Our Eternal Relationship with God
By Pastor George D. Cutler
Grace Gospel Ministry
There is nothing in existence that can be compared to the glorious relationship that is realized by those who are in the sphere of Christ. The domain of such an euphoric dwelling-place cannot be acclimatized in the earthy physical realm of natural creation. In the province of God’s design, He has spiritually reserved in the Heavenlies such eternal accommodations wherein His elect for the present dispensation (Grace) are positioned in the Body of Christ.
This is the foundation of the instructions and directive given in Colossians 3:1-4, beginning in verse one (KJV); "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those thing which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God". And from the Greek Text, "Therefore if you have been risen with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is sitting on the right hand of God". Note the structure of the duel coordinating-subordinating conjunctive phrase ee oon rendered "if then" or "therefore if", as it draws its inference from the antecedent verses 20-23 of chapter two. In verse 20, Paul relays the facts of those having died through identification with Christ, as being also, as a result of this, severed from the rudiments (elements) or basic principles of the world. In verse 21-23, Paul outlays some of the things that God’s people are to be separated from because they have died with Christ; i.e., the "commandments and teachings of men".
Verse one of Colossians chapter three expands the thought in this continuum to the progression of such ones having been raised (by identification) with Christ (Romans 6:5,8). Again, the subordinating conjunction ee (if) only designates the status of those who are indeed identified with both the death and resurrection of Christ as members of His Body. This status entails the characteristics of how the new man in Christ does indeed function (Ephesians 4:24). Here the Greek verb seen•eey•ehr•thee•teh rendered "have been raised with", is derived from seen and ehy•ee•ro and literally denotes, according to the passive voice, "to be raised up with or together with" (Ephesians 2:6). Note the aorist tense indicates that it was a completed action, which occurred at a given point in the past, thus the conveyance is the workings of God in eternity on behalf of the elect.
This eternal transformation of the believer engenders a "spiritual" resurrection that is to be practically displayed and employed manifestly in time. In effect Paul is conveying how God’s people are to live and what they are to prioritize. Here attention is drawn to what believers are to value above all else, i.e., they are to zee•tee•teh rendered "seek" or literally "pursue after", "strive after" and "endeavor to attain unto", things above. Note the Greek verb zee•tee•teh is a present imperative as it denotes a current continuous command to focus on the above things. This eliminates any option to the contrary, thus those who are spiritually resurrected, are to be spiritually oriented in the sphere of the non-material, non-physical and unseen arena.
Note, the alternatives are either things above, which are all inherent in Christ or things upon the earth wherein Satan is the god of this world as well as the prince and power of the air (II Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2). It is apparent that both cannot be simultaneously accommodated. Here it is important to distinguish the messages of the gospels. Note in Matthew 6:33 that Jesus promises physical necessities as it is definitely concomitant with the earthly Kingdom. On the other hand, there are no promises of physical rewards in the Heavenlies or the sphere of future manifestation of glory in the essence of the Body of Christ and its recipients thereof.
Note that the definite article tah augments the Greek adverb ahn•o, thus tah ahn•o is rendered "the things above". In this expression, "things" should not be construed to connote anything physical, concrete or seen, as the inference actually conveys spiritual, abstract and physical unseen entities that are only depicted in the vertical eternal sphere of God. In this light, we focus on the Greek phrase oo o Krees•tos ehs•teen ehn thehx•ee•ah too Theh•oo Kah- th•ee•meh•nos rendered "where Christ is sitting on the right hand of God"; thus our concentration in the heavenly sphere, not so much on "things" but on the essence of Christ and our place in Him as members of His Body. Hence our heavenly abode is not invested in places, things, or conditions but all is consummated "in Christ". It is Him who occupies the ultimate position of favor, as demonstrated by the adjective thehx•ee•ah rendered "right hand", which connotes what God is pleased with (Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20). Accordingly our focus and attention is transfixed on where Christ is!
This is certified as we move to verse two (KJV), "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth". And from the Greek Text, "Think on the things above, and not on the things upon the earth". The commanding word in this verse is the Greek verb phron•ee•teh rendered "think", "have in mind", "care for" or "be concerned about". The imperative mood stresses the importance of this directive to God’s people. This verb is an expression of the operations of our minds in action in the mode of thinking, reasoning, cogitating, mediating, reflecting and contemplating. Thus our minds are to be actively engaged in thinking, intellectually comprehending and reasoning, concerning the above sphere namely "in Christ Jesus." Here the emphasis is on an intelligently informed objective and non-emotional but continuous concentration on the sphere that is express by the revelation of truth pertaining to Christ as the Head of the Church and its application to His elect, the Body of Christ.
