Who is it that you worship? To whom do you offer your covenantal allegiance? Of course, most of us would answer either God or Jesus or both. Certainly, these are unquestionably correct responses. But the question that begs to be asked is, which Jesus or which God do you worship? For today, we live in a time when the Godhead is being redefined and reconstructed. I have heard a term in the last couple of years that concerns me and that is when someone says they are “deconstructing” their faith. If it is true faith in the Lord Jesus, there is no reason for deconstruction. And the pure message and truth of Jesus the Son of God needs no reconstructing either. In this Easter season, it is imperative that we view the risen Christ in all His supremacy, glory, and preeminence. We must keep the truth of Christ’s exalted position ever before us, so that false notions have no place in our lives and minds.
Paul writes a letter to the church at Colossae (The Letter to the Colossians), dealing with this subject, because they had those who had come in with a “new” and “better” message to offer the Colossians. These “Gnostics” claimed to have a knowledge that was apart from Jesus Christ. They offered prescribed rituals, worshipping of angels, the delighting in what was in essence false humility, and reducing their religious exercise to the observing of rules and regulations (“do not handle, do not taste, do not touch”).
In the hour in which we live (and I don’t just mean recent history), we have similar issues that are being promoted by those who would dilute the pure message of Jesus the Preeminent Christ. Much like the church of yesteryear, we today still deal with the false message of pluralism. Pluralism teaches that all ways and all religious endeavors lead to God. The false teachers of Colossae were saying that Jesus was merely one among many intermediaries and that however great He might be, He was only a partial revelation of God. The message they were communicating is that all religions are true, but one “religion” is as good as another.
Another problem they (The church at Colossae) dealt with is what we call “syncretism.” Syncretism is the reshaping of Christian beliefs and practices through cultural accommodation so that they consciously or unconsciously blend with those of the dominant culture. Syncretism of the Christian gospel occurs when critical or basic elements of the gospel are replaced by religious elements from the host culture. And nothing could be more basic and central to the Christian faith than the clear, unadulterated message of the preeminent Christ. Thus the letter from Paul to this church to present them the truth. We must note here the Holy Spirit did not inspire the apostle Paul to write this letter solely for the Colossians, but as the God-breathed word of God, it is also applicable to us.
Therefore, as the old song says, “Let’s talk about Jesus.” The gospel message isn’t complete unless it includes a declaration that Jesus is the personification of God the Father. Philip asked Jesus to “show us the Father.” Jesus’ reply was clear and concise. “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” It is interesting to note that in Genesis we read that God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…”, and that Jesus the human was the ultimate fulfillment of that. Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus was the “exact representation of God’s nature.” The word used in that verse for “image” is the word “eikon.” It is obvious that we get our word “icon” from this word. In the computer world, we click on an icon on our computer screen and that launches whatever software the icon represents. In a sense, Jesus launched God the Father into the world upon His arrival. I must insert a question here many of you have heard me ask before. When you are clicked on, what is it that people get; what do you launch into the world? Jesus the Son of Man makes the invisible God the Father real. If we want to know the Father, then let us observe the God the Son.
Jesus is not only the personification of God the Father, but He is the Creator of all things. Paul writes to the Colossians that by Him all things were created, in heaven and earth, both visible and invisible. He makes it clear when he sums up, “all things were created through Him and for Him.” This echoes what the apostle John wrote in his gospel, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” Note that at least twice it is stated that all things were created for Him. I know that we are tempted to adopt an entitlement mentality that causes us to lean towards anger and frustration when God doesn’t give us or do for us what we expect. But when we remember He didn’t create the world for us, but rather for Him, then we realize we have no right or basis for complaining about God’s action or inaction towards us. When we consider what state we were in when Jesus chose us and redeemed us, we will certainly realize to now make demands of God is ludicrous. The other absurdity in this is when we begin to worship the creation, rather than the Creator who made it.
