Christ in us – the Hope of glory

A text transcript of the message preached at Elijah Ministries – Sept 2008

Greetings brothers and sisters… welcome to Elijah Ministries…

Shall we pray…

 

Wow….! What an unbelievable week we’ve just had!

We’ve all just lived through a week that will probably be recorded in South African history books, in the years to come.

The President is fired, more than half the Cabinet resigns, our Government is in tatters, our currency crashes, the world economy teeters on collapse… strange days indeed… and meanwhile, back at home… it’s business as usual for the crooks – with crime and corruption rampant, lawlessness the order of the day… The ordinary South African doesn’t even buy the newspaper anymore because it’s too depressing… where is it all going? What’s the point? Is there any Hope? Is there any chance of finding Peace and fulfilment? 

Everywhere we look, we witness the bewildering tragedy of human life, happening before our very eyes, and we are left shaking our heads at the seemingly impossible task of finding peace and fulfilment. All we ever hear about are stories describing betrayal, corruption, immorality, shame, pain, murder, divorce, cruelty and personal failure.

Is there any real hope under these circumstances?

To a person living in the world, to an unbeliever, this is the picture they see… tragedy, a life without hope, without fulfilment… how terribly sad.

But thankfully, for Christians, although the picture we see is exactly the same, the perspective is very different. Although our world might be crashing down around us, with men’s hearts failing them, a Christian still has Hope, he still has peace and we still have the greatest fulfilment! To the world, this is a great mystery… and it’s this mystery that we are going to study today… the mystery of Christ living in us…. Christ in us, the hope of glory.

The apostle Paul talks about this mystery in his letter to the Colossians, so turn to the book of Colossians and keep a bookmark there, we will be returning there often.  

In Colossians Chapter 1, we find the Apostle Paul dressed in the finest suits, dripping in gold, driving a Bentley and flying around in a Lear Jet, preaching the Gospel to 50 000 people at a time, packing them in the stadiums…

no… No… unlike today, that’s not what we find… What we do find is Paul preaching from …a jail. Now what we need to understand from the very outset, is that whatever the case may be, whenever we present God's truth there is going to be a struggle. Why? Because Satan the Adversary, hates the Truth, it exposes him, and so he will always try make it difficult.

I’ve gotten very used to this fact… that whenever I have to preach, the attacks come thick and fast…  but with wisdom and experience and the Grace of God, we learn to expect the attacks, we learn to look out for them, to recognise them for what they are, and to respond to them in the Lord’s strength and not our own. But the fact is, that when you have anything to do with the Truth, you will be persecuted, you will be attacked – the Bible promises this and this fact is no less true in the life of the Apostle Paul.

When he wrote this letter to the Christians in the city of Colosse, he was in a jail in Rome, probably chained to a Prison guard. Paul’s entire ministry was an immense struggle and this latest imprisonment was just a small part it. Because of his message, because of his preaching, because of his proclamation of the truth of Jesus Christ, Paul became a prisoner of Rome. In addition to the imprisonment, his struggle was made even worse...

While he was in jail, one of Paul’s earlier converts, a man by the name of Epaphras, came to visit him. Epaphras, was the founding pastor of the church in Colosse, and came to Paul to tell him that the church was being exposed to terrible false doctrine. False teachers had come to Colosse spreading heresies, perverting the Truth – they were saying that Jesus is not God and that Jesus cannot save men. They were also teaching all kinds of strange doctrines like the worship of angels and that there was nothing wrong with immorality.

If you read the whole Book of Colossians, Paul deals with each of these false doctrines as he writes… but as you read, notice that even though Paul is suffering great adversity, he has Joy and he has peace.

 Lets read…

Colossians 1:21 (New American Standard) 
And although you were formerly alienated from God and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds,  (22)  yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach--  (23)  if indeed you continue in the faith, firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.  (24)  Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions.

  (25)  Of this church, I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God,  (26)  that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints,  (27)  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. 

(28)  We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.  (29)  For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

In verse 23 it talks about The Hope of the gospel. Hope! What a marvellous thing to find in this dark world of ours!

