The Preeminence of Christ
Colossians 1, beginning in verse 15.
Verse 15 begins with the word "he", and that word "he" modifies the person of Jesus Christ...
Which is listed back up there in verse 7...
And referred to in verse 13 as Godís "son he loves".
So when it says "he", Iím going to use the name it modifies, the name of Jesus.
So verse 15: Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn overall creation:
For by Jesus 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 Jesus and for Jesus: and Jesus is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead;
So that in everything Jesus might have supremacy.
For God was pleased to have all Jesusí fullness dwell in Jesus.
And through Jesus to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your mind because of your evil behavior.
But now he has reconciled to you by Christís physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.
>This is one of the two greatest passages of scripture in all the NT on the person of Christ.
Now all of the Bible is about him, and all of the NT is especially about him.
And we see him on every page and in every verse.
But there are two great Christological texts.
One is Philippians 2, where we see Jesus who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God...
But made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant and became obedient to death...
Even death on a cross. Therefore God exalted him to the highest place.
And given him a name which is above every name...that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow...
And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord."
Thatís one of the great NT texts on the person of Jesus Christ.
>But the text that Iíve read for you is the other.
Which is the best?
Iíll let you debate that.
And I remind you that the Christian faith centers around and comes out of the person of Jesus Christ.
Weíre not about singing songs...
Weíre not about preaching sermons...
We are about adoring and loving and living for the person of Jesus Christ.
>Now in this passage of scripture the key word is found in verse 18.
And that key word is the word "supremacy".
It says there in verse 18: that in everything he might have the supremacy.
Now let me tell you the way most people read that.
Most people read that to say, "that in all things he might have prominence."
For you see, thatís the way most Christians live.
It would be wrong for me to say that Jesus means nothing to most Christians.
Iíve heard some preachers say that, but I do not believe that.
I do not believe that Jesus means nothing or even little to most Christians.
I really believe that in the life of most Christians Jesus is very prominent.
But you see, prominence and supremacy are not the same thing.
>If you say that Jesus is prominent in your life, that means he plays a very important part in your life.
But if Jesus is only prominent in your life, then there might be something or someone else...
That would have equal prominence in your life.
For example, Jesus could be prominent in your life, but your job be equally as prominent as he is.
Your job could be just as important to you as Jesus is.
Or your family could be just as important to you as Jesus is.
Or sports could be just as important to you as Jesus is.
And so I do not believe that Jesus plays a very little or no part in the life of Christians.
I believe that in the life of most Christians Jesus really is a prominent part of their life.
>But you see the word "supremacy" doesnít mean to be prominent.
The word "supremacy" means to be first in rank or influence.
If Jesus is prominent in your life, there might be other things that would be just as prominent.
But if Jesus is supreme in your life, friends, there is nothing that holds an equal place or rank or influence...
In your life compared to him.
It means that Jesus Christ is absolutely in first place in your heart.
He is not equal with anything or everything.
He is first in your life.
>Now I believe that Jesus Christ wants to be in the heart and life of every person.
But he does not want to just be in your life to have some measure of influence.
He does not just want to be prominent in your life.
It is the desire of Jesus Christ to have supremacy, to have first place in your heart.
Now Paul shows four areas where Jesus is indisputably supreme.
He has no peer...there is not anyone else like him.
He holds first place.
And on the basis of the fact that Jesus is supreme in these four areas...
Paul draws a conclusion that on the basis of his supremacy in these areas...
Then Jesus ought to have supremacy in our life.
>One of the things that was going on in Colosse was what is called the gnostic heresy.
And the gnostic heresy had a very low view of Jesus.
They did not see Jesus as fully divine God...
But rather they saw him as something coming from God.
And that was part of the gnostic heresy, that Jesus was just one of several things or persons from the person of God.
And Paul says, "No. Jesus is just not one of a few or even one of many.
Jesus Christ is supreme...he is first in rank, first in influence.
He has no peer...there is none greater than he...
He is the preeminent son of God.
