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Sermon Geoff Follas 20200223

 

THE PRE-EMINENT CHRIST

Colossians 1:15-19

One of the ways that you can recognise a false religion or a false cult is that it will teach that Jesus is less than God and that you need more than Christ to be forgiven, to be made acceptable to God and get to heaven.

The New Testament teaches that Jesus is God and that all you will ever need to be what God wants you to be in this life and eternity is found in Jesus.

Colossians 2:9 “For in Christ all the fullness of the Godhead lives in bodily form and you have been made complete in Him.”

In this passage we look at Jesus’ relationship to 3 things:

  • To God
  • To the Universe
  • To the Church.

 

JESUS’ RELATIONSHIP TO GOD v15

He is the image of the invisible God.

One of the problems about believing in God is that we cannot see Him. He is Spirit and Jesus said, “A Spirit does not have flesh and bones.”

Down through the centuries people have wanted to see God. When God told Moses how pleased He was with him, Moses took a very bold step and said to God, “If you are pleased with me, show me your glory. Let me see even a glimpse of you.”

But even Moses was not allowed to look upon the face of God.

In spite of the fact that God has strictly forbidden people to portray Him, they have painted pictures, carved statues and used their imaginations to create images of God.

Illustration: The Sistine Chapel. Hideous picture of God as a bearded old man wrapped up in some scungy looking sheets.

One day Jesus was speaking with His disciples and He told them that He was going back to heaven to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house, and Philip thought, “I know Jesus and I want to be there with Him, but I don’t know God and I am afraid of meeting Him.”

And he said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father and then we will be satisfied, this will calm our fears.”

Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me, has seen the Father? How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?”

In other words Jesus is the spitting image of God the Father. And that is what Paul says here. “He is the image of the invisible God.”

Hebrews 1:3 takes it even further and says, “Jesus, the Son is the shining revelation of God’s glory, the exact representation of His being.”

Because God is Spirit, and could not be looked upon with the naked eye, He could only reveal Himself to people through His creation, through miraculous works and through messages given to His prophets.

But the time came when God came right down to our level and entered a human body and for the first time in history God could perfectly express His character and power in a way that people could see and understand.

Jesus is the full, complete and final revelation of God with nothing missing.

v19. For God was pleased to have ALL His fullness live in Christ.

I am pleased that they didn’t have cameras in Jesus day, because we might have been carried away with His physical appearance, but the image of God was not the physical body but the nature, the character of God that lived and spoke and acted through that body.

The perfect, sinless, holy, powerful, loving character of God was fully expressed through the human body of Jesus.

 

He is the firstborn over all creation

This phrase has been misused by so many groups to argue that Jesus was just another created being and so when they read this verse they say that Jesus was the first person to be created.

The verse does not say that.

  1. He was not created but born.
  2. He can’t have been created, because we read here that everything was created through Him and for him, and again in John 1:3 “Through Him all things were created, apart from Him nothing was created that has been created.”

Jesus was not created by God but He was born of God long before anything else existed, long before time came into being. How that happened, you and I do not know. It wasn’t a human thing. 1 Corinthians 13 says, “our knowledge is imperfect.”

We are talking here about Divine, eternal, spiritual, heavenly things and they are way beyond our experience or understanding. It’s like trying to teach 9 month old baby the principles of nuclear science.

Remember when Nicodemus had trouble understanding how a person could be born again of the Spirit of God and Jesus said to him, “I am speaking to you about things that take place on earth and in people’s lives and you are having trouble understanding it. If I spoke to you about heavenly things there is no way you could grasp them.”

The danger is to try and re-define the eternal, spiritual, divine, heavenly mysteries in earthly human terms and there are many so called Christian groups who have done this and when they do this they reduce God and Christ to mere human beings and empty them of their eternal power. Martin Luther once said to Erasmus the founder of the humanism “Your God is too human.”

Every so called Christian group that have done this, such as Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Unitarians, Christian Science and Christadelphians have ended up making Jesus less than who He is.

This verse can be correctly translated, “He was born before all creation.” He is not just the first born Son of God; He is the only one who was born of God. [Only begotten Son of God means one and only]. There is no other like Jesus among everything else that exists. He is utterly unique.

We who belong to Christ have been adopted into God’s family, we are the adopted sons and daughters of God but Jesus is the one and only Son of God by birth. And even that birth must not be viewed in human terms.

 

JESUS’ RELATIONSHIP TO THE UNIVERSE v16-17

v16. Just in case someone still thinks Jesus was a created being, notice the stress here on “ALL THINGS.”

All Creation came into being through Him.