We asked the question earlier:  Is there any real Hope, any possibility of Peace and fulfilment under our current circumstances? And the answer is… Absolutely there is.

It’s a wonderful hope too because Jesus himself undertakes to present you before God, holy and blameless, and beyond reproach, if you just continue in the faith! What a wonderful promise…! What wonderful hope!

You see, God is at work. He is sovereign. And He can, and does, reconcile people to Himself and make changes in their lives. This passage, from verse 21 on through the end of the chapter, is a tremendous description of the process of change that is possible in a human being, a process that leads to Joy, Peace and fulfilment. It goes through a few stages that I want to look at a bit closer this morning.

First, there is repentance that leads to a change of heart, a change of attitude. A total change of outlook occurs when you come into personal contact with the Saviour Jesus Christ Himself.

But as Paul states in verse 21, there was a time when all of us were "alienated from God."

21     …you were formerly alienated from God and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds,

Before we were saved, we all knew that there was a God, because the Bible says creation itself shouts it out… but we denied Him, we rejected Him – even though he was sustaining our very life, through His infinite mercy… lending us our next breath --- and because of this denial, we ended up, as Paul describes, enemies in our minds, hostile toward God.

Do you remember those days?
When you were taught that if you can’t love yourself, you can’t love anyone else… the unscientific rubbish and speculation of psychology – whereas the Bible teaches that we automatically love ourselves otherwise we wouldn’t even feed ourselves. But emphasis in this world is self-love, self-this, self-that, selfish…. A selfish, useless and pointless existence. Without peace and fulfilment.

Do you remember when you thought you were so in control of your life? Forging your own destiny… Making things happen… puffed up by your own self-importance… I remember it all too well…I was the main man… I was in control…..

 God? Nah. He would interfere with me having a jol. I just wanted to have a good time. I didn’t need a cosmic killjoy to spoil my fun…

But life without Jesus…. It was just about me, me, me, me…. A terribly selfish existence… Look at all your unsaved friends… one of the first things you will notice about an unsaved person is that they are selfish. Self always comes first. Whereas with a Christian, self comes last, we die to self – well at least that’s what we’re supposed to do. Do you die to self?

And verse 21 says because we became alienated from God, we become an enemy of God, and as a result we expressed that enmity in evil behaviour. The result of separation from God is always evil behaviour.

I even used to think that Christianity was a crutch… A crutch for misfits, nerds, geeks and for sissies, for those weaklings who were too weak to cope with life on their own…   and oh my goodness, how right I was! There is no-one on earth who can do it all alone… there is no-one who can save themselves… everyone needs a crutch… and when your crutch is Jesus Christ, wow, then you can lean on the Master of the Universe… how amazing is that…?

But at one time, we were enemies of God. And sooner or later, the Lord brings us to a point where we need to decide our eternal destiny…

He brings you to the crossroads of your existence. And very often, because we are so hard-hearted and stubborn and selfish, He brings you there through destruction and personal tragedy.

Jesus came to heal the broken hearted and to set at liberty them that are bruised… but it doesn’t have to get to that stage people, it doesn’t have to go that far.  The Bible says that one day soon EVERY knee will bow before Him, it will just be so much less painful if you do it in this lifetime. You can submit to Him today, while there is still time, instead of being forced to submit to Him on Judgement Day.

And when we submit voluntarily, Paul says, (22)  yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— Through Jesus dieing on the cross, He reconciles us to God.

When we first submitted to Jesus, something happened within us. It occurred when we realized Jesus died for us, for me. He did something that took away all our brokenness and hurt, and had as a promise, peace and fulfilment and deliverance.

Something happened then to our inner attitude. We were changed in the way we thought. We no longer saw God as an enemy and a Judge, but as a loving Father. We recognized that the cross was not a symbol of failure in the life of a religious fanatic or a nerd, but rather a moment when all evil was conquered; when eternal life was within our grasp. And when you come to that realization,  your whole life will change…. Forever….

 

And that’s what Jesus does. He changes lives. And that’s what this good news is all about. If you need your life changed, that is where you start. The process of change begins, not with opening a little place in your heart to Christ, but by submitting to Him, by getting on your knees, and crying with conviction at your sinfulness. Only once you realize your desperate need for a Saviour, only then can you receive Him as Lord.

