Supremacy & Sufficiency
What we are
How we are
Live by faith in the light
of the Believer
of the Believer
Note: As you
read the comments let me strongly encourage you to also read the
Scripture references (popups) for they alone are living and active
they alone will nourish your soul
(Mt 4:4, Job 23:12-note,
Jer 15:16) and they alone
are your very life
(Dt 32:47, Php 2:16-note,
1Jn 1:1). Indeed,
not a single Word of God is void of power
For two chapters Paul has told
the Colossians about
doctrine (mystery of Christ in them
= Col 1:27-note, circumcision
of their old flesh nature = Col 2:11-note,
the fact that they had died with, were buried with and raised with
Christ -Col 2:20-note,
Col 2:12, 13-note,
etc). Now he moves
practical application of the doctrines he has just expounded. After
all, it does little good if Christians declare and defend
the truth, but fail to demonstrate the reality of that truth in their lives. The
way you conduct yourself is determined by what your creed and the purer
doctrine (potentially) the purer your life. Our position
(co-resurrected with Christ) needs to be put into practice in
these last 2 chapters. How you live is determined by how you
as a man "thinks
so he is" (Pr
Doctrine: Resurrected with Christ
The Duty: Living in "Resurrection Power" of Christ
While the first part of Colossians is doctrinal (Col 1-2),
the second part (Col 3-4)
is practical, emphasizing the importance of walking in the power of
the truth of the new man and our relationship to Christ as Head. In
the second part, the first section in Colossians 3:1-17 deals with
practical holiness in relation to ourselves (Col 3:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,
and in relation to others (Col 3:12-note).
Colossians 3:5-11 challenges us to “put off” the old ways in
Col 3:12-17 calls us to live out the Christ life in the setting of fellowship
with other saints. This sequence is
significant, for we must be right in our own inner lives if we want to
be right in our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Jesus in me,
No longer me but Thee.
Fill me this hour,
Jesus be Jesus in me.
union with Christ
we are called on to show forth His life which is an ongoing, daily
process known as
someone has said when we receive Christ, God's work isn't over—it has
just begun! You can know Colossians 1-2 by memory and
everyone knows you know it but if you don't work out your salvation in
Colossians 3-4 you are all talk with no walk and the integrity of the
Gospel is impugned before a watching world. (For
more on sanctification see
Phil Newton's excellent sermon entitled
"Sanctification - A New Position")
BELIEVER'S NEW LIFE:
LIKE AN "ARTESIAN WELL"
IN UNION WITH CHRIST
We can think of
our new life in union with Christ and His Spirit, as if it were a
"well of water springing up to eternal life" (Jn 4:14), the Spirit of
Christ (Gal 4:6) flowing supernaturally through us even as
water flows effortlessly through an
Click to enlarge
If this be so, if you were raised with Christ, if you were translated
into heaven, what follows? Why, you must realize the change
(oun) (See the importance of evaluating
terms of conclusion) - Paul has just explained the deception, frustration and
futility of trying to live the "spiritual life", the "higher life", in
reliance on the fallen flesh and legalistic, ascetic or mystic
guidance. It cannot work. It won't work. It did not work before we
were saved and it will not work after we are saved (see Col 2:23-note). Paul once again
reminds them of their resurrection with Christ (which he had just
mentioned in Col 2:12-note),
which conveys a new (resurrection) power by which one can live the
true spiritual life, the genuine higher life. With this
therefore, Paul concludes that since the ways of legalism,
asceticism and mysticism were unable to give us victory over "fleshy
indulgence", the believer is to shift his or her focus from horizontal
to vertical, if you will. Based on our high position, we need
to work out a commensurate holy practice! In short in
Colossians 3:1 through Colossians 4:6-note, Paul
is challenging every believer to...
3-4 Paul is exhorting his readers to
be in practice what they are in
Christ, resurrected with Him, empowered with the grand potential to
live a brand new quality of life we could never have even imagined
prior to our regeneration and resurrection.
entitles this paragraph “the true asceticism” (contrasting with Col
H G C Moule
goes back to all the previous
statements of the Christian's glorious position and privilege in
Christ. In view of these Divine facts, the poor expedients of a
mechanical religious routine are seen to be as needless as they are
futile (Ed: Referring to legalism, asceticism). The secret of
moral victory is opened, and it consists in using the powers conveyed
to the believer through federal and vital oneness with his Head (cp Jn
8:31, 32, 36, 15:5)...
In Christ the Crucified they
had "died to" the guilt, and so to the despotic claim of
SIN (Sin as a "Master", not the
evil deeds per se). In
Christ the Risen they had "risen to" a life of full acceptance
(Ep 1:6KJV-note), and
also to life-power (Ep 1:19-note), and life-endowments, derived from His
"indissoluble life" (He 7:16-note); in fact, to the possession of the
indwelling Spirit which He, as Risen, "shed forth" (Acts 2:33,
cp Ro 5:5-note,
Jn 3:34, Ro 8:9-note,
Gal 4:6, Titus 3:5-note,Titus
which gives to the "limb" (believers) the strength and holiness of the Head, to be
used and realized (Lev 11:44, 1Pe 1:14-note,
1Pe 1:15, 16-note) . (The
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges - The Epistles to the
Colossians and to Philemon)
Albert Barnes explains that
Paul's logic is...
that there was such an
between Christ and His people, that in
virtue of His death they become dead to
(Ro 6:11-note); that in
virtue of His resurrection they rise to spiritual life (Ro 6:4-note), and that,
therefore, as Christ now lives in heaven, they should live for heaven
and fix their affections there (He 12:2-note,
Maclaren writes that...
We have now done with controversy.
We hear no more about heretical teachers (eg Col 2:4-note,
Col 2:8-note). The Apostle has cut his way
through the tangled thickets of error (Col 2:23-note), and has said his say as to the
positive truths with which he would hew them down. For the remainder
of the letter, we have principally plain practical exhortations, and a
number of interesting personal details.
The paragraph which we have now to
consider is the transition from the controversial to the ethical
portion of the Epistle. It touches the former by its first words, "If
ye then were raised together with Christ," which correspond in form
and refer in meaning to the beginning of the previous paragraph, "If
ye died with Christ." (Col 2:20-note) It touches the latter because it embodies the
broad general precept, "Seek the things that are above," of which the
following practical directions are but varying applications in
different spheres of duty...
There are here two similar
exhortations, side by side. "Seek the things that are above." The
first is preceded, and the second (Col 3:2-note) is followed by its reason. So the
two laws of conduct are, as it were enclosed like a kernel in its
shell, or a jewel in a gold setting, by encompassing motives. These
considerations, in which the commandment are embedded, are the double
union with Christ in His resurrection, and in His death,
and as consequent thereon, participation in His present hidden life
and in His future glorious manifestation (Col 3:4-note). So we have here the present
budding life of the Christian in union with the risen, hidden Christ;
the future consummate flower of the Christian life in union with the
glorious manifested Christ; and the practical aim and direction which
alone is consistent with either bud or flower (Col 3:5ff-note). (Colossians 3:1-4
The Present Christian Life, A Risen Life -
can be outlined as follows (Adapted from
Dr John MacArthur's commentary on
you have been raised up with Christ
seeking the things above
is, seated at the right hand of God
AN "IF" THAT IS
(ei) is a particle indicating a fulfilled condition, followed
by the indicative mood, the mood of reality (see
notes on conditional clauses). "If" in this case
does not convey uncertainty but is what is referred to as a first class conditional clause which assumes
that the statement which follows is true (see similar use
of "if" in Col 2:20-note). One can substitute Since
or in view of
the fact for if. In marked
contrast to the mystical promises of achieving your "human potential"
offered under the guise of the New Age Movement (or any other
non-Biblical mystical method), Paul now unveils in
clear language the true way to "be all that you can be".
This is truly God's
plan for the "human potential movement".
The if is used logically, not theologically, by way of argument,
and not by way of doubt. All who believe in Christ are risen with
Christ. Let us
on this truth....Oh! how often we need to be called to
this, for the flesh is groveling, and it holds down the spirit; and
very often we are seeking the things below as if we had not yet
attained to the new life, and did not know anything about the
resurrection power of Christ within the soul. Now, if it be that you,
believers, have risen with Christ, do not live as if you had never
done so, but “seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth
on the right hand of God.”
emphasizes that the Colossians...
to whom he was writing, were saved.
They had been identified with (baptizo) Christ in His resurrection (Ro 6:2, 3-note,
His was a physical resurrection out from among the dead, theirs, a
spiritual resurrection out from among the spiritually dead and from a
state of spiritual death into that of spiritual life. This was
potential at the time Christ died, and actual for them when they
placed their faith in Him as Saviour.
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans)
Horatius Bonar (biography)...
The word "if" is not, in
this place, expressive of doubt. It does not imply that those "saints
at Colosse" were uncertain as to whether they were risen with Christ.
Rather, it is the apostle's way of denoting the surest of all
certainties. Thus he uses it in Romans 5:10-note,
"If when we were enemies we were reconciled to God;" and in Ro
"If through the offence of one many be dead." So that more
truly it might be rendered "since," as assuming the fact, and
setting it down as beyond all doubt....
The result of a believed gospel is
not uncertainty--but certainty; not trouble--but peace; not the
continuance--but the expulsion of all anxiety. The gospel presents me
with that, in believing which I am entitled to say,
"I am a child;
forgiven, saved, risen."
Such is its nature that, in
receiving it, so far from being brought into uncertainty, or kept in
uncertainty, I am relieved from all uncertainty; my soul is set at
rest. I am not only warranted--but commanded to claim my sonship. My
not claiming it, my standing still in doubt as to reconciliation
between me and God, shows that I have not yet fully understood the
freeness and fitness of the grace which the gospel makes known. For
God here presents to us such a gospel as to shut each hearer of it up
to this alternative--either to doubt the good news, or enter into
conscious friendship with Himself. (Colossians 3:1-4 The
Risen Christ and the Things Above
- read Bonar's excursus on the sad plight of so many saints who are
unsure about their great inheritance and holy privileges in Christ).
Paul is reaffirming that our co-resurrection
with Christ is a fact and is not in doubt.
True spiritual life is nurtured in the "womb" of true doctrine. If you are going to live a holy life in an unholy world,
your doctrine has got to be unadulterated, "pure milk" (1Pe 2:2, 3 -
- Your Lord and Master has gone up to heaven. You profess that he
represents you, and that you have gone up there in him and with him.
Then do not seek the things that are down here below, the things of
earth; but live where your life has gone. Where your treasure is,
there let your heart be also. “Seek those things which are above.”
Ryrie - Paul's appeal is simple:
what you already are by God's grace.
The Christian is risen
with Christ; let him exhibit that new life.
Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Translation: 1995. Moody
The apostle Paul wanted his first
readers in first-century Colosse to realize that, in this world,
Christians are indeed a kind of resident alien. Their real identity
and origin are not earthly, but heavenly. As physical organisms we
were born in this world but, having died with Christ (Col 2:20-note),
we no longer belong to it. A second, spiritual birth means that our
true citizenship is in heaven (Php 3:20-note)
and something of the quality of that place ought to cling to us even
as we live out our days in this present world.
The world needs
heavenly people as never before, and
this is what Christians are when they live up to their true identity.
The message of this passage to
Christians, whether in the first or twenty-first century, then, is:
'Be what you are!'
In calling upon Christians to be
what they are, Paul set before the Colossians the challenge to live as
heavenly people and, in doing so, to bring something of the quality of
heaven to earth to irradiate and suffuse all their relationships and
life situations (cp Mt 5:16-note,
Php 2:14, 15-note).
Some Christians have certainly achieved this. The Puritan
Richard Sibbes (1577-1635), the
Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661) and
Robert Murray McCheyne (18:13-1843)
in nineteenth-century Scotland all brought the glow of heaven to this
broken world and made it much the better for their passing. The world
still needs people like that. (Christ
All-Sufficient Colossians and Philemon Simply Explained)
of a heavenly life, a life seeking the things above -
Adoniram Judson -
Many years ago when the great
missionary Adoniram Judson was home on furlough, he passed through the
city of Stonington, Connecticut. A young boy playing about the wharves
at the time of Judson’s arrival was struck by the man’s appearance.
Never before had he seen such a light on any human face (cp 2Co 3:18,
1Co 15:49). He ran up the street to a minister to ask if he knew who
the stranger was. The minister hurried back with him, but became so
absorbed in conversation with Judson that he forgot all about the
impatient youngster standing near him. Many years afterward that
boy—who could never get away from the influence of that wonderful
face—became the famous preacher
Henry Clay Trumbull. (author of the
insightful and fascinating book
The Blood Covenant A Primitive Rite And Its
Bearings on Scripture) In a book of memoirs he penned a chapter entitled:
"What a Boy Saw in the Face of Adoniram Judson." That lighted
countenance had changed his life. Even as flowers thrive when they
bend to the light, so shining, radiant faces come to those who
constantly turn toward Christ!
What I am when I am alone in the
presence of God, is what I really am. What I am when I am with other
people, should be the same or otherwise my public life is a
veritable "spiritual charade". As someone has well said,
is what other people think about you.