Jesus was instrumental in creating everything that exists, whether in heaven or on earth, the visible world and the invisible world. Every authority and ruling power whether physical or spiritual came into being as a result of Christ’s creative work.

All things were created through Him and for Him.

That simply means you and I were created by Jesus Christ and for Him. Our true purpose and fulfilment as human beings can only be discovered when we come by faith to Jesus Christ and give ourselves to Him and begin to live for Him.

The most tragic thing that has happened in this world is that people have swallowed the lie that if we live for ourselves, serve our own selfish, greedy, proud, lustful desires we will be happy and fulfilled. That is a lie. You only have to look at the results – war, injustice, abuse, hatred, jealousy, broken marriages and homes, suffering.

The greatest suffering in this world has not been caused by natural disasters, but by our selfish, greedy proud desires for wealth, power, possessions and physical pleasure.

The media is making a big fuss because the Caroma virus has killed 2000 people, mostly in China, but in that same country, over 60 million people were killed by the man they still worship as their great leader.

When you live for yourself, to satisfy your selfish desires for power, material and physical pleasure, you will become a slave to the godless forces of greed, lust and pride and those forces will destroy you and your relationships and leave you an empty, lonely, miserable person.

Illustration: Billy Graham and his wife Ruth were visiting an  island in the Caribbean and one of the wealthiest men in the world asked them to come to his flash home for lunch. He was 75 and throughout the meal was close to tears. “I am the most miserable man in the world,” he said. “Out there is a my huge yacht. I can go anywhere I want to. I have my own private jet plane, my helicopter. I have everything I want to make me happy and yet I am as miserable as hell.” That afternoon they visited a Christian man of the same age who had spent his life serving God and people of the Island. He was full of enthusiasm and love for Jesus and others. He said, “I don’t have two dollars to my name, but I am the happiest man on this island.”  

Illustration: Ralph Barton, one of Americas leading cartoonists left this note pinned to his pillow before committing suicide, “I have had few difficulties, many friends, great successes; I have gone from woman to woman, from house to house, visited great countries of the world, but I am fed up with trying to find ways to keep myself amused and fill up the twenty-four hours of each day.”  

The famous Psychiatrist Victor Frankel said that the Clinics are crowded with people suffering from a new kind of neurosis – a sense that life has no meaning or purpose.

Another well-known psychologist, Carl Jung said that the main neurosis of our time is emptiness.

If you do not realise that you were created by God to live in harmony with Him, to live a life that honours Him and blesses others, your life will be empty, meaningless and everything you try to stuff into your life will never satisfy and fill that emptiness that only Christ can fill.

Augustine had discovered true fulfilment when he uttered these words, “You, God have created us for yourself and our hearts will always be restless and unfulfilled until they find their rest and fulfilment in you.”

If you haven’t come to Jesus Christ, given your life to Him and are living for Him, then you will always have a deep sense of unfulfillment and emptiness in here…and try as you will, nothing will ever satisfy it, but Jesus Himself. Because that big empty hole in there was made for God and God alone.

All things were created by Him and for Him. 

Illustration: A number of years ago I visited the gannet colony at Muriwai Beach. These gannets migrate from Australia and breed and raise their young at Muriwai. When the chicks are old enough to fly, the parents leave them and go fishing around the coasts of New Zealand. The chicks who have never been to Australia, fly across the Tasman to the very spot their parents came from. They instinctively know where to go.

In Jeremiah 8 God looked upon His people and was puzzled by the fact that even the migrating birds instinctively knew where to go in winter and they did, but the people ignore their God given instincts and instead of coming to God for whom they were created, they stubbornly and blindly follow the path to self-destruction.

v17. Before anything else existed He was there. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end of everything. “In Him all things hold together.”

Most of you know that the atom is the basic building block of the universe, and the nucleus of the atom consists of sub-atomic particles called protons, neutrons and electrons.

There is one thing that has puzzled scientists for some time is “What is it that holds the atom together when scientifically it should be flying apart. You see the protons within the atom are constantly giving off positive electrical charges.

And we know from playing with magnets that they give off positive and negative charges. If you try and stick the positive end of one magnet to the positive end of another, they push each other away. According to the law of science the protons within the atom should repel each other causing the atom to split apart, but there is an inexplicable force that holds the atom together.

The laws of science say that the atom should explode, but something prevents it from splitting apart. And you know what happens when an atom splits apart – you get a chain reaction that leads to nuclear meltdown as happened at Chernobyl.

George Genaw, Professor of Physics at George Washington University said, “Every object is a potential nuclear explosion, without being blown to bits.”