But it is a process that is headed for a specific goal, which, according to the apostle, in verse 22 : is to present you before God… holy and blameless and beyond reproach.

Reconciled to Almighty God the Father…

and the sign that reconciliation is happening is in verse 23, (23)  if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

It is continuing in the faith that is the proof of this reconciliation. And by continuing in the faith, the Bible says we will know Christians by the fruit they bare.

Keep your place in Colossians and turn to

Galatians 5:18  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.  (19)  Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,  (20)  idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,  (21)  envying, drunkenness, revelry, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  (22)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  (23)  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  (24)  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  (25)  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.  (26)  Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

One of the most convicting passages in the whole Bible… certainly impossible instructions to keep of your own accord. And only possible if you are led by the Spirit, if you have Christ living inside you.

Go back to Verse 16  Gal 5: 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.  (17)  For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

As Christians, we all have the Spirit of Christ living inside us. How is it, that we so easily deny the Power of Christ within us, by so often operating in the flesh? Walk by the Spirit Paul says… it’s not that difficult to do.

As Christians we still have the capacity to sin, but we have been set free from sin’s power over us and we no longer have to give in to it. Unbelievers have no choice, they have no power to overcome sin. We have a choice, to daily commit our sinful tendencies to God’s control, daily crucify them, moment by moment drawing in the Holy Spirit’s power to overcome them.

 

And so Colossians says we are reconciled to God when we continue in the faith, bearing fruit, persevering… finishing the race… enduring to the end.

Many people start out the Christian life, filled with joy because they have found a new sensation, a new feeling, a new experience. But it doesn’t last. Somewhere along the line it fades and they backslide and go back to the way they once were. Why? Because they don’t establish themselves on the Word of God. If you read your Bible every day, it becomes much more difficult for you to sin, because you are being filled and nourished by the Holy Spirit every time you do, which allows you to walk in the Spirit.

But please understand that walking in the spirit doesn’t mean that your faith cannot waver and wobble at times. It did with Paul, it did with Jeremiah, Job and Elijah, to the point where they were suicidal. And it does with all of us, and considering the times we live in, sometimes our faith is tested to the limits… but the Lord promises us that true faith… that never ceases – He will sustain us.

We must never forget what we once were, the fact that God has changed us. The realization that there is a new attitude, a change of heart, a new life, is the sign that we cannot give up being Christians.

Back to Colossians 1

(23) … and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; 

 

Just something of interest here… Some may wonder what is meant by the statement: "the gospel...that has been preached to every creature under heaven." How could that be, we ask?

 

When Paul wrote this he had preached in a few cities of the Roman Empire, which was only a really small part of the planet on which we live. In those days, they didn’t even know about North and South America.

 

So how could this statement be true?

 

We find the answer in Romans 10:17 which says So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  (18)  But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have;

Then he quotes from Psalm 19, Keep your place in Colossians and turn to Psalm 19. The psalm states,

Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the expanse shows his handiwork.  (2)  Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge.  (3)  There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.  (4)  Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

Clearly, the Bible says that Nature is the first preacher of the gospel. There is order in the universe. There is clearly intelligence behind it all.

Hebrews says, "He that comes to God must believe that he is a rewarder of those that diligently seek him."

Therefore, if anyone, anywhere, responds to the facts that nature presents about the existence of God and diligently begins to seek him, then God himself will bring the seeking soul to Jesus.

 

But Lets move on.. back to verse 24 of Colossians 1…

(24)  Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body the church….

One of the remarkable things that Christians realize when we are first saved, is the part that others played in bringing the gospel to us. Often that part was played long before we ever came to Christ, but when we learn of it we are greatly moved.

How many people witnessed to you during your life as an unsaved person? Strangely, I can remember many times that people spoke to me about Jesus… and I remember them vividly, as if they happened yesterday.

The Bible says the Word never returns void… so never underestimate the value of witnessing or of praying for the unsaved.

Isa 55:11 The LORD says:  so shall My Word be, which goes out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall certainly do what I sent it to do.

The Word of God never returns void.