Character ("that which a person or thing really
is") is what God
knows to be true about you. In these last two chapters of Colossians,
Paul is saying in essence that as believers (Colossians 3-4 is written
to believers) we are to let our reputation match our new
position, our new potential, our new character in Christ
("Christ in you the hope of glory" Col 1:27-note,
"in Him you have been made complete" Col 2:10-note,
"Christ your life" Col 3:4-note).
Right belief is basic, but such belief, when not lived out in right
virtually meaningless at best and
hypocrisy at worst! Right
belief must and can be lived out successfully in "this present evil
age" (Gal 1:4), but it can only be accomplished by continual dependence on God's
grace (1Co 15:10-note,
2Co 12:9-note) and His Spirit's empowerment
And so what
are some of the effects of our new resurrection life, our supernatural union
with Christ? Believers
are no longer enslaved to and under the dominion of our inveterate
mortal enemies - (1) The flesh
old self = old man)
and (3) The
He 2:14, 15-notes)
contrasting in the flesh vs in the Spirit)
John Eadie in his unique style explains that
If the Colossian believers should act in accordance
with their privileges (Ed: And their position; i.e.,
in Christ) —if they understood how the charge preferred
against them by the law had been met with a discharge on the cross of
Calvary—if the process of sanctification beginning in their hearts
should work outward, and hallow and adorn their lives—if they felt
that whatever blessings they enjoyed in part, or anticipated in
fulness, sprang from
union with Christ, then should they be fortified
against every effort to induce them to sever themselves from the Head
and against every attempt to substitute reveries (revery = a loose or
irregular train of thought) for truth, or human
inventions for Divine enactments.
Then, too, should they learn that
worship does not consist of superstitious invocations, and that
sanctification is not identical with fanatical austerities. Let them
move in a spiritual region lifted far above those earthly vanities (cp
and let them look down on them as the offspring of a morbid and self-deceived imagination, or the craving and the nutriment of a
self-satisfied pride....Union with Christ enjoys a peculiar and
merited prominence—“risen with Christ.” Their new position laid them
under a special obligation, and they are thus enjoined—“seek those
things which are above” (Eadie,
John: Commentary on Paul's Epistle to the Colossians - Online - 1884)
Ray Stedman commenting on this section emphasizes that
being a Christian
means we have an extra dimension to life. There is a hidden
resource, an invisible reality, which the world does not have
and cannot see. This is not referring to Christ being "up in
heaven," lost in space somewhere! Rather, this refers to what
Paul has talked about earlier in this letter, "Christ in you,
the hope of glory." (Col 1:27-note) This extra dimension is not far removed in
the reaches of space; it is right within the heart, an
untouchable, invisible dimension within us. This is the glory of
the Christian life and the secret of its power, joy and courage.
If you have not discovered this yet as a Christian
you have not
yet begun to live as you can and should.
This is what puts a smile on a Christian's face, even though he or she is in
Set your hearts on this hidden resource, is Paul's
exhortation. He means our affections. Think with affectionate
gratitude of what the Lord Jesus has already done for you and
what He is to you now. This is not a form of escapism. It is not
something you try to keep your mind on all day long, to the
exclusion of business, family or home. It is rather something
that when your mind is occupied with your family, work problems,
or whatever, you also bring into it this extra dimension. Christ
is part of that situation. That is what Paul means when he says,
"your life is hid with Christ in God." (Col
Christ is involved with
your activities. Remind yourself that whatever you are involved
in includes also the person of the Lord himself. His wisdom,
power and knowledge are all available to you (cp 1Co 2:16, 1Co
15:10, 2Co 3:5, 6, Php 4:13-note,
2Co 12:10-note). That is what Paul
means. It ought to awaken our loving gratitude. We are not only
to set our
affections, but are also to "set our minds on things above."
"Things within" would be a better translation.
Paul is talking
about our wills, our choices. Decide to do what you know from
your knowledge of the Word of the Lord He wants you to do.
is the secret of a life
that has discovered how to really live.
Your life, your daily activity, your thoughts
are now tied to
You do wrong if you separate yourself from
belong to Him (1Cor 6:19-note,
2Co 5:15, Ro 14:7, 8, 9-note).
The old godless, self-directed life is over, if
you have become a Christian (cp 2Co 5:17-note). (Col
3:1-11 True Human Potential)
MacArthur has some interesting and practical thoughts on living
life on earth with a proper perspective of our relationship to
I really believe with all my heart
and I thought a lot about this, that before we can reach the world
we have to leave it. And maybe that sounds paradoxical, but it
really isn't. Before we reach the world we are going to have to leave
the world. In John 8...Jesus said,
"Ye are from beneath, I am from
above. Ye are of this world, I am not of this world." (Jn 8:23)
Jesus, even though He came into the
world, He reached the world from the vantage point above the world.
The only way to really reach the world is to leave the world or to be
from without the world, and to bring to the world a divine dimension.
In John 18:36 Jesus answered,
My kingdom is not of this world, if
my kingdom were of this world then would my servants fight that I
should not be delivered to the Jews, but now is my kingdom not from
Again Jesus emphasized that the
vantage point from which he reached the world was not the world, but
above the world. ...Ro 12:1, 2 (12:1
"I beseech you therefore brethren
by the mercies of God that you present your body a living sacrifice,
holy acceptable unto God which is your spiritual worship and be not
conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your
Jesus reached the world from a
vantage point beyond the world and The apostle Paul says that we are
going to reach the world also when we are no longer of the world. (cp
Jn 17:5, Titus 2:12-note,
When John says, be Christ in the
world, how can these two be brought together? It's very simple really?
It isn't complicated. You know it already. It's simply this.
Your inside lives in
and your outside lives here.
That's all. And I really am
convinced, I know you are, you who know and love Christ, and know His
word. I know you are equally convinced that until a Christian in
his heart and his soul and his mind has learned to live his spiritual
life in the heavenlies he will never be able to touch the earth with
the truth of God. It won't happen.
I was reading about
Robert Murray McCheyne as he was evaluated by some of the people who knew him and
this is one man's comment, he said this of him:
The man of whom I
speak seems to have got up to the full height and to have entered into
the secret places of the holiness of God.
Here was a man who knew
Robert Murray McCheyne the great preacher. He seemed to have dwelt in
the secret places of the holiness of God. The man went on,
preached the gospel you could see strong men, hard and stern, melt
like wax before the fire. Their breasts would swell and heave as if
they would burst and the whole place became a place of weepers.
there is a man who touched the world. There is a man who reached the
world, and the comment of a man who observed was, the reason he
reached the world was because he lived in the presence of God (Living
the Risen Life)
Note that Paul begins
this section on "practical Christianity" by emphasizing the
believer's relationship with Christ. He does not begin immediately
with a list of prohibitions but with a command to maintain
a heavenly, Christ-centered mind, a renewed mind which should motivate
us to live a life of death to our passions and desires - to live no
longer for self but to live for Christ.
And so Paul first charges us to focus on what Christ has done for us. Then
he gives us practical guidance on how to live out this truth enabled
by the Spirit and grace of Christ.
3:1 first points the reader back (therefore) to
the "sound doctrine" which describes the present possession of
believer -- "Christ in (us) the hope of glory" (Col
is one way of describing every believer's intimate union with the risen Christ [cf Col 2:11, 12-note,
This living and active truth makes it possible for us to now live the
supernatural life Paul describes in Colossians 3:5-4:6.
I like how S
Lewis Johnson describes the juncture
between the first 2 doctrinal chapters and the last 2 "duty" chapters:
the focus of history, redemption and the godly life, has two sides: it
involves a death, and it was followed by a resurrection. Both of these
aspects are related to the believer. The one serves his connection
with the past life, the other introduces him to a new life in
union with Christ. Not only are we, by God’s grace, to abandon the pre-death
life, but we are to aspire to the post-resurrection life...The
age to which believers belong by virtue of the CROSS is really
the coming age, and that age is to be the center of their life. The
Forerunner, who has accomplished the work which guarantees the coming
of the new age, now sits to dispense the blessings of it. (Studies
in the Epistle to the Colossians Part IX: Human Taboos and Divine
Warren Wiersbe makes an excellent point
We must keep in mind that the pagan religions of Paul’s day said
little or nothing about personal morality. A worshiper could bow
before an idol, put his offering on the altar, and go back to live the
same old life of sin. What a person believed had no direct
relationship with how he behaved, and no one would condemn a person
for his behavior. But the Christian faith brought a whole new concept
into pagan society:
What we believe
has a very definite connection
with how we behave!
After all, faith in Christ means being united to
Christ; and if we share His life, we must follow His example. He
cannot live in us by His Spirit and permit us to live in sin (cp 1Jn
3:7, 8, 9 where "cannot sin" = cannot sin as a lifestyle). (Wiersbe,
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor
Darrell Bock adds that...
Paul's attitude to (the false
teacher's) invitation to super spirituality (Ed: The
false teacher's were exhorting the saints to pursue legalism, asceticism
and mysticism) is condemnation. He says that this road really is a
disqualification of what Christ gained (Col 2:18-note).
It is a shadow (Col 2:17-note),
not the substance of life. In fact, it fails to check the flesh and is
of no value (Col 2:23-note).
It ignores Christ, who is the source of growth for the body (Col 2:19-note).
That is why Paul calls it a philosophy that comes from human tradition
and the world, a philosophy that is really deceitful (Col 2:8-note).
It is important to observe that Paul's complaint about philosophy is
not an attack on the syllogisms of atheism, but on a movement that had
God and divine things in view, but in a way that distorted what Christ
This desire "to experience heaven" also explains why Paul uses so much
heavenly language in describing what Christ has done.
The concept of
being raised with Christ and setting one's mind on the things above
means that the believer already has established a relationship with
the divine forces of heaven, so that a trip into God's presence is
God has not called His church to withdraw and await a
great future experience of Himself, but to engage the world with the
(supernatural) kind of life that reflects the attributes that reflect the character
and righteous morality of those who know God (Col 3:1-17). They can do
this boldly, because they know that one day God will complete what he
has started (Php 1:6) and will take them to Himself in glory (Jn 14:3,
1Th 4:17, 18-note,
1Co 15:51, 52, 53).
Asceticism is not the way to
faith in Jesus is.
Thus Paul comes to focus on the
call of the church to know God's will and to reflect what it means to
belong to the "new man (see
So ultimately Colossians is about
the work of the Father in the Son on behalf of a people He calls to
manifest His message and presence on earth. This new community is to
realize that all the benefits God has already given are all that is
needed to accomplish the task of living a life that is honoring to
God (cp 2Pe 1:3, 4-note). Any suggestion that someone needs anything more than to
appropriate what Christ already makes available is a delusion
Blessing comes from God through the Lord Jesus Christ alone, and a
life that pleases God draws on what the Mediator (1Ti 2:5, He 8:6-note,
and Enabler (cp Php 4:13-note)
Theology of - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)
Paul Apple introduces Colossians 3:1-11 which he entitles
Focus on Follow Through.
Big Idea: The key to spirituality
is living out our
union with Christ.
Today we come to a very exciting
section of the Book of Colossians and yet a very humbling section. It
is exciting because Paul is ready to unfold for us the True Key to
Spirituality. He is making the transition from the more doctrinal
section of Colossians 1-2 where he had been teaching the Supremacy and
Sufficiency of Christ and warning against false approaches to
spirituality to the more practical section of Colossians 3-4. It is
humbling because we are brought face to face with the simplicity of
the Christian life and feel exposed by the large gap between our
positional sanctification and our practical sanctification … between
how God views us in
Christ and how consistently we are actually living....when we come
face to face with the simplicity of True Spirituality in terms of
living out our
union with Christ in His death and His resurrection we
are exposed and humbled . . . and yet excited at the same time
- We are already positionally sanctified
- We are destined for glory – no doubt about it
- We have the opportunity today to live out the life of Christ within
But we are in the midst of a constant Struggle (Gal 5:17-note,
2Cor 10:3, 4, 5-note,
2Cor 6:7, 1Pe 2:11-note,
1Ti 1:18, 6:12) that Requires Focus and
It requires a Putting off of the
and a Putting on of the
BEEN RAISED UP WITH
CHRIST: sunegerthete (2PAPI) to Christoi: (Col
Ro 6:9, 10-note,
Gal 2:19, Gal 2:20-note,
THE TRANSFORMING TRUTH OF
Notice that in Colossians 3:1 the indicative
mood (of the verb "raised" = this is a fact) precedes the
imperative mood ("keep seeking" = this is a command). The former (indicative)
describes the reality a believer's life, a truth which should motivate
the keeping of the command (imperative). Right belief
always a firm foundation for right (righteous) behavior. An understanding
and appropriation of a believer's death, burial and resurrection with
Christ is crucial to living out the supernatural Christ life (cp Gal 2:20-note). It is not just "Let
go and let God". Believers have a "holy debt" if you will, a solemn responsibility
(Php 2:12-note) because of
what Christ has accomplished on our behalf on the "Old Rugged Cross". And so
here at the beginning of the practical section Paul in essence
the sound doctrine which he had explained earlier...
