Colossians 1 15-23
Exalt His Name; Live His Purpose
“God-Centered Church-Part 3”
A. Elementary school boy
1. After a heavy snowfall, the snow trucks would plow our school driveway and make huge mounds of snow.
2. A huge mound of snow was a unique phenomena on the flat lands of our school property – therefore, we needed to maximize the time we had.
a. Many students would use the huge mound of snow as a sledding hill.
b. Others would dig snow caves – a dangerous combination if both activities were being conducted on the same mound of snow.
3. However, I was unwilling to participate in such frivolous activities.
4. After all, there was only one suitable use for a huge mound of snow – and that was the game “King of the Mountain”!
a. With upper elementary boys there is this overwhelming urge to establish themselves as the alpha male of the group.
b. So as a result, every physical activity introduced to me and my friends ended up to be a melee of wrestling, shoving, tackling, pushing, throwing – a melee of primal proportions I assure you.
c. And the one who exerted the most effort and strength, making it to the top of the snow mound, would be crowned “King of the Mountain” - at least until he too was toppled by a band of thugs.
B. The game “King of the Mountain” is a great picture of how young boys (and might I suggest our American culture) view supremacy.
1. To reign as “King of the Mountain”, it is every man for himself.
2. The goal is to get to the top and to use whatever means necessary to get there.
3. Once the top has been achieved, the whole world is after you, so it is imperative that you trust no one and always mind your back.
4. For the “King of the Mountain” supremacy is establishing yourself as the strongest and most aggressive.
C. In our text this morning, Paul celebrates the supremacy of Christ.
1. Paul began his letter to the Colossians by commending them for their faith, how they have embraced the gospel, and how they are selflessly sharing life together in authentic community.
2. However, Paul is made aware that the church is in danger of heretical teaching that will greatly hinder the work of the gospel of God in their lives.
3. Paul warns them that embracing error will greatly hinder authentic community (the sharing of life together), their example to other believers, and the proclamation of God’s message to the lost.
4. The nature of the error being taught in Colosse, though having to read between the lines, seeks to undermine and contradict the sufficiency of the Person and work of Jesus Christ.
5. So, Paul is calling the Colossian church back to a Christianity that is totally centered on Jesus Christ, because without the foundation of Jesus Christ, the church will be rendered powerless in accomplishing God’s mission in this world.
6. Therefore, we come this morning to be celebrate in the supremacy of Christ.
a. Jesus Christ is Supreme over all his creation, for He is the Creator of all there is.
b. Jesus Christ is Supreme over our lives, for He has Redeemed us from sin and placed us into the kingdom of light.
c. Jesus Christ is Supreme over His church, for He is the Head of the Body and uniquely gifts His people to serve one another and proclaim the gospel through word and witness.
II. Supremacy of Christ (1:15-20)
1. We find a unique structure not typically found in a letter.
2. Structure is printed on your notes page.
Vs 15 – Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation,
Vs 16 – because in Him all things were created
in the heavens and upon the earth,
things visible and things invisible,
whether thrones or powers,
whether rulers or authorities;
all things were created by Him and for Him.
Vs 17 – and he is from all things and all things are held together in Him.
Vs 18a – and he is the head of the body, the church;
Vs 18b - Who is the beginning, firstborn out of the dead,
so that he might come to have in all things first place.
Vs 19 – because in Him it pleased all the fullness to dwell
Vs 20 – and by Him all things will be reconciled for him
making peace through the blood of his cross [through him]
whether things upon the earth or in the heavens.
B. Lessons from Structure
1. Christ is Supreme: He is the Creator of all things (15-16)
a. Three times Paul uses the word “ALL”
1) All the visible things on the earth, including governing powers or ruling authorities.
2) Even all the invisible things in heaven, including all spiritual powers and authorities.
3) Jesus Christ is Supreme over ALL creation…WHY?
b. Because He is the image of the invisible God – the firstborn over all creation.
1) Sounds kind of strange…how can something invisible have an image?
2) Remember why Paul is writing this letter – to encourage and assure the believers that Jesus Christ is sufficient for having a relationship with God.
3) To affirm to the believers that having seen Jesus; you have seen the Father.
4) Colossian heresy
a) Possible that the Colossians were being taught that God and creation could not go together because God is holy and material things are sinful.
b) If this is the case, then to know God you need something more than Christ because there is no way that Jesus could be fully God and fully human.
c) Paul says, NO! God perfectly imaged Himself in Jesus Christ - His being and perfections.
5) Paul emphasizes Christ’s supremacy by calling him the firstborn of all creation.
a) Nothing to do with actually being born.
b) Instead, the term emphasizes distinction and status.
c) Jesus is like no other person (distinct from creation) and his status is one of supremacy.
2. Christ is Supreme: He is the Redeemer of all who believe (18b-20)
a. Not only is Christ supreme as Creator; He is also supreme as Redeemer.
1) Again to contradict the Colossian heresy – God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Christ (1:19)
2) Just as all creation was created by Him, for Him, and through Him, so also was salvation accomplished by Him, for Him, and through Him.
3) Through Christ, God has established the church (body) and Christ as her head – He directs, governs, and gives life and strength to the body.
b. Christ’s redemption is only made possible through His shed blood on the cross.
1. The high point of this first section is verses 17-18.
2. These verses are not a matter of our personal opinion nor are these verses subjected to our personal critique.
3. Christ is LORD whether you believe it or not.
a. Question becomes whether you submit to His Lordship or reject His Lordship.
b. Submitting to His Lordship leads one to be reconciled to God – Christ forgives the sins of the sinner so that they can be restored to God in Christ.
c. Rejecting His Lordship – there can be no forgiveness of sin and therefore no restoration to God.
III. Response to the Supremacy of Christ (1:21-23)
A. Reconciliation in Christ breaks the cycle of sin, heals our ruptured relationship with God, and brings us in line with God’s holy character and purpose.
1. Christ’s provision of restoration changes everything – we are no longer in sin; we are now in Christ.
a. Our allegiance is no longer to sin and self; sin’s power has been completely broken; no longer destined for death.
b. Christ is now our allegiance; through His power we now have life and freedom to please God.
2. But a conditional statement in verse 23
a. “All this can be yours… IF…the Price is Right”
b. How do we interpret this “conditional statement”?
c. Is Paul ascribing to works-righteousness?
C. Conditional Statement (1:23)
1. This condition is serving as a warning…
a. Acknowledging God’s supremacy over our lives and over this church will be evident in our behavior.
b. Paul says that a person/church under Christ’s Lordship will demonstrate spiritual growth and maturity, with unyielding allegiance for God and His revealed Word as the bedrock of their faith, and eager expectation as they anticipate our Lord’s return.
2. The point is this: God has truly done a marvelous work, but His work does require of us a response consistent with His marvelous work, namely faithful living.
3. In other words, we need to remember that we have been reconciled to God to live a life that God approves.
4. C.D. Moule writes, “Christ does for us what we could not do fro ourselves; but we must do what He will not do for us. He ‘offers’ us to God, but it is nonetheless our own offering.”
5. In verse 23, Paul is simply stating that a person (that a church) that has been reconciled to God WILL continue in the faith and not deviate from the hope rooted in the gospel of God.
6. What was Paul’s response to Christ’s work and supremacy? (READ 23b)
1. We come as disciples of Jesus Christ to gather at His table, remembering our Lord’s death, and to celebrate His Supremacy over creation, our church, and our lives.
2. May we respond to His Supremacy through faithfulness and obedience to all of Christ’s commands – for we are His servants.