1. You have died (verse 3a).
2. You are hidden (verse 3b).
3. You will be revealed (verse 4).
In the 1950’s a very popular television show aired all across
America. It was entitled, This Is Your Life. It is likely that
many of you are familiar with this television show. This was "reality TV" long
before "reality TV" became the thing to do for corporate networks. The plot was quite
simple. Each week, an unsuspecting celebrity would be lured by some friends to a
location near the television studio. This celebrity would then be surprised with
the news that he was to be the featured guest on the show that evening. After being was
escorted into the studio, one by one, people significant in the guest's life would be
brought out to offer anecdotes. At the end of the show family members and friends
would gather about the guest who would then be presented with some gifts. 
For 10 years, America was entertained by hearing about the lives of these
celebrities and watching them react to the funny anecdotes offered by childhood
friends, former teachers, and former co-workers. People were touched to see these
celebrities shed a tear as they remembered particular tragedies that took place in
their life, like a tragic death in the family or some other family crisis. This
morning, as we dig once again into the book of Colossians, we all will have a chance to
look into our lives as believers in Jesus Christ. We will look back to our past.
We will look at our present reality. And, we will look forward to the things that we
can expect to see in the future.
My message this morning is entitled, "Christ Is Our Life." This phrase
comes directly from our text this morning, which is found in the book of Colossians,
chapter three, verses three and four. To catch the context, I want to begin by reading
the first four verses. Paul writes, ...
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
For the past two weeks at Rock Valley Bible Church, we have set our minds
upon the things above, just as verses 1 and 2 have told us to do. It has been
incredibly refreshing for me to do so. Thinking of heaven and the eternal realities
have lifted my soul greatly. I believe that this has reflected upon each of you as
well. Several of you have spoken to me in response to these messages and have told me
of how encouraging these passages have been to your soul, as they have compelled you to
reflect upon the heavenly realities that are ours in Christ.
But, perhaps in all this thought and discussion and preaching and hearing
and applying, we have missed the a final piece to the puzzle that helps to bring it all
home to us in a greater way than ever before. The piece that I’m talking about is
simply that heaven isn’t a far off place that we will get to someday, somehow.
Rather, the reality is that every believer in Jesus Christ is actually in heaven
already. We experience some of it now. To you, that may sound
shocking, because you can easily say, "I’m not in heaven. I’m in
Rockford. And in case you haven’t noticed, Steve, Rockford isn’t heaven.
There is much crime in Rockford. There are racial tensions in Rockford. In recent
years, we have lost a bunch of manufacturing jobs. The economy isn’t too hot. In
a few months, it’s going to be cold again. Rockford is far from
I know these things. Rockford is no heaven. But, it doesn’t much
matter. The Scripture says that every believer in Jesus Christ is in heaven. Look there
at verse 3, Paul writes, "For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in
God." And I simply ask the question, "Where is Jesus right now?" Jesus is seated at the
right hand of God the Father. He is ruling from His throne. He is waiting to fully
exert His rule some day. He is praying there for His people. But Paul says that "your
life is hidden with Christ in God" (verse 3). As Christ is right now in heaven. As God
is right now in heaven. So too are we also in heaven. It’s not simply that we
will be in heaven someday. It’s that we are there right now! Surely, there will
be a day in which our standing with Christ is revealed (that’s what verse 4 is
about), "When Christ is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory."
But, when this day comes, it’s not so much that we will be transferred to our
heavenly home. It’s that the curtain will open and our true location will be
manifested for all the world to see.
As followers of Christ, we are citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20). In many
ways, that is where we live. In Ephesians 2:5-6, we read of how God "made us alive
together with Christ ... and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the
heavenly places in Christ Jesus." There is a very real sense in which we are seated
with Jesus Christ in heaven.
And this should have massive implication upon the way in which we should
live. As verse 5 picks up, "Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead
to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to
idolatry." Verses 6-9 and following are simply packed with the practical
implications of how we should live. But, before we go out and attempt to live a
life that honors God, we need to realize the great realities of who we are. It’s
for that purpose that Paul writes verses 1-4. It is only when we come to understand
them and grasp the great realities of our heavenly life that our lives will be truly
pleasing to Him in every respect.
My message this morning is entitled, "Christ Is Your Life." My outline is
simple. It comes from the main verbs in verses 3 and 4. "You have died" is the found in
the first half of verse three. "You are hidden" is the point of the second half
of verse 3. And "You will be revealed" is the message of verse 4. And so,
this morning, my aim is to call us to reflect upon who we are as believers in Christ,
where we are, and what will happen to us in the future.
