Christ Made Simple
Col. 1: 15-23
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[g] your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. (NIV)
The light of the world is Jesus Christ. He is the centerpiece of the Bible. The OT looks forward to His coming; the gospels tell of his life, death, and resurrection; acts tell of the beginning of His church, the epistles deal with the implications of his life, and Revelation presents Him as the King of Kings.
Every part of scripture testifies about Jesus. Therefore it is imperative that we know who he is; why he came; and the fact that he is coming again. We need to study the light. The verses that we come to today are the central verses of Paul’s whole argument. they teach us the foundational truths of all of Christianity. Without them, Christianity would fall apart. It is the denial of these truths that have led to the formation of every cult and false religion throughout history.
We have multitudes of spiritual helps available – books, seminars, dvd’s, small groups, bible studies, para church organizations but if any of that is to make a difference, we must begin with the character of Jesus – know him. For without Jesus, it is all just self improvement exercises.
There is a link between the depth of your knowledge of someone and the depth of your relationship with that person In Col 1.we have a great opportunity to deepen our knowledge and therefore also our relationship with Jesus our Lord and Savior. Who is Christ?
Paul talks about Christ in relation to four things:
I. relation to God vs. 15
“image of the invisible God” When we say he is the spitting image of his father, we mean he is like his father but not completely. We may say I would like to change my image. The way people perceive me.
But this is not the biblical meaning of ‘image’. the word is icon. We are familiar with Gen. 1, which says that man is made in the image of God – however sin has marred our image – our image is limited, unlike mankind Jesus is the perfect absolute accurate image of God. That is why in John 14:9 he can say: “if you have seen me, you have seen the father.” He is the full, final, and complete revelation of God in human flesh.
The Greek word means “ an identical copy of the type”. Thus Jesus is the icon of God and he represents the presence and person of God in the very fabric of his being.
Another word we could use is manifestation. Previously it was the Tabernacle and Temple that displayed the glory of God. Now he attributes the same glory to the risen and exalted Christ. Just as a mirror gives a reflection of its image, the Son gives a reflection of the Father. Christ manifests and reveals what is hidden – it makes the invisible, visible
II. Relation to the universe
First born vs. 15b
The word used here is prototokos, which can mean first chronologically but usually means highest in rank not the first created. (monogenesis)
Does it mean that Jesus was created? If that is the case, it is conflict with v. 16 where Christ is clearly the Creator of everything.
The idea of being ‘firstborn’ was a technical term in the Roman world for the heir to an estate. It denotes a sense of prominent family position. In a cosmic context to say that Jesus is the firstborn of creation means that he is the World’s appointed ruler. He has Pre-existence and Pre-eminence. He is the ‘Absolute Heir’. The ruler over all creation.
Rev. 1:5 Jesus is called the first born from the dead even though he wasn’t the first chronologically At least 3 examples in the NT alone.
Creator vs. 16
He creates ‘all things’. This includes more than merely the material universe around us: more than stars, galaxies, planets, and solar systems, or even trees, grass, mountains and seas. It include all forces. Electricity, radiation, magnetism. It encompasses every realm, every sphere, every dimension and domain. Heb. 11:3 “by faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”
By looking at creation we can glimpse the power, wisdom and knowledge of the creator. Although many deny the existence of God, scientists speak of the Anthropic Prinicple which states “that the universe appears to be carefully designed for the well being of mankind.”
The testimony of nature is so clear that it is only through willful unbelief that men can reject it. Paul tells us in Romans 1 as we look at the universe, that we are without excuse in believing there is a god.
Jesus is the starting point of creation and its goal. He is truly the Alpha and Omega. Jesus was not ‘Plan B’. The purpose of history and creation is for the Revelation and Glorification of Christ.
Sustainer vs. 17
Have you ever wandered what holds the universe together? What doesn’t the moon crash into the earth? Why doesn’t the earth plough into the Sun? How come the universe just doesn’t implode or a cosmic black hole suck us all in?
It is not cosmic luck that the world holds together; it is the hand of God.