(Believers) having been buried with Him
baptism (not speaking of water, but of our identification with
baptizo), in which you were also raised up with Him through
(i.e., when you first believed in Christ) in
of God, Who raised Him from the dead. And when you were
(spiritually) dead in your transgressions (Ep 2:1) and the uncircumcision of your flesh,
made you alive together with Him (past tense event), having forgiven us all our
transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting
of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it
out of the way, having nailed it to the cross...you have died with
Christ to the elementary principles ("ABC's") of the world... (Col
Writing to the Roman saints Paul
Therefore (because you have been
"baptized into Christ Jesus [and] have been baptized into His death"
we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that
as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so
we too might walk in newness of life. (Ro 6:4-note)
In his letter to the Ephesian
saints Paul explained that...
even when we were dead in our
transgressions (before we believed in Christ), (God) made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have
been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the
heavenly places, in Christ Jesus (Ep 2:5-note,
Horatius Bonar in his
excellent sermon on Colossians 3:1-4 says...
The condition, then, of a saint, is
one of certainty (Ed: "If" = certainty). That certainty is
this--he is risen with Christ. It is not that he ought to be risen, or
that he hopes to be risen--but that he has risen. This is the blessed
fact that forms the commencement of his history as a saint. This event
stands at the very threshold of his career; no, constitutes its
His life is the life of
a risen One.
His story is that of one who has
risen. He cannot tell of his change without telling of resurrection.
He cannot speak of his new course and conversation, without referring
to resurrection. He cannot account for the high level on which he
stands, or the privileges which encompass him, or the hopes that rise
before him, save by tracing all these back to this one fountain-head,
What, then, is the meaning of this
fact or event in the life of a saint, which forms the commencement of
his history? It cannot in any way be understood of the resurrection of
the body, which is the Church's hope. For that is altogether future;
and is, besides, connected with the second coming of the Lord (see 1Th
4:16, 1Co 15:51,52, See discussion of
The Two Resurrections - "First" and
"Second" - on a timeline),
whereas this is connected with His first. The privilege or blessing,
pointed at by the apostle here, is something past, something which had
commenced when they believed (Ro 6:4, 5-note,
Col 2:12, 13-note);
whereas the resurrection of the body is still a thing for which we
wait and long. (Colossians 3:1-4 The
Risen Christ and the Things Above).
Go up, reluctant heart,
Take up thy rest above;
Arise, earth-clinging thoughts;
Ascend, my lingering love.
LOOKING up for the Spirit through
is the only effectual attitude for obtaining love to God.
Raised up with
sun = together +
egeiro = to raise) which means to raise together (used also in Col
2:12-note; Eph 2:6-note).
Aorist tense indicates our resurrection with Christ is a past
completed action, which was reckoned true in our life the
moment we by grace thru faith received Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord (Col 2:12-note). We were raised
spiritually when Christ was raised physically and this identification
(because we are now in an everlasting, unbreakable
covenant with our Lord)
is the foundation truth for our new spiritual position and our
new power to walk
in newness of life (Ro 6:4-note).
Have been raised up with is also in the
signifies the power to bring about our resurrection was from outside
of us, specifically from God.
Note that sunegeiro uses the prefix sun
This may seem to be a small point but it conveys a profound truth because sun
[word study] in contrast
with meta speaks of an intimate
irrevocable association with another, in this case with the risen and
exalted Christ. Can you see the implications if our life is intimately
bound with Christ? Clearly His infinite, inexhaustible resurrection
power is available to all believers! Oh, how often do we life like
spiritual paupers, when we are children of the Almighty God and have
access to all the resources of the King of kings!
Lord we pray that "the eyes of
(our) heart may be enlightened, so that (we) may know what is...the
surpassing greatness of (Your) power (see what this power
did in Ep 1:20, 21) toward us who believe." Amen (Eph 1:18, 19-note)
The internal (eternal) change
wrought by our co-resurrection with Christ should lead to an external
change. If not then perhaps we need to ponder 2Cor 13:5-note.
Our holy position should show itself to be the "real thing" by
our holy practice (direction not perfection).
Emphasizing our new life in Christ
Paul explained to the Galatians that...
through the Law I died to the Law,
that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ (perfect
= past completed act with present
continuing effect/result connoting permanence of our
co-crucifixion. In short, we cannot be "un" crucified! Another strong evidence
against the false teaching that you can lose your salvation!); and it is
no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now
live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and
delivered Himself up for me. (Gal 2:19,20-note)
Spurgeon compares our co-resurrection to the metaphor of a seed
The buried seed rises from the
ground, but not as a seed, for it puts forth green leaf, and bud, and
stem, and gradually develops expanding flower and fruit, and even so
we wear a new form (2Cor 5:17-note),
for we are renewed after the image of him that created us in
righteousness and holiness...There
was corruption in our mind and it was working irresistibly towards
every evil and offensive thing. In many the corruption did not appear
upon the surface, but it worked within; in others it was conspicuous
and fearful to look upon. How great the change! For now the power of
corruption within us is broken, the new life has overcome it, for it
is a living and incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth for ever (1Pe
Corruption is upon the old nature, but it cannot touch the new, which
is our true and real self.
Is it not a great thing to be purged of the
filthiness which would have ultimately brought us down to
where the fire unquenchable burns, and the worm undying feeds upon the
Let us think of this (our spiritual resurrection with
Christ), for our Lord did not have his head quickened while his feet
remained in the sepulcher; but he rose a perfect and entire man, alive
throughout. Even so have we been renewed in every part (Ed: Our
position). We have
received, though it be but in its infancy, a perfect spiritual life:
we are perfect in Christ Jesus (Positionally speaking - cp Col 2:10-note). In our inner man our eye is opened,
our ear is awakened, our hand is active, our foot is nimble: our every
faculty is there, though as yet immature, and needing development, and
having the old dead nature to contend with....
On the day of our
quickening (our new birth, our regeneration) we bid farewell to spiritual death, and to the sepulcher
wherein we slept under sin’s dominion (Ro 6:11-note).
Farewell, thou deadly love of
we have done with thee!
Farewell, dead world, corrupt world;
have done with thee!
Christ has raised us. Christ has given us eternal
life. We forsake for ever the dreary abodes of death, and seek the
heavenly places. Our Jesus lives, and because he lives we shall live
also, world without end. (References added) (Excerpt from
the Risen Christ)
Spurgeon goes on to describe
the implications of our resurrection with Christ...
I. OUR SPIRITUAL RISING WITH
The “if” is used logically, not theologically, by way of argument, and
not by way of doubt.
1. We were dead in sin, but having
believed in Christ we have been quickened by the Holy Ghost, and we
are dead no longer. We remember the first sensation of life, how it
seemed to tingle just as drowning persons when coming back to life
suffer great pain. Conviction was wrought in us, and a dread of
judgment, and a sense of condemnation, but these were tokens of life,
but that life gradually deepened until the eye was opened, and the
restored hand stretched itself out, the foot began to move in the way
of obedience, and the heart felt the sweet glow of love within.
2. There has been wrought in us a
wonderful change. Before regeneration our soul was as our body will be
when it dies.
(1) Sown in corruption. In some
cases it did not appear on the surface; in others it was something
fearful to look upon. Now the new life has overcome it, for it is an
incorruptible seed, and liveth for ever.
(2) In dishonour. Sin is a shameful
thing; but “behold what manner of love” (1Jn 3:1). “Since thou wast
precious in my sight,” etc. “Unto you which believe He is an honour.”
(3) In weakness. When we were the
captives of sin we could do nothing good; but “when we were without
strength in due time Christ died for the ungodly. Now we know the
power of His resurrection” (John 1:12; Php 4:13).
(4) A natural body. Aforetime we
were natural men, and discerned not the things of the Spirit of God.
Now a spirit has been created in us which lives for spiritual objects.
3. In consequence of receiving this
life and undergoing this change the things of the world become a tomb
to us. To a dead man a tomb is as good a dwelling as he can want; but
the moment he lives he cannot endure it.. So when we were natural men
earthly things contented us.
(1) A merely outward religion
satisfied us; a dead form suited a dead soul. Judaism pleased those
who put themselves under its yoke; traditions, ordinances make pretty
furniture for a dead man’s chamber; but when eternal life enters the
soul they are flung off. A living man demands such garments as are
suitable for life.
2. Merely carnal objects become as
the grave to us, whether sinful pleasures or selfish gains. They are
as a coffin to the renewed man: he cries for liberty.
4. We are wholly raised from the
dead in a spiritual sense. Our Lord did not have His head quickened
while His feet were in the sepulchre. So we have been renewed in every
part. We have received, although it be in its infancy, a perfect life
in Christ Jesus; our ear is awakened, our eye opened, our feet nimble.
5. We are so raised that we shall
die no more. “Christ being raised, death hath no more dominion,” etc.
II. LET US EXERCISE THE NEW MAN
IN SUITABLE PURSUITS.
1. Let us leave the sepulchre.
(1) The vault of a mere outward
religion, and worship God in Spirit and in truth.
(2) The vault of carnal enjoyments.
These ought to be as dead things to the man who is risen with Christ.
2. Let us hasten to forget every
evil as our Lord hastened to leave the tomb. He made the three days as
short as possible;. so let there be no lingering and hankering after
3. As our Lord spent a short season
with His disciples, we are to spend our forty days in holy service.
(1) In greater seclusion from the
world and greater nearness to heaven.
(2) In testimony, even as He
manifested Himself, to the resurrection power of God.
(3) In comforting the saints.
(4) In setting everything in order
for the furtherance of His kingdom.
4. Let our whole minds ascend to
heaven with Christ; not a stray thought.
(1) Because we need heavenly
things, prize them, and hope to gain them.
(2) After heavenly things, faith,
(3) Heavenly objects — the glory of
God, not your own; the good of man.
(4) Heavenly joys. Your treasure is
above, let your hearts be with it.
5. What a magnet Christ should be.
Where should the wife’s thoughts be but with her absent and beloved
(1) Christ is sitting, for His work
is done; rise and rest with Him.
(2) At the right hand of God, in
the place of honour and favour.
III. LET THE NEW LIFE DELIGHT
ITSELF WITH SUITABLE OBJECTS.
“Have a relish for things above”; “study them industriously”; “set
your mind on them.”
What are they?
1. God Himself. “Delight thyself in
the Lord.” What is all the world if He be gone; and if you have Him,
what though all the world be gone?
2. Jesus who is God, but truly man.
Meditate on His Divine Person, His perfect work, etc.
3. The New Jerusalem of the Church
4. Heaven, the place of holiness
after sin, of rest after work, of riches after poverty, of health and
life after sickness and death. (Read
Spurgeon's full sermon on Col 3:1-2 Following the Risen Christ)
Everett Harrison entitles
this section "ATTACHMENT TO CHRIST (Col 3:1–4)"
Although the watershed of the
epistle has been reached, a hinge, then, binds what follows to what
has gone before. Not without justice W. R. Nicholson entitles this
paragraph “the true asceticism.” As pointed out in chapter 2, the
false asceticism finds its fleshly gratification in its rigors toward
the body; and this gratification, as an expression of pride and
superiority, is just as reprehensible as the baser forms of physical
indulgence. In the proper sense of the term, Christian life is the
other-worldly life, for it finds in the contemplation of the celestial
the inspiration and strength to manifest a transformed experience
while still a part of the terrestrial scene. But this celestial
outlook is no mere stargazing. It is the uplifting of the eyes of the
heart to Christ, who has now returned to His heavenly home. This
preoccupation with “things which are above” is not born of
wistfulness, as though one can find relief from the pressures of the
world only by looking to a better world. It is not an effort to detach
oneself, to find escape. Rather, it is the attitude found in Christ
during the days of His flesh, who lived in the bosom of the Father
even as He continued His strenuous labors among the children of men.
The heavenly realm belongs to the saints; they have their citizenship
there (Phil 3:20ASV). Their resurrection with Christ, which Paul
states as a fact rather than something clouded by uncertainty (cf. Col
2:12), would be meaningless if it did not involve participation in the
heavenly, glorified life of the Saviour with ultimate union in the
future, despite the present separation. But life in this world is not
conducive to the maintenance of this heavenly tie, so that some
resolution is needed—“seek those things which are above.” Lest
one stray into contemplation of glories not yet revealed, rivaling the
false teachers in their visions, the apostle at once directs attention
to Christ seated “on the right hand of God.” His position
attests His finished work (Heb 1:3) and proclaims His dignity and
power (Ps 110:1–2; Phil 2:9–11). So the seeking of things above is not
to be confused with aspiration after the so-called higher things of
life idealistically considered, however legitimate they may be;
but rather it points to the things that belong to resurrection life.
(Ed: "the highest life!") Christians are not immune to the pull
of the temporal and material. They need to be seeking all the time the
things that belong to the kingdom of God and His righteousness lest
they be caught up in worldly pursuits that rob them of spiritual peace
and power. (Colossians-
Everyman's Bible Commentary- Christ All-Sufficient - page 74)
D L Moody - I have known men
who have been up in balloons, and they have told me that when they
want to rise higher they just throw out some of the sand with which
they ballast the balloon. Now, I believe one reason why so many people
are earthly-minded and have so little of the spirit of heaven, is that
they have got too much ballast in the shape of love for earthly joys
and gains; and what you want is to throw out some of the sand, and you
will rise higher.
