Qualified!July 3, 2023
Let us give “thanks to 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” (Col. 1:12-14).
I regularly talk with people, both men and women, who continue to live in shame and self-condemnation. The bottom line is that they feel disqualified or unfit for inclusion in God’s kingdom. So let’s think closely, and biblically, about this important issue.
The first thing to note is that there is a slight difference between being “unqualified” and being “disqualified”. In the former case, I may simply lack a talent or attribute or sufficient education to fulfill a task. When I was much, much younger my dad would drive me and my sister from Shawnee, Oklahoma, to Oklahoma City to go to Springlake Amusement Park. And I can still remember the anguish I felt when I was told that I wasn’t tall enough to ride the giant roller coaster. I was unqualified. I hadn’t done anything wrong to disqualify myself. I just needed to grow up a little bit. So, there’s no shame or fault in being unqualified. We can always wait a little longer or work harder or go to school to cultivate the necessary characteristics for whatever it is we desire to achieve.
But to be “disqualified” means you are unfit for the task; you are excluded because of specific failures or vices or behaviors that prove you to be morally unworthy of some high office or responsibility. If I had been barred from riding the roller coaster because I had thrown a rotten tomato at the person operating the ride, I would have disqualified myself.
Now, maybe I’m pressing too far the distinction between these two words, but I want to make a point. You and I, in our natural, sinful state, apart from divine grace are not merely unqualified for the kingdom of God, we are profoundly disqualified. It’s not as if God says to us, “If only you were a little taller or more educated or could perform this task or solve that problem or answer some question, then I would grant you entrance into my kingdom.” Rather, he says to us, “By nature and choice you are the kind of person who is prohibited from entering my kingdom. You think thoughts and commit deeds that warrant exclusion from my presence. It’s not simply that you would be admitted if you could do this or that, but you are excluded because you are the moral and spiritual antithesis of what is required of any who would share my fellowship.”
But thanks (joyful thanks!) be to God who has “qualified us” or “fitted us” or “made us sufficient” to inherit the blessings. How did he do it? By redeeming us (Col. 1:14a) and forgiving us our sins (v. 14b) and clothing us in the righteousness of his Son (1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21). Whatever qualifications we formerly lacked, we now have. Whatever deeds may have disqualified us, they are forever forgiven.
Whatever feelings of inadequacy or sense of shame or depths of despair may have crippled you until now, God has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light! If you found yourself saying, “I’m not up to the task. I’m a miserable failure. I’m a hell-deserving wretch. I don’t deserve to stand in God’s presence. The only thing I should inherit is death,” God now says to those who are in Christ: “Qualified! Forgiven! Adequate in Jesus! Righteous in my Son! Come and receive and enjoy your inheritance together with all the saints in the life-giving, soul-cleansing light of my kingdom!”
And what is this inheritance in which all believers share? Ruling angels (1 Cor. 6:3)? Inheriting the earth (Matt. 5:5)? A glorified body (Rom. 8:17-25)? The kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-11)? Yes, and much, much more.
But none of this means anything if God isn’t there. Not the forgiveness of sins, nor a glorified body, nor the new heavens and new earth, nothing, if God isn’t there. Our inheritance is God! He is our exceeding great reward. John Piper said it best when he wrote that “the highest, best, final, decisive good of the gospel, without which no other gifts would be good, is the glory of God in the face of Christ revealed for our everlasting enjoyment. The saving love of God is God’s commitment to do everything necessary to enthrall us with what is most deeply and durably satisfying, namely himself” (God is the Gospel, 13).
Or again, “If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?” (15).
I hope the answer is No.
Oh, God, fill us with joyful and glad-hearted gratitude for having qualified us to inherit you: your presence, your beauty, your glory forever and ever.