AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH May 8, 2011
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise,
through Grace by Faith
Sermon Notes Colossians 3:1-17
We have seen last time, that I Timothy 1:5 tells us precisely where we should be, could be going, and the purpose of it all, just as II Timothy 1:8-12 tells us WHY this is so, and where man should be, go and end, giving an orienteering focus. At both of these we have recently looked in preaching. Now we follow it up. In this address, we will consider more of the entire flight, sitting in heavenly places as to status and operational style, yet purged for the performance, through pre-flight and at times in-flight servicing. It is a matter of travelling time and spiritual perspective.
THE UPWARD LOOK Colossians 3:1-4
Present or Absent
"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above,
where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above,
not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory."
It is not, Paul has just made it clear, a matter of will and thrill, good appearance and fascinating discoveries of nonsense, like the sects and profit-making pulses of old gnosticism in new, packaged serves, such as are so popular with the children of philosophy, mysticism and self-help. It is something far greater.
If you died with Christ, in that you were condemned for sin and He in bearing it, took it personally from you to Himself, so that as He died, in a sense, your personal sins and skew were borne in Him and you thus died with Him: then you are also risen with Him. It is not a matter of foolish imagination, as if spluttering from a ducking in some ill-thought out sacrament, you came to back in this world again. It is the opposite. You precisely do NOT come back to in this world. It is a spiritual thing which, as in Romans 6, is in view here. You come to, in CHRIST.
If then, says Paul, you were raised with Christ, seek the things above, where He is, what He is like, where His life is. If you are alive with His life, then live it! He is in the glorious presence of His Father now, and your sin is purged long ago on the Cross, and now that this has been practically applied to you as one of His, so lift the eyes to His, and see eye to eye with Him, knowing that when He returns, to complete the total mission of which salvation was the first part, with its suffering, you will appear with Him.
You are to be raptured, not just enraptured. Your entire body is to be removed from this earth as His was, when history comes to the general resurrection (I Thessalonians 4, I Corinthians 15), so that this mortal body will be given an eternal dwelling and your incorporation will be in eternal mode (II Corinthians 5), fit for heaven, since flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom (I Corinthians 15:49-50). We who have borne the image of the earthly, says Paul, are on that day to bear that of the heavenly; for Christ, as heavenly man, has come to bring out of mortality, immortality, putting not only His heart but His life into it, so that it being received, eternity might become our home.
That is not a poetic idea, but a devastation of death and the gift of immortality. Therefore seek heavenly things, qualities, ways, procedures, thoughts, actions NOW, where your life is hidden in Christ.
THE DOWNWARD PURGE Colossians 3:5-9
Present or Absent
"Therefore 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, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these:
anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds..."
Pursuing the practical, Paul lists things NOT heavenly, from fornication to idolatry, which are text messages to heaven asking for correction, fit only for "the children of disobedience."
The past is more than sufficient for that! Deal in the same way with sudden flames or flashes of anger, enduring wrath, for you should not let the sun go down on your wrath (Ephesians 4:26). I recall one medical specialist telling me of her cursing a surgeon who made a mess of a leg operation, something which she apparently stopped doing, despite the strength of her dissatisfaction, some time ago. It seems it was an ongoing procedure, stirred by pain!
Moreover, cut out the double entendre, the low-down second meanings, the suggestive wit, the half-truth, the lie, moral fibrillations in your heart.
In short, says Paul, do this "since you have put off the old man with his deeds." The old man is the old nature is your former personality and its ruts and self-realisation.
What we now have to realise if we would be hidden in Christ and accountable to Him, is this: that it is the realisation of His kingdom, of His spirituality, of His godliness in our lives and hearts and thoughts, ambitions and ponderings which is the new look. It is one which comes from the depths, and leads to the heights; and it is from the depths, since He, the Lord for everyone who believes in Him in truth and reality, has purged the very depths, and without bathysphere, continues to scour and cleanse them in His own people, so that it is as if new juvenile waters arise continually, and sweet ones at that!
THE LONG FLIGHT Colossians 3:10-17
Present or Absent
"You have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
"Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved,
put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 1
bearing with one another, and forgiving one another,
if anyone has a complaint against another;
even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
"But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 1
and let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing
one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts
to the Lord. 1And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."
This is for the long flight, this is spiritual perspective. As you settle back in your air-liner seat (Ephesians 2:6 - "Christ raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus"), surrounded by the power of God, symbolised by the engines carrying you forward, piloted by the Word of God, seeing things in spiritual perspective as you pass over the things of earth below, there are procedures, plans, there are desiderata, things to flow into and through you.
The old man is crucified with Christ and you have "put on" the new man. This new nature is being constantly renewed (symbolised externally by a shower in the morning), and the basis of this constant renovation is "the image of Him who created" man, identified as Christ (Colossians 1:15), not a matter of biology or culture, far less philosophy (Colossians 2:8), but of Christ Himself, God made manifest, the eternal word who has declared Himself categorically on the cross.
Hence when it comes to forgiveness, you who are Christians should all be specialists, since Christ forgave you, giving you your entire status in Him, on the voyage, so that you are 'hidden' in Him and in His grace. In all such dealings of a personal kind, seek meekness, longsuffering, be forbearing, and seek to operate not in the bonds of sinful anger and self-seeking, but of love, the bond of perfection, and being in one body, which is His, be thankful.
KNOW your Bible and hence study it, sing doctrinally sound songs and hymns, and in your hearts let grace be a constant, welcome guest. Whatever you come to do, make sure first that it is actually done in the NAME of the Lord Jesus, in a thankful spirit, relaying your thanks to God through Him.
ITEM FOR TODAY
Some time ago, in the Lord's service, I had occasion to write a piece called On Stand-by but not in Flight. It dealt with the practice that some airlines have had, of giving you an opportunity for a cheaper flight, if you are prepared to wait to see if any booked passengers not arriving, there happens to be a seat for you, lessening your cost and their loss together.
Making spiritual application, this gave us scope to survey many types of confusion about who is and who is not on spiritual flight, who on standby, who is confused or bemused or indifferent, and who is settled in fact, in the heavenly places in Christ.
Since today is the day of confusion, prior to Christ's return, when this world is so important in its own eyes, that it makes various false brands of Christianity, in order to cash in on the opportunity, and exploit the targets, with good chance of some financial or power success, it seems good to note this allegory. On the Web it is at http://webwitness.org.au/stand-byaught.html.
At the service, copies may be available.