C. H. Spurgeon - On board
iron vessels it is a common thing to see a compass placed aloft, to be
as much away from the cause of aberration as possible; a wise hint to
us to elevate our affections and desires; the nearer to God, the less
swayed by worldly influences.
In his devotional entitled RISEN
WITH CHRIST from Our Daily Walk F B Meyer writes...
IF! SOME one will say, "He, there's
the rub! I'm afraid that is not true of me; my life is sinful and
sorrowful; there are no Easter chimes in my soul, no glad fellowship
with the Risen Lord; no victory over dark and hostile powers." But if
you are Christ's disciple, you may affirm that you are risen in Him!
With Christ you lay in the grave, and with Christ you have gone forth,
according to the thought and purpose of God, if not in your feelings
and experience. This is distinctly taught in Eph 2:1-10 and Romans 6:1-10.
The whole Church (including all who believe in our Lord Jesus) has
passed into the light of the Easter dawn (Ed: raised to walk in
a brand new way of life they had heretofore never been able to
experience!); and the one thing for you
and me, and all of us, is to begin from this moment to act as if it
were a conscious experience, and as we dare to do so we shall have the
Notice how the Apostle insists on this: "You died, you were raised
with Christ, your life is hid with Christ. Give yourself time to think
about it and realize it."
The Cross of Jesus stands between you and the constant appeal of the
world, as when the neighbours of Christian tried to induce him to
return to the City of Destruction. This does not mean that we are to
be indifferent to all that is fair and lovely in the life which God
has given us, but that the Cross is to separate us from all that is
selfish, sensual, and savoring of the lust of the flesh, the lust of
the eyes, and the pride of life (1John 2:15-note,
Set your mind
imperative) on things above
"As a man thinks in his
heart, so is he." (Pr 23:7KJV)
How many of us even try to guard our
thoughts. The door of our heart stands wide open to the world, the
flesh and the devil, with no control of what comes into our mind. Have
we ever considered asking God by His Holy Spirit to help us control our thoughts,
so that we might think upon holy things, the things that are true and
honorable and of good
report, a wonderful change would pass over our life (Php 4:7-note,
Realize that Christ is your life
He is in you!
See to it that nothing
hinders the output of His glorious indwelling. Never mind if the world
of men misunderstand you. Some day your motives and reasons Hill be
manifested (Col 3:4-note).
PRAYER - Grant, most gracious God, that we may love and seek Thee
always and everywhere, and may at length find Thee and for ever hold
Thee fast in the life to come. AMEN.
THE RESURRECTION IN THE
A PROOF, A PATTERN, A POWER, A PROMISE, A PLEDGE
W. H. Griffith Thomas summarizes
The apostle first calls attention
to his readers having been "raised together with Christ" (ASV). The
English word "if" is employed here in its sense of "since"--"in view
of," and the verb is in the indicative mood, so that Paul is clearly
assuming this resurrection as a fact, admissive of no doubt. That is
to say, these Christians were raised spiritually when Christ was
raised physically; and this identification was the foundation of their
spiritual position. The resurrection is
variously presented in the New Testament as at once a proof, a
pattern, a power, a promise, and a pledge. It is the proof of
our acceptance of Christ's death and of our acceptance with Him (Ro
4:24, 25-notes): it is to be
pattern of our holy life (Ro 6:4-note); it is also the
power for Christian character and service (Eph
1:18, 19, 20- see
20); it contains
promise of our own physical resurrection (1Th
4:14-note); and it is the
pledge of our life hereafter (Jn
14:19). In the present
passage our resurrection is associated with Christ's because we are
united with Him in such a way that, whatever He did, we are regarded
by God the Father as having done also (Col 2:12-note;
THE POWER TO
Death to self occurred in Romans 6 (Ro 6:6-note) yet the call is to daily death to self
as a lifestyle. Death to self is emphasized by the Lord Jesus often
(Mt 16:25; Mk 8:35; Lk
9:24;17:33; Jn 12:25). The same truth is also
stressed by Paul (Ro 12:1-note,
2Ti 2:11, 12-note;
Php 2:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12-
2:9; 10; 11;
Dying to self and living unto God is the very essence of
a truly blessed and fulfilling life in this world and that to come. Paul
is teaching that death with Christ involves also participation in His
resurrection life which releases into the believer’s life a power that
is more than adequate as a check against the appetites and attitudes
of the lower nature
(contrast Col 2:23-note).
C. H. Spurgeon in a sermon on Colossians 3:1 entitled "Following
the Risen Christ" emphasizes the critical importance of the
resurrection of Christ
resurrection of our divine Lord from the dead is the corner-stone of
Christian doctrine. Perhaps I might more accurately call it the
key-stone of the arch of Christianity, for if that fact could be
disproved the whole fabric of the gospel would fall to the ground. If
Jesus Christ be not risen then is our preaching vain, and your faith
is also vain; ye are yet in your sins. If Christ be not risen, then
they which have fallen asleep in Christ have perished, and we
ourselves, in missing so glorious a hope as that of resurrection, are
of all men the most miserable...Never
let us forget that all who are in him rose from the dead in his
rising. Next in importance to the fact of the resurrection is the
doctrine of the federal headship of Christ, and the unity of all his
people with him. It is because we are in Christ that we become
partakers of everything that Christ did,-we are circumcised with him,
dead with him, buried with him, risen with him, because we cannot be
separated from him. We are members of his body, and not a bone of him
can be broken. Because that
is most intimate, continuous, and
indissoluble, therefore all that concerns him concerns us, and as he
rose so all his people have arisen in him...our
spiritual resurrection (Col 2:12, 13-note,
ours as soon as we are led by faith to believe in Jesus Christ...The
resurrection blessing is to be perfected by-and-by at the appearing of
our Lord and Savior (1Jn 3:2, 3), for then our bodies shall rise again
Torrey's topic "Resurrection"),
if we fall asleep before his coming. He redeemed our manhood in its
entirety, spirit, soul, and body, and he will not be content until the
resurrection which has passed upon our spirit shall pass upon our body
too. These dry bones shall live; together with his dead body they
shall rise...The buried seed
rises from the ground, but not as a seed, for it puts forth green
leaf, and bud, and stem, and gradually develops expanding flower and
fruit, and even so we wear a new form, for we are renewed after the
image of him that created us in righteousness and holiness." (References
HERE for complete sermon)
THE THINGS ABOVE: ta ano zeteite (2PPAM):
8:23, Gal 4:26, Php
3:14, Mt 6:20, Ro 12:1,2 Mt 6:33, Mt 7:7 Mt 13:45,Ps 16:11; 17:14,15;
25:14, 73:25,26; Pr 15:24; Lk 12:33; Ro 8:6; 2Co 4:18;
Heb 11:13,14, 15,16)
All your aims must center in
heaven, where reigns the Christ who has thus exalted you, enthroned on
God’s right hand (Lightfoot)
things above (507)(ta
is an adverb of place and means
higher in place, a position above another position, and used
figuratively of heaven (Jn 8:23, Gal 4:26, Php 3:14, Col 3:1,2), of
the direction upward (Lxx of Ex 20:4, Dt 4:39; when Jesus prayed Jn
11:41ESV, the sky Acts 2:19, figuratively of a root growing He 12:15).
Ano is the root of the more "famous" adverb anothen (ano
+ -then = from) used by Jesus in John 3:3 speaking of
men's need to be born "from above".
Notice that this phrase is placed
first in the Greek sentence for emphasis (and to contrast with
the earthly things the false teachers were propagating). In addition
Paul repeats this phrase the things above (ta ano) in the next
verse (Col 3:2) (See more discussion of
things above). Clearly, he wants believers to view all of life from
a heavenly perspective rather than earthly perspective. The text is more literally rendered...
"the things above,
direction of our life is now to be heavenward.
In giving the
cure for anxiety and worry Jesus told His listeners to...
(same verb as in Col 3:1 - zeteo - also in the
= calls for this to be one's
lifestyle) first His kingdom (and by implication the "King"!) and His
righteousness (for believers who have His imputed righteousness, this
refers to "imparted" righteousness, or right living before God and
man), and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33-note)
tightly to what is eternal,
but loosely to what is temporal.
And so believers
are first and foremost to seek Christ (in His Word) and then to seek
to be pleasing to Him in thought, word and deed.
As the fire
mounts upwards to its proper place, and as the needle still trembles
till it stands at the north; so the soul, once inflamed with the
heavenly fire, and acquainted with her first original, cannot be at
rest until it finds itself in that comfortable way which certainly
leads homewards. (T. H. Leary.)
A T Robertson
commenting on the things above notes that these are...
The upward things" (cf. Php 3:14-note),
the treasure in heaven (Mt 6:20-note).
Paul gives this ideal and goal in place of merely ascetic rules.
- The word "above" is anō.
Kata means "down," and, "above, a higher place." The reference is to
heavenly things. The word is defined as to the location to which it
refers by the words, "where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God."
That is a place, heaven itself, where a glorified Man, Himself God the
Son, is seated, His work of salvation finished.
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
R Kent Hughes
points out that...
Things above" were not material,
but rather have to do with Christ's sovereign reign over the universe
as he fills the universe with his power. They include his character,
his presence, his heavenly joys. We are not to be seeking heavenly
geography, but the One who dwells there.
R. K. Colossians and Philemon: The Supremacy of Christ: Crossway Books
alludes to the things above asking...
Does Paul suggest that the
Christian is to become heavenly minded, losing sight of anything on
earth? Does he mean that the Christian is to stretch his mind in
contemplation of what might be present in heaven? The language is
quite clear. Your pursuit is above, that is, it is to be spiritual
in nature. You are to be living with an eye toward eternity.
But the focal point of all of your life is to be Him who is seated
at the Father's right hand, Jesus Christ. The Christian's active
sanctification is for his life to be shaped by the life of
Christ, his tongue to reflect the gracious speech of Christ, and his
service to be selfless like that of Christ. (Sermons
from the Epistle to the Colossians)
H C G Moule comments on seeking those
As the exile seeks home (Heb 11:14),
or as a thing gravitating seeks its center. The precept bears full on
the problem last in view, how to meet "the indulgence of the flesh."
It is best met by the looking-away of the soul, heavenward,
Christ-ward, in the recollection of its new and eternal life in Him.
The "Things above" are thus sought both as the goal of hope and the
antidote to temptation.
MacArthur explains the things above this way...
The things above refers to
the heavenly realm and hones in on the spiritual values that
characterize Christ, such as tenderness, kindness, meekness, patience,
wisdom, forgiveness, strength, purity, and love.
When believers focus on the realities of heaven, they can then truly
enjoy the world their heavenly Father has created. As the writer of
the hymn "I Am His, and He Is Mine" expressed it,
Heav'n above is softer blue
Earth around is sweeter green!
Something lives in every hue
Christless eyes have never seen:
Birds with gladder songs o'erflow
Flow'rs with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as now I know,
I am His, and He is mine.
When Christians begin to live in
the heavenlies, when they commit themselves to the riches of the
Jerusalem above (Gal. 4:26), they will live out their heavenly values
in this world to the glory of God.
J. Colossians. Chicago: Moody Press
The Wycliffe Bible Commentary says...
Above and below
(or on the earth) in the writings of Paul and John do not primarily
indicate spatial contrasts, although this mode of expression naturally
is involved in reference to Christ and to heaven. The terms express a
crucial contrast in the temporal relationship—the old age and the new
age. In a.d. 30 the new age burst into history in Christ's
resurrection. But Christ, in whom the new age presently inheres, is
above, whereas the world continues in the death grip of the old age.
Christians at present exist "above," that is, in the new age, only "in
Christ" and through the indwelling Holy Spirit. But their corporate
existence in Christ is no less a reality than their individual
existence. A Christian's citizenship is in the "Jerusalem which is
above" (Gal 4:26), and this demands a continuing transformation of his
mind and will to that reality. Conformation to the ritual, the
ceremony, the mediatorial 'powers' of the old age is a denial of one's
corporate resurrected life with Christ.
"Since you are risen with Christ,
set your mind (affection) on things above!" (Col 3:1)
In other words, let your earthly practice be worthy of your heavenly
position. Once you were dead in sin (Ep 2:1, 2-note
but now you are dead to sin. Christ is in you, the hope of
glory (Col 1:27-note),
and someday soon that glory will be revealed (Col 3:4-note).
In brief, Paul says,
"Live up to what Christ has done
This simple principle of Christian
living is more powerful than all the rules and regulations men can
devise. "You are made full in Him" (Col 2:10-note);
now live out that fullness in daily life.
Oriental, Greek, and Roman
religions said little or nothing about personal holiness. A person
could bring sacrifices, say prayers, and go away from the altar to
commit terrible sins, and nobody would think he or she was
inconsistent. Not so with Christianity!
The new life within
demands a new life without.
