Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Jesus' role in creation gives meaning and purpose to our lives.

Our Incomparable Christ--Creation; Col 1:15-20; 11-22-15; 1st of 4.

Something I’ve been doing the last few years is to in-vite people to join me in giving a message. At the end of my talk I will invite you to share your insights or questions that come out of what I’ve said. I’m not asking you to preach, but I’m inviting your brief thoughts to clarify or expand on what I’ve said, or to ask questions.

I’m excited about this series of messages. I want to focus on the most important subject in the universe—Jesus Christ. We may think we know him. We may be so familiar with information and stories about him that we lose perspec-tive on how great he really is. We know him as our Savior and Friend, but we may fail to see his awesome greatness.

I was going to title this series “Our Incredible Christ,” but “incredible” literally means not able to be believed. We can surely believe in Christ, so I called it “Our Incomparable Christ.” Jesus Christ is unique. There is no one else like him. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one compares to him. So it is “Our Incomparable Christ.”

We’ll focus on one of my most favorite passages in all of Scripture: Colossians 1:15-20. If you have a Bible, I encourage you to follow along. This paragraph is perhaps the greatest description of Christ in the whole Bible. It is a wonderful prose poem lauding his greatness. It was written by the Apostle Paul to the Christians at Colossae. They were being pressured to believe that they needed to go beyond what they had been taught and to go to “deeper things,” secret things that were revealed only to the spiritual elite. But Paul is saying there are no deeper things. Christ is the greatest, Christ is the deepest, Christ is fully sufficient. The truth about Christ is all you need. That is all there is when it comes to spiritual reality. Over the next four services we will look at this passage in terms of creation, the incarnation, the crucifixion, and the resurrection. In each case we’ll see how Christ is fully unique and incomparable.

Our text begins, “He is the image of the invisible God.” That is, Christ is the exact and visible representation of God. God is invisible, but in Christ we see who God is, what God is like, and what God does. Who is God? He is the Creator and Redeemer. What is God like? He is a reconciling God, offering mercy and love. And what does God do? He sends his only Son to rescue people and restore them to a relationship with God.

People are made in God’s image too, but we have spoiled or tarnished that image through our selfishness and sin. Christ is the only adequate likeness of what God is really like. And we see in him what God intended for humans—“to be renewed in knowledge in the image of [our] Creator” (Col 3:10). So he is “the image of the invisible God.”

“He is the firstborn over all creation” (Col. 1:15). The title “Firstborn” doesn’t mean he was the first one to be born when God started creating things. Christ has always existed, as God has always existed. He wasn’t born at creation. He was in fact the agent of creation. In the Old Testament “firstborn” indicates one’s status. The firstborn was considered superior to all the others. They were first in status. So Christ is before all created things in time and in supremacy. He outranks all other persons and things. He is the firstborn.

“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” (1:16). There are three key prepositions here. Literally it says all things were created in him, through him, and for him. We usually think of God the Father as the prime mover in creation, but this text is saying Christ is the sphere in which creation happens. He is the agent through which creation happens. And he is the goal or the purpose of creation. He is the reason for creation. Why did God create? For himself. All things were created “for Christ.” We’ll come back to that, but it’s a key to understanding why we are here.

The text goes on: “In him all things hold together” (1:17). David Garland says Jesus is the divine glue that keeps the universe going. He is the spiritual gravity that holds all creation together. He didn’t create it and then walk away. He didn’t wind up the clock and then set it on the shelf and leave it. He is constantly involved maintaining and sustaining the whole creation. It’s an active process. As H.C.G. Moule put it: “He keeps the cosmos from becoming a chaos.”

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