Last week I quoted Paul Tripp speaking about the gap in our gospel. He was talking about this missing piece in our faith and understanding, this middle part of the hope we are called to live in, but often lose sight of. I wanted to return to this again because his insight is incredibly important for us as we consider what it looks like to live in the power of Jesus in the here and now. If you want to read the whole quote again it can be found here.
Essentially what Tripp was identifying is that we as Christians have a pretty good idea of salvation past (what Jesus did for us on the cross) and of salvation future (our hope in eternity), but we often fail to comprehend how to live in the power of the gospel in our day to day activities. We struggle and fight and fall into sin again and again and again.
How do we rise above it? How do we experience victory? How do we struggle against sin, knowing that we will not be perfect until we are made so by Christ and yet still keep in step with the Spirit?
Most of the time, most of us feel at a real loss for how this comes about. How do we live in the power of the gospel today, and tomorrow, and everyday we live in these fleshly bodies with all our sin? Colossians 2 offers us great perspective and great hope.
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. Colossians 2:6-10
Paul reminds us in this letter of the most important thing: We have been filled in Christ. He doesn’t say we have been filled with Christ. This is certainly true and biblical, but Paul is saying something more. It isn’t just that Christ fills up our sinful bodies with all our limitations, but that we are filled up in him. All his limitlessness and power, all his divinity that expands to the far reaches of the universe and beyond, all that makes him God in full, we are filled up in all that is Christ! We are filled up in the one who is ruler and authority over all creation.
“For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.”
Jesus is not shrunk down to the size of our mortal flesh in our momentary circumstances, but that by the mysterious power of the gospel of Jesus dying on the cross and resurrecting from the dead, we are filled up in him. We are given fullness in him, power in him, hope in him.
That’s why Paul can start this section of his letter with the words, “just as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him…” He is calling us, not just to hold on to salvation past until salvation future is made complete, but to live in the now walking in Christ. He is calling us to that middle part of the gospel that we often lose sight of and fail to tap into. He is reminding us that the gospel is not just for past and future, but also for here and for now.
And this leads us to the great treasure of our faith: hope.
We will continue to struggle against our sin nature for all our days. We will continue to battle and sometimes fail (often times fail!). We will taste the bitterness of death, our selfishness and of our own depravity. But we have hope. The greatest and highest hope! We have been filled up in Christ. We have the power of the resurrection—the only victor over death—in the midst of our everyday living that is continually stained by our own brokenness. We have the power of Christ, not just to be freed from our past and guaranteed our future, but power to walk in Christ each day.
And it’s important to remember that we don’t hope as the world hopes. This isn’t the hope of “Oh, I wish it would happen.” and “Maybe it’ll happen.” It’s not the hope of “Wouldn’t it be nice if once in a while it did happen”. This isn’t wishes me make or dreams we imagine could possibly come about. No, our hope is biblical hope. It is confident expectation of a guaranteed result that God has promised us in Christ. God will enable us to walk in Christ in the here and now.
This doesn’t mean we won’t struggle, we will. This doesn’t mean we won’t falter, we will. This doesn’t mean we don’t sin, we still will. But we don’t have to be ruled by it, oppressed by it, consumed by it. We can find victory in our days and joy in the midst of our pains. We can experience real change in our struggles. We can walk in Christ.
We don’t need to live in some limbo between what has been done for us and what awaits us without power for what we face today. We can live in the fullness we have in Christ. But the hope of the gospel must mark our steps. The power of the resurrected Christ must be on our lips and in our hearts and filling our minds. We must learn to live in the hope—the biblical hope—of confidently expecting that what has been guaranteed to us in Christ will result in changed living for today.
We are the people of hope. God’s people filled up in him who is the fullness of deity, the Ruler and authority over all creation—Jesus Christ, our Lord!