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Grace Community Church
The late Francis Schaeffer was a 20th century American Presbyterian theologian. He wrote a number of great books, including a well-known one called “How Then Shall We Live?” In the 1980s, just before his death, Francis Schaeffer was speaking before a number of church leaders and said that there was coming a day in the West that most young people would not recognize the name of Jesus and if they did they would not know the basic facts of his life, ministry, and identity. I think it is possible to take that a step further today, that many in the church today recognize Jesus as someone spiritually important, but we have little cognition of his importance.
In a recent article, Barna Research Group discovered the following information about what Americans believe about Jesus:
-The vast majority of Americans believe Jesus was a real person
-Younger generations are less likely to believe that Jesus is God
-Half of American believe that Jesus committed a sin on earth
-Most American say they’ve made a commitment to Jesus
-Most people are unsure whether good deeds or faith in Jesus will get them to heaven
It is no surprise and it should stir us to do something about the fact that the majority of millennials and Gen-Zr’s are the ones unsure or denying faith in Jesus. This is on the doorstep of the church. I think partially because we’ve created churches full of Jesus fans, but few followers. Hindus believe in Jesus. Muslims believe in Jesus. Almost everyone believes in Jesus. Even the demons believe in Jesus. There’s a tremendous difference between believing in Jesus and putting your faith in him.
It is said that Leonardo da Vinci took a friend to critique his masterpiece of “The Last Supper.” The remark of the friend was, “The most striking part in the painting is the cup.” To which, da Vinci took his brush and wiped out the cup. He said, “Nothing in this painting shall attract more attention than the face of the Master!”
Because Christ is Supreme, nothing should distract us from him. We must get rid of anything that keeps us from glorifying Christ
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him, all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
The book of Colossians was written to combat heresy on the deity of Christ. It was a combination of mysticism, Jewish legalism, and humanism. The core of the teaching was that Jesus was not God but a god. A sort of angel that obtained a ‘secret knowledge’ of faith that enabled him to discover a higher spiritual knowledge. Salvation wasn’t through faith in Christ but through Christ, one could obtain this secret knowledge to earn god-like status themselves. This is why the Apostle Paul wrote the book
There may not be Gnosticism today per se, but this false teaching still exists and is gaining momentum in our country and churches. The key principle in Christianity and why these unbiblical teaches are so dangerous is because our very eternity hangs in the balance of the person and work of Jesus. If Jesus in the flesh was not God, his life, death on the cross, and resurrection is either a sham or for nothing and we are in spiritual and eternal trouble. If he is who the Bible says He is then our lives should be utterly transformed and we should change the way we live with him as Lord. There is no middle ground here.
Jesus is the Revelation of God
Paul tells the Colossian church, “He is the Image of the Invisible God.” The greek here for “image” means “an exact representation and revelation.” Jesus is the full revelation of God. He reveals God to us. That’s why Jesus could say, “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:7). No one else could make such a claim. Either he is who Jesus said he is, or he is was a religious loon.
What Paul is saying in Colossians is two important things. First, it is through Jesus Christ that we can see and learn about the characteristics and attributes of God. God told Moses that no man can see Him and live (Exodus 33). But there is a yearning in the heart of man to come closer and know God more.
“God’s revelation does not need the light of human genius, the polish and strength of human culture, the brilliancy of human thought, the force of human brains to adorn or enforce it. But it does demand the simplicity, docility, humility, and faith of a child’s heart.” E.M. Bounds
Jesus is the glory of God revealed to us. Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. (John 14:9). God is revealed through Christ in his teaching and through his person. The reason this possible is not because Christ was enlightened but because Christ Jesus and God the Father are one of the same.
“Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves” (John 14:11).
6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Phil 2:6-7)
The use of the word “nature” means the outward expression of the inward nature. Christ did not become God because he was God. Jesus the man was the outward expression of his very nature of the eternal God. If we understand this and hold it as truth, what was revealed to you should change everything for you and our community. That God revealed to us this nature through His very own Son, Jesus. Do you believe that?
I believe we’ve lost the meaning of who Jesus is in the church. If we lose the meaning and identity of Jesus here; it will certainly be lost in the world. Our country is more divided today racially, politically, and culturally because we retreated from our Lord as the One who unifies us together. When we turn away from him then, the foundations of marriage, life, truth, and meaning are all subjected to the world’s definitions.
Secondly, the word “image” conveys the idea of a representative. The word image was used by God in created Adam in the Garden. He was made in the image of God. God made Adam represent Him to all of creation. Adam was to be a representative of God’s holiness and character over all the earth. (The Pillar New Testament Commentary: Colossians and Philemon)
2. The Heart of the Gospel: The Supremacy of Christ in Creation and Redemption (1:15–20)
Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image (eikon), in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created human beings in his own image (eikon), in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Gen. 1:26–28)
Jesus is often referred to as “the last Adam.” He represents all authority and righteousness of God to those of us who are unrighteous. In all authority, Jesus has the right to grant eternal life “since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. (John 17:2). In that, Jesus is God’s authority as being judge over all the earth.
Jesus is Over All Creation
[He is] "the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him, all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17)
Jehovah’s Witnesses and other heretics like Todd White, Rob Bell, and Bill Johnson teach that this is evidence that Christ was created in his being. However, this isn’t what the term “firstborn” is representing.
a. Firstborn can mean rank or chronology in birth order
b. Firstborn can also mean position of supremacy or rank.
