If you have died with Christ… If you have risen with Christ…

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Died Risen Christ

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Sunday 01/28/23

Title: If you have died with Christ… If you have risen with Christ…

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If you have died with Christ… If you have risen with Christ…

We ended last week in Colossians 3:1 comparing it with the similar, yet opposite statement of Paul in Colossians 2:20. One speaks of our condition and behavior after having dies with Christ Jesus and the other to the same as we have risen with Him.

So, we will pick back up in Colossians 2:20 in order to move forward.

Colossians 2:20-23,  

“(20)  Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 

(21)  “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”  (22)  which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men?  

(23)  These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”

Colossians 3:1-17,

“(1) Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  

(2)  Keep thinking about things above, not things on the earth,  (3)  for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  

(4)  When Christ (Who is your life) appears, then you too will be revealed in glory with Him.”

This is NOT a gospel of separation, but of union!

Matthew 12:20-21, “(20) A BRUISED REED HE WILL NOT BREAK, AND SMOKING FLAX HE WILL NOT QUENCH, TILL HE SENDS FORTH JUSTICE TO VICTORY;  (21)  AND IN HIS NAME GENTILES WILL TRUST.”

Another way of understanding the words “justice to victory” is to vanquish separation.

If you remember the Hebrew understanding of judgment is to separate. To distinguish between the right and the wrong, the holy and the unholy – to make clear lines or separation between them.

Well once we WERE wrong, sin, unholy, dark and dead but He has brought the separation between us to nothing – He has vanquished separation and brought unity – eternal life!

So what should be our response to this overwhelming, and gratuitous gift this “charis” from our God and king?

“(5) So put to death whatever in your nature belongs to the earth: sexual immorality, impurity, shameful passion, evil desire, and greed which is idolatry.  (6)  Because of these things the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience.  (7)  You also lived your lives in this way at one time, when you used to live among them.  

(8)  But now, put off all such things as anger, rage, malice, slander, abusive language from your mouth.  (9)  Do not lie to one another since you have put off the old man with its practices  (10)  and have been clothed with the new man that is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the One Who created it.  

(11)  HERE there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all.”

This phrase is often taken together with another similar passage in Galatians 3:28, which says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female – for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”

This used to be used by us, in our WoF days and is still misquoted and misapplied by many in egalitarian circles to mean that once we are in Christ all gender roles have been laid to one side. Of course this is nonsense and runs contrary to all teaching regarding genders in scripture – even under the New Covenant.  

In Galatians the context is our union and therefore oneness in Christ. Therefore it is about destroying the division between us. It is NOT about destroying identity, delegated authority or gender roles.

Here in Colossians it is being used in a similar manner, but with a stronger emphasis on identity. In Christ you do not identify as a Jew and therefore abide by different and special rules. The circumcised enjoy no privilege over the physically uncircumcised. Neither do those from foreign countries nor the nomadic peoples have anything which would ostracize them from Christ. We all are one people, nation and holy temple unto the Lord ONCE we are IN Christ Jesus.  

It is in fact this truth that makes us a peculiar people and a holy nation as is stated in 1 Peter.

1 Peter 2:9-12, “(9) But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;  (10)  who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.  (11)  Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,  (12)  having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

Before we come under the Lordship of Jesus by faith we leave our former lives and designations behind. While I may be an American, I have more in common with, am more at home with and am more unified in thought and purpose with any man or woman anywhere on this planet who is truly in Christ than I have with any red, blooded, patriotic American. I am one with other Americans on a socio-national level, but I am one in person, identity and eternal purpose with ANYONE who is in Christ Jesus. One is an earthly and therefore temporary nation the other is a spiritual and eternal nation.

So even as we have died with Christ from all of the above, we now rise with Christ to all of the following…

“(12)  Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,  (13)  bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others.  (14)  And to all these virtues add love, which is the perfect bond.”

As you may remember, both in Exodus and in the book of Job which we have recently started studying – Man’s first obligation is to God and his second is to man.

The first 4 commandments out of the ten are vertical in nature. They represent Man’s responsibilities before and to God.

The last 6 commandments out of the ten are horizontal in nature. They represent Man’s responsibilities before God to our fellow man.

