In Colossians 3, Paul says you have died with Christ (v3). He goes on to say that Christ is now your life (v4).
And so your life is HIDDEN with Christ in God (v3). Jesus was once visible to human eyes. His friends saw him living, dying and then ascending beyond their sight. Now Jesus, as the new man, is hidden in God enjoying the deepest union with God. And your life is hidden with Christ. That’s where your real life is. False teachers were telling the Colossian believers to practice rules and rituals to attain union with God above. Paul says we already have union with God. Jesus is in God and so are we with him.
In union with Jesus, we now live with an entirely new centre. I am no longer in the centre with all things revolving around me and my needs. I now live out of a new centre with all revolving around Christ in God. This is an entirely new centre. So my mind is set on things above where Christ is in God, and where I am with him. All my attention is set on the above. I still live an earthly life below enjoying earthly things. Nevertheless, I do so from a new centre with Christ in God. From this new centre I am aware of my new identity as a new human within a new humanity in union with the new man who is always in God and I with him. All this meets my deepest needs and liberates me for a new life with Christ in God.
Christ died for us and we died with him. We died to the old order in Adam under sin and death. Christ rose from death as the new man in new creation and we have been raised with the new man as the new humanity. Now we are continually with Christ enjoying new life – resurrection life. Of course, we look forward to the future resurrection of our bodies to live on the new earth for ever. Nevertheless, we are already raised with Christ. We already live in the sphere of resurrection and resurrection life is within us. We are resurrection people.
As those who have been raised with Christ we seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. For as Paul says in Colossians we have died (to the old order in Adam) and our lives are now hidden with Christ in God. Or as Paul says in Ephesians God has raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. We are now seated with Jesus in heavenly places and so we set our minds on things above.
As you set your mind on things above what do you see? You see Jesus seated at the right hand of God. He rules over all powers. And since Jesus is in a position of authority at God’s right hand, there is nothing to prevent us from having permanent access to this heavenly world into God’s Presence. United with Jesus we are above with him by the Spirit and he is with us below by the Spirit.
The New Testament word koinonia refers to sharing in something. Before the world began Father and Son shared in the divine life as they mutually indwelt one another in the Spirit. Within this communion of love they also shared an ultimate purpose. The Father delighted in his unique Son so much that he wanted to create a vast family of sons like his Son. This single purpose arose out of the self-giving love of the three. And the three persons are always together in achieving this single purpose. For the Father continually works to accomplish this shared purpose through his Son and by his Spirit until the purpose comes to fullness. Then the Son will say to his Father here I am and the children you have given me.
John tells us, “…that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship (koinonia) with us; and indeed our fellowship (koinonia) is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3-4). In the communion (koinonia) of the Spirit we share ever more deeply in the life and love of Father and Son. For in the Spirit we know that we are in Jesus and that he is in us. And in that living union we share in his relationship with the Father now and forever. In the communion (koinonia) of the Spirit we also await ever more eagerly the consummation of the eternal purpose. For the Jesus that we are one with is the goal of all things and we are fully included in him. All this makes our joy complete.
Our lives are now hidden with Christ in God and when he appears we shall appear with him in glory. For God’s intention is to bring many sons and daughters to glory in Jesus. As he appears before his Father, he is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters for he is deeply one with us. In his Father’s presence he gladly declares, “Behold, I and the children God has given me”
Here and now we are called to live our daily lives with this ultimate purpose in view. That requires a REVOLUTION in the way we see. Little adjustments won’t do. We have made ourselves the centre of the universe with all things orbiting around us and for us. So we tend to see all things from a centre in ourselves. We are to rather see from a centre in God so that with the Father we see what he intends for his Son and us in him.
This revolution can only take place through REVELATION by the Spirit. For only the Spirit can unveil Jesus to the eyes of our hearts enabling us to see as God wants us to see. So, with Paul, we must keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that we may know him better. Knowing him better we know ourselves better. And we live and move in the sure expectation of our ultimate destiny that is inseparable from him.
We humans were created for a purpose bigger than ourselves or anything else in this world. Paul gives us a glimpse of this purpose in Romans 8.
In verse 29 Paul tells us that God’s ultimate purpose is that we might be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. The Father always delighted in his dearly loved Son with whom he was well pleased. And so he eagerly desired a vast family of sons like his Son. This heart passion gave birth to his ultimate purpose.
In verses 15-18 Paul tells us that now the Father gives us the Spirit of adoption enabling us to live as the family of sons and daughters in union with his Son. The Spirit of adoption enables us to cry Abba Father in full assurance while leading us daily into the life of dearly loved children before our Father. In the Spirit of adoption we are daily transformed into the likeness of God’s Son so that our final destiny is already happening.
Looking towards the future Paul invites us to see the whole of creation waiting in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For Creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God (19-22).
The Father’s purpose is all about his Son and the children in union with him. That’s us! And so we find a purpose that is bigger than ourselves or anything else in this world within his purpose
In 2007 The Eagles put out a new album called “Long Road out of Eden”. One of the
tracks is “Frail Grasp on the Big Picture”.
