JUNE 1, 2007
Introduction: For the past two months, Zadok Publications' newsletter has been Bible commentary, primarily focused on Colossians 1, 2. Colossians promotes a theme which is foundational to understanding all of Paul's work: He wrote to the saints (holiness ones) and the faithful. He is in prison, and these last two chapters underscore his feeling of mortality. He knows his survival chances are limited and it is necessary to "say it while he can."
Paul began chapter three with a rhetorical approach; he began with "If Then." The recipients had passed through the first "if" gate in 2:20: "Therefore IF you died with Messiah from the basic principles of the world…" Why do you subject yourself to the commandments and doctrines of men? That hurdle must be cleared by everyone who qualifies as "dead in Christ." That question rings in the ears of any who are limited, bound, gagged or restricted by religious structure.
(Author's Note: I am privy to complaints of many who are stifled by social peer pressure and religious commitment. They have sworn at an altar far removed from the heavenly one; their oaths are in conflict with those prompted by the Spirit. In a state of miserable turmoil, they labor with an underlying hope that one day an opportunity will arise either through financial independence or a change in circumstances, where they will be able to break free.)
On the heels of the first "If" comes another. That's the way "if's" are. It's the nature of "if then" psychology. As soon as one settles the first issue another arises, for built into each "if then" clause is a series of addendums. One might call them conclusions based on the "if then" premise.
IF THEN you were raised with Messiah, seek those things which are above…set your mind on things above…put to death your members which are on the earth…put off all these (vs 8-9) ….put on the new man….therefore put on (vs. 12-13)…put on love and the bond of perfection.Paul clearly teaches that one must actively seek those things which are above where Messiah is sitting at the right hand of God. There is no passivity in Christ! Right there in front of I AM, the believer stands in the charged atmosphere of heavenly concerns. Here is the fruition of the Lord's Prayer, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." How does such a prayer make sense without an understanding of the kingdom that is in heaven?
From a prison's confinement, the writer stood in the community of heaven and claimed it as the right and territory of the truly redeemed!
It does not take much thought to realize, however, that, despite the affirmations of mega moguls, little is known or contemplated about the "things" above. Indeed, if quizzed, most might hang their head in shame, acknowledging ignorance.
Some of the Heavenly THINGS:
High interest in the affairs of man, (especially as they concern God's saints) from a heavenly point of view, has always been "one of those things." Advancement of God's kingdom, and overseeing its care, has been another. Fellowship in grace, love and the bond of perfection are others. Revelation knowledge, wisdom and understanding are still more. Prayer and intercession are constantly being heard and acted upon. (They are kept in reserve and answered with precious delight and they form another part.) Praise and worship as a never ending continuum form another. (The reader may add others.)
A Statement of Fact based on the "if then" clause:
For you died, and your life is hidden with Messiah in God.Any contemplation on this statement will send chilling results to some and shouting ground to others. Having died and being hidden are the only criteria for claiming:
Hebrews 13:5-6 For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' 6 So we may boldly say, 'The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?'Life hidden in Messiah is what John 17 is all about. It is the completion of oneness in Him. In 3: 4 it is elliptically spoken, "When Messiah, *our life, appears, and then you also will appear with Him in glory." This ellipsis is chocked full of power, "Messiah, our life." *Our life is wrapped in His.
(Author's note: In January of 2005, at breakfast, while fellowshipping with Rev. Kim Freeborn, of Bath, England, this ellipsis was the answer to a probing question. After many spiritual matters had been discussed, Kim was asked, "What is it that you really want?" Seriously, he answered, "To live my life totally in the will of God." He then went on to illuminate by saying, "It is my sole passion to be in His Presence, while doing His work every moment." Looking into his eyes was an affirmation that indeed this was all that mattered to Kim. )
Based on the "life in Messiah" truth, comes the next conclusion:
Therefore put to death your members which are on the earthPaul then names a five pronged list which might well be described as highlights of the world's television productions. In verses 8, 9, he adds six more tenets. He names these aspects of daily encounter to explain God's coming wrath. (He contrasts these "things" to the "things" above.)
Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon 'the children of disobedience.'Without religious, social or racial consideration, Paul admonishes the saints to, "put on the new man, who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him (3:10)."
Not many today wear this new man. Many have suited up in the form of the "new man," but finding evidence of "knowledge according (or just like, in kind) to the image of Him who created him" is rare. (Knowledge: NT: 1922 epignosis (ep-ig'-no-sis) full discernment, acknowledgement)
John Lake summed it by looking into the mirror every morning and declaring, "Jesus lives in this suit." To the saint, "Christ is all in all."
To the saint (holiness ones) and the faithful, Christ is all there is and He is in them all. Paul declared that to be the "elect of God (holy and beloved)" one must possess the qualities of the new man. He then adds a list of attributes found in verses 12-16.
Significantly, just as the saint is to put on the new man, he/she is to put on "love," which is the linchpin of perfection. (Bond: NT:4886 sundesmos (soon'-des-mos), a joint tie, i.e. ligament, (figuratively) uniting principle, control: KJV - band, bond.)
Then, Paul used an Old Testament term with a New Testament meaning, the word is "let." He used it with two important additions. ("Amen" would be the word that affirms or says, in essence, "let it be just like it is said.")
The first: "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts (The litmus test for all decisions)." (If every one of the saints ruled his or her life by these criteria, fellowship would never be an issue and thankfulness would abound [v.15]).
The Second: "Let the word of Messiah dwell in you richly (v. 16)." (Dwell: NT:1774 enoikeo (en-oy-keh'-o); from NT:1722 and NT:3611; to inhabit [figuratively]: KJV - dwell in. It is also a relation of rest.)In combination with the above two items, Paul entered a domain that is often omitted from worship times. These essential ingredients are the components of true and meaningful times of fellowship in praise. With all the participants full of the peace of God and having the indwelling of the Word, these rudiments of worship appear readily:
Catalysts for wisdom, teaching and admonition:
All these forms have one common thread: grace. Grace must be in the heart of the offerer. Whether by word or deed, these actions must be done in the Name of Y'shua, giving thanks to God the Father, THROUGH Him. (What a wonderful format for any gathering!)
Paul pressed all the teaching for the Colossians through the colander of Holiness. He ended his treatise with three admonitions of his own. Holiness in the family: calling for a family to be in respectful accord. Holiness on the job site: being loyal to one's employer and displaying Christian Holiness. (Recently, a salesman was maligned heavily by one of his bosses over a supposed untruthful statement. He was defended by a non-Christian employee who said, "This man is the most honest, trustworthy and dependable person I have ever known." Here was real "workplace" evangelism.)
Holiness in social relations: "Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. 4:5, 6)."
Because Paul stressed, several times, the importance of praying for the saints (holiness ones) and the faithful, he concluded in like manner.
Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving. Meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door For the Word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also In chains.There is no effective evangelism without these facets. Prayer for God to open the door to evangelistic endeavors is the only method of deployment. The Lord was not surprised that 5,000 and then 3,000 responded to those who remained in prayer awaiting the baptism of the Spirit. He had his plan for the lone Ethiopian as well, by sending Philip as special messenger. Effective evangelism is born and bathed in prayer. It is the Lord who directs the activity.
Until Next Month,
Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.
Prison Ministry Report:
Author's Notes: I requested data from Bro. Kevin Dillon last month and the following is his reply. It briefly describes his life and ultimate entry into his prison ministry in New Jersey. Bro. Dillon has placed many copies of The Sons of Zadok in English and Spanish into the hands of numbers of inmates and provides a library of materials for those to whom he cares and loves. Here is his personal testimony and in it I have underlined what I think are the key resources for all ministry-the giving away a part of oneself. C. R. O.
Growing up in New Jersey as a child, I never thought of ministry, and surely not the prisons -- in New Jersey or anywhere. I grew up in a lot of rejection and uncertainty, coming from a broken home. But there came a time when God made Himself real to me -- and all I wanted was Him. This was the process of God for my life.
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