The second meaning is what Paul is using here. Christ was not the firstborn of persons in birth order, but he was and is firstborn in priority and supremacy. Christ is not the first king on earth, but he is the more exalted king. Right now he sits on at the right hand of the Father. He is the firstborn over all creation and by him, all things are created. Christ cannot be the first created and the creator of “all things.” This statement contradicts itself.
In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was at the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1-3)
English Standard Version Chapter 8
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid and went out of the temple. (John 8:58-59)
1. Because Christ created all things, including us, we should always give thanks and honor to him.
We honor Christ with our lives through being righteous ambassadors for him. We honor Christ in serving others in his name. We honor Christ by the giving of our tithes. In all things, we recognize He is Lord over all our life.
2. Because Christ created all things, including us, we should seek to fulfill his purpose in our lives.
Christ created you for a purpose.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10).
Many Christians hold back the best of their life and live for themselves, never discovering the delight of living a life rich in God. They spend their days striving for something greater and never considering what God’s will for their life is supposed to be. They cry, “God I want your blessings!” But never really desire the things of God in the first place. They want blessings, but they want it their way.
3. Because Christ is the creator of all things, including us, we should seek to live in his will for our lives.
Do you believe that God our creator has the best purposes for us and knows the best for us in everything? We should seek his help and will in everything, including knowing truth, wisdom, freedom from sin, education, parenting, our marriage, and everything. Isn’t the creator the one who knows the created the best?
Some years ago, a South American company purchased a fine printing press from a company. After it had been assembled, it would not work properly. The company contacted the manufacturer who sent a young man to fix the problem. When the young man arrived, the company called back to the manufacturer and asked to send someone else. They wanted someone experience. The manufacturer told the company, “He made the machine, he can fix it!”
Jesus is the Object of Worship from Creation
all things have been created through him and for him (Col 1:16)
Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Not only is Christ eternal and the one who created all things. Christ is also the sustainer of all creation. When Paul says, “In him, all things hold together” (v17) it is in a perfect tense, which tells us he is continually holding things.
On December 17, 1998, a team of astrophysicists announced that through their research of supernovas, they’ve found that the universe was not only expanding but accelerating. This is someone contradictory to the prominent second law of thermodynamics. It was generally accepted that the universe was slowing down. Now scientists were finding the opposites.
They explained that behind this acceleration is what is called “dark matter” and “dark energy.” What’s more, scientists tell us that 95 percent of the universe is made up of dark matter and dark energy. Let me say that again, everything we call scientific knowledge is based on 5 percent of what is known. The other 95 percent is hidden from us (Michael Guillen, Amazing Truths, Zondervan)
Death is no less common and no less familiar than gravity. Yet we rely on people like Steven Hawking or celebrities like Joaquin Phoenix to convince us that when we take our last breath, we just shut down like an old computer. People who are tremendously smart, but lack any understanding because they're basing their entire existence on 95% blindness.
Christianity, which makes us one-third of the world’s population, tells us something far greater and far different. There is a life after death that is far greater and marvelous than we can ever ask or think. How can we know this? Because the One who created all things, including the dark matter came to us and verifiably demonstrated to us his origin and authority. Did you ever stop to think that Jesus made a verifiable claim about his death and resurrection? If he was a charlatan, he would have said, “I will spiritually rise again on the third day.” But he didn’t say that. He made it clear that he would bodily rise on the third day
One of the most astonishing discoveries astrophysicists made is the fact that if gravity were just 0.000000000001 (one trillionth of 1) percent stronger, our universe would have reversed course long ago and collapsed. Likewise, if gravity were 0.000000000001 weaker, our universe would have flown apart. Have you ever considered the myriad of forces at work that holds our universe together? Sir Frederick Hoyle said that the chances of all the forces and biomaterials coming together to form our world is comparable to a tornado sweeping through a junkyard and assembling from the scrap-metal a perfectly functioning 747.
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. (Hebrews 1:3)
Jesus is The Head of the Church
And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:18-20)
The head or the brain is what directs every part of the body. It is the control center. The church is connected to Christ Jesus in a similar way. When a body no longer listens to the head, there is a disease that is affecting the rest of the body. The church is described as the body of Christ. That means we are all connected
I think remembering that the church is not merely a gathering place to worship Jesus (that’s an important function), but that Jesus is the head of our church should give us pause to our purpose and how we approach our worship. Truly following Jesus has been countercultural since the birth of the church. Christians have always needed to stand up against the spirit of the age. Christians have always needed to guard against false or weak teaching about Christ and our faith in Him. It is not something we should take lightly.
What is should be even more clear today is that if Christ is who the Bible says He is, then we are left with a life-transforming revelation before us. And let me say that this is not only for someone who may be recently hearing the gospel. This is a powerful reminder for all of us that have lived in the faith for a while. The revelation (or reminder) of the person and work of Jesus should motivate us and embolden us as believers to share his message at every opportunity. It should strengthen us to truly take the narrow road and fix our gaze on the reward that awaits the faithful.
The Gospel should change the way we view our marriage, how we raise our children, how we spend our money, how we live in society, how we treat our neighbors. The question is, will you be bold enough to accept Christ’s call?
G.K. Chesterton was right when he said, “The problem with Christianity is not that is has been tried and found wanting, but that is has been found difficult and left untried.” (Ravi Zacharias, Why Jesus?, (Fatih Words Publishers). The message of Jesus is beautiful and life-changing. If you have not already discovered this for yourself, I pray you to discover it now. Spirituality is not good enough. Science is incomplete. Politics leave us divided. The Cross is completely sufficient, complete, and liberating. The question is, will you come and follow?
Take it to the Cross