Fellowship With Christ: 4. Raised Up Together With Him, Part 2

Ephesians 2:6  •  50 min. read  •  grade level: 8
The English verb, " to raise up " [like the Greek verb, ἐγειρω], does not necessarily give the idea of resurrection. The first idea which the word suggests is that of causing to rise; and the word would, in its own self, very well suit itself in to a vast variety of circumstances. For instance, we find classical Greeks using the word when they want to say rouse up the sleepers "; arouse the mind "; "stir up the fight '; "wake up - the flame, the song," etc.; " raise from a sick bed," "raise a building," etc.; and in passive, " awake from sleep"; " wake," (be awake so as to) " watch."
Resurrection is so essentially a Bible and a Gospel idea and truth, that we should never think of finding it among the writings of the Greek historians and poets. On the other hand, it (resurrection) is so fundamentally doctrine of the Gospel, that we are not surprised to find that the hearts of Christians (as those who know that the Lord is risen, and that all their good is with Him and in resurrection) are unconsciously apt to twist every passage which can be so twisted, and make it refer to resurrection. Some of the passages in which this word occurs have, I judge, been thus twisted; for while the word is used, in the New Testament, for resurrection, that is not its primary sense. We find it translated variously; thus in -
Matt. 3: 9. To raise up children unto Abraham.
Matt. 24: 7. nation shall rise against nation.
Three passages which appear to me to have been wrongly pressed into the service of resurrection, are Acts 5:3030The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. (Acts 5:30), and 13:23, and Col. 3:11If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1). Acts 5:3030The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. (Acts 5:30): " The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins" (ver. 31). The expression raised up, here refers, I believe, to the Lord's appearance in humiliation, and thus presents what the sin of the Jews was. Jesus was raised up "a horn of salvation" (Luke 1:6969And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; (Luke 1:69)); you murdered Him; God raised Him from the dead. A concise but expressive statement of the outline of the facts; and, as a statement, much more natural, as well as more full, than to suppose that the raising up, instead of referring to, God's causing the Lord to appear, means merely His resurrection.
Acts 13:2323Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: (Acts 13:23), I read as having the same sense as the preceding verse (viz., 22); " He raised up unto them
David to be their king" ... (ver. 23) " Of this man's seed hath God, according to His promise, raised unto Israel a Savior, Jesus. When John had first preached, before His coming," etc. And, I think, any one reading carefully the verses 24-30, will see the reasonableness of this. First, a Savior raised up; then John's preaching and course; then the conduct of the dwellers at Jerusalem referred to; then the Lord's death and burial (ver. 29); and then (ver. 30) His resurrection—" But God raised Him from the dead."
Col. 3:11If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1), refers neither to the Lord's being raised up "a horn of salvation," nor to His being raised up "from the dead," but to our being raised up from earth to heaven with Him—" If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God." This we shall look at more in detail presently. But, and let it be remarked, the term raised up suits the Lord as a Savior, whether displayed in incarnation, in resurrection, or in ascension.
Attention may here, well enough, be called to the difference between the various displays of Resurrection-power. Some have been raised again from the dead to the same life which they had previously to their death, as Lazarus, the widow of Nain's son; then there is the first resurrection (at the commencement of, or just preceding the setting up of the millennium), of those that live and reign with Christ a thousand years; and, again, there is the general resurrection, when all who have not been previously raised from the dead will be raised. But all these displays of Resurrection-power connect themselves with the Lord Jesus as the alone one that could say; " I am the Resurrection" (John 11). It being written that the wages of sin is death, and again, that he that hath the power of death is the devil (Heb. 2), it is plain that none but God—who fixed the wages of sin as death, and who is stronger and mightier than he who has, as executioner, the power of death-can reverse the power of death; and the power to do so rests in Christ as " the Resurrection." But, blessed be God! there is another glory which is connected, in the same context, with that title of the Resurrection! even this glory of being " the Life"-" I am the Resurrection and the Life." By Resurrection-power we are brought up out of the grave according to what we were, essentially and before God, when we went down into it. And they who go down into it, never having been made partakers of the blessing of being quickened together with Christ, will be raised in the same state as they were in when they went down into the grave. In this way, there is an evident connection between the personal glory of the Son of God, because He is Son of man, and all men.
