Bible Studies in Colossians
Col 3:3-4 Those Concealed Shall Soon Be Revealed
By I Gordon
The last study was about setting your minds on the things above – ‘Setting your sights on the heights.’ Carrying on with a rhyming title theme this one could be called ‘Those concealed shall soon be revealed’, or more simply, ‘What’s the plan Stan?’ Because this is about the grand plan, the big picture – specifically as it relates to a particular glorious revelation. We will only look at a couple of verses in Colossians but we’ll be doing some bible finger gymnastics as we flick around examining related verses.
We’ve been encouraged in this little passage, as we saw last time, to set our minds on the things above so that is what we will do. The following verses in Colossians go on to talk about sin, lust, impurity and some of the lovely things that can weigh us down in the here and now. So we will be plummeting down to earth with blistering break-neck speed in the near future... but not yet. Today is a big picture sermon. It is about the surety of the overall plan of God and the revelation of the sons of God.
Col 3:1-4 ‘Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.’ (2) ‘Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth .’ (3) ‘For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.’ (4) ‘When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.’
Now our text says some things that may not be outwardly apparent. In fact they are completely and utterly not outwardly apparent! They are things that need to be seen with the eyes of faith. It says the following:
- You died
- Your real life is now hidden
- You will be revealed when Christ is.
Let’s have a look at these:
– Now this is obviously not talking about your physical life.
Sometimes when I am speaking I do start to wonder with some in the
congregation but I won’t go there! This passage is not speaking
about having died physically. This is talking about your position
in Christ. That you were placed in Christ and crucified with Him.
You died with Christ and have been raised to a new life. The Bible
says that ‘If any man be in Christ he is a new creation! The old is
gone and the new has come.’
Your life is hidden -
Though, it must be said, that this new life is now hidden compared
to what will be revealed. A few months back I did a sermon on the
Divine Treasure Hunt. You may remember that I said that God likes
to hide things. He hid Christ, grace, the gospel coming to the
Gentiles, the day of the rapture and, as it says here, He has
hidden the real you. We don’t see what we are going to be just yet.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary says that
“Hidden” implies both concealment and safety; both invisibility
That new life is certainly hidden from the world. They may see the
change in us and hopefully they do, but they cannot see what
empowers that change.
- You will be revealed - Things will not be hidden forever! That which is hidden shall be revealed and our text tells us that two incredible revelations are still to take place. The first is the biggest event that has ever happened and will ever happen ever again. It will change the whole course of human history forever. I speak of course of the return and revelation of Jesus Christ. The second revelation is one that I find even more surprising. We will be revealed... We will appear with Him, in His likeness and glory. The real you will be revealed! The caterpillar will have shed its skin and been transformed into a butterfly. The ugly will become beautiful and the earthly, heavenly.
The fact is that God has one amazing plan which is sure and complete. It is a plan which culminates it the last line of our main text this morning - When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. As I did some study on this I came across a limerick the other day which summed up someone’s thoughts about doubting the plan of God. I’d seen it before but had forgotten about it. It went as follows...
God’s plan had a hopeful beginning
But man ruined it all by his sinning
We trust that the story
Will end in God’s glory
But at present the other side’s winning!
Well, actually, the story will end in God’s glory (and believer’s glory for that matter!) and the other side is not winning. 
Now, while it is true that most of my time devoted to this study went into the limericks (don’t blame me... they’re not easy to get right!), I do have a few cross-reference verses that I wanted to look at that speak of this sure plan and the coming glory to be revealed in believers. Remember our text again:
For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
So there are a few questions that I sought to answer. Namely:
- How sure is this plan and the coming glory for believers?
- Who is longing for it?
- How will it happen?
- How does our life today relate to it and influence it?
- Does the Bible reveal what will we think on that day?
So we’ll be looking at 5 passages for 5 questions. Each passage is great in its own right and we can’t do them justice in our brief little survey. But hopefully even a quick glimpse at each one will start consolidating and confirming in your mind what a great plan God has got for the believers future.
So, let the ‘glory’ questions begin!
- How sure is this plan and coming glory?
Romans 8:28-31 ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.’
Here is a passage that contains the ultimate purpose of God. We all know Romans 8:28 well. Many of us have had times when we have had to lay everything upon that foundation – that solid rock of a verse. Verse 29 is not as well-known however though it contains the overall plan of God in this age. You’ll remember from Genesis that when God went to make man He said ‘Let us make man in our image and in our likeness…’ That was the desire from the beginning. It was a plan that mankind could and would reflect the image and likeness of God. Obviously part of the likeness included giving us free-will and the rest, as they say, is history. But God’s ultimate plan was to restore that image as it says in Romans. True believers are ‘Predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son’. And when I read this again the other night the thing that struck me was the surety of this plan. It cannot fail. Look at verse 30 – It is all about God what He has done, and our glorification  , which is a future event, is spoken of in the past tense because it is so sure it is as good as happened. In fact, let me change that; in terms of time, it is still to happen. But spiritually speaking, it has happened because a true believer is in Christ and is seated in the heavenlies. God has done it all. And look again at the surety of our salvation and glorification. If God justifies, He glorifies. It is as simple as that. No true believers justify themselves. ‘Justified’ means to be declared totally righteous. You can’t do this to yourself! God is the only one who can pronounce such a decree. And He has said that of all that He justifies, He glorifies. It’s incredible! The surety of God’s plan is wonderful! 
