That wise man Solomon made some observations about what he called “life under the sun.” Here is one of them:
I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare, even so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them. (Ecc 9:11,12 KJV)
That’s a very dismal assessment of things, isn’t it. But Solomon was right; it’s something that has been proven true, grievously true, countless times throughout history. People are just living life under the sun, and suddenly they are caught in an evil time, as in this pandemic, a great net cast over the Sea of Humanity. But that is just one of the hazards of life “under the sun,” and the only way out of it, as everyone knows, is by dying, itself a very unwelcome prospect for most people.
But this begets the question I have been asked not once or twice with regard to the pandemic. “Why isn’t God doing something about this?” To many He seems to be completely silent, in fact completely absent, even indifferent to it all.
What follows here is my answer to that question (yet not mine, but God’s). It shows that God is doing something, and shows just what He is doing, and further, that He has participants in what He is doing. The answer is found in the first four verses of Colossians Chapter 3. I’ll cite them, greatly loved as they are:
If, then, ye were raised with the Christ, the things above seek ye, where the Christ is, on the right hand of God seated,
the things above mind ye, not the things upon the earth,
for ye did die, and your life hath been hid with the Christ in God;
when the Christ–our life–may be manifested, then also we with him shall be manifested in glory.
(Col 3:1-4 Young’s Literal Translation)
There we have it, God’s own wonderful answer. There is a life not “under the sun” but above it all. There are “things above.” That is, for those who have been raised with Christ. These are to “seek the things above.” What are the things above? As we discover in Ephesians, all our spiritual blessings are above, our heritage is above, our warfare is above—in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. But we want to focus on the Colossians passage. What we discover in Colossians is that our very life is above, because—and it’s this that we hope to open here—Christ is above, seated at the right hand of God. Christ Himself, as always, is Paul’s emphasis—“If ye then be raised with Christ, seek the things above where Christ is…” To be raised with Christ obviously implies that these first died, which is what Paul goes on to say. “Ye did die…” Who are these ye? You mean that if I am one of them I don’t live under the sun anymore? Wonderful news—I’m outa here, I died. But just when did I die? And more wonderfully, when was I raised with the Christ, and therefore am seated with Him at the right hand of God, living the life that is hid with Christ in God? We must backtrack into Chapter Two for our answer. We need to dive into the middle of one of Paul’s very long sentences:
…Because in him [in Christ] doth tabernacle all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,
and ye are in him made full, who is the head of all principality and authority,
in whom also ye were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh in the circumcision of the Christ,
being buried with him in the baptism, in which also ye rose with him through the faith of the working of God, who did raise him out of the dead. (Col 2:9-12 YLT)
There is a vital revelation in these verses, and we only have space here to get to the essence of it. Note the words, “in him…” “in whom…” That is, in Christ. The ye of Chapter 3 are those who are “in Him,” that is, in Christ. And how did they get into Him? They were baptized into Him. They were “buried with Him in the baptism…” That’s what going under the water of baptism signifies—being dead and buried. But note that Young’s Literal Translation includes the article here. “The baptism.” This is not baptism in water but baptism in Holy Spirit, which baptism in water only signifies. It is baptism in Holy Spirit that is baptism into Christ—into His death. My death by any means, by my own hand or otherwise, cannot accomplish what His death accomplished. Death to sin. Death to this world. It is this death of which A.W. Tozer spoke when he said, “The Christian’s grave is behind him.” For, the baptism is also baptism into Christ’s eternal resurrection life. (See also Romans 6:1-4.)
Do I hear you thinking, “I don’t feel like I’ve been raised with Christ”? But baptism in Holy Spirit—that moment when you received the Spirit of Christ within—is something you no doubt did feel, you experienced this. And so being raised with Christ is true of you and me whether we feel it or not, for baptism in Holy Spirit is baptism into Christ, and in Christ are hidden realities. And when by revelation our eyes are opened by the Spirit to see these hidden realities, we may embrace them by faith. “…Being buried with him in the baptism, in which also ye rose with him through the faith of the working of God, who did raise him out of the dead.”
Let me add this, brothers and sisters. Many of us anticipate a mighty move of the Spirit of God. But let us not be looking to a coming move of the Spirit to make real to us what even today may be embraced by faith, and walked in.
We’re still backtracking in Chapter Two; Paul has this baptism in mind when toward the end of the chapter he says:
Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—“Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle…” (Col 2:20,21 NKJV)
And he continues to have it in mind at beginning of what we call Chapter 3:
If, then, ye were raised with the Christ, the things above seek ye, where the Christ is, on the right hand of God seated, the things above mind ye, not the things upon the earth…
Let’s read that carefully. “If then ye were raised with Christ, seek the things above…” What a wonderful word to find here. Above. Above it all. “Seek the things above, where Christ is…” Let’s not miss the emphasis. “Where Christ is.” Not the things themselves, but Christ Himself. “Seek the things above, where Christ is…” And where is Christ? Christ is “seated at the right hand of God.” Seated, that is, enthroned. And we who have been baptized into Christ are there with Him. We are seated, enthroned, with Christ at the right hand of God, the place of all power, the very power of God. What an astonishing revelation for faith to lay hold of.
More next time.