I really believe, with all my heart – and I’ve thought a lot about this – that before we can reach the world, we have to leave it. Now, maybe that sounds paradoxical, but it really isn’t. Before we reach the world, we’re going to have to leave the world.
In John chapter 8 – and you don’t need to turn to it, because I’m going to mention several Scriptures to you – Jesus said, “Ye are from beneath; I am from above. Ye are of this world; I am not of theirs world.” Jesus, even though He came into the world, reached the world from the vantage point above the world. The only way to really reach the world is to leave the world or to be from without the world and to bring to the world a divine dimension.
In the eighteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, in the thirty-sixth verse, Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews. But now is My kingdom not from here.” Again, Jesus emphasizing that the vantage point from which He reached the world was not the world, but it was above the world.
Seeing this in a theological sense, we would need to look at Romans chapter 12. And listen to this, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present Your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your spiritual worship. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Jesus reached the world from a vantage point beyond the world. And the apostle Paul says that we are going to reach the world also when we are no longer of the world.
In Galatians chapter 1 and verse 4, the apostle Paul further says, “The Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world.” And here’s a hint at what we’re talking about: Jesus’ kingdom was not of this world. He reached threshold world from behind the world. Paul says, “If you’re going to reach the world, you’re going to reach the world from beyond the world, and it all begins in Galatians 1:4. When you come to know Jesus Christ who delivers you from this present evil world.
You know, it’s an interesting set of thoughts to think about, but this paradox runs all through the conversations that Jesus had with His disciples and elsewhere in the New Testament. For example, Jesus said, in His prayer to the Father in John 17, verse 15, “Father, do not take them out of the world.” In Matthew chapter 28, Jesus spoke to all of us and said, “Go into all the world and make disciples.” Writing to Titus in chapter 2 and verse 12, the apostle Paul said, “Live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world.” And in 1 John chapter 4, verse 17, John reminds us that we are to live like Christ in the world.
Now, isn’t it interesting that you have all of those statements about being in the world, reaching the world, living as Christ in the world, living righteously in the world, and you have that whole other dimension of having to reach the world from out of the world? Well, how are you going to resolve the paradox? How can I say that you have to reach the world from beyond the world when Jesus says go into the world? When John says be Christ in the world? How can these two be brought together? It’s very simple. Really? It isn’t complicated; you know it already. It’s simply this: your inside lives in heaven, and your outside lives here. That’s all.
And I really am convinced, and I know you are, you who know and love Christ and know His work, I know you’re equally convinced that until a Christian, in his heart and his soul and his mind, has learned to live his spiritual life in the heavenlies, he will never be able to touch the earth with the truth of God. It won’t happen.
I was reading this week the memoirs of Robert Murray M’Cheyne, which I periodically read when I frustrate myself with my own carnality, and this is what I was reading. I was reading about Robert Murray M’Cheyne as he was evaluated by some of the people who knew him. And this is one man’s comment. He said this of him “The man of whom I speak seemed to have got up to the full height and to have entered into the secret places of the holiness of God.” End quote.
Here was a man who knew Robert Murray M’Cheyne, the great preacher. He seemed to have dwelled in the secret places of the holiness of God. The man went on, “When he preached the Gospel, you could see strong men, hard and stern, melt like wax before the fire. Their breasts would swell and heave as if they would burst. And the whole place became a place of weepers.” Now, there’s a man who touched the world. There’s a man who reached the world. And the comment of a man who observed was the reason he reached the world was because he lived in the presence of God.
Jesus did the same. We find, if we read carefully between the lines a little bit - and sometimes not between the lines but right in the text - that every night Jesus would retreat – wouldn’t he? – to the Mount of Olives, because that was His real world, really. That’s where He communed with the Father. That’s the place He had come from, and the place to which He would go when His work was done. And it was there that He lived and communed with God. And from that vantage point, He went into the world. As long as we’re earthbound, as long as we are preoccupied with the world system; as long as we are caught up with money, and fame, and prestige, and popularity, and fashion, and education or whatever; as long as those are the things you love the most, and you can tell what you love the most, as we saw last week, by what you think about the most; as long as you do that, you’re earthy, and you will not reach the world with the Gospel the way God would want.