Since we have died with
Christ, we should put to death ("mortify," Col 3:5-note)
impure behavior (see Ro 6:10-note,
Ro 6:12, 13-note).
"Don't live the way you used to live," Paul cautions, "the way the
unsaved crowd lives. Christ is your life, and you died with
Him. Now, let His life show through you day by day.
W. W. Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament. Wheaton,
Ill.: Victor Books)
Oh! how often we need to be called
to this, for the flesh is groveling, and it holds down the spirit; and
very often we are seeking the things below as if we had not yet
attained to the new life and did not know anything about the
resurrection power of Christ within the soul. Now, if it is that you,
believers, have risen with Christ, do not live as if you had never
done so, but “seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth
on the right hand of God.”
Your Lord and Master has gone up to
heaven. You profess that he represents you, and that you have gone up
there in him and with him. Then do not seek the things that are down
here below, the things of earth; but live where your life has gone.
Where your treasure is, there let your heart be also. “Seek those
things which are above.”
The NLT Study Bible reminds us that
Christians live on earth, but because they have been raised with
Christ, their true being is oriented to the spiritual realm over which
Christ rules. In contrast, the rules and regulations of the false
teachers focused on the earthly realm (Col 2:22-note).
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus has
become a familiar hymn, that has been widely used in Christian circles
to challenge believers musically, with the necessity of making Christ
the paramount priority in their lives, and then living each day with
eternity's values in view.
Helen H. Lemmel (See
Hymn Stories - Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus)
the writer of the
Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus (sung by
wrote that one day in
1918 a missionary friend gave her a tract entitled "Focused." The
pamphlet contained these words:
"So then, turn your eyes upon Him,
look full into His face and you will find that the things of earth
will acquire a strange new dimness"
These words so deeply impacted
Helen Lemmel that she was unable to dismiss them from her mind. She
goes on to explain...
Suddenly, as if commanded to stop
and listen, I stood still, and singing in my soul and spirit was the
chorus, with not one conscious moment of putting word to word to make
rhyme, or note to note to make melody. The verses (play the hymn
below) were written the same week, after the usual manner of
composition, but none the less dictated by the Holy Spirit.
It is easy for those who profess to
be faithful followers of Christ to get caught up in the "things of
earth" so that our heavenly vision and values become dim and dull.
This even when we are active in our Christian activities, because we
become so involved in "doing" for God rather than "being" with Him.
Perhaps you need to take a moment, to reread these opening verses of
Colossians 3 and then as an act of worship sing the hymn below to your
Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!
His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!
Related Resource: See Anne
Ortlund's 40+ topics in her devotional
Fix Your Eyes on Jesus
Rich Cathers - There’s an old phrase, “Don’t be so heavenly-minded that you’re no
earthly good”. I think that there can be a time when a person gets
caught up in religiousness so much that this can be true. But I
think that if we are going to be “heavenly-minded” in the way that
Paul is talking about, we’ll be extremely good on earth. I think that
too often we’re simply too “earthly-minded” to be of any
"Seek" means to pursue, search for, endeavor to obtain, desire to
possess. If a legalist were writing this he would write "Don't ...."
but Paul writes "Seek . . .Talk about a true "Seeker Service": not a
bunch of lost, dead, sinners separated from God with no inclination
towards God unless in His grace and mercy He sovereignly draws them to
Himself …No we believers are here today in the true Seeker Service:
those with the life of Christ within us seeking to lay hands in our
experience on those precious spiritual truths and relationships that
we have full rights to by virtue of our resurrection with Christ
counters the contemporary idea of "seeking":
It has been customary to speak of the concerned unbeliever as a
‘seeker’. But the normal biblical perspective is to see unbelievers,
in relation to the things of God as characteristically seeking after
either ‘wisdom’, or ‘signs’, as means of establishing their own
righteousness before God. These searches are not likely to succeed! In
biblical teaching there is no human ‘search for God’; the story is,
from the beginning, that of a divine search for those who hide from
their Maker. When men and women begin their search for God and his
forgiveness, it is evidence of a prior work of God.”
The symbol of a Christian's life
ought to be "thumbs up". Not only does this symbol mean "all is well,"
but it also, by it's very direction (up), is a reminder to us all of
where our true resource is to be found.
O the things of this world are a
Having values that tarnish and fade;
But true treasures of joy with abundant reward,
Are the ones which in Heaven are laid!
He weighs things well, and makes
Who keeps eternity before his eyes!
(2212) (zeteo) means to seek after and strive for earnestly,
to strive to find something, to devote serious effort to realize one’s
desire or objective, to aim at, to try to obtain some state or
condition (cf Re 9:6-note)
sums up Paul's commands to keep seeking and setting...
You must not
only SEEK heaven;
you must also THINK heaven.
present tense calling for continual action or a lifestyle of seeking the
Active voice indicates that this seeking is a
choice of our will and God will not force us to take this action.
indicates we are commanded to exhibit this attitude of seeking,
remembering that God never commands us to do that He does not also
enable us to perform. And
how are we enabled? The
indwelling Holy Spirit is our ever present Source of power. We need to
arise each morning and jettison all reliance of self-effort and throw
ourselves on the supernatural power provided by the Spirit. There is
no other way to obey the "imperatives" in Scripture. As an aside,
every imperative (specifically those directed to believers) is our
invitation to trust in God's provision of the Spirit of His Son, Who
alone can cause us to obey the commands. The road to the heavenly realm is through
Christ, not through asceticism or mysticism. It is only because we
have been actually raised with Christ that we can now seek
those things which are above. Preoccupation with the eternal
realities that are ours in Christ is to be the pattern of the
believer’s life and implies it will not be "easy" or "automatic" but
requires diligence and persevering effort.
seek the things above involves giving your attention to Jesus, giving
Him first place in everything, giving Him priority, desiring Him above
anything on earth, continually making a deliberate choice to follow
Him, to obey Him, to think about Him, to meditate on His life giving
Word, in order to find Him. (Proverbs 8:17) The things of Christ and
of heaven are to consume our life and mind. The new life in Christ
requires a completely new mental orientation.
begs the question - Upon
what are you setting your heart and mind beloved? The passing things
of this world (1Jn 2:17-note)?
A futile, empty, vapid, temporal, earthly focused way of life (1Pe
For a believer to live like this amounts to "spiritual insanity" for
as my wife so frequently reminds me when we break or lose something
material - "It's all going to burn anyway!"
None of us is
immune to the deception of becoming so focused on earthly things that
we begin to lose sight of heavenly things.
the Christian (should) see
everything in the light and against the background of eternity...He
(should) no longer live as if this world was all that mattered (Ed:
Excepting of course the souls of men still in the world); he (should)
see this world against the background of the large world of eternity.
Those who have been raised with
Christ must 'seek those things which are above'. Only a person who has
died and been born again can do that. It is a very persistent cliché
in Christian circles to refer to people who have not yet come to faith
in Christ as 'seekers'. This is not a biblically informed way
to describe such people. Paul writes elsewhere that, by nature, 'There
is none who seeks after God' (Ro 3:11-note).
If anything, rather than searching for God, unbelievers run away from
Him and search for excuses (cp Jn 3:19, 20, 21). Some go looking for
miraculous signs, while others seek wisdom (1Co 1:22, Jn 2:28, Mk
8:11, Mt 12:39, 40), but this is often a ploy to avoid real contact
with God. Ever since the first man hid himself in the garden (Ge 3:8)
and God came looking for him (Ge 3:9), mankind has been lost (Ro 5:12-note).
It is God who does the seeking (cp Lk 19:10). For those who are trying
to hide, spirituality can be a very effective smokescreen. But once a
person has been taught by grace to value Christ, he will seek more
contact with Him.
Incidentally, it is also worth noting that Paul did not encourage his
readers to 'seek those things which are within'. It is often
supposed that the way to enlightenment involves looking inside
ourselves. The way of the mystic can seem very attractive. But the
only light that it offers is like those lanterns that used to be hung
out on the cliff tops of the Cornish coast by wreckers to lure ships
into danger. That way lies shipwreck. The human heart, human instincts
and motives have all been fatally skewed by the Fall. There is no hope
of spiritual enlightenment or safety for those who go looking in that
direction. We must steer our course in the direction of the only true
and safe light, 'where Christ is'. In the Greek, the verb translated
'seek' means that we are to seek continually, with determination and
consistency. Sporadic and fitful seeking will not suffice. (Christ All
Sufficient: Colossians and Philemon Simply Explained)
This continual, ongoing process of seeking, suggested by the present
imperative, is to be the consequence of having "been raised up with
Christ." For Paul there was no reason for anyone to be "seeking the
things above" if he had not been raised with Christ. The road to the
heavenly realm was through Christ, not through asceticism or
Barnes says that
The argument here is, that since Christ is there, and since He is the
object of our supreme attachment, we should fix our affections on
heavenly things, and seek to be prepared to dwell with him.
F B Hole writes that
The counterpart to our identification with Christ in His death is our
identification with Him in His resurrection. The effect of the first
is to disconnect us from man’s world, man’s religion, man’s wisdom.
The effect of the other is to put us into touch with God’s world and
with all that is there. The first four verses of chapter III unfold
the blessedness into which we are introduced. (Hole, F B,
The apostle, having described our
privileges by Christ in the former part of the epistle, and our
discharge from the yoke of the ceremonial law, comes here to press
upon us our duty as inferred thence. Though we are made free from the
obligation of the ceremonial law, it does not therefore follow that we
may live any way we wish. We must walk the more closely with God in
all the instances of evangelical obedience. He begins with exhorting
them to set their hearts on heaven, and take them off from this world:
If you then have risen with
Christ. It is our privilege that we have risen with Christ; that
is, have benefit by the resurrection of Christ, and by virtue of our
union and communion with Him are justified and sanctified, and shall
be glorified. Hence he infers that we must seek those things which are
We must mind the concerns of
more than the concerns of this.
We must make heaven our scope and
aim, seek the favour of God above, keep up our communion with the
upper world by faith, and hope, and holy love, and make it our
constant care and business to secure our title to and qualifications
for the heavenly bliss.
And the reason is because Christ
sits at the right hand of God. He who is our best friend and our head
is advanced to the highest dignity and honour in heaven, and has gone
before to secure to us the heavenly happiness; and therefore we should
seek and secure what he has purchased at so vast an expense, and is
taking so much care about. We must live such a life as Christ lived
here on earth and lives now in heaven, according to our capacities.
we each need to ask ourselves is "What are we seeking?"
If for example you say you are too busy to do any regular Bible Study,
then you are too busy! Something is wrong with your priorities.
Parenthetically Paul is not referring to seeking the way the classic
Greeks sought...their search was for ''knowledge'' and involved a
philosophical investigation. The Gnostics would teach yes we are to
pursue "gnosis" but it doesn't necessarily make any difference how one
conducts their life.
What are you
Here's a three part test that will give a succinct summary of
what you are really seeking. The three part test involves your
checkbook, your calendar and your home.
Test - This shows what you do with your money, and therefore shows
what you truly value.
Test - What do you do with time? Your "day timer", outlook express
or calendar will very likely demonstrate that no matter how "busy" you
are, there are certain people or things for which you are still able
to find time.
The Home Test
- Look at the items you have accumulated over the years. What are
the things you have displayed?
The point is
that the things that we devote time and money to have captured our
minds and our hearts. Thinking about and being involved in those
things results in habit trails developing in our souls. We keep
returning to those thoughts. Do those thoughts take you to the
divine things, the things above? Obviously it is easier and more
natural to think about and love earthly things because we can see
them, hold them, collect them, etc. Yet that is exactly what we are to
do with the things of God... to prioritize the thoughts about the
things above. We must discipline ourselves for godliness (1Ti
so that cultivate a mindset which loves and thinks about what
God Word, about which the psalmist writes "Forever, O LORD, Thy word
is settled in heaven." (Ps 119:89-note).
As we let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly (Col 3:16-note)
we do we will find the Spirit renews our thinking focusing it more and
more on eternal things, not on the things on this earth which is
passing away (1Jn 2:17-note).
Outline and Study Bible emphasizes our need to comprehend the truth of
our risen life in Christ, reasoning that this is the only way we will
ever be able to truly live the Christian life...
How many times have you heard the
expression: "Don't put the cart before the horse"? This is a clever
saying telling us to do things in the right order. There are many
Christians who put the cart before the horse in their relationship
with Christ. They work towards the cross of Christ instead of
working away from it. (Ed: Jesus has obtained the Victory
at the Cross. Our goal and challenge is to learn to live in light of
His Victory). This kind of mindset boils down to this simple formula:
My work (my
obligation to God)
+ God's provision for me (His grace)
= The basis of Christianity
This is a false basis for
Christianity. This kind of life is simply based upon works. God has a
better plan for life than this. The basis of the believer's new life
for me (through His work on the cross)
+ My gratitude (I serve Him)
= The true basis of the believer's new life
"seek those things which are above"...
As the exile seeks home (He 11:14),
or as a thing gravitating seeks its centre. The precept bears full on
the problem last in view, how to meet "the indulgence of the flesh."
It is best met by the looking-away of the soul, heavenward,
Christ-ward, in the recollection of its new and eternal life in Him.