The key word is phron•ee•teh rendered "think" or to guide by "sound thoughts". Our thoughts are the product of the conveyance of information that we have received. Thus to think on that truth which revels and makes Him known and to think on true things is to think on the truth which reveals Christ as Head of the Church; which translate on concentrating on the word of God as revealed through the apostle Paul (Galatians 1:12; Ephesians 3:2-9; Colossians 1:25-26). Note that the verb rendered think is in the present tense implying that God’s people are to be continuously thinking about Him.
Here the question may be posed, "What is it about Him that we should be thinking? The answer is that our primary focus should be on what our relationship with Him is. The spirit of truth has conveyed to the spirit of God’s elect that we have a right relationship with Him in that we are positioned as sons of God. In this sense He is our Savior, the one who has saved us from the curse and power of sin (Acts 13:23; 2 Timothy 1:10; Titus 1:4).
Here the question may be posed, what is it about Him that we should be thinking? The answer is that our primary focus should be on what our relationship with Him is. The Spirit of Truth has conveyed to the spirit of God’s elect that we have a right relationship with Him in that we are positioned as sons of God. In this sense He is our Savior, the One who has saved us from the curse and power of sin (Acts 13:23; II Timothy 1:10; Titus 1:4). Hence He is our righteousness, the embodiment of the righteousness of God (1 Corinthians 1:30; Romans 10:4). Also, He is our redemption, who has ransomed us from sin (1 Corinthians 1:30; Romans 3:24). He is our sanctification, the one who has set us apart as perfect ones before God (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). He is our wisdom, the Truth for the Body of Christ, the Church (1 Corinthians 1:30; Colossians 2:3).
The implication of our relationship with God in Jesus Christ as Sons, are manifested in two spheres, namely: (1) our current (daily) activities and (2) our future activities. First in the current sphere, we are members of the Body of Christ for which Christ is the Head (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 1:22). In this state we know from our gospel that God loves us with an eternal love (Romans 8:35-39). Our current status as sons is documented by the fact that He continuously intercedes for us (Romans 8:34). Also, we have the privilege of continuous fellowship with Him (1 John 1:3,7). Thus we are perpetually linked with Him in that our sins are irrevocably forgiven, as the cleaning and washing affects of His blood are irreversibly and automatically implored in accounting for every aspect of our daily walk in Him (Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 1:7-9).
However, the ultimate focus is our future (eternal) relationship to God through Jesus Christ. Note, it begins with the fact that according to 1 Thessalonians 1:10, "the Lord is coming to receive the saints unto Himself". We will indeed dwell eternally in Him (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). We will be enrobed in resurrected bodies suited for our eternal existence with Him (Philippians 3:21). As believers we will be privileged to stand before Him to receive commendations for the faithful service that He worked within us (1 Corinthians 4:5; Philippians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:1). This is in essence our "blessed hope" (Titus 2:13).
In effect, thinking on things above is thinking on Jesus Christ and our son positioning. In contrast, thinking on things upon the earth is to become increasingly engulfed and inundated in them (Philippians 3:19). So the thought conveyance of the contents exudes the positive thrust of concentrating on Jesus Christ instead of on the negative things upon the earth. Here we observe that the word implication (tah) for "things" expresses every single thing that is upon the earth. Natural man is totally captivated and engrossed in thinking about things on the earth (Philippians 3:18-19). Thus this "above thinking" is foolishness to unregenerated man because it is impossible for him to comprehend it (1 Corinthians 2:14). Natural men measure value and success in terms of earthly accomplishments (Luke 12:16-21).
Contrariwise, spiritual man’s focus is dominated by the eternal above mindset and in this sense, God’s people are informed through His word that we have been bought with a price, the precious blood of Jesus Christ, as the central theme of existence is to glorify God in our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This translates into an accurate assessment of value and success in terms of a right relationship with God in Christ as expressed by workings that are pleasing to Him (Philippians 1:21; Colossians 3:9-10; Ephesians 2:10). Thus, there is no room for true spiritual believers to be focusing their attention and prioritizing their time on the things of this earth, i.e., materialism, or possessing things beyond that, which is necessary for normal sustenance, as we sojourn in our son-positions as members of the Body of Christ (Philippians 4:11-13; 1 Timothy 6:6-10; 2 Timothy 2:3-7).
