By Jordan Hines
Well, good morning. It is great to sing with everyone today. In Christ Alone is one of my favorite songs.
And what we're going to look at today from Colossians three is rooted in that truth. See, the first half of the book of Colossians is all about the identity that they have in Christ and what that means for them, for the the believers at Colosse. And, and the last half of the book, the last two chapters, are all what we ought to be living like because of our identity in Christ.
And so turn with me to Colossians chapter three. And these first four verses of chapter three are really pivotal in the book. The title of the message this morning is therefore in the ESV translation it says if then therefore is probably in your King James or new King James.
I love the idea that therefore, since we are in Christ, we ought to be living differently because of who we are in Christ. And I think we need that, especially in times of crisis, right? There are people going through crisis today. I'm thinking of one person who many of you might know that is going through a very difficult time.
And you can think of that person in your own life and make it a personal connection of someone who's going through something physical or emotional, something that's really challenging, something that they are forced to cling to, something. And even the next song that we're going to sing after the message is Be Thou My Vision. And I think that when we're in crisis, where our vision is set, where our affection is set, is really clear.
Where do we turn when there is trouble? Where do we turn when there is crisis? Well, Paul here in Colossians is writing from prison. He is in the midst of his own crisis. He's in the midst of his own personal tragedy.
And you notice that in the book of Colossians, if you read through, there is no mention of him asking for assistance or asking for help. Instead, what he is doing is he's admonishing these believers that because of who they are in Christ, they ought to be living like it. I think our focus should be similar.
Our focus should be on who we are in Christ. Let's read verses one through four. 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 mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth. Verse three for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
See, as Paul is teaching this, he's teaching them who they are in Christ in the midst of some controversy. If you go back to chapter two, the reason that they have to have this message is because they are being swayed by false doctrine. Even.
Go back to chapter two, verse six, just for a couple seconds here. Therefore, as you receive Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught abounding in thanksgiving. And this is important.
Verse eight. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy or empty deceit according to human tradition, which we'll talk about in a couple of seconds according to the elemental spirits of the world and not according to Christ. Don't be swayed, don't be turned aside to these things of the world and then drop down.
He's going to describe something that theologians call the Colossian heresy. Verse 16 therefore, let no one pass judgment on you in the question of food or drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath. These are a shadow of things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
So he'll go on and talk more about the details of this. But allow me to summarize. Basically what he's saying here is that there are those who hold the Jewish traditions of new moons and festivals and feasts and they are holding these things on par with Scripture, on par with what Christ has done with his church.
And they are distracting the believers from the preeminence of Christ. And as Paul is addressing these people, he wants them to be firmly aware of who they are in Christ. And actually, in your notes, I think the two points are flipped.
I think that's my fault. It should be believer's identity, the believer's identity and then the believer's position in Christ. So first we're going to look at the first two verses and see the believer's identity, who they are in Christ.
And as we look at the book of Colossians, just kind of in a summary fashion, think through these following statements that Paul has said. He said that you are saints. He said that you are faithful brothers in Christ.
So Colossians one, verse two, you are saints. Colossians one, verse two. Again, you are faithful brothers in Christ.
Colossians one, verse twelve. You are beneficiaries of the inheritance of the saints. Drop down to verse 14 of that same chapter.
You are a redeemed people. Verse 22 you are in the body, you are in his body. Colossians two, verse five.
You had a firm faith in Jesus Christ. Then the next verse, Colossians two, six. You are recipients of Christ and since they are to follow, he is emphasizing who they are in Christ.
And therefore, since you are this, since you are not to be swayed by false teaching and false doctrine, we are to live differently. This is a passive statement risen with Christ. It means that they're not doing it.
It means that Christ has done this for them. This is about Christ, not them. This identity that Paul is talking about is designed to bring about a natural response.
And that response should happen in our own lives as well. And he uses two very key words seek and set. Now, there's an interesting wordplay here seek and set your mind.
This is the idea of seeking or actively, presently pursuing. It's an endeavor. It's inquiring to worship.
It's pursuing with great intensity. Think about the parable. The parables in Luke chapter 15.
Think about the lost son. Think about in Luke chapter 15, verse eight. This is the woman who has lost this coin of great value and she sweeps her home and she pursues this coin because this is of great value to her.
And it's hard to find it, but she pursues it. It's the same word used of when the prodigal son returns and the father comes pursuing after him. He runs after him.
He is pursuing after him with great intensity because he loves him. It's pursued because of great love. It's also the same word used in Luke 1229 when it says when Jesus tells his disciples to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, he also tells us to set our affections.
The setting our affections here is interesting. It's like you can place it somewhere or place it somewhere else. Think about your schedule this week.
Think about what you're doing with your time. Where we set our affections is what we care about what we love. We have a choice in the matter.
Our focus ought to be on the things that are above. Our affections ought to be on the things that are above. There's a location here.
Look. It says where Christ is seated. What is this place? Where is he talking about? This is a place of authority.
See, Jesus has ascended into heaven. He sits at the right hand of the throne of God. This is where angels and authorities and powers are subject to Him.
This is where he came from. When we talk about the Christmas story and about Jesus becoming a man, it becomes even more amazing because this is what he came from. He gave this up to be a human being, to be tempted to be tried to bear the sins of the world.
We set our affections on these things. So let me ask you this morning before we continue what are we seeking and what are we setting our affections on? It's something that's hard to answer. But how we answer this question is very key.
It means that our life will change if we answer this question by saying, I pursue Christ. I pursue what Scripture says about who I am in Christ. I pursue Godliness.
I pursue Godly relationships and Godly living, then it will change the way we live. But if we ignore it, then we will live our life passively and not actively seeking God. There is no in between.
You see, here we have to understand that God wants all of our hearts god wants every piece of us. He wants us to pursue Him and set our affections on Him. We have seen that Paul is commanding us to do this.
And now let us ask the question, a logical question. How do we seek and set our minds on the things that are above? How do I do this? It's great that we agree on this. It's great that we understand this, but how do I do it? What are the steps necessary? What does it mean to seek these things? It means that we agree with God on what's most important.
It means that we are congruent with God and what he has for us. So let's ask the question what was God concerned about? What was Jesus concerned about when he was living on this earth? I would say first of all, that God was not concerned with comfort. He was not concerned with having everything put together.
Luke, chapter nine of verse 58 talks about Jesus talking with disciples. Again, foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have the nests, but the Son of man hath nowhere to lay his head. He wasn't concerned with having a great palatial estate, even though he is from heaven, where that is definition of glorious and majestic.
That's not the purpose, that's not why he came. God also places a preeminence on the kingdom of God. That's what it's about.
It's not about comfort. It's about the kingdom of God. I referenced it earlier, but Matthew six talks about seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.
As the disciples were wondering about many things, Jesus is saying, let's pursue the kingdom of God, let's pursue God, and then he will fulfill everything else in our life. Everything else will fall in place. We need to trust Him for that.
We also see in scripture from Matthew 19:27 that God is concerned with men being devoted to Him. We're familiar with the disciples following him, with disciples leaving things behind. This verse says Behold, we have left everything to follow you.
Everything. It's not something we can just go be half in on. It's something we have to be fully invested in later.
In that passage, verses 29 and 30, it says and everyone who has left their houses, or brothers and sisters, or fathers, or mothers, or children of farms for my name's sake shall receive many times as much and shall inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and last will be first. It's not about being first in this life.
It's about being the servant of all. To seek the things of eternal value is to be a servant of all with no regard to personal gain, but all regard for the eternal destiny of souls. It means we put aside trying to be great in man's eyes.
We put aside trying to pursue the things that make us feel good. It means that we put aside personal gain for the sake of Godliness. It also means that we regard the souls of men as valuable as believers.
We can look back and see that God has changed us. God has reconciled us back to Himself. And we can see that God can do this again.
He's still changing people's lives in this community, in these houses around us, in this community. He's still working and he wants us to be working for Him, and he wants our identity to propel us to work for Him. Think about those who watched 911 happen live on TV and how many thousands upon thousands of people volunteered for military service after that happened.
Or think about any time that someone's father or grandfather had served in Vietnam or Korea or Desert Storm or any kind of conflict. And their identity as an American, as a soldier, propelled them and compelled them and pushed them forward towards service. As Christians, we look back to what Christ has done.
We consider what Christ has done and that compels us and propels us towards service. It should be easy to be motivated when we consider who Christ is and what he's done for us. We ought to be pursuing God because of what he has done for us, because of the work of Jesus Christ.
The souls of those who trust in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior are raised to new life, different life, changed, powerful life. And this powerful truth stimulates gratitude, thankfulness. It compels us to live differently, to forgive others.
And all these things are true. All these things help us to propel us towards Godliness. What are some practical ways this looks in our life? What does it looks like to be a disciple of Christ here in this situation? Well, I think it means that we look at our life, we evaluate our life through the lens of scripture and we see what is distracting us from pursuing Christ more.
