon his inheritance of righteousness, not by natural descent, or self-constituted right.

II. THE SPECIAL MEETNESS FOR THE INHERITANCE. This is —

1. Absolutely necessary. A monarch can raise the barest slave to a dukedom, but he cannot give him fitness for its duties. He may change his state, but cannot change his nature.

2. Consists in the loving conformity of the human will to the Divine. The celestial spirits find their highest glory and blessedness in this.

3. Is a Divine work.(1) God provides the inheritance, gives the title, confers the moral fitness. None but the Almighty Father could do this.

III. THE DUTY WE OWE TO THE GENEROUS DONOR Gratitude.

1. Practical.

2. Fervent.

3. Constant.

(G. Barlow.)

1. It is the special glory of the gospel that it first distinctly enlarged the prospects of men into the depths of eternity; it first authoritatively taught us that the present existence is the meanest portion of our inheritance, and thus changed for ever the whole science of life.

2. Life for eternity is already begun: from the hour of our regeneration we are introduced into the spiritual world. The Christian's life of heavenliness is the first stage of heaven. The doctrine of the New Testament is not that men now wholly mortal, shall hereafter, in reward of fidelity, be miraculously raised to die no more; but that "he that hath the Son hath life." There is a power now within the Christian of which his celestial immortality shall be the proper fruit.

3. Therefore men must not only win heaven as a reward, but be suited to it as a life. Men may reckon on easy pardon, but they cannot suppress dismay if they reflect that pardon itself, were it possible, would be vain as long as the pardoned sinner were unfit for the society of heaven. Such a pardon could but aggravate the keen sense of hopeless, irremediable misery. What we are to be in heaven we must be on earth.

4. We are under a course of education for heaven: the life of heaven then must be practised on earth, if the child of God would learn his profession for eternity. Heaven is the model on which we are to reconstruct our nature. The inheritance for which we are made meet is to determine and regulate the whole course of our present existence.

5. But here arises a difficulty. We know so little of this pattern. Then we know little of the details — the abodes in which we shalt dwell, the companions with whom we shall rejoice, the bodies we shall wear; but the principles of that life, these are clear and undisputable, as e.g., that the business and beatitude of heaven must consist in conformity to the will of God.

6. This, then, the great characteristic of heaven, must be equally the law of the earth. The habit must be ours, not merely of acting from higher principles than self-interest or passion, but of acting exclusively from obedience to the known appointment of God. All other motives, however attractive, arc of the earth earthy.

7. Here, then, is the charge that religion brings against the world. It is not that the world does not abound in manifestations of moral as well as physical beauty, but that all that is excellent in the natural man is excellent irrespective of his God. No virtue but godliness; no excellence but that which tends to God; no rule of life but that which trains for God can ever be the virtue, or affection, or rule fitted for a creature travelling to God's own eternity.

8. Contrast, then, this sole abiding principle of eternal happiness with the life around us. We shall exclude open and allowed vice, and come among the amiabilities and noblenesses of our social life. That the adulterer and the thief should disclaim subjection to God is not surprising; but the depth and universality of the rebellion is seen in the vast spheres of human excellence into which God never enters; in the amiability which loves all but God; in the self-devotion that never surrenders one gratification for the sake of God. How conspicuously is this often seen in family affection.

9. How, then, shall this meetness be wrought? Solely by cultivating affections that rest in heaven and God, and by devoting our earthly affections not merely as their own instinctive impulses lead, but also in felt and constant conformity to His appointment.

10. Faith, hope, and love are the instruments which, gradually uniting the heart to the spiritual world and its Lord, separate it from earth, predispose it for heaven, win the will to His service, and train the soul for the fellowship and heritage of the saints. These are the habits that must be attained, or heaven is hopeless.

11. What are the specific functions of these preparatory graces.(1) Faith is the realizing power. Its office is to make us see the unseen, to be the visual sense of the Spirit of God. Beholding God even now around us, it prepares for heaven, by already habituating to the presence of heaven's Master.(2) Hope is the consoling and fortifying power. She prepares for heaven by maintaining the constant desire and expectation of its promised enjoyments.(3) But love is the uniting power, the perfection of all. In its highest degrees it is not so much preparation for heaven as heaven already begun; for we know of nothing more perfect in heaven than the fulness of loving God. Hence "Love never faileth." It makes the commandments "not grievous" here, and thus prepares for a state where their fulfilment shall be supreme delight.

(W. A. Butler, M. A.)

In one of our northern coal-pits there was a little boy employed in a lonely and dangerous part of the mine. One day a visitor to the coal-pit asked the boy about his work, and the child answered, "Yes, it is very lonely here, but I pick up the little bits of candle thrown away by the colliers, and join them together, and when I get a light I sing."

(H. J. W. Buxton, M. A.)

A pious military officer desirous to ascertain what were the real feelings and views of a dying soldier, whom he had been instrumental in bringing to the truth, said, "William, I am going to ask you a strange question. Suppose you could carry your sins with you to heaven, would that satisfy you?" The poor dying lad replied, with a most affecting smile, "Why, sir, what sort of a heaven would that be to me? It would be just like a pig in a parlour." "I need not add," continues the officer, "that he was panting after a heaven of holiness, and was convinced that if he died in sin he would be quite out of his element in a heaven of purity."

(W. Baxendale.)

