Today we continue our series in Colossians called “Supreme Life,” because Colossians describes Christ as being supreme. Here’s a reminder of how the dictionary defines supreme:
Supreme– 1: highest in rank or authority. 2: highest in degree or quality. Merriam Webster Dictionary
Supreme defines Christ well!
As we take a look at this second half of chapter one of Colossians, I want to remind you that Jesus Christ is not only Supreme but He’s also God.
That’s what Colossians 1 is all about. Colossians of all the books in the New Testament emphasizes Jesus as God; savior, creator, sustainer, head of the church, and Lord of all.
The Bible is written not just for us to think about facts and figures. It’s written to help us understand how God wants to fit into our lives. These verses in Colossians 1 are not just how Jesus Christ should be God, but that He is. As we read through this let’s not hear them as facts for somebody to understand. Hear them as truths to start to live out.
First of all Colossians 1:13-14 reminds us that …
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. NIV
I. He is Savior – Thank Him for My Salvation.
One of the keys is to build into our lives is a regular habit of thanking Him for our salvation. If you really take the time to thank Him for the things that He’s done for you as a Christian it tends to cause Him to rise up above all those things and causes you and I to see Him as God.
Paul in chapter 1 gives a list of some of those things. What do we thank Jesus for?
Verse 13 for the fact that He’s rescued us from the dominion of darkness. That’s not Darth Vader. That’s Satan’s dominion. And He has brought us into the kingdom of the Son that He loves in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin. Four thanksgivings that can transform your life
- Thank Him that He rescued us. Have you seen that TV show “Rescue 9-1-1”? This is Rescue Colossians 1. He delivered us from the dominion of darkness and He brought us into the kingdom of His Son who He loves.
You and I don’t even know how incredible that is. We don’t see how dark darkness really is yet because we’re still on this earth. And we don’t see how bright God really is because we’re still on this earth. But He rescued us. It’s the greatest rescue that’s ever happened. For you as a believer it’s already happened in your life. It’s as if you were on the edge of a cliff and the branch was breaking and you were about to fall and Christ reached down and rescues you. So if you want to sing “He rescued me,” you can as a believer in Christ.
- He transported us. He transported us from one place to another. It’s a picture of some things that some of you who’ve studied the Old Testament might be familiar with. You remember in the Old Testament when an attacking army would come in they would, often instead of totally wiping out a country kidnap an entire country and take them home with them. That happened in the Old Testament with Israel. The Babylonians came in and instead of wiping out the country they took all the people from one country and took them over to another country. That’s the picture. That’s the word that’s used here. That’s what’s happened to you and I as believers. We’ve been taken from one country to another country. It’s not talking about physically but spiritually. We have a new home. The Bible tells us we are no longer citizens of this earth but we are citizens of heaven.
In Bible times, most of the time, this picture is used is used of someone who’s defeated having to go against their will to a country where they would be oppressed. In this case Jesus Christ is taking us from a place of defeat, a country of defeat – earth – and He’s already taken us to be a citizen of heaven. I think a lot of people think, “I’m going to be a citizen of heaven when I die. Right now I’m a citizen of this earth.” But that is not what the Bible teaches about us. One of the things you can thank Him for is that your address is already changed. Your name is already written in His book. He’s already transported us. That’s something to thank God for.
- We can also thank Him for the fact that He has redeemed us. That means He’s paid a price for us. He brought us. Not with gold or silver, but with his blood.
- He has forgiven us. We talked about this a little bit last time. Let me just remind you again what better thing could you thank God for than the fact that all of your sins – all of your sins – are forgiven by Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. Wow!
Let’s thank Him for being Savior and next let’s recognize the truth about Jesus.
II. He is God – Believe the Truth about Him.
The Colossians faced a heresy. It was a mixture of Gnosticism and Judaism and a bunch of their own things all together that was stealing from them the truth about Jesus Christ.
Let me take a minute to explain. I think it’s important to understand what they faced so you can understand what we face. One of the beliefs that they faced was that God, the God that you and I talk about, was not actually the creator of earth. The reason they thought that is they had a belief that everything material, everything that you can see and touch and feel, our bodies and everything else, was evil. The Bible doesn’t teach that by the way. Some of you might believe that, you may have even been taught that. But the Bible doesn’t teach that. But they believed that everything created was evil. It was made out of evil matter. But God who was perfectly good could not make something that was evil. So they had this idea that God in order to create the earth had to do something. They said God created a little bit smaller God.