NONE of that has been changed, abrogated or made obsolete.

It is interesting that in scriptural numerology – 4 is the number associated with the Creator and 6 is the number associated with man and weakness, while 10 is associated with testimony, responsibility and order.   

Remember in Job what made him stand in God’s eyes AND in the devil’s was his vertical blamelessness and his horizontal uprightness!

“(15)  Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart (for you were in fact called as one body to this peace), and be thankful.”

Remember the textbook strong’s definition for grace is – “the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life: including gratitude!”

Gratitude is ONE of the proofs that a heart has received grace from God.

“(16)  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God.  (17)  And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, GIVING THANKS to God the Father through Him.”

So, recall with me the previously stated purpose of this letter. Paul wanted them to know and cooperate with the intentions of God in Christ for them. The intention He preordained for our glory which He kept hidden from the beginning of the world, but has chosen to reveal in these last days to His children.

Colossians 1:26-29, 

“(26)  the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.  (27)  To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  

(28)  Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ Jesus.  

(29)  To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.”

This is made a reality in us BY FAITH! Even as Paul said in chapter 2 – 

“(11)  In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,  (12)  buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him THROUGH FAITH in the working of God, Who raised Him from the dead.”

As so often happens every year, this reminded me of a song from Michael Card called “Live this Mystery” on his albumPresent Reality.

When I consider the secret

Of the One who dwells in me

That there is truly a presence

In the heart that will believe

To listen to a silent call

The quiet hunger to give it all

As the river seeks to be

Forgotten in the sea

So my soul is so thirsty

It longs for Thee

Like a moth around the flame

Drawn to the light

And to the pain

Since my life is hid in Thee

I must live this mystery

In Him we live, in Him we move

In Him all things are new

The mystery of life in Christ

Is Christ can live in you

I hear the silence, it’s clamoring

There is only Christ, He is everything

In the language of the soul

It’s burning like a coal

There’s a voice that is saying

“You can be whole”

A life where all is new

Of timeless moments waits for you

With the heart alone you see

You must live this mystery

Colossians 3:18-25,

“(18) Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  (19)  

Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.  

(20)  Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.  

(21)  Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.  

(22)  Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God.  (23)  And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,  (24)  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.  (25)  But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.”

Colossians 4:1-18, 

“(1) Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.”

Now this verse of course should have been included at the end of chapter 3 because it is all in the same train of thought.

Just like last week, these verses about submission and authority find sister verses in Ephesians. Let’s read it…

Ephsians 6:1-9  “(1) Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  (2)  “HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,” which is the first commandment with promise:  (3)  “THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU AND YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.”  

(4)  And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.  

(5)  Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ;  (6)  not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,  (7)  with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men,  (8)  knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.  

(9)  And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.”

Like all of Paul’s letters this is very practical. While Paul was certainly for freedom of sorts, he also was for the practical workings of society.

In Rome it was typical to have slaves. Some were those who sold themselves into slavery due to debt, or having been conquered by Rome and now finding themselves in a situation where a reliable livelihood was elusive or several other scenarios including being born into slavery. We know Paul himself sought to set free a man named Onesimus who is mentioned in the salutation of this letter. His master was a Christian brother who Paul knew. He was almost certainly a bond-servant who fled from Philemon before working off his debt. Paul promised to pay the difference if he would simply give Onesimus his freedom. If we have time we will read that brief letter before we end today.

The point I am making is that while in Christ we are all free men and women, in the flesh that is not always so and nothing about the Christian gospel is opposed to having slaves, only the mistreatment of them so that in the end, their position and treatment would be almost indistinguishable from a well compensated employee but who is not free to leave. So Paul’s advice was to remain as you were when you came to Christ, unless you can be made free – in which case, use it.

1 Corinthians 7:20-24, “(20) Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.  (21)  Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it.  (22)  For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave.  (23)  You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.  (24)  Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.”

Colossians 4…

“(2)  Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;  (3)  meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains,  (4)  that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.  

So after offering guidance on how life is lived in Christ, Paul then begins to close his letter with a request for prayer and some personal notes to individual’s known to him. These also are very instructional and so we will cover these next week as well as looking into Philemon as a further example of a Christian brother who was the slave of another Christian brother.

Blessings!

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!