" I am the Resurrection and the Lifer he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." This (in John 11) r gives the blessed connection between Resurrection and Life in Him for the believer [it was spoken to Martha, a true disciple] and the believer; but it leaves the unbeliever unnoticed. When, on the other hand, He was speaking to the opposing Jews (in chap. 5:19-30), He states it thus—As the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." Observe it: the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, and so the Son quickeneth whom, He will; and all judgment is committed into His hand. This judgment He seems to exercise variously; as thus, first, He tests men by His word, and where that word's quickening power is made manifest, the creature's ruin is judged and set aside; thus-" Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." " Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself" (ver. 24-26). When God will bless any man, He must needs make nothing of what the man is; He makes him over, in the most thorough way possible, to Christ, for an integral part of His glory. A man's rights are met in hell, if a man be a slave of Satan; God's rights and Christ's worthiness can alone account for my being in heaven. In going to his own place, a Judas will awfully find the just sentence of God against his own cherishing of fellowship with Satan! He will find out himself there sure enough, and his own just recognition. For man has lost his own in. heritance through sin: the lake of fire and brimstone was prepared -not for man, but for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:4141Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: (Matthew 25:41)). On the other hand, glory in the heavens is prepared for the Christ of God. In either place, we must be parties of secondary importance. But how much more so in the heavens than in hell, I need not say. But what I wanted to press was the fact, that redemption, as having been communicated to us, is found, by us, to be not only the expression of God's estimate of the worthiness and power of Christ, but the most thorough judgment of all that we were; so much so, that a soul will never really get separate from itself, able to judge itself, to loathe itself, save by the knowledge of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.. I would that we all knew a little more of this self-loathing. And then our Lord went on, after thus showing how all the poor lost sinner's springs were in Him the Savior, to speak of the wicked. He hath " authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which ALL that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of Who shall stand on his own works for foundation and be saved? And, let it be remarked, this is one result of His being Son of man. All men 'shall, therefore, rise from the grave. Some, first, to speak of quickening virtues found in Him the Son, and, through grace, tasted by themselves—themselves made subject to them:-raised to speak and to declare that they had known what it was to be quickened together with Him from the grave; and the works of such will bear witness, and get a reward, too, in the resurrection. Then, last, all shall be raised; and they, too, shall reap the reward of the root they grew upon, and of their separation from the alone Giver of new life (God's life) to the soul; but their works shall not stand in judgment. The root, the tree, and fruit go together; whether Christ or Adam be in question. May we remember it well.
There is one matter to notice here briefly, the transmutation of those saints who are alive when the Lord comes; their change at His coming without seeing death. It may be seen in 1 Thess. 4:16-1716For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16‑17) and Phil. 3:20,2120For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. (Philippians 3:20‑21). " Our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby i He is able to subdue all things unto Himself.". The thought is unutterably precious, that the moment we that remain see Him Himself, virtue will come out of Himself to change these bodies of humiliation, and to fashion them like unto His own body in glory.
I need hardly say that the perfect difference between the Raiser and the raised (or the changed) must never be forgotten. All the virtue and the power are His, and His alone, though they may display themselves, through grace, upon us. Nevertheless, it is too sweet to the heart for me to pass by recalling it, that there is but ONE (our Lord and our God) of whom it can be said, He is " the Resurrection and the Life"; but ONE that had power Himself to lay down His life, and Himself to take it again; but ONE of whom it could be said, He was declared to be the Son of God, with power by the resurrection of the dead (ones); but ONE who can quicken now whom He will, and at whose voice all that are in the graves shall hereafter come forth. His glory and His honor are our highest blessing; and sweet is it to those that have known Him as their Eternal Lover, to think of the glory that awaits them-not as that which will fully and perfectly minister to their own enjoyment, but as that which His love will work in them:- expression at once of His own innate glory, of God's choice of them, and of His desire to have them perfectly fitted for companionship with Him and for the presence of God. Oh, how little do our poor- yet blessed, richly blessed-souls think of Christ and His Love! And yet we are loved by Him, notwithstanding all, and made to know the divine character of His love, which rejoices in giving, giving freely, to those on whom it rests.
I turn now to my texts.
Eph. 2:66And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 2:6). " Hath raised us up together." First let us read the context. We "were by nature the children of wrath," even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved); and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (ver. 3-6).
