A Sermon by Nate Wilson on Colossians 3:1-4, Resurrection Day, 2005, 2007
“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased!” (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory)
I want to challenge you, along with C.S. Lewis, whom I’ve just quoted, to consider your life on earth in light of the resurrection. The apostle Paul states this challenge in his letter to the Colossians.
Colossians - 3:1-4 (NAW Translation): Therefore, if you were raised in Christ, seek the things above, where the Christ is sitting on the right hand of God. 2 Mind the things above, not the things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life has been hidden together within the Christ in God. 4 Whenever the Christ (your life) shall be revealed, then also you together with Him will be revealed in glory.
On this day Christians remember the awesome historical event of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. He is risen! Do you believe it? There are plenty of logical reasons to believe that Jesus rose from the dead:
· There’s the fact that he disappeared and no dead body has ever been found despite the desperate attempts of all his enemies to produce one.
· There’s the fact that all his friends insisted that they had seen him alive after he had died on the cross. Many of them went on to give testimony as eyewitnesses in Roman courts to the fact of the resurrection. Most of them were killed because they insisted on witnessing to this fact even under threat of death. Those men were utterly convinced that what they died for was true.
· There are many other logical reasons, but we ultimately believe in the resurrection out of faith in God. The Bible tells us that Jesus rose from the dead, and we believe God’s word.
This passage in Colossians has an IF in it. “If you were raised in Christ…” So we must first figure out which side of the IF we are on. Were you raised in Christ, or were you not raised in Christ.?
There are many passages that speak of how the resurrection happens. Let’s look at them:
· No one can come to me unless the Father draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day (John 6:39)
· According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again (1 Pet 1:3)
· The father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life (John 5:21)
· everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him… whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day (John 6:39-54)
you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of
God who raised Him from the dead (
· Share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death in order that I may attain to the resurrection of the dead (Phil 3:10-11)
· We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, on order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. If we are united with Him in a death like his we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like His (Rom 6:4-5)
· If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Rom. 8:11)
Do you have what it takes? An all-powerful God who can give life, faith in Him and His Son Jesus Christ, dying to yourself and identification with Him in baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit? O.K. Then we have established the potential that you could have been raised. But our passage in Colossians does not say, If you have the potential for being raised, but If you HAVE been raised. Does the Scripture give us assurance that we have actually been raised?
· Eph 2:6, God raised us up with Him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus
We who are believers have been raised, and so we can go on to the THEN part of this IF-THEN statement in Colossians 3. IF we have been raised, THEN it makes a difference in how we live!
Therefore, if you were raised in Christ, seek the things above, where the Christ is sitting on the right hand of God. 2 Mind the things above, not the things on the earth.
God created us with desires for pleasures, possession, and power. It is natural for us to set our minds on things and seek them. These are not sinful. Satan was able to appeal to these desires for pleasure, possession, and power in the sinless Adam and Eve and in Jesus Christ. God himself appeals to each of these desires in us! He offers us:
Mat 19:28 Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, in the new
world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have
followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes
Act 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come
upon you, and you will be my witnesses in
o 2Co 12:9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
o Jam 5:16b The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Forget about the Ninjas, this is “real, ultimate power!”
o Mat 6:20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
o Mat 19:29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.
Psalm 16:11 - You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Power, possessions, and pleasures are legitimate objects of desire that our Creator has instilled in us, and by which He can motivate us to faithful obedience. The evil one counterattacks by tempting us to direct these legitimate desires to the wrong objects. The way of the world and the temptation of the devil is to try to gain each of these three things apart from God in the present world. The way of the Lord is to gain them in the future not by clinging to them in the present, but by forgoing them in the present and entrusting them to God. (Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions, and Eternity)
It’s so easy to focus on the interesting things in front of our faces. Like the child in the slum, the mud is right there to be played with. The thought of a holiday at sea seems too remote to excite any real interest.