Whatever is holding the atom together is holding the Universe together. Here is the answer.

In Christ, all things hold together. Jesus is the mysterious power, the glue that holds the atom together and holds the universe together.

Last century, scientists discovered how to neutralise that mysterious power that held the atom together and the result was that the atom exploded and blew apart….leading to nuclear power, nuclear weapons and nuclear meltdown.

And the Bible says that one day Jesus is going to withdraw His overriding power and allow those atoms to self-destruct.

2 Peter 3:10 says, “The heavens will disappear with a great noise and the elements [basic building blocks of the universe] will dissolve with extreme heat. And the earth and all that is in it will be burned up.” Peter is describing nuclear meltdown on a universal scale. The word for dissolve means that which was held together will be loosed.

Nuclear meltdown, when the power holding the atoms together is withdrawn. One day God will remove the power that holds the atom together and the universe will explode in nuclear fission and meltdown.

All things were created by Christ.

All things were created for Him.

You and I were created for Him and life will never make sense until you discover that fact and instead of rebelling against Him, handover your life to Him.

He is the agent and the goal of everything that exists. The Beginner and the Finisher.

Everything exists within His power, everything is under Him, everything comes after Him, exists because of Him and for Him.

 

HIS RELATIONSHIP TO THE CHURCH v18-19

On this planet there are people who have been brave enough to admit they are stuffing up their lives and relationships because of their proud, selfish behaviour. They can honestly say that they have made a mess of things because they have gone their own way and done their own thing and left God out of their lives.

These people have had the courage to say, “I don’t want to keep going the way I have been going and always getting the same stink results. I want to give my life and my relationships to the One I was created for, the One who came into this world and gave His life for me so that I can be forgiven, cleansed healed and made a new person.

I want Him to be my head, my leader, I want to follow Him and His ways and I want Him to be the most important person in my life.

When you become united to God through trusting in Jesus you became united with His people. You cannot be connected to Jesus without being part of His Body. The two go hand in hand. The church was Jesus idea. He started it, He loves it and he gave its life for it.

There is only one thing that God is going to rescue and protect from destruction on the day the universe disintegrates…..the church. Hebrews calls it the Kingdom that cannot be shaken. The Body of people who have genuinely turned away from all that wrong and evil and have entrusted their lives to Christ in faith.

And Christ made that certain when He rose from the dead. His res. is the assurance, the guarantee that all those who truly belong to Him will be raised from the dust of this condemned world to be with Him forever.

There is only one relationship Jesus can have with His church….where He is the Head. The Boss, the Director.

For us that means bringing all that we are and have and hope to be and placing it in His hands and allowing Him to guide us and lead us by His Spirit.

I don’t believe it is a difficult thing to do. We don’t have to work hard and strive to do this, we simply need to come to Jesus surrender our lives to Him and trust Him to lead us, guide us, empower us and enable us to do what will honour Him, bless others and bless us. This is a day by day, moment by moment thing.

“Come to me all who are striving and struggling to get out of the messes they have got themselves into, all who are trying so hard to get on top of things, all who are working so hard to break with their old ways and become better people. I will give you rest. Submit to my will and my way and you will find that I am a gentle and humble teacher and leader. You will also fine that doing my will is not a burden, it is a pleasure that will bring great joy and blessing to you and those around you.

So that in everything He might have the pre-eminence. That He might be the motivation, the inspiration, the energizer, the centre, the goal, the purpose, the author, the perfecter, the supreme object of my life, and the life of His church.

Illustration: When Leonardo da Vinci was forty-three years old, the Duke of Milan asked him to paint a picture of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples. Leonardo spent three years painting that now famous picture. When the masterpiece was finished, he asked a friend, “Give me your honest opinion of the painting” “It’s wonderful!” said his friend. “The cup in Jesus hand is so real I can’t take my eyes off it.” Immediately Leonardo took a brush and painted over the cup. His friend said, “What did you do that for?” Leonardo replied, “Nothing shall detract from the person of Christ!”

Illustration: Years ago an Indian man took his new wife to meet the powerful Maharaja who ruled over the province. When the Maharaja saw the man’s beautiful wife he demanded that he hand her over for his harem or lose his head. The husband walked over to executioners block and put his head on it. When the Maharaja saw his devotion to his wife he gave her back. On the way home the husband said to his wife, “Did you see all the wealth, the gold, silver and precious stones?” “No”, said his wife I only had eyes for the one who was willing to lay down his life for me.”

John Newton: Jesus my Shepherd, Brother, Friend,

My Prophet Priest and King,

My Lord, my Life, My Way, My End,

Accept the praise I bring.