Monday, April 13, 2020

Verse of the Week: Colossians 3:1

Verse of the Week: Colossians 3:1

If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1

(The majority of the footnotes are taken from the Ryrie Study Bible, to clarify additional verses quoted in this writing.)

                Paul now begins the ethical or practical application section of his letter to the Colossians. Beyond all Paul wishes to clearly impart to the Colossians that without a clear understanding that without a foundation of Christian theology Christian living is difficult. Paul has acknowledged that they are believers in Christ, now is the time to take what it means to be a Christian and let your walk become a beacon of Christianity. We are risen in Christ, now act like it. Knowing that Jesus is raised from the dead and letting that guide our ways in this life should not be two separate endeavors, but one goal to be obtained.

If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1

If- A better translation would be “since.”

You have been- Past tense. This is an accomplished action which can never be repeated. This happens at the new birth, when we accept Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection.
Paul does not doubt the position of these believers. They are Christians who will one day either be raptured or meet the Lord after their death. Paul is concerned with their experiential walk during life on this planet. Are they living the life that Christ has given them? Are they seeking out and applying every golden nugget of spiritual life that has been provided for them by Jesus Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit? From previous reading in this letter it doesn’t appear so. At least not to the extent it should be. Paul begins his writing reminding them of who they are as Christians.  

Raised up- The Christian has been raised up, or has risen, with Christ; so it is imperative that the Christian exhibits the new life.

To be raised up is to be “co-resurrected” with Christ. Believers are spiritually entered into Christ’s death and resurrection at the moment of their salvation. In Galatians Paul writes of the union of the believer with the Lord:

“I have been crucified with Christ;[1] and it is not longer I who live, but Christ who lives[2] in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.  Galatians 2:20

This union demonstrates the shared life we have with Christ. David Guzik writes in his online commentary:

                         Because we were raised with Christ, we should act just as Jesus did when He was                               resurrected.

After His resurrection, Jesus left the tomb. So should we – we don’t live there any                    more.

After His resurrection, Jesus spent His remaining time being with and ministering to His disciples. So should we – live our lives to be with and to serve one another.

After His resurrection, Jesus lived in supernatural power with the ability to do impossible things. So should we – with the power and the enabling of the Holy Spirit.

After His resurrection, Jesus looked forward to heaven, knowing He would soon enough ascend there. So should we – recognizing that our citizenship is in heaven.[3]

With Christ- In union with Christ. By His resurrection a new, spiritual life is given to us. Our spirit is resurrected from the dead because of the sin of Adam, but now is alive because of Christ.

Keep seeking- Keep your focus on this continuous activity throughout your entire life. This is a lifelong, constant, daily seeking that will not be accomplished in a few weeks or a few years. We have an obligation as those raised with Christ to live and seek out the realities of what it means to be a Christian. A continual seeking out should be the pattern of every believer’s life.

Our new life is powerful. It is a reality that we live with every day. However, we must remember that sin still is in our lives. It is no longer our master, but it is an ever-present reality that must be dealt with. If we are not seeking how to live for Christ it will trip us up and overpower us in our physical life. If we are not seeking Christ and what He has for us we will be seeking what will please our own sinful desires. “Our preoccupation with heaven must govern our earthly responses.” (Mal Couch)
Unfortunately, we live in an age where most people want everything immediately. Instant messaging, email, one day or one-hour shipping, microwaves. Many believers today have forgotten what it means to be heavenly minded as they are concerned about earthly things to the exclusion of heavenly things. When this happens, they lose all good they could do on this earth.
Not so with the things above.

Things above- The things were Christ is, not the things that are created by the mind of man. Colossians is concerned with several ungodly practices that the Colossian believers are facing such as Jewish legalism (dietary requirements, Sabbath observances, circumcision), worship of angels, ascetism and early Gnosticism, to name a few.

Instead they were to look upon Christ and what He offers:

8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your minds dwell on these things.
9 The things you have learned and received and heard in me, practice these things’ and the God of peace shall be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

We should continually seek God’s presence through the Scriptures, be in constant communication with Him in our prayer life and surround ourselves with brothers and sisters in Christ who will build us up instead of tearing us down. Our goal should be:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places[4] in Christ, Ephesians 1:3

Our lives should be continually fixed and centered on the risen, glorified, and ascended Jesus Christ. We should keep our eyes on Him an emulate Him at every opportunity. This would include such things as tenderness, kindness, meekness, patience, forgiveness, strength, purity, and love.[5]

Where Christ is- What happens when we do not read or study our Bible daily? What happens when we neglect fellowshipping with fellow believers? What happens when we neglect our obligation to support our church or those in the ministry? What happens when we neglect to pray and stop talking to God?

We will begin to look for something else. A philosophy, mysticism, angelic beings, a new fad that is running through the church that we want to be cool and be a part of. This is the result of abandonment of Christian truths or at the least an ignorance of what Christ taught what is important in our walk with Him.

Christ is seated in the heavenlies in a position of power and authority. We are invited to boldly come into His presence and ask what we want.

Seated- The fact that Christ was exalted and is constantly seated at the Father’s right hand shows that His redemptive work was finished and accepted:

Therefore also God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,[6] Philippians 2:9
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 1:3

At the right hand of God- Being seated at the right hand indicates the place of honor which He occupies. Because of His defeat of death and all the forces of Satan, including Satan himself:

14 Since then the children share in flesh and blood,[7] He Himself likewise also partook of the same,[8] that through death He might render powerless[9] him who had the power of death, that is, the devil;
15 and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. Hebrews 2:14, 15

Jesus is worthy to sit in this position of divine authority next to the Father.

Additional verses on the right hand of God:

                Luke 22:69           Acts 5:31              Romans 8:34       Hebrews 1:3       1 Peter 3:22
                Acts 2:33              Acts 7:56              Ephesians 1:20   Hebrews 8:1

[1] I have been crucified with Christ- Crucifixion with Christ means death to or separation from the reigning power of the old sinful life and freedom to experience the power of the resurrection life of Christ by faith: knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; Romans 6:6.
[2] It is no longer I who live, but Christ- Christ has taken up His abode in Paul, yet He did so without submerging Paul’s own personality.
[4] In the heavenly places- Lit. in the heavenlies, i.e., in the realm of heavenly possessions and experience into which the Christian is brought because of his association with the risen Christ. This term also occurs in 1:20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12; cf. John 3:12.
[5] The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Colossians & Philemon, p. 128
[6] Through self-denial and obedience Christ won sovereignty over all peoples and things (v.10)
[7] Flesh and blood- An Old Testament figure for human nature.
[8] Partook of the same- I.e., the same human nature.
[9] Render powerless- Lit. bring to naught or make inoperative or useless, but not annihilate, for the devil will exist in torment in the lake of fire forever (Revelation 20:10). This verse states the overriding purpose of Christ’s accepting “a lower status.”

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2 Peter 2:14-22