Qualified For Heaven
Qualifications are important. Usually, they mean that you have studied well, trained hard and are competent to do the job. Many people think that in the same way we qualify ourselves for heaven by learning from the Bible, working hard at following the example of Jesus and thus proving our suitability for God's presence. All those things are good and should be a part of our Christian discipleship, but none of them qualify us for heaven. Although Paul does not minimise the importance of pleasing the Lord (Ephesians 5:10), even our best efforts cannot qualify us for heaven (Isaiah 64:6): because that is a gift of God's grace (Ephesians 2:8-9, Colossians 1:13-14).
However, Paul was concerned for the Colossian church to become mature in seven ways, and so he prayed for them and persisted in prayer (Colossians 1:9) so that they might keep running as in a marathon and reach the goal of being with Jesus (Philippians 3:12-15). Firstly, to live with Christ-like integrity; secondly, to be spiritually productive; thirdly, to understand God better; fourthly, to become strong through His power; fifthly, to resist the temptation to give up, persisting through opposition; sixthly, develop the habit of joyful thanksgiving to God; and seventhly, to honour the Father whose grace alone has qualified them to take their place with all the people of God.
Although they are described in a list, do take time to attend to one at a time. They all need to be integrated into our lives and practised together – not as a way of earning salvation but as practical thanksgiving for being saved – allowing God to work out His purposes in us (Philippians 2:13). Such a lifestyle demonstrates that we honour the qualifying grace of God, understanding the wisdom of God (the way to live well in God's kingdom). Are you spiritually mature? You can use this list to check how well you are growing as a Christian, and identify those areas which need attention.
Often, we only ask others to pray for us when we have a problem. But Paul prayed for the Colossian church because he did not want them to fall into problems, succumb to temptation or be dragged away from the narrow path of following Jesus. When did you last ask a friend to pray for you to stay close to Jesus, or to have a joyful and thankful heart? Pray about these things yourself; ask God to give you a desire to know His will in that area, and to do it. It will be a cooperative process: God will let you know what He wants, and He will help you to want it too. Then He will help you to do it in a way that pleases Him. True disciples will accept God's wisdom, and then trust Him to help them as they put it into practice. So, take the challenge today, identify the 'discipleship gaps' and take action ... it often helps to share it with another believer who can pray for you and monitor your progress.
© Dr Paul Adams