Here’s what the Gnostics taught. The God who created the universe was not “up there”. The god who created the universe was way down here. In fact according to their belief there were millions of gods between that God and this god until they got a small enough god to create the universe.
Anytime somebody tries to make God smaller than He actually is that’s called false teaching. They believed in this so much that they believed that Jesus couldn’t have been born as a man because being a man would be evil. They believed that Jesus actually was born as a man and at His baptism the Spirit came upon Him. “Docetic” was the belief that the Spirit came upon Him and at that moment He became God and so He could no longer touch the earth. So they believed that He never even touched anybody. They believed He didn’t even touch the earth. They said when He walked He didn’t leave any footprints. Because He actually walked just that far above the ground because the world was so evil. Isn’t that a strange way of thinking about God?
We’ve got a lot of strange ways of thinking about God now too. Anything that diminishes the truth about who Jesus really is – keeps us from seeing Him as God. The truth about Christ is incredibly important. The world misses that. They say, “Jesus was just a good teacher. He was just a prophet. The truth about Christ is awesomely important. He is God, He is the savior of your life.
False teachers usually don’t deny Christ. They simply try to dethrone Him. Make Him a little bit smaller. They don’t deny Him prominence. They say He can be out in front. But they deny Him preeminence – He can’t be first. They don’t deny Jesus can be a way. It’s just really hard for a false teacher to say that Jesus is the way. So Paul wrote and said, “If you really want to know Christ is God here’s some truths we all need to know.” Eight truths.
- Christ is the Visible Representation of God.
Verse 15 “He is the image of the invisible God,
We know that God is a Spirit. So by “image of God” it means that all the characteristics of God were in the person of Jesus Christ.
He was also man so He had a human body. He was the only person who was both God and man. One hundred percent God and one hundred percent man a hundred percent of the time.
Every other truth of Christianity grows out of this one truth. That’s why anytime somebody wants to destroy the truth about who Christ is, this truth is attacked.
Let me make it more personal. That’s why anytime Satan wants to keep you from living out the truth of Jesus’ as God he starts to gnaw away at this truth. And he is in some of your lives. We live in a world today where sometimes we feel embarrassed to say that Jesus is the way. He is. Or sometimes people attack you and say, “What kind of judgmental person are you?” It’s not judgmental to tell the truth. If you see somebody driving the wrong way on the freeway and you point it out that’s not judgmental. You should honk at them. You should let them know.
- Christ is the firstborn. the firstborn of all creation.”
This is a word I know a lot of you looked at and said, “I read this thing about the Trinity and Jesus always has been God and He wasn’t created by God. He was God. I know He was born as a man but what does this mean He was firstborn? Does that mean that there was a birth that happened in heaven?” No. That’s not taught anywhere in the Bible. In fact, the reason we’re confused is that this term “firstborn” is unfamiliar to us. It wouldn’t have been unfamiliar to them in their day. The term “firstborn” to them was a term of position. It didn’t have so much to do with the order that you were born but the position that you were given. In fact, if you read in the Old Testament you see that sometimes even if you were born in a different order on human terms somebody would be given the position of being the firstborn in the family.
God created Adam who was the first man. The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians that the second man is Jesus. God decided to give Jesus that place of prominence and preeminence. He gets all the rights. He gets all the privileges of the firstborn. Not that He was born; it’s the position that God gave to Him.
So anytime someone says, “You say Jesus is God and He wasn’t born. It says He’s firstborn.” Just say “That’s not a word that talks about birth. It’s a word that talks about position.” The Jew of that day would have understood it very well. That’s what the word is all about. The position of Christ is all the inheritance of the universe is His.
Psalm 89:27 one of the titles of the Messiah, the Promised One that’s going to come, is “firstborn”.
So that’s part of who Jesus is. He above all of creation has been given the rights.