Is it our comfort? Is it our finances? Is it our social media? Is it our friends? What is keeping us away from this? Is it ourselves? Are we allowing the sins of our hearts to come out and to draw us away from God? What is keeping us today? I think we can all find something. When you identify those things and then get rid of those distractions, whether that means getting rid of something, deleting something, removing something from your life, or just having an awkward conversation with someone, it means that something has to change. It means that this week's schedule looks different, means you prioritize your time in God's word.
You prioritize your time in prayer. Because we need to be pursuing Christ with the tenacity that we can't even fathom, because the love of Christ is endless. The love of Christ is pursuing us greatly, and we fall very short of that goal, fall short of how much Christ loves us.
We ought to be loving him. So with that in mind, how are we doing right now as a man of God, as a woman of God, a child of God? How are we doing? How am I doing? How is Jordan doing? Am I pursuing Christ? And I think that we can all look at ourselves and say, even if we are on that road pursuing Christ, I have to be pursuing him more in this specific area. And maybe that means getting an accountability partner, getting a brother and sister in Christ and saying, I really want to work on this.
I really want to grow in Christ in this area. I think that if we open God's word, if we look at God's word together and study it and we talk about and pray about it and we help each other, we can grow in Christ together because that's how God designed us. He designed us to be a community of believers.
As the Northridge Baptist church grows, as Northridge Baptist church thrives, it does so because of who we are in Christ. It does so because of the power of the holy spirit working through us and the power of the holy spirit working through us in the lives of our brothers, in the lives of our sisters. We do it together.
And you can see now that our identity here, our identity in Christ, is the engine that propels all of this change. It changes who we are. But now let us look at the position that we have in Christ, the redeemed position in Christ.
There are specific reasons we have here. There are some key phrases that really punch hard. They're very clear.
The first phrase is that you have died. We don't like to throw those words around very often. They're not comfortable words.
But in scripture, we are confronted with these facts. You have been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God who raised him from the dead. You see, believer, you are a saint, a brother, a child of God, a beneficiary of the grace of God.
You are responsible to uphold Christ in your community. You're responsible to live your life differently because of your identity in Christ and also because of your brother and sister in Christ, to be a good testimony to that person and to be walking with your brother and sister. You've died.
When something is dead, it can't do anything. We can't do anything outside of Christ. The old part of us, the old man, the old nature, is dead.
It's gone. You have been buried with Jesus Christ in baptism, and this beckons us to look at the picture of the cross. When Jesus Christ died, he was certainly dead.
The Romans made sure of it. His body was done, and then he was buried. And you have been buried with him.
And Jesus Christ, after he has experienced this pain, this punishment for all of our sins, experiencing the wrath of the Father poured upon him after being crucified on the cross. We read in Galatians 220 that I have been crucified with him. I have been crucified with Christ.
It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me, in the life I now live in the flesh. I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. We talk about death.
We talk about some very serious subject matter similar to the book of Colossians. In Romans we find another pivot point. See, we've talked about the first half.
The book of Colossians is all the identity of Christ and who we are. And then the last half is what we ought to be doing in the book of Romans. That Pivot point is found in Romans, chapter six.
And Paul has given us so much great theology about who we are in Christ, about how to be saved, about how we need Christ, and how no one pursues God on their own. And then we come to Romans, chapter six, and it says, the first command in Romans is reckon yourselves dead to sin. Consider yourselves dead to this.
He says, don't pursue it. In order to not pursue it, you have to first know that this is not who I am. Your identity in Christ is directly tied to the work that Christ did for you.
And next we're going to see that our life is hid with Christ. Our life is secure. In the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Your life is hidden. It is secure. There's a beautiful picture of being secure as a sheep of the great shepherd from Romans, from John, chapter ten, verses 27 to 30.
My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to me, is greater than all.
No one is able to snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one. The great shepherd is leading and guiding us.
The great shepherd is working in us. The great shepherd is holding us. If there was a way for us to lose our salvation, we would have lost it because our nature, our old man, wants to sin, and the temptations around us are great, but we are secured in Christ, we are secured.
You will never run outside the reach of your Father's hand. You'll never outgrow the grace of God. And if you believe Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins and that there is no way that I can work my way to heaven, I'm trusting in this alone.
I'm depending on him alone by faith alone, in Christ alone, then you have this. You have this hope. Look with me at Colossians, chapter two, the end of verse 13.
And 14 god has made us alive together with him, having forgiven us all of our trespasses by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. Our Savior Jesus Christ satisfied the righteous demands of His Father, and he did this for us because he loves us.
