Australian Bible Church Ė
July 6, 08 Colossians 3:1-11,17
A CONTINUATION OF THE ORIGINAL THRUST AND BASE
OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA
ON BIBLICAL LINES Ö
Manís design is so mathematically brilliant, the billions of cells so punctiliously wrought in assembly-line procedures, with goods in and product out not only arranged, but various tasks assigned to MOTORS to get them done quickly, all keyed into the overall schema, that it is not really very interesting to consider further whether there could be some magical way in which some designs created others. Using multiple motors to supply, to match, to fold proteins, with all the commands in one language, the programmatic building and maintenance proceeds. In practice, codes just donít adjust to each other, choose one language and co-ordinate. They must be created, unified, deployed and their results integrated with a forceful unity. This is the innovative work for imaginative intelligence.
Dreams are not good at engineering. In practice LOTS of designs work hard together to enable other designs to be formed, all being coded so to do simultaneously or in sequence, as befits the case; and except for the brilliant way this is done in the body, it is just like other designs, from the bottom to the top, integrated, time-coded, products interactive and the like.
Today, our concern is with the LIVING of our designs on this earth. Last Sunday evening we were concerned with Colossians 3:12-17 which were most informative and even thrilling to consider; an earth like that would be one more wonder of life, a delight to live in; but sin defiles it. Yet Christ calls us to a higher life, in conformity to both His design for us, and Himself. Fear not, Christian, for they cannot remove your soul! Take heart, for their heartlessness is a final stab in the syndrome of hating truth, something alas not realised consciously, but apparent in its batterings against Design, now augmenting the fight for so long against Designer.
But what is the design at these levels. Let us look at what WORKS, at what has wisdom, at what is the Designer's own specification, in Colossians 3. Apart from all else, in these things depicted, there is a better solution even than liberty of speech, though this does not need to be curtailed when there is sanctity of heart. Meanwhile, such liberty of speech can avail, for it gives to the Christian opportunity to dismiss the follies of what is false, of what loves to strut, but not to reply.
ABOVE, NOT SHOVE
IF, says Colossians 3, you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above.
That is now almost forgotten in masses of millions of embroiled and tarnished spirits. What used to be an Empire's assertion (however mixed the multitude which served it), is now almost compulsively dismissed from thought, while comics of ugliness, advertisements of carnality and literature of the sink, spew out their drainage like polluted waters to flood the house.
The things above ? That is, the things ethically superior, spiritually godly, behaviourally beautiful, peaceable in disposition, but not supine in heart, the things of willing self-sacrifice and understanding that does not dip every time a base magnet of desire draws near. They are further defined by the location of what is meant here, "where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God." What is above this world and its manners and mutinies and mutilations of mind, body and spirit is the category of the Creator, above not directionally but ontologically, essentially, in eternity as in time, in power as in purity, in self-control as in sacrificial sanctity.
Why is this counsel, to seek such things which are above and with Christ, given with such confidence ? After all, do you say to a pauper, Set your mind on millions ? HOW is this practicable, to set your minds on the things that are above, with Christ ? It is because HE is sitting at the right hand of power, of God. What has this to do with it ? It has this. It proceeds, "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." HOW did you die ? " I," says Paul in Galatians 2:20, "am crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and died for me."
The sense of that, its meaning ? IF Christ has borne your sin (otherwise, the case does not apply - Titus 3:5ff. I Peter 2), then YOU are the centre of it. If your sin is taken as to guilt to His pardoning facility, meeting justice in His own payment WITH LIFE itself, taken to death in the human format, amid suitable anguish, grief and humiliation at its acme, and there cleansed: this is no mere legal conundrum therefore. YOU are taken, you the agent of sin, the operator of the psyche, you are taken with your sin products, the sin-production unit itself, and YOU are there purged by dying WITH Christ in spirit. Condemned with Him, who dies for you, you die with Him; and alive by virtue of Him who broke death and having cleared your name, lives for you as your Good Shepherd, you live by Him.
