Monday, September 7, 2015

COLOSSIANS—Risen With Christ

So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. (Col. 3:1-2 The Message)
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (KJV)

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (ESV)

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (NASB)

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. (NIV)

Pursue with diligence the consequence of your co-inclusion in Christ. Relocate yourself mentally! His resurrection co-raised you to the same position of authority, seated in the strength of God’s right hand.
Becoming affectionately acquainted with Throne Room thoughts will keep you from being distracted again by the earthly (soul-ruled) realm. (The Mirror)

The thought in each translation is the same. Chapter 3 begins the conclusion of Paul's letter. In chapter 2, he has given us such a wonderful and powerful revelation about our standing with Christ. Many stop there, and do not read on.

What an amazing statement!

Complete!

There is nothing more to add, to do.

Or, so it seems. And there are many who will say that such is the case.

They will take this verse (Col. 2:10), as it stands, without its context, and regale you with Jesus' words on the cross, "It is finished!"

There is nothing more for you to do.
He paid the full price.
His shed blood paid the debt for the whole world for all time.
You cannot add a single thing to what He has done.
Any effort on your part is a rejection of the grace of God.

Each of those preceding statements appear to be true to the one who is coming to understand the full and radical aspects of grace. However, without the context of the whole counsel of God, one is left to believe that how you live your life is of no consequence at all.

But, then, along comes chapter 3.

The various translations given above only bring out the difference for our thinking in the use of the subjunctive mood as an opening for his concluding remarks in this chapter.

Modern readers tend to stumble over the word "if," deciding that its inclusion means there is a possibility that the case might not be so. However, the NASB and the NIV remove this stumbling block by inserting the correct word "since."

Eugene Peterson cuts to the heart of the matter with his rendering in The Message. Look at it carefully, comparing his rendition with the others.

Peterson makes it a heart issue, not a head issue.

"If you are serious about living this new life in Christ..." here is what you need to do.

Paul did not stop with the glories of the mystery that he revealed previously, which is "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27). (By the way, it is NOT Christ in me, the hope of glory. The "you" in that verse is plural. It is Christ in us. Lone Rangers need not apply.)

He went on to unpack what that mystery involved throughout chapter 2, which I covered in the last article.

QUESTION: Are you glad for what the Father has done for you through Jesus?

If you are, then act like it!!

You have been given more power and authority than you can possibly imagine. You have everything you need to live this life to its fullest (2 Pet. 1:3).

That is the purpose of being told of all the glories bestowed upon us.
And Peterson brings this out in admirable fashion with his translation.
So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. 
This has nothing to do with any form of legalism, which he had already addressed prior to this.

It is very simply an explanation of what you can do with what you've been given. You've never been here before, so you don't know what you can do. You've never had this before, so you don't know what it is or how to use it.

It's as if a native of the jungle, who has never seen money before, comes into this country, signs up for the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes, and wins. Someone needs to explain to him what has happened and what he can do with his winnings.

If he doesn't do anything that is suggested, will he lose his winnings? No. He just doesn't get to enjoy what he won.

It is exactly the same for those who have been born again and entered into a new life in Christ.

If they don't do these things, they do not lose their salvation. They just don't get to enjoy it.

If the native were to return to the jungle, would he still be a winner? Yes. That doesn't change. He won. Therefore, he is a winner.

So it is with those who have been born again. They are winners. They will go to heaven; but their journey will not be nearly as fruitful nor enjoyable as it could be if they had availed themselves of all their salvation provided for them.

So, here, and in his other epistles, Paul begins to lay out how a saved person lives in the fulness of the grace they have been given.

Therefore, friends, do not fall for the lie which says that any mention of what your life could look like is legalism and will cause you to fall from grace. Remember, these commands/requirements/suggestions follow immediately after he completely destroys the arguments of legalists who would try to put a stumblingblock before you.

We will begin to look at some of these in the next article.
Until then,
  • Stand firm in your freedom from legalism (Gal. 5:1),
  • and add to your faith the things necessary (2 Pet. 1:5);
  • remembering that you are complete in Him (Col. 2:10).
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