We also see that we will appear with Christ in glory. One Thessalonians, chapter four, verse 13, provides remarkable hope to those who have lost loved ones, provides remarkable hope to us who are still alive. And as we pursue Christ, we have this hope.
And this gives us a different kind of living, because we don't fear death. But we do not want you to be uninformed brothers about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do, who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, Jesus God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with him in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore, encourage one another with these words that's not written about some people a few thousand years ago alone.
That's written about you and me. That promise is made to us. That promise is made that we will have an eternal destiny, eternal future, that is bright, that is glorious, that is secured in hope in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
I have hope because of who I am in Christ, because of my position in Christ. You may be sitting there agreeing with all this, and you may be asking, if I have this treasured identity in this redeemed position, then what does it look like to have this hope? How do I wear this on my sleeves? What does it look like when I go to work tomorrow? I think it means we have a right perspective on trials when things don't go our way. How do we respond when things are not exactly how we want them? How do they go? What do we do? It means patience.
It means gentleness. It means bearing the fruit of the spirit. It means allowing God to work in our lives.
Being humble and saying, this is not my life. It's a simple daily dependence on God and knowing that he is not done working in us, even though we're not perfect. Philippians One Six says I am sure of this that he who has begun a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ.
And this is our hope. This is the hope that we are not a finished product, but we are promised. And when Jesus says that, we are called and we are sanctified and we are eventually glorified.
All those words in the Greeks are as present, active. That means that they are as good as done. Right now, we are considered positionally perfect before God, glorified before God.
But maybe some of you are not feeling this hope. Maybe some of you are sitting here not understanding this hope. Experientially.
Why is it that you don't feel this hope? I think we need to be pursuing and considering God first. Before we can feel this hope, we have to really know who God is. How am I supposed to know the hope of God without knowing God? Because the hope of God is rooted in who he is.
It's rooted in his goodness and his faithfulness and his love and his justice. Our hope in God is rooted in what we know about God. Maybe you need to find a brother or sister who can point you to Christ and say, I know it's hard, but this is what God's Word says about his love and care for you.
And you're not alone, because your brothers and sisters in Christ are there to support you and to love you and to show you what it means to be loved in Christ as they bear the fruit of the Spirit, as the Spirit works through them. Maybe you've gotten your eyes off of your heavenly home. Maybe you've forgotten that God is your source of life and you've wandered away into whatever this world is throwing at you.
How do I get hope in that situation? Well, true, genuine hope is found in knowing Jesus Christ. True, genuine hope is knowing who we are in Christ and being propelled by our identity in Christ. Think of the Olympics.
Think about how a runner runs and pursues a goal. He sets aside years of his life to train and to change his diet and to represent their country well. And as they run in the Olympics, they run not for themselves.
They run because of their country, and that country invests in them. That country loves them. That country gives them all the tools that they need.
And that athlete runs not for themselves. They run for their country. Right? We run not for ourselves, but for our God.
He wants us to have this kind of focus, this kind of tenacity of an athlete to pursue Christ likeness. And Paul gives us a very clear application from this passage as to how to do this. He says in verse five put to death, therefore what is earthly in you.
Sexual, immorality, impurity, passions, evil desires and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these, the wrath of God is coming, and these you too, once walked when you were living in them. But now things are different.
Now, verse eight, you must put them all away. And he goes on and he old Self and the new self. That's a great chapter to read through and to understand.
My life has to be different and new because of who I am in Christ. I should not be from chapter two, verse six, verse eight drawn away by the philosophies and the elemental spirits of this world. Instead, I ought to be pursuing Christ because of who I am in Christ, not swayed by the world, but instead knowing who I am in Christ, I ought to be putting to death what is earthly in me.
Why? Because I am dead to sin and alive to Christ. And I have this hope this morning. We are called to live differently.
We are called to guard ourselves against being drawn away. We are called to be reminded that we need to be living for Christ. And it's easy to talk about living for Christ.
And I think it's important this morning just to address the simple starting point that we have to begin at who are we in Christ? What does that mean for my vision? We're about to sing a song called Be Thou My Vision. I pray that our vision this morning is that we would pursue Christ. Is that the things of this world would be put to death in our lives.
People would see a great difference in our lives. I hope that you're encouraged, I hope that you're challenged. I hope that the word of God has been powerful in your life.
And I pray that God would speak to us even as we sing this next song. So let's thank the Lord for his message this morning. God, thank you for who we are in Christ.
Thank you that we do not have to be persuaded and moved about by false doctrine. I pray that because of who we are in Christ, we would stand firm in the hope that we have in the Gospel and the hope that we have in our eternal future. Help us to live for you in your Son's name.