Another thing we observe about the Lord Jesus is that He is the sustainer of all that exists. Paul writes in Colossians that “in Him all things hold together.” This may be why our enemy works so hard at discrediting and disqualifying the effect of Jesus on our lives, because if we will believe the lies of the devil, then he can cause our lives to fall apart. But Jesus is definitely the adhesive that causes everything, including creation, to “hold together.” In the Amplified version, that verse is worded this way: “And He Himself existed before all things, and in Him all things consist (cohere, are held together).” The writer of Hebrews reinforces this by writing “The Son is…upholding all things by the word of His power…” So, we see that Jesus is involved in the beginning of creation – the end of creation – and it is Him who holds creation together.
Since Jesus is the personification of God the Father and since He is the creator and sustainer of all things, God the Father has made Him to be Head over the church. Recognizing the body is the servant to the Head and is powerless without Him, we give our attention to exalting His name as He so deserves. Without the Head, we the church have no direction, no purpose, and no ability to accomplish the task we were born for. We the modern church need to examine ourselves to determine if we are truly holding onto the Head. Maybe we need to do less voting and more seeking of His will and purpose. Paul exhorted the Colossians to not allow anyone to cheat them out of their reward by ceasing to hold fast to the Head of the church, the preeminent Christ who is exalted above all.
Colossians 1:18 says that “… 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.” He is the beginning and He is the firstborn that in all things He might be exalted above all. It is at this point that Christ becomes the source of a new humanity, a new creation. In the webster’s 1828 dictionary the word “preeminent” simply means “to be first.” Once again, John tells us that “In the beginning was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
And it was through the Word who was in the beginning that the entire fulness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell (1:19). All that God is dwells in the Son. There is no reason to reduce the importance or eminent importance of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Paul repeats himself in chapter 2 and verse 9 when he writes, “For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily…”
What must we do? First of all, we must embrace or continue to embrace the Scripture as the standard of living. The Bible says to obtain the truth and do not sell it. Simply put, we do not divert from the truth and we don’t let go of it for any reason. If we are to truly know God, we will only do so by studying Him in His revealed word. If you want to know if the still small voice you are sensing in your inner being is God or not, then study the Scripture He has gifted us. If you read someone’s words enough, you begin to recognize when they are speaking and when they are not.
Secondly, we must be on guard against teachings and theologies that seem to diminish the deity and exaltation of Jesus. Anytime we become the focus of our faith to the exclusion of Jesus being the focus, we must call a foul and make the adjustments. Similarly to above, we must be on guard against those voices who denigrate the validity of the Bible and attempt to preach their opinion, rather than the unvarnished word of God.
Thirdly, we must maintain fellowship and relationships in the Lord’s church. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be in a “traditional” church building each Sunday, but “do not neglect the assembling of yourselves together” still applies. Whether you are a part of a church (in the traditional sense), a home group that meets on some regularity, or if you are simply a part of 2 or 3 couples who meet together on Friday nights for the purpose of studying the Scripture and encouraging one another, the issue is people, not church buildings. I must say we need not buy into the philosophy of some that says we don’t need to gather together at all. Not only is that unbiblical, but harmful to our Christian walk.
And finally, we must make room for Jesus to be preeminent in every area of our lives. We must not limit Jesus to our “Christian” life and marginalize Him out of the “secular” areas of our lives. If you are born from above by the Spirit of God, there are no “secular” areas of your life. Jesus is just as much interested in what you put your hand to vocationally as He is what you do in Sunday School. One is not greater than the other, but all of our lives come under the Lordship of Jesus.
Paul concludes this section in his letter with the words “if indeed.” At first glance, this might seem like Paul is expressing doubt concerning their ability to continue in their faith. The ESV Study Bible offers this observation.
The form of this phrase in the Greek indicates that Paul fully expects that the Colossian believers will continue in the faith; no doubt is expressed. ESV Study Bible Notes
Paul wanted the Colossians to build their house on the solid foundation of truth and not the shifting sands of false teaching. ESV Study Bible Notes
“If indeed” is not an expression of doubt but of confidence. Paul is confident the Colossians will not deny their faith. He writes in chapter 2, verse 5 that he rejoices in the firmness of their faith. So, as he encouraged them, so I encourage each one of us to continue strong in the faith, grounded in the truth of God and steadfast in our faith and practice.
ROMANS 11:36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen