The Supremacy of Christ, Part 1 (Colossians Sermon 2 of 21)
September 02, 2007 | Andrew Davis
Christ's Exaltation, Deity of Christ
One Day, Face to Face
Oh, what a joy is before me today as a preacher, and all of us as hearers to dwell on this theme; the supremacy of Jesus Christ, the greatness of Christ, the deity of Christ. What could be better than that? What theme more sublime? What better way to spend our time than to meditate on the greatness of Jesus Christ. Amen? I have been looking forward, literally, for months to preaching this sermon and now I get to do it and that's a wonderful thing.
March 7th, 1970 was a fascinating day in my childhood. I didn't know the date until just before worship, but I remember the occasion. The occasion was my first, and up to this point, my last time of seeing with my own eye a total solar eclipse. I saw it, I was about seven years old. I haven't seen one since. I remember I was in an art class, my mom enrolled me in this art class, and they were all excited that this solar eclipse was coming and they prepared us to be able to see it. They warned us that we were unable to look at the sun with our naked eye, as though we needed that warning. We had learned earlier, even at age seven I knew, you don't stare at the sun. But they said, "It's really tempting when a solar eclipse comes along. You're going to want to look at it and you can't." So we prepared these special goggles with polarized film and all that, somewhat like welder's goggles, and even then you couldn't look for very long. Others took this white poster board and they put a tiny little pinhole in it and held one apart from the other. By an indirect manner they saw the image of the sun reflected onto that white poster board through that tiny little pinhole, because none of us could look fully at the radiant glory of the sun.
Can I tell you something? The sun is a dim reflection of the glory of almighty God. He made it. He created it to show His own greatness and His own glory, but it's nothing compared to God. Actually, it says in 1 Timothy 6 that God dwells “in unapproachable light.” He said to Moses, “No one can see my face and live." That's almighty God. To some degree this text of Scripture, I don't speak in any way disrespectfully of the Scripture, but it's like a little pinhole through which some of the glory of Christ will come to our eyes today. Christ himself, to some degree, a pinhole focusing an image of God that we're able to see and survive because we can't handle it in our present flesh... Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor are we able to see God. Through that pinhole we can see some of the glory of God. That is Jesus Christ.
There will come a day, and oh the joy in meditating on it, when we will see it fully face to face. When we will be so transformed, our spirits and our soul so transformed and enlarged, our bodies transformed and made like Christ's resurrection body, we will be able to handle a full revelation of the glory of God and of Christ. Oh, how I yearn for that day. In the meantime we have these little pinholes, and we have an image that we can look at and have a sense of the greatness of God thereby. That's what we get to do this morning. We get to look through a pinhole, or by a reflected image, and see the supremacy of Christ. This is the gospel, my friends, this is the heart of the gospel. That Christ is God and that God died for you and that He can, by faith, live inside you, and He can be for you the hope of your own future glory forever. He is your future glory. He will be your great reward. Christ is the gospel. Amen? And so we get to look at the gospel today in a magnificent way.
Now, we're going to look, this is a two part sermon on these verses we can't do it all today, But we're going to look at the supremacy of Christ over the next two weeks. This week and next week, God willing. We're going to look at the supremacy of Christ in a variety of different ways. We're going to see the supremacy of Christ, first of all, in who He is. Just His intrinsic greatness as the image of the invisible God in His own deity. We're going to see the greatness, the supremacy of Christ. We're going to also see the supremacy of Christ in His position relative to the created universe. The firstborn over all creation. We're going to see the supremacy of Christ in what He has done in that it was through Him that all things were made, visible and invisible. He is actually the creator of all things. We're going to see the greatness of Christ in what He's done. We're going to see the greatness of Christ in what He is presently doing every single instant of the day in holding the universe together by His own great power. In these ways we're going to see the supremacy of Christ.
But, all of it will mean nothing if you're not moved inside your heart to worship and honor Him as God. I speak both to Christian and non-Christian alike. To the non-Christian, I've already prayed for you if you're here. It will mean nothing for you to hear these words if you are not moved to worship Him as God and find salvation thereby. So I plead with you right at the very beginning, find your salvation in the fact that this one that we're talking about here shed His blood on the cross for you. And no good works are welcome on your part, no good works are possible for the forgiveness of your sins. It's all here, it's all in Christ and in the cross; find it there. But for you who are Christians, I say to you that your hearts are colder than they should be toward this concept of the deity of Christ. It's my desire, through the Spirit and through the Scripture, to warm you up a bit, and myself too. So that we might honor Him as he truly deserves.
I. Christ’s Supremacy as God’s Visible Image (verse 15)
Let's first look at the supremacy of Christ in who He really is as God's visible image. Look at verse 15. It says in verse 15, "He," [this is clearly speaking of Christ in context, Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus Christ] "He is the image of the invisible God." Now here we come immediately to the deity of Christ, foundational doctrine of Christianity.
Christ’s Supremacy as God’s Visible Image
We worship Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, we worship Him as our God. We are not ashamed to bow down before Him, we're not ashamed to embrace Him as deity, we believe in the deity of Christ. Now Christianity as a faith, as a religion, contains many doctrinal concepts. More than we could put together in a lifetime I think. The Scripture, 66 books of the Bible, seems almost an infinite treasure house of concepts that connect and reconnect in myriad ways that are beyond us to fully grasp even if we had our whole lives to study every day. But, not all doctrinal concepts that flow from the texts of Scripture are equally significant. They may all be true, but they're not equally significant, they’re equally true. The doctrine of baptism is important, it's important to understand it. The doctrine of the deity of Christ is more important. The doctrine of polity, of church government is important. The doctrine of the deity of Christ is more important. The doctrine of eschatology, of end time teaching is important, but the deity of Christ more so.
And so we have in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul talks about all these different stars in the firmament, but "Star differs from star in splendor." This may be the brightest star in the theological cosmos, the deity of Christ. That Jesus of Nazareth is actually God in the flesh. Here began your personal salvation when you acknowledge this, when you recognize who He was, when you said in your heart and with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord." That's where it began for you, and it's in meditating on that and living it out that your salvation has unfolded and developed through the deity of Christ. This is the greatest confession a human mouth can make. Peter made it in Caesarea Philippi. Jesus was asking, "Who do people say that I am?" And they got down to it and said, "What about you? What about you, who do you say that I am?" This is the question on which your soul's destiny will depend, on how you answer it, and Peter answered for us all, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus replied, "Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my father in heaven."
It's the same confession that Thomas made. Doubting Thomas, who didn't believe the reports of the resurrection and he said, "Unless I put my finger in the nail marks and my hand in his side, I will not believe that Jesus has been raised from the dead." A week later, Jesus gave him what he asked for. Now you're not going to get it because you're not one of the apostles. But Thomas got the privilege of actually being able to touch Jesus's resurrection body, and he, I believe, probably fell on his knees, although the text doesn't say it, but just fell at least in his heart and said, "My Lord and my God!" That is the supreme confession that a human being can make. “My Lord and my God.” "Because you have seen me," Jesus said, "you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Believed what? That He is Lord and God. Do you believe? Are you among those that Jesus blesses in John 20? Praise God forth and give Him glory and honor that you have come to the place where you believe a living man, flesh and blood man, is actually deity. Only God could work this in your heart.
This is the saving confession of Romans 10. It says, "If you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord,’" that means God, "if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with the heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." So this is the confession. Therefore, all of you who are Christians, you should be also evangelists. This is your goal, this is what you're trying to do in the lives of your coworkers, and neighbors, and unsaved relatives, and family, friends. This is what you're trying to do. To bring them by the power of the spirit and by the power of the gospel to make this confession, that Jesus is God and died for me. That's what you're trying to do. And for those of you who are not saved, oh how I yearn that you would come to that confession yourself. Believe in your heart that Jesus is God. This is the essence of the gospel message.
Therefore, since it's so foundational, since it's so vital, so important it is consistently attacked by Satan. He saves His heaviest artillery for this, the deity of Christ. It says in 1 John 4:2-3, "This is how you can recognize the spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world." That's Satan's work, antichrist, he's against Christ. What he is working in the world is unbelief concerning this. Now, I think there are two great errors, two great categories of errors that you can fall into concerning this doctrine of the deity of Christ. The first is to deny that it's true. That it isn't true that a living man could be God, to deny it, and there's lots of different flavors of denial of that. The second is that the concept that Jesus is God is insufficient for your daily joy, your eternal joy. Now non-Christians fit into the first, and Christians come in and out of the second, don't we?
Well, let's look at the first, that it isn't true. All the world religions are based on this concept that Jesus isn't God. They all teach it. Islam says that Jesus is a great prophet, but that He is not the son of Allah. He was actually protected from dying on the cross, it was actually Judas that died on the cross. Jesus is a great prophet but not even the greatest prophet, that's Muhammad. Judaism certainly denies it, it is for this very reason that Jesus was crucified. The high priest charged him under oath by the living God, "Tell us if you're the Christ, the son of God." and Jesus said "I am." And then, quoted Daniel 7. For this He was condemned by the Jewish nation, claiming to be deity. The Jehovah's Witnesses certainly deny this concept, deny that Jesus is God. They say He's a created being. The slogan of Jehovah's Witnesses' Arianism, "There was, when he was not." In other words, there was a time that Jesus didn't exist, He's a created being, that's what they say. "He's god with a little g." God with a little g, right? Therefore, they deny the deity of Christ. The Mormons deny the deity of Christ. They say that He's kind of like a spirit being like Michael and Lucifer, they're kind of brother angels or something and, again, a created being. They deny the deity of Christ.
