There is good news for those who trust in Jesus Christ. In spite of our ongoing tendency to contribute to the world falling apart (and we make daily contributions), the Lord holds all things together. He holds us together, and more specifically he holds his Church together.
Sermon notes and scripture links can be found here.
There’s an old Yiddish saying that goes, “Man plans and God laughs.” I’m sure He’s gotten many good chuckles over the course of my life. Don’t laugh. He’s gotten many over the course of yours too. Proverbs 19:21 says it like this, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” What that says is that if we can step back and take a look at the big picture, all of the plans that start in the heart of humans will eventually fall apart because only God’s plans last.
It doesn’t take us long to figure out that in this life things fall apart. I don’t believe that any toys that my kids got for Christmas that had lots of tiny little parts even lasted even a week before some of the parts were lost. It doesn’t take long after you first buy a car to realize that cars fall apart, and you better find a mechanic you can trust. It’s not long before we recognize that our bodies fall apart and that in the end none of us makes it out of this life alive.
But you know that for those who personally know the Lord Jesus Christ we have good news. That’s because in spite of our ongoing tendency to contribute to the world falling apart (and we make daily contributions), the Lord holds all things together. He holds us together, and more specifically he holds his Church together. He’s got a vested interest. You see he paid for the Church with his own life-blood on the cross. Last week we looked at Colossians the first chapter and heard that He holds all things in the universe, and that includes our own personal universe, together. This morning we will look at how he holds the Church together.
Jesus is the Head of the Church
Paul uses the example of a human body to describe the Lord’s relationship to his people. The connection that a person’s head has to the rest of his body is fundamental. Without the head the body is dead. So then as the head of the body, Jesus is life giving to his people – the Church.
The head of the body is the center for giving directions, for processing thoughts, for understanding, for feeling. It directs the rest of the body in all these things. Likewise, the Church, God’s people, in order to properly function and live as God created us and redeemed us are dependent on Jesus as our leader. Any other source of direction leads to brokenness, bankruptcy of the soul and invariably destruction – in other words things falling apart.
Jesus governs his church. He is the head dude. Now that includes the local church. It is possible for him to be the true leader of this church. In fact, not only is it possible, unless he is the leader of the this church, we will run off on under our own rule and our own ways and in the end we will worship ourselves and our life and our programs and our people instead of the Lord Jesus. Instead of being full of the Spirit of Christ we will be full of ourselves. The only future that our church has without the Lord’s plans being the ones that are followed is for it to fall apart. Remember that verse 17 of Colossians 1 says, “In him all things hold together.” If we remain in Christ as the head, the leader, the focus of all that we do, then this church will hold together. Without him, as the Bible says, we can do nothing.
Jesus is Preeminent
Preeminent is not a word that you hear every day. One of the things that jumped out at Michelle and I when we first started looking at Messiah College which is where Micah goes to school is their motto – Christ Preeminent. They got it from Colossians 1. Very simply it means surpassing all others. The scripture shows us that Jesus Christ is far above and beyond everything else in all the universe. The apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:19 about “the surpassing greatness of [God’s] power toward us who believe.” Christ Jesus is preeminent in his Church.
He is the beginning of the Church. Paul calls the Lord “the firstborn from the dead” which refers to his resurrection. But, you might ask, what about Lazarus? Didn’t Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead? Yes, however, Lazarus died again. The Lord was raised from the dead never to die again because he defeated death. Death entered the world because of sin, and the Lord because of his righteousness overcame the power of death and so he rightfully gets the title of firstborn from the dead.
Without his resurrection from the dead, there would be no forgiveness of sins, there would be no redemption, there would be no gospel, no “good news”, and there would be no Church. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:17, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. As he was resurrected, so also all who by faith have trusted Christ will one day be resurrected also with a glorified body which will never break down or ever fall apart.
He is the beginning in the sense that the life of the body, the church, begins because of his life. He began it. He holds the first place not just because he was the first resurrected one, but because he is the causation of Church – the reason it exists.
