The baptism of the
believer is a beautiful picture of our new
relationship with Christ. We have become identified
with Him. We who were "dead in trespasses and sins"
were co-crucified with Christ, co-buried with Him,
co-resurrected with Him and are now seated with Him
in the heavenly places. Our old life was buried, and
we are now alive in Christ. The ordinance of baptism
portrays that change in the believer when he put his
faith in Christ and was born again. We are new
creatures in Christ Jesus. We who were dead in our
trespasses and sins are now alive.
The apostle Paul wrote:
"having been buried with Him in baptism, in which
you were also raised up with Him through faith in
the working of God, who raised Him from the dead"
(Colossians 2:12). "Therefore we have been buried
with Him through baptism into death, so that as
Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of
the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
. . . Now if we have died with Christ, we believe
that we shall also live with Him" (Romans 6:4, 8).
All Scripture references are New American Standard
Bible 1995 UPDATE unless otherwise noted.
Baptism is a definite
action we take to identify ourselves with Jesus
Christ. It is the declaration to a watching world
that we are declaring that something has already
taken place in our lives. We are starting to
witnesses that we have united ourselves with Christ
and that we too died and rose again with Him. We die
to the old life and old sins with its guilt. We rise
to new life in Christ. Baptism is a beautiful
picture of what Christ did for us on the cross and
His resurrection, and what He has already done in
our lives spiritually.
The Christian "died" with
Christ and there has taken place a break with our
We are "raised" with
Christ. We put our faith in Jesus Christ and have
been spiritually resurrected. This took place the
moment we believed on Christ as our personal Savior.
We will one day "appear"
with Christ in glory because we are already "seated
with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
This is our blessed hope and it gives us assurance
to live for Christ every day.
pictures our vital union with Christ. With Him we
are buried, raised and appearing.
Christ is our source of
eternal life. In the words of the apostle Paul,
Christ is our life.
The apostle Paul wrote in
Colossians 3:1-4 about this new change in our lives.
"Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ,
keep seeking the things above, where Christ is,
seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on
the things above, not on the things that are on
earth. For you have died and your life is hidden
with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is
revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in
glory" (Colossians 3:1-4).
We have a new
relationship with Christ Jesus and a new position
before God. We have already had a spiritual
resurrection, and one day when Christ returns we are
going to have a new resurrection body! Referring to
our spiritual resurrection Jesus said: "Truly,
truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is,
when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God,
and those who hear will live" (John 5:25). Then He
went on to speak of our future resurrection: "Do not
marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all
who are in the tombs will hear His voice" (John
The apostle Paul declares
"you have been raised up with Christ" in the past,
"your life is hidden with Christ in God" now, and
"you also will be revealed with Him in glory" in the
Our new identification
with Christ is expressed in the preposition "with":
"Dead" with Christ.
"Buried" with Christ.
"Made alive" with Christ.
"Risen" with Christ.
"Hidden" with Christ.
"Appear" with Christ.
We have a new
relationship with God based upon our relationship
with Christ. Did Christ die? So did we by our
identification with Him. Was He buried? So are we,
together with Him. All of our past with its sins and
guilt are gone. Was He raised from the dead? So are
we. Has He ascended to heaven? So have we. Is He now
hidden and invisible? Yes, we cannot see Him with
our naked human eye. Nor can the world see our
spiritual life hidden in Christ. Will Christ appear
in glory? Yes, and so will we. One day this hidden
life in Christ will be made visible for the entire
world to see. He will appear in glory, and we will
be with Him. All of these realities that we observe
objectively in Christ we have subjectively in our
vital union with Christ. This new life for the time
being is hidden with Christ, but will one day be
unveiled in all of its glory with Him. "Your life is
hidden with Christ in God," writes the apostle Paul.
In fact, "Your life has been and as a result remains
hidden with Christ in God."
WE HAVE A NEW POSITION
The apostle Paul stresses
the fact that we have a new position before the LORD
God through Jesus Christ.
You have died with
The apostle Paul had
already told the Christians in Colossians 2:20, "If
you have died with Christ . . ." or better "Since
you have died with Christ." You could translate it,
"In view of the fact that you have died with
Christ." The word "if" in our English translations
is not intended to express doubt or uncertainty, but
a reality. Since or because you died with Christ is
the reality of every born again believer in Christ
Jesus. This is a fact in the life of the believer. A
break with the past has taken place. Christians are
dead to sin in Christ. Paul is pointing to a moment
in time when the individual turns from his unbelief
and puts his trust in Christ. It is referring to his
The death of the believer
with Christ is a death to the law, sin, and guilt.