- Christ is the Creator. “For by Him all things were created. Things in heaven and things on earth. Visible and invisible. Whether throne or powers or rulers or authorities, all things were created by Him.” Is he just trying to be clear? Don’t miss this, he says. Everything is created by Him. Somehow in the mystery of how God worked things out Jesus was given the job of creation. In Genesis you read all of God was involved in creation at a certain point but Jesus was given the particular privilege of being named the creator of the heavens and earth.
Obviously later in our history Jesus came into this world. It’s always amazing to think of the fact that He who created this world walked on this world. The hand that created this world figuratively touched this world in reality. The hands in the carpenter shop when Jesus was a boy and worked on the wood to make a table or chair, those are the same hands that made that wood. The hand, when Jesus was setting with 5000, that divided the loaves and the fish, those were the same hands that made the wheat and the fish that swam in the sea. The hands that stretched themselves out to receive the nails on the cross, those were the same hands that made the iron from which those nails were made, that made the wood that formed that hammer, that made the people that drove in those nails. Our creator walked this earth. Jesus Christ is the creator.
Paul said when you think about who God is, when you think about who Jesus is if you want to keep them in first place don’t forget who He is. He made it all. He’s the creator of heaven and earth. Not only creator…
- Christ is the Owner. “All things were created by Him and for Him.”
“by Him and for Him.” Two words that are very important.
Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling like, “I think everything should be for me today. It’s my birthday or whatever. Today’s the day when everything should be for me. It should all work out my way today. I feel like all the attention should come my way.” Do you ever feel that way?
The truth of this world is it’s all created for Him. Every day is His birthday. It’s all created for Him. This entire world is not only made by Jesus but for Him, for His glory, for His pleasure, for His joy. That helps you stop living as a selfish owner and start living as a loving steward of God’s creation.
There was a Dutch theologian that said this about the fact that Jesus is the owner. “When Jesus looks at His universe from His exalted throne at the right hand of the Father and He sees the great galaxies whirling in space, the planets and the people upon the planet, all the minute details of life here including the details of our individual lives there is nothing that He sees anywhere of which He cannot say, ‘Mine’.” It’s all His.
Some people are denying Him His rightful place but the Bible tells us that one day every knee will bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. “It’s Yours, Lord.” Better sooner than later.
Not only is Christ the creator and owner but…
- Christ is the sustainer. “He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.” Vs 17
Paul goes on to say as he talks about the truth of who Jesus really is in verse 17, Everything holds together in Him. We all need to understand this if we’re going to live out the truth of Jesus being in first place of our life. He didn’t just wind up the universe and let it start to tick down. He’s the sustainer. “In Him all things hold together.” He’s intimately involved in every tick of the universe. All the laws of physics, all the laws of gravity, all the laws of energy and biology, all that holds this world together – they are daily living expressions of His creative mind. If God ceased to exist this world would cease to exist. It’s all because of Him. It’s all happening, not just at the beginning, but right now because of Him. That changes the way you think about life.
When physicists – especially particle physicists, those people who study atoms – get together they try to figure out things that you and I don’t try to figure out like atoms and things smaller than that called electrons and things smaller called quarks. They’ve even got something smaller than that but they couldn’t figure out a name so they called it a “glueon” because it holds things together.
Here’s what one particle physicist from Cornell said about what holds the universe together: “Particle physicists such as myself want to know what are the fundamental invisible building blocks from which all the matter of the universe is made. What are the basic interactions that glue these building blocks together to make the matter that we see around us? Most of us think that the current picture we have is incomplete and there’s something deeper. There’s something more fundamental working behind what we know. The excitement of our work is we are constantly probing for the chink in the armor of our current understanding that will reveal some clue of the most profound and fundamental structure that’s underneath.”
All they’ve got to do is real Colossians 1. The structure underneath it all is Jesus Christ. The power that holds the universe together, my life together, is Jesus Christ. That’s how great is the power of God.
Paul begins to get a little bit more personal. Let’s go from creation, he said, to you, to your church and what’s happening there.
- Christ is the head of the body (the church) “And he is the head of the body, the church”
That’s the truth about who Jesus really is. He’s not somebody who’s watching the church from afar. He is the head of the church.
The head of this church is not me or you. The head of this church is Jesus Christ. He’s the one that we follow together. He’s given us different gifts. Some gifts of leadership, some gifts of teaching, some gifts of mercy. We all have different gifts. But all of those gifts are like the arms and the legs. The head is Jesus Christ.