>Now notice four areas.
First of all, Paul tells us that Jesus is supreme in his character.
Look in verse 15.
Two things are said here about Jesus in his person.
First of all, it says: Jesus is the image of the invisible God.
Now when the Bible says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God...
It could mean that he is in the likeness of God.
Because sometimes the word "image" is used to mean likeness.
But if that is the meaning here, and it could well be the meaning...
If it is the meaning, you must understand that it means an exact image, not just close similarity.
For example, you know our two daughters.
Most folks would say, "Jouana looks like Brenda and Janette looks like Bro. Joe."
So you ought to pray for Janette a lot more than you do Jouana because she looks like me.
Now sheís not exactly like me...I outweigh her by a lot.
My hair is a lot whiter than hers...weíre about the same height now.
But she is a likeness of me...but she is not an exact likeness of me.
>When the Bible says that Jesus is in the image of God...
It doesnít mean he is a poor imitation of God.
It doesnít even mean he is a good imitation of God.
It means he is the exact image of God.
When you see him, you see God.
Jesus affirmed that himself.
Jesus said, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father."
And so if thatís what it means, if it means likeness, it means exact likeness.
And folks, I want to tell you, thereís not any other human being you could say that of.
>Now I have known some godly men.
Iíve known some wonderful Christian men.
I look out there and I see some wonderful Christian men.
There are some men here that I have so much confidence in.
There are some men here that I would trust with anything and everything I have...
Because I can see Jesus Christ in your life.
But I say to you there is not anyone here who is the exact likeness of God...
Because all of us have dirty pages in our life.
All of us have feet that are made of clay.
All of us have things in our life that we would not get on top of the building and shout out about.
Jesus lives in us.
He is reproducing himself through us...
But we cannot say we have arrived.
We are not the exact likeness of God.
>The word "image" may mean visible expression.
It may mean visible expression.
When it says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God...
It means that Jesus is the visible expression of the invisible God.
>Sometimes little boys and girls ask me, "Bro. Joe, what does God look like?"
Well I can tell you he looks like Jesus because Jesus is the visible expression of the invisible God.
John says, "In the beginning was the word; and the word was with God, and the word was God."
And he goes on to say, "and the word became flesh and dwelt (or lived) among us."
Jesus Christ is the exact likeness of God.
But more than that, Jesus Christ is the visible expression of the invisible God.
Friends, let it be settled once for all.
Jesus Christ is God.
He is not a God...he is not like God...
He is not just a friend of God...
Jesus Christ is God.
And thatís what verse 15 says.
He is the image of God.
>But notice a second thing it says there in verse 15.
It says he is the "firstborn over all creation."
Now that may refer to time.
If it refers to time that means that before anything was created Jesus was already existing.
You see, the gnostics in Colosse were saying, "Jesus came along somewhere on down the line."
That there was God and then there were angels, and then there was creation.
And somewhere way down the line like some little stepchild Jesus stepped on the scene.
Paul says, "Oh no...he is the firstborn of all creation."
And if that refers to time, it means that while everything else was being created...
Jesus was already in existence.
John 1 again says, "In the beginning was the word."
That expression "in the beginning" is literally "at beginning".
The gnostics said, "Oh, there were many beginnings.
God began here, and then he began again, and then he began again and again..."
And so when John says, "in the beginning", which beginning was he talking about?
Well, thatís why John just says, "at beginning".
Because John in his gospel also was dealing with this gnostic heresy.
Which beginning are you talking about?
And John would say, "just pick one."
You pick any beginning you want to pick and at any beginning you pick Jesus Christ was already existing.
He always has been...he always will be...
He is the eternal Christ...
He did not begin at Bethlehem...
He did not end at Calvary...
You pick any beginning you want to pick.
He already was...
Any ending you want to pick, he always will be.
Heís the eternal Christ.
>But it may be that this expression, "firstborn over all creation" doesnít refer to time as much as it does to rank.
And if it means rank, then it means as the firstborn of every creature...