The "things above" are thus "sought" both as the goal of hope and the
antidote to temptation...Grace only can fix the "affection"
heavenward; but the Christian, none the less, is to use thought and
will in the matter. (Online)
“Seek those things which are above” - from sermon
C H Spurgeon
Oh seek to know on earth the peace of
heaven, the rest of heaven, the victory of heaven, the
service of heaven, the communion of heaven, the holiness
of heaven: you may have foretastes of all these; seek
after them. Seek, in a word, to be preparing for the
heaven which Christ is preparing for you. You are soon to
dwell above; robe yourselves for the great festival. Your
treasure is above, let your hearts be with it. All that
you are to possess in eternity is above, where Christ is;
rise, then, and enjoy it. Let hope anticipate the joys
which are reserved, and so let us begin our heaven here
below. If ye then be risen with Christ, live according to
your risen nature, for your life is hid with Christ in
The submarine is made to travel under the water. Yet, every submarine
is equipped with a periscope by which it seeks those things that are
above. It travels in the water, but the well-being of those in it
depends on a knowledge of what is above. We live in the world, but we
must set our minds (affections) on things above, for we are citizens
of a heavenly country. Look upon Christ and He will draw you upward.
J C Philpot
Devotional - How many there are even of those who
desire to fear God who are kept down by the world, and to
whom it has not lost its attractive power; who are held
fast, at least for a time, by worldly business, or
entangled by worldly people or worldly engagements. Their
partners in business or their partners in life; their
carnal relatives or their worldly children; their numerous
connections or their social habits; their strong passions
or their deep-rooted prejudices, all bind and fetter them
down to earth. There they grovel and lie amid, what Milton
terms, "The smoke and stir of this dim spot which men call
earth;" and so bound are they with the cords of their sins
that they scarcely seek deliverance from them, or ever
desire to rise beyond the mists and fogs of this dim spot
into a purer air, so as to breathe a heavenly atmosphere,
and rise up with Jesus from the grave of their
corruptions. But if, as members of his mystical body, they
are already risen with Christ, as it was not possible for
the Head to be held by death when God loosed the pains
thereof (Acts 2:24), so neither shall they ever be buried
in the grave of carnality and worldliness. They must rise
spiritually if they rose mystically. If interested in the
reality of Christ's resurrection, they must know the power
of Christ's resurrection.
- An article in a
San Francisco newspaper reported that a young man who once found a $5
bill on the street resolved that from that time on he would never lift
his eyes while walking. The paper went on to say that over the years
he accumulated, among other things, 29,516 buttons, 54,172 pins, 12
cents, a bent back, and a miserly disposition. But he also lost
something—the glory of sunlight, the radiance of the stars, the smiles
of friends, and the freshness of blue skies. I’m afraid that some
Christians are like that man. While they may not walk around staring
at the sidewalk, they are so engrossed with the things of this life
that they give little attention to spiritual and eternal values.
Perhaps they’ve gotten a taste of some fleeting pleasure offered by
the world and they’ve been spending all their time pursuing it. But
that is dangerous. When God’s children, who are “seated with Christ in
the heavenlies,” [Ep 2:6-note] give their affection and attention to a
world that is passing away [1Jn 2:17-note ], they lose the upward look.
Their perspective becomes distorted, and they fail to bask in heaven’s
sunlight. Taken up with the baubles of this world, they become beaten
down by the lusts of this world & end up as defeated, delinquent
Christians. Some like Demas who loved this present world (2Ti 4:10-note,
cp Jas 4:4-note)
proved by their love of this world where their true love lay! Our
temporal affections give a definite clue to our eternal destiny. Do
not be deceived! Buttons, pins, and pennies, but no treasures laid up
in heaven (Mt 6:24-note). The apostle Paul said, “If ye, then, be risen
with Christ, seek those things which are above” (Col. 3:1-note). To live
for the things of this world is to miss life’s best. Let’s set our
sights on the heights!
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI.
Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
He is certainly not pleading for an other worldliness in which the
Christian withdraws himself from all the work and activities of this
world and does nothing but contemplate eternity. Immediately after
this Paul goes on to lay down a series of ethical principles which
make it quite clear that he expects the Christian to go on with the
work of this world and to maintain all its normal relationships. But
there will be this difference-from now on the Christian will view
everything against the background of eternity and no longer live as if
this world was all that mattered. This will obviously give him a new
set of values. Things which the world thought important, he will no
longer worry about. Ambitions which dominated the world, will be
powerless to touch him. He will go on using the things of the world
but he will use them in a new way. He will, for instance, set giving
above getting, serving above ruling, forgiving above avenging. The
Christian's standard of values will be God's not men's.
Look around & be distressed.
Look inside & be depressed.
Look at Jesus & be at rest.
---Corrie Ten Boom
Commanded -Isaiah 55:6;
His Name -Psalms 83:16
His word -Isaiah 34:16
His face -Psalms 27:8; 105:4
His strength -1 Chronicles 16:11; Psalms 105:4
His commandments -1 Chronicles 28:8; Malachi 2:7
His precepts -Psalms 119:45,94
His kingdom -Matthew 6:33; Luke 12:31
His righteousness -Matthew 6:33
Christ -Malachi 3:1; Luke 2:15,16
Honour which comes from him -John 5:44
Justification by Christ -Galatians 2:16,17
The city which God has prepared -Hebrews 11:10,16; 13:14
By prayer -Job 8:5; Daniel 9:3
In his house -Deuteronomy 12:5; Psalms 27:4
Immediate -Hosea 10:12
Evermore -Psalms 105:4
While he may be found -Isaiah 55:6
With diligence -Hebrews 11:6
With the heart -Deuteronomy 4:29; 1Chr 22:19
In the day of trouble -Psalms 77:2
His being found -Dt 4:29; 1Chr 28:9; Pr 8:17; Je 29:13
His favour -Lamentations 3:25
His protection -Ezra 8:22
His not forsaking us -Psalms 9:10
Life -Psalms 69:32; Amos 5:4,6
Prosperity -Job 8:5,6; Psalms 34:10
Being heard of him -Psalms 34:4
Understanding all things -Proverbs 28:5
Gifts of righteousness -Hosea 10:12
Imperative upon all -Isaiah 8:19
Afflictions designed to lead to -Psalms 78:33,34; Hosea
None, by nature, are found to be engaged in -Ps 14:2; Ro
3:11; Lk 12:23,30
Specially exhorted to -Zephaniah 2:3
Desirous of -Job 5:8
Purpose, in heart -Psalms 27:8
Prepare their hearts for -2 Chronicles 30:19
Set their hearts to -2 Chronicles 11:16
Engage in, with the whole heart -2 Chronicles 15:12;
Early in -Job 8:5; Psalms 63:1; Isaiah 26:9
Earnest in -Solomon 3:2,4
Characterised by -Psalms 24:6
Is never in vain -Isaiah 45:19
Blessedness of -Psalms 119:2
Leads to joy -Psalms 70:4; 105:3
Ends in praise -Psalms 22:26
Promise connected with -Psalms 69:32
Shall be rewarded -Hebrews 11:6
Are gone out of the way of -Psalms 14:2,3; Romans 3:11,12
Prepare not their hearts for -2 Chronicles 12:14
Refuse, through pride -Psalms 10:4
Not led to, by affliction Isaiah 9:13
Sometimes pretend to -Ezra 4:2; Isaiah 58:2
Rejected, when too late in -Proverbs 1:28
They who neglect denounced -Isaiah 31:1
Punishment of those who neglect -Zephaniah 1:4-6
Asa -2 Chronicles 14:7
Jehoshaphat -2 Chronicles 17:3,4
Uzziah -2 Chronicles 26:5
Hezekiah -2 Chronicles 31:21
Josiah -2 Chronicles 34:3
Ezra -Ezra 7:10
David -Psalms 34:4
Daniel -Daniel 9:3,4
IS SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD: hou o Christos estin (3SPAI) en dexia tou theou
110:1; Mt 22:44; 26:64; Mk 16:19; Lk 22:69; Ac 7:55; Ro 8:34; Ep 1:20;
4:10; He 1:3,13;1:13, 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1Pet 3:22)
WHERE IS CHRIST
Christ is seated, - Both verbs "is" and "seated" are
indicating that this is Christ's continual position, the position of
supreme privilege and authority. Christ is ever dwelling, abiding at the right hand of His Father,
where He is ever ready to intercede for us (Ro 8:34-note;
And since we are seated in the heavenly places in Christ
Jesus (Ep 2:6-note),
in some inexplicably "mystical" way we too are seated at the right hand of God the Father
-- above all rule and
authority and power and dominion (which speaks of the demonic
hierarchy) in this age and the one to come (Ep
Eadie adds that
The region of spiritual death is a nether-world, that of life is an
elevated realm—the living not only rise, but they sit with Christ “in
the heavenly places....The image seems to be—the region of the dead is
beneath; they are let down to their final resting-place. Should, then,
a man rise from this dark and deep receptacle, and ascend to the
living world, would he set his desires on the gloom, and chill, and
rottenness, he had left behind him? Would he place the objects of his
search among the coffins, and the mean and creeping things that live
on putrefaction? Would he still seek for things below? At the very
idea and memory of that locality would not his spirit shudder? (Eadie,
John: Commentary on Paul's Epistle to the Colossians - Online - 1884)
Spurgeon comments on
Christ seated at the right hand of God:
What a magnet to draw us
towards heaven should this fact be, -that Christ sitteth at God’s
right hand. Where should the wife’s thoughts be when her husband is
away but with the absent and beloved one? You know, brethren, it is
not otherwise with us: the objects of our affection are always
followed by our thoughts. Let Jesus, then, be as a Great
note: lodestone: a naturally occurring rock consisting of nearly pure
magnetite & thus naturally magnetic)
drawing our meditations and affections towards Himself.
Let us rise and rest with Him. He is sitting on a throne. Observe His
majesty, delight in His power, and trust in His dominion. He is
sitting at the right hand of God in the place of honor and favor. This
is a proof that we are beloved and favored of God, for our
Representative has the choicest place, at God’s right hand. Let your
hearts ascend and enjoy that love and favor with Him. Take wing, my
thoughts, and fly away to Jesus. My soul, hast thou not often said,
“Woe’s me that I dwell in Meshach, and tabernacle in the tents of
Kedar: Oh that I had wings like a dove, that I might flee away and be
at rest” (Ps 55:6
Now, then, my soul, here are wings for thee. Jesus draws thee upward.
Thou hast a right to be where Jesus is, for thou art married to Him;
therefore let thy thoughts abide with Him, rest in Him, delight in
Him, rejoice in Him, and yet again rejoice. The sacred ladder is
before us; let us climb it until by faith we sit in the heavenlies
with Him. (Eph 2:6-NOTE)
May the Spirit of God bless these words to you.."
The right hand of - See the
Matthew 26:64 Jesus said to him,
"You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you
shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power,
and coming on the clouds of heaven."
Mark 14:62 And Jesus said, "I am; and you shall see the Son of Man
sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of
Mark 16:19 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was
received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.
Luke 22:69 "But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right
hand of the power of God."
Acts 2:33 "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God,
and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He
has poured forth this which you both see and hear.
Acts 7:55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into
heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the
right hand of God; (This is an incredible passage - surely it
implies Jesus rising from His seated position to welcome His
bondservant into glory!)
Acts 7:56 and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the
Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."
Romans 8:34 -
who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather
who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also
intercedes for us.
Hebrews 1:3 -
And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of
His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He
had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the
Majesty on high;
Hebrews 8:1 -
the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high
priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of
the Majesty in the heavens,
Hebrews 10:12 -
but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat
down at the right hand of God,
Hebrews 12:2 -
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for
the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and
has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
1Peter 3:22 -
who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after
angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.
Christ is at God's right hand, the place of
honor. The OT high priest could never sit in the Holy Place or the
Holy of holies because there was no chair. His work was never done
is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins
Larry Richards has an interesting
thought on the possible practical implications of the fact that Christ
is at the right hand of God and believers are seated with Christ in
the heavenlies (right now) stating that
This is the traditional symbol of royal power. In being raised with
Christ we have been given vast power for godly living.
><> ><> ><>
Heavenly People - Christians
are a "heavenly" people. That's what Paul meant when he told the
Ephesians that God has "raised us up together, and made us sit
together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6-note). We live
on earth, but "our citizenship is in heaven" (Phil. 3:20-note). We should
therefore "seek those things which are above," and store up treasures
in heaven. We see a graphic difference between an earthly minded
person and a heavenly minded person when we look at two Middle Eastern
tombs. The first is the burial place of King Tut in Egypt. Inside,
precious metal and blue porcelain cover the walls. The mummy of the
king is en-closed in a beautifully inscribed, gold-covered
sarcophagus. Although King Tut apparently believed in an afterlife, he
thought of it in terms of this world's possessions, which he wanted to
take with him.
The other tomb, in Palestine, is a simple rock-hewn cave believed by
many to be Jesus' burial site. Inside, there is no gold, no earthly
treasure, and no body. Jesus had no reason to store up this world's
treasures. His goal was to fulfill all righteousness by doing His
Father's will. His was a spiritual kingdom of truth and love. The
treasures we store up on earth will all stay behind when this life
ends. But the treasures we store up in heaven we'll have for eternity.
