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Over the River!

It would be well for us to consider the twofold bearing of the type of the Jordan River in Joshua Four. In Colossians Two and Three, we have that which clearly corresponds to these two things. The end of Chapter 2 reminds the Colossians that they were “dead with Christ.” Verses 12 and 13 show the two things. “Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead”; and then he repeats it in another form to show what their state was when this mighty change was wrought in them. “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him.”

Thus in verse 20, Paul takes up one of these truths—“dead with Christ.” This answers to the center of the Jordan, that place where the waters of death were ordinarily rolling, and completely blotted out from view all that was beneath them. “If ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world.” Then, in the beginning of Chapter 3, we have, “If ye be risen with Christ.” This answers to the stones taken up out of the water and placed on the other side (Josh 3:16; 4:3). “Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” Then in verse 3 we have both truths again: “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God”—that which is represented by the stones taken out of the river and placed on the other side. We have our Lord Jesus risen from the dead and seated in heavenly places, and we are in Him there (in heaven, the other side—NC). Then, “seek those things which are above” (I see this command not related to becoming redeemed but for the redeemed to find their sustenance in heaven and its Hosts, instead of in “things on the earth” (v 2)—NC).

The great point I would desire to leave with your hearts is this—the amazing pains our Father has taken that we should have complete rest and joy in being one with the Lord Jesus where He is in glory (which is as certain as if we were there presently with Him and not just presently in Him by His Spirit. We are in Him now but will inevitably be with Him, which is a knowing “hope” and not merely a hopeful-hope—NC). We are in Him dead to everything that the flesh (old man—NC) values and covets in this world (1Co 7:31—NC). A Christian has died not only to the evil of the world, but to its very best—to all that man likes most and that tends to exalt him and give him a place in the world. The death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus have given us to know that the flesh is good for nothing; that everything to which man can be formed by moral (see note below—NC) and religious education only proves that the flesh is thoroughly useless Godward, nay, hateful (Psa 97:10; Pro 8:13; 1Pe 3:11—NC) and already condemned by God (Jhn 3:18—NC).

Man says, “Touch not, taste not, handle not” (Col 2:21, 22); but God shows that for us He has done forever with this principle (now God-centered instead of man-centered—NC). All the system of restraint was connected with the “old man,” which faith has to treat now as dead (see note below—NC). My case was so utterly desperate that I required a new creation (not a recreation of our spirit but eternally implanted with the newly created nature - Eph 4:24, after Christ - Col 3:10, making us “partakers” of His “nature” - 2Pe 1:4—NC). This my Father has wrought for me in the Lord Jesus: I am now identified no longer with the old thing (nor with anything related with it – Ro 8:9—NC), but with His position and condition, and this is intended to govern my ways by nature—new nature. Any union with the world and its schemes, objects and ways in unhallowed union with it is as unnatural as the marriage of a corpse with a living man.

We are not only dead with the Lord Jesus (Col 2:20), but alive with Him (Rom 6:11). So truly am I one with Him that whatever is an object of interest and concern to Him should be of interest and concern to me. It is easy enough to be taken up, even with souls preaching anything in connection with the old man instead of with the new Man. Let us bear in mind, in order to unsparing judgment of the old within, that we are new creations (because of the new nature—NC) in the Lord Jesus Christ, and that as such, our hearts should go out to everything that is precious to our Father and His Beloved Son.

—Wm Kelly (1821-1906)

Note: morality is a natural quality and godliness a spiritual quality. For example, the Decalogue as natural, centering on God’s command to man between that which is of man, not requiring the indwelling of the Spirit of God; and the righteousness of Christ as godliness, centering on God’s command to man of that which is between Himself and man, requiring the Spirit’s indwelling. One can be morally correct but not God-centered. Yet one who is God-centered will be morally correct. —NC

Note: being free from the “dominion” of the old man (Ro 6:14) allows the Spirit to conform us via His “fruit,” which needs no law for control (Gal 5:23), as the Decalogue did; for God now “works” this desire for Him in us (Phl 2:13). —NC

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