- Who’s longing for that day?
Rom 8:18-25 ‘I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits’ in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it in hope, 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.’
Who’s longing for that day of glorification? Well, all of creation is for a start!  It waits in eager expectation for the revealing of the sons of God for, in some unclear way, it knows that its freedom from bondage and decay is linked to the revealing of the Sons of God. So it has an ‘eager expectation’ – this word means ‘ Attentive or earnest expectation or looking for, as with the neck stretched out and the head thrust forward’ J.B Phillips New Testament translated verse 19 as ‘The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own .’ The fall of man led to the fall of creation but the restoration and revealing of God’s sons and daughters leads to creation itself coming back into its own freedom and glory. And somehow creation knows this! So it waits... and it longs...
And we ourselves groan inwardly waiting for that day! So it’s ok to groan! Don’t moan... but if you inwardly groan longing for that day that is perfectly normal. We wait eagerly for this day. We too stand on tippy-toe, head stretched out looking as well. This whole thought here is smothered in ‘Hope’… It speaks of the incomparable glory that awaits true believers.
- How and when will it happen?
1 John 3:1-3 ‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him’. 2 ‘Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All that have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
What we will be has not yet been made known – This is the ‘hidden’ of
Colossians 3:3 that we started with. Your life, the real you, is hidden
with Christ in God. But when Christ appears we will see Him as he
really is and it will change us – we will be changed into His image.
The fact is that we are currently a grand mixture of God’s working in
our life producing love, kindness, patience etc plus a good dollop of
‘munted’ humanity. We are not yet what we shall be. We don’t see each
other as we will be. We see glimpses.
We see and know in part. Then we shall know even as we are known. How
does this transformation take place? Well, it happens in the same way
that we are changed progressively into His likeness right now in this
life – by seeing Him. In this life the Bible says ‘we all, with
unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are
being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.’ (2 Cor.
3:18). Then we shall see Him fully and be fully changed!
Note also that this glorious thought produces godliness here and now. It has a practical outworking right now. We can’t purify ourselves by our own strength (in that we can’t use the power of the flesh to fight the flesh...) but this thought of what is to come should draw us back to commit ourselves to the One who can purify and live through us now.
- How does our life today influence the glory to come?
2Co 4:16-18 ‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (17) For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (18) So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Now the whole passage here is good but the key verse for us is verse 17. This is a great verse and a great hope. It speaks of an ‘eternal weight of glory’. And this glory is ‘beyond all comparison’. There is a direct link between our lives here and now, and all that we go through, and the eternal glory that shall follow. The former produces the later. The Amplified Bible says it as follows:
2 Cor. 4:17 For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!] 
And it’s not just the trials, testing’s and difficulties that produce this eternal glory. It’s your love for the Lord and one another. It’s your desire and hunger for the Lord and your obedience in following what He places upon your heart and calls you to do. Daniel got a glimpse of this day and wrote:
Multitudes that sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. (Dan 12:2-3)
- What will we think? Does the Bible tell us what our reaction will be?
2 Thess. 1:5-10 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony.
The first thing to see is that He comes to be glorified IN His holy people. Not glorified by us, but in us. To quote Ray Stedman again he wrote about this coming glory saying: “ It is not going to be revealed to us, but in us.” The word, literally, means "into us." This glory is not going to be a spectator sport, where we will sit up in some cosmic grandstand and watch an amusing or beautiful performance in which we actually have no part. We are to be on the stage. We are going to be involved in it. It is a glory that will be "revealed into us," and we are part of it. ”
And what is our response? What will we think? It says we will ‘marvel’ at what has happened. The Greek word here means ‘ a wonder, to be struck with astonishment or admiration’. Look at one other example where this word translated ‘marveled’ is used. It is when Jesus and His disciples were in a boat while a storm raged. The disciples were petrified. Jesus was asleep! But when Jesus rose…
He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marvelled, saying, "Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?" (Matt 8:26-27)
The disciples saw the sea and the wind obey Jesus and all they could do was just stand there, motionless, saying ‘Who is this? Who can this be? Who is this man?’ They just marvelled. But even that isn’t close to how believers will marvel at His return! Look at how this is brought out in the Amplified Bible:
When He comes to be glorified in His saints [on that day He will be made more glorious in His consecrated people], and [He will] be marveled at and admired [in His glory reflected] in all who have believed. (2 Thess. 1:10)
So there will be a marvelling and complete admiration of Jesus when He comes. We shall see Him as He is and there will be complete amazement. But it isn’t the only marvel! From this verse we could say that the marvelling and admiration is also at how His glory is reflected in all the believers! We’ll see loved ones and church members and they shall be in Christ’s likeness with Jesus’ glory reflecting through him. Remember that man’s question to his Pastor – ‘Will we know each other in Heaven?’ The answer is that we won’t truly know each other till we get to Heaven!
