Summary: Exposition on Col 1:15-23 as it relates to the purpose of the existence of the church and to the first part of our vision statement
Text: Colossians 1:15-23, Title: Exaltation and Transformation, Date/Place: NRBC, 6/8/08, AM
Opening illustration: “But now and then someone tells me frankly that my preaching needs to be less doctrinal and more practical. Practical application is vital. I don’t want to minimize its importance. But the distinction between doctrinal and practical truth is artificial; doctrine is practical! In fact, nothing is more practical than sound doctrine. Too many Christians view doctrine as heady and theoretical. They have dismissed doctrinal passages as unimportant, divisive, threatening, or simply impractical. A best-selling Christian book I just read warns readers to be on guard against preachers whose emphasis is on interpreting Scripture rather than applying it.” –John MacArthur, “Instinctively, most of us follow a leader who has real vision and who can transform that vision into a meaningful and hopeful strategy.”
A. Background to passage: Paul has introduced himself and has prayed for the saints and faithful brethren in Colosse. Then we have one of the great passages on Christ in the NT. And in it, and the following verses, we will see the basis for the first part of our vision statement—the reason for our existence. Over the next five weeks, we will deal with each point in our vision statement with a supporting text. I don’t see my role, nor my right, to stand before you and tell you my opinions and personal wisdom without divine revelation to support such ideas. I strive to let the text speak. Request prayer regarding this issue over the coming six weeks. See the vision statement diagram.
B. Main thought: The church (NRBC) exists to exalt Christ by altering Tifton and the globe…
A. Exaltation of Our Head (v. 18)
1. Paul says here generally in v. 16 that all things were created through Him and for Him. Then in v. 18 very specifically he brings in the church and speaks about Christ being its head, its source, its foundation, its first-born, then he gives a purpose clause—“that in all things He might have preeminence.” So he says that one of the reasons that God made Christ head of the church was so that he might be preeminent everywhere. He is our head so that the whole world might know that He is of infinite worth. The church exists to put on display the perfections and excellencies of Christ, so that the whole world would know of his value and worth. And the church can do it in a way that an individual can’t. This is why exaltation of Christ is first in the statement and on the hand in the diagram—it is our primary reason for existence.
2. Eph 3:10, 21, Philip 2:8-11,
3. Illustration: the conversation that Tory and I had with the lady at the Auto Battery and Electric, about splits and churches that don’t act like churches, and how that is just the norm, and how I smiled, left, and preached a sermon on my way home with fire and righteous indignation at her idea of the church, but also at the reality of what many churches have done to the reputation of Christ through their uncaring actions, “God AIMS to fill the universe with the glory of his Son, Jesus, by making the church the showcase of his perfections. Or, to put it another way, and include the idea of body: God means to fill the universe with the glory of his Son by putting the church on display as the embodiment of his Son…
4. Every meeting, every worship service, every SS class, every fellowship, every business session, every committee, every program, every dollar used, every sweat dropped, every attitude displayed, every second spent in New River Baptist Church, and every Baptist church, should be spent to the glory and honor of Christ. And it is not only stuff done inside these walls and on this campus, it is our lives daily—the church gathered and scattered. We should strive to make Jesus look good in everything, not as though he looks bad and we are covering up, but with the intent to show in reality that he is the greatest, the highest, and the best of all beings. The evaluation question of everything in the church is: does it make much of Jesus? Does it accurately display His value, worth, teachings, and commands? And if we ask the question of our own church as to whether or not Christ is magnified in Tifton because of services, ministries, reputation, attitudes, actions, etc. and we decide he is not, we must be cutthroat in rooting out the issues of sin that hinder that display. This is not child’s play; the glory of Christ is at stake! And we must get it in our heads that this is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER! Nothing is greater nor more important than His glory. And that everything we do, everything we say either helps or hinders making much of Jesus in the eyes of a watching world, and a needy universe. Work at training your mind to think in terms of uplifting the reputation and glory of Jesus. Constantly shout, “He is Worthy!” Put it on your phone, your screensaver; teach it to your children as a motivation for why we do everything. Husbands, wives, SS teachers, disciples, ask each other if Christ is being glorified in what is going on right now—not just theologically, but fix it now!