¡°THE SUPREMACY OF CHRIST¡± By Pastor YAU
Text: Colossians 1:15-19 March 23, 2014.
1) Christ in the Bible: The Bible is supremely the book about Jesus Christ. The Old Testament records the preparation for his coming. The gospels present him as God in Human fresh, come into the world to save sinners. The book of Acts records the spread of the salvation message in Christ throughout the Roman world. The epistles detail the theology of Christ's work in his body, the church. Finally, Revelation presents Christ on the throne, reigning as King of kings and Lord of all lords.
2) Christ is the Savior: In this book of Colossians, Christ was presented as the only person who can bring man near God. Jesus is the only mediator between God and man and there is no other intermediaries like founders of other religions, great philosophers, etc. Jesus is the only image of God, lived among man, died for the sins of man, and was raised from the dead to bring redemption to all men. Salvation of man can only be granted through Jesus Christ, not by any other moral or legal rules or practice of law. Jesus was in the creation of the world, he came to this world and died for the world and will come again to bring the saved to heaven on that day when he returns.
CHRIST IN RELATION TO GOD: (Colossians 1:15)
1) Christ is the image of God: ¡°He is the image of the invisible God.¡± (1:15) The word image comes from Greek, eikon, likeness, from which we have ¡°icon¡± in English, referring to a statue. Jesus is the perfect, absolutely accurate image of God from the very beginning. He didn't become God's image at creation or incarnation, but from all eternity. By using the word, image or eikon, Paul presents Jesus both the representation and manifestation of God. Jesus is the full, final, complete revelation of God.
2) Christ is the first-born of God: ¡°He is the first-born of all creation.¡± (1:15b) The compound word, first-born, prototokos, could be misleading to place Jesus as one of created beings. We will discuss the relationship between Jesus and creation later on. Here, Paul emphasizes the pre-eminence and the preexistence of Jesus in relation to all creation. Unlike images and idols of other religions throughout history, Jesus is God who created all things. Jesus was the creator, the origin of all creation, so, he is not a created being. All created beings were created after him. If prototokos were rendered as ¡°prior¡± to all creation, the meaning could be lot clearer.
JESUS CHRIST IN RELATION TO CREATION: (1:16-17)
1) Christ is the creator of all things: ¡°For by him all things were created.¡± (1:16) Again in John 1:3, the Bible says: ¡°Through him all things were created: nothing was created without him.¡± Here we see the preeminence of Jesus Christ in regard to creation: All things were created by him. Nothing was created without him, outside of him. This statement establishes rightful position of Jesus as the creator of all things and he wasn't one of the created things as some false teachers taught in the Colossians church at that time.
2) Christ is in control of all creation: ¡°Both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers of thrones, all things have been created by him and for him.¡± (1:16b) This statement lays down the ground rule on the authority of Jesus Christ over all created world, both the material and the spiritual, social or political. All things in this world, including physical beings and spiritual beings and political powers were created by him and for him. ¡°For him¡± means ¡°on his purpose.¡± God has a purpose in creating every thing there is in the universe. Nothing in the created universe was created without God's purpose in it.
3) Christ is pre-existent to all creation: ¡°And He is before all (created) things.¡± (1:17) Again in John 1:1: ¡°In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.¡± When Paul says: ¡°He is before all things,¡± he was talking about both the chronological sequence of creation and position of Jesus in relation to creation. Both in sequence and position, Jesus is ¡°superior¡±, before everything of the created world. Since Jesus is God and he is the origin of all creation, nothing may compare or compete with Jesus in authority and glory.
4) Christ is the sustain-er of all creation: ¡°And in Him all (created) things hold together.¡± (1:17b) Jesus did not just created all things, he also sustains them. He maintains the delicate balance necessary to life existence. He literally holds all things together in his hand. He is the power behind consistency and gravity in the universe. Without the power of Jesus keeping the universe at work properly, nothing may exist or function properly. For anyone to deny the power and authority of Jesus over the created universe is not just foolish but also ignorant.
