GETTING THE MESSAGE

Christ has been raised!

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In Colossians 3:1-3, the apostle Paul writes: “If you then 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 things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

The apostle infers that Christ has been raised, and that all who belong to him by faith have been raised spiritually with him. Christ’s bodily resurrection from death and ascension into heaven is an article of the Christian faith. The power of a holy Christian life lies here.

Christ’s resurrection is an evidence of his conquest. If he had not conquered he could not have risen. When he rose from the dead, he encouraged his disciples not to fear (Matthew 28:10). We hold on to all by the resurrection of Christ. 

When Christ tells his people not to fear, there is solid ground for the encouragement. Fear not death, for I have overcome death; and the evidence is in my resurrection. Fear not sin, because I have made satisfaction for it on the cross. Fear not the devil: I, by my resurrection, have crushed his head; nor the world for I have overcome the world. 

Christ has trod upon the necks of all our spiritual enemies and conquered them all. Paul is instructing Christians that once you are raised with Christ, you are born into a living hope. With spiritual resurrection there is life, so the apostle directs us to have our hearts set on the life in Christ. Therefore, whatever we do is to be by faith, bearing witness to Christ, who is seated above in glory.

Christians in this world meet with many troubles and temptations, so we need to remind ourselves that we are raised with Christ. The same Spirit is promised to us that raised Christ from the dead. We are seekers. We seek that which is above, the honor of Christ, so we must make use of the means the Lord provides: prayer, his word, assurance in the sacraments, worshipping with other Christians. Paul says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”

Paul equates the power of Christ’s resurrection with the spiritual resurrection God works in those who believe in Christ. The work of grace in a Christian is not a small work, but a powerful work. It was a powerful work that raised Christ from the dead, and so it must be to raise a man dead in sin to faith and life in Christ. 

When Christ was put to death, there was a stone rolled over his grave, and it was a work of God’s power to remove it as it was to raise Christ. So whoever finds this work of grace in their hearts should be full of thanksgiving unto God for his inestimable favor, and especially this powerful work, which Paul likens to God’s command in the beginning: “Let there be light.”(2nd Cor. 4)

Paul is encouraging Christians to live out the spiritual life we have in Christ. We have an obligation to the Spirit that dwells in us. We were dead in trespasses and sin, but made alive in Christ. Lazarus was four days in the grave before Christ raised him. We can easily imagine how this miracle endeared his love to Christ exceedingly. 

We would naturally love one who, through great hazard and danger to his own life, was instrumental in saving ours. Our lives in this world are numbered and short. How much more should you love Christ who has given you spiritual life and granted you escape from eternal death? A Christian’s life is not his own but belongs to Christ. He has secured an inheritance that waits for us.

The apostle Peter writes: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1st Peter 1:3-5).”

The Rev. Chris Shelton is the pastor of The First Presbyterian Church of Union.


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