When we seek to be Christ-like in thought, word, and deed, we will live
like "heavenly" people. —P R Van Gorder (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Wise are those
who gear their goals to heavenly gains.
><> ><> ><>
the Resurrection - One Monday morning, following an Easter Sunday,
I picked up a newspaper and saw this headline: Entire World Celebrates
the Risen Christ. On the same page a number of smaller head-lines
appeared, and some of them read as follows: "Trouble in Vietnam."
"Blacks and Whites Clash in Chicago." "Egypt Issues Ultimatum to
Israel." There were also others equally discouraging. As I saw this,
I thought, how ironic! The major head-line declares: Entire World
Celebrates the Risen Christ, and then the balance of the page tells
how men and nations go on disregarding the blessings and grace which
Christ by His death and resurrection provides. What a way to
"celebrate the risen Christ!" Of course, the headline meant by
"celebrate" the fact that millions had flocked to churches all over
the world in a ritualistic and traditional manner; yet, that's just
what is wrong with the world today. There are great numbers who go
through the motions of religion, claiming to honor the risen Christ,
and yet they don't really believe in Him, either in the significance
of His death or in the literalness of His resurrection. It all becomes
a mockery. As a result, the world is slipping even farther on its way
But let's make this even more practical. Do you really believe that
Christ arose from the dead? It will make a difference in how you act,
what you say, and where you go. That's why Paul says in Colossians
3:1, 2, "If ye, then, be risen with Christ, set your affection on
things above, not on things on the earth."
The best way for true believers to "celebrate" the resurrection is to
realize that we not only have died with Christ, but also have risen
with Him, and that therefore — now that we are living with Him— it is
only natural that we should live for Him. (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
saved, but do I know Him
In His resurrection power?
Does some brightness of His glory
Fill me every day and hour? — I. G. Hallan
So let the
resurrected Christ live in you
that your life will be a rebuke to sin
wherever you go!
><> ><> ><>
VALUE OF SEEKING "HIGHER GROUND" - A pilot
was flying over the Arabian Desert and landed at an oasis
to refuel his plane. After taking to the air again, he was
soon over a mountainous area when he heard a scratching
noise behind him. It sounded as if some animal had gotten
into the fuselage of the plane. He became quite alarmed,
for he knew if an animal gnawed away at the electrical
wiring it could cause a serious malfunction. But there was
no place to land in that rugged territory. Then the pilot
had an idea. He accelerated the plane and nosed it upward.
Higher and higher into the sky he took it until the
gnawing and scratching ceased. Later, when he landed at an
airport, he found a huge desert rat that had crawled in
unnoticed when he had refueled at the oasis. But the
unwanted stowaway was dead! Accustomed as it was to the
desert, it could not live when the plane climbed to the
So it is in our spiritual life. As we
"draw near to God" (Jas. 4:8), we put to death our mean,
selfish, and sinful ways (Col 3:5). The old patterns of
living cannot survive. "Seek
those things which are above" (Col 3:1). The closer you
draw in your relationship to the Lord, the more you will
leave the world behind! (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
We live in the world,
but we must not let the
world live in us.
- The Scottish preacher John McNeill liked to tell
about an eagle that had been captured when it was
quite young. The farmer who snared the bird put a
restraint on it so it couldn’t fly, and then he
turned it loose to roam in the barnyard. It wasn’t
long till the eagle began to act like the chickens,
scratching and pecking at the ground. This bird that
once soared high in the heavens seemed satisfied to
live the barnyard life of the lowly hen.
One day the farmer was visited by a shepherd who
came down from the mountains where the eagles lived.
Seeing the eagle, the shepherd said to the farmer,
“What a shame to keep that bird hobbled here in your
barnyard! Why don’t you let it go?” The farmer
agreed, so they cut off the restraint. But the eagle
continued to wander around, scratching and pecking
as before. The shepherd picked it up and set it on a
high stone wall. For the first time in months, the
eagle saw the grand expanse of blue sky and the
glowing sun. Then it spread its wings and with a
leap soared off into a tremendous spiral flight, up
and up and up. At last it was acting like an eagle
Perhaps you have let yourself be comfortable in the
barnyard of the world—refusing to claim your lofty
position as God’s child. He wants you to live in a
higher realm. Confess your sins, and “seek those
things which are above.” You will soon be longing to
rise above the mundane things of this world. Like
the eagle, it’s not too late to soar to greater
heights again. – P R Van Gorder (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Christ set an
example of -Mt 4:8, 9, 10; 8:20; John 6:38; Romans
15:3; Philippians 2:6, 7, 8
A test of devotedness to Christ -Matthew 10:37,38;
In following Christ -Luke 14:27-33
In the warfare of saints -2 Timothy 2:4
To the triumph of saints -1 Corinthians 9:25, 26, 27
Ministers especially called to exercise -2
SHOULD BE EXERCISED IN
Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts -Romans 6:12;
Controlling the appetite -Proverbs 23:2
Abstaining from fleshly lusts -1Peter 2:11
No longer living to lusts of men -1Peter 4:2
Mortifying sinful lusts -Mark 9:43; Colossians 3:5
Mortifying deeds of the body -Romans 8:13
Not pleasing ourselves -Romans 15:1-3
Not seeking out own profit -1Corinthians 10:24,33;
13:5; Philippians 2:4
Preferring the profit of others -Romans 14:20,21; 1
Assisting others -Luke 3:11
Even lawful things -1 Corinthians 10:23
Forsaking all -Luke 14:33
Taking up the cross and following Christ -Matthew
Crucifying the flesh -Galatians 5:24
Being crucified with Christ -Romans 6:6
Being crucified to the world -Galatians 6:14
Putting off the old man which is corrupt -Ephesians
4:22; Colossians 3:9
Preferring Christ to all earthly relations -Matthew
8:21,22; Luke 14:26
Becomes strangers and pilgrims -Hebrews 11:13, 14,
15; 1 Peter 2:11
Danger of neglecting -Matthew 16:25,26; 1
Reward of -Matthew 19:28,29; Romans 8:13
Happy result -2 Peter 1:4
Abraham -Genesis 13:9; Hebrews 11:8,9
Widow of Zarephath -1 Kings 17:12, 13, 14, 15
Esther -Esther 4:16
Rechabites -Jeremiah 35:6,7
Daniel -Daniel 1:8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16
Apostles -Matthew 19:27
Simon, Andrew, James, and John -Mark 1:16, 17, 18,
Poor Widow -Luke 21:4
The Christians -Acts 2:45; 4:34
Barnabas -Acts 4:36,37
Paul -Acts 20:24; 1 Corinthians 9:19,27
Moses -Hebrews 11:24,25
Improvement - We are His workmanship, created in
Christ Jesus for good works. --Ephesians 2:10
If you've ever wanted to live in a castle, this is
your chance. The state of Saxony in eastern Germany
has a dozen castles for sale, each priced at one
German mark (which is just over half a US dollar).
There is a catch, however. According to a New York
Times article, the historic structures are in
advanced stages of disrepair, and buyers must
restore each property "consistent with its
historical architecture." Estimates for restoration
run from $7 million to $60 million per castle.
It has occurred to me that buying a fixer-upper's
nightmare gives us a picture of what God has done
for each of us in Jesus. Ephesians 2:1 bluntly
states our condition without Christ--"dead in
trespasses and sins." But the hopelessness of the
human condition never deters God's love. The
renovation and renewal the Father carries out in all
who receive His Son begins with new life. "But God,
. . . even when we were dead in trespasses, made us
alive together with Christ" (Ep 2:4, 5). And what
God purchased at the great cost of His only Son, He
gives to us freely (Ep 2:5, 6, 7, 8, 9).
Like derelict castles restored far beyond their
former glory, our transformed lives point others to
God, who is rich in mercy, grace, and love. --D C
Putting It Into Practice - Colossians 3:1
tells us we were "raised with Christ." Because of
that, what are some of the practical instructions we
are given on how to live? (Col 3:5-17).
receive Christ, God's work isn't over--it has just
agrees with the preceding devotional noting that...
IT IS very
evident that life for the Christian is intended to
be very different from that of the worldling (Ed:
Is my life really different? I'm not speaking of
"weird" but different? How? If not, why not?)
- different in nature, different in outlook,
different in interests, different in aim. His (the
Christian's) rightful ambition is indicated in our
present passage. It is described here as a
resurrection life - "If ye then be risen with
Christ," Col 3:1; and in Philippians 3:10 it is
perfected in "the power of His resurrection".
comments on Col 3:1...
are earth-bound, secular, materialists. They operate
in a world of taste, see and feel. They spend all
their time trying to keep body and soul together.
That is life to them. They do not know that there is
more to life than that. For the Christian, his life
is Christ (Col 3:4). This is far more than
existence. When we center our lives on Christ, life
takes on a purpose, a life worth living.
The Bible is the mind of God reduced to writing. We
have what we need for the Christian life in writing.
We have the Holy Spirit to help us dig it out.
Principle: Every spiritual position is for the
taking by faith and every spiritual function is for
the action of faith.
Application: God grounds our holy walk in two
spheres: 1. Godly living grounds in faith in
Christ’s accomplishments. 2. Godly living is
governed by a continual exercise of faith in
Christ’s accomplishments. God wants us to rest on
what Christ has done, not on what we do. Everything
we have before God is because we have been
incorporated in Christ at our salvation. The
Christian experience must relate to our position in
31b Bible Exposition Commentary)
J R Miller's
devotional on Colossians 3:1,2...
Paul reminds us
that those who believe on Christ—should live a risen
We live on the earth at present. We walk on earth's
streets. We live in material houses, built of
stones, bricks, or wood. We eat earth's fruits,
gathering our food from earth's fields, orchards and
gardens. We wear clothes woven of earthly fabrics.
We adorn our homes with works of art that human
hands make. We engage in the business of earth. We
find our happiness in the things of this life.
But there will be a life after this! We call it
heaven. We cannot see it. There is never a rift in
the sky, through which we can get even a glimpse of
it. We have in the Scriptures hints of its beauty,
its happiness, its blessedness. We know it is a
world without sorrow, without sin, without death.
Paul's teaching is that the Christian, while living
on the earth—ought to begin to live this heavenly
One day a friend sent me a splendid butterfly,
artistically mounted, known as the Lima Moth. This
little creature is said to be the most beautiful of
North American insects. Its color is light green
with variegated spots. In its caterpillar state, it
was only a worm. It died and entered its other or
higher state, as we would say—and then the worm
became a splendid butterfly.
This illustrates the two stages of a Christian's
life. Here we are in our earthly state. After this
will come the heavenly condition. "The things that
are above" belong to this higher, spiritual life.
But the Christian is exhorted to seek these higher
things—while living in this lower world. We belong
to heaven, although we are not yet living in heaven.
Paul presents the same truth in another form, when
he says, "Our citizenship is in heaven." Though we
are in this earthly world—but we do not belong here.
We are only strangers and pilgrims.
Since, then, you
have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on
things above, where Christ is seated at the
right hand of God. Set your minds on things above,
not on earthly things." Colossians 3:1-2
It is good always to look up. Thousands of
people dwarf their lives, and hinder the
possibilities of growth in their souls—by looking
downward. They keep their eyes ever entangled in
mere earthly sights, and miss the glories of the
hills that pierce the clouds, and of the heavens
that bend over them!
A story is told of a boy who one day found a gold
coin on the street. Ever after this—he kept his eyes
on the ground as he walked, watching for coins.
During a long lifetime, he found a good number of
coins—but meanwhile he never saw the flowers and the
trees which grew in such wondrous beauty everywhere;
he never saw the hills, the mountains, the sweet
valleys, the picturesque landscapes; he never saw
the blue sky. To him, this lovely world meant only a
dusty road, dreary and unbeautiful, merely a place
in which to look for coins.
This really is the story of the life of most people
(Ed: And sadly even the lives of many
believers!). They never (Ed: Or only rarely)
lift their eyes off the earth! They live only to
gather money, to add field to field, to scheme for
power or to find pleasure. Or, if their quest is a
little higher, it is still only for earthly things.
They never lift up their eyes to God! There is no
blue sky in their picture. They cherish no heavenly
visions. They are without God in the world.
THE DIZZINESS OF LIFE - In the early days when
people were crossing America on horseback, a party
of explorers came to the Susquehanna River. It was
the spring of the year and the waters were turbulent
and deep. Surveying the situation they decided they
would have to ford the river in spite of the flood.
As their horses waded out toward midstream, one of
the riders was almost overcome with dizziness.
Seeing the swirling waters on all sides, he began to
sway in the saddle. His companion, noting his
plight—and fearful lest he should fall from his
mount—shouted, "Look up, man! Look up!" The dizzy
traveler heeded the command and regained his
How much we are like that rider! Instead of resting
on the promises of God, we start viewing the
boisterous billows of life, the treacherous winds of
adversity, and our own inadequacy to cope with our
problems. The result? We become panic-stricken. As
soon as we look at anything else but the Lord and
His Word, we are hound to sink beneath the waves of
circumstances. The essential thing is to keep
looking up—to keep our eyes on Jesus. —H. G. Bosch
If you can't
find a way out
Try looking up!
