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Colossians 1_15-20

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(A Sermon from Colossians)

Westgate Chapel 9/9/01 a.m.                      Colossians 1:15-20

PROPOSITION:   Jesus is not an historical religious leader whose claims can be studied with detachment and discarded, but He is the image of God, Lord of all creation, Lord of the Church, and the only way to be reconciled to the Father.

i. introduction

-     PLURALISM is the theory that there is more than one basic substance or principle that guides all of life.....that reality consists of two or more independent elements, not just one.

-     THE word has a Latin origin that means "several" or "many."

-     YOU hear it with increasing frequency in the media today to describe the religion of our nation.

-     WHEREAS America started its brief history as a Christian nation, founded by men who had a personal faith in Jesus Christ and a deep respect for the Word of God.......

-     NOW, Biblical Christianity is viewed as too intolerant and too narrow an interpretation of truth.

-     THERE are many ways to God, many truths...."whatever works for you" has become the pragmatic approach to things eternal in America.

-     THE Bible was used as a rule of faith and practical living in early American history, anywhere from state houses to schoolhouses.

-     BUT that is too intolerant for the America of our day.

-     AND, as a result of this new pluralism:

*     Prayer is out of schools, and students are forbidden from carrying Bibles on campus.

*     The ten commandments are being removed from courthouses.

*     Nativity scenes are being removed from all public buildings.

*     References to our Christian heritage are being expunged from history books as the early days of America are re-written to suit this new pluralism.

*     Jesus has been removed from His place of pre-eminence, and assigned a place in America on an equal standing with Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna, Vishnu, the New Age, or the god of self.

-     THIS is much more subversive than just a tolerance of other religions.

-     AND the reason that this pluralism is an abomination to God is that it says that there is more than one basic substance or principle that guides all of life.

-     PLURALISM is being used in America to refute any notion that Jesus or Christianity is the only way to God.

-     INTERESTING that the word, pluralism, ends with "ism" which is a suffix used for religious or doctrinal systems. 

-     IT is the new religion for America...and on that has the endorsement of the media. It is the only "politically correct" approach.

-     IT is having its effect on Christians and the Church in America...just as it had on the church in Colosse.

-     TO accommodate this pluralism, tolerance of all other faiths, the World Council of Churches is holding inter-faith conferences to welcome and embrace other religions, acknowledging that there are many ways to God.

-     MANY pastors are toning down their preaching for fear it sounds too exclusive.

-     AND, as a result,  many Christians are toning down their witness and their faith to keep pace with this new pluralism. We don't want to offend. Must be politically correct.

-     BUT it is not just the nation or the World Council of Churches that are guilty of caving in to pluralism.

-     IN our personal lives, we too have assign Jesus a demoted place with equal status to our:

*     Career.....and the energy that it takes to be successful.

*     Family.....and the time invested in raising children and being secure at home.

*     Pleasure.....and the resources it takes to fill up our leisure hours.

*     Personal fulfillment.....and the growing need to find happiness and contentment.

*     Our schedules.....that are jammed to capacity with doing all of the above with gusto.

-     AND somewhere in there we squeeze a little Jesus...when we have time....for 90 minutes on Sunday morning.

-     THERE was a pluralism in Colosse in the times of the apostle Paul.

-     JESUS was being placed on the same level as the angels.

-     IT was being taught that angels mediated man's problems before God.

-     THAT Jesus was no more important to humankind than the angels.

-     LISTEN to Paul's response.

ii. he is the image of god

-     COLOSSIANS 1:15a,

      "HE is the image of the invisible God..."

-     WHO is this Jesus who is the Founder and Source of Christianity?

-     WHO is this Jesus whose power went out from His robe and healed a woman sick for 18 years?

-     WHO is this Jesus who very presence caused demons to cry out in anguish?

-     WHO is this Jesus who took five loaves of bread and two small fish and fed 5,000 on a remote hillside?

-     WHO is this Jesus who gave a prostitute back her dignity and told her to go and sin no more.

-     WHO is this Jesus who upset self-righteous Pharisees?

-     WHO is this Jesus who picked up little children and loved on them and blessed them?

-     WHO is this Jesus who said that He had come to heal the broken hearted and to set prisoners free?

-     WHO is this Jesus who gave His life on a cross and took on Himself the punishment for your sin and mine?

-     WHO is this Jesus who, with hundreds of disciples watching, ascended into the clouds to be with His Father?

-     HE is not:

*     Just another religious leader.

*     A proponent of another religious philosophy.

*     A good teacher.

*     Equal to other religious leaders or even the angels.

-     "HE is the image of the invisible God..."

-     HE is the only visible representation of the invisible God.

-     GOD the Father lives in inaccessible, unapproachable light. No human could look at God and live.

-     MOSES asked to see God and God told him,

      “…you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” (Exodus 33:20)

-     PAUL wrote to Timothy about God the Father and said,

      “God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, (16) who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.” (I Timothy 6:15-16)

-     JESUS Himself put it this way in John 1:18,

      "No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known."

-     AND then in John 14:9 Jesus said,

      "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father..."

-     SO Jesus came to earth to give us the image, the exact representation of the Father with flesh and blood to look at.

-     IN 2 Corinthians 4:4 & 6, Paul writes,

      "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God...... (6) For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."

-     YOU cannot squeeze Him into some neat, politically correct pluralism just to appease our society.

-     YOU can’t make Him one of several alternatives to life’s religious needs.

-     YOU cannot squeeze Him into a position down the line somewhere in your priorities.

-     WHY?

-     BECAUSE "HE is the image of the invisible God..."

-     NO wonder John the Baptist said, "He must increase and I must decrease."

iii. he is the lord of creation

-     PAUL goes on to give Jesus a second title....Lord of Creation.

-     COLOSSIANS 1:15b-17 says that Jesus is.....

      ".....the firstborn over all creation. (16) For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. (17) He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."

-     JESUS is God's only begotten Son, and He is OVER all creation. He is supreme.

-     AND His position of superiority over creation is because " by him all things were created."

-     AND to make sure that we don't miss the scope of this authority, Paul says that Jesus has authority, as Creator, over things:

* heaven.

*     ...on earth.

*     ...things visible.

*     ...things invisible.

*     ...thrones.

*     ...powers.

*     ...rulers.

*     ...authorities.

-     BUT He is not only the agent by whom all things were created, verse 16 says that they were created FOR HIM.

-     HE is the reason they were created....all of creation is for His pleasure.

-     THEN verse 17 says that Jesus existed before any of creation.

-     AND that Jesus is the One that holds it all together.

-     ALL the diversity. All the wonder. All the complexity of creation only makes sense when Jesus is at the center.

-     NOW do you see why Evolution is such a frontal attack on the Christian faith?

-     THE Bible says that we were created by Jesus in the image of God.....made with dignity to find our purpose bringing glory to the Father.

*     Evolution says that we were an accident, a single cell amoebae washed up on the seas of primal ooze.

*     It takes away our purpose in life.

*     It takes away the dignity of abortions are a convenience and life is not worth very much.

-     THE Bible says that God is our Creator, and that His Word is our Owner's Manual for living, and that we will be accountable to Him for our lives here on earth.

*     Evolution says that there is no Creator, no one to whom we are accountable.

*     Everyone is free to do what is right in their own eyes.

*     There is no basis for moral absolutes and no accountability.

*     There is no such thing as sin and, therefore, no need for a Savior and certainly no need for the cross.

-     THE Bible says that we were created for the glory of God and to serve Him and fulfill His purposes in this life....and that those who put their trust in Him will spend eternity in His presence.

*     Evolution says that there is no purpose in life, beyond finding fulfillment and happiness for yourself in this life....and that after you die there is nothing.

*     Whatever happens to you in this life is an accident.

*     And life is only what you make it to be.....nothing more, nothing less.

-     EVOLUTIONISTS say that life is a cosmic accident that started with a big bang billions of years ago.

-     THE Bible says that God created the heavens and the earth by the power of His Word....and the big bang didn't happen billions of years is on the way.

-     JESUS is not one of many gods, one of several ways to the Father, nor a religious figure to be squeezed into our already busy lives.

-     PAUL tells the Colossians,

      " by Him and for Him all things were created."

-     HE is Lord of creation.

iv. he is lord of the church

-     PAUL gives Jesus a third title in verse 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."

-     JESUS is Lord of the Church.

-     THOSE of us who through faith have received Jesus Christ as Savior, are members of His Body and He is the Head.

-     IT is an organic relationship, not organizational.

-     WE are members of His Body, joined to Him.

*     So, we share His death.

*     We share His life.

*     We share His resurrection.....just like the hands and feet of a body share the experience of that body.

-     HE is the directing, controlling power to which we as members of the body submit.

*     The head is what gives the body its unity and its purpose and its power.

*     So, obedience to the head is imperative if we are going to be His body.

-     HE is the beginning of the Church.....His resurrection established His authority over all things, even death.

-     ALL so that He would have supremacy over everything.

-     THERE is no one higher than Jesus.

*     No leader higher.

*     No philosophy higher.

*     No political power or agenda.

*     No wisdom is higher.

*     No power is higher.

-     HE has supremacy over everything.

-     SHOULDN'T He have supremacy over you?

v. conclusion

-     JESUS is the image of the invisible God.

-     JESUS is Lord over all creation.

-     JESUS is Lord over the Church.

-     WHY?

-     PAUL answers that question in verses 19-20,

      "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."

-     GOD'S purpose in it all was to reconcile the world to Himself.

-     NOT just mankind, but everything ravaged by sin.

-     PAUL says in Romans that all creation is groaning under the load of sin....waiting for the day that it will be liberated.

-     WELL, this Jesus, whose name is used as a universal, world-wide curse word....this Jesus has reconciled the sinful world to the Father through His blood.

-     HE took the punishment that we deserved for our sin and has reconciled us to the Father....if we receive His work by faith and live our lives in relationship with Him.

-     CAN you see the reason that there is NO room in the Gospel for any other way to be saved?

-     ONLY Jesus can satisfy your soul.

-     PAUL says, "If anyone preaches any other Gospel to you, let Him be accursed."

-     IS that intolerant?

-     NO, Peter preached to the Jewish Sanhedrin in Acts 4:12,

      “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

-     HIS name is Jesus.

-     HE is the image of the invisible God.

-     HE is Lord of all creation.

-     HE is Lord of the Church.

-     HE has reconciled sinful man to the Father through His blood.

-     IS He the Lord of your life?


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