As a kid we had chickens, and sometimes dad would decide that we had too many roosters and it was time for some fried chicken. He would cut off the head and I tried not to laugh but it starts to run around in circles, running into trees, flopping on the ground, it was a chicken with its head cut off.
Sometimes we can become like that in God’s church. We must make sure that it never happens. There’s lots of activities but no direction. There’s lots of energy but there’s no purpose. Jesus Christ is the head of this church and if you ever see anything happen in this church that makes you think that He isn’t, shout it out. We want Jesus to be the head.
- Jesus Christ is also the beginning of the church. “He is the head of the church, the beginning.
He originated it, He’s the operator of it. He’s the founder and the facilitator. He’s the beginner and the builder. Jesus talked to Peter about the church and said, “I will build My church.” He started it and He builds it.
- Jesus Christ is also the firstborn from the dead – our hope. “The firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”
This phrase might be confusing to some of you. He’s the firstborn, the first resurrected. Wasn’t there some other people resurrected? Like Lazarus? So wasn’t Jesus the second or third?
Lazarus in technical terms was not resurrected. Jesus brought Lazarus out of that tomb. But some years later he died again. The body that Jesus brought out of that tomb – Lazarus’ body – died again. So he was resuscitated for a while eventually to die again. Jesus, when He came back from the dead, the body that He got, the resurrected body, it will never die. It’s an eternal body. That’s the hope.
I don’t want Lazarus’ kind of resurrection for a few years. I want Jesus’ kind of resurrection. That’s where the hope is. Paul says, “You want to know the truth about Jesus? He’s the first resurrected.”
We know we’ve recognized the truth about Jesus when it changes our lives. Look at the list of truths about Jesus Christ. That really changes how we act.
- He is God. That means I can depend on Him.
- He’s the firstborn. That means I’m going to look to Him as the leader.
- He is the creator. That means I know that He understands everything about me.
- He is the owner. That means I give it all back to Him.
- He’s the sustainer. That means I depend on Him.
- He’s the head of the body. That means I look to Him for direction.
- He’s the beginning of the church. That means I praise Him.
- He’s the first resurrected. That means He gives me hope.
We could make a list of dozens of other things that it means along with those truths about Jesus Christ. When I talk about the truth, I like to talk about three levels. First we learn it, then we love it, then we live it. This learning this list of truths about Christ is not enough. We have to fall in love with the fact that He’s my creator. But then we have to live it. We have to say, “How am I going to live today the truth that Jesus Christ made me? How is that going to make me feel differently about myself and the opportunities that come into my life?” That’s why Paul says, “If you really want to put Christ in first place don’t let anybody steal the truth about who He is.”
Colossians 1:19-20. Paul ends all this up by saying very simply “For God was pleased to have all the fullness dwell in Him and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things whether things on earth or things in heaven making peace through His blood shed on the cross.”
In order to live in commitment to the truth about Jesus, we must all recognize and refuse the temptation to lessen Him (make Him less than He really is). Some people try to treat Jesus like the English treat their kings and queens. They have a queen but there’s no power. It’s somebody to honor and somebody to rejoice in and somebody to talk about and write about in the gossip columns. But if the Queen of England ever said, “We’re going to war and I order us to do this,” the people would rise up and say, “Sorry! That’s Parliament’s job. That’s not your job. You’re just there in a place of honor.”
Sometimes we treat Jesus like that. And guess who the Parliament is in that case? We are. “Jesus, I want You to be Lord. I want You to be the one that I follow. But when it comes to the day to day decisions of life, I’m going to make them. Because I’m closer to the situation.” Refuse the temptation to lessen Him.
Paul says two things that help us refuse that temptation:
- Refuse the temptation to lessen Him in relationship to God. “All the fullness dwells in Him.” The temptation is to say maybe just part of God was in Jesus. Maybe just the Spirit of God or the joy of God or the teaching of God. But Paul makes it very clear. “All the fullness.” “Fullness” literally means the “sum total”. The bottom line. If you added up all your life what would the bottom line be? If you add up everything about the life of Jesus Christ, the bottom line is God. He’s God. So Paul says don’t let anybody lessen Him. He is God. “All of the fullness of God dwells in Him.” He even used a word that the Gnostics liked to use, the false teachers like to use. They say it’s somewhere else. The truth is it’s “in God.”