You know, somehow I guess it gets down to the fact that we have to push ourselves away from the world, and we have to become bystanders. And maybe that’s what a presentation like this helps us to do. Somehow we have to have an objective look. We have to have a very uninvolved eye so that we can at least begin to see the real poverty of soul, the real destitution of spirit, the real hopelessness, the real helplessness, the real loneliness of a world without Christ.
And unfortunately, I don’t ever think we can see it in our own culture because we’re too much a part of the system we live in. You know, I’ve been on enough mission fields around the world to know that I get very sentimental. I get very spiritual. I get very concerned. I even get tears in my eyes when I see other cultures without Christ. But as soon as I come home, it’s all over with, because I can’t push my culture away to look at it objectively. I’m too caught in it. I wish to God I could push it further away and really see it for what it is. I wish I could see the world the way Jesus sees it. I wish I could see Panorama City, and Los Angeles, and California, and the United States the way Jesus does. But I’m still in the process of having my transformation by the renewing of my mind.
Every once in a while, I get a little glimpse of it, and I try to hang onto it, but, boy, it’s tough, isn’t it? And I can sit in my seat, and I can watch this, and I can get concerned, can’t you? I can’t be indifferent. That breaks my heart. And I’ve been there, and I’ve seen it. And I’ve had those little beggars pulling at my clothes. And I care. And then I come home, and for some strange reason, because this is my system, and this is my culture, I can’t objectify it anymore. And somehow, the Christian had got to get to the place where he’s able to do what Paul and all the great men of God throughout the ages were able to do, what Robert Murray M’Cheyne was able to do, and that’s get out of the system and get into the presence of God so that you can minister to this world.
When Paul said, “Come out from among them and be ye separate, he wasn’t just talking about personal holiness; he was talking about evangelism. There’s no way you’re going to touch the world until you get out of it and see its need genuinely and honestly and realistically. See?
In Ephesians, the apostle Paul tells us to leave the world. He tells us to take our hearts and our hopes and our thoughts and get them out of here. And you know how he does it? By telling us that everything we really want is up there anyway. He says, for example, “And you have been blessed with all spiritual blessings” – where? – “in the heavenlies.” He tells us in chapter 3, verse 10, that the angels are there in the heavenlies. He tells us in chapter 1, verse 20 that Christ is there in the heavenlies. He tells us in chapter 2, verse 6 of Ephesians, that our position is there. We are seated with Christ in heavenly places. As if to say to us, “Look, the blessings are there, and the angels are there, the Lord is there, your seat is there. What are you doing messing around down here?”
And that’s really the message of Colossians chapter 3. Let’s look at it, verses 1 to 4. These verses are going to help us somehow to begin to think through this whole idea of getting out of the system in our hearts and minds, if not in our bodies, until Jesus comes. At least in our hearts and minds, so that we can minister to it.
Colossians 3:1 says, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For year are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.”
Now, there’s a simple message in those verses, and the message is this: get out of the system. Divorce yourself from the world in terms of your spiritual attitudes, in terms of your inner man.
Now, Paul has closed out the doctrinal section of the book of Colossians. It ended at the end of chapter 2, that great, great two chapters that we’ve studied in so much detail in the last few months. The doctrinal section is over. And now having stated sound doctrine, he makes some practical implications. And doctrine always has practical implications.
The first great, practical principle that he wants to tell us is get out of the system. The only way you’ll ever reach the world, the only way you’ll ever touch the world is to ascend beyond the world into the presence of God. I kind of like to call these verses “living the risen life.”
You know, when you think about it, we’ve already experienced a dramatic change anyway. I mean we’ve already been divorced from the world in terms of the real issue. Look with me at several Scriptures.