It means that he is over all creation.
He is Lord of all creation.
Which does it mean?
I tell you it means all of it.
It means that Jesus Christ is the exact likeness of God.
He is the visible expression of the invisible God.
It means that he was in existence before any beginning of any creation.
And it means that he is Lord of all.
I tell you, he is supreme in his character.
Thereís not anybody else like him.
>Notice a second thing Paul says.
Not only that Jesus is supreme in character, but he is supreme in creation.
Notice in verses 16 and 17 three little phrases.
First of all it says in verse 16, for by him (by Jesus) all things were created.
Jesus Christ is the creator.
You say, "Well, Bro. Joe, I thought God the Father was creator."
No sir and no maíam.
Jesus Christ is the Creator.
John says: in the beginning was the word, the word was with God and the word was God. All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.
Before Jesus Christ took upon himself human form, he was the eternal Christ of eternity past...
And it is Christ who is the creator of all things.
"For by him", Paul says.
That means he is the source of all creation and it doesnít matter whether they are spiritual things or physical things.
It doesnít matter if youíre talking about the sun or the moon or the stars...
Or the planet or the solar systems or dogs or cats...
Or snakes or orangutans or angels or demons or anything else.
He says, "By Jesus all things were created."
Heís the source of creation.
>But not only is he the source of creation, he is the sovereign of creation.
Look what verse 16 says: 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 notice this) and for him.
He created all things by himself for himself.
You know what that means?
It means heís the sovereign over creation.
It means it belongs to him.
It doesnít belong to anybody else but him.
This world doesnít belong to the devil.
This world doesnít belong to demons.
This world doesnít belong to Baptists.
This world belongs to Jesus. Itís his.
The liquor crowd is intruders.
The abortion crowd is intruders.
The pornography crowd is intruders.
This world doesnít belong to them.
Jesus didnít create the world for the baby butchers.
Jesus didnít create the world for the pornographic people.
Jesus didnít create the world for the child molesters and child abusers.
Jesus created the world by himself for himself.
It belongs to him.
Heís the sovereign of creation.
And thatís why the psalmist said, "Why do the heathen rage? He that sits in the heaven laughs at them."
Do you think God sits up at night wondering how in this world heís gonna be able to straighten things out?
Do you suppose Jesus has to take an aspirin at night to go to bed?
Do you think Jesus gets Excedrin headache #12 when he looks down and sees whatís going on?
Do you think that Jesus has to drink Maalox to get over the ulcers of frustration...
And fret and worry because of the condition of this world?
I see folks today that are wringing their hands and just eaten up with frustration...
Because of the mess this world is in.
But folks, I want to tell you, donít worry about it.
Jesus is sovereign over creation.
He made it...it belongs to him...
And when heís good and ready heíll sweep out the house, amen?
Heís the sovereign of creation.
>But notice not only that heís the source of creation and the sovereign of creation...
He is the sustainer of creation.
It says there in verse 17: and he is before all things and in him all things hold together.
What holds the world together?
What holds the universe together?
You can go out on a clear night and there will be the big dipper.
There will be the little dipper...the lion...the lad...
All that is up there.
You can see it.
You can see the Milky Way.
You can see the sun, the moon, the stars, the planets.
You can see all of that stuff.
Well what keeps them from playing hopscotch with each other?
And yet at the same time they are all moving.
What keeps them from falling out of the sky?
What keeps the big dipper from saying to the little dipper...
"I want to be where you are...letís swap places."
What keeps everything in the right order?
Oh we like to talk about gravity and aerodynamics and thermodynamics and the buoyancy of space.
But I tell you, the Bible tells us in the book of Hebrews that he holds all things in place by the word of his power.
And were it not for the word of God, the word of our Lord Jesus...
The whole creation would be in chaos.
He made it by himself, for himself, and heís the one that holds it together.
That means I donít have to stay up at night wondering about some nut somewhere...
With a button to push to destroy the world.
>I want to tell you this world is not going to come to an end because of some nut at some button...
