Be All That You Can !

Part 1

Colossians 3:1-4

1If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.


The United States Army has a recruiting slogan: “be all that you can”  In our text, the apostle Paul tells the church at Colossae that they needed to be all they can. The Colossians needed the strong admonitions that Paul gave here in this magnificent book.  They needed to be impressed with the uniqueness that made them children of God. Christianity is the religion of newness. The new birth ushers us into it. 


Jesus talked of this to Nicodemus, in John chapter three, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.  and to  that new birth Paul alluded in Col. 3:1 “1If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God”.   We are a new creation or new creatures  2 Corinthians 5:17. We are to walk in the new and living way (Heb.10:20). We wear a new name Christian.  Isaiah prophesied of its coming in Isaiah 62:2, and both Luke and Peter spoke of its fundamental fulfillment in Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28,  and 1 Pet. 4:16.   Further, we have a new set of values and attitudes new friends,  a new mission in life to fill, the New Jerusalem is now our desired destination in yonder world.


Speaking of the Colossian’s conversion to the now reigning Christ Paul writes : Colossians 3:1

1If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.


These words of course were penned to the church at Colossae, but were  intended for every age of God’s children. Paul's beginning this verse with (if) does not imply a doubt that the Colossians were raised with Christ; In reality it means "inasmuch as" or "because" they were raised with Christ, they were to proceed diligently with the spiritual prescription He wrote for them.

There should be a noticeable change in our inward attitudes that will reflect itself in our outward behavior. A beautiful song we often sing states it this way. “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me”.


It  is also a  reference  to  Colossians 2:11-13 where Paul speaks  a crystal-clear and definitive passage to their baptism:

11In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,     


This passage clearly teaches they were baptized, putting off the body of sins of the flesh, they were raised alive in Christ and forgiven. Even earlier Paul to the saints of God at Rome taught the same truths by stating:  Romans 6:1-7


1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7For he who has died has been freed from sin.


Conversions in the New Testament were not humanly manufactured experience we see today designed to be different and to meet every human preference. They were genuine. They conformed strictly to blueprint or pattern authority. Rom. 6:17-18 attests, “ 17But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”


The Greek word here is  tuvpo", meaning a figure formed by a blow,  an impression or image, an metaphorically an example, a pattern to be conformed to.   Both the Colossians and the Romans had been taught the truth, for the Master said: John 8:31-32   “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.


They had therefore believed in the Deity of Christ,  (John 8:24) repented of their sins (Acts 17:30, confessed Christ, and were immersed into the sublime name of  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit   (Matthew 28:18-20). In New Testament times there was no other way to be converted to Jesus Christ. There is still no other way today.


Because these Christians had been raised with Christ, they were to look heavenward in their aspirations,  they were to seek Heaven. As did Abraham of old, they were to look "for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:10).


Paul and the Colossian Christians served a risen Redeemer, and Paul here placed Jesus in Heaven and at the Father’s right hand, where Peter positioned Him in Acts   2:29-35.  Here Peter argues for the resurrection of Christ not David

29“Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30“Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31“he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. 32“This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33“Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. 34“For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself:  ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, 35Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” ’


In this passage, Peter declares in no uncertain terms that God raised up Jesus for a specific and definite purpose:  "to sit on David's throne" ....  "To Sit"  is an infinitive clause, with the con­struction of an adverb and carries with it purpose.  If Christ is not on the throne of David, the re­surrection might well have been deferred to some other time.  This has been His majestic role and exalted position for more than 20 centuries.  When He comes back, it will not be to begin to reign, but to end His reign (1 Corinthians 15:20-29).


Next notice  Paul gives us a priority for our affections. Colossians  3:2-3

2Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  3For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.


The zealous exhortation of this verse is a spiritual outgrowth of what was stated in Colossians 3:1. The Colossian’s affections, their minds, their strongest desires, were to be firmly fixed on things above, not on earthly enticements and mundane matters.


This is where the rich young ruler of Matt. 19:16-26, failed the strenuous test for a dedicated discipleship to the Messiah. Gold meant more to him than God did; silver was preferred over the Savior at whose feet he has bowed.


Possessions took preference over truth, and wealth overshadowed the gospel preached by the Mighty Prophet from Nazareth.  He made a choice that has eternal consequences. Unless he changed later, he is still regretting that carnal choice in the torments of Hades.


Seeking God is preeminent. David and Isaiah wrote respectively,  "Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually"(1 Chronicles 16:11 ) and again "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near"

(Isaiah  55:6). Preeminently, the disciples of Jesus are to seek God's kingdom and His righteousness first and foremost —  (Matthew 6:33).


The Colossians had died to the love, dominion, and guilt of sin. Colossians 3:3

 3For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.


Died here is used figuratively to refer to separation from sin and its guilt.   Separation is inherent in the various Biblical usages of the word dead. Physical death is a separation of body and spirit (James 2:26).


Those spiritually dead now -- such as the Ephesians were in Eph. 2:1-3 , are separated from God and from all that is good, right, and proper. Hell is the second death as in Rev. 2:11; 20:14-15; and Rev. 21:8. This is eternal separation from God, Christ and all that is good.


In conversion there is a death or separation from the love and practice of sin.  This occurs  at  conversion; now their lives are hidden (protected) with Christ in God.


In Colossians 3:4  we are told Christ is the Christian's life. 

4When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory


Paul refers here to the Lord's Second Coming. This theme is taught in about one of every twenty-five New Testament verses, or more than three hundred times in the attractive aggregate. This is relatively the number of times His first coming is predicted in Old Testament Scripture.


The "when" of His second coming is wrapped up in the counsels of God's mind and is not governed by human speculations. Matt 24:35-36

35Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. 36But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.       


Jesus then precedes to speak of careful planning regarding the sureness of His coming and concludes in verse 44:

44Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.


He is coming to raise all the dead, judge all mankind, Matthew 25:31-46. Sentence the wicked to eternal damnation, and take the righteous home to Heaven for a never-ending eternity. 


 Diligence thus must characterize our patient preparation in the here-and-now in order that we may hear that the words of our Lord one day: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:” Matthew 25:34


We continue our discussion of this text next week in part  2. 


We invite you to visit often. We trust your visits, to our website, will find  the materials to be interesting, and profitable to your desire to learn more and be acceptable one day.



Ron Cope Minister churches of Christ


phone:  (678)617-9658