Some have noticed, as though it were the reason of the word together (" raised up together"), the union in the Church of those who had been separated upon earth into, Jews and Gentiles. That the heavenly body, the Church, contains those who were once Gentiles, as well as those who were once Jews, is a fact. But this is NOT at all the scope of the apostle's meaning. And, let it be remarked, that men are not together, in the Church, as Jews and Gentiles; as such they were separated, by God Himself, the one from the other; but they who were such are together, in the Church, as members of the body of Christ. But surely, my fellowship with a Paul in heaven is not the wonder (though, truly, to be there at all, and to be seen to be there, and that, too, in happy association with other men, is most blessed); but the wonder, in this context, is that which lies at the entrance of each soul into the place and position of this fellowship one with the other, namely, individual fellowship with Christ the Head. I am a member of Christ; He put off all that rested in nature in and upon me when it was reckoned to Him. Therefore He was crucified, dead, and was buried; and I am reckoned, and reckon myself, through faith, clear from it all, as reckoned of God, crucified, dead, and buried together with Him. But He has also made me one spirit with Himself; and, through a divine grace, which is boundlessly great, I share certain things together with Himself. The word leads me back to His taking of His life again, as the Son of man in the grave, that I may understand how, having been quickened—made alive—together with Him, I am free among the dead. And the life which I have is a life together with Him. He the Head, and I but a member. It is true that the blessing which I have in Him, I have in common with all the other members of His body; but the power which enables me, even, to have heart-room for a Paul is found in my known conscious possession of blessings together with Christ. Yea; and it is because He finds His interest in all His members that ours too can flow out freely to them. For the consciousness of community of blessing among the members does not suffice as power to any individual member to act consistently therewith; he needs the love of Christ shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost given to him, and communion with the heart of the Lord Jesus.
I fully admit, first, that God's dealings for the earth had divided (since the days of Abraham, if not even before, viz., from the days of the sons of Noah) the Jew from the Gentile; and, secondly, that this is an order of things which not only existed, while things were left in the hand of man to try and to prove him, as from Noah to Christ, but which will exist when the Son of man comes forth out of heaven to bless man, and to take the government of the earth into His own hands; for the Jews and the Gentiles and the extern nations will then still each have blessings distinctive to itself; and, thirdly, that the Church, as being not for the earth but for the heavens-not a part of God's governmental ways for earth, but part of His counsel of grace and for heaven—sets (as other counsels for heaven do also) this separation of classes aside, though it may sanction other classification. I say I admit all this; but I deny that this is the great wonder of the "together with" in the passage before us. To the unconverted Jew, it was scandal to think even of a Gentile dog being associated with him; to the unconverted Gentile, the narrow bigotry of the Jew was contemptible folly; to the converted man, whether Jew or Gentile, a new and a wonderful scene was opened -Heaven. And a truth, marvelous beyond all others, was propounded; that God has made him that believeth to be vitally one with the earth-rejected, man-despised, but heaven-owned and God-honored Jesus of Nazareth. Separation of Jew from Gentile was, is, and will be for the earth; but heaven neither Jew nor Gentile looked for. The wonder to a Paul was not that one, once a worshipper of Diana, the great goddess of the Ephesians, should be counted fit company for him, a Pharisee, who had thought he did God's service (not only in trying to blot out the name of Jesus of Nazareth from the earth, but also) in trying to destroy the Church, the counsel of God most dear to Him about Christ; but the wonder was this, that vital union, fellowship of life, should be to him with the same Christ Jesus whom he had persecuted, and this, too, in heaven, where Christ sits at the right hand of the Majesty in the highest. A tenure of blessing and a place of blessing, as open to Gentile as to Jew; and a blessing, too, so entirely divine and unhuman, so entirely heavenly and unearthly, that none could communicate even a right thought about it save God the Holy Ghost.
May the believer in Christ never forget that heaven is his home, his native place; and that this is the case just because he is one spirit with the Lord Jesus the Christ, partaker of the divine nature, as made one with the Heavenly Christ, and, therefore, to count upon sharing all things together with Him as the Christ.
But to proceed. We have already looked, 1st, at the being made alive together with the Christ (in 4). He that had laid down His life as a ransom and for an atonement, took His life as Son of man again in the
grave. And the apostle's subject of prayer is still a good subject of prayer; that we may know " what is the exceeding greatness of His [His refers here to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ] power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places " (Eph. 1:19,2019And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, (Ephesians 1:19‑20)). All things put under Him, and He given to be the Head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.
