Sunday, July 8, 2018

Colossians 1:15-20 The Supremacy of Christ

Colossians 1:15-20 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together. He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross whether things on earth or things in heaven.

This one paragraph sums up everything essential to know about the Lord Jesus; His deity, humanity, role in creation, place in history, role in His church, position in eternity, and authority over all things. Most of what we read in the Bible about Jesus can be traced to Paul’s description of Him here. And several of Paul’s statements were taken from other places in God’s Word. When we study the Bible rightly, we will see that the entire Bible truly is about Him – just as He stated in John 5:39 and Luke 24:27

Speaking to the Pharisees who had seen the many miracles Jesus performed and had just heard His testimony of His mission on earth, Jesus said, You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. (John 5:39)

Speaking to the disciples who had seen the crucifixion but did not comprehend what they had seen: Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. (Luke 24:27)

The whole Bible, and every message from it that we are to bring forth must have the Lord Jesus as its topic, its solution, its main point. If a man preaches without pointing people to Christ as the Savior of sinners, he has preached in vain.

In saying that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, I dare say our thinking will bring to our recall Genesis 1:27: So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female. Note a major difference: Adam (and all humans) are created in the image of God; Jesus is the image of God. Man is a created being; Jesus is the eternal God. The likeness of God present in Jesus is far superior to the image possessed by Adam, even before the Fall. This image is something given to man by Creator; it is something inherent to the character of Christ, for He is God. Later in Paul's letter to Colossi we read that we have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator (chapter 3:10). As we pursue the Lord, walking as children of the light, we are being ever conformed and renewed in grace and knowledge so we will reflect Him better, to bring more glory to the Lord Jesus.

He is the beginning, meaning without Him nothing was made that was made. He is essential to all that is, the agent of creation Who will judge all of creation. Jesus is also the firstborn of all creation, by this is meant He is preeminent over everything that has been created. We are all familiar with the Jewish culture in which all the blessings of inheritance went to the firstborn male. This is the connection with the phrase, firstborn. It is not, as some cults try to assert, that Jesus came into existence when He was born as a man. Jesus is the ruler over all creation - just as the firstborn son became ruler over his father's estate when the son was of age. Having accomplished the work given Him to redeem the lost sheep, Jesus was exalted, enthroned in majesty, and all things were put under His feet. Because He is the firstborn Son of God - sovereign over all creation.

He is preeminent over all created things because all things were created by Him (verse 16). But we read in Genesis how God the Father created all things. We must keep in mind the unity of God within the holy Trinity. We see this unity in many places in Scripture. When God the Father completed His creation work, He rested from that work. He continued to guide redemptive history and the Scriptures, actively involved in shaping history and the lives of men. When the Lord Jesus had finished His work of atonement, He sat down at God's right hand, resting from His work of redemption. He yet works, serving as our high priest and advocate, our protector and shepherd. And so it is with the third person in the holy trinity; the Holy Spirit worked during and after Pentecost to bring about the birth of the church, with many signs and miracles. Though the bulk of these miracles has ceased, the foundation of the church having been completed, the Holy Spirit continues His work of giving us illumination as we read the Scriptures; convicting the world of sin and revealing the righteousness of Jesus. In each of these creation/recreation works and in all of the ongoing works, the three persons of the trinity are completely unified. Recall that the world was created by the Father through the Son, with the Spirit hovering over the waters during this event, as if giving birth. The Father chose those to be redeemed, Jesus atoned for them, and the Spirit has sealed them until the Day of Judgment. They each had a role in one-time creation work and in regeneration work, followed by resting from that work, while continuing on, in unity, with other work required for our good and their glory. This is the work of the Trinity, each completely unified with the other two; one God, three persons in covenant with one another for the redemption of sinners to bring glory to their name.
Don’t miss the scope of what was created by Him, everything in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. This is very similar to what Paul wrote in Romans 8:38 & 39 - For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Jesus is Lord over all, heaven and earth; creator of all things. This is why we can have confidence in Him to not lose us to anything – He truly is Lord of all and nothing He has created can overthrow Him!

