Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Supremacy of Jesus Christ

Paul interrupts his description of his prayers for the Colossians (Colossians 1: 1-14) with a song of praise. This early Christian hymn (Colossians 1: 15-20) emphasizes the superiority of Christ over all creation. Christ is the One who created all things, whether they be material or immaterial, seen or unseen. This idea is in direct contradiction to the false teaching, later known as Gnosticism, that was developing in the Colossian church. In general, Gnostics believed that various angelic beings were the creators of the earth and that Christ was one among many of these angels. Not only did Jesus create all things; everything was created for His purposes (Hebrews 1:2). But the glory of the earth, the heavens, or the sun, moon, and stars cannot be compared with the glory of His new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1: 15-20)

This is one of the strongest statements about the divine nature of Christ found anywhere in the Bible. Jesus is not only equal to God (Philippians 2:6), He is God (John 10:30, 38; 12:45; 14:1-11); as the image of the invisible God, He is the exact representation of God. He not only reflects God, but He reveals God to us (John 1:18; 14:9); as the firstborn over all creation, He has all the priority and authority of the firstborn prince in a king's household. He came from heaven, not from the dust of the earth (1 Corinthians 15:47), and He is Lord of all (Romans 9:5; 10:11-13; Revelation 1:5; 17:14). He is completely holy (Hebrews 7:26-28; 1 Peter 1:19; 2:22; 1 John 3:5), and He has authority to judge the world (Romans 2:16; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Timothy 4:1; Therefore, Christ is supreme over all creation, including the spirit world. We, like the Colossian believers, must believe in the deity of Jesus Christ (that Jesus is God) or our Christian faith is hollow, misdirected, and meaningless. This is a central truth of Christianity. We must oppose those who say that Jesus was merely a prophet or a good teacher.

In the Colossian church there were several misconceptions about Christ that Paul directly refuted:

(1) Believing that matter is evil, false teachers argued that God would not have come to earth as a true human being in bodily form. Paul stated that Christ is the image - the exact likeness- of God, and is Himself God, and yet He died on the cross as a human being.

(2) They believed that God did not create the world, because He would not have created evil. Paul proclaimed that Jesus Christ, who was also God in the flesh, is the Creator of both heaven and earth.

(3) They said that Christ was not the unique Son of God, but rather one of many intermediaries between God and People. Paul explained that Christ existed before anything else and is the firstborn of those resurrected.

(4) They refused to see Christ as the source of salvation, insisting that people could find God only through special and secret knowledge. In Contrast Paul openly proclaimed the way of salvation to be through Jesus Christ alone.

Paul continued to bring the argument back to Christ. When we share the gospel, we too must keep the focus on Christ.

Because the false teachers believed that the physical world was evil, they thought that God Himself could not have created it. If Christ were God, they reasoned, He would be in charge only of the spiritual world. But Paul explained that all the rulers, powers thrones, and authorities of both the spiritual and physical worlds were created by and is under the authority of Christ Himself. This includes not only the government but also the spiritual world that the heretics were so concerned about. Christ has no equal and no rival. He is the Lord of all.

God is not only the Creator of the world, but He is also its Sustainer. In Him, everything is held together, protected, and prevented from disintegrating into chaos. Because Christ is the Sustainer of all life, none of us is independent from Him. We are all His servants who must daily trust Him for protecting us, caring for us, and sustaining us.

Christ is the "firstborn from among the dead." Jesus was raised from death, and His resurrection proves His lordship over the material world. All who trust in Christ will also defeat death and rise again to live eternally with Him (1 Corinthians 15:20; 1 Thessalonians 4:14). Because of Christ's death on the cross, He has been exalted and elevated to the status that was rightfully His (Philippians 2: 5-11). Because Christ is spiritually supreme in the universe, surely we should give Him first place in all our thoughts and activities (Luke 24: 6, 7).

Word Focus: firstborn - (Gk. prototokos) (1:15; Rom. 8:29; Heb. 1:6) G4416: The first part of this word (proto) can indicate “first in time” (temporal priority) or “first in place” (preeminence). In this context, preeminence is in the forefront. Thus the Son of Man is the “chiefborn” among all God’s creatures. See Ex. 4:22; Deut. 21:16, 17; Ps. 89:23, where in the Greek Old Testament prototokos is used to express the idea of preeminence. Understood as a second, separate description of Christ’s human nature, this title indicates that the Son in His humanity is now the foremost creature of all creation. But the designation in no way indicates that Christ Himself was created by God, for the next verse asserts that all things were created in, through, and for Christ. As a participant in the creation of all things, Christ cannot be a created being. Instead He is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Godhead, who has existed from eternity.