We need to constantly hold God’s big picture before us, but our grasp is
frail. Too often we lose God’s Panoramic view because we are looking at the little
parts that relate to our own little lives.
Long before anything existed Father, Son and Spirit were
united in a communion of love and joy. Within this communal life the
Father had such delight in his Son that he wanted a vast family of children just like him. This family would share in the communion
of the Son with his Father in the Spirit.
And within this communal life they would be transformed into the
likeness of the Son. The Father loves
the Son so much that he has a passion to see his Son in many other sons and
daughters. All this will magnify and exalt the Son. And this
supremacy of the Son is the Father’s deepest passion and greatest
purpose. So it is the Father’s Son who fills God’s big picture from
beginning to end.
For sure we are included in all this. For according to the Father’s passion and
purpose, his Son’s destiny is bound up with us and our destiny is bound up with
his Son. For the Son was chosen before the foundation of the world to be Jesus:
God with us as one of us and we with him in deepest union by the Spirit
We humans need a sense of purpose and destiny that is within God’s Ultimate Purpose. But sadly, we tend to ask, “what is my purpose and my destiny”? We see all things from our own viewpoint. And so each one becomes the very centre of his own small universe. We need to see from God’s point of view.
God had a purpose for us and the whole of creation before he made anything. That purpose has not changed. It was and is Jesus. All things were created through him and for him (Colossians 1:15). And by his Spirit God “has made known to us “the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:9-10 NRSV). The whole of the Father purpose is centred in his Son, is done through his Son and is for his Son.
Where do we fit in the Father’s purpose? God’s entire purpose is all about Jesus and Jesus is all about us. For we are in him and he is in us. God wants a large family who share the likeness of his Son (Romans 8:29 NRSV). We are that family of sons and daughters in union with the Son. But we must always remember that it isn’t about us. It is totally about the Father’s Ultimate Purpose in the Son for the Son. However, when the end comes the Son hands it all back to the Father so that God will be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28).
Jesus is the true God drawing near to humanity. So near he actually becomes one of us. He refuses to hold himself aloof from us. Even though he was always with God as God he does not stand apart from us. He becomes fully human tasting within himself all that it means to be human.
As the true human Jesus identifies with us fully even in our sin yet without sinning. We see this total identification when he was baptised along with sinners in a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Repentance isn’t simply saying sorry. Nor is it just a feeling of sorrow over sin. A person repents when he changes his mind about sin. He no longer excuses sin, but accepts God’s judgement on his sin. He confesses his sin as offensive to God and worthy of his just judgement. Jesus had no sins to repent over nevertheless, he stands with sinners confessing all the wrong.
On the cross the Father’s Son identified fully with us bearing God’s judgement upon us. He bore the full judgment of God upon sin within his innermost being. He accepted it all willingly without protest. At the same time offering himself freely to the Father on our behalf. In this way he entered into the depths of judgement on sin in a way we can never do. And he also entered into his Father’s grief and sorrow over our rebellion and alienation.
God as human identifying fully with us. This is the only God we know.
Father and Son are so closely bound up with one another in the Spirit that they “indwell” one another. The purpose of this relational God for his creation is also relational. He wants to reach beyond his own shared life as Father, Son and Spirit to include us in love relationship. Furthermore, the way he achieves his purpose is also true to who he is as deeply relational. For God comes as close to his creatures as he can – in becoming human.
But while God wants to turn towards us we want to turn away from him pursuing our own goals. Indeed, we want to be the goal ourselves. So there is a chasm between God and humanity. A gulf that we cannot cross and do not even want to cross. The mutual relation intended between God and humanity needs to be repaired both from the side of God towards humanity and from the side of humanity towards God.
This chasm between God and humanity has now been bridged by God’s himself. He has himself acted in Jesus to reconcile the estranged parties. For Jesus is God drawing near to humankind and humankind brought near to God. In him the two are brought together as one. And so in him the goal of creation is sure “according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:9). Yes, everything brought together and summed up in him!
The law was God’s gift to his covenant people. By obeying the law’s commands Israel would express their faithfulness within covenant relationship. But the law has been taken captive by the powers of darkness turning it into an oppressive power. Sin and Satan work through the law turning people towards religious self-effort resulting in proud self-righteousness. On the other hand, law also reduces others to crushing bondage in guilt and shame. In these ways the law becomes “the strength of sin”, as Paul puts it.
Jesus was an Israelite “born under law” and as a faithful Israelite he fulfilled all the righteous demands of the law. He did so, not in mere conformity to legal requirements, but rather in love and faithfulness towards his Father. He always lived in trustful obedience to his Father and did so on our behalf so that he is our righteousness. Furthermore, in trustful obedience he was always moving towards the cross with the aim of setting us free from the curse of the law by bearing the curse in himself.
The Spirit of Jesus now lives in us so that the righteous requirements of the law are fulfilled in us who walk according to the Spirit. We now live in a new way as the new humanity free from law and yet free for God. “We are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code” (Romans 7: 6).