"For the death that He died, He died to sin once for
all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God"
The Bible tells us we
have all come short of the glory of God and "the
wages of sin is death" (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). "The soul
that sins will surely die." However, Jesus Christ
went to the cross and died in our place as our
substitute. He paid the debt in full on our behalf
(Rom. 5:6, 8). We receive eternal benefits of that
death on our behalf when we put our faith in Jesus
Christ as our Savior. Not only has a break with the
past taken place, but Paul says a change has taken
place, and there is also newness of life.
Dying with Christ
describes one characteristic of what God does for us
at conversion. To become a Christian is to die with
Christ. Just as physical death marks the end of a
person's earthly life, so dying with Christ is the
passing on spiritually to a new existence in which
the power of sin and death are broken. It is the end
of death in trespasses and sins and the beginning of
eternal life in Christ Jesus.
Paul is not teaching
annihilation of our old nature. He is not saying it
has ceased to exist. The evil nature is not
eradiated; it will be with us until we die
physically (1 John 1:8). He declares that the
believer has a new principle operating in him. He
has a new mindset and new spiritual power operating
in him. His attitude toward the flesh and his old
nature has changed. The power of our old nature is
broken. The believer no longer has to yield to these
desires. He has a choice of yielding to the old
nature or the new man.
The power of indwelling
sin is broken by the believer's identification with
Christ in His death and resurrection. As a result,
he has received a new nature produced within him by
the work of the Holy Spirit.
You are raised with
Paul uses the same
expression in Colossians 3:1. "If then you have been
raised up with Christ . . ." (v. 1). Paul is boldly
walking around on the other side of the grave with
Christ! "Since you have been raised up with Christ"
pictures the positive side of our vital union with
Christ. The condition "if" in English in this verse
should not imply uncertainty here. It is a fulfilled
condition. The idea is "since" you are a believer.
Since you were raised together with Christ makes
plain our vital union with Christ.
The Christian baptism by
immersion is a beautiful reminder of the reality
that when Christ was raised from the dead we were
raised with Him.
Alexander Maclaren said,
"There is only one thing that will put the collar on
the neck of the animal within us, and that is the
power of the indwelling Christ."
The Christian is
dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
We have the resurrection
power dwelling in us. The Christian is raised with
Christ and shares Christ's new life. He shares the
triumphant victories of the resurrection life.
These words remind us of
Ephesians 2:5-6. "Even when we were dead in our
transgressions, [God] made us alive together with
Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us
up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly
places in Christ Jesus."
No dead person can
resurrect himself. If a dead person is resurrected
from the dead, it must be done for him. Similarly, a
person who is dead in sins cannot resurrect himself.
God must do it for him. I see a lot of people trying
to resuscitate themselves, and it is impossible.
Eternal life is a free gift of God to sinners who
come God's way and trust in Jesus Christ alone to
raise the dead. Conversion, spiritual birth,
regeneration, spiritual resurrection is an act of
God. No man can do it.
God alone raises the
dead. God alone can give a man dead in trespasses
and sins a new realm of spiritual life.
Have you been born again?
Have you experienced a spiritual birth and been
spiritually regenerated? If so, then Paul's
statement is a fact about your spiritual life.
"Since you have been
raised up with Christ" is a truth about the
believer. Remember you are alive in Christ. A change
has taken place in your heart. You are a new
creation, made new in Christ Jesus by the Holy
Paul writes, "If you have
been raised up with Christ" meaning "to raise up
together." We have been co-resurrected with Christ.
The Christian has not only died with Christ but also
has been raised with Him. Along with Christ he has
already been raised from the dead! The resurrection
of Christ is a picture of what happens to a person
in conversion. Christ was raised from the dead to
live a new realm of existence, and the believer is
raised by the power of God to a new kind of life.
The believer in Christ has been raised from the dead
spiritually. He now has eternal life.
The apostle Paul is
assuming his readers are Christians, and this truth
is a reality in their lives. "If then, as is the
case, you were raised together with Christ" is a
wonderful fact about every believer. We have a new
relationship with God as a result of what Christ did
We have a vital
union with Christ.
We have a vital union
with Christ Jesus. Christ is so joined to the
believer that we have been raised with Him. "You
died, and your life is now hid with Christ." Christ
is our life. We now possess within us the
resurrection life. "For you have died and your life
is hidden with Christ in God" (v. 3).