Atheists deny it in artful ways, like Voltaire and Thomas Jefferson and others, deny the deity of Christ with mockery. As we were worshipping, did you notice all of those songs were focused on giving Christ glory and His crowns, and honoring Him. Eric, that was so sweet, that a time of worship focused on Christ, but I was moved inside as I pictured the Roman soldiers putting a robe on Jesus, and a crown of thorns and mocking His kingship. And so it has been with prominent atheists like Voltaire and Thomas Jefferson and others that have mocked the idea that Jesus could be God. This is what Thomas Jefferson wrote, he said, "The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme Being, as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva, Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.” It's a myth, so said Thomas Jefferson.
I don't mean to rob the joy of the next time you visit Washington DC at the Jefferson memorial and all that, but as you do, remember this man was in print an enemy of your faith. Mocking it, mocking it. He actually says, "Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them, and no man ever had a distinct idea of the Trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus." That's the third President of the United States mocking the idea of the deity of Christ. All right, so that's one great error that we can fall under by the influence of Satan, that it's not true, that Jesus is not God. The other error is the one that we come in and out of frequently, it's insufficient. "It's just not enough for my joy, it's not enough to make me happy. Yes, Jesus is God, but so what?"
True Worship Consists of Doctrine Producing Awe
Now, I don't think we'd really ever come right out and say that but we live that way. Don't we? Sometimes. "It's not enough for me to know Jesus, it's not enough for me to know that God died for me, that's not enough, I have to have more." Well, what I say to you is that this doctrine should produce awe and worship within our hearts. If it doesn't, you need to come to Jesus as the healer of the soul and say, "Heal me Jesus, heal me. You healed the man born blind, then heal my heart because I don't seem to care like I should about you. Heal me from thinking it's not enough that Jesus is God and died for me. Heal me of worldliness, heal me of idolatry. Heal me of indifference and coldness and hardness. Heal me Lord." And He will. It is His promise, He will ignite His own love within your heart. And we must do it because you know you're going to spend eternity doing it.
And if you're a Christian, you're happy about that in theory. But. John Owen said, "We ought to spend more time meditating on it here on earth since we're going to be doing it for eternity." Right? And I think the more we spend, the more time we spend meditating on the greatness of Christ and on His deity; the more useful we'll be to God, the happier we will be, the more impervious to misery caused by pain and suffering, if we would just meditate on this. Take this as a practical point, this is a testimony from Jonathan Edwards, the Pastor during the Great Awakening and a great Theologian. Also just a great man of God, and he had his own walk with God. This is something that happened to him one day, and you ought to ask to have something like this happen to you; maybe not exactly like this, but something like this.
This is what he said: "As I rode out into the woods for my health in 1737, having alighted from my horse in a retired place; as my manner commonly has been to walk for divine contemplation and prayer, I had a view that was for me extraordinary of the glory of the son of God." He had a view, inside his heart that was for him extraordinary, "Of the glory of the son of God as mediator between God and man, and His wonderful, great, full, pure and sweet grace and love, and meek and gentle condescension. This grace that appeared so calm and sweet, appeared also great above the heavens." It's both sweet and peaceful but, also infinite, and kind of scary that way, this grace. "The person of Christ appeared ineffably excellent, with an excellency great enough to swallow up all thoughts and conceptions which continued as near as I can judge, about an hour. So as to keep me the greater part of the time in a flood of tears and weeping aloud. I felt an ardency of soul to be what I know not otherwise, how to express emptied and annihilated, to lie in the dust, and to be full of Christ alone, to love Him with a holy and pure love, to trust in Him, to live upon Him, to serve Him and to be perfectly sanctified and made pure with the heavenly purity."