Another important thing that Paul brings to our attention is the character of those who preach the gospel. To be a disciple of God is to be a servant.
A servant of God and servant of others. This is a major distinguishing feature by which you can tell whether a preacher is true or false.
Paul says (24)  I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake.
A true disciple counts it a delight and a joy to be used of God and to suffer for others and for Christ’s sake.

If you listen to the tele-evangelists today, you can hardly escape the feeling that their Christianity is a matter of trying to get something out of God - to get God to work for us, by using formula’s and marketing strategies…

That is the difference between the false and true witnesses.

·        The false witnesses think God works for them;

·        the true witnesses knows that they are merely His servants. They delight in the fact that God is using them, and they do not regard it as a burden, but the highest honour that could ever be given.

·        The true witness is even prepared to suffer for the Gospel’s sake, and

·        the true witness actually expects trouble and persecution because of it.

Part of being a Christian is the fact that God calls each one of us to His service, through various ministries. Those Ministries of calling will always have an ultimate goal, which is the Gospel… the preaching or witnessing of the Truth.

Matthew 28: talks about this as the Great Commission – the very last commandment Jesus gave before He ascended to Heaven, was this Great Commission. Jesus commanded the 11 disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey everything He commanded – teaching them the Word of God. And in this, Jesus promised He would be with them always…

Turn with me to Matthew 28:16

Mat 28:16  But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated.  (17)  When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful.  (18)  And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  (19)  "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,  (20)  teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

We are to go, whether it is next door, or to the next country – and make disciples. What’s important to realize here is that for a Christian, this is not an option. To preach and witness is a commandment to all who call Jesus “Lord”. Do you call Jesus “Lord”? Anybody here today? Do you call Jesus Lord?

And those of you who have been faithful to this calling of the Great Commission will know, that the truth is very rarely presented without a struggle… Without tests and trials… and sometimes those tests and trials and persecution can become severe.  We're constantly faced with situations that make the ministry of the Word difficult.

You see, Satan hates the Truth, and because the Word never returns void, he hates seeing people’s lives change for the good, he hates it and will do whatever he can to block the Truth or make it difficult. You see, what I’ve found out for sure, is that one of the reasons we are commanded to teach others to obey Jesus’ commandments is so that the spotlight is shone brightly into our own hearts… And unfortunately, that’s not a pretty site…

The very thing that we preach will be immediately highlighted in our own lives. Has anyone found that…? When I preach, there is always one finger pointing forwards and 4 pointing back at me… and that’s eina! But the reason these flaws in our character are highlighted is so that we can deal with them. The Lord refines our faith in the fire… and if we don’t deal with them… they will be back a few months down the line… If you’ve got issues, the Lord wants you to deal with them. The issues in your life should never stop you from serving Him in the way He wants you to.

Because the truth is, we Christians are given the very highest privilege of serving Yahweh, the one and only Living God. The highest honour of God –He uses us in our weakness, our failure, our stupidity and our unworthiness to proclaim this truth to others. The realization that the God of Glory is willing to do that, should create in us a deep sense of gratitude that we can be his servants.

To serve God is a calling, it’s a duty, it’s a privilege, it’s a great honour… the highest honour… so if you’ve been called to serve in His ministry…and that should be when and not if… because we are all called to serve…

and Not all of us are called to be preachers or evangelists, but we are all called to help fulfil the Great Commission - be it Preaching or teaching or Children’s church, or Youth Ministry, or Home cells – you should think of it as a privilege, an honour… not a burden… God has chosen you to do His work… yes, you…

·        as imperfect as you are,

·        as sinful as you are,

·        as stupid as you are,

·        as faulty as you are,

·        and with as many issues as you might have…

·        And with as many burdens as you might have…

It doesn’t change the fact that He chose you for His work… and that is a great privilege, a great honour…. I urge you not to turn Him down when He calls you to His service… Remember that the Lord wants you to serve Him, but He doesn’t need you… if you turn Him down with various excuses, He will find someone else to do it, someone who will do it gladly, realizing what a privilege and honour it is to serve the Living God of Israel…

