In this message Brian and Jerome tag team preach through Colossians 3:1-3. Brian shows the theology of what is true about the believer in Christ – he has died and risen with Christ. Jerome shows how we are to live out that truth in our day to day lives.
Died And Risen With Christ
He is risen! He is risen indeed! Today is the one day out of the year that we have set aside exclusively to remember and rejoice in and celebrate the fact that our Savior is risen from the dead! And, if He is risen, then there are some very important and powerful implications.
This morning, Jerome and I are going to preach this text together. I’m going to take the Doctrinal part, and Jerome is going to take the practical part. I’m going to focus on our Position, and Jerome is going to focus on our Practice. I’m going to focus on what is true of us in Christ, and Jerome is going to exhort us to action based on that positional truth.
My role this morning is that of the leadoff hitter. My job is to get on base. Jerome’s role is that of the cleanup hitter. His job is to hit me in. I’m the Pistol Pete Maravich that does his amazing passes, so that Jerome, the Wilt Chamberlain can stuff the ball in the basket. We are going to work together to help you understand, and then apply the incredible truth that because Jesus is risen, so are we. You cannot apply something until you understand the Biblical truth behind it. Conversely, you can know Biblical truth, but it doesn’t mean much until you apply it in your life. So truth and application go together like a hand in a glove. And, that’s exactly what we want to do this morning. I’m going to do my best to expound the truth to you this morning, and Jerome’s going to do his best to apply it to our lives.
Let’s read our text together. Colossians 3:1-3, “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. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
I’m going to focus on “Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ… For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
The apostle Paul tells us in this passage that we have been raised up with Christ, and that we have died with Christ. In a word, Paul is describing our union with Jesus Christ. Here is the Big Positional Truth from this passage: Because we have been united to Jesus Christ, we share His death and resurrection!
1. Why Does Paul Begin With “Therefore”?
Whenever we use “therefore” in a sentence, we are drawing a conclusion based on something we have already spoke or written. So, what has Paul already written in Colossians that would lead him to say “therefore”? What has he already said that would cause him to say “Therefore, since you have died with Christ and are risen with Christ?” And, by the way, that little word “if” in verse 1, does not denote uncertainty, like maybe we have been raised with Christ, and maybe we haven’t. It really carries the meaning of “since.” In fact, many translations translate it, “Therefore since you have been raised up with Christ…” So, what is Paul referring to when he says, “Therefore”?
Well, let’s go back into chapter 2 and find out. Look at verse 12 and 13, “having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions. There it is! When you were dead He made you alive. You are risen with Christ! Now, this text tells us that we have been buried with Christ in baptism. I do not believe Paul is talking about water baptism here. If he was, then he believed that you could be united to Christ by being water baptized. I believe Paul was talking about Spirit baptism. The Holy Spirit immersed us into Jesus at some point. The Spirit of God caused a living union between us and Christ. And, at that point, we somehow shot back in time to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and joined Him in it.
Notice verse 20-21, “If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as ‘Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” Here Paul says we died with Christ. In verse 12 says we were raised with Christ.
That’s why Paul begins chapter 3 with “Therefore”. He is looking back at what He has already taught about us having died and risen with Christ.
2. What Does It Mean That We Have Died and Risen with Christ?
The Bible is very clear about our having died and risen with Christ. Consider these texts:
Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”
Romans 6:6, “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him.”
So, how is it that we were crucified with Christ? Christ lived 2,000 years before we did. How can we have died with Christ?
You see, through a vital union, we inherit the history of the one we are united to. Let’s say you are a branch on a wild apple tree, and someone comes along and snips you off that true, and then grafts you into a different apple tree. Although your engrafting was a bit painful, everything is going great now, and you are enjoy hanging out in your new tree. And then, one day, somebody notices something on the trunk of your tree. “George loves Martha.” Lo and behold, George Washington carved that love note into your tree! Now your tree has become a national monument, and thousands of people stream by every year to look at you. But wait a minute. You weren’t even on that tree when George Washington carved that note into the trunk of the tree. That’s true, but it is irrelevant. Since you have been united to the tree, you inherit its history. You are no longer a wild apple tree branch. The “old self” has died and is gone forever. Now, you are a George Washington apple tree branch.
Or, let’s change the situation a little. You look down from your position on the tree and notice a big red X, indicating that a surveyor has come by and marked your tree to be chopped down. Even though the red X was placed on your tree before you were grafted into the tree, you are chopped down along with the rest of the tree. Why? Because, having been united with the tree, you share the history of the tree. Whatever happens to the tree, happens to you.
Let’s try this from another angle. Let’s say you you lost your right thumb in a freak accident, but fortunately for you, the doctors have been able to find another thumb that they can sew on your hand. Now, you have already had the chicken pox, but the fellow that donated that thumb never had the chicken pox. Does that new thumb have to worry about getting the chicken pox? No! Why not? Because you have already had the chicken pox, and that new member which is united to your body shares in your history. You and I share in Christ’s history when we have been united to Him. Because He died, we died. His death is our death. When He died to sin, we died to sin. The person we were in Adam has died. He was crucified with Christ. There is now a new person living. He is the person who is risen with Christ.
You say, “How can we have died with Christ? We weren’t even alive then!” However, Romans 5 teaches that all mankind sinned in Adam. Now we weren’t even alive when Adam sinned. However, his history is our history. When he sinned, we sinned. It is exactly the same principle with Christ. Every member of the human race is either “in Adam” or “in Christ.” If you are “in Adam” you sinned when he sinned, and as a result you will die. If you are “in Christ”, you obeyed when He obeyed, and as a result you will receive eternal life.
Notice how Paul puts it in Romans 7:4, “Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.” Did you hear that?! You died to the Law through the body of Christ. That is, when Christ died to the Law, you did too, for you were “in Him.” But, not only did you die to the Law through the body of Christ, you also were joined to Him who was raised from the dead. The Holy Spirit joined you to the risen Lord! And, because you have been united to Jesus in His resurrection life, you share in His life. His life is your life. That’s what Paul means in Colossians 3:4, “When Christ, who is our life is revealed…” The same mighty power that raised up Jesus Christ from the dead is at work in us today! Just as a branch that is grafted into a tree shares the very life of the tree, so we share the resurrection life of Jesus! Not only is Jesus’ death our death, but His life is our life.
So, Christian, what is true about you? What does it really mean to become a Christian? Is it just to decide to try to live a better life? Does it mean that you will from now on abstain from lying, cheating, unfaithfulness, and debauchery, and instead go to church, and try to live a moral life? No, a thousand times no! Any sinner can do all of that. To become a Christian, is a supernatural thing. It is a miraculous thing. A person becomes a Christian, when the Holy Spirit immerses him into Christ. And when we are immersed into Christ, we share in Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement. And now that we have been joined to Him who was raised from the dead, we can bear fruit for God. Prior to this, we could never bear fruit for God. It is like a woman trying to have a baby without ever being intimate with a man. We can never produce fruit until we have come into an intimate relationship with Christ!
Believer, you have died with Christ! You have been buried with Christ! And you have risen with Christ! His resurrection life is your life. The very resurrection power of God is at work in you, so that you can bear fruit for God.
Now, with that said, I’m going to turn the pulpit over to Jerome, so he can tell us how we apply those rich wonderful truths!
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