My message this morning will be a little bit like the great book that
Charles Dickens wrote, A Christmas Carol. This fictional story
is about a man named, Ebenezer Scrooge. He was a selfish workaholic who spent his life
exploiting the poor for his own gain. At one point, Mr. Scrooge said that the we would
all be better off if the poor of this world were to die, as it would decrease the
surplus population. At any rate, Mr. Scrooge went to bed on Christmas Eve, all alone,
with no friends and no happiness. In his sleep, he is visited by the ghost of his
former partner, Jacob Marley, who recently passed away. As the story unfolds, Jacob
Marley hosts the visits of three other ghosts: the ghost of Christmas past, the
ghost of Christmas present, and the ghost of Christmas future. Each of these
ghosts reveal something to Mr. Scrooge of his character and his destiny if he
doesn’t change his ways.
The story ends well. As a result of reflecting upon his past life, his
present life, and his future life, Ebenezer Scrooge changed his ways. He gave a
generous raise to his employee, Bob Cratchit, and became a second father to
Cratchit’s crippled son, Tiny Tim. He lived the rest of his days in
This morning, as we walk through the life of every Christian, it is my
aim that your ways will be changed. I’m not saying that your ways are stingy like
those of Ebenezer Scrooge. I’m not saying that your ways are sinful and need a
radical transformation. But, I am saying that all of us can evaluate our lives and see
areas that need transformation, and seek to change by the power of God. This was
Paul’s aim. Before speaking to the Colossians about their behavior in very
practical ways, he first focused their attention upon their lives. He talks about what
happened to them in the past. He talks about where they are in the present. And,
he discusses what will take place in the future.
At this point, I need to stop and say a few words about the target of my
message this morning. I’m preaching to those who know Christ. I’m preaching
to those of you who have experienced the new birth. I’m preaching to those of you
come face to face with your sin and have seen it as a dreadful thing, and have cried
out to God for mercy. I’m preaching to those who have found mercy. If this is not
you, then I exhort you to repent. I exhort you to place your faith in the only one who
can save. If you have repented of your sin and are trusting Christ, then "This is Your
Let’s take a look now at what you could call the ghost of the
1. You have died (verse 3a).
Look at verse 3. We read, "You have died." This is the great reality of
every believer in Jesus Christ. We have died! Certainly, we look alive. We walk
and talk and breathe and eat and move. It doesn’t look like we are dead. Indeed,
the next phrase in verse 3 indicates that we have life. But, here’s the reality:
we have a new life. The old life is gone. The new life has come. Listen to 2
Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old
things passed away; behold, new things have come." When you became a believer in Christ
and entrusted your soul to His care, He did a work of transformation in your life that
is so complete that the Scripture would call you a "new creature." What you were before
is not what you are now. I believe that this is a bit of what Jesus was getting at when
He was speaking with Nicodemus, when he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you,
unless one is born again (or born from above) he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John
3:3). It’s not reformation that we need, as if we merely need to reform our
character. Rather, it’s transformation that we need. We need a complete
transformation of our being.
It all starts with dying. This is what Paul is addressing here in verse
3, "You have died." This isn’t a new concept in this letter to the Colossians.
Paul has already hinted at our death when we came to faith. Look back in chapter 2,
verse 12. There we read, "having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were
also raised up with Him through faith." The metaphor here is one of life and death. You
were buried and then you were raised up.
We see this also in verse 20, "If you have died with Christ." The
assumption on Paul’s behalf is that those in Colossae had indeed died with Christ
when they believed in Him. In chapter 3, the theme continues. Look at verse 1, "If you
have been raised up with Christ." The idea here is a resurrection, which presupposes a
death. "You died with Christ ... You have been raised up with Christ." The conclusion
comes in verse 5, "Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead" (Col.
When you come to faith in Christ Jesus, you die. Again, the question
comes, "Well, how did I die? I look quite alive to me." For the answer to that
question, we can turn to other portions of Scripture, where this same concept is
addressed, but each time, there is a bit of a nuance of a difference. In Galatians
2:19, Paul’s testimony is the testimony of every believer, "Through the law I
died to the law, so that I might live to God" (Gal. 2:19). Let's look at some
Galatians 5:24, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the
flesh with its passions and desires."
Galatians 6:14, "through [the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."
1 Peter 2:24, "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness."
And, of course, Romans 6 is very relevant because it contains an extended
discussion about our participation in the death of Christ:
I know that’s a lot of Scripture that we just covered. Let me
summarize it as best as I know how. When a person comes to faith in Christ, he turns
away from his old manner of life, so much so that he can give testimony which I might
summarize like this:
This is the death that Paul is talking about in verse 3. He’s
talking about a death to yourself. He's talking about putting off the old self.
In Colossians 3:8-9, Paul uses the expression, "you laid aside the old self with its
evil practices." That describes it well.
