Alive For Evermore, Today
Text: Colossians 2: 11-23
Proposition: To be alive forever more means I am now alive in spirit as well as soul and body, for Christ has made me alive for evermore, today.
Introduction: Manuel Gonzalez, it’s not a name that we remember but 8 years ago 33 men met him for the first time. They were trapped 2041 feet below the ground in a Chilean mine disaster. They had been there for over 2 months. Family members waited to hear if any had survived. It took them 69 days and 8 hours to locate them and drill a vertical shaft through the rock down to where the miners were. Then it was Manuel Gonzalez, a mine rescue expert, who descended down into the ground in a tube just large enough for one man. He went down 2041 feet to where the miners were and helped them one by one, to come out the way he had just come in. The last miner was taken out around 11 pm on October 13, 2010. Trapped under ground for more than two months, all 33 survived. News spread around the town and cameras broadcast it around the world, newspaper headlines read, ‘They’re alive, they’re alive, they are saved!’
As amazing as the Chilean rescue was there is an even more daring rescue, an even greater number saved and an even greater darkness averted. I’m talking about what it means to be made alive in Christ Jesus, turn with me to Colossians 2:11- 23.
I. The Reality Is That Apart From Rescue We Can Never Dig Our Way Out.
That truth was real for the Chilean miners but it’s also true for each one of us. It’s what Paul was getting at when he speaks to the Colossians about trying to use the ritual of circumcision as a means to being right with God. The whole point of circumcision when it was commanded by God to Moses was that it was a sign that the people of Israel were to use to identify themselves as belonging under the covenant of law to God. But it was only ever meant to point to a greater covenant that God would one day put in place through the person of Jesus Christ. In that day baptism would replace circumcision as the mark of those who are under the covenant of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Every person who is a Christian is given the opportunity to proclaim that and to stand unashamed in it through the act of being baptised. So in verse 11 Paul says, “In 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, buried 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.”. The ‘made without hands’ refers to the way that Christ has marked us as belonging to Him. What is cut off or removed from us is the power of sin over us. The old self has been cut off, it has died and been buried with Christ in death, meaning it no longer has the power over you it once had. Paul says that we have been raised with Christ, an extraordinary statement that means that God the Father reckons us as alive in way that weren’t before. He has made our spirit alive and then placed His Holy Spirit in us as a Comforter, Counsellor and Guide. The Jews had come to believe that circumcision was absolutely necessary if you were going to be right with God. It’s a human thing, we do it too, we create all kinds of things that we believe ought to make us good people. Don’t swear, don’t steal, don’t drink, don’t do whatever you know is wrong. The subtle belief is that these things contribute to our being righteous before God. The reality is that sin takes us to a place that is far too deep for us to try to dig our way out of. It was John McArthur who said, “We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners”. It’s the universal epidemic of depravity that every person is born into. So Paul says that rather than trying to use rituals like circumcision to make ourselves right with God let’s instead throw our hope completely on Christ. If He doesn’t descend and come down to where we are and then take us in Him to the surface we will be without hope. And descend is exactly what Jesus did. He descended into the body and nature of humanity, being born of a virgin, a human being and yet still completely God in all respects. His humanity and His deity were what He would use to take us out of the inescapable pit of sin and the wrath of God against that sin.
II. Jesus Christ Did Not Come to Clean Us Up, He Came To Make Us Alive!
Jesus did not come to make us better people or to make our lives more comfortable. That would be like Manuel Gonzalez descending down to those Chilean miners only to bring them clean clothes, fresh bread, to help the sick feel better and then leave them there. If Gonzalez had done that it would not have been love that characterized his actions, it would have been indifference. Why? Because though they were living and breathing right now they were essentially dead men walking. That’s the condition of everyone who has never by faith accepted Christ.