And 2ndly, at the life as so given being the life of the Christ Himself- a life which, if it now identifies us consciously with God, and brings us here below into conflict with everything within us and around us which is in conflict with God, will yet, in a little while, be openly displayed in its own proper sphere, in us in heaven, and be the power of our association with Him then in glory. We have now to consider what the force of the expression in Eph. 2:66And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 2:6), of our being raised up together with Christ, is. 1st. It refers clearly to something which naturally comes in, so far as the Christ is concerned, between His taking of His life again, while His body was still in the grave, and His sitting down in heavenly places. Two acts of His necessarily come in, perhaps, in this place: the one, His leaving the tomb, as in the act of manifesting His resurrection from among the dead; the other, His ascension. Indeed, I need not say perhaps, for so much stress is laid upon His resurrection, apart from His ascension, and such entirely different scriptures and truths are connected with these two acts of the Lord, that it is quite clear God meant us to mark the difference of the two. For instance, it was said—"Must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection?" so says Peter (Acts 1:2222Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. (Acts 1:22)). And this is confirmed by Paul, where he says (1 Cor. 15:3-73For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. (1 Corinthians 15:3‑7))-" I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures; and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of " whom the greater part remain unto, this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, He was seen of James; then of all the apostles." The importance of this evidence as to the resurrection of the Lord follows afterward-" If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith also is vain And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins" (ver. 14, 17). The very doctrine of the forgiveness of sing-of forgiveness of sins to anyone, anywhere-hangs upon the reality of Christ's resurrection. To us also righteousness " shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification. "-(Rom. 4:24,2524But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Romans 4:24‑25)). "The answer of a good conscience toward God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 3:2222Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him. (1 Peter 3:22)). Without this, it is clear there could not be blessing in the presence of God for anyone,' nor such a thing as a good conscience. Whether the question be about conscience in a Christian; in the remnants from among the Jews and the Gentiles who get into heaven, though they yet form not there parts of the Church; or in the Jew or the Gentile, or the outside worshipper. The death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ was God's way, both of being just while justifying a sinner of any class, and of making a good conscience in every believer. Sin was against God. If God appointed that the consequences of man's sin should come upon His Son as Son of man—He must die. He died, and rose and revived. God's way was, thenceforth, open to meet man where and how He pleased, but so (as He counted) alone, and so, as each accepted sinner -wherever his assigned place of meeting God, whatever the distinctive feature of blessing which grace may assign to him when he does so meet God—so, I say, will each accepted sinner find. An arisen Christ alone can be God's channel to the conscience of a sinner, or a true answer of the conscience; and this simply because in this One alone, so regarded, does the conscience find, as God's answer to it, the very answer which God has provided for the claims of His own character. That which has satisfied God may well satisfy me.
But I left out, intentionally, Paul's reference to himself as one of the witnesses of the resurrection.
"And last of all was he seen of me also, as of one born out of due time." Now when Christ was seen by Paul, it was not merely in resurrection. Arisen from the grave, His gospel was to begin at Jerusalem. When Jerusalem would not have it, it sounded out through Judea and Samaria. And, when Stephen was stoned, heaven opened upon him, and there was a blessed intercourse between Jesus standing on the right hand of God and the martyr. But Saul, ringleader of the persecution against the Church, saw, then, naught, heard and understood naught. But a little further on in the history, the arisen and ascended Jesus calls him by name. " Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" etc. That the ascension-glory took a most distinctive place in Paul's mind, and held a most peculiar place in his ministry, is plain. See, for instance, as to the place it had in his mind, the stress he lays upon it, in chap. 22:6-11, when he spake to the people in the Hebrew tongue; and again, in chap. 26:12-18, when he spake in the presence of Agrippa. These portions, compared with the account of his conversion in chap. 9:3-9, are very interesting. And to see the place which the ascension had in his doctrine, one has only to turn to his statement of his gospel in 2 Cor. 4:3-63But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 5For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. 6For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:3‑6), to the opening of his letter to the Galatians, chap. 1:11-16, to the tenor and contents of his letters to the Ephesians and Colossians, to be fully persuaded of it..