As I think about what great transformation is occurring here, I'm
reminded of the transformation of the Monarch butterfly. In recent years, my wife has
become quite fascinated with Monarch butterflies. In the middle of every summer, my
wife goes out on a quest to find Monarch caterpillars. They are easily identified, as
they are striped beautifully with black and white and yellow stripes. As their only
food source in milkweed, you can only find them wherever milkweed is growing. Yvonne
can tell you of several locations in Rockford where milkweed grows. She has become so
fond of these little creatures, that she even wants to transplant some milkweed into
our yard, so that they are easier to find. When she finds these little creatures,
she brings them home, and puts them in a jar with plenty of milkweed. She makes sure
that she grabs enough milkweed leaves to pack away zip lock storage bags in the
refrigerator, so these caterpillars can have fresh food each day. This past year, she
found about half a dozen of these caterpillars and gave them to various families in the
church, complete with jars and fresh leaves to feed the caterpillars. Day after day,
these caterpillars spend their days eating the milkweed. Day after day, these
caterpillars grow and grow, until they are several weeks old. At that point, they
attach themselves firmly to a stick or a leaf and begin the process of dying. Somehow,
something is changing within their stomachs.
The shed their skin. They transform into a chrysalis, and they look dead.
But, that dying is their very path to life. In a little over a week, the caterpillar
transforms into a beautiful orange and black butterfly, that we let fly away, that it
might come back and lay some more eggs for us to find next year, on Yvonne's beloved
The point is this: in order to fly, the creature has to die. Recall that
this is exactly what Christ calls us all to do. He said, "If anyone wishes to come
after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me" (Matt. 16:24). This is
a call to a life of self-denial and sacrifice and obedience unto Jesus. When Jesus used
the imagery here of "taking up the cross," the imagery is death. Jesus said, "If anyone
wishes to come after Me, he must die!" The promise of such a death, however, is life.
Jesus promised us that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but would have
everlasting life. This is the call of God upon every life upon the planet. Jesus Christ
calls all of us to evaluate our allegiance. Are you living for yourself? Will you spend
your life on your own passions and desires? Or, will you die to yourself and live for
God? But the truth of the gospel is that our death to self is death with Christ (Col.
2:20). And in dying with Christ, we live with Christ (Col. 3:1). And in living with
Christ, we live for Christ. Listen to 2 Cor. 5:14-15,
This Is Your Life, O Christian. Perhaps you are here today, and know
nothing of this death to self. I exhort you, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to
repent of your sin and seek the Savior. "Take up your cross and follow
Our past is characterized by death. We have died in Christ. My next
point is the reality of the present experience of every believer in Christ.
2. You are hidden (verse 3b).
Look there at the last half of verse 3, "Your life is hidden with Christ
in God." It’s at this point that we see the connection of our experience with the
exhortations of verses 1 and 2 to seek the things above. We need to seek the things
above, because that is where we are, right now. Surely, it looks like you are here, and
indeed you are. But, there is a very real sense where your life is right now in the
heavens. "Your life is hidden with Christ in God." Naturally, the question is, What
does this mean? What does this mean that you are "hidden with Christ in God." First of
all, I believe that it has a reference to your ...
This is the gospel, is it not? In Christ Jesus are hidden "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:3). As we believe in Him, the treasures become ours. In Christ Jesus, we have the hope of heaven (Col. 1:5). In Christ Jesus, we have forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:14). In Christ Jesus, we sit in His kingdom, having been rescued out of the domain of darkness (Col. 1:13). In Christ Jesus, we dwell in the light! He is the Sovereign One who has delivered us from our sin and has brought us into the true knowledge of His will (Col. 1:9).
As we embrace Him, He embraces us. We are safe and secure from sin in His
One with Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased with His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!
Certainly, we hate our sin. Certainly, sorrow over our sin. And yet, we
need not dwell long over the effects of sin upon our lives, because we know that we are
secure in the heavens, safe in the arms of Jesus. We know that we can overcome the
onslaughts of the devil and of our flesh, because our life is completely wrapped up,
surrounded by, and hidden in Christ Jesus.
As a mother hen places her wings around her chicks to protect them from
the evil that may come upon them, so also is our life safe in God. Psalm 91:1-4
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!"
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
As a shepherd tenderly cares for the young in his flock, so will God
tenderly care for and protect us from all harm. Isaiah 40:11,
As a man tightly clutches a golden coin in his hand, so also does Jesus
clutch us in His hand. Jesus said,
As a faithful husband continues to be faithful to his wife for better,
for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, so also will the
Lord’s love for us continue on.
"Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things
present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created
thing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our
Lord" (Rom. 8:38-39).
As we are hidden in Christ, we are secure in His love. We experience
forgiveness. But, there’s another aspect of being hidden in Christ.
