A Preeminence that is Personal
May 29, 2016
As we wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we suffer through the miseries of a world and an era that is passing away, as we endure for a new heavens and a new earth, and as we look forward with faith and hope to a better country and an everlasting kingdom, we are to grow and mature spiritually as believers. We call this sanctification.
And we are not left to figure it out on our own.
Praise be to God that our spiritual growth and maturity happens because of a person. We grow and mature because Jesus Christ grows and matures us. It’s as simple as that. Human philosophies or man-made traditions don’t grow us. Christian practices or spiritual disciplines in and of themselves don’t mature us. Jesus grows us. Jesus matures us. He does it all. Our sanctification fundamentally comes from a person, not from a place or a thing.
Our spiritual growth and maturity comes from the wellspring of the person and work of Jesus Christ. Our sanctification starts and ends with our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the basic but gigantic point that Paul is trying to make here in today’s Scripture text. As the Colossians drifted away from Christ, Paul brings them back to the true wellspring for their spiritual growth and maturity. Paul brings them back to Christ himself.
And this is what he says about Jesus Christ.
He tells them that Christ is the image of God. This means that Jesus is God. He also tells them that Christ is the firstborn of all creation. This means that Jesus has owns everything and rules everything with honor and distinction becoming of a firstborn son in a family. Paul goes on to tell the Colossians that all things were created through Christ. And he tells them that all things hold together in Christ. All in all, Jesus Christ is supreme and preeminent over creation.
This preeminence has two massive implications for believers in Christ.
First, since Jesus is preeminent over creation, we can and should trust in him. Look, our Lord created everything. He holds all things together by the word of his power. He is God. And he is above all other beings. You can trust in Jesus. You should trust in Jesus. Paul’s means to bring comfort and assurance to believers with this simple but profound truth about Jesus Christ.
The second massive implication for the preeminence of Christ over creation is this: humility and a right mindset on our part. Allow me to put it this way: This is Jesus’ world - and we are just living in it. Jesus is the boss. We are not. We were made by him. We were made for him. We don’t exist for our own sake. We actually do have to answer to Christ at the end of the day. Let us humble ourselves and confess that we build our own kingdoms and make ourselves the center of the universe when in fact we are not our own. For we were bought at a price. This world is not our own. We don’t hold it together. We don’t have lordship over it. None of it was created for our glory. We are not the main character of history. We are not at the center of all things. We are not preeminent.
Brothers and sisters, let us praise the Lord and trust in Christ. Let us be humble before the Lord and have a right mindset before Christ. For he is preeminent over creation.
But that’s not all. Everything Paul has spoke about up to now is about Christ’s supremacy over creation. But Paul goes on to talk to the Colossians about Christ’s supremacy over recreation - that is, over resurrection life.
He tells them that Christ is the head of the body or the church. This means that Jesus is the church’s king and that Jesus is the church’s wellspring for spiritual maturity. He also tells them that Christ is the firstborn from the dead. This means that Jesus is the forerunner or the vanguard for possessing resurrection life. He goes on to tell the Colossians that all the fullness of God dwells in Jesus. And he tells them that Jesus makes peace by the blood of his cross. All in all, Jesus Christ is supreme and preeminent over recreation and resurrection life and the church.
This preeminence has three massive implications for believers in Christ.
First, since Jesus is preeminent over recreation, we look forward to and in one sense already enjoy resurrection life. We have great comfort knowing that our death will have no sting, and that we will have eternal imperishable bodies one day.
The second massive implication for the preeminence of Christ over recreation is this: we the church have a king. Only his words and his laws are to be declared in the church. The church should not have an opinion. The church should have a creed. The Pharisees added supplementary law to God’s law in order to be better people. But we are not the king. We are not the head of the body. We cannot actively create our own laws. We can only passively restate Christ’s laws. We are not preeminent.
The third massive implication for the preeminence of Christ over recreation is this: Jesus is the wellspring for our spiritual growth and maturity. Let us believe in the simple fact that when we listen to God speak to us through his written word and with the power and help of the Holy Spirit, we will grow in Christ. Let us trust in the simple fact that when we eat super ordinary bread and juice in a rather quiet and anti-climatic manner, we are truly being fed by Christ himself. Let us be content in the simple fact that when we do worship services with a clunky order and without the lights, camera, or action, we are nevertheless engaging in a profound and beautiful covenant conversation with Christ himself. Brothers and sisters, let us not be a church that overdoes things with a restless insecurity. Let us not be a church that adds to Christ with a nervous tick or uncertainly that whatever we’re doing is just not enough for spiritual growth or maturity. Paul reminded the Colossian church and us today that Jesus Christ is enough. That he is our wellspring for spiritual growth and maturity. That Christian life is centered around the person and work of Christ, not the person and work of us.
Paul’s celebration of Christ reveals that all of life is covenantal. When I say that, I simply mean that everything is personal. When Paul met the Lord on the road to Damascus, Jesus did not say, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting the church?” He said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me.” When Paul cried out to God in Romans 7 because of his struggles in sanctification, he did not say, “Wretched man that I am! What will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through steps one two and there to help me grow, through good fellowship or accountability for my spiritual maturity, or through human philosophies or man-made traditions!” The question was not what would deliver him. The question was who. For Paul said, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Brothers and sisters, all of life is covenantal. In other words, as we wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we suffer through the miseries of a world and an era that is passing away, as we endure for a new heavens and a new earth, and as we look forward with faith and hope to a better country and an everlasting kingdom, we simply get there because of the person and work of Jesus Christ.
This is personal. And that is why we don’t just believe in Jesus. We love him.