Salvation means a lot more than a sweep of God’s hand, a royal command from His mouth, and then eternal fire insurance. Our salvation turns upon our very union with the Son of God–the closest possible identification with His death and resurrection. His accomplishments have affected us to the point that we have died with Him and have been raised with Him. The prior connection that we had with the things of the earth has been severed and we are now living in the things above. As the apostle Paul assures us, Christ is our life.
A Greenhouse of Grace
But we are expected to interact with that eternal reality on a daily basis. This comes by following the mandate to put to death the things of the earth that are in us, and to put on the “new self”– virtues which are being renewed in the image of Christ. But before anyone imagines this as a lonely exercise, pay attention to the larger context of Colossians 3. Because, within the church, many other members are also “putting on the new” as well. In fact, within this corporate setting of other believers, we are empowered and encouraged to live out the new virtues. It is there that the Word of Christ dwells in us richly, not simply to promote greater knowledge, but peace and joy in myriad quality relationships between us all. The New Testament church life provides a greenhouse for the grace of forgiveness and harmony that could only end as Paul described: “singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” ( 3:16).
-Seth Evans (with some helpful edits by John Myer)