We are "hidden with Christ in God." It means that our lives are so wrapped up in Jesus, that you can’t see us without first seeing Jesus. Children, I trust that you have played hide-and-seek before. You know how you play the game, right? Somebody shuts his eyes and starts counting to some large number, like fifty. Then, you go off and hide yourself. You try to find a place where you can be covered by something. Perhaps a closet, where you can cover yourself with coats. Perhaps a bed, where you can slide under it. Perhaps a couch, where you can crawl behind it. I know what it’s like to hide in some of those places. As a child, I loved playing that game. And now that I’m an adult, I still like playing that game. In fact, from time to time, we play hide and seek in our house as a family. We all gather in our upstairs bathroom and send somebody off to hide. We wait a few minutes and try to find the one hiding. I’ve hidden under beds. I’ve hidden in closets. I’ve hidden behind storage bins on our basement shelves. It’s great fun. The life of a Christian is a bit like this. We have found a hiding place. It’s in Jesus!
My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device or creed;
I trust the ever living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.
Our identity is in Jesus. When you play hide-and-seek, if you hide in the
closet behind the coats, before they see you, they will see the coats. If you hide
under the bed, before they see you, they will see the bed. If you hide behind the
couch, before they see you, they will see the couch. That’s what people ought to
see when they look at us. They ought to see Jesus, because our identity is found in
This past week I read the story of Mike Dittman. Gary Thomas tells the
"It was just a couple years later that a close friend told me the
shocking news: After a morning workout, Mike’s body dropped to the locker
room floor. A brain hemorrhage almost took his life, but after a furious scare, doctors
were able to keep Mike in this world--albeit, a very different Mike.
"His Hollywood-handsome appearance was gone. Half of Mike’s face
now looks ‘fallen,’ pulled over to one side. He can’t sing anymore or
play his guitar, so there’s no more leading worship. For a while his speech was
slurred, so he couldn’t teach. He was humbled in just about every way an
ambitious man can be humbled.
"After months of grueling therapy, Mike moved on. The devastating effect
on his body was paralleled by an equally powerful--and wonderful--change in his spirit.
Now, years later, Mike’s ministry has never been more productive. He started a
phenomenally successful department of counseling at the Philadelphia Biblical
University, which has grown from a handful of students to hundreds of
"People fly in to Philadelphia from all over the country to meet with
Mike--pastors who have fallen, marriages that have broken apart, children who are
rebelling. Mike’s seen it all. Whereas before his focus was on the masses, Mike
now specializes in healing hurting hearts, one at a time.
"‘The brain hemorrhage took a lot away from me,’ Mike told me
recently, ‘but it gave me even more.’ Mike is now the type of guy whose
spirit invites you to quiet your heart, get rid of all pretenses, and revel in
God’s presence. I think the main difference is that in college, when I was around
Mike, I wanted to be like Mike. Now, after spending time with Mike, I want to be more
like Jesus." 
That’s a life that’s hidden in Christ. To see Mike Dittman is
to seek Jesus. He is our identity. Many times the Scripture describes Christians
as being "in Christ." Paul sometimes even addresses his audience as being "in
Christ." This is evident at the opening of the letter to Colossians, where Paul
writes, "To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ" (Col 1:2). Our identity
is found hidden in Christ. There is one more aspect of being hidden in
Christ. It is...
By this, I simply mean that there is an aspect to our life that isn’t entirely evident for all to see. "Your life is hidden with Christ in God." When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about being born again, Nicodemus replied, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?" (John 3:4). In the response of Jesus, we discover that He was talking about a spiritual rebirth, not a physical one, "that which is born of the flesh is flesh, but that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6).
The change that comes upon us death to our selves doesn’t change us
physically. We still look like the old Bill or Ted or Marcia or Susie. Our change comes
in our behavior. And as people see that, they will know that something happened to us
when we believed in the Savior. But, because of their blindness to the things of the
Spirit, such things are concealed to the world.
Should they try to explain our attitudes and our behavior, they
won’t fully understand. Certainly, they can say that they see something different
about us. But, they can’t see why it is that we are this way. That is the point
of Colossians 3:3. There is something about our lives that is hidden from the
average Joe on the street. "Your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3). But,
there is coming a day, when all who are hidden in Christ will be revealed for the
entire world to see. That's the message of verse 4, where Paul writes, "When Christ,
who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory." So, my
third and final point in my sermon outline is this:
3. You will be revealed (verse
As we saw a few weeks ago, Jesus Christ is upon His throne, awaiting the
day when He will come back for all the world to see. There will be a day when Jesus is
revealed for all the world to see. In Revelation 19, we hear of that day. John
And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it
is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are
a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him
which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His
name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine
linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a
sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with
a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.
And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD
OF LORDS." (Rev. 19:11-16)
This sermon was delivered to Rock Valley Bible Church on September 17, 2006 by Steve Brandon.
For more information see www.rvbc.cc.