The resurrection life is
your life. It is from this position that we live the
"If then you have been
raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above,
where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God"
Where is Christ? He is in
heaven. He is "seated at the right hand of God." He
is not buried in a grave somewhere in Israel. He is
alive. He is where His heavenly Father is right now.
Christ is the sovereign King, seated, and therefore
entrusted with all power in heaven and on earth. The
"right hand" was considered a place of honor in the
first century. Christ "must reign until He has put
all His enemies under His feet" (1 Corinthians
Christ is in heaven
reigning as the sovereign of the universe. Paul
says, "Therefore if you have been raised up with
Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ
is, seated at the right hand of God" (Colossians
3:1). The Psalmist David wrote of Him saying: "The
Lord says to my Lord: 'Sit at My right hand until I
make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet'" (Psalm
110:1). The enthronement of Christ has already taken
place. He is the exalted King (Phil. 2:8-11). He has
been elevated to the most exalted sovereignty over
the universe. He touches every corner of the
universe with His holy presence.
The ascension of Christ
is taught in every area of the New Testament (Luke
24:50-53; Acts 2:33-35; 5:31; 7:55-56; Rom. 8:34;
Eph. 1:20; Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Pet.
3:22; Rev. 3:21).
Because our citizenship
is in heaven with Him, our interests are now
centered in Him. We must pursue those interests that
belong to the heavenly kingdom where Christ reigns.
His interests should now be our interests. Our
pursuit must now be those things that occupy Him.
Our mind, desires, goals and attitudes should be
characterized by our vital union with Christ. We
should be interested in those things in which He is
Where are you?
"Hidden with Christ in God"!
We now belong to the
heavenly realm. Yes, we still live here on the
earth. But "our citizenship is now in heaven, from
which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord
Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:20). I travel a lot, so
I keep my United States passport with my travel
documents so I can readily refer to them when
needed. Wherever I go I am reminded that I am a
United States citizen. I have proof of who I
am and my citizenship. The apostle Paul tells us we
are citizens of heaven. We live here on the earth,
in a foreign country, but our citizenship and
permanent residence is in heaven. If you are a
Christian, you are a non-immigrant and an illegal
alien here on the earth. Your citizenship is in
"You have died and your
life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3).
Don't tell me the believer is not secure in Christ.
Don't tell me you can't live the Christian life. It
is not I; it is Christ. "I have been crucified with
Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ
lives in me; and the life which I now live in the
flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved
me and gave Himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20).
The believer now has no
life of his own. It belongs to Christ. Christ is his
life. "If Christ is in you, though the body is dead
because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of
righteousness" (Romans 8:10, ). Your life is the
life of Christ. You possess the resurrection life
today. It is eternal life. Those who have been
raised up with Christ possess it today, here and
now. We enjoy eternal life today.
With this new
relationship comes a new responsibility.
WE HAVE A NEW
RESPONSIBILITY WITH CHRIST
So what does all of this
mean for you and me? It means that since we have
shared in the death and resurrection of Jesus
Christ, our wellbeing is now centered in Him. Christ
is our life.
Paul's logic is very
simple: You died with Christ and have been raised up
with Him, and now He is your life. Your life is
intimately coupled with His.
It is from this
relationship with Him that we are empowered to live
the Christian life as exiles here on the earth.
Keep your focus on
Our spiritual growth does
not happen automatically. Just as we made a decision
to choose Christ as our Savior, we also chose a
wholly different life style.
We must make a choice,
many choices everyday of our Christian life.
The apostle Paul says,
"keep seeking the things above" (v. 1b). The idea is
to "keep on" or "be constantly seeking" the things
of Christ. Keep on seeking everyday "Christ who is
your life." It is a continual and habitual action on
the part of the believer. Set your thoughts on the
things of heaven.
Because we have been born
spiritually and share in His death and resurrection,
our lives are centered in His life. We share with
Him that place to which God has exalted Him. "For
you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in
God" (v. 3). Remember God "made us alive together
with Christ . . . and raised us up with Him, and
seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ
Jesus." Spiritually, that is where we are right now.
Christ is our life. Christianity is Christ.
Since that is true, then
why do we live as if everything depends upon what we
gain down here? We need to get eternity into the
picture. You may feel like you are fighting a
spiritual war all alone, but you are not. Get Christ
into the picture. Look at everything in your life
from the viewpoint of Christ. Judge everything by
His standards. Look at it from the values of the new
"Keep on seeking the
things above." Be constantly setting your mind on
the things above, not on the things that are on
earth. Paul tells us in verse two to set our minds
on, keep on thinking about, ponder and long for the
things that are in heaven where Christ is. We need
to look at them from Christ's exalted point of view.