Following the celebration of Christ’s authority over all creation, this early Christian hymn proceeds to proclaim His authority over the church. He is the head of His own body, which is the church. No one should underestimate the significance of the church, for it is in fact Christ’s body. The sovereign Creator of the universe, as Head of the church, provides leadership and oversight over it. Christ was the first to be raised from the dead. His own resurrection guarantees that the church will one day be resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:12–28).

In Colossians 1:19, Paul was refuting the Greek idea that Jesus could not be human and divine at the same time. Christ is fully human; He is also fully divine. Christ has always been God and always will be God. When we have Christ we have all of God in human form. The Gnostics viewed Christ as one of many spirits existing in this hierarchy between God and all people. However, Paul used the term fullness to refer to the complete embodiment of God. Christ is the only Intercessor for human beings and fully embodies all of God’s nature (1 Timothy 2:5). No other intermediary, whether person or group, is able to stand in our place before the Father. Only Jesus can do this. Don't diminish any aspect of Christ - either His humanity or His divinity.

Christ's death provided a way for all people to come to God. It cleared away the sin that keeps us from having a right relationship with our Creator. This does not mean that everyone has been saved, but that the way has been cleared for anyone who will trust Christ to be saved. This phrase “reconcile all things", shows the significance of Christ’s work on the Cross. These passages clearly say that unbelievers will suffer eternal separation from God (Matthew 25:46).

The work of Christ will overthrow the damage affected by the Fall and change all of creation from a position of enmity to a relationship of peace and friendship (Romans 8:20–23; 2 Corinthians 5:18–20). We can have peace with God and be reconciled to Him by accepting Jesus Christ, who died in our place. Is there a distance between you and the Creator? Be reconciled to God. Come to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.

References: NKJV Holy Bible, Life Application Bible (NIV), and the Nelson Study Bible.


Dean Spencer said...

Lloyd -

You have a masterful way of explaining Scripture. Keep up the good work!

I hope many come to this page and recognize the Truth of Jesus Christ, Who He is, and all that He is.

Only through Him does humanity have hope. Thank you for sharing. Have a great Sunday! God bless!

Bradpetehoops said...

Thanks Lloyd for visiting my blog. Your Christian blog is impressive. Have a great day!

Studio Captivity said...

Wonderful and insightful. I love the scripture references.

dfish said...

Isn't it interesting that the Gnostics or "Ones Who Know" were the ones who came up with these doctrines? As Paul says, professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.

Whitey Lawful's Blogspot: The spirit of the law is greater then the letter. said...

The Coptic Church opted for a fully God formula--or so the Papacy thought. After contemplating a few years back the Roman Pontiff apologized for calling them heretics and ruled it was a "linquistic failure". Now all parties agree on the fusion understanding.

Bobby Sparks said...

Good post Lloyd!

David said...

Have a good time and happiness in your heart and soul and blessings to you and your love ones.

Ellie Great said...

Thanks Lloyd for visiting my blog. Great post. God bless you!

Rebecca said...

my mind lately has been overwhelmed with hearing of people claiming a way to christ with their works..I know how false it is to mingle those untruths with truth..If they could only see what they do with Christ when they lift themselves up with their baptism or circumcision...Christ didn't teach to come to Him after you had this good work or that good work.I feel sorry for people who are truly searching, that they would have to hear that type of thing when they are in such a desperate way..but I know God will lead them to truth.

Thank you for exalting Christ! And for being an open door for poor and weary travelers!

Lloyd said...

Rebecca - Thank you so much for your visit and encouraging comments. Our loving and merciful God has made it really easy to come to Him. All we have to do is accept and believe in His Son Jesus Christ.

Some folks think that this is way too simple, that there must be something else that they need to do in order to be saved. It just breaks my heart to see "Christian" blogs that become stumbling blocks to the lost souls that are seeking God. Blessings to you my sister in Christ. Lloyd