"Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." — Col. 1:12.
One thing marks every variety of false religion; it is uncertainty as to salvation, which is exactly opposite to the teaching of Scripture. They all deny that the atoning work is done, that redemption has been accomplished, and the truth of new creation in Christ Jesus. It is particularly characteristic too of the present day; for even true Christians, when asked if they are children of God, or if their sins are forgiven, are very commonly satisfied to reply, "I hope so;" which really means they cannot speak with certainty about it. Those who have the most extensive opportunities of judging, know how rarely such pointed questions elicit the hearty response of simple confidence, which the unalterable word of the Lord warrants. Some think that to doubt and fear are marks of humility of mind, and judge it presumption to take the ground which the grace of God in Christ Jesus has given us. It becomes, therefore, a question of great importance as to what Scripture teaches on the subject.
We have looked in vain for a single instance in the New Testament of a child of God doubting his eternal salvation. On the contrary, it abounds with witnesses of present joy, because of the knowledge of present salvation. It is what the Holy Ghost teaches. Our blessed Lord told His disciples before He left them, that they would know their security and standing in Him. Referring to the time of the Comforter's coming, He said to them, "In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in Me, and I in you." (John 14:20.)
When a poor sin-burdened woman came to our Lord and shed tears over His dear feet, and wiped them with the hairs of her head, the blessed Saviour would not allow her to depart without the fullest rest of soul as to her sins and guilt. To those present He said, "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven;" and turning to her He added, "Woman, thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace." Again, when a rich publican came down and received Him joyfully, the Lord also assured him that for a sin-convicted soul to receive Him whom God had sent was to have present salvation. "This day is salvation come to this house," said He; "for the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 7:47-50; Luke19:9, 10.)
And so also taught the apostles. We find Paul, when addressing saints by the Holy Ghost on the gospel, saying, "Unto us which are saved, it is the power of God;" and when writing to Timothy he exclaims, "Who hath saved us." Again, in another epistle we find the same ground of faith maintained: "We know (not we hope, but we know) that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have (not we hope to have, but we have) a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
Peter, too, by the same Spirit, not only says that we rejoice in Him, whom having not seen we love, with joy unspeakable and full of glory, but, referring to present salvation, he adds, "receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." John also by the same Spirit says, "We know (not we hope, but we know) that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." "We know that we are of God."
Quotations might be multiplied on this point, but enough has been adduced to show the unshaken confidence which formerly characterized Christians, who simply rested on the testimony of the Holy Ghost in the word of God, and the accomplished redemption of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The same line of truth, only in more detail, is brought before us in the epistle to the Colossians. It appears that Epaphras had gone to that idolatrous city with the gospel. Some believed. This success he communicated to the apostle Paul. They had only just turned to God from idols through Christ. The two cardinal points of Christianity were very manifest in them; viz., "faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and love unto all saints." The apostle thanked God when he heard of these characteristics of true Christianity. It was not people merely saying that they believed, but as true faith in the Lord Jesus is always connected with life in the soul, being born of God, the consequence is that this life flows out in like-mindedness to Christ who is our life; they therefore love what He loves. He loves all saints; so do all that are born of God. But more than this. He learned from Epaphras that it was not merely affection which they manifested to certain persons, for after all this might be mere natural affection, but with these saints it was spiritual — "love in the Spirit." There could, therefore, be no mistake as to their reality; hence the apostle addresses them as "in Christ;" for all true believers not only have life, but Christ risen and ascended is their Life, they are therefore in Him. Thus Scripture now speaks only of two classes — those who are "in the flesh," and those who are "in Christ." Here the apostle looks at them in the new creation, where God sees them; hence in the second chapter he tells them, "Ye are complete in Him."
In turning to the apostle's prayer, we find he asks first that they may have knowledge of God's will — have that spiritual intelligence and understanding as to God's mind, that they may be able to walk. (vv. 9, 10). How can Christians do God's will if they do not know it? The great adversary, therefore, has gained a great step in souls when he has succeeded in hindering them from reading, and meditating on, the word of God; for God's word gives us His will. In the third chapter he exhorts them also that the word of Christ may dwell in them richly. It is impossible that the importance of habitually reading the Scriptures prayerfully, in dependence on the Holy Spirit, can be overrated; in fact, it is impossible that a believer can know how to act so as to please God without it.
Observe as to walk, it is to "walk worthy of the Lord." How seldom we find such a standard of walk contended for. We hear much as to "consistent walk," but such a loose, indefinite character of walk is not found in Scripture, it is "worthy of the Lord," who loved us, and gave Himself for us. This is a different thought, and silences a thousand questions as to going here or there, doing this or that. The whole point is, Is it "worthy of the Lord?"
But more than this His heart's desire by the Holy Ghost is, that they may honour the Father as they ought for having made them fit for glory — "Giving thanks to the Father, who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." The verses which follow declare that they have present redemption: "In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins." Present deliverance — "who hath delivered us from the power of darkness;" — and present translation — "who hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love." Here it is something more than the other blessings — "made meet" for the inheritance. And how can it be otherwise if we are "in Christ," yea, "complete in Him, who is the Head of all principality and power?" And yet how many Christians in the present day, while really in Christ, and having the atoning work of Christ as the foundation of all their hope of glory, are nevertheless looking for something yet to be done in their souls to make them meet for glory. Hence it is not uncommon to hear some speak of affliction and trial as squaring and fitting them as stones for the heavenly temple. Others talk of the present sufferings purifying them for glory; or of ripening them, until they become like a shock of corn ready for the garner. Their souls have never entered into that precious declaration of the Holy Ghost, that the Father hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, and that our place now is thanking Him for it. That affliction doth afterward yield peaceable fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby, and that through the trials we get profit and are made partakers of His holiness, are most blessedly true; but being made meet for heaven is something not to be done, but has been done. The idea of saints getting by their trials, etc., more and more meet for glory, denies the truth of man's thorough ruin in the flesh, sets aside the workmanship of God in the new creation, and questions the full value of the redemption-work of Christ; for "by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified."
Scripture tells us that Christ is "made of God unto us righteousness," that "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." He is also spoken of as our life — "Christ who is our life." If then, as we have before noticed, we are regarded by God now as not in the flesh, but in Christ, complete in Him who is our life and righteousness; and further, that God now speaks of us as accepted in Christ, and that "as Christ is, so are we in this world," it becomes simple enough. All this too is traced to the Father. It was the Father who loved us and chose us in Christ, who gave us to Christ, and redeemed us by Christ; it is the Father now who welcomes us through Christ, accepts us in Christ, assures us that the cross of Christ has judicially rolled away all our sin and guilt, and evil nature too; so that now we are in the new creation, and brought into the new relationship of sons, and partakers of the divine nature.
That we wait for the redemption of the body, that change which will fashion this body of humiliation like unto His glorious body, is quite true; but as to life, forgiveness of sins, righteousness, standing, and completeness in Christ, union with Christ, the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, sonship, full title to glory, we do not wait for, because we have all this now. We are "made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." Hence we are told that "after ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory." (Eph. 1:13, 14.)
Beloved, have we so believed these precious truths of God as to know the joy and rest of soul, and thankfulness too, they produce? The heart then delights to sing —
"High in the Father's house above
My mansion is prepared;
There is the home, the rest of love,
And there my bright reward.
"With Him I love, in spotless white,
In glory I shall shine;
His blissful presence my delight,
His love and glory mine.
"All taint of sin shall be removed,
All evil done away;
And I shall dwell with God's Beloved,
Through God's eternal day."