Belief in the resurrection requires a radical reorganization of earthly life to align with our heavenly life. Instead of drawing our life out of the earth, it involves drawing heavenly life down to earth (REPEAT). That’s why Jesus organized the Lord’s Prayer like He did when He taught His disciples to pray. The very first things on our mind should be, How can God’s name be honored on this earth as it is in heaven? How can God’s kingship be acknowledged on this earth as it is in heaven? How can I do God’s will on earth as it is done in heaven? These things should be what consume our thoughts.
There are many other passages that talk about how our thoughts should be consumed with heavenly things. Here are a few of them:
Matt 6:33 “Seek first the
· Philippians 4:8 “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”
· Hebrews 11: 13-16 “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city.
· Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of faith…”
“If you were raised in Christ, seek the things above…Mind the things above, not the things on the earth.” You have a different nature as one who has been raised with Christ. Your nature is such that it would be absurd for you to seek things on earth and think about earthly things. Consider the following conversation between a butterfly and a caterpillar:
Caterpillar: Mr. Butterfly, is it not true that you used to crawl upon the ground?
Butterfly: Yes, but now I float on the breezes!
Caterpillar: Aren’t you interested in the way the dirt is so smooth here – so easy to crawl across?
Butterfly: What I’m really interested in is flowers!
Caterpillar: But the leaves are so much greener than flowers!
Butterfly: I can’t believe I used to eat those things. Who wants leaves when you can sip nectar!
Caterpillar: How arrogant! You think you’re better than me!
Butterfly: No, it’s not like that at all, I’m happy, and with the right changes, you can enjoy the same happiness!
Caterpillar: What you really need is to take the time to relate to us caterpillars, to refresh yourself on how to operate 100 legs, how to grip tree bark so as not to fall, and how to chew leaves properly.
Butterfly: Don’t you understand, such things are utterly irrelevant to me? Come, fly with me!
Where is your mind right now? On the ground or in the air? Let’s bring it up from bugs to humans:
Do you think about how you can make more money? Do you dream of being
rich? Do you pursue schemes for making money? Do you worry about protecting
your investments? Or is money something you receive as God’s providence to
cover your needs. Setting your mind on things above would mean considering
money a means to pay for the
· Giving is the antidote to greed. It is the giving up of riches in this life to gain possessions from God.
· Lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven (Matt. 6:19-21)
· Do you think about the opposite sex in terms of the pleasure you can draw to yourself? That is setting your mind on earthly things.
· We should approach the opposite sex in order to bring the blessing of God to them.
· Do you think a lot about food? Jesus said, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work. (John 4:34) Not “What will I eat next” but “God, what do You have next for me to do?”
· Fasting is a means of denying the pleasure of food in the present to gain greater pleasure in God.
· Do you look at food in terms of what pleasure you can draw from it, or is it merely a means to strengthen us for our heavenly purposes on earth – a means in which we can certainly take delight and be thankful for, but which is nevertheless a means.
What is free time for? Is it a time to throw off constraint and seek
pleasure for yourself? What do you do when you are off work, out of school, and
don’t have immediate responsibilities at home? Is it a time to switch on the
TV, numb our minds with music, relax at the bar, browse the mall, play games,
or wander aimlessly through the Internet? I submit to you that our leisure time
is the true test of our faith. We certainly need rest from work, but oftentimes
we take too much rest or we spend our rest time seeking to be renewed by
earthly things rather than by God. Our leisure time should be spent seeking the
things above, thinking about heavenly things, hiding with Christ in God. In
your reading, are you seeking the things above? When you listen to music, is it
stimulating your mind to think about heavenly things? When you spend time with
friends on the phone or on the playing field, are you bringing the
· Parents have a special temptation to set their minds on earthly things when it comes to children, although it can happen in any other human relationship. Do you draw meaning in life from the dependence of your children upon you? Is the earthly success of your children so important that you would sleight heavenly things to ensure it? Do you allow the constant messes your children make to take your mind off Christ?
