Tim D Ellis
Colossians 1: 12-14; 2: 20; 3: 1-4
1 John 3: 1-3; 4: 16-18 “casts out fear”
This last scripture that we read in John’s epistle came to mind yesterday in the prayer meeting in the light of the hymn that we sang at the beginning in relation to the Lord Jesus:
O what amazing grace
To know Thee here below!
I was just reflecting, too, on what we had in the reading on Lord’s day as to the sovereign operations of God, and the fact that “he who has begun in you a good work will complete it unto Jesus Christ’s day”, Phil 1: 6. It is a great thing to understand this scripture in 1 John 4: 17, “that even as he is, we also are in this world”. “As he is” - that is in the place where Jesus is now, the place that He is in glory. “Even as he is, we also are” - not ’we also will be’, although that is true, but “we also are in this world”. It is a profound thought and worth contemplation.
I was thinking a little bit about that and these other scriptures came to mind. I think it is important to start with something such as we read in the beginning of Colossians because this is all from the divine side. It has all been the sovereign operations of God, and we have to give thanks to the Father for that, the One “who has made us fit”, the One who has provided the source of redemption, the forgiveness of sins. O what amazing grace that we should be given these things: to have redemption, to have the forgiveness of sins, something that is the starting point for us in our Christian journeys, and we are to give “thanks to the Father who has made us fit”. We sang about that in our hymn this evening too (Hymn 78): each of us made meet, made fit, made suitable, yet training. So we have been made fit; that is from the divine side. We have been given the fitness, the suitability to share the portion of the saints in light, to be delivered from the authority of darkness and translated into another scene, “the kingdom of the Son of his love”. We are made fit for that. But we are also still training, and I suppose that is really what comes out in these other scriptures in Colossians.
If we have died with Christ, there are certain things that we are not to subject ourselves to. There is, as we were speaking about in the reading, the heavenly realm, the spiritual realm that God would have us come into through the operations of the Spirit. So when we come to chapter 3 it says, “If therefore ye have been raised with the Christ, seek the things which are above, where the Christ is”. As we think about Nicodemus and others coming to the Lord Jesus when He was here on earth, they could come and they could have sat at His feet, whether they came in the daylight or in the darkness. They could come to Him and learn from Him. But in our day we know what it is not only to have “died with Christ from the elements of the world”, but also to be raised with Him and to know Him in His present place, “where the Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God”. What a great thing it is to know the Lord Jesus in glory! And there are consequences from that. We are to have our “mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth”. I feel deeply challenged by that because what we revert to when we are not occupied with legitimate things (I speak for myself) are seldom the things that are above; it is very often the things that are on the earth, but the exhortation is to have our mind on the things that are above. I have been very touched recently by the scripture in Philippians, “For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are noble, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are amiable, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if any praise, think on these things”, Phil 4: 8. These are not the things that are noble or just or pure according to human estimation, but according to divine estimation. They are “the things which are above, where the Christ is”. And why should we have our minds on these things? Because “ye have died, and your life is hid with the Christ in God”. I remember many years ago Mr Bert Taylor giving an address in a three day meeting in Park Street and reading this verse 4, “When the Christ is manifested, who is our life”, and stopping and saying, ’Well, is He?’. Now that is a question to all of us, a question to me: is Christ my life? It would link, I think, to what we have already had this evening as to walking worthily. We know what it is, even in this scene down here, to have One who is our life who is now in glory. When He is manifested we shall also be manifested with Him, and not only that, blessed and glorious thought as it is, but we shall be manifested with Him in glory.
That is why I read in John’s epistle because we do not know what that will be, “what we shall be has not yet been manifested”. We are children of God; we know that. We had that reference in the reading on Lord’s day that we are children of God, “who have been born, not of blood, nor of flesh’s will, nor of man’s will, but of God”, John 1: 13. We are given that place as children now. “Beloved, now are we children of God”. We have that already. It has been established from God’s side He has given us that place as children of God, but “what we shall be has not yet been manifested”. We do not know what we will be like in a day to come except that, “we know that if it is manifested we shall be like him”: we shall be like Jesus. And how do we know that? “For we shall see him as he is”; not as He was here, not as a Man in flesh and blood, to many just a Jewish teacher in Israel, not here as a Man of sorrows, but we shall see Him as He is, as He is in glory, as He is out of death, as He is at the right hand of God, as He is crowned in all His glory and honour. We shall see Him as He is. That is His desire. He has asked the Father for that. In His prayer in John 17 He desired that, and if that is the case, “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is”. And as a consequence of that we have to purify ourselves: “And every one that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure”. So we may be made meet, yet we are training, being prepared for that place above. And then, as I say, in chapter 4 we have the blessed realisation that all this is the result of love, the result of love being perfected. “Herein has love been perfected with us that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, that even as he is, we also are in this world”. Mr Darby says very affectingly in relation to the day of judgment that we shall be as the Judge, Synopsis vol 5 p348. He is our righteousness. How can we have any fear? “Perfect love casts out fear” because “even as he is, we also are ...”. What a thought that is, and we can have that assurance as to the future, but we have it also for what we are now, “even as he is, we also are in this world”. So, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear”. Everything that is extraneous, everything that might torment us, is placed on one side. There is no fear in love. Love is perfected; it is perfected with us. And why? Because “God is love, and he that abides in love abides in God, and God in him”. What a promise that is! What a reality that is! What a spiritual, heavenly reality! And it is something we can know now! While I feel how far short of the realisation of these things I come, and I am sure others would feel the same, what a blessed thing it is to know that even as the Lord Jesus is in glory at the present time, so also we are in this world.
May we be encouraged by these things! For the Lord’s Name’s sake.
12th February 2013