That is part of salvation (cf. II Corinthians 5:15). IF, then you have been converted, IF you have been saved and justified (as in Romans 5:1 and Titus 3:5ff., with Romans 8:30), THEN your whole nature has been denatured as to sin's commission and command, control and savour. You died with Christ ? Then it is now Saviour instead of sin-savour which is the cynosure.
Does this mean that you are sinless ? Not at all, for as Paul says in that very same Epistle (Galatians 5 with 2:20), the flesh strives against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh. You have been evacuated from Dunkirk, and restored to your homeland (by virtue of creation, your proper home); but now that you are there, the war continues, though you now move with your own troops with freedom and relative felicity, being surrounded with spiritual truth and standards, encouragement and counsel.
The fact that the bulk of the 'churches' are now more likely to incite you to folly, and have become so by radical changes in the last 100 years ought not to smoke out the fact that this is NOT what a church is commissioned to do. It is set to help propel your mind from nature to Super-nature, from creation to God, from the weakness of sin to the beauty of holiness, as it propounds and propels the Gospel and the word of God to His wayward creation, before its time is up on this small globe.
LIVE BY HIS LIFE, NOT BY SINíS DEATH
WHEN, says Colossians 3:4, "Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory." HOW can you wait, Christian! How can you miss it altogether, non-Christian!
THEREFORE, and this is one thing that makes life as a Christian on this earth a real athletic struggle, "put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness which is idolatry, because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience."
With this omission, include
among listed absentees, "wrath, malice, blasphemy,
filthy language out of your mouth," the alternative:
"DO not lie to one another, wince you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him."
What a world, a society, a spirit, an agreeable and an interesting, a meaningful and a soaring sort of place is this, with what pleasantness is one propelled with others in the right direction, with what joy one sees beauty of conduct and radiance of spirit, surroundings like those magnificent sites of nature, now experienced as inter-personal sights of much joy. Friction is minimised, fractional living is dismissed, depth of discretion and paths of prudence appear, loveliness is distilled (cf. II Corinthians 3:18). Such a world would endure. Colossians 3:12-16 specifies more of its beauties.
It would be good to be in it, while it does these things! Here is living in a world home which is designer produced, here is designer living, an architecture of life which is both natural in goodness and supernatural in inspiration. Now it would be good to look a little further into Colossians 3:17, extending our thoughts of last Sunday night on our spiritual duties. DO ALL in the NAME of the Lord Jesus Christ.
KEEP OUT OF THE STY
This requires one to be forthright, so that what ? It is not in order that special tests have to be made, that people have to ruminate and to do detective work in order to discover whether just possibly you may be a Christian! You do not dwell and have fellowship with unbelievers as in the Alpha course allows in its preposterous sharing and bearing concept, having these in concert over weeks of courses, with no Biblical authority, wavelength or disposition in control. You do not even more, dwell where the name of Christ is demeaned, either by immorality warranted by the church, or where it attacks on the Bible, or makes mutations in the taught nature of the Lord. Exactly to the contrary, you DO ALL THINGS in the NAME of the Lord Jesus Christ.
One of the things you simply CANNOT do in His name is disobey Him. Hence when He states in I Cor. 5 and 6, through Paul that with those who are idolaters, fornicators, adulterers, yes or covetous, you CANNOT be mixed, and that this is applicable only to those who simultaneously maintain that they are Christians (for otherwise, these being as common as dirt in this world, you would have to leave it to obey this command), then you simply obey what is written, neither adding to it, nor trying to change it to concepts not included. If you add concepts not present, then you simply disobey Proverbs 30:6, and are deploying your own thoughts in competition with those given. It is flagrant intrusion, a co-authorship for the Bible without authority.
However, these words of Paul are all plain, coherent, cohesive. Staying in a church or so-called church with this in its midst and authorised is flat rebellion against Christ, and while some might even TRY to do this in His name, it is too ludicrous to mention. Will you in the name of your Bank Manager, steal from his funds ? Let us be a little serious then, if not more. Will you share with employes, as one of them, as theft is openly discussed, or even praised! Heaven forbid.
