“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).
Several years ago, a pastor made an appointment to see me. He said he had heard of my ministry, and he needed to talk with me. He had struggled for 22 years in his Christian experience, going through one trial after another. During his devotions one day, he read Colossians 3:3, and he wanted to know how his life could be hidden in Christ.
I asked him to read the passage out loud and very slowly, which he did. Again he asked me, “That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. I think that is the secret. How do I do that?” I asked him to read it again, even slower. “For… you… died,… and…your …life …is…now…hidden … with … Christ … in … God.” Suddenly the light dawned and he realized he had already died. For 22 years, this dear pastor had been desperately trying to become something he already is.
Over the years, I have had several people try to convince me that this is only a positional truth, implying that it describes a relationship between us and God, but it is not something we can experience in our daily lives. Is our position in Christ only theological, just a nice thing to know but having no practical relevance to our present lives? Nonsense! Our position in Christ is the basis for our hope and the sole prerequisite to living by faith. Read More
When I started work I was an "office boy," now known as a P.A., personal assistant. I picked up the mail at the post office in the morning, and in those days most of the letters were addressed to "The Manager." In the vast majority of cases those letters addressed to the manager were of great interest to others. Yet many managers got quite upset if someone else read the letters before they did. Nowadays, even though my wife Vivien and I have joint accounts, privacy laws insist we each have to receive a statement in a separate envelope, one addressed to me and one to Vivien.
It is, in fact, against the law to open another person's mail. So look at the address on the envelope. Does it have your name on the outside? If it does, then what it says is specifically for you. If your name is not on the envelope, it is not specifically for you but you may learn some things from its contents if it is shown to you. Often the only way you can resolve an apparent contradiction in the Bible is to apply this filter.
Not all of the 66 books of the Bible have your name on them, but you can learn something from all of them. Miles Cloverdale, in his 1535 English translation of the New Testament, wrote about studying the Bible: "It shall greatly help ye to understand Scripture, if thou mark not only what is spoken or written, but of whom, and to whom..." and seven other rules. These wise words have helped Christians for nearly 500 years. The "to whom" is of interest to us at this point. Read More
There are believers in whose lives football has taken the place of Christ. With others, it is money that has taken the place of Christ. They no longer come to church meetings regularly, so those of us who do come to the meetings look with sorrow upon them because they are no longer Christ-centered.
It is very bad when football takes the place of Christ, or money takes the place of Christ. But it is no less tragic when even good things take the place of Christ. The Bible, for instance, or church meetings.Some people are accustomed to visiting their psychiatrist every week. They say they need that hour with him in order to survive. And for many of us, the church meeting is the same kind of pick-me-up. Meetings can be wonderful. But my spiritual life is not grounded in meetings. It is grounded in Christ. As we sing in the hymn, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. All other ground is sinking sand.”
In Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, we see that his desire was that we might be strengthened with might in our inner man. Now our meetings can be a help in strengthening us in our inner man, or they can be the greatest single hindrance of all. It depends on whether we are meeting-centered or Christ-centered. Read More