But, further, the whole of the distinctive position of the Church, the whole of the doctrine which is distinctively directive to each individual believer now, is found in this ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. Mercy in God may be thought of by a poor sinner now (after a fashion which would have been correct enough in patriarchal days; that is, mercy without its way of flowing forth being explained); but God's mercy shown before us is the mercy and compassion of God, which, having substituted the Christ, the Just One, in place of the many unjust, declares that it delights to flow forth with all its blessings through a Christ that is now upon the throne of the Majesty in the highest. We can only meet God in the place where Christ is presented as meeting us; to us that meeting-place is in the holiest within the veil; to the Jew it will be in the land; and the character of conscience is according to the place of meeting: the light is fuller within the veil, and the conscience is of a higher temper, even as the truth presented to us is the more overt in its expression, and even as the power given is of the highest order. For conscience needs, in order to meet God, that which God needs in order to meet it, and conscience needs a power accordingly. There is but one blood of atonement; there is but one Spirit to apply it: that's clear. But if any would argue thence that because, as regarding himself, relatively to himself, every man that is saved is saved by the Spirit and through the blood alone-that, therefore, as regarding God, relatively to God, each saved sinner must be equally near as another, they utterly mistake. Mercy and compassion were native to God alone; they flow forth as He will; they apply themselves to whom He will; they form classes, too, and put a soul in one class or a soul in another, as God saw meet from before the foundation of the world. A saint to be in the New Jerusalem, to form part of the Bride of Christ, needs a conscience and a spiritual power more than a saint would who had to be part of the kingdom of Israel—to form part of the people of the Lord on earth. Now, escape from the ruin round about us will never be made good to a soul which does not know an ascended Lord. Such a soul is without that form of truth which is distinctive to the economy, and must be without that intelligence and that power which a man needs who has to walk as one risen together with Christ; and, therefore, his citizenship being in heaven, having to seek and to mind things which are in heaven. But of this more in detail. hereafter.
To which, then, of the two things which intervened between Christ's quickening in the grave and His sitting down in the heavenly places. (viz., His coming forth out of the grave and His ascending up- into heaven) does this expression, " raised us up together" (Eph. 2:66And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 2:6)), apply?
I may say in reply, that, 1st, in point of truth, I do not see that it matters much, if at all, which way it be rendered; for rendered either way, it is one step of two between the " being quickened together with Christ," and the " being seated together with Him in heavenly places." 2ndly. The more common, and, therefore, perhaps, the more natural way to render it, is as referring to the first of the two steps. Observe it. Between the communication of life and the being seated in heaven, two things are supposed: 1st, a coining out of the grave (wherein life was received) up among men -to the region of man, so to speak; and 2ndly, a going up from among men into heaven.
I admit that the first of these, in reality, attaches itself to the preceding step; and, if you please, that resurrection involves two things: the communication of life anew; and the manifestation of life, if just dead and not buried, or the bringing up of the person from the grave, if he be buried as well as dead. Still they are not really one and the same thing; and, in the case of the blessed Lord, very distinguishable are His taking His life in the grave, with all the truth that it involves as to God, and Himself and the Spirit and the spiritual world too,-and His being seen and known among men as risen, and tarrying among His disciples for a season ere He went up. In dealing with individual souls, in a cloudy and dark day, the distinction may be helpful; 'tis one that the account in Acts 9 of Paul's conversion warrants, and it may be traced dispensationally (according to the analogy of the faith) in the Church's entrance into glory and the earth's future blessing. Paul was quickened before he took his place with disciples—before he could show that which they could accredit that he lived unto God.
I do not press the analogy of the faith, though, to my own mind, it is always confirmatory and important (if any one has ability from God to trace analogies); but the Church will be in glory ere manifested in glory, the Jewish and the Gentile remnants will each have life ere it is seen by man to be in life; so the Jewish nation will have life ere that life has become so outwardly manifested as for them to get the fruits of it in outward blessing.:—
On the individual believer, however, I would here press the thought, that " the life of God" (as Paul speaks in Eph. 4:1818Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: (Ephesians 4:18)), if it belongs to those that have known (or rather been known of) Christ, shows itself in those that have heard Him and been taught by Him, " as the truth is in Jesus." Is our gospel, wherein we glory, the gospel of life—eternal life, in and through Jesus Christ our Lord; so then is our testimony the testimony of life—eternal life. If we are hidden in Christ in God, He is to be displayed in us in the world. Paul not only knew Christ as Life—his life, and that he, Paul, had -eternal life in Christ, but he walked also here below so of that he could say, " We are made manifest unto God; 'and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences" (2 Cor. 5.11). And the manner and mode of this manifestation he sets forth. It was,-not only in appearance, but in heart; but then it was not only in heart, but in appearance also. His life had motives, ends, and objects: a peculiar view, too, proper to it, which gave it its character before God, and led to a testimony such as the Corinthians could read. Self was neither his end, nor his starting-point, nor his spring of energy, as, alas I it so often is with professing Christians now-a-days. I, I, I, I, I, I, I,-a perfect number in egotism,-is a sorrowful thing in a Christian. Paul's Christian life was not such. " For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God; or whether we be sober, it is for your cause" (ver. 13). God alone was the one to whom he lived; but God had objects of His affection down here; and so the divinely led man had to seek the interests of those whose interests the God, that led him captive in His cords of love, sought. Then follows the account of what it was that told so much on his own heart and mind (happy man that he was). " For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again" (ver. 14, 15, etc.). What a contrast between this mode of life and the mode of life of so many: " do this and do that"; " do not do this, and do not do that." The man of the world's actions are the index of that which rules within; and if the Christian man's actions are the index of what rules within, then the life of the worldly man and the life of the Christian will be very unlike the one to the other.