Take your Bible – and I mentioned it earlier, and I want to point it out to you – Ephesians chapter 2, verse 6, and let’s kind of set the settings for our thoughts here. I don’t know how far we’ll get, but we’ll see. Ephesians 2:6. Talking about the benefits of salvation and that which occurs when you come to Christ, Paul writes, “And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.” In the Greek, this is a past tense, and aorist tense, something that already happened, past action.
Whenever a Greek wanted to say something that was already done and absolutely irrevocable and couldn’t be changed, he said it in the past. And that’s what it means. The moment you came to Christ, when you were dead in sins, verse 5; when you were made alive together with Christ; when you were saved by grace, you were instantaneously raised up and given a place in the heavenlies in Christ. Spiritually speaking, you ascended. Your conscious mind is occupied with Christ. You entered, as it were, into the holy of holies. The veil was ripped, and you walked in to the presence of God.
In Philippians chapter 3, we find the same thought in verse 20, where he says, “Four our citizenship” – or our manner of living; or our life, if you will; or our existence is in heaven.”
You say, “Well, what are you talking about? We’re not there yet.”
No, but though our bodies aren’t there, that is to be the occupation of our mind. The heavenlies.
Notice 2 Peter chapter 1, verse 3, “According as His divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hat called us to glory and virtue” – a great statement about the fact that we have been granted everything we need for living the Christian life.
Verse 4 opens it up a little bit, “By which are given unto us exceedingly great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having already escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
When you were saved – now mark this – when you were saved positionally, you were taken out of the world. In the words of John, “Who is he that has” – what? – “overcome the world? Or what is it that overcomes the world? Even our faith.”
When you put your faith in Christ, you overcame the world. When you received the divine power that came in salvation, the great and precious promises, when you were made a partaker of the divine nature, you escaped the corruption that is in the world. You were transformed. You transcended the world; your conversation, your manner of life is in the heavenlies. It’s a great reality.
So, every one of us, as believers, has entered into a genuine, spiritual relationship with the God of the universe, the Christ at His right hand, the Holy Spirit, in the heavenlies. We’ll never reach the world until we get out of the world. The Lord knows that. So, the moment you were saved, you transcended the system. The moment you were saved, God granted to you the capacity to enter and to live consciously in His presence.
Spirituality is then a heavenly kind of life. That means that as Paul says here in Colossians 3, it is a life that focuses on things above; not on earthly things. It is a preoccupation with the divine. It is the upward look, if you will. And we could – we could talk about all kinds of Scriptures relative to this. It is 2 Corinthians 3:18, if you want one for example. It is where you continually gaze on the glory of the Lord and are transformed by the Holy Spirit into His image.
Well, how can you gaze on the glory of the Lord unless you’ve got your mind in heaven? Unless you’re thinking about God? Unless you’re thinking about Christ? Unless you’re thinking about the Spirit of God. This chapter, this little section here that begins it is a call to true spirituality. And true spirituality is setting your affections on things above and not on things on the earth. It is getting divorced from the system so that you can step away from the world, you can see the world, and you can reach the world from the vantage point of divine enablement.
The key thing in missions is not seeing the need; that’s a part of it all. The key thing in missions is not knowing all the Bible verses and what they mean relative to that, the key thing in missions is not finding a place to go; the key thing in missions is to be dwelling in the heavenlies so that you can come back to the world wherever it is from the vantage point of divine power and make an impact.
Now, I want us to look at this section, and I want us to consider several things, and I’ll run them by you quick. They all start with R. Number one is the reminder. The reminder in verse 1, “If ye then be risen with Christ” – stop right there. Now that is the “if” of reality in the Greek, and it should probably be translated “since,” because it’s already an accomplished fact. “Since you have been risen with Christ,” is literally what the Greek would say. “Since you have been risen with Christ” – and already accomplished reality.
