Gospel Mindset

Dr. Jon Morrissette - 10/28/2018

This morning I want to talk about living a compelling, Christian life. In Colossae, the Apostle Paul was amazed by the Colossian’s sheer confidence in Christ Jesus. He was amazed how they accepted the message of hope—how they recognized God’s grace in Christ. He was amazed by their love for one another—love energized by God’s Holy Spirit. He was amazed how they were bearing fruit in good works and growing in knowledge. He was amazed by their endurance, patience, and joy.

When Christ Jesus (The God of the Universe) takes hold of us, there is compelling transformation, everything about your life begins to change! This morning I want to address three questions. First, how does the Christian Life begin? Second, what does the Christian life involve? Third, how do I live a compelling life? Our text is Colossians 3:1-4, in which Paul says, “So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear w/him in glory.”

First, How Does the Christian Life Begin? In Colossians 3:1, Paul uses that pesky conditional clause again: IF!!! He says, “So if you have been raised with Christ. . .” The word “IF” takes us clear back to Colossians 1. Do you remember how Paul paints this glorious portrait of the work of Christ Jesus? Colossians 1:19-22, “For God was pleased to have all His fulness dwell in Jesus, and through Jesus to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of the cross. . . Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds because of your evil actions. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through His death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him…” But then what does Paul say in Colossians 1:23? He says, “if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the gospel you have heard...”

The Christian life begins with faith. The Colossians “heard” the message of truth, but then they “accepted” the message by faith. They believed! So far so good right? But what’s interesting is that the Early Church expressed their faith in a most peculiar manner. The believed and were baptized. Look at Colossians 3:1 again. Paul says, “So if you have been raised with Christ…” What do you suppose Paul is talking about there? When do you suppose a person might have been raised with Christ?

The answer is Colossians 2:12. Literally just a few verses earlier, Paul describes how in baptism the Colossians were “buried with Jesus” and “raised with Jesus through faith in the working of God.” Their baptism wasn’t just an expression of their faith… but also a reenactment of the gospel itself. In Romans 6:3-4 Paul explains. “all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death. . . Therefore, we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life.”

The Early Church established two ordinances. The first is the Lord’s Supper. (1) When we take the Lord’s Supper, we remember that Christ’s body was broken, and his blood was shed, on our behalf. Jesus died on that cross for our sins, he was buried in that grave, but three days later, he rose from the grave. When we take communion, we proclaim the Lord’s death until he returns. The second ordinance is Baptism. (2) When we’re baptized, we express our both our faith and hope… that just as Jesus died, was buried, and raised… so shall God raise us up! Baptism and communion are a preview of coming attractions! How does the Christian life begin? Faith, repentance, confession, baptism.

Second, what does the Christian life involve? There are two phrases in Colossians 3:1-4 that capture the essence of the Christian life. The first phrase is “you died, your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” The second is: “you have been raised… when Christ appears you will appear with him in glory.” Say: “dead… raised…” The essence of the Christian life is dying and being raised. Now in Colossians 2:12, this is exactly how Paul characterizes baptism. In baptism you were “buried with Jesus” but then in baptism you were “raised with Jesus through faith in the working of God.”

This is also how Paul characterize baptism in Romans 6:5-11, “For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be [united with him] in the likeness of his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be rendered powerless so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, 7 since a person who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him, 9 because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over him. 10 For the death he died, he died to sin once for all time; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

That’s the essence of the Christian life! Dying to sin… living to God! Dying to sin/Living to God doesn’t end at baptism… it’s just beginning! It’s a pledge. Romans 6:12-14, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. 13 And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness. 14 For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under the law but under grace.” What did Jesus say, Luke 9:23? “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

How does the Christian life begin? Faith, repentance, confession, baptism. And, what is the essence of the Christian life? Death… Resurrection. Dead to sin; alive to God.

Third, how do I live a compelling life? In Colossians 3:1-4 Paul outlines three aspects of living a compelling life for Jesus Christ.

The first aspect of a compelling life is “Seeking.” Paul says in Colossians 3:1, “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” Some translations say, “Set your heart. . .”

So many of our desires evolve around earthly things, things below, this life… or as Paul says in Colossians 3:5, our worldly nature. Sexual immorality is part of our worldly nature. Impurity. Lust. Greed. What a compelling change it is, when a person no longer lives for the cravings/desires of their flesh, but for something higher. This was Paul’s prayer back in Colossians 1:10, that the Colossians would walk worthy of God, seeking to please God in every way. The key to a compelling life is start with the heart.

The second aspect of a compelling life is “Setting.” In Colossians 3:2 Paul says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Just like your heart needs a new affection—pleasing God… so your mind needs a new focus. In Colossians 3:10 Paul explains how we are “being renewed in the knowledge of the image of our creator.” We don’t live a compelling life thinking about sin all the time; We live a compelling life thinking about Christ all the time! He is the image of the invisible God. He is the firstborn over all creation. Everything was created by him, for him, through him. He is before all things. In him all things hold together. He is the head of the church. He is the beginning and firstborn from among the dead. He has supremacy in everything. He is the fullness of God dwelling in bodily form. All things are reconciled through Christ, and by Christ’s blood. He forgave us. He canceled our debt. He disarmed the rulers, authorities, powers. *Can you think of anything that more powerfully orients our mind to things above than worship? Than the reading of God’s word? Paul’s prayer back in Colossians 1:9 is that “they may be filled with knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding…”

The third aspect of a compelling life is “Surrender.” In Colossians 3:3-4 Paul says, “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear w/him in glory.” In Galatians 2:20 Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” When it comes to a compelling Christian life there isn’t any “I” or “Me” or “Self.” There is only “Christ, who is your life.” I died. I was buried. My life is hidden. He must become greater, I must become less.

How do I begin the Christian life? Faith/baptism. What is the essence of the Christian life? Death, burial, resurrection. How do I live a compelling life? Set your heart on pleasing Christ. Set your mind on knowing Christ. Surrender, let Christ be your life.


Scripture Verses

Colossians 3:5-11; Romans 6; Colossians 1

Study Questions

  1. How does Paul describe the mindset we are to have in Colossians 3:1-4? How do we practically maintain this mindset daily? (See Romans 8:5-8; 12:2-3; 16; Philippians 2:5; 3:15-16; 18-19.)
  2. Why are our thought processes--the way our minds are set--so important in proper service to God? What are some examples that illustrate the importance of proper priorities in serving God?
  3. Where else in Colossians have we studied the concept that we died and were raised or given life through Christ? Summarize what this book has taught us about this. 
  4. Explain the concept  that our life is hidden with Christ. (Also see Romans 8:38-39; Galatians 2:20.) What significance does this have in the context of this passage?
  5. Read Romans 6:1-14 and 7:4-6. How do these passages relate to Colossians 3:1-4?
  6. What are some things you can do this week to reset your mind on things above and to die to self as you hide your life in Christ? How can you help others do the same?