2008.06.29 Christ Supreme - He Is... Col 1 15-23
Christ Supreme - He Is…
June 29, 2008
· I was told a story of a fishing company that many years ago was having trouble transporting their fresh fish from the lake to their inland buyers. The fish has to travel for several hours to reach the destinations. However, each time they reached the destination the fish were all belly up and dead. The fishing company couldn’t figure out why their fish were not surviving. By accident one day a catfish was in with the other fish that were to be transported and interestingly enough when the fish arrived at the destination they were all alive. It was then noticed that this catfish was in amongst all the other fish and that this catfish was keeping all the other fish alert and healthy – the other fish had to keeping swimming around to avoid being nipped by the catfish and thus these other fish survived to their destination.
· Each one of needs a catfish every now and then in our spiritual walk to keep us sharp and healthy – maybe someone who challenges us about what we believe so that we need to dig a little deeper and prayer more diligently, so that we may be sharpened and healthier as a result of this catfish being around us.
· As I continue this series in Colossians – Paul this morning is telling the Colossians about the catfish in their midst – the Gnostics! Paul doesn’t spend his time talking about the Gnostics and what they believe – rather he instructs the people of Colossae regarding the truth of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ deity and his humanity and his work on the cross were all being attacked by these false teachers
· This section in Colossians today in one of the most detailed accounts in all the Scriptures of who Jesus is
· We will discover and or be reminded this morning that Christ is Supreme, Awesome, and Magnificent in who he is and in what he has accomplished. We will also see what our role entails as we understand His Supremacy.
· God’s Will, Strength, Thankful…
· Immediately after his prayer for them – Paul addresses the main concern of his letter to them. Christ was being attacked and Paul is ready to set the record straight.
· The Gnostics (the intellectual ones) who were the false teachers thought the simplicity of the gospel could not be possible; it had to be more complicated than that and so they believed and operated under the assumption that matter is altogether evil and that the spirit is altogether good.
· They did not believe Jesus to be God, rather that God created Jesus and Jesus was not unique there were many powers like Jesus that God created. They also didn’t believe that Jesus was a real man, because the body was evil and so they thought Jesus was a spirit that took on a bodily form, but his body was not a real flesh and blood body…their writings indicate that when Jesus walked, he left no footprints.
· They also believed that man’s task was to find his way to God through special mystical and secret knowledge – through the intellect and also through the worship of the good powers that God created (which would include angels).
· So the Gnostics deny Christ’s deity and humanity and what he accomplished on the cross – according to them salvation was gained by intellectual knowledge, not by Christ’s perfect blood that cleansed us who by faith believe in Him!
· So Paul is ready to combat this false teaching head on!!!....As we should be ready also. Most people today would not deny Jesus’ humanity…but they will deny His Deity and that He is the only way unto salvation, to eternal life with the Father.
· (Read Col 1:15-20) (Listen for the He Is…statements)
1. He Is…the image of the invisible God (v.15)
· Man was made in God’s image, but man was still not divine nor did the perfect man possess all the attributes of God. At the Fall the image of God in man was distorted.
· Paul is saying Christ is the perfect, absolute image and likeness of God. We know that Christ is a man and yet is the perfect representation and manifestation of God.
· The writer of Hebrews says of Christ, "He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature…" (Hebrews 1:3, ESV)
· Jesus is God in human flesh – he is a man and yet the complete revelation of God to us.
2. He Is…Firstborn of all Creation (v.15,16)
· "…the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him." (Colossians 1:15-16, ESV)
· One of the most distinguishing attributes of God that separates Him from everything is that He is not created – He has existed for all time…that is the eternality of God.
· Christ being the firstborn of all creation – what does that mean?
· The Greek term πρωτότοκος (prwtotokos) could refer either to first in order of time, such as a first born child, or it could refer to one who is preeminent in rank.
· The Arians of the 4th century and our current Jehovah’s Witness, who deny the Lord’s deity – would use this verse to support that Christ was created and therefore could not be God.
· However, the word firstborn is primarily used in regard to position or rank. In Psalm 89:27 the psalmist says in regard to David, "And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth." David was not the first king, nor was he firstborn in his family – yet it refers to rank or position.
· In Col 1:15 the emphasis is on the priority of Jesus’ rank as over and above creation (cf. 1:16 and the “for” clause referring to Jesus as Creator). Jesus is Creator!