Now, listen to me. Do you realize – think about it – that you have already died. Right? We’ve seen that in Galatians; we’ve seen it in Romans. You died. When did you die? At salvation. You were crucified with Christ. So, you died when you were saved. You died to the world. Romans says, in chapter 7, you died to that former husband, as it were. And then after that, you rose from the dead, and you took on what kind of life? Eternal life.
Eternal life is not a quantity of life; it is a quality of life; it is heavenly life. So, when you came alive in Christ, at the moment of your salvation, you came alive to the dimension of God’s heaven. You literally – your mind was open to God, and what God desires, and what God wills for your life. And you died with Christ, and you rose with Christ. Don’t forget that. Don’t forget that from the moment of your salvation, you entered into a new dimension of life. You are not living plain old bios – remember that? – biological life. You’re not living zōē, real life You’re living eternal life, which is a quality and a dimension of life that only God can give.
And so, the moment you became a believer, you were risen with Christ. You live His resurrection life. And that’s why, as I read you earlier, the apostle Paul says, “Your manner of life” – Philippians 3:20 – “is in heaven.” Listen, that’s where we live, folks. And if your mind is stuck in the things of the world, then you are not living up to your position in Christ, are you?
We’ve talked about, so many times, the fact that the Christian life is basically becoming what you are, isn’t it? This is what I am positionally; I better become like I am. I better live up to my position. Our position is in Christ. In Christ we have eternal life. Having eternal life takes us into the presence of God, and we live His kind of life. We breathe His kind of air.
Now, if you’ll notice the first four verses, I’ll show you something interesting. He says in verse 1, “with Christ;” in verse 1, “where Christ;” in verse 3, “with Christ;” in verse 4, “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear” – there it is again – “with Him in glory.” With Christ, where Christ, with Christ, with Christ. The emphasis is pretty clear.
Having Christ is having everything. He’s the center of our resurrection life. And the conscious preoccupation of the believer is to be on Christ. That’s what it means when it says, “Seek the things that are above.” Get your preoccupation on Christ. He’s the center of your life.
Remember chapter 2, spiritual intimidation? Don’t let anybody come along and intimidate you with human philosophy. Christ is all. Don’t let anybody come along and intimidate you with human rules and ritual and legalism. Christ is all. Don’t let anybody come along and intimidate you with their angels and their ecstatic experiences. Christ is sufficient. Don’t let anybody come along and intimidate you with their acts of self-styled fleshly self-indulgence. Christ is all. And Colossians 2:10 put it as well as it’ll ever be put, “Ye are complete in Him.” And that’s what he’s saying here. You have everything in having Christ. You don’t need any of the world’s systems of religion. You don’t need to say Christ plus human philosophy, Christ plus legalism, Christ plus mysticism, Christ plus asceticism. All you need is Christ.
Now, if you’d just get yourself up there where you belong, you wouldn’t get bugged by the rest of that stuff. I think some Christians get intimidated begin they don’t spend enough time with Christ to find out that He’s all they need. Do you know that?
When somebody comes to me and says, “You know, have you had this experience,” do you know what I say? “What for?”
“Well, I was reading a book this week; if you haven’t had this certain experience, you’re incomplete. You haven’t arrived.”
Do you know what my answer to that is? Listen, I have Christ. The songwriter said, “What want I more?” I live in the heavenlies. Marvin Ford may have gone there, but he came back. I’m still there. So are you if you know the Lord Jesus and you’re living the kind of life He designed for you to live. No wonder there’s some Christians running around, chasing people like that, trying to find out how they can get that experience, because they’ve never learned what it is to get in the heavenlies and enjoy the Christ who is there and see that He’s all they need. I’m not intimidated anymore. Hallelujah; that’s a good place to be, because I know what it is. I’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good, and He’s fulfilled every need I could ever have. Jesus Christ is sufficient. I’ve lived just enough in the heavenlies to know that. And so will you when you get up there and enjoy it awhile.