Preeminent means that Jesus is first and foremost in everything. Not only was Jesus the firstborn of Creation as its Creator, he is also the firstborn of the Redeemed as their Redeemer. As with him being the firstborn of creation he was the author of creation, so likewise he is the author of the salvation for all who believe.
Jesus is called the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. He initiated everything. He also finishes everything. He will create a new heaven and earth so that the redeemed people of God will live with him there forever. In all these things we see God’s hand working to cause us to focus on His awesome and incomparable glory. Nothing, not anything that has been created, visible or invisible, nor anything that has been done, redemption through the blood of his cross being the ultimate act of history, can compare to him.
He is preeminent because in him is all the fullness of God. It pleased God to show all of humanity his full nature and glory through Christ Jesus. All the attributes of God – his spirit, word, wisdom and glory are perfectly displayed in Christ. One day Jesus was talking about the nature of who he was to the disciples, and Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father. Jesus said this in reply, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” (John 14:9-10)
It is through Jesus, his life and resurrection and the revelation of the scripture about him that we get an accurate picture of God. It pleased God the Father to do this. God the Son – Jesus Christ – is the Lord, the first and foremost one of the people whom we call the Church. He is preeminent and therefore is worthy of all that we are, all that we have. He is worthy to take our lives and do with them whatever he wants because he holds the Church together. All of the power and the glory is his. Nothing compares to him, and therefore he is worth taking all of your hopes, dreams, desires, wishes, wants, needs and laying them down at his feet and telling him, “Not my will but yours be done. Not my kingdom and glory but yours.” “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:9-11)
He is preeminent because through him all things are reconciled. To reconcile is to bring things back into proper relationship and order. All things have to be reconciled to Christ because he was the one rebelled against both by Satan and the evil spirits and by humans. Things are wrong in this world because Jesus Christ, the Almighty God, has been wronged.
Things in heaven are reconciled to him because the evil spirits who have been in rebellion against him on the day of judgment will be thrown into the lake of fire. There will no longer be anymore rebellion in heaven. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross sealed this impending judgment. Peace was made because no longer, through the cross, does the evil one have any right of possession over those who belong to Christ by faith.
Things on the earth are reconciled because prior to the atonement made by his sacrifice, humans were broken in their relationship to God. The relationship injustices had to be made right, and Jesus did this by making peace by the blood of his cross
Anyone who receives this gift of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice as the means of their justification will be at peace with God. The gift is to no longer worry about what God will do to you. There is no longer anxiety over whether or not God is pleased with you. There is a sense of peace and confidence because, by faith, there is a relationship with God. It is a family relationship. By faith you’ve been adopted, and you belong to Him forever.
Jesus said that the greatest is the servant of all. As the one who came to serve, he served in the greatest way possible by humbling himself farther than any other human could. This is true not only because he came to live in a human body, but he suffered the consequences of our sin of which he was completely innocent. “but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:7-8)
Jesus Still Holds Everything Together
He holds the Church together. The Lord is reconciling all things to himself, but that work of reconciliation takes time. True reconciliation between members of his body means reconciliation to himself. In him all things hold together means that any reconciliation that does not center on Christ is doomed to fall apart. Yet until such time as his people are reconciled to him as supreme in all things and he is glorified, he is able to hold them together. So then in spite of the effects of the sinful nature in an ongoing manner in God’s people (because sanctification is a process), God is greater than those things which by their nature work to destroy and pull apart the church.
He is the foundation of the Church. “Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor 3:11)
He is the head of the Church. “The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.” (Psalm 118:22) This chief cornerstone literally holds the stones in place so they don’t fall apart.
He holds his creation together. All of creation is waiting in anticipation of the completion of God’s redemption of humanity. “19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” (Romans 8:19-22) The world is destined to continue to fall apart until the day when Jesus re-makes it brand new. In the build up to that time of the final end, everything that is not built on the foundation of Christ will be shaken and fall apart. He will only hold the world together for so long. But he will never let go of the Church. He will bring to completion the work that he began in his people.
Although this world is falling apart, because of the awesome power and wisdom of God He is using it to bring about the maturity of the saints and the greater revelation of his glory.