The British Scientist Stephen Hawking says, “The eventual goal of Science is to provide a single theory that describes the whole universe”. Well the theory of everything is to be found in Christ.
He is the sustaining force that holds all things together. He is the unifying principle, the cosmic glue that prevents the cosmos from degenerating into primeval chaos. And on a personal level, he is the one who holds many broken lives together as well.
IIII. Relation to the church vs. 18
The most common metaphor in the New Testaments concerning the church is the concept of a body. Our physical body is a very complex interconnected combination of many systems that provide life. The church is a living organism made up of all who claim Christ by faith as their Savior. The head of this body is Christ – not any person on earth.
In 1376 John Wycliffe, a lecturer at Oxford University, wrote a controversial work entitled ’Of Civil Dominion’. In it he audaciously asserted that Jesus Christ is the head of the Church and not the Pope. Wycliffe’s views were condemned and he was sent into exile. But Wycliffe continued propagating his ideas through a group called the Lollards, who proclaimed this view even to the point of death. It is a point worth dying for: that Jesus Christ is the head of the Church and no-one else.
Not the elders, not the deacons, not the President of any group or denomination.. The reason it is important is because headship of the Church determines who we obey.
When Jesus spoke to Saul he said to him, “Why are you persecuting ME”. Paul’s campaign against Christian believers was a war against Christ himself. The idea of the ‘body of Christ’ is a metaphor for the unity believers have with each other and with Christ
When we criticize and belittle the body of Christ we are doing it unto Christ.
Despite all its diversity the one thing that all Churches share is the headship of Christ. The Headship of Christ means we can truly be called the ‘Churches of Christ’ regardless of our other tags. Reformed, Pentecostal, Baptist, Anglican and so forth. Those who believe in one Lord, one gospel, and one head of the Church, regardless of denomination may call themselves members of the ‘Church of God’ – under his authority. The headship of Christ transcends national boundaries, cultures and languages.
The church has its origins in Christ. In Mt 16.18 – “I will build my Church and the gates of Hell shall not overcome it.” Christ is the source of its life -his death and resurrection inaugurates it.
Once again we find the Greek prototokos – of all those who have been raised from the dead, Christ is the highest in rank. His resurrection is the proto-type, provision and promise of our own Resurrection.
Vs. 19 All the fullness of God is in Him. The Gnostics thought that there were many What does this mean for us? Is this just an intellectual thought or does it have significance for our lives? To know Christ is to know God.
After giving us the qualifications of Christ, he tells us what it has to do with us. In the next verses
IV. Relation to mankind vs. 20-23
A. Plan of reconciliation vs. 20
In reconciliation we stand before God as an enemy and through Christ we become His friend. God’s goal is to reconcile all things. The fall not only corrupted mankind but his created world as well. Creation groans while it awaits this reconciliation. At the second coming of Christ, the curse of Genesis 3 will be lifted. The Lord will make everything new. New heavens, new earth, new bodies, new environment. God’s plan – his goal – his purpose is to bring everything together under the Lordship of Christ.
How is he going to do that?
B. Means of reconciliation vs. 20
His blood shed on the cross for us. The reference to his blood reminds us of the violent deaths of animals in the OT for the forgiveness of sins. Heb. 9:22 says without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” Christ shed his blood once for all time for those who would believe on him.
C. Aim of reconciliation vs. 22
to present you holy (hagios) separated and set apart for His use.
Blameless – not faultless –
Free from accusation – Rom. 8:1 there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.
D. Evidence of reconciliation vs. 23
How do we know that this is who we are – don’t just start with faith – we continue with faith – it is by faith that we are saved. Most distinguishing mark of a Christian – they have faith in the gospel. Those that are truly believers will continue in the faith.
So who is Christ?
Jesus is the image of
God. It is in him we see the perfect display of God and
Jesus is the Creator: All things were by him, through him and for Him.
Jesus is the Sustainer: It he that holds the universe together.
Jesus is the head of the Church. He owns it and rules it without human aid.
Jesus is the reconciler: of sinners and the whole creation.