You see, the whole issue is to live a Christ-conscious life. And the basis of it all is this simple reminder: hey, after all, you have been risen with Christ. I mean the old life is gone. You’re living the new life, the new eternal life. And as long as you’re there positionally, just remember where your position is and start operating to get toward that in reality. Don’t forget who you are.
There’s a second thing here that I want you to see - not only the reminder, but the responsibility. “Since you have this reminder,” he says, “if you are then – or if you have been – since you have been risen with Christ, seek those things which are above.” Now, stop there for a second. Seek those things which are above. Literally continually be seeking those things which are above. Make it the pattern of your life to be preoccupied with heaven.
Now, Paul is not offering another kind of asceticism. He’s not inviting us to be spaced out spiritually. He’s not inviting us to walk around, you know, in a fog, not telling us to go sit in the corner like a Buddhist and contemplate your navel till you wind up in nirvana. That isn’t the idea. The Spirit of God is not telling us to do something weird and strange. He is simply saying, “Let your preoccupation with heaven govern your earthly responses.”
Now, I’m going to even make it more practical. You know what it means to think on heavenly things? You can’t just think about heaven; you got to think about who’s there. Right? He’s not saying, “Just imagine yourself strolling down the golden streets, and turning right, and there’s...” No, no. See? Or, “Imagine yourself polishing off one of the jewels and...” No. “Imagine yourself smiling into the pearl.” No. That isn’t the idea. The idea is not a preoccupation with the – what makes up the city, but the idea is to think heavenly thoughts, is to be preoccupied with the one who reigns in the city: the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Since you have this reminder, you have also a responsibility,” he says. “Continue to seek the things that are above.” You know what the world needs? What would really change this world? What would change this world would be a heavenly set of values, wouldn’t it? We’re in an election time in our country. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if somebody could just take the New Testament and write out a whole platform for this nation? Boy, I’d love to do that and then get elected. Wouldn’t it be fantastic? It’d be absolutely fantastic to have a biblical – a biblical set of values for our nation. That’s what it needs.
But listen, if you – the only way you’re going to be able to bring a heavenly set of values to the earth is to get up there and find out what it is. Wouldn’t it be great to see things, and people, and events the way Jesus sees them?
We entered in the heavenlies when we were saved. But you know what happens? It happens to me; it happens to you. We just have a hard time shoving our hearts up there, don’t’ we? We get preoccupied with how much money we’ve got, preoccupied with what our house looks like, what our clothes look like, whether we’re keeping up with the society around us, preoccupied with all the piddly, mundane stuff in our world. And so, we can’t really offer to the world anything about a heavenly dimension, because we’re not too sure what it is yet. And then some joker comes along and intimidates us by telling us about some weird experience that you can reach out and get kind of spiritually spaced out, and we’re the first one to grab onto it, because we really don’t understand anything out there anyway.
The verb here is to be constantly seeking, to be – Jesus put it this way, “Seek ye first” – what? – “the kingdom of God and His righteousness” – and what will happen? – “all the other things will follow and be added.” That’s not a new principle. You can look in the Old Testament. Check out 1 Chronicles 22:19; you’ll find it there, too. What are the things above? See what it says, “Seek the things which are above”? What are they? Well, the spiritual values that are embedded in the heart of the glorified Christ. Realities like tenderness, kindness, loveliness, meekness, longsuffering, patience, wisdom, forgiveness, most of all love. Those are the bounties of heaven. Those are the things that fill the heart of Jesus, and those are the things that if you spend enough time with Him are going to fill your heart.
You know, if I could make my Christian life reduce itself to a simple prayer, you know what it would be? “Father, I want for me, and for my brothers and sisters, and for the whole world what Jesus wants for them.” Isn’t that it? Isn’t that John 14? “If you ask anything” – what? – “in My name” – consistent with who He is. “Father, I want for myself, and my brothers and sisters in Christ, and the world what Jesus wants.” But if I think about that long enough, there’s an obvious second thought, and that is I better find out what Jesus wants. How am I going to do that? Spend some time with Him.
