Dear saints of God, disciples, precious to the Beloved, our Master when He bids us to follow Him bids us to follow Him completely, into the wilderness, into the place of testing and serpents, into rejection and ignominy, up to the cross and down into the grave. Yet it doesn’t end there, for He also bids us to come up. To rise up with Him into a blessed state of risen-ness. Raised up above everything, all that we are in ourselves, this stinking, rotting world, all of the old things, the pain, the failure, the heavy labor. Oh if we, if I could only grasp this in the spirit, so much would be as it should be, as He intended it to be.
Dear ones, why do we so often feel so flesh-bound, so earth-bound when our living reality in Christ Jesus is that we are raised up? Oh that we might enter into this truth as a living, breathing, piercing reality, not just as dead and dry doctrine, not mere words on a page. Lord, may it be so. Breathe on these words Lord, breathe on them, send them down deep into us, as life and meat and the power to be. Oh Lord, we are indeed raised up in You Lord, let us all live and walk in this blessed state of risen-ness today, where nothing below can touch us or change us or turn us away from You and Your purpose. Amen and amen.
Will you please turn to the Letter to the Colossians, chapter three, verses one through four. “If ye then be risen with Christ.” That is how our translation puts it. But, literally, it ought to be in the form of a question. The question is: Have ye been risen with Christ? Have ye really risen with Christ? The apostle says that when Christ died, we all died in Him. Before God, in the death of the Lord Jesus, all have died. And before God, the only ones who are really alive are those who have risen with Christ. What was history in the case of the Lord Jesus has to be experienced in the case of men. It is an historic fact that Jesus died and rose again. That is history. What is history in the case of Jesus must become experience in the case of believers. Notice the change in the way in which the apostle puts this. He does not ask any question as to the death side. He states that as a fact. He simply says, “You died.” But he puts a question on the other side, and he says, “Have you been raised with Christ? Before God, you are really dead by the death of Christ, but are you sure that you are raised in the resurrection of Christ?”
Well, he puts that in the form of a question, and then he goes on to answer the question, and what follows in this chapter is the answer. He is talking now about “Risen-ones,” and he is stating what Risen-ones do, what their position is. In the first place: RISEN-ONES ARE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF CONDEMNATION, JUDGMENT, AND DEATH. Condemnation, judgment, and death lie behind the Risen-ones. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus had made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:1,2; ASV). That is the position of Risen-ones. Well, we can bring the question alongside of that. In view of condemnation, judgment, death, have you been “raised together with Christ?” That is the first blessing of Risen-ones. The question is: Are you enjoying that blessing, the blessing of condemnation, judgment, and death BEING BEHIND YOU, no longer in front of you? That is the position of Risen-ones.
The next thing that the apostle says about RISEN-ONES IS THAT CHRIST IS THEIR LIFE.“When Christ, Who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with Him be manifested in glory” (Col. 3:4; ASV). Christ, our Life! The Risen-ones are those who have Christ as their Life. What was history with Him has to be experienced in believers in the matter of Life! Christ is the Life of our inner man. We know that Christ is Life within us. He is the very Life of our spirit. He is the Life of our mind. This apostle speaks much about the renewed mind. Christ as the Life of our new minds gives us ability to understand what we could never understand before. The mind has been enlightened, and we now have spiritual understanding. We have a new mind. Christ is the Life of our mind.
Not only is He our Life for our spirit, and our mind, HE IS LIFE FOR OUR BODIES. “If the Spirit of Him That raised up Jesus from the dead be in you, He That raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies” (Rom. 8:11). There is such a thing as Divine Life for our bodies now, and not only in the great resurrection from the dead. The Word is Christ Who is our Life, and not Christ Who is going to be our Life some day – Christ is our Life now. There is such a thing as Christ being our Life in these mortal bodies now.
That does not mean that we never know anything about sickness, it does not mean that He always miraculously heals us of our sickness. But in these mortal bodies, He is Life to help us go on. We come back from many of our sicknesses because the Life of the Lord is in us, and we go on in spite of our own physical weakness by the strength of His Life. This is the heritage of Risen-ones. And the apostle asks the question again against that: ‘Are you risen with Christ? Do you know Christ as the Life of your inward man? Do you know Christ as the Life of your new mind? And do you know Christ as the energy even of your dying body?’ This is what Risen-ones ought to know.
