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.
Introduction: Manuel Gonzalez, it’s not a name that we remember but almost 2 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 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, ‘They’re alive, they’re alive and they have been 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 them 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 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. It 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 Jews had come to believe that circumcision was absolutely necessary if you were going to be right with God. It became their attempt to dig themselves out of judgment and make it to the surface of being 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 be abusive, don’t drink, don’t smoke dope or anything else that kills you. 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. 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, it describes the incarnation, 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 was what He would use to take us out of the inescapable pit of sin and the wrath of God against that sin. As we think about this we need to realize that 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.
II. Jesus Christ Did Not Come to Clean Us Up, He Came To Make Us Alive!
Look at what Paul says in verses 13 and 14, “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 to God. In fact Paul says we were dead in two different ways.
1.We were dead legally, as a criminal is considered dead though he lives on death row. The law has found him guilty of a capital crime and he has been sentenced to death. Our sin nature has influenced us to trespass against God time and again. It’s why Paul says, “And you were dead in your trespasses…”. Legally we need to be acquitted from the guilt of our sin, someone else needs to step up and be willing to enter our case, to take our sentence of death upon themselves and they must be completely innocent in order to be eligible.
2. We were dead experientially, our spirit was dead, that’s the ‘uncircumcision of your flesh’ part. Something needs to come into my very being and cause my spirit to become alive to God. The way that Jesus intended on doing that was to literally take the very Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit and send Him to indwell us, making our spirit alive to knowing God, to hearing His direction and to be able to choose to follow Him. Consider Romans 8:11, “ But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
Jesus made us alive by stepping into the prisoners stand, He took our place and satisfied the demands of God’s justice against sin. And then Jesus made our spirit alive, sending the Holy Spirit to us, it’s why he had to leave, so that the Comforter to come, the Holy Spirit. Look at how He did that, “And you…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.” All your trespasses are forgiven in Jesus Christ, every one. All the demands of the Law, which were contrary to us and as such condemned us, He has taken them out of the way between you and God the Father. The law was never meant to make you perfect, it was meant to expose the fact that you can never be perfect, it’s why Paul says it was ‘contrary to us’. Jesus took the demands of the Law that exposed our sin and took them out of the way having nailed them to His cross, nails that pierced His body and caused His blood, His life, to pour out for us.
As the miners one by one came to the surface that night 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. Satan’s scheme had been to deceive man into disobeying God and causing death to now 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 or any other kind of penance. 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. The resurrection of Jesus Christ proclaimed the success of sins paid in full for any who will appeal for it. It marked the completion of God’s rescue plan for man, it signalled that you can be alive forevermore and know with certainty that it is real. The risen body of Jesus Christ is real, His sacrifice for you is real and forgiveness of all your trespasses is also real. You can really be alive forevermore through faith in Jesus Christ. Alive forevermore today!