So, Paul carries us to the heights in the heavenlies. He takes us to the other side of the grave, puts us in the Beulah land of the spirit, where the Christian has new ideals, and new desires, and new resources, and all heavenly. And it kind of makes us feel like a skylark who flies higher and higher and higher. And all the time singing.
When a Christian begins to live in the heavenlies, when he begins to live in the “Jerusalem from above,” as Paul calls it in Galatians, when he begins to find that city that really is the true home of God, and the true resting place of the believer, then he begins to bring down to this world something this world desperately needs, and that’s a heavenly set of values.
Notice what he says in verse 2. Continuing the same thought, he says, “Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.” And I want to show you something very simple here. Verse 1 says, “seek,” and verse 2 literally in the Greek says, “keep on thinking the things above.” It’s a simple thing. You not only seek heaven, but you think heaven.
In other words, your mind ought to be on heaven. How are you going to seek heaven? How are you going to seek the things above? By thinking on the things above. That’s a simple thought. Couldn’t be any simpler. “Seek” from one Greek verb zēteō, and “set your mind on” from another one phroneō. If you are to really seek the things above, you have to program your mind to think on those things.
These two terms are important in Paul’s vocabulary. They had the idea kind of a chosen orientation, like the needle of a compass seeks to find the pull, and then follows that pull, so the believer in his life seeks to fall in line with the pull of God toward the heavenlies. And maybe the second term is the most important. To seek is one thing, but how to seek? Set your mind.
Set your mind. I really believe that this is the intellect, the mind. Be transformed by the renewing of your – what? – your mind. And I think we need to know the things that God wants us to know. I think we need to understand the thing that God feels and thinks and wills by knowing the revelation that He’s given us. Let me give you a practical thought.
Somebody’s saying, by this time, “Well, John, how do you – how do you get into the heavenlies, as it were?”
For me it comes always the same way. And this is just a very personal thing. For me, always it comes the same way. I always dwell in the heavenlies when my mind is preoccupied with the Scripture. Because the only thing that I know of God, and the only thing I know of Christ, and the only thing I know of the Holy Spirit, and the only thing I know of their character and their values is what I have read here. Right?
And so, it’s only as I reiterate in my heart and my mind these truths. That God is actualized in my thinking. That God becomes real to my conscious mind, and that the realness of God and the values of God are then translated into my action. And so I say that until I leave the world, I have nothing to offer it. If ever there has been a time – and I hope there have been a few, when I’ve come in here and spoken to you as if it were heaven speaking, it’s because I’m coming from that experience. An experience of spending a week with the mind of God plants His thoughts in my mind, and I have a heavenly message to bring in an earthly vessel. It’s simple but profound.
So, the Christian who is risen with Christ has a new focus; he has a new focal point; he has a new direction, just like the compass needle is drawn to the north, so his spirit is drawn to the heavenlies to be occupied with Jesus Christ. That’s clear, because he says it in verse 2. Notice it again, “Set your affection” – or set your mind – “on things above, not on things on the earth.” And then backing up to verse 1, “Seek those things which are above, where Christ sits.” In other words, the preoccupation is with Christ.
Let me give you a third thought. We have a reminder by Paul; we have a responsibility. I love this, and I just hinted at it: we have a resource.
You might say, “Boy, you know, I hope something happens when I get up there. I hope if I spend the time to study the Word and set my affection there, and put my mind on it, and seek those things, I hope there’s somebody up there. That’s a long trip if nobody’s home.
Well, look at the end of verse 1 “Seek the things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God.” He’s there, and He is seen in a sitting position, and He is waiting in majesty and honor for us to enter His presence and claim His power. This is the resource, people.