Brothers and sisters, we all have personal issues, things in our Christian life that need to be dealt with; sins that need to be overcome. And in serving the Lord, these issues will be put under the spotlight – that I guarantee… instead of sweeping them under the carpet, running away and hiding or calling timeout or providing excuses… rather just deal with them… sooner or later, you have to… in order to grow, in order to mature as a Christian, serving the Lord will expose all sorts of horrible things in your life that have to be dealt with… deal with them in the way the Lord wants you to… overcome them, don’t run.  This church needs you, it needs people who are committed to serving the Lord, who count it a blessing and a privilege to suffer for Christ’s sake…

Because, says Paul, such service involves much pain and sacrifice: Someone always pays a price in order that others might come to Christ. Always a price to be paid…

Have you ever asked yourself, how many prayers and tears, how much heartache and disappointment have others gone through for you, in order that you might come to Christ?

Pick up your Bible and just think for a moment of what it cost others, for you to have this Bible in your hand: the blood of martyrs, the fears and tears of persecuted people throughout centuries, the sweat and labour of translators, and the sacrifice and effort of teachers like PJ and Jacob to make it plain and clear. We should never read the Scriptures without remembering that someone has died to make it possible.

A story comes to mind here… how many of you know the story of the Titanic… the unsinkable ship that went down so tragically after hitting an iceberg.

Once upon a time, there was a chap by the name of John Harper who gave his life to the Lord when he was thirteen. He was consumed by the Word of God, became a Baptist Minister and started his own church in 1896. That church is now known as Harper Memorial Church. Harper got married but his wife died after giving birth to a daughter named Nana. 

 

Ironically, John Harper almost drowned several times during his life. When he was two and a half years of age, he almost drowned when he fell into a well but was resuscitated by his mother. At the age of twenty-six, he was swept out to sea by a Rip tide and barely survived, and at thirty-two he faced death on a leaking ship in the Mediterranean. Perhaps, God used these experiences to prepare this servant for what he faced next...

 

It was the night of April 14, 1912. The RMS Titanic sailed too fast on the bitterly cold ocean heading straight into the pages of history. At 11:40 p.m. on that fateful night, an iceberg scraped the ship, ripping open six watertight compartments and the sea poured in.

 

On board the ship that night was John Harper and his six-year-old daughter. According to documented reports, as soon as it was apparent that the ship was going to sink, John Harper immediately took his daughter to a lifeboat, kissed her goodbye and headed back towards the crowd of desperate humanity on the sinking ocean liner. Apparently he kept shouting "Women, children and the unsaved into the lifeboats!" Women, children and the unsaved into the lifeboats!" 

 

Shortly afterwards, the Titanic broke in half and many people jumped off the decks and into the icy, dark waters below. John Harper was one of these people.

 

 

 

That night 1528 people went into the freezing waters. John Harper was seen swimming frantically to people in the water trying to lead them to Jesus before the hypothermia became fatal.

Mr. Harper swam up to one young man who had climbed up on a piece of debris. Harper tried to lead him to Christ only to have the young man reply no. John Harper then took off his life jacket and threw it to the man and said, "Here then, you need this more than I do..." and swam away to help other people.

 

Of the 1528 people that went into the water that night, six were rescued by the lifeboats. One of them was this young man who had the life jacket on.

 

Four years later, at a survivors meeting, this young man stood up and recounted how John Harper’s actions saved his life and led him to Christ.

Does Hollywood remember this man? No.

But John Harper gave up his life so that others could be saved.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends..."

 

When we come to Christ we are to take up this battle and suffer on behalf of others. It not only benefits others but it benefits us as well. That is why Paul says, "I rejoice in my sufferings on your behalf." Why does he rejoice? Because it improves his faith, it strengthens his character, it keeps him humble so that Christ can use him.

I am reminded constantly that it is out of weakness that I am made strong.

 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 

And he, the Lord, said unto me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  (10)  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

 

When we give up control, when we allow God to take control of our lives, when we reach the end of our ropes, no matter how desperate we are, no matter how weak and discouraged we are – that’s when Christ can use us.

When we become humble and realize that there is really nothing we can do on our own, that’s when Christ operates in the Power of His strength.

So Paul teaches us to rejoice in our suffering, because it keeps us humble and useable – it makes us strong in Christ.