This is further expressed in Colossians 3:3 which states, (KJV) "for you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God". And from the Greek Text, "For you died, and your life has been hidden with Christ in God". Here the Greek verb ahp•ehth•ahn•eh•teh rendered "you died", is the same word used in Colossians 2:20, wherein it speaks of those who have died though identification with the death of Christ. The point expressed is that we have spiritually died with Christ to the old man (Romans 6:6), hence we are to recognize that our lives are hidden with Christ in God. Note the Greek verb keh•kreep•teh literally rendered "has been and is hidden", is in the perfect tense and passive voice, denoting that which was hidden at a given time in the past and continues to be hidden, concealed or secret laid up in Christ. This is spelled out in Romans 6:8, which states (KJV) ‘Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him". And from the Greek Text, "If we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him". The thought conveyance is that we are currently living with Christ by the fact that our life is hid in Him.
Here it is ultimately important to define what life and living really is. There are two Greek words for which a distinction should be made, namely, vee•os and zo•ee; both are translated "living’ or "life". The word vee•os refers to the physical life and that which is necessary to sustain it (Mark 12:44; 1 Timothy 2:2). When we died with Jesus Christ, we spiritually died to the vee•os life and all that is associated with it, as far as it being the object, aim and purpose of our living (2 Timothy 2:4; 1 John 2:16). As believers who are yet in our physical bodies, we have basic vee•os (physical life) needs and the scripture holds family heads responsible to provide these basic requirements (1 Timothy 5:8). However, this function is not to be categorized as our vocation or main function, but as our advocation or subordinate function. Thus, we are not to prioritize these things as the object of our lives or base our relationship with God on the accumulation of the abundance of them.
Contrariwise, our life, which has been hidden (stored) with Christ in God, is zo•ee (life). All of the elect have in effect died to the vee•os (physical life) which Paul describes as the old man, even to the body sin (Romans 6:6); as we have been raised, or quickened or made alive with Christ which (who) is our life (Colossians 3:4). Accordingly the essence of life for the child of God is invested in Jesus Christ and our associated position in Him as members of His Body (Romans 5:21; 6:23; 2 Timothy 1:10).
The ultimate end our existence is depicted in Colossians 3:4, which states (KJV), "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory. And from the Greek Text, "Whenever Christ might appear, who is your life, then you also with Him shall appear in glory". Here we note that the Greek conjunction ot•ahn could be rendered either "when" or "whenever". The fact that this conjunction is subordinating, gives credence to the rendering "whenever". The inference is that when Christ appears, regardless of the specifics of this occurrence, it precipitates our appearing with Him in glory. Thus, "whenever" more fully expresses this inherent contingency, which is obvious in the context. Also, note that the Greek verb phahn•ehr•o•thee rendered "might appear", is in the subjunctive mood, aorist tense and passive voice; indicating a previously determined action that occurs in an indefinite period of time from the human viewpoint. As we follow the literal meaning of the Greek in this statement it is quite indefinite when it depicts the time of Christ’s appearing, manifestation, or eminent coming for His Church (1 Thessalonians 4:14-18).
Thus Jesus might (is poised to) appear at anytime, is the essence of our living as He is our life. An alternate rendering, which would be of comparable Greek manuscript value, refers to Christ as being our life, i.e.; Christ is the life of all his elect. The background of this is that at a given point of time all men were dead in trespass and sins, in fact we were hopelessly sinners in our very nature, but God from eternity loved us, had mercy upon us, and as a result extended His grace toward us in giving us ‘life together with Christ" (Ephesians 2:1-5). Thus it is impossible for us as believers to have zo•ee life, the life of God, apart from together-with-Christ relationship.
Accordingly, whenever (God’s determined point of time) Jesus Christ might (will) appear, then all who are chosen in Him will appear with Him in glory. Here the Greek verb phahn•ehr•o•thees•ehs•theh translated "shall be manifested" or ‘shall appear", is in the indicative mood (Its factual), the future tense and the passive voice, denoting that whenever Jesus is caused to be manifested or to appear; at that particular time, then will the elect be caused to appear with Him in glory. Thus our manifestation or appearing with Christ in glory is contingent upon the time – whenever Christ appears.
In essence, the passive voices of these verbs indicate that the timing and effectuation of Christ’s appearing concomitantly entails our appearing with Him in glory. In effect, even as we now have zo•ee life in our with (in) Christ relationship; likewise in the future, we shall manifestly have glory in our with (in) Christ relationship. The fact of the matter is that because of Christ, we are now living and we shall be glorified in Him.
In this view, in which Christ is our life, we even now positionally realize the consummation of our union with Christ. But when we resurrected in Him we will be in Him, not in a corporate sense, but in an individually glorified state (Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 3:18).