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Eowyn's Heart

The name of this blog is based on the character Eowyn from Lord of the Rings because I strongly identify with her on many levels. The purpose of this blog is to proclaim the glory of my Lord and King through His work in conforming me into the image of His Son, Christ Jesus. In all things, I trust you will see His hand at work.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Colossians 1:13-20

The sermon in Sunday School was from Col. 1:15-18. What follows is not that sermon, but what struck me as I was reading the passage before class started. I always try to read the passage ahead so I have a general idea of where we'll be going in the lesson - sometimes something new will jump out at me - this is one of those times.

Since we've been going through the book of Colossians, I went back to verse 9 to get the context for the days lesson and because verse 9 starts with "For" - which always references the previous text as the foundation for what follows - I went back to skim the beginning. These are my thoughts from this reading:

After greeting the church, Paul expresses how grateful he is to hear that the Colossian church is growing in the knowledge of God and expressing that outwardly to fellow believers (Ch.1, vs. 3-8). Because of this (note the "For" that begins verse 9), he has not ceased praying for their continued spiritual growth and the outward expression of that growth in their daily lives - that they would walk worthy, be fruitful, increase in the knowledge of God, be strengthened so that they might be more patient & longsuffering with joy (note again the word "for" in verse 11), and that they might give thanks to the Father.

This signals a transition in Paul's focus - from what he prays for to WHO he prays to. He lets the Colossians know what kind of growth he prays they will experience, ending that list with giving thanks. Paul prays that the Colossians will give thanks to God, then goes on to expound on God. The word "Father" comes up and Paul is driven to go deeper.

As a side note - isn't it interesting how our conversations can start out with a phrase or two of praise and quickly turn to requests, needs, earthly things, and so forth. Though I haven't researched it, my bet is that much of the NT writings are like Paul's in this passage (even if not, it's still an interesting correlation) that start out with prayer requests and "friendly commentary" and turn naturally to extolling God and Christ. Paul cannot write without exalting Christ. My bet is he couldn't have a casual conversation without exalting Christ. I am convicted that if my focus were constantly on the pre-eminence of Christ, as it ought to be, that all my conversations would ultimately turn toward exalting Christ.

Beginning with verse 12, Paul takes an in-depth look at who this "Father" is. Following are the verses, followed by the thoughts that struck me:

12. giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.
13. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,
14. in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
15. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
16. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him.
17. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
18. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.
19. For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,
20. and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Why should the Colossians (and why should WE) give thanks to this Father? First, because He qualified us to join in receiving the inheritance that awaits "the saints in the light." That's a great phrase - saints in the light. It says volumes in so few words.

How did the Father qualify us? The second reason we should give thanks to the Father: He has delivered us. He took us out from under the power of darkness and put us under the power of "the Son of His love." Being a citizen of a kingdom makes you subject to the master of that kingdom. Being conveyed into the kingdom of Christ makes us His subjects. This gets into a whole other topic that I am preparing another post on - discussing the reality of the "death" of our sin "nature" - so I won't go into detail here except to say that this is only further evidence that sin has NO power over us. period. This verse is very clear - we have been delivered from the power of darkness and we are now under the authority and power of Christ.

As a subpoint to the deliverance we should be grateful for, is the redemption that brought about this deliverance, through the blood of Christ (v. 14). It is interesting to see the equality of redemption with the forgiveness of sin. One could say, "we have redemption (i.e. forgiveness of sin) . . ." I almost went back and re-wrote this paragraph because I'm uncomfortable with the use of the word "subpoint" in reference to redemption. But I can't. The grammatical outline of this text makes it a subpoint - even though it is key. Without redemption, there is no deliverance. The focus in this verse, however, is not on redemption - nor is it really even on deliverance - though those are essential elements. The focus in this verse begins on the word "He" then moves to "the Son of His love."

The Father begins as the focus of this passage as Paul takes us from giving thanks to the Father (v. 12), to a reason for that thanks - that He has (1)qualified us to partake in the inheritance, (2) He has delivered us from darkness, (3) He has conveyed us into the Kingdom of the Son of His love. He then shifts focus to the Son, the means of that deliverance and and conveyance. Ultimately, the means by which we are qualified to partake in the inheritance.

Verses 15-18 are pure exaltation of the person of Christ. Christ is the means and the purpose of creation. Had you ever seen that? I hadn't - all of creation happened FOR Christ - not just by Him, not just through Him, but FOR Him. That's a good one to meditate on. What does it mean that all of creation occured FOR Christ? As part of that creation, created FOR Christ, how should I then live? What purpose does that lend to my life??? Amazing purpose, amazing preciousness and uniqueness as well.

I don't really need to go into each and every verse, though I would encourage you to go back and read them through slowly. Pause at each comma, at each period and consider what that tells you about God, about Christ, about who you are/should be in response to that knowledge - for it is by the TRUE knowledge of God (Father, Son & Spirit) that we mature and develop the strength we need to live righteously unto him (see my post on the defintion of "I" for more on that idea).

I hope this little study has encouraged your heart and turned on a few lightbulbs for you as well. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it :-)

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