“Where Christ Sitteth”

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” —Colossians 3:1-3

CHRIST HIMSELF WAS raised from the dead nearly two thousand years ago, and, as our text declares, now ‘sitteth on the right hand of God’; or as we read in Hebrews 12:2, “is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” In Ephesians 1:19-.21, Paul again affirms the fact of Jesus’ resurrection, speaking of the “mighty power” which God “wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.”

Paul stresses the importance of Jesus’ resurrection by the effective use of the word IF—“If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”—I Cor. 15:14-19

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (vs. 20), Paul affirms. This means that our preaching is not vain, that we are not false witnesses. It guarantees that those who have fallen asleep in Christ have not perished. It means that we have an “Advocate with the Father,” who has appeared in the presence of God for us, and therefore we are not still in our sins. (I John 2:1) It means that our hope in Christ is not limited to this present short span of life, but one which is “as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus.”—Heb. 6:19,20

Because we have such a glorious and steadfast hope, we are not “of all men most miserable.” Indeed, we are not miserable at all, but are rejoicing in our glorious hope, even though in order to attain to its consummation it is necessary to sacrifice the flesh and its interests, and continue day by day to set our affection on things above, not on things of the earth.

Paul indicates why we would be most miserable if there were no resurrection of the dead. For then we would be found false witnesses of God, testifying to an untruth. Furthermore, he asks, “Why stand we in jeopardy every hour?” This was quite literally true in Paul’s case. Being determined that he would be faithful to the truth, and to his Lord Jesus no matter what the cost might be, he never knew when he might be called upon to endure severe suffering, or even to die. He had “fought with beasts at Ephesus,” been beaten, stoned, and imprisoned. “I die daily,” he wrote, but he was not ‘miserable’, for he knew that his Redeemer lived. Therefore, he wrote, “I protest [the no-resurrection error] by your [Margin, “our”] rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord.”—I Cor. 15:30-32

If we are to maintain the hope in Christ in which we rejoice, we must, like Paul, ‘die daily’ with him. Paul speaks of this in Romans 6:3-5 as being buried with Christ by baptism into death. If we have taken the step of full consecration to the Lord, which leads to being “planted together in the likeness of his [Jesus’] death,” and prove faithful unto death, “we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” This will be our actual resurrection and exaltation to be with Jesus and to “see him as he is.”—I John 3:1-3

But Paul speaks of a figurative resurrection which constitutes part of our present inheritance! He says “that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Rom. 6:4) It is impossible for us to understand with any degree of fullness the great change experienced by Jesus when he was raised from the dead. It was a change from the human to the divine nature; from association with fallen mankind to being with the Heavenly Father. Every aspect of his life was different—higher.

It is this reality that Paul uses—to illustrate that by faith we now ‘walk in newness of life’. We do not have the new life, but we hope for it; and it is the transforming power of this glorious hope that changes every aspect even of the present life. Our text speaks of it as being ‘risen with Christ’, and signifies the great change this should make in our lives by saying that since this is true we should ‘seek those things which are above’, setting our affection on things ‘above, not on things on the earth’.

We might say our new way of walking is one of seeking or striving after heavenly things. By faith we are even now seated together with Christ in the heavenlies, and it is by daily seeking to have our thoughts, words, and doings conformed to this heavenly pattern that we will eventually gain an abundant entrance into the actual glories beyond the veil ‘where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God’.

“Seek, and ye shall find,” said Jesus. (Luke 11:9) If we are to be successful in our seeking, we must have faith to believe that God will fulfill all his good promises on our behalf. Paul wrote, “Without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”—Heb. 11:6

Faith is most important in seeking those things which are above, and diligence is also essential. We will never attain unto the heavenly reward if we are half-hearted in our seeking. The psalmist wrote, “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.” (Ps. 119:2) It must be with the ‘whole heart’—no half-hearted seeking will suffice.

And we must do our seeking in the Lord’s way. ‘Blessed are they that keep his testimonies’, his words of instruction, his revealed will. Enthusiasm alone is not enough. There is a zeal which is not according to knowledge. The general outline of the Lord’s will in this matter is set forth by Paul in Romans 12:1,2, where we read, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

To seek those things which are above, it is essential that we renew our minds. Our fleshly minds naturally seek the things of the earth, so our minds must be renewed by the directives and promises of God in order that our affections be set on things above. This means, as Paul indicates, that as human beings we must be sacrificed—our bodies, symbolically speaking, given to be burned.

