Dear Cornerstone brothers and sisters,
I pray you are resting in God’s grace and provision in Christ this week. If you are like me, the truth from the Parable of the Sower that we looked at last week convicted our hearts. May we ask the Lord to renew our love for his word; and may we read his word with soft and receptive hearts. For indeed the word of God is living and active and shaper than a two-edged sword.
Here are a few announcements regarding events in the life of the church:
* Stephanie and the kids arrived safe, sound, and on time to Perth. Praise the Lord for his protection!
* This Sunday (2/2) we will begin a new study in Sunday school on the book of Ezra. The theme of Ezra is “coming home.” Plan on joining us at 9:45 to see how this is fleshed out in our lives.
*Also this Sunday – as the first Sunday of the month – we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper, collect the deacon’s offering, and enjoy a fellowship lunch following worship. As Barbara mentioned in her email, sub sandwiches will be provided. Plan to stick around for a time of good food and friends.
* Finally, for those who are able, set aside a few hours on Sat, Feb 8th to help Lina and Jovanni move into their new apartment. More details to come.
* This week’s devotional is a reflection from Col 3:1 on the true identity of the Christian.
From the Pastor’s Desk
“Raised with Christ”
Colossians 3:1, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
Who is a Christian? Or, what is the identity of a Christian? And how does a believer’s identity impact his life. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul succinctly and profoundly addresses these fundamental questions. Colossians follows the standard indicative – imperative pattern of the New Testament (and all of Scripture for that matter). That is, the indicative (i.e. what God has done for us) always grounds the imperative (i.e. how we live in light of what God has done for us). Specifically, Colossians 1-2 is the indicative, and Colossians 3-4 is the resulting imperative.
For our purposes in this devotional, I want to focus on 3:1 – a verse which serves as a bridge between the indicative and the imperative. Paul writes, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” There are two points we need to grasp to feel the full weight of Paul’s teaching. First, Paul states that Christians have been raised with Christ. It should be noted that the “If” which opens the verse means ‘because’ as opposed to asking a question. In other words, Paul is declaring an established, objective truth; namely, a Christian is one who has been raised with Christ. Furthermore, earlier in chapter 2 (2:20), Paul highlighted the complementary truth that a Christian has ‘died with Christ.’ Thus to summarize, according to NT teaching, a Christian has died and been raised with Christ as an objective reality (cf. Rom 6:1-11; Eph 2:5-6).
Why is this significant? At the most fundamental level, this dying and rising with Christ crystallizes the identity of everyone who rests in Christ by faith. That is, a Christian – regardless of his emotional ups and downs, regardless of his ongoing struggles with sin – has died and been raised with Christ. This is your identity! This is who you are! You have died with Christ. Therefore, sin no longer has claim on your life. Sin no longer is your master. But also, you have been raised with Christ. Therefore, you now possess resurrection life in Christ! You now possess life of the age to come in Christ. Again, let me emphasize that this is the Christian’s objective identity. When you are discouraged and disappointed, your identity as having died and been raised with Christ is no less true.
The second point we need to see is Paul’s imperative that flows from the grand indicative of our identity in Christ. 3:1, “If then (because) you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” Note Paul’s logic. You have been raised with Christ – you are a new creation (2 Cor 5:17), therefore, live in light of your true identity. Paul calls Christians to seek things that are above, where Christ is. That is, we are to seek Chris-like virtues; and the grounds or foundation for this command is our union with Christ in his death and resurrection. Put simply, Paul is exhorting believers to live in light of our identity – to live according to who we really are. And who are we? We are those who have died and been raised with Christ. Brothers and sisters, may this grand truth cause us to fall to our knees in worship! We are no longer who we once were. We are new creations! The old man has been thrown off. We are raised with Christ! Let us seek holiness and godliness in the power of resurrection life!!
God bless and I look forward to worshipping with you this Lord’s Day,