Instead of going out of this world by not mingling with the forbidden categories, you merely have such a departure from them that YOU WOULD NEED TO DO THIS, if all people, rather than only professing Christians with these sins, were in view. Paul lets them, then relax: NO, the forbidden mingling is not with ALL of this kind, but only with Christians. You do not need to go out of this world to obey that, merely out of their Churches. You must seek to be out of partnership of any kind with them, any fellowship. However, the point being not applicable to all, but only to believers, false speakers, it is yet the more applicable to these! With a professing Christian in any of these categories, YOU MAY NOT EVEN EAT! You can see now how you would have to go out of this world if this applied to all who do these things, most clearly.
Further, we learn in the next chapter to this (that is, in I Corinthians 6), that certain sorts of people are NOT IN the kingdom of Christ. You are NOT permitted to have fellowship with unbelievers, says Paul in II Corinthians 6:14ff., making a failure to obey this similar to light trying to have fellowship with darkness, or Christ with the devil. You will notice, however, how quickly Christ gave him the run! (Matthew 4), and on what ground: the word of God written! It is not written to be re-written but to be obeyed.
One would have thought the point was comparatively clear, even to the cataract afflicted, if it comes to that point. Does Christ have fellowship with the devil ? as well may you, if a Christian, have fellowship, have mingling with people of the kinds noted. You may be kind; but this is not to have fellowship. You are simply not to be mixed up with them. You know of quarantine ? regard them as in this way, unavailable for communion of heart, spirit, thought. In the same body ? Hardly. (They may of course repent and believe in Christ, but then they are no longer in these categories.)
Those in this category: fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, covetous people. drunkards, revilers, extortioners. These will not inherit the kingdom of God.
HENCE they are not in it, are not Christians.
HENCE they are not fellowship material, and
in a church which IS a fellowship of believers*3A, they cannot be,
and in one which sanctions their presence, the believer cannot be.
Hence doing everything in the name of the Lord
MEANS that you vacate such churches.
If people obeyed this, larger churches outside the fallen would exist and much would be achieved; so that the failure is crucial to the function of the Church, and the service of the servants of God. Romans 16:17 is not to be broken if you value the Church and the Lordship of Christ.
Statistics are irrelevant; social custom,
the works of the old man, are scarcely applicable, Orders are orders;
and when they come from God, hell lashes out to the soul
which does NOT tremble at His word (Isaiah 66:2), but continues in 'sanctified disobedience', a woeful oxymoron, for a tragic failure.
Normally, as to a Church, those who seek such things and display them are cautioned, questioned, and if flamboyant and rebellious still, are not kept on the roll. People of all sorts can COME to the services; but when it comes to fellowship, being at communion, being in discussion about procedure, being pastors, being elders, being in spiritual meetings of inner revelation and company together, this is not permitted. You do not discuss your wife's situation with your enemies, or those who do not understand. There are pearls and there are swine, spiritually, and the two are kept VERY distinct. The lost art of church discipline, not as obtrusive and investigatory like detectives, but vigilant, and not dumb like a drunken soldier, is necessary in the war at the spiritual level. Careless indifference about standing orders for the troops is the work of those already defeated in heart.
In fact, the recent reports on more conservative Anglicans meeting in Jerusalem held this result: while they deplored what they are finding in immorality and spiritual malfeasance in the Church, the Archbishop of Sydney declares he will not separate! Here then is the test to one, to all, to high, to low. Christ made it clear that the one who breaks one the least commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least, but great is it for the one who both teaches and does the things commanded.
Live in darkness with those unenlightened by all means; but the Designer Living is not for this. In fact, as to the LEAST of the commandments, Paul likens living in company with unbelievers to having Him in harmony with the devil. This is not mere failure; it is rebellion! (cf. I Samuel 15:22).