· Well, if you were raised in Christ, seek the things above, where the Christ is sitting on the right hand of God. Mind the things above, not the things on the earth. For you died, and your life has been hidden together within the Christ in God.
If you are Christian, you are dead. You are a corpse. Dead people cannot advance up the corporate ladder. Dead people do not care what others think of them anymore. Dead people don’t get excited at the sight of something interesting. Dead people are not looking forward to their next meal or the next show. They’re incapable of enjoying themselves on earth anymore. If you are a believer, then you have died with Christ.
remember a funny story that a friend of mine told me about this. Steve Ward had
been reading about how he had died with Christ, identifying with Christ’s death
in baptism. One day he was driving along the highway in
Part of what it means that our life is now hidden is that we are carrying eternal life hidden in a mortal body. We have life that is hidden in Christ in heaven and is not clearly seen on earth. We are inbetween two resurrections, the one which we have already received and one yet to come.
There is a resurrection yet to come.
· 2 Cor 4:14 “He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into His presence,
· John 6:40, I will raise him up on the last day
· I Cor 6:14; God will also raise us up by His power
· 15:52, At the last trumpet… the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed
Note the future tense verb “will raise/will be raised” in each.
· like angels in heaven (Mat 22:30)
Cannot die because equal to angels (Luk 20:36)
Do you dream of a life where your friends aren’t dying off one by one?
He whom God raised up did not see corruption (Acts 13:37)
Do you dream of a life in which your body does not break down? No bad joints, no bad memory, no pain, no sickness, no corruption!
That is raised is imperishable, glorious, powerful, spiritual (I Cor
Do you dream of being gloriously beautiful or powerfully strong?
A better life (Heb 11:35)
Are you dreaming of a better life, or are satisfied with this one?
Reigning and judging others (Rev. 20:4-6) Or do you not know that the
saints will judge the world? … that we are to judge angels? How much more,
then, matters pertaining to this life! (I Cor 6:2-3)
Do you dream of a world where you don’t have to suffer, but can address the injustices and make things right?
Believers will be in the presence of Jesus (2 Cor. 4:14) I am the God
of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob… not the God of the dead but of the living (Mk
12:26-27; Luke 20:37-38)
Do you dream of being able to see Jesus face to face, getting immediate feedback when you pray, never having to wonder what God wants you to do, always feeling that He is near you?
That is heaven! That is something to look forward to! That is worth living for! That kind of glory is worth seeking and setting my mind on! For this reason, we who have been raised in Christ, also set our hopes on this glory to come:
· I am the resurrection and the life, Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live (John 11:24)
· Everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:40)
· It gave Paul confidence to go on trial in the Roman court system. “It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial” (Acts 23:6; 24:15)
It gave Paul hope and courage to fight “beasts” at
· It upheld martyrs who “were tortured, refusing to accept release so that they might rise again to a better life.” (Heb 11:35 – referring to Eleazar in 2 Maccabees 6:18-19)
Richard Baxter, the puritan pastor wrote in 1649, “If then there be so certain and glorious a rest for the saints, why is there no more industrious seeking after it? One would think, if a man did once hear of such unspeakable glory to be obtained, and believed what he heard to be true, he should be transported with the vehemence of his desire after it, and should almost forget to eat and drink, and should care for nothing else, and speak of and inquire after nothing else, but how to get this treasure. And yet, people who hear of it daily, and profess to believe it as a fundamental article of their faith, do as little mind it, or labour for it, as if they had never heard of any such thing, or did not believe one word they hear.”
Therefore, if you were raised in Christ, seek the things above, where the Christ is sitting on the right hand of God. 2 Mind the things above, not the things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life has been hidden together within the Christ in God. 4 Whenever the Christ (your life) shall be revealed, then also you together with Him will be revealed in glory.
I believe in the resurrection! No more mud pies for me!