Then Finally, and crucially, this salvation process requires an understanding of a truly great mystery:

Colossians 1 ..V (26)  that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints,  (27)  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. "

There is the great mystery. It is the greatest truth taught in the Bible, and yet it is the most seriously missing element in many churches today. Most Christians understand that Christ died for the forgiveness of their sins---they believed that and came to Christ because of that---but that is where most of them stop.

Relatively few, it seems, ever go on to grasp the fact that Jesus died for them so that he might live in them. It is his life in them that is the source of power, change and deliverance, and the ability to resist temptation.

What does Paul mean by the phrase, `the hope of glory'?" in verse 27. Well, the only glory that a man could ever have--now or in the future—that glory is only obtained when Christ is dwelling within him.

It is not enough to know that Christ died in order that we might go to heaven. We are also to know, understand, and practice Christ living in us now!

That is surely the most astounding truth in the Bible. As Paul declares here, it is a mystery that "has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to his saints." Think of that! Nowhere in the Old Testament will you ever find a single verse that describes the process by which God is going to help his people.

It was not until Jesus came and taught his disciples, that we learn at last how God would do it. Gradually Jesus taught His disciples the amazing truth: that through his death and resurrection, and through the coming of the Holy Spirit, they would be indwelt by Jesus himself.

Turn with me to John 14

John 14:16  Jesus speaking… I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;  (17)  that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.  (18)  "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  (19)  "After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.  (20)  "In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.

Verse 23  Jesus answered "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.

This is the mystery hidden from the foundation of the world, but now made known to his saints.

Back to Colossians

Paul himself lived this way. That is what he is telling us in the last verses of Colossians 1… verse 28: (28)  We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.  (29)  For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

There is a new power at work. When you understand that you possess the Lord Jesus, that He is in you - you have a totally new source of power. You have a new desire, a new motive: you long for change to take place and you are motivated to obey, to read, to study, to learn, to grow.

You have a new Companion along the way. The problem of loneliness is ended because you are never alone when Jesus is present in your life. What a mighty truth this is! It is what delivers people. It is more than the fact that Jesus died on a cross. He died that he might live in us! This is the highest truth of all, a truth that God labours for us to understand and apply. When it happens, things begin to change in any human life.

The point of all this is that God wants to present us "holy, without blemish, and free from accusation," just as his Son was. By Christ living in us, we are being conformed to the image of his Son.

That is why it is important to understand this great mystery, "Christ in you, the hope of glory."

 

The world knows nothing of this mystery. You will never find it mentioned by the media, except by Christians. You will never learn about it in the great universities of the world. In all secular wisdom and knowledge there is no recognition of this incomparable source of change in a human life. It is found only in the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is why this message is such a powerful, world transforming, revolutionary statement, and why we ought to give ourselves to understanding it more than any other thing in life.

V 27 "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory"

We are rich, because as the church, Christ is in us. Our message is to tell people that the living God wants to come and dwell in their life. That's a fantastic reality, isn't it? A thrilling concept.

Our message to the world is not to try to live a better life.
It’s not about rituals or tradition.
We’re not trying to make the world a better place. That's not the message. This world is not going to get any better, in fact, it’s going to get a lot worse, because the shaking is only just starting…

….The message is this…

"God wants to come and live in you." That's what we should be saying.

As Christians, we are rich. Rich beyond imagination… This theme of the riches that we have in Christ is found throughout Paul's Epistles. For example:

Colossians 2:2 says  ...Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
If all wisdom and all knowledge are in Christ, and Christ lives in us, we have all wisdom and all knowledge. Isn’t that amazing! Clever, clever Christians!

God is rich in knowledge, wisdom, mercy, grace, and love...and He deposited it all in us. It's an incredible reality, when you stop to think about it.

We’re so unbelievably rich…. Why is it that most Christians live like paupers… Why is it that so many Christians are unaware of the living God living within them?

In closing, please turn to Ephesians 3… this is a prayer of Paul’s and today it is a prayer for all of us.

Eph 3:14  For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,  (15)  from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,  (16)  that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,  (17)  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  (18)  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  (19)  and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.  (20)  Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,  (21)  to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.