3. He Is…Before All Things & In Him all Things Hold Together (v.17)
· This verse is closely tied to the previous verses.
· As Creator Jesus is before all things – indicates his eternality.
o John 8:58, "Jesus said to them (the Pharisees), “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”"
o Micah 5:2, "…from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days (from eternity)."
· The Jehovah’s Witness misunderstand v.15 about the firstborn and then have to change verses 16 & 17 – b/c they contradict their understanding of verse 15. They have added the word “other” four times to verses 16 & 17.
· Jesus is before all things and eternal!
· Jesus holds all things together – which speaks of his Sovereignty over all things. If He were to remove himself totally from our lives & in the world – man would self-destruct in no time at all. We need him and his hand on us and so we praise Him for his Sovereignty and His great plan for us.
· Jesus is eternal & Sovereign
4. He Is…Head of the Body, the Church (v.18)
· Christ is the head of the church, the body of Christ.
· Just like our arms and legs move as the head or the brain tells it to – so are we like arms and legs that move as we are directed by Christ who is the head. The body is powerless without the head.
· John 15, Christ said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”
· Jesus is the Head of the Church
5. He Is…the Beginning (v.18)
· The beginning meaning the source or originating power – the source from which something came about.
· Christ is the source of the church – the beginning. It is He who gives life to the church!
· Jesus is the source of the Church
6. He Is…the Firstborn from the Dead (v.18)
· Jesus was not the first to die, but he was the first to be resurrected to life from the dead, never to die again. All who have died will be resurrected, however Christ is supreme over all who are resurrected. John 5 – says, all will be resurrected - some to be resurrected to life and the rest resurrected to judgment.
· Christ who had victory over sin and death – is supreme and the firstborn from the dead
Paul sums up all his He Is… statements that we have just looked at when he says, “For in Him all the Fullness of God was pleased to Dwell (v.19)
· Christ is supreme – He is God in the Flesh. He is Deity, He is Humanity
· “…and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
· Christ has reconciled all things to himself (to God) – by his death – the shedding of blood. This does not means that all men are going to be saved – which is universalism…no there are many Scriptures that indicate that only those whose faith is in Christ will be saved…
· The phrase “all things” is limited to good angels and redeemed people since only things on earth and things in heaven are mentioned. Things “under the earth” (Phil. 2:10) are not reconciled. Phil 2 says, "so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth," (Philippians 2:10, ESV)
Our Role as We Understand His Supremacy – As believers
1. You were…alienated and hostile (v.21)
· You were estranged or cut off and hostile in your mind – there was hatred for God’s ways, his holiness and your estrangement and hatred resulted in evil deeds.
· That’s where we were – apart from Christ
2. You are…holy, blameless & above reproach in Christ (v.22)
· You have been reconciled – you have been rescued from the domain of darkness and transferred in the Kingdom of Christ.
· Did you notice that Paul was very specific in how he explained the way we were reconciled... “in his body of flesh by his death” This was specific to challenged the Gnostics view that Christ was a created spirit that did not really have a real flesh body, remember he had no footprints when he walked…Paul expresses that Christ had a real body and that we are reconciled by his death and the shedding of his real blood.
· In Christ you and I are now holy – we are set apart
· We are blameless – which means without blemish
· Above reproach – which goes beyond blameless – to mean that no one can even bring an accusation against us…no charge can stick against those who Christ has reconciled
3. You must…continue in the faith, stable & steadfast
· the evidence of salvation is that you continue in the faith…the bible repeatedly speaks that those who are saved will continue in the faith.
· Luke 8 – The Parable of the Sower…seed that fell on the good soil (salvation) grew and yielded a hundred fold.
Let me share with you an experience I had where a pastor totally misunderstood Christ’s supremacy.
· Can we use the catfish in our lives to point us to the supremacy of Christ.
· Are the catfish eating us alive or are they sharpening us to serve Christ more wholeheartedly
o Catfish today – God in all
o All Good People
o Believe in yourself
· The catfish should direct us and remind us that Christ Is…the He Is…
o Creator of all
o Sustainer of all things
o The head of the church
o Image of the invisible God, where the fullness of God is pleased to dwell
o Pre-Eminent and Supreme
It’s all about Him! Our role is to live in such a way that represents that we know and believe and act accordingly that He Is…
Walvoord, John F. ; Zuck, Roy B. ; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 2:674