A Two-Fold Challenge To Every Believer
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D. New Year 2008
Colossians 3:1-4 "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."
Paul issues a two-fold challenge to the believers at Colossi.
I have chosen to issue this same challenge to believers today. It
certainly is an appropriate challenge, so let’s dive right into it.
"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God."
Let’s begin by explaining the first phrase - "If ye then be risen with Christ…." Before we are saved, we were spiritually dead. Turn to Ephesians 2:1 "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins:" When you repent of your sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you are spiritually resurrected. Positionally, (in the mind of God) we are sitting with Christ in Heaven with Christ. Turn to Ephesians 2:4-6 "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:"
Christian friend – REJOICE! You are as good as in Heaven this very moment!
Since that is the believers position, Paul challenges the Colossians to "seek those things which are above." The word seek is a translation of the Greek world zhteite – zeteite (dzay-teh’ite) which means "having an urgency, a desire, and an ambition for something.
What is that "something" that Christians are to be seeking? The answer is "those things which are above." More specifically, believers are to seek the things of God. What are "the things of God?" That refers to the will of God as revealed in His Word (see Luke 11:2; Psalm 143:10).
Let me share this illustration to help you understand "seeking." This year the 2008 Olympic games will be in Beijing, China. I enjoy watching some of the events of the Olympic games. I hope to watch the cycling events. Being a bicycle rider myself, I know that those riding will be riding with urgency, desire and ambition, SEEKING to win a Gold Medal. While not many Christians are in the earthly Olympic games, we are all to be "running" the Christian "race" (Hebrews 12:1-2). We ARE to be running the Christian race with urgency, desire and ambition! Turn to 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible." We are all going to give account to the Lord who bought us and owns us and expects us to run the race for HIM! (2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
QUESTION: Are you seeking the things of God with urgency, desire and ambition? Is that your first priority? It should be according to Matthew 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
Paul’s challenge is straightforward. He does not pull any punches. He says, since you are born-again and have experienced the blessing and power of God’s Salvation, "become in life and experience what God has made you by His Grace!" That is the challenge of verse 1.
Let’s move on to the second challenge…
"Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."
The phrase "set your affections" is the translation of the single Greek word froneite – phroneite (fron-e-ite), which means to direct one’s thoughts. The sense of the word signifies to think on them, to favor and approve of them, to be affectionately desirous of them, and concerned for them. It me to be mentally dispose to think in a certain direction.
Someone has said – "Upon the wings of affection the heart soars."
Do you understand what that means? The things your mind thinks on your emotions will drive to pursue. That can be good or bad! If your affections (the contemplations of your mind) are set on the things of God and Heaven you will seek after and pursue things of eternal value that is good. Why? It is because believers are citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3:20). That will be our everlasting residence. We are only here for a short time. We are just passing through, so to speak. We are just strangers and pilgrims on this earth (Hebrews 11:13).
When a Christians sets his/her affections on the things of God; when he wants the same things God wants; When God is the FIRST priority, God promises to bless and prosper that individual. Proverbs 10:22 says "The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it." (See also Psalm 1).
However, if your affections (the contemplations of your minds) are set on the "the things on earth" that is bad. My heart aches because there have been so many people who profess to be believers and yet they are totally occupied with what they want, not what God wants for them. God wants what is BEST for us! I feel like Paul when he wrote in Philippians 3:18-19 "(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)" It is SO SAD when I see believers trashing their lives because their affections have been drawn away from Christ. Temporal pleasures, enjoyments, riches and honors will prove eventually to be a desert of despair when the blessing of God is absent. Instead of peace that passes all understanding there will be guilt, anxiety, perplexity of mind, and regret (Philippians 4:7).
My challenge to you is simple –
Seek Those Things That Are Above (v.1) – Have an urgency, a desire and an ambition for the things of God.
Set Your Affections On Things Above (vs. 2) - Focus your affections (the contemplations of your minds) on the things of God and Heaven and the result will be that you will seek after and pursue things of eternal value. This will bring you peace and blessing.
Why should a believer do these two things?
"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."
This is a clear prophecy of Christ’s return. The Apostle takes for granted His coming appearance. The passage parallels what John later wrote in 1 John 3:2. Jesus will soon appear! And, one of these days those who belong to Him are going to "appear with him in glory." That’s the Rapture Christian brothers and sisters! Are you ready to meet the Lord? Are you ready to give account to Him for how you have lived?
My New Years challenge to myself and to you is -- Colossians 3:1-4 "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."