Transformation

Scripture: Colossians 3:1-4

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

I. THE FIRST THING I WANT YOU TO NOTICE IS OUR POSITION

For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. [Col.3:3]

Paul said we are hidden with Christ in God. Our position determines our function and our benefits. When I hired on at A&P as a high school senior, I had the lowest position of any employee of the store. Every Saturday night I had to sweep the parking lot until they hired someone else, then he had to sweep the parking lot. For the last 40 years I have served churches as Pastor. I could call myself the Senior Pastor but for a long time I was the only pastor. The position has some perks but also some pitfalls but the position itself determines my function. I do the work of a minister. I officiate funerals, weddings, worship services, special services, and I visit hospitals, nursing homes, and homes in general. My position determines my function and my benefits are there are many benefits; too many to mention.

It is vital that we remember our position in Christ. In Christ we were circumcised [2:11]. In Christ we have been made complete [2:10]. Paul said we are buried with Him in baptism [2:12] and in the same verse, we are raised in Him to walk in a new life. We are made alive together with Him [2:13] and raised up with Him [3:1]. We are also seated with Him is heavenly places [Eph. 2:6] and here in 3:3, we are hidden with Christ in God.

Paul made it clear that we are in union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection of which baptism is a symbolic and mental picture. Baptism pictures our union and our burial. Paul said, “We are buried with Him in baptism–raised up through Him in faith.” [2:12] We are raised up to new life in Christ because we trusted the mighty power of God. The same power that raised Christ raises us.

The term that Paul uses here is unique to the N.T. and I think it is very interesting and exciting. Paul said with are hidden with Christ in God. Baptism is actually a picture of this concept but the problem is that modern baptisteries are filled with crystal clear water and have a piece of glass in front so that all can see. In the muddy Jordon, when a person was immersed, they were hidden from sight: they were buried and hidden at the same time. I have read through the N.T. multiply times and although I had seen the phrase “Buried with Christ in God,” I had never really given much attention. Dr. Charles Qurles, a professor at Louisiana College, believes that our new life in Christ is hidden from the world or at least not fully visible. Dr. Qurles wrote the Winter Bible Study for 2014 and it is a commentary on Colossians. When I read his statement, my first reaction was: “This cat missed it.” So I pulled out other commentaries and began reading. William Barclay agrees, “That which is hidden is concealed or unseen. The world cannot recognize the true Christian. The greatest and the glory of the Christian is hidden from the world’s view.” Tyndale commentary reads…It is true, to be sure, the new life is hidden from view. The world does not see or understand this new life which the believer experiences. The results is enmity, misunderstanding and even persecution.”

Speaking of enmity and misunderstanding: we have had the Jews for Jesus several times and on one of those occasions when I took our speaker out to lunch, I asked him why Jews in America were liberal and always voted for democrats who are not pro-Israel but lean more toward the Arabs and Palestinians? He said, “the Jews live in fear of another holocaust and they are convinced that Hitler would have come from the religious right. You see yourselves as conservatives who love Jesus and Jews but they see you as extremist who have the potential to persecute them.” He basically said, they cannot see the new life that is hidden in us.

There are two points of clarification that I want to make: first, this principle that Paul is teaching is not a license for us to keep Christ hidden. He commanded us to confess Him openly and there is no nobility is being ashamed of who we are: that said, I think the principle that Paul teaches here is right on, the glory of the new life is hidden, not just to the world but to us as well. I sure we see more than they but I don’t think we see it all but we will. Herbert Carson says, “The Christ who is ignored, despised, and rejected by this world will be revealed in a blaze of glory–then they will see.” I concur, the sun needs no witness to its glory and when Jesus returns, He will need to witness to His glory but we will also see His glory in us and that may be the biggest surprise of all.

So, our position is that we are hidden with Christ in God. Our position determines our function and benefits.

II. WE NOT ONLY HAVE A NEW POSITION, WE HAVE A NEW PERSPECTIVE

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.  [Col.3:1-2]

The bible teaches a progressive transformation: we are being changed into His likeness but it does not happen over night. Paul said to the Corinthians…But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. {2 Cor. 3:16-18} One of the first steps in this radical transformation is in how we think. God is going to completely transform us and He begins with our thinking. Note what Paul said to the Romans in chapter 12…Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Dr. Qurles did a survey among his students at Louisiana College [18-22 year olds] and he did it over a 4 year span. The results is astounding and disturbing and could explain why young people in mass voted for Obama.

  • 80% believe that people are inherently good.
  • 59% believe that faith in Jesus is unnecessary for salvation.
  • 40% could not define the new birth.
  • 40% deny that Christians are New Creations being transformed by the power of Christ.
  • 40% say that the only difference between believers and non-believers is believers have been forgiven.
  • 33% did not know that Christianity affirms faith in a triune God or the deity of Christ.
  • 23% did not know that Christianity affirms a bodily resurrection of Christ.

When we are saved, born again, forgiven, converted, a radical change begins. This transformation is a process not an event. It takes time. It is not an instantaneous experience but a life long journey and it begins with a change in the way we think.

  • The natural man is focused on the world,time and space: on things that are seen–The believer is focused on heaven [affections are on things above], on the things that are not seen.
  • The natural man values earthly treasures–A Christian values heavenly treasures [The unbelieving world can no more value heavenly treasure than a hog can value a pearl]
  • The natural man things about his physical appetite and the lust of the flesh–the Spiritual man thinks about eternity [Jacob and Esau]
  • The natural man thinks “Getting” and the more he gets, the more he has but the Spiritual man things giving and the more he gives the more he has.
  • The natural man thinks justice and revenge but the spiritual man things redemption, mercy and forgiveness.

When you invited Jesus into your life, you gave Him permission to change the way you think and if you are truly born again, He is changing the way you think about everything.

III. THE THIRD AND FINAL POINT IS OUR GLORIOUS PROMISE

And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. [Col.3:4]

Paul said, “When Christ who is your life is revealed to the world, you will share in His glory.” [Col.3:4]. In other words, when He is revealed, we will also be revealed. There is a lot of scripture to support this point. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control. {Philippians 3:20-21} Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure. {I John 3:2}

butterfly-cocoon_10302
Butterfly Cocoon

The word Paul uses for transformation is metamorphoō  from which we get our word metamorphosis which is defined as the process of transformation from an immature form to an adult form in two or more distinct stages. Jesus was a master at illustrating spiritual truth from things that occur in the natural world. The butterfly is a perfect example of what we are talking about tonight. The Butterfly has four stages or three, according to how you look at it. There is the egg, then the worm, then the cocoon [tomb] and then the glorious butterfly. If you were to look upon a cocoon, you would not see any signs of life let alone glory. I admit that I do not see a lot of glory in fellow believers and I do not think that see a lot in me. Every now and then, I see a flash of glory but it is a tiny and momentary thing. When Jesus comes back, we are going to see HIS GLORY but we will also see HIS GLORY in every believer. It will be a glorious day.

 

CONCLUSION

Note what Paul said in verse 4, “When Christ who is your life.” Have you ever heard someone say about another person, “Music is his life”…or “His grandchildren are his life,”…or “Sports is his life”…or perhaps you have heard this phrase “He lives for his work.” If we were talking about the Apostle Paul, we would not say, “Music is his life, or sports is his life but Christ is his life. He lives not for sports or work but he lives for Christ. This is exactly what he says in Philippians 1:21, “For me, to live is Christ.” How would you end that sentence, “For me to live is ___________.” Be honest with yourself, what goes in the blank.

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