Because Jesus is the one who holds it together.
He is preeminent in his character.
He is preeminent in creation.
>But notice a third area.
Paul says Jesus is supreme in the church.
In verses 18 and 19, it says:
And he (Jesus) is the head of the body, the church.
Now understand that.
Jesus is the head of the church.
Jesus has supremacy in the church.
Jesus is first in the church.
The church doesnít belong to the pastor.
The church doesnít belong to the deacons...
And the church doesnít belong to the people.
I get so tired of hearing that we Baptists are democratic folks.
No weíre not...weíre a theocratic folk.
It is not us...it is God.
Jesus is the head of the church.
And if we do anything Jesus doesnít like, friend, bless God, he will let us know about it.
Jesus is the head of the church.
He is supreme in the church and he has a right to be.
>First of all, he is responsible for its origin.
It says there in verse 18: Jesus is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning.
Jesus is the beginning. What does that mean?
The beginning of what?
Well what is the context of the verse? The church.
Jesus is the beginning of the church.
Heís the origin of the church.
Where did the church come from?
It came out of the heart of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, "Who do men say that I am?"
And they said, "Well some say that you are John the Baptist or Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
And Jesus said, "But who do you say that I am?"
And Simon Peter answered and said, "Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God."
And Jesus said, "Upon that church I will build my church."
Folks I want to tell you, there may be some men that started the Moose Club...
And some that started the Goose Club and somebody started the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts...
And somebody founded the Masonic Lodge and the Eastern Star...
But I tell you, the church came into existence because of Jesus Christ.
He is responsible for its very origin.
Therefore, he has a right to supremacy.
>But not only is he responsible for the origin of the church...
He is responsible for the operation of the church.
Look there in verse 18: He is the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead.
What is that talking about?
That is talking about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Every time I stand and preach the word of God I expect people to come.
Whether it is Sunday morning or Sunday night or Wednesday night.
When I give an invitation, I expect people to come forward.
Not because of the eloquence of the sermon, not because of the ability of the preacher...
But I expect people to come because of the presence of the resurrected son of God.
You see, folks are not moved by our singing.
Folks are not moved by our preaching.
Folks are moved by the spirit of God and operating under the power of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.
Folks, if Jesus were dead, no song could move anybody.
If Jesus were dead, no sermon could move anybody.
But because Jesus is alive, Jesus has conquered sin, hell, death and the grave.
Because he lives, bless God, I expect things to happen in the house of God.
>Jesus has a right to supremacy in the church because heís responsible for its origin.
Heís responsible for its operation.
But thirdly, heís also responsible for its object of worship.
Look with me if you will in Colossians chapter 1 again and look down in verse 19:
For God was pleased (in him, in Jesus) to have all his fullness dwell in him.
The Bible says that in him the fullness of the godhead dwells bodily.
Jesus is the fullness of the godhead bodily.
We come and sing about Jesus.
We come and worship Jesus.
We love Jesus...we adore Jesus.
>One last thing.
Not only does Jesus have supremacy in his character...
And supremacy in creation...
And supremacy in the church...
He also has supremacy in conversion.
And thatís what verses 20, 21 and 22 are all about.
Notice that Jesusí supremacy in conversion is seen in the peace that he provides in verse 20:
By making peace.
By making peace.
(Verse 21) Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your mind because of your evil behavior, but now Jesus has reconciled you.
You see, friends, there was a day when you and I were enemies of God.
Even though when we were growing up as sweet little boys and girls...
And our grandmothers told us how sweet we were and how pretty we were and how cute we were...
In our natural selves we were the enemies of God.
We were separated from God...
We were alienated from God...
We were estranged from God...
We were at war with God...
We were the enemies of God.
And thereís not anybody that could have done anything about that.
As much as your mother loves you, she could not reconcile you to God.
As much as your daddy loves you, your daddy could not reconcile you to God.
As much as your Sunday school teacher may have loved you, your SS teacher cannot reconcile you to God.