The reminder, the responsibility, and now the resource. The truth of Christ’s coronation, the truth of his exaltation. At the Father’s right hand means that He’s the fountain of blessing for His children. Because He’s there, because He’s exalted, because He’s at the Father’s right hand, the Father has said, “You are honored; you are praised; you are glorified; I give you everything I have,” and we go into His presence to receive it.
When we seek to obtain the things above, we’re not chasing phantoms. We’re not like the Gnostics who tried, by a superior knowledge, to get a superior spiritual experience and never got anything but the pandering of their own flesh.
I’ll promise you something, Christian. Everything you seek is there, because He’s there. Everything you seek is there. If you think about it, you know that, don’t you? Because when you needed something, you went there, and it was there.
In our new life, then, what do we have? A reminder. You’ve already been placed in the heavenlies positionally. A responsibility. Get your practical life up there and seek the things that are there by setting your mind on those things. And a resource. Have the confidence to know that what you seek is there.
Fourthly, he reiterates what was alluded to in verse one, the reason. The reason, verse 3. Look, “For you’re dead.” Dead to what? Well, if you were to read Galatians chapter 6:14, you would read that you have been crucified to the – what? – to the world. You’re dead to the system. You’re dead to the world. Your life is hidden with Christ in God. The reason that you should follow this admonition is because that’s where you are alive. You have an entirely new life and a new consciousness. I love the thought, “Your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
People have talked a lot about what that means. What does it mean to have your life hidden with Christ in God? Well, I thought of three things. Number one, it means I’m all wrapped up with God in Jesus Christ. My life is tangled up with their life. That’s super.
I mean he that is joined to the Lord is – what? – one spirit. The Father, and the Son, and plain old John Macarthur; we’re all in this thing together. And when I go up there, they don’t say, “Yes, let me see your card.” They say, “Hi, where have you been? We’ve been waiting for you. This is home, you know. Did you forget?” See?
No, my life is all wrapped up with Jesus Christ. And you know God doesn’t see me apart from Him, and God doesn’t see Him apart from me. Is that staggering? God looks at Jesus Christ and sees John MacArthur. God looks at John MacArthur and sees Jesus Christ. That’s what it means that my life is hidden with Christ in God.
But it means something else, too. I thought about this: it means that my life is hidden with Christ in God. And the idea of the hidden hit me. Do you know something? My life is concealed from the world. They don’t know it. They think I’m just like everybody else. They don’t know what I know, what you know.
You know, the world doesn’t know about us. The natural man – what? – understands not the things of God. Do you think they know you from anybody else? Do you think they understand what makes you tick? Do they – do they know that you’re a citizen of heaven, living in a heavenly? They haven’t got any idea. All the phony religionists, and the errorists, and the people besieging the Colossians coming along and saying, “You need this, and you need that, and you need this or you’ll never make it,” what they didn’t know was they’d already made it. But it was concealed from their deluded minds.
And so, when I think about my life being hidden with Christ in God, that means I’m all tied up with them. And it also secondly means – and I think maybe this is the primary point of the text here – my new life is concealed from the world. And I got to realize that they’re not going to understand me; that this isn’t my domain; that this isn’t my playground; that this isn’t the place I dwell. I’m a stranger and a pilgrim.
And there’s a third thought that came to me, and it is this. If my life is hid with Christ in God, that sounds to me like everlasting security. If my life is hid with Christ in God, that’s secure.
There’s a book that’s been recently written in which a particular person admonishes Christians to watch out for demons. And he has a whole list at the end of all the demons you should look for. And watch out. And one of them he names is the demon of eternal security. You know, for me, that’s blasphemous. My life is hid with Christ in God. And I think about the security that He gives me when I read Romans 8, my heart is thrilled.
What does it mean that my life is hid with Christ in God? I have a new life all wrapped up with Him. It’s concealed from the world, but it’s secure with Him. And if all of that is mine, I might as well get up there and enjoy it. That’s the reason. Live in the heavenlies. It’s going to be kind of fun when my spirit and my body gets up there with my mind.