Myself, this life, earth, circumstances and Satan, are in the inside of the worldling's life; Christ, eternity, heaven, redeeming love, and Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are all that the Christian's inward life knows. Do Christians, real Christians, sufficiently feel this? What are good works in a clock, if it have no hands whereby to indicate the good time it keeps. Reader! What art thou left down here upon earth for? Eternal redemption and it perfect salvation are thine; and such a seal is set upon thee for security, that none can take thy blessing from thee. Why, then, art thou left here? Surely, to be a witness, in the power of thy life as well as of thy lips, for the Lord Jesus; if so be we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
It is touching to see how to the Christ, alive again from the dead (there not only descended angels from above to greet Him, but), there flowed to His own heart and mind thoughts of the needs-be of His presenting Himself before His Father as Son of man, and thoughts of each one of His people. To each of them He might have taken a different way of introducing Himself-His way did vary much in the many cases which we read of; but the disciples He had left as sheep that were scattered (because He, the Shepherd, was smitten) must be gathered together again—they were His Father's sheep; and then He goes on high, Himself to become the subject, in a new position, of the testimony of His disciples to the world;-Himself gone on high at once to secure His disciples' best interests, to send them down, also, the Holy Ghost; and, while remaining there and caring for His own which are in the world, forming them, and directing and aiding them in their service.-Himself the subject of their preaching, as well as the joy of their hearts. Oh, how little do we live in the power of the heavenly calling and fellowship of the mystery of Christ and the Church! The Lord look upon us to renew the power of these things in us, and may we mark it well, that Christ, alive again from the grave, had things to do proper to the life, as so taken up by Him anew; and may we go and do likewise.
2. Our next verse is Col. 2:1212Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2:12), " Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him Emu the dead." Many expressions in this context, as well as the general drift of it, conduce to prove that resurrection is the simple meaning of it. For instance, the' last clause is conclusive proof hereof; "God, who hath raised him (Christ) from the dead." The grand object is—not the Christ going up into heaven, from the earth, or Christ seen displayed' in heaven- but -the resurrection of Christ from among the dead. " God raised Him from the dead." It is His rising from the grave where He was buried when He had died for our sins; His coming forth from that grave to be seen of His disciples, to be preached of to His enemies; and this is not only the grand subject of the verse, but it is the one that rules the whole verse, for that which is declared in the last clause, to have been made good in Him, in that He was as a man in overt action raised from the dead, is declared to be true of us that believe in Him; God looking upon us and judging according to the spirit of Christ which He has given to us, judges of us that we being one spirit with the Lord, are risen together with Him. This is true to all those that believe in Him that raised Christ from the dead, who was delivered for our offenses and was raised again for our justification.
The bodies of those that believe, if they have been laid in the dust, will rise as His body rose; rise at His coming, and be raised by the 'power of Himself then present to do so; but those bodies will rise because they belong to souls that have been quickened, who, if absent from the body, are present with the Lord. The spirit of Stephen, of Paul, of Peter, are with the Lord; their bodies are in the dust. God does, in counsel and thought, connect the dust of those bodies—of those earthen vessels, with the souls which His Son quickened, and, hereafter, the bodies shall rise in proof thereof. But when these men—Stephen, Paul, Peter, etc., were alive upon earth, they, having believed in Christ, had been quickened by Him as the One that rose from the grave and were looked upon by God as vitally one with His Christ, and He could say to them (not as yet of their bodies, but of themselves) -Ye are risen together with Him whom I raised from among the dead. That Christ was arisen from among the dead was an overt fact when Paul wrote to the Colossians; so was it an overt fact, at that self-same time, that Paul and these Colossians had received the Spirit of Christ, and were judged of God (not as if their standing was according to the flesh and nature, as derived from Adam the first, to clear them of that)all its consequences had been reckoned to Christ, and He had, therefore, been crucified, had died, and been buried; they were to reckon these things true of themselves-for God did so of a truth, but as having, a standing before Him according to the Spirit and grace. This Spirit had freely flowed down from Christ when He had taken His life again—had freely been given to them. Its starting point was the Christ Jesus taking life again in the grave; but it was life, eternal life, life divine though in man; and was looked upon by God, as it was found in them, not as something that would lie still in the tomb, though not of it, but as something that would prove itself as that which was arisen from out of the grave and from among the dead. And we may remark here, that, in unison with this thought, is the verse just before it. We " are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh" (ver. 11); which circumcision (it is the only circumcision we know as being Christ for us), is thus explained (Phil. 3:33For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. (Philippians 3:3)), " For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."