We must be always
making choices in this world. We cannot take up
everything that lies in our path—and we ought to
choose the best things. Even among 'right things'
there is room for choice, for some right things are
better than others.
There are many Christians, however, who do not
habitually choose the best things—but second-rate
things. They labor for the food that perishes—when
they might labor for the food that endures unto
everlasting life. Even in their prayers, they ask
for temporal blessings, when they might ask for
They are like "the man with the muck-rake", in
Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress'—who only looks 'down'
and drags his rake among the weeds and worthless
rubbish—while over his head are crowns which he
might take into his hands! They are like Esau, who
sold his valuable birthright, for some lentil stew.
They toil for this world's vain things—when they
might have been laying up treasures in heaven!
We only have one life to live—and we ought
therefore to do the best we possibly can with it. We
pass through this world only once—and we ought to
gather up and take with us the things that will
truly enrich us—things we can keep forever!
It is not worth our while, to toil and moil, and
strive and struggle—to do things that will leave no
lasting results when our life is done—while there
are things we can do which have eternal
heart HEAVENLY. Colossians 3:1-2: "Seek those things
which are above." Keep your heart down with the
weight of humility—yet mount it up with the wing of
heavenly-mindedness. When the heart is touched with
the influence of the Spirit, it ascends. (From his
The Spiritual Watch)
Colossians 3:1,2 Watson writes) You shall never go
to heaven when you die—unless you begin heaven here.
Grace puts high thoughts, divine affections, a kind
of heavenly ambition into the soul.
Oh, how sordid is it for him who has his hope in
heaven—to have his heart upon the earth! The
'lapwing' insect has a crown on her head—and yet
feeds on dung. A fit emblem of those who have a
crown of profession on their head—yet feed with
eagerness on earthly vanities.
Let all the golden streams of worldly delights run
into the heart of a man—yet the heart is not full.
Strain out the quintessence of the creature—it turns
to froth, "Vanity of vanities!" But in God is sweet
satisfaction and contentment. He is a hive of
sweetness, a mirror of beauty, a storehouse of
riches! He is the river of pleasure, where the soul
bathes with infinite delight!
The bird, the higher it takes its flight, the
sweeter it sings. Just so, the higher the soul is
raised above the world—the sweeter joy it has. How
is the heart inflamed in prayer! How is it ravished
in holy meditation! These joys are those
honey-streams which flow out of the rock, Christ! He
has those tastes of God's love—which are the
beginnings of heaven. So sweet is this kind of life,
that it can drop sweetness into our troubles and
afflictions—that we shall be scarcely sensible of
them. It can turn the prison into a paradise; the
furnace into a festival; it can sweeten death. A
soul elevated by grace, can rejoice to think of
dying. Death will but cut the string, and the soul,
that bird of paradise, shall fly away and be at
rest. Happiness is but the cream of holiness! (A
Christian on Earth, Still in Heaven)
J C Ryle
sees a heavenly uplook as one sign of genuine
mark of the new birth is spiritual-mindedness.
We learn this from Paul's words to the Colossians:
"If then you were
raised together with Christ, seek the things that
are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand
of God. Set your mind on the things that are above,
not on the things that are on the earth. For you
died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God."
He who is born
again thinks first about the things which are
eternal; he no longer gives up the best of his heart
to this perishable world's concerns. He looks on
earth as a place of pilgrimage, he looks on heaven
as his home. And even as a child remembers with
delight its absent parents, and hopes to be one day
with them, so does the Christian think of his God
and long for that day when he shall stand in His
presence and go no more out. He cares not for the
pleasures and amusements of the world around him. He
minds not the things of the flesh—but the things of
the Spirit. He feels that he has a house not made
with hands eternal in the heavens, and he earnestly
desires to be there. "Lord," he says, "whom have I
in heaven but You? and there is nothing on earth
that I desire beside You." (Regeneration
- Part 3 - Click to read Ryle's eight "Marks of the
on Col 3:1-4 (Colossians Commentary)...
Encouragement of Ambition"
IT IS very
evident that life for the Christian is intended to
be very different from that of the worldling -
different in nature, different in outlook, different
in interests, different in aim. His rightful
ambition is indicated in our present passage. It is
described here as a resurrection life - "If ye then
be risen with Christ," 1; and in Philippians 3:10 it
is perfected in "the power of His resurrection". See
THE CERTAINTY OF
"If ye then be
risen with CHRIST," just as truly, "Since, then,
you have been raised with CHRIST". There is no doubt
about it. The apostle is writing to these people as
Christians; and of all such it is indubitably true
that these two basic certitudes abide. in view of
with CHRIST, thank GOD, they are dead men; and,
praise GOD, they are risen men. There is no "if"
about either case, in the sense that it is in
question, but the consequential "as," and "since".
But what is this
with Christ" that we speak of? It
results from an exercise of Identification by Faith.
We go, for elucidation, away back to Leviticus 1:4,
"He shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt
offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make
atonement for him". The same transaction is in Lev
4:24. Under the Old Covenant to which we have
already referred in these Studies, GOD made special
arrangements for the temporary dealing with men's
sins until the time came when it would be possible
to deal with them permanently and eternally. "For it
is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats
should take away sins," Hebrews 10:4-note
- those sacrifices were ordained to cover sins,
hence, "Blessed is he whose transgression is
forgiven, whose sin is covered," Psalm 32:1. That is
as far as the Psalmist could go, until "now once in
the end of the age hath He appeared to put away sin
by the sacrifice of Himself," Hebrews 9:26-note.
oft-repeated offerings of the Old Testament pointed
on to, and drew their significance from, the
once-for-all Sacrifice of CHRIST in the New
Testament. We shall meet those Old Testament
believers on exactly the same ground. We believers
will be there - the Cross of Calvary. "That by means
of [His] death, for the redemption of the
transgressions that were under the first testament,"
as Hebrews 9:15-note
has it. Or, as in Romans 3:25-note,
"Whom GOD hath set forth to be a propitiation
through faith in His Blood, to declare His
righteousness for the remission of sins that are
past, through the forbearance of God".
Well now, to come
back to Leviticus. By Divine appointment the
transgressor brought his animal victim as his
offering for sin. The priest will have most
carefully scrutinized the beast, to make sure that
there was no spot or blemish. The offerer would now
stand, and, placing his hand upon its head, confess
his sin. In that moment the Great Transference would
take place. GOD reckoned as if the sin of the man
were laid on the beast, and the spotlessness of the
animal accounted to him. The victim is then put to
death as bearing the man's sin, and suffering in his
stead. He left the scene a forgiven man. It was all
a GOD-given, GOD-ordained, prophetic picture of what
was afterwards to be; and old Isaac Watts has
captured its significance for us in his great hymn -
My faith would
lay her hand
On that dear head of Thine,
While like a penitent I stand,
And there confess my sin.
Thus, by this
heavenly Identification by Faith, we are joined to
Him as ourselves dead to sin, and, moreover, as
being alive in resurrection to "newness of life,"
This, be it ever remembered, not for any merit of
ours, and quite independently of our understanding.
Christian, as a matter of complete certainty, you
are risen with CHRIST. The only question - for you
and me - is whether we are living up to our high
privilege, whether walking after "the power of His
resurrection". Let us go on to another aspect of
THE CENTRE OF IT
phrases in our brief verses.
Christ," (Col 3:1);
"where Christ," (Col 3:1);
Christ," (Col 3:3-note);
"when Christ," (Col 3:4-note).
It is pretty evident, isn't it, where the centre of
the resurrection life lies. When all our life
revolves around Him as our Living Centre, then we
know resurrection life in happy truth. This indeed
is Full Salvation. Mark here three statements that
have an intimate bearing upon our relationship with
"Christ sits at the right hand of God," (Col
The Epistle to the Hebrews shows us that three
things are implied in this posture of the Master.
(1) Rest - "when He had by Himself purged our sins,
sat down on the right hand of the
Majesty on high," Hebrews 1:3-note. In amazing grace, He
undertook the plan of our salvation, till,
on its completion, He was able to say, "It is
finished," John 19:30-note- .
He undertook to pay in full the enormous debt of our
sin, till, on its complete cancellation, He
was free to say, "It is finished". The Cross was the
payment in full; the Resurrection was GOD's
receipt. He undertook, at the Father's will, to
drink our cup of woe, till, on His drinking to the
last bitter dregs, He handed back the cup to the
Father, and said "It is finished".
The plan that He came to earth to accomplish is now
fully carried out, and He has gone back to
Heaven to take His seat of rest at GOD's right hand.
(2) Intercession - "seeing He ever liveth to make
intercession for them," Hebrews 7:25-note. Can
we ever assess what we owe to our Saviour's prayers?
Why, after his base denial, did not Peter
fall away entirely? Listen: "I have prayed for thee,
that thy faith fail not [utterly]," Luke
22:32. If anyone be so ill and weak that they cannot
pray for themselves; or, if anyone be so
lonely that there is no one they can ask to pray for
them, what a deep comfort, in each case, to
know that JESUS is there to pray for them. We say
again that down here we shall never be able
to estimate what we owe to His prayers for us.
On one occasion, He
looked into a house, and said of
a man there, "Behold, he prayeth," Acts
9:11. When we are in need of comfort and strength,
may we not look into Heaven, and say,
"Behold, He prayeth"?
(3) Sovereignty - "we see JESUS. . . crowned,"
Hebrews 2:9-note. One day He is going to return to
this earth to assume the Kingdom, which, on His
present rejection, is in abeyance, when "the
kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of
our Lord and of His Christ, and He
shall reign for ever and ever," Revelation 11:15-note.
But even now He reigns on high; and by
reason of our union with Him, we, too, are entitled
to reign with Him - in that one day of His
millennial glory, "they shall reign with Him a
thousand years". Revelation 20:6-note.
"We shall reign on the earth," Revelation 5:10-note, yes;
but even now He "hath made us kings
and priests," Revelation 1:6-note, in our degree to share
in His present Sovereignty. and in His
present Intercession. If only we would put into
practical daily use our exalted position in Him!
"Your life is hid with Christ in God," (Col
then, will say that our life, once hid, can ever
be lost? The Son and the Father are pledged to its
security - "I give unto them eternal life, and
they shall never perish, neither shall anyone pluck
them out of My hand. My Father which
gave them Me is greater than all, and no one is able
to pluck them out of My Father's
hand" John 10:28, 29.
"With Christ, in God" - what blessed safety: hidden
as treasure deposited in a bank, the
impregnable vaults of the Bank of Heaven, Matthew
6:20-note; hidden as a root planted in a fertile
soil to bring forth the rich fruit of good seed,
Incidentally, how important it is that we should
cultivate the hidden life. The harvest of the fruit
depends so much on the health of the root. Earlier
in these Studies, I have told the story of the
pear tree from which I got practically nothing for
fifteen years - "nothing but leaves," Mark
11:13. The very first year of his occupancy. and
ever after my successor had an abundant crop -
the simple secret was that he treated the roots of
Even the old prophet knew that way to the spiritual
welfare of a nation, let alone to the life of an
individual - "the remnant that is escaped of the
house of Judah shall again take root
downward, and bear fruit upward" Isaiah 37:31. So,
to be hidden in Him is to be fruitful for
Him. as well as to be safe, in His keeping power.
life, centered in Him, not being self-centered, has
a magnificent wide sweep. The risen life will never
forget that while "He is the propitiation for our
sins," it is "not for ours only, but also for the
sins of the whole world," 1John 2:2. Do you know
that story of a great Salvation Army conference that
met in America a number of years ago, attended by
delegates from all over the world? All were thrilled
when they knew that the Old General himself was to
be there. Near the date, however, his doctors
forbade him to travel; but he promised to send a
cable to open the conference. When the time came,
there was anxiety in the assembly, for the message
hadn't arrived; but then, just in the nick of time,
it was brought. It consisted of one word - "Others".
What a start, what a theme, for any Christian
conference. How like the Saviour, of whom even His
enemies had to acknowledge that "He saved others,
not Himself," Matthew 27:42. So it is that if He be
our Centre, others will be our Circumference - "the
whole world" of others, whom we may be able, by our
prayers, our example, our testimony, to reach, to
touch, and to fetch for Him.
And now, to
conclude, look at -:
THE CIRCLE OF IT
who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also
appear with Him in glory."
So the fact of
our union with CHRIST, through the Identification by
Faith, has now come round full circle:
- we died in Him,
- we were buried with Him,
- we have been raised with Him,
- we are ascended with Him,
- we are seated with Him,
- we now anticipate the time when we shall return
and reign with Him.
Such is the
glorious teaching of all these Pauline Letters -
Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians.
Thus we observe the Resurrection Life - from the
root, in the Cross, to the Fruit, in the Coming.
This is Full Salvation.
Lo! my heart the Spirits shrine:
GOD and man in oneness blending,
Oh, what fellowship is mine!
Raised in CHRIST to life divine!"