Well, the religious world may tell you you’re not making it. Somebody may try to intimidate you into thinking you’re not going to get the higher knowledge, deeper life, second blessing, true humility or whatever, but you’re there, and you’re hidden from them. But you’re there, and you’re secure, and you might as well get up there and enjoy it.
And finally, just to prove all this – I love this – there’s the revelation. It’s almost like God saying, “Now, world, we are going to have an unveiling and see who really made it.” “When Christ, who is our life” – verse 4 – “shall appear, then shall you also appear with Him in glory.” They may not recognize us now; they may not know that we live in the heavenlies, but someday they’re going to know. Because when He appears at His second coming – you can read it in Revelation 19, we will appear with Him also. He comes back with – remember? – in the white robe, riding a white horse with all those other white horses and the armies out of heaven. And that’s us, folks, along with the angels.
The verdict of eternity, I’m afraid, is going to reverse the verdicts of time. And people are going to see who it was that really attained to God’s presence. Do you like this phrase, “When Christ, who is our life”? Fabulous. He is our life. I’ve often said that Christ doesn’t give life; He is life. He gives Himself.
When He appears at His second coming, we will be manifest with Him in glory. Lightfoot says, and it’s a beautiful statement, he says, “The veil which now shrouds your higher life from others, and even partly from yourselves, will then be withdrawn. The world which persecutes, despises, ignores now will then be blinded with the dazzling glory of your Revelation.
“I live by faith; soon I’ll live by sight.” What is he saying here? He’s saying, “What’s the center of your life?” If the center of your life is to set your mind on Christ, you’re going to live in the heavenlies. And from that vantage point, you have a set of values and a power to give to the world. And then you can go out and reach people for Christ. And then you can touch lives in a way that matters. And it all boils down to the fact of who is the center of your life.
Ptolemy taught that the center of the solar system was the earth. And everything revolved around the earth. For 1,300 years that theory went on until it was finally proved to be an illusion. Copernicus said, “The sun is the center, and everything goes around that.” You know, I know some Christians who are still living under a Ptolemaic illusion. They think the world is the center of the their universe, but it isn’t. The Son is. Christ is everything. I hope He’s the center of your life. I hope you’re living in the heavenlies; it’s the only vantage point from which you can touch the world.
Let me tell you about a man who lived in the heavenlies as I close. His name was Hudson Taylor. He was so burdened with China. And you know what burdened him with China? His biographers tell us that he lived so much in the presence of Jesus Christ, that he began to feel the great heartbeat of Jesus for the lost souls. And he himself says that, “The burden of Christ became my burden.” You see, he lived in the heavenlies so much that he began to feel like Jesus felt.
And this is what his biographer says, “He found the self-satisfying, hymn-singing congregation in Brighton, England intolerable. He looked around him, pew upon pew of prosperous, bearded merchants, shopkeepers, visitors, demure wives in bonnets and crinolines, scrubbed children trained to hide their impatience.
“The atmosphere of smug piety sickened him. He seized his hat and left and later said, ‘Unable to bear the sight of a congregation of a thousand and more Christian people rejoicing in their own security while millions were perishing for lack of knowledge, I wandered out on the sands alone in great spiritual agony.’ And there on the beach, he prayed for God to give him 24 laborers to go to China.”
I wonder if we’re that congregation in 1976. Sitting in our security with smug piety, and that the center of our universe is the earth and not the Son of righteousness. Hudson Taylor felt the way he felt because he lived with Jesus so long that the heart of Jesus became his heart. And so, he left the world and dwelt with the Savior so long, that he could come back to the world from a divine vantage point.
Do you know that even the Roman Catholic mass ends with the words Ite Missa est? Get out. The implication is, “There’s a world out there, get out and do something about it.” And we’ve learned that first you must ascend into the presence of Christ and see it the way He sees it.
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