The context of the verse before us seems to me to contain two parts; 1st. The doctrine of the clearing out of the new man from the shell and husks of the old; and 2ndly. The building up of the new man; the two together making up the being " complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power," spoken of in verse 10.
On the first part, I would just notice, further, the pointed and distinct way in which our deliverance, the Christ penally dead but arisen, and ourselves once morally dead are brought together in verses 12 and 13.
" We risen with Him"-" whom God hath raised from the dead": ye who " were dead in your sins... quickened together with him, having forgiven you all your trespasses"; and then he adds, as bearing upon the Jew, and all the ordinances nailed " to his cross" (ver. 14).
How far do we test our lives and walk here below by the question: Are they in harmony with the life we have in common with the Christ arisen from the dead. He is the same-before death and after; but His position is different. When on earth He was the servant of God among Israel upon earth—a people owned of God, and to be blessed upon earth; and His outward life flowed forth, not only in zeal for God, but in zeal for His House upon earth, and for His people upon earth too. The temple He did honor so far as it was open to Him; the king's house was shut against Him, another possessed it. Yet He was the Shepherd of Israel, and His sympathies flowed out toward them. Such is not the case now; He has been put to death, and since His resurrection from among the dead, has been rejected afresh by Israel, now identifying Himself with nothing but a pilgrim and stranger band in its tarrying the little while upon earth until He comes again.
To be called to a walk upon earth, consistent with the truth that God looks upon us and judges of us as men whom he has made to be one Spirit with His Son who is arisen from the dead is a marvelous calling. It is freedom before God; freedom from all the elements of natural as well as earthly religion; freedom unto God; freedom to suffer and to do His will, though in a body of sin and death—an evil world, under Satan all around, until the glory come.
3. We come now to our third and last text upon this most interesting subject. " If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right-hand of God" (Col. 3:11If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1)). " Set your affection on things above not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory" (ver. 2-4).
The Christ is looked at, here, not only as arisen from the grave but as gone up from the earth to heaven. " He was carried up into heaven" (as we read in Luke 24:5151And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. (Luke 24:51)). " And while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly towards heaven, as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:10,1110And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:10‑11)). Such is the doctrine of Scripture. The grace of His skewing Himself alive to the disciples upon earth-" being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:33To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: (Acts 1:3)) must not be forgotten; nor the entire distinctness of the ascension, as a doctrine, from the doctrine of the resurrection of the Lord. In our verse He is pointed out as sitting at the right-hand of God—after having ascended. And the exhortation to us is to set our " affection on things above (that is in heaven) not on things on the earth." A natural consequence enough, if, indeed, we realize that we are risen together with Him; for the place into which we are risen is the place where the subjects of our interest will be found; our proper circumstances so to speak. And then, as giving weight to the word just spoken, he reminds them, " For ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God." This is the present blessing we have, " We are dead," and " our life is hid with Christ in God." The security of the manna in the golden-pot, inside the ark, shut in by God, who dwells between the Cherubim, is a poor expression of that security which is ours if our life is hid with Christ in God. It is life, eternal life; it is life inseparable from Christ; and Christ rests, not only in a seat of power in heaven, but is in God. We have to seek the things which are above. That is for the present our proper occupation. And-it is an occupation in which the Spirit will have some upon earth to be occupied with until that time. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory. It is Faith which owns Him as our life"; the eye sees it not; soon He shall take the place in which we shall see him for ourselves, and then what but to be seen together with Him in glory.
I may just remark that the apostle's use of the little word " if" (ver. 1), " If ye then be risen together with Christ" does not convey, is not meant to convey, any uncertainty; as though Paul doubted, as though he sanctioned their doubting, as though he even supposed they doubted whether or not they were in Christ, and risen together with Him. The whole scope of the apostle's argument goes upon the fact that there was no doubt whatever about it-to faith the thing was clear and sure; He had left Judaism by reason thereof; he was proving that these Colossians were in danger of Judaizing, because they did not retain the fact before them; and in chaps. 2 and 3 he thrusts this blessed grace of God before them, that they may find the power of seeking the things which were above.