Seeking those things which are above involves a great deal more than doing the best we can to live apart from sin. Many dedicate themselves to righteous living, but continue to set their affection on the good things of the present life. These will have their reward, but it will not be a heavenly reward; for they are not seeking those things which are above, but have been quite content with the good earthly things here below.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expressed another essential of ‘seeking’. He said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” (Matt. 6:33) First, in this connection, means ‘primarily’. The kingdom of God and his righteousness is to be our chief consideration, today, tomorrow, and every day—and all the time, with our ‘whole heart’.

In giving us this admonition, Jesus is contrasting our proper interests as New Creatures, with the interests of those who are not setting their affection on things above. In verse 25 he says, “I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, … nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” The thought here in the Greek text is not to be anxious or overly concerned about our physical needs.

For after all these things do the Gentiles seek,” Jesus said. (vs. 32) The temporal things of life—food, clothing, a comfortable home, and the pleasures of this world are the chief concern of the unconsecrated, and of those who are devoted merely to righteous living. But those who are presenting their bodies a living sacrifice, and are setting their affection on things above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God, are making the ‘kingdom of God’ their first consideration, and are not anxious over what measure of earthly good things may be theirs during the present life. These are glad to take the advice of David, who wrote, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.”—Ps. 55:22

Paul wrote along a similar line, saying, “Be careful for nothing [that is, be not overanxious about anything]; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Phil. 4:6) Paul again wrote, “Be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Heb. 13:5) One of the most difficult lessons every Christian has to learn is to be content with the measure of temporal blessings the Lord supplies. The triumphant Christian, who is ‘seeking first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness’, will, at all times, cast all his care upon the Lord.—I Pet. 5:7

The proper relationship between seeking first the kingdom, and making proper provision for our temporal needs, is illustrated by Jesus’ parable of the rich man whose “ground brought forth plentifully.” (Luke 12:15-23) To illustrate that life does not consist of the abundance of things which a man possesseth, he told of this rich man, who, when he found that his barns were not large enough to store all that his fertile land had produced, “thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years: take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?”

“So is he,” Jesus said, “that layette up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God”—has not been laying up treasure in heaven, not seeking those things which are above. Then, in the next verse, Jesus says, “Therefore, … take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body than raiment.”

The lesson is clear. The admonition to take no thought for the morrow means not to take the kind of thought as did the man in the parable, who, being blessed by God with a reasonable supply of fruits and goods, was not satisfied; and, instead of devoting whatever surplus his land provided for the blessing of others, decided to hoard it for himself. This man obviously set his affections altogether on temporal good things, and laid up no treasures in heaven. He did not ‘seek first’ the kingdom of God.

On another occasion Jesus said, “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” (Luke 17:33) Here Jesus is referring to those who respond to the call of the harvest message during the time of his second presence. In the preceding verse he says, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Those who lose their lives for Jesus’ sake (Matt. 10:39), therefore, are those who have covenanted to die with the Master, to follow in his footsteps even unto death—those who are presenting their bodies a living sacrifice. These are the ones who are being baptized into Christ’s death, and at the same time are risen to walk in newness of life, and are seeking those things which are above. For these now to seek to save their earthly lives by taking themselves off the altar of sacrifice would result in the loss of eternal life, because it would mean a repudiation of their covenant of sacrifice.

Jesus made this same remark to Peter when this impetuous apostle, not yet understanding the plan of God for his Master, endeavored to dissuade him from going to Jerusalem where his enemies were waiting to arrest him and put him to death. This was when Jesus said to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.”—Mark 8:33

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matt. 16:24,25) Yes, find it with Jesus ‘at the right hand of God’—but only if that life is sought by actually laying down the present life in sacrifice. This is what Jesus said on his way to Jerusalem and to the cross—it was then that he gave this admonition to his disciples. It was as though he said to them that if he now avoided death by not going to Jerusalem, as Peter advised, it would be contrary to the will of his Father, and he would die eternally.

The same is true with us. We seek the things which are above by renouncing the things which are below, and turning our backs upon them. It is a serious matter, a ‘strait’ and ‘narrow way’ in which to walk. It is more—much more—than a philosophy to read and to study. We need the reading and the studying, but these fall short of their objective if we do not go on to perform, to carry out the terms of our consecration.

Nor does seeking the things above consist of renouncing earthly things for a time only. If we are actually to attain to the heavenly inheritance we must continue our seeking daily and hourly, and faithfully, even unto death! The reward will be only to those who “by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality.” (Rom. 2:7) Only those who through patience endure, and continue seeking to the end, shall be given the crown of life.—Rev. 2:10

On the negative side, Paul said, “Love … seeketh not her own.” (I Cor. 13:5) Love, that great principle which prompted the Heavenly Father to give his Son to be the Redeemer, and motivated Jesus in laying down his life for us and for the world, must be the motive behind our seeking those things which are above. In our association with the brethren, and with others, we have the opportunity of determining the extent to which this divine principle of unselfishness is really ruling in our hearts.