But thank God, Jesus came and he has reconciled us to God.
He made peace...joined together...
Jesus Christ put the holy hand of the father in one hand...
And the sinful hand of man in the other hand...
And has joined us together.
And Iím no longer at war with God.
Iím at peace with God.
Iím no longer the enemy of God.
Iím the friend of God.
Iím no longer separated from God.
Iím united with God because Jesus has provided peace for me.
>But not only is his supremacy in conversion seen in the peace that he provides...
But also in the price that he paid.
It says there in verse 20: by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
(Verse 22) Christís physical body through death.
How did Jesus make peace for me?
Did he wave a magic wand?
Did he sprinkle pixie dust?
No, friends. He did it by going to the cross.
I could never have been at peace with God had Jesus not shed his blood for me.
Iím not saved by his miraculous power.
Iím not saved because he walked on the water.
Iím not saved because he healed the sick.
Iím not saved because he was raised from the dead.
I am saved because Jesus Christ died upon the cross for my sins.
It was at the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away.
Thank God for the cross.
>But his supremacy in conversion is not seen in the peace that he provides and the price that he paid...
But in the presentation he promises.
Look in verse 22: by Christís physical body through death, to present you holy in his sight without blemish and free from accusation.
One day you and I are going to be presented to the father.
Jesus Christ shall present us.
He is the groom and we are the bride.
>Someone told me this week that their wife had all through these years had a terrible, terrible complex...
Because when he first married her years ago his mother and daddy rejected her.
His bride was rejected by his parents.
What a terrible thing.
I canít imagine anything more heart-wrenching than that for a man to go up to his daddy and say...
"Daddy, Iíve met the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with...
I love her and here she is."
And the daddy to say, "Well I donít think sheís so hot...I donít care anything about her...
As a matter of fact, I donít want you to marry her."
Thatís a sad, sad thing in a personís life.
>Well when you think about how sorry we are and how low down we are and how ungodly we are...
How in this world could Jesus Christ ever present us to the father and the father say...
"Son, I like that bride...Oh, youíve done so well...I tell you, sheís gonna make you a great wife."
How could he ever say that about us?
Because when Jesus presents us to the father, weíre going to be holy and without blemish and free from accusation.
The word "holy" means pure, perfect, upright, morally blameless.
Did you ever think you could be that?
I have news for you.
In your own strength you canít.
The bride canít make herself perfect.
The bride canít make herself morally upright.
But I want to tell you, the groom can do it for the bride because Jesus is our groom.
He is the one that we will wed at the marriage of the Lamb.
And when he presents us to the Father, weíll be holy, perfect, pure, upright and blameless.
>And then the phrase "without blemish".
It is a picture of one whose life has been stained deeply by sin.
A stain that no one can get out.
When I think how spotted and blemished I am.
And yet, when Jesus presents me to the Father without spot...without blemish...
Unblamable in his sight.
>And then he says "and free from accusation."
You know what that means?
It means unaccused.
You know what Satan is?
Heís an accuser of the brethren.
Every once in a while somebody will come to me and they will accuse a Christian of certain things.
You are never more like the devil than when you are accusing your brothers or your sisters.
The devil is an accuser...Always accusing.
But when we are presented to the father, no one shall accuse us...
Because we will be free from any legal charges.
Thatís what "free from accusation" means.
Who in the world could take an ungodly sinner and make them holy?
Who in the world could take one whose life is stained by sin and make them without blemish?
Who in the world could take one who is guilty and clear them and free them of all accusation and legal charges?
His name is Jesus.
Paul says, "Jesus, a lessor emanation from the Father...
Jesus, just a little shot with a lot of big shots ahead of him."
Oh no...Jesus ranks first.
He has first place in character.
Thereís nobody like him...in creation.
Nobody like him...in the church.
Nobody like him...in conversion.
Nobody like him.
That in all things Jesus might have supremacy.
>I ask you tonight, "Does Jesus have supremacy in your life?"
Would you bow your heads...