Some will say, "but we are down here"-" our bodies are on earth": -and what then? May not God look at us, not according to what we are in the flesh, but according to what we are in the spirit, as partakers of a new life in Christ, a life which enables us to know that God identifies us, and looks upon us as one spirit with Him who sits at His right-hand; or, may not God, having made this good for a Paul, for poor Colossians, call upon them to walk by the faith of it? He certainly has done so; and faith, in us as certainly as it knows what He has done, takes up His word, His thought, and counts it true and to be but the expression of that which has more of substantive truth and eternal reality in it, than all that which Satan sets man's flesh on to say in opposition. It is a sorrowful thing to see Christians pleading experience and feeling and sense as to what they are in themselves, and as to what the world around them is, and as to what power Satan has over them; and refusing to take God's estimate of the world, the flesh and Satan; and so not finding a practical refuge in Christ for themselves; and in Him, too, that new life, new in nature a life in Christ; of Christ arisen from the grave; and after that gone up into heaven.
On the expression, " Seek those things which are above," I would say a few words. And first, as to the definiteness of the place spoken of by the Spirit here; nothing could be more marked; " things which are above." Where? " Where Christ sitteth on the right-hand of God." Now, to many minds this is all in the clouds, very vague indeed. So, at least, many have said. But
just let us remark, in this very epistle, how Paul, walking by faith, as a man that was risen together with Christ, saw glory upon glory, in Christ, by which he could answer (with divine perfectness in his case, as one inspired while so writing), all the sophism and all the vain deceits of the adversary. In Christ's light he saw light; and saw glory upon glory in the Christ; and saw offices and relationships in Him too, which not only gave a light in which he could walk as a living man, so as to avoid pits, and snares, and traps, into which others might fall; but also which gave a nourishment and a strength to his soul, as well as a healthy occupation to it which some of these Colossians were in need of. O if Christians now had the eyes of their understandings riveted upon the Christ of God,—-upon Him who is not only now to be seen by faith, crowned with honor and glory (as in Hebrews and the Apocalypse), but in whom there plays all that liveliness of affection to the adopted children of His Father—and ten thousand bright and beauteous graces as well as glories if these things might, indeed, be so with us- what a change in the life and in the testimony of many! Natural religion will carry its string of beads to count its prayers upon: does spiritual religion find nothing in Christ to answer thereunto? Yes; he links together glory upon glory, and grace upon grace, to be told over in praise before God. And what a halo of light, bright, but soft and beauteous, is seen around Him, by those that know Him in heaven. May God revive and restore the heart of His people to spiritual, heavenly worship. If silence becomes us as to ourselves, surely there is much to be said for and about the blessed Lord Jesus.
The exhortation is double, first, "Seek them," those things which are above; and, then, secondly, "set your minds on them," on things above.
There is something worthy of remarking upon in the graciousness of the introduction of the truth of ver. 3 here: " For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." It meets man both ways -little faith, or fleshliness, or worldly-mindedness, might object. " How can I do this"? The answer is, "Ye are dead." Weakness and conscious littleness on the other side is lured
on with the counter statements, which must ever be precious to every saint, " Your life is hid with Christ in God." How that word meets every temper in the soul. " Your life is hid with Christ in God."
In conclusion, it is clear that fellowship with Christ in life is not all that God has given to us; or all that God has made to be a matter of responsibility to us. Nor, again, would the life, being the life of Christ as risen from the dead, suffice—for as such He will rule over the Jews, and have the Gentiles under His power; yea, the knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea under the power of the Christ, as having life in Himself; as being in a position in which to communicate it and fellowship with Himself to poor sinners-He being arisen from the grave. It is not until we come to His ascension, and His place taken in the heavenlies, that we get to that which, as connected with the life taken anew by the Lord, marks off the distinctive position of the believer, while He, as. Son of man sits at the right hand of the Father. There is no unearthiness, no unworldliness, like that which flows from affections formed and trained for the divine and heavenly glory of the Son of Man; affections fed by intercourse with Him whose thoughts were the first in all these things. The discontentment of an ugly temper, which is satisfied with nothing, may make us complain of the wilderness; the sorrows of the passage through it may make us groan; and God's chastenings too for our practical inconsistencies may do as much; but none of these things will give groans like unto those which a home-sick soul, a heaven-filled heart will have, a soul which is too much occupied with Christ in God, and the glory to come, to have much time or thought to give either to itself or to the experiences of the wilderness. Christ felt the wilderness and the trials which man put upon Him as well as Satan in this way, for His soul was blessedly filled with the glory He had come from; with the Father ever looking upon Him; and with that Father's house and kingdom of glory He was to open to us. May we know these things; seek them and set the mind upon them.