How do we react in situations in which it may seem that others are taking advantage of us, that our ‘rights’ are being ignored, or perhaps trampled upon? Do we resent this, and strenuously insist that we obtain everything which we claim to be ours, irrespective of how others might be affected? If so, it might indicate that we do not yet appreciate the spirit of sacrifice as we should, or do not realize that if we would attain to the things above which we are seeking, we must willingly and gladly give up all claims to earthly advantages, foregoing these temporary benefits in order that we may attain to the heavenly riches.

“Here we have no continuing city,” wrote Paul, “but we seek one to come.” (Heb. 13:14) If we attain a proper sense of values, we will realize that all things temporal are of little worth compared to the “eternal weight of glory” which we are seeking. (II Cor. 4:17) What matters it, then, if someone else attains some earthly advantage which we may think properly belongs to us. We cannot afford, as New Creatures, to spend thought and time in seeking our own in unloving ways. To do so would mean that our attention had been diverted from the more important seeking of ‘those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God’.

Everyone desires to be happy, to be joyful. The Lord wants his people to be happy. He wants us to rejoice even while we are laying down our lives in sacrifice. God takes no pleasure in unhappiness. All creation was designed for his pleasure, and he wants his creatures to enjoy life and the good things of life which he has provided. Sin blighted much of the happiness of the human race, but his plan of redemption and salvation removes the blight of sin and restores man to his Edenic perfection and happiness.

And even while this plan is in the process of development, much joy is provided for those who are cooperating with the Lord. It is a great joy to be a child of the Lord, and to realize the daily fulfillment of all his good promises of grace to help in every time of need. Besides this, as it was in the case of Jesus, there is a joy set before us. This joy enabled Jesus to endure the cross and despise the shame; and for us, also, it gives strength and courage to continue seeking the things above, a seeking which involves sacrifice and death.

One of the precious promises of the Heavenly Father which meant much to Jesus is the one recorded in the 16th Psalm. In verses 8 and 9, Jesus is prophetically represented as saying, “I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.” These same things may be true of us while we are seeking those things which are above. Our hearts should be glad, and we can “rejoice in the Lord alway.”—Phil. 4:4

The prophecy continues to express the Master’s hope: “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” (vs. 10) We know that Jesus’ soul, his being, was restored, brought back from sheol, the death condition. That is why he is now set down at the right hand of the throne of God. That is why we are setting our affection on things above. That is why, even though we are laying down our lives in sacrifice, we are not ‘of all men most miserable’, and why we are, instead, rejoicing; for we know that because he lives, we, too, shall live!

Jesus had full confidence that his soul would not be left in hell. Therefore he said to his Father, as he was dying, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit,” my life, my soul. (Luke 23:46) Jesus knew, as is recorded in Psalm 16:11, that the Heavenly Father would show him the path of life, and had, indeed, already revealed it to him. That path of life for Jesus led through death. That is the reason he would have lost his life had he endeavored to avoid death. And Jesus knew something else. He knew that in his Father’s presence, his literal presence beyond the veil of death, there would be fullness of joy, and that at his right hand there were ‘pleasures for evermore’. This was the joy set before the Master which helped him to endure the cross—that ‘fullness of joy’ in the presence of his Heavenly Father.

And this same joy is set before us. It is one of the incentives for seeking those things which are above ‘where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God’. No wonder Paul spoke of this exaltation as a ‘prize’, the “prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14) But attaining this prize depends on our continuing to set our affections on things above, “not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”—Col. 3:2,3

Are we ‘dead’? Are we really being planted together in the likeness of Jesus’ death? Are we dying daily? (I Cor. 15:31) Are we presenting [yielding] our bodies a living sacrifice? Are we seeking to lose our lives, sacrificially? God has made every provision necessary that we may attain that for which we are seeking. It remains only for us to do our part. If we ‘seek’ diligently we know that we shall ‘find’ the reward!

We must also continue to seek ‘first’ the things above, and with our ‘whole heart’. Yes, and we will have need of patience in our seeking—‘patient continuance in well doing’. Besides all this, we are to ‘seek’ in prayer. It is a glorious hope which is set before us, a hope in which Paul says we rejoice. But to realize its fulfillment we will need not only to be “patient in tribulation,” but also “instant in prayer”—Rom. 5:2; 12:12

We have been begotten to this ‘lively hope’, or, ‘hope of life’, “by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” (I Pet. 1:3,4) Yes, this rich and glorious inheritance is ‘reserved’, waiting for us to claim it by our worthiness in continuing faithfully, patiently, prayerfully, and wholeheartedly to ‘seek those things which are above’.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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