2. Refuse the temptation to lessen Him in relationship to Creation. He says, “All things were reconciled through Christ.” He’s reconciled all things. All things. There will be those who reject that reconciliation while they’re here on this earth but everyone has the opportunity for it.
Jesus died for all mankind.
And not only that but notice it says, “All things are reconciled in Christ.” In Romans 8 the Bible tells us that Jesus died that not only we – you and I – could be set free from sin, but all creation could somehow be set free from sin. Somehow God’s going to recreate everything someday. God has a plan that’s bigger than we think sometimes. All things reconciled in Him.
This is tough for some people. Some people want to say some things are reconciled in Christ. “Let’s say Americans and Europeans. But all these people that were born over in the middle East, China let’s say they’re reconciled some other way because that’s their culture.” The American culture is just as far from being reconciled through Christ culturally as the Chinese culture. It’s not a matter of culture. It’s a matter of truth. Paul says, “the truth is all things are reconciled in Christ.”
Some people call this the scandal of exclusivity. When we say it’s exclusively Christ, that’s when people’s eyes go blank when we talk to them about Christ. Or when we talk about how much Jesus means to us and how much He’s changed our lives, they say that’s great. But when we say He’s the only way people will go, “Now you’re into fanaticism. Now you’re over the edge.” It temps us in our culture to say, maybe there is another way.
All roads do not lead to God. There’s only one way to God and that’s through Jesus Christ. That’s why Paul wrote, “All things are reconciled in Him.” Don’t miss this truth.
The fact that I know the way and that you know the way to Jesus Christ is not a matter of I think I’m better than someone else. It’s not that I think I’m more knowledgeable than someone else. It’s just that I have received the same gift that’s offered to everyone else.
What was God reconciling? Not just people but all of His creation. And how did God do it? He did it by making peace through His blood. He did it through blood. He did it by dying for us.
III. Christ is God and Transforms Us.
At the end of this section Paul talks about our past and our future. He talks about what we were and what we will become because of Jesus Christ. He lists three things that we used to be and three things that we can become.
“Once you were alienated from God and you were enemies in your mind because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death in order to present you holy in His sight without blemish and free from accusation.”
He uses three striking words to describe our condition prior to Christ. You were 1.alienated. You were 2. enemies in your mind. You had 3. evil behavior.
I think that describes us well, but some may think, “I tried to be a pretty good person.” The truth is we tend to evaluate ourselves by comparing our lives to other people around us. These are words of truth about the condition of all mankind without Christ. We’re separated from God. We’re enemies. We don’t want God’s influence in our lives because He cuts in on what we want to do. And we do wrong things.
Trusting God for the future begins with being honest about your past. But then he turns to the future. He turns to the now and what God’s doing in our lives. He gives the three words to express our condition after the cross:
- Holy (from alienated to holy, that’s a pretty big jump!) The aim of God’s reconciliation in our lives is holiness. It changes who we are. “Holiness” means “set apart”. Separated. New character, the character of Christ.
- We’re without Blemish.
- We’re free from Accusation.
That’s how God sees us because of Christ! “Holy, without blemish and free from accusation,” Do you see yourself that way? Do you accuse yourself of past mistakes or let others accuse you? In Christ you are clean, holy, and righteous. It’s time we live those truths.
Look through these truths in this passage and think, “How am I going to live this out? How am I going to live out the fact that Christ is my savior? Christ is my creator? How am I going to live out the fact that He is sustainer? How is the fact that He’s the owner going to change the way I treat my business or my family? How is the fact that He’s the head of the church going to change the way I think about my gifts and talents?” Do you ever picture who you are in Christ? Throughout the Bible we’re encouraged and challenged to visualize who we are in Christ: holy (set apart), without blemish (clean) and without accusation (not carrying around guilt or shame.)
I want Jesus to be God in my life and I think that you do too. We’ve learned some powerful truths in Colossians 1:13-22. I encourage us this week to put some of these things to work. Not just to learn it, not even just to love it, but to live out the truth that Jesus Christ in ALL things is God.
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