CHRIST IN RELATION TO THE CHURCH: (1:18-19)
1) Christ is the head of the church: ¡°He is also the head of the body, the church.¡± (1:18) There are many metaphors used in the Bible to describe the church. It is called a family, a kingdom, a vineyard, a flock, a building and a bride. But the most profound metaphor, one having no Old Testament equiva-lence, is that of a body. The church is a body and Christ is the head of that body. This is used not in the sense of the head as part of a body, but rather in the sense that the church is a living organism, inseparably tied together by the head, Christ. It is also used to symbolize the authority of Christ in the church as the head to the body and the need of submission of the body to the head.
2) Christ is the source of the church: ¡°And he is the beginning (of the church).¡± (1:18b) Beginning, arche in Greek, means both the source and the primacy. The church has her origin in Jesus Christ. Without the sacrificial death of Jesus and the salvation he accomplished, there isn't any need or any possibility of the church. As the head of the church, Jesus holds the chief of all positions in the church.
As the source of the church, Jesus is also the life line of the church. Just as no body may live without the head, no church may live without Jesus. We are reminded to stay connected in Jesus as branches to stay connected with the vine, in order to gain life and power of growth from Christ to bear fruits. This illustration is true both to the corporate body of Christ, the church, and the individual Christians, you and me, in the church.
3) Christ is the first-born of resurrection: ¡°(He is) the first-born from the dead.¡± (1:18c) Here, the first-born is related to the resurrection of Christ and the church. Here we don't just see Christ as the first cause of creation, he is also the first cause of resurrection. The resurrection of Christ guarantees the resurrection of all his believers that day. Our hope of resurrection is grounded in the resurrection of Christ.
Resurrection is the key to salvation because it is the proof of God's grace in accepting the death of Christ as the ransom for our sins. Without the resurrection of Christ, there is no guarantee of the forgiveness of our sins. If Christ was never raised from the dead, our hope of forgiveness of sin and eternal life is in vain. All the gospel preaching, believing and hoping we hold dear all depend on the resurrection of Christ. It is because Christ did rise from the dead, we have the assurance of forgiveness of sin and eternal life.
4) Christ is the fulness of God: ¡°For God was please to have all the fulness dwell in him.¡± (1:19) Pleroma, fulness, is a term used by the Agnostics at the time of Paul. They believed that all divine powers, attributes of their deities were divided among many small gods. Paul counters that false teaching by stating that all the fulness of God, the Creator of the universe, is not spread out in small doses among all their gods, but fully dwells in Christ alone. (2:9)
With the fulness of God dwells in Christ alone, we as his church and individual believers, can look up to him for all our needs and supplies. Anytime a church looks for support or resource to grow from something other than from Christ, it ceases to receive the full power and support of Christ and that church is no longer a church, but a civic organization.
APPLICATION OF TRUTH:
1) Join the winning team: Suppose you are seeking to play a sport, you always want to join a team that has a winning record. This is not just to share the glory of the team, but also to learn to play that sport better from the winners. That is why you should choose to follow Jesus Christ if you are pursuing a path for the eternity of your soul. Christ has overcome all obstacles in the spiritual warfare, died on the cross and was raised from the dead to become the Savior of mankind. God has seated him on his right hand side and exalted him to the highest place that all knees shall bowl and all mouths shall confess that Christ is the Lord. (Romans 14:11)
2) Don't miss the boat: In the parable of Jesus about grace in Matthew 20, the master gave same wages to all workers regardless of how long they had worked. In 20:15-16, ¡°The master said: Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous? So the last shall be the first, and the first will be the last.¡± Our God is a generous God who treats all faithful people fairly. If you think you are too late to come to God for all his grace, you are never too late. There are plenty of room in God's kingdom for all the people of the world to come in and enjoy all the wonders of salvation and heaven. Make that important decision today and you are in to share all the joy and glory Christ has achieved for all of us.--ed