Summary: Christ gives us everything we need for heaven and for service here.
“Do you have everything?” Today I want to direct that question to the five people we are receiving as communicant members. It’s an appropriate question because in a few days Kathy and Geneviève Sumner will be moving to Vernon. Nick Korfman will be heading to Wisconsin to attend Luther Prep School. And while Jordan van Velzen and Dylan Beach aren’t going anywhere, they are entering a new stage in life. Dylan, will be starting high school, and Jordan will be an upperclassman at his school. It is, therefore, appropriate to ask each of you: “Do you have everything you need for the new stage in your life?” Thankfully our sermon text this morning assures us that, yes, in Christ we have everything we need.
Our text is taken from Paul’s letter to the Colossian Christians. Paul wrote to the Colossians because their pastor, Epaphras, told him about the challenges his congregation faced. False teachers were hanging around urging things like the worship of angels, abstinence from certain foods, and the belief that Jesus wasn’t God. To reinforce what the Colossians had learned from their own pastor, namely that Christ was all they needed, Paul wrote in vs. 9, 10 of our text: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority” (Col. 2:9, 10).
False teachers could claim that Jesus wasn’t God but the truth is the whole divine nature, everything that makes God, God, resides in the person of Jesus. That’s a bit like saying that in this Dixie-cup I hold the waters of every ocean, sea, glacier, lake, river, stream, brook, slough, and puddle. It seems impossible doesn’t it that the infinite God can be housed in a finite body, yet that’s what the Bible teaches about Jesus. Instead of trying to figure out how this can be, it’s more important to answer why. Why did Jesus have to be God and man, and how does that give us fullness as Paul said?
To answer those questions we first must know why Jesus came. He came, as the angels outside of Bethlehem proclaimed, to save the world from sin. In order to save us from our sins Jesus needed to be human so that he could pay the penalty for sin - death. Think of it like this. If I committed a crime, I could hardly expect the judge to let my cat serve the sentence in my place. My cat is an animal and I’m human. In the same way, if Jesus is going to take our place, he needs to be one of us. Still, Jesus needed to remain God so that his payment for death could be extended to the whole world. While you may be able to pay for one or two speeding tickets your spouse or children get, can you afford to pay for every speeding ticket in the world ever issued? No. You would need to be Bill-Gates-rich to do that! In the same way Jesus needed to remain God so that his death could be credited as payment for the sins of everyone that has ever lived.
Because Jesus has won our forgiveness Paul says that we have fullness in Christ. As the gas burners fill the canopy of a hot air balloon so it can rise above the earth, so Jesus fills us with forgiveness so that we can rise over death. Christ gives us other promises too that fill our life. Because he promises to take care of us no matter where we go we can rise above the stresses of life whether that’s moving to a new community or adjusting to a new school.
Of course there are forces out there that want to poke holes in this fullness that we have. Paul warned the Colossians: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Col. 2:8). These hollow and deceptive philosophies are still out there. Jordan, Dylan, and Geneviève you’ll hear it taught in your schools. Teachers will say that you were not created by an intelligent and loving God, but are cosmic accidents without any purpose in life. Another deceptive philosophy is that there is no absolute truth – that while believing in Jesus may be fine for you, following other religions are just as valid.
Paul tells us how to defend ourselves against such philosophies that seek to take away the blessings God gives us in Jesus. He urged the Colossians: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Col. 2:6, 7). Paul urges us to grow tall in the faith by sinking deep roots in the words of Jesus. Just as a tree that has deep roots is difficult to topple, so a Christian with deep roots in God’s Word will be hard to move from the faith. Sinking deep roots in God’s Word will be a special challenge for you Kathy and Geneviève because you will be moving into an area that does not have a true teaching church. Without the Sunday services and Bible studies you have become accustomed to attending here, the temptation will be for you to let the study of God’s Word slide. Don’t let that happen. Instead be an encouragement to one another as you continue to read and meditate on the Bible. The temptation for you Nick, Jordan, and Dylan is to think that after two years of confirmation instruction that you know it all already and don’t need to dig deeper into the Bible. Well you’ve also been eating three meals a day (and more) for the last two years but I doubt if you’re ready to stop. In the same way don’t cut off the food that nourishes your faith. Continue to be faithful in worship and Bible study attendance. It may not seem like that will be a problem for you Nick because at Prep you’ll have the privilege of going to chapel twice a day and to study the Bible as part of the curriculum. Unfortunately some of your classmates will take this privilege for granted. There will be those who skip out on chapel and sleep in on Sundays rather than attend church. Don’t run with that crowd. Find friends who, like you, are eager to grow in the Word so that your desire of becoming a pastor may be realized. And we look forward to the day when you will stand here in this very pulpit to teach us God’s Word! Jordan and Dylan, just because you are not studying to become pastors doesn’t mean that you too can’t share the Word with others too. Start with your siblings who are beginning their confirmation instruction next year. Encourage them to do their memory work by reviewing the material with them. Show them, not just tell them, how important God’s Word is.