We need to be reminded of that every day of our
Paul is writing
Colossians from prison in Rome. At the same time he
wrote to the church at Philippi, "For to me, to live
is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil. 1:21). For to
me to live is Christ, and to die is better yet. Why?
Because to die is gain. I will have an even greater
intimacy with Christ in heaven. "Christ, who is our
life" will be revealed in all of His glory.
Earlier Paul had written
a great truth for Christians. "I have been crucified
with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but
Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in
the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who
loved me, and delivered Himself up for me"
Alexander Maclaren said,
"If a man wants to love Jesus Christ, he must think
about Him." We must focus our mind on Him. "Set your
minds on the things that are above, and that will
consolidate and direct the emotions; and the
thoughts and the emotions together will shape the
outward efforts. Seeking the things that are above
will come, and will only come, when the mind and
heart and inward life are occupied with Him."
Jesus said it best in
Matthew 6:33. "But seek first His kingdom and His
righteousness, and all these things will be added to
you" (Matthew 6:33, ).
Renew your mind.
The way you think
ultimately affects the way you live. "Set your mind
on the things above" (Col. 3:2). The writer of
Proverbs in 23:7 admonishes us, "For as a man thinks
within himself, so is he." What are you calculating
in your mind about the true values of your life?
When you are growing
spiritually, you are thinking differently. You
cannot let your mind dwell on a sinful life style
and grow spiritually.
"And do not be conformed
to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of
your mind, so that you may prove what the will of
God is, that which is good and acceptable and
perfect" (Romans 12:2).
We seek what we set our
minds on. Yes, we have many things in life we must
tend to daily, but we are not to let these become
our aim, our goal or master. When the mind is seated
in Christ, we will take care of the pressing things
that demand our attention at work or with family,
but as soon as our mind has dealt with these needs
it returns to its center of gravity that is Christ.
The things on the earth
are not in themselves sinful; they just aren't the
passion of our lives. Learn to clarify your
Christian values daily. Keep the focus on Christ.
You do not have to become a monk or isolationist and
withdraw from the world.
"We are destroying
speculations and every lofty thing raised up against
the knowledge of God, and we are taking every
thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2
The hidden life
The believer's "life is
hidden with Christ in God" (v. 3) speaks once again
of our vital union in Christ Jesus. We are
identified with Christ.
The Christian life
receives its sustenance from the secret springs of
Christ. "I am the Vine you are the branches" (John
15:5). "Apart from Me you can do nothing." You and I
cannot live the Christian life without abiding in
Christ. Our spiritual life is nurtured by this vital
union with Him. Our safety, security and spiritual
well-being depend upon His. Because "your life is
hidden with Christ in God," your life is an
extension of that inseparable life which is Christ's
at the "right hand of God."
We are secure in this
intimate relationship with Him. Our life is "hidden
with Christ in God" in a safe place, and Satan and
no one else can touch us without God's sovereign
permission and watchful care. The Christian's life
is safely "hidden away" with Christ. Our security
depends upon Him. "Because I live, you shall live
also" (John 14:19b).
"Who will separate us
from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or
distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness,
or peril, or sword? . . . . For I am convinced that
neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor
principalities, nor things present, nor things to
come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any
other created thing, will be able to separate us
from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our
Lord" (Romans 8:38-39, ). Yes, my Christian friend,
your life is hidden with Christ in God beyond the
reach of anyone or anything. The hope that is
founded on His sovereign word can never the
"You have died." You have
died to your old life in Adam when you placed your
faith in Christ. Albert Barnes wrote, "As Christ
became literally dead in the tomb, so we, in virtue
of our connection with Him, have become dead to
sins, to worldly influences, pleasures, and
ambitions. . . . We are to be to them as if we were
dead, and they had no more influence over us than
the things of earth had over Him in the grave."
It is upon this great
truth that Paul builds this great chapter. Because
we died with Christ and have been raised to new life
with Him, our union is "with Christ in God."
"With Christ in God" is
the foundation of our vital union with Christ. We
are hidden with Christ. Everything about our
relationship with God is bound up in our
relationship with Christ. We died with Him; we have
been raised up with Him; we are hidden with Him.
Christ is our life. We have eternal life with Him.
Christ Himself has His life in the Father. Every
believer has his being there with Him. Our vital
union is bound in this fellowship of the God-head.
The greatest reward is
stated in Colossians 3:4. "When Christ, who is our
life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed
with Him in glory."