Building on the preeminence of Jesus, Paul tells us He is before all things (see Jesus’ statement in John 8:58 – before Abraham was, I am!) and He holds all things together. Do not think that materials such as wood and Styrofoam keep their qualities is due to nature. Nature is held together by the will of God in Christ Jesus. If, as some assert, the devil is the absolute ruler of this world, all would be chaos and materials could not counted on to maintain their characteristics. While Satan is the ruler of this age, he is, as Luther said, God's devil. He is bound and has as much influence as it pleases YHWH to give him. Jesus holds the devil on a leash; Christ is Lord of all. At His word, these heavens and the earth will be judged, put to death, and resurrected to serve as our eternal home. He decreed the destruction of the world in the great flood that wiped out the human race, save 8 souls. He promised to provided seed-time and harvest, rain and sun, until the end of this age, when He comes a second (and final) time. Unlike you and me, He is the faithful One; He will keep His promises!
Of importance to our life in this age, as members in a local church, Jesus is heralded as the head of the church. We are His body and He is the head – of the universal church (all believers in all ages) and of the local church. We read body language as regards the church in several of Paul's letters, reminding us of the importance of giving ourselves to one another and recognizing Who is the sovereign head to Whom we owe our allegiance. Let all who put man at the head of the church repent! We see this phenomenon in hierarchical church denominations, with the papist religion as the most grotesque example. But we also see it in our own circle of the faith – with “senior pastors” and his minions. The structure of these tends to induce people to think more highly of their elders and for the elders to think the people are right! Peter warns those who serve as elders not to lord their position over the people, just as Jesus did when His disciples argued over which of them could at His left and right hand. Recognizing Christ Jesus as the head of His body, wherein we are each called a member thereof, is vital to our health! If man can give us assurance, it is false. If man saves us, it is false. If man condemns us, it is false. In Christ alone my hope is found; He is my light, my strength, my song.

Paul continues to repeat what he’s already said, so important is the idea of seeing Christ accurately.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything. His preeminence, being firstborn, having first place in everything. Get the idea that we tend to think too little of Christ and too much of man? I think that’s the point in repeating these truths about the supremacy of Christ in all things. We are weak and feeble creatures and tend to grow attached to the comforts and false treasures. As Peter said, I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of my body (2 Pet 1:13). This is one of the core functions of the local church – to equip the saints for the work of the ministry so we will not be tossed about by the deceitful cunning of men (Eph 4:12 – 14). If Christ be not first in our lives as individuals and in our corporate life as a church, we will drift into lesser things and end up as fables. We need one another to guard against this.

The last two verses are one sentence that sums up the redemptive historical reason for Jesus coming to us as a man.

Colossians 1:19-20 For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross— whether things on earth or things in heaven.

We see here that God the Father and God the Son are two distinct persons, with distinct but complimentary roles. The Son is not the Father, but the fullness of God is in the Son – Jesus is fully God and fully man. It pleased the Father to send the Son to reconcile everything to Himself, doing so by the blood of His cross. It’s been rightly said that the Christian faith is a bloody one. Without the shedding of blood there is NO remission of sin. And for true forgiveness of sin, rather than the temporary covering of it for a season, the divine blood of the Lamb of God was required.
As to His mission, to reconcile everything whether on earth or in heaven, does this mean Jesus will save all people and angels? This passage ties this reconciliation to the blood of His cross – it MUST mean reconciliation with the Father. So all people will be saved?

We must go back in order to answer this properly. We recall how the entire creation was cursed at the fall (Gen 3:18), and Paul tells us creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it—in the hope  that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of God’s children. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now (Romans 8:19-22).

Because of sin, creation was cursed and is in every bit of need of being set free from that bondage as are we. George Whitefield said that every time a dogs barks at a man, every time a bear growls at a man, they are taking up their Master’s charge, reminding man of what his actions have done.
Peter tells us this present earth will be destroyed (2 Pet 3:10-13) at the end of this age. It make most sense to understand this as creation being put to death and resurrected in a glorified state – just as we will be. On that new earth, righteousness will dwell – that is a pointer to the Lord Jesus Himself, as He will be among His people on the new earth forever.

Revelation 21:1-5 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea no longer existed. I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away. Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.”

This the way Jesus reconciles "everything" to Himself. When the end of the age is come, all whose name is not written in the Lamb's Book of Life will be thrown into the lake of fire. All the saints from every generation will be resurrected with eternal bodies and the heavens and earth will be made new. All things will be reconciled to Jesus - all will know He is Lord and all will submit to Him.
This is the certain promise of eternal life that God has extended to all who have placed their faith in Christ. Jesus Christ came into this world to find the lost sheep – He will rescue each and every one of us. John 10:14-16 “I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep. But I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd.”

Trust the Lord Jesus. He is the image of the invisible God. He is supreme over all created things. He will have satisfaction for His sacrifice by bringing many sons and daughters to victory.

When the end of the age comes upon man, the only place of refuge is in the Lord Jesus.