The Bible tells us to set our minds on the things above and that is what I have tried to do in this study. As a believer I wish I could grasp these things better. As a part time speaker and writer I wish I could communicate them better. But I’ve enjoyed studying this topic and thinking of these things and I know that they do two things for me:
- They give me a tremendous hope for the future.
- They remind me and encourage me on in living for the things that do truly matter.
Remember that silly limerick from the beginning?
God’s plan had a hopeful beginning
But man ruined it all by his sinning
We trust that the story
Will end in God’s glory
But at present the other side’s winning!
Don’t doubt the plan for one minute. God’s plan is eternal taking into account all that would happen and it does end in glory. Colossians tells us that ‘you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.’
And that is the truth. Those concealed shall be revealed.
 ↩ A member of my home group was discussing recently how, as Christians, we sometimes feel like spiritual ninjas - strong and ready for anything, knowing that we are new creations and that God is mighty in us. And sometimes (and I need to get the theological term he used right...) that’s right, sometimes we just feel like “Old fatties”. That is the truth. But it won’t always be that way. We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit, a deposit guaranteeing our future inheritance (Eph 1:13-14) but we have it in an earthly weak vessel. The fullness is still to come.
 ↩ Upon reading this I immediately asked Mum for a poetic reply to this. We can’t leave it there. This limerick needs to be put in its place good and proper! So with pen and paper in hand, here, after considerable time, thought and mental activity, is what she came back with:
Can’t think, brain dumb,
Inspiration won’t come
Bad ink, rotten pen
Good wishes, amen.
And even that was a poem she heard in her youth! But we did write a few limericks in reply which also sum up this passage in Colossians. I won’t say who wrote what, but as a general rule, if the limerick seem to rhyme and flow well, that’s my Mums. If it seems stilted, too many syllables having to be squeezed in, with words that don’t really rhyme... yeah, that’s one of my babies!
1. God’s plan had a certain beginning
2. Though the One who’s our sword and our shield
3. So doubt not for nothing will fail
4. And the greatest amazement of all,
So, argh, keep the day job right?
 ↩ I’ll be speaking a bit about ‘glorification’, which is a big word, but not too difficult. You are probably clear on all this but just in case… The Bible speaks of three different aspects of our salvation. They are given the fancy names of Justification, Sanctification and Glorification; think of them as the past, present and future aspects of salvation. For the believer, Justification is a past event which occurred at the point of salvation. It is a heavenly judicial decree that the believer is now declared totally righteous. Sanctification is the present ongoing aspect of salvation where we are set free not from the penalty of sin (this happens at salvation when we are justified) but from the power of sin. It means to be holy or set apart from sin and unto God in this life. Glorification is the future aspect of salvation where we are set free once and for all from the presence of sin where we will be changed instantaneously into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. We receive a new glorified body at this time. This occurs when Jesus returns as we have been discussing in this study on Colossians 3. Got it? Good!
The opposite is true too - If God isn’t involved in our conversion,
if we are mere professors, we won’t last.
As an illustration, D.L. Moody was one of the great evangelists of the 19th Century. One night a drunken man staggered up to Moody on a train. "Mr. Moody, I'm one of your converts," said the drunken man. Moody replied, "Yes, I'm afraid you are, because you're obviously not one of the Lord's."
But those that the Lord justifies, He glorifies. They will last. It is sure. ‘He who began a good work in you WILL carry it on until the day of completion.’ (Phil 1:6)
 ↩ Big Blue (the Believers Bible Commentary) says ‘ We live in a sighing, sobbing, suffering world. The whole creation groans and suffers pain like that of childbirth. Nature's music is in the minor key. The earth is racked by cataclysm. The blight of death is on every living thing.’
 ↩ Dr. W. A. Criswell, a well-known Baptist minister was once asked, “Will we really know each other when we get to heaven?” His answer, “We won’t really know each other UNTIL we get to heaven.” That is a good answer in light of what we have been seeing!
 ↩ Ray Stedman says of this verse : ‘Our present sufferings are preparing us for something so incomparable, so amazing, so marvelous that there are no words to describe it. That means that no trial, no pain, no isolation, no heartache, no loneliness, no weakness or failure, no sense of being put aside is without significance. All of it is playing its part in accomplishing God's work in your life and the lives of others. It is building for us an incomparable weight of glory. I do not know what else to say about it.