We are so far meet that we are accepted in the Beloved, adopted into the family, and fitted by Divine approbation to dwell with the saints in light. There is a woman chosen to be a bride; she is fitted to be married, fitted to enter into the honourable state and condition of matrimony; but at present she has not on the bridal garment, she is not like the bride adorned for her husband. You do not see her yet robed in her elegant attire, with her ornaments upon her, but you know she is fitted to be a bride, she is received and welcomed as such in the family of her destination. So Christ has chosen His Church to be married to Him; she has not yet put on her bridal garment, and all that beautiful array in which she shall stand before the Father's throne, but notwithstanding, there is such a fitness in her to be the bride of Christ, when she shall have bathed herself for a little while, and lain for a little while in the bed of spices — there is such a fitness in her character, such a grace given adaptation in her to become the royal bride of her glorious Lord, and to become a partaker of the enjoyments of bliss — that it may be said of the Church as a whole, and of every member of it, that they are "meet for the inheritance of the saints in light." The Greek word, moreover, bears some such meaning as this, though I cannot give the exact idiom, it is always difficult when a word is not used often. This word is only used twice, that I am aware of, in the New Testament. The word may be employed for "suitable," or, I think, "sufficient." "He hath made us meet" — sufficient — "to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." But I cannot give my idea without borrowing another figure. When a child is born, it is at once endowed with all the faculties of humanity. If those powers are awanting at first, they will not come afterwards. It has eyes, it has hands, it has feet, and all its physical organs. These of course are as it were in embryo. The senses though perfect at first, must be gradually developed, and the understanding gradually matured. It can see but little, it cannot discern distances; it can hear, but it cannot hear distinctly enough at first to know from what direction the sound comes; but you never find a new leg, a new arm, a new eye, or a new ear growing on that child. Each of these powers will expand and enlarge, but still there is the whole man there at first, and the child is sufficient for a man. Let but God in His infinite providence cause it to feed, and give it strength and increase, it has sufficient for manhood. It does not want either arm or leg, nose or ear; you cannot make it grow a new member; nor does it require a new member either; all are there. In like manner, the moment a man is regenerated, there is every faculty in his new creation that there shall be, even when he gets to heaven. It only needs to be developed and brought out: he will not have a new power, he will not have a new grace, he will have those which he had before, developed and brought out. Just as we are told by the careful observer, that in the acorn there is in embryo every root and every bough and every leaf of the future tree, which only requires to be developed and brought out in their fulness; so, in the true believer, there is a sufficiency or meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light. All that he requires is, not that a new thing should be implanted, but that which God has put there in the moment of regeneration, shall be cherished and nurtured, and made to grow and increase, till it comes unto perfection and he enters into "the inheritance of the saints in light."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I knew a man who had amassed great wealth; but had no children to inherit it. Smitten, however, with the strange propensity to found a house, he left his riches to a distant relative. His successor found himself suddenly raised from poverty to affluence, and thrown into a position he had not been trained to fill. He was cast into the society of those to whose tastes and habits and accomplishments he was an utter and awkward stranger. Did many envy this child of fortune? They might have spared their envy. Left in his original obscurity he had been a happy peasant, whistling his way home from the plough to a thatched cottage, or on winter nights, around the blazing faggots, laughing loud and merry among unpolished boors. Child of misfortune! He buried his happiness in the grave of his benefactor. Neither qualified by nature nor fitted by education for his position, he was separated from his old, only to be despised by his new, associates. And how bitterly was he disappointed to find that, in exchanging poverty for opulence, daily toil for luxurious indolence, humble friends for more distinguished companions, a hard bed for one of down, this turn in his fortunes had flung him on a couch, not of roses, but of thorns! In his case, the hopes of the living and the intentions of the dead were alike frustrated. The prize had proved a blank; a necessary result of this fatal oversight, that the heir had not been made meet for the inheritance. Is such training needful for an earthly estate? How much more for heaven.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

Light! The shadows of a temporary dispensation shall have passed away, and the whole plan of the Creator's dealings be spread before the admiring saints, one blaze of beauty. Light! The discrepancies of Providence, the seeming contradictions in God's government of the universe, the obscurities which are caused by knowing only in part — all this shall have been removed, and no dark spot be left behind. Light! It shall not be the brilliancy of the material sun which makes the future landscape indescribably radiant: "the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it, for the glory of the Lord doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." Light! The saints themselves purged from all that is corruptible, the purified soul in the imperishable body, shall be wondrously luminous. Even here, as St. Paul expresses it, they "shine as lights in the world," but hereafter, perfectly conformed to the image of Christ, of whom we are told that at His transfiguration, which exhibited what glorified humanity shall be, "His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light," they shall be conspicuous among all orders of intelligence transformed into glowing, beaming likenesses of Him whose irradiations occupy the universe. "Light," said the Psalmist, "is sown for the righteous;" and the seeds, we may add, of the glorious harvest are deposited in our souls whilst working out our own salvation. Holiness is the moral light, and the germ of heavenly purity is the element of heavenly splendour. Be it now, then, our endeavour to walk as children of light, having no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. There must be — we press this again and again on your attention — there must be a correspondence between the scene and the creature. The inheritance is one of light; therefore the heir also, in the words of St. Paul, must be "light in the Lord." We will aim, then, God being our help, so to improve the state of discipline, that casting off the ignorance and corruption in which we are naturally enveloped, we may at length be placed with those righteous men of whom Christ said, "They shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father."

(H. Melvill, D. D.)

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