Then the apostle goes on to speak about THE CONDUCT OF RISEN-ONES:- Firstly, the position of Risen-ones, and then the life of Risen-ones, and then the conduct of Risen-ones. What do Risen-ones do? Verse five says this: “Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth.” And what does he mean by that? He uses a lot of words to explain that. The first word is “Fornication.” Risen-ones put to death fornication. A Risen-one does not live in fornication. The second word is “Uncleanness.” A Risen-one does not live in uncleanness. The third word is “Passion.” A Risen-one does not live in passion. The next thing is “Evil Desire.” A Risen-one does not live in evil desire. And, then, the last word is “Covetousness.” And the apostle says, ‘Covetousness is idolatry, that is, a life of wanting everything for yourself.’ A Risen-one does not live in these things.
Then he gives us another list of why THE RISEN-ONES ARE VERY DIFFERENT PEOPLE. Verse eight: “Put ye away also all these things,” put away “Anger.” Risen-ones do not live in anger. Put away “Wrath,” put away “Malice,” Put away “Railing,” put away “Shameful Speaking out of your mouth: lie not one to another.” Why? Because “You have put off the old man.” All that belongs to the old man went into the grave with the Lord Jesus. And Risen-ones leave the old man just where the Lord has put him: IN THE GRAVE.
Then the apostle says: “You have put on the new man.” And the new man is the Risen-man. This is the conduct of Risen-ones. I want you to notice, especially, verse eleven. In this new man, the apostle says, “There cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all”(ASV). You notice the different classes that the apostle mentions? There are national differences – Greek, Jew, Barbarian, Scythian. These are different nationalities. Of course, we could add a lot more to that and we could say, British, Chinese, Indian, African, American. And the apostle says, in Risen-ones, there are none of these. If you are taking account of national differences, you belong to the other side of the grave. If you say, ‘Well, you see, he’s only an Englishman.’ Or if you say, ‘Well, he’s only an African.’ ‘Well, you see, he’s only an American’ – you are contradicting the fundamental reality of the Risen-ones. Paul says there can be none of this in Risen-ones.
First of all, CHRIST IS ALL FOR RISEN-ONES. Christ is all and the only One. And then he says, “And Christ is in all.” Oh, what does that mean? A Jew, a Greek, a Barbarian, a Scythian, an American, a Chinese, an Englishman, if they belong to the Lord, Christ is in every one of them. If they are Risen-ones, Christ is in all. And we are not to know them on national grounds: We are only to know them on Christ ground.
Then the apostle marks another distinction. He says, “bondman, freeman.” These are the people who are of a high social standard and others of a low social standard. These are the masters and these are the servants. Paul says, “In the Risen-ones, there is no such distinction.” Risen-ones are not governed by social distinction. The superior ones do not look down upon the inferior ones in Christ, and the inferior ones do not hate the superior ones. We are all one man in Christ Jesus. Christ is all, and in all.
Now we must close with just one more thing. WHAT IS THE LIFE OBJECT OF RISEN-ONES? The answer comes right at the beginning of the chapter. Are you risen with Christ? You will prove that you are by this! – you will seek those things which are above, where Christ is. You will not set your minds on things on the earth. All your interests will be centered in Christ in heaven. Of course, you will have business interests, but you will make your business serve Christ. You will say about your business, ‘This is not to be my slave, this has got to serve the Lord Jesus.’ You will have family interests, but you will say, ‘My family interests have got to serve the Lord Jesus.’ You will have social interests, that is, you will have friends, but your friends must come along the way of the LordJesus. Those with whom you make your friends, must be the friends of Jesus. So Risen-ones will have everything centered in Christ.
Sooner or later, dear friends, you and I will leave this earth. With some of us, it looks as though it is going to be later. We are getting old, but we are certainly going to leave this earth. The youngest one here cannot say that he or she is going to get old. By some sickness, or by some accident, you may leave this earth early in life. But whether it be sooner or a little later, or quite late, we are all going to leave this earth. Then what matters? What is the thing that matters when that comes about? The thing that is going to matter for all eternity is how much of Christ was there in us while we were here? The young ones must say, ‘As a Risen-one with Christ, I am going to have as much of Christ as possible.’ And they must say, ‘Christ is going to have as much of me as possible.’ Christ must be all, and that applies to the middle-age, and it applies to the old-age. The big question in eternity will be: ‘How much of Christ was there in us while we were in this world?’ Paul says, ‘It is not this or that, but Christ is all, and in all.’ That is what it means to be Risen-ones.
Over against all that, he says, ‘Are you risen with Christ? Are there all these evidences in your life that you have been raised together with Christ? Is Christ your Life? Is your heart set upon things of Christ? Are you behaving like Risen-ones? Is Christ all, and in all?’ These are the evidences of our being risen together with Christ.