Look at what Paul says in verse 13, “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses…”. Paul says that before we ever believed in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we were dead spiritually. We could eat and talk and move about but our ability to know God, to seek after Him, to even know how far we really were from Him, that part of us, our spirit, was dead. There is a doctrine in the church that been there since the time of Christ and the Apostles and even before that. That doctrine is called penal substitutionary atonement. The word penal is where we would get our words penalty, penitentiary, penalized. You recognize those words as talking about a cost someone has to pay for breaking the laws, the rules or going against what is declared as the right way. That’s what penal means, the price of going against righteousness. Substitutionary is pretty clear, it means someone steps in and takes another’s place. Atonement is a bit different, essentially it means to make two come to be at peace with each other. The two in this case are God the Father and mankind. So the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement is saying that sin is ultimately a trespass against God, a trespass that has an eternal death penalty attached to it. It is more than just a property trespass, it’s more like a slander trespass. In fact it’s even deeper than that as it is a trespass against the holy character of God. That trespass has happened millions of times in every person’s life and the consequence is eternal separation from God. Sin has a cost, a penalty that will be paid either by you being eternally separated from God or by Jesus stepping in between and taking that penalty. That’s what the term substitutionary is all about, Him taking our place. Atonement is what results when the wrath of God against sin is then directed by the Father at His own Son Jesus Christ.
All your trespasses, all the demands of the Law which were against us and condemned us, Jesus has taken them on Himself. Look at verses 13 and 14 for a moment, “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Who is the ‘He’ being referred to here? I would submit that it refers to God the Father. It is this ‘He’ that nailed the decrees against you to the cross, the penalty of your sin nailed to Jesus your Christ, your substitute on the cross. So let me put this in a more direct way. The cross was not just about the physical suffering of Jesus as horrific as that was, it was about the eternal consequences of the sin of all mankind being not only laid upon Christ but then also executed in their full consequence. Listen to how R.C. Sproul explains this, “Sin against an infinite being demands an infinite punishment in hell. In a few hours, Jesus suffered and exhausted the infinite punishment that impenitent people cannot exhaust even after an eternity in hell. He could do this because, in His deity as the Son of God, He is an infinite being.” The eternity of hell’s consequence is what Christ experienced on the cross in those three hours of darkness. It was the wrath of God the Father against sin directed in its full intensity against God the Son. Both the Father and the Son did this for you!
As the miners one by one came to the surface that night in Chile they hugged each other, they sang the Chilean national anthem and they wept for joy. Once they were dead but now, now they are alive! It’s why we sing, we sing of how amazing the grace in Jesus Christ is, He not only saved us but made us alive forevermore, today! Satan’s scheme had been to deceive man into disobeying God and causing death to rule over mankind. He used that fear of death against us, He took advantage of the dead spirit in us enticing the fleshly part of our nature. Jesus came not only to make us alive but also to destroy the works of the devil, works that were meant to keep man from glorifying God.
So don’t let anyone cheat you by saying there is another way to feel alive. Don’t let anyone deceive you into trying to dig your way to the surface of right standing with God by observing Sabbaths or New Moons or various fasts or worship of angels. None of these things are of any use in combating the flesh of our sin nature that is within us. None of these things can make us alive spiritually. None of these things will get us to the surface of being righteous before God the Father.
After the last miner had been sent to the surface Manuel Gonzalez then spent 26 minutes in the black darkness, alone, 2041 feet below the surface. Finally at 12:32 am he too was brought to the surface. It was when he was raised up from that death trap and stepped out into the cool night air of Camp Hope that the rescue mission was deemed a complete success.
I believe that God uses events and experiences to be living pictures of greater truths, metaphors of redemption. Jesus spent three days alone in the darkness and silence of death. The resurrection of Jesus Christ proclaimed the rescue mission a success. It marked the completion of God’s rescue plan for man, it is finished! The risen body of Jesus Christ is real, His sacrifice for you is real and forgiveness of all your trespasses is real. You can be alive forevermore through faith in Jesus Christ.
Alive forevermore today!