WE HAVE A NEW
MOTIVATION FOR CHRISTIAN LIVING
Everything Paul has
taught so far becomes the greatest motivation to
dwell in the secret place of the Most High.
Christ is the atmosphere
in which the Christian dwells. That environment
affects everything in the believer's life. "Whatever
you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the
Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the
Father" (Colossians 3:17).
Christ is our life.
"Christ . . . is our
life" should be the greatest motivation to dwell in
His presence daily. Christ is in us and we are in
Him. We enjoy this vital union with Him that fills
us with His life. We have a vital connection with
Him that gives us eternal life. He lives in us and
we in Him. This "eternal life" is really His life in
Our present connection
with God in Christ is a matter of inner experience.
It is "hidden with Christ in God." The Holy Spirit
works within our lives to reproduce in us an
increasing likeness of Christ. This is our daily
sanctification, and it will continue until that
great day of glorification. "But we all, with
unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of
the Lord, are being transformed into the same image
from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the
Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18). The Holy Spirit is
transforming the believer from one stage of glory to
another. It is invisible to the world, but fully
known by the Holy Spirit. This life in Christ is not
as yet a full and open manifestation. Even the
believer is not fully aware of what God is doing in
his life. However, when Christ comes we shall be
like Him. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
H. C. G. Moule said, "You
shall be manifested with Him, He shall be manifested
in you. See that you use Him as your life today, in
the uplifting hope of such a tomorrow."
The believer's life that
is now hidden in Christ will be revealed in glory
when Christ returns. The day of the resurrection
will bring to glory what is already true of every
believer in Christ. We live in the now and the yet
to be. We live in the reality of His presence now.
The hope of glory will give way to the realized
glory. Christ in you is the hope of glory today.
We are the people "to
whom God willed to make known what is the riches of
the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which
is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians
1:27). What a privilege to be His chosen servants,
saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ
alone. We are the recipients of His saving grace.
What a privilege to have this intimate love
relationship with Him. Christ is the life of all who
are in vital union with Him by faith.
You will be revealed
with Christ in glory.
"When Christ, who is our
life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed
with Him in glory." When Christ returns in glory the
things that are now veiled will be illuminated in a
bright light of glory. Paul is referring to a future
time when the personal, visible coming of Christ
will be revealed. "When Christ . . . is revealed,
then you also will be revealed with Him in glory."
It will be a glorious appearing, and we will be with
"See how great a love the
Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called
children of God; and such we are. For this reason
the world does not know us, because it did not know
Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has
not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that
when He appears, we will be like Him, because we
will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has
this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He
is pure" (1 John 3:1-3).
When Christ is manifested
in His presence, then all who share His life will
share His glory.
We will exchange this
earthly body for a spiritual body prepared for
heaven and eternity. It is a body of "glory." The
word doxa means "brightness, splendor, radiance." A
great change will take place in an instant, the
twinkle of the eye. "We shall all be changed" (1
Cor. 15:52). This flesh and blood cannot inherit the
kingdom of God.
Everything will be made
manifest and clear. What we see dimly now will be
clearly seen when Christ returns.
Our life is "hidden with
Christ in God" today, but one day it will be
gloriously manifest to all the universe to see.
Today we belong to the invisible realm, but one day
in a glaze of glory our Lord will return and we
shall be like Him. The manifestation of the Son of
God is also the day when the Lord God will manifest
the sons of God.
Wheat and tares grow
together side by side now, but one day it will all
change. Christ is coming back and then we will be
revealed with Him in glory (Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Cor.
1:7-8; 1 John 2:28; 3:2).
These great truths not
only give us security for today, but also hope for
tomorrow. It gives us inner strength for living the
Christian life. Because Jesus Christ is our life, He
is also our hope, our only hope for time and for
The Lord Jesus Christ is
Life itself. He springs up within my heart, rising
PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS
1. When we have an
intimate personal relationship with Christ Jesus, we
have the motivation and power to effect positive
change in our lives.
2. When we keep our eyes
focused on Christ, we get eternity into the picture,
and we see life from a totally new perception.
3. When we realize
we have been raised up with Christ Jesus and seated
with Him in the heavenlies, we will clothe ourselves
with garments fit as heavenly guests.
4. When your life is
hidden with Christ in God, you dwell in the secret
place of the Almighty.
5. When Christ, who is
our life, returns, then you will be revealed with
Him in glory.
6. When we live the
Christian life from the overflow, our lives are
filled with heaven on earth.