Oh, is that sweet. Wouldn't you love to just lie in the dirt for an hour and have that happen to your soul? Oh, you wonder why did it end, right? Well, God still had work for him to do. You can't just be lying there on the ground in the woods forever. He had a congregation. He had a family, a wife who'd be wondering why he's not home for dinner. It's time to get up off the ground, but think of this. The apostle Paul said this, "For me, to live is Christ," but to die is what? Gain! That would be blasphemy if it weren't more Christ that we're gaining. And that's what we get. And so get up off the ground; off your meditations, get up happy, get up joyful, get up energetic, and go serve him while you have to be here in this world, but know that something better is waiting for you that is not more of the same. We need to do this. Practically speaking, you need to take time to get alone. Go into the woods, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father who is unseen, whatever. Get alone, get quiet, and say, "Christ, show me yourself. I'm not satisfied with what I have so far. I want more of you." He is honored by the request. He's honored by it, and so do it.
Christ the Image of the Invisible God
Now, what does it say, here? Christ is the image of the invisible God. This is the doctrine that should produce awe and wonder. Well, the word 'image,' is the word 'eikon,' eikon. In Greek Orthodoxy, icons are employed as physical artifacts that are made by people to stimulate worship. Whether we get into the discussion of icons itself is not the point. That's what the word means. It's something that's made that stimulates worship. The true eikon is Christ himself. He's the true image of the invisible God. To look at Him, you do not go astray. Now, I believe it's picking up on the original concept of the purpose of the human race. In Genesis chapter 1 it says, "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…so God created man in His own image. In the image of God He created him, male and female, He created them.” We are in the image of God, but because of our sin, our fallenness, it's marred, the image is defective. Not in Christ. He is the perfect image of the invisible God.
Now, in a parallel concept or construction, we get in Hebrews 1:3 it says, "The Son is the radiance of God's glory." Get the picture of those sunbeams coming off the Sun. Remember when you were a kid, and you drew the sun, and it was a round circle, and then these wavy lines coming out of it? You know what I'm talking... Maybe you still draw the sun that way, who knows. But anyway, those are radiant light beams coming off of the globe, which is the sun. Jesus is the radiant light beam, coming, bringing the sun to us. Difficult in the analogy in that it's S-O-N and S-U-N, but you know what I'm saying. Christ brings the radiance of God to us so that when we see Him, we see God. He is the radiance, radiance of God's glory, and He is the exact representation, different Greek word, but same concept. The character, He is the signet ring imprint that when you look at the ring and you look at the imprint, it's exactly the same. He is the signet ring imprint of the invisible God, sustaining all things by His powerful word. So therefore, what that means is when you look at Jesus, you're seeing the Father. You're seeing the image of the invisible God.
There's an incredible moment in John 14 when after Jesus has said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father through me," and he's talking about the Father. And Philip says, "Father, Father, Father, Father, show us the Father." All right. We're excited. We want to see the Father. Show us the Father, and it'll be enough for us. And Jesus said, "Don't you know me, Philip, after all this time?" Wow, I don't have enough brain power to figure that out, I don't. I don't... I can't figure that out. Don't you know me? We believe in the Trinity, that they're distinct persons, Father and son are distinct persons. When you see Jesus, you've seen the Father. He is the image of the invisible God, and so He is supreme in who He is.
II. Christ’s Supremacy over the Physical Universe (verses 15-17)
Secondly, we see Him supreme in His position relative to the universe. Colossians 1:15-17, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 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. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." So here we see His greatness in His position as first born over the universe. Greatness in His past accomplishments, His power displayed in creation itself. Through Him, or by Him, all things were created. And we see His power also displayed in His ongoing sustaining of the universe. He upholds it every moment by the word of His power. So we see the greatness of Christ in these things.
Christ’s Role as Creator of the Universe
Now, this is a clear statement of deity. No Jew would have understood it any other way. When Paul is saying that through Jesus, all things were created, he is claiming that Jesus is deity. Why do I say that? Well, it's because it's something that the Old Testament ascribed to God, to Yahweh, alone. Yahweh, Jehovah God, the God of the Jews, said, "I did this by myself, alone, and there was no one with me." He says it very plainly, many times. But here's one verse, Isaiah 44:24, "This is what the Lord says – your redeemer who formed you in the womb: 'I am the Lord who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself.'" That's what He says, said, "There was no one with me, no one helped me." One of the strangest Gospel presentations I've ever been involved in in my life, was with a Japanese Jehovah's Witness after I had been there for about five months and my Japanese language skills were rudimentary at best, below rudimentary. I barely could ask for bread at the store. Have you ever tried to talk to a Jehovah's Witness in your native language? Just in your own native language it's hard enough.
Why did I invite this man in and sit down and get our Japanese Bibles open and try to talk to this guy about Jesus as the image of the invisible God? But the Lord... It's amazing what can happen, and his English was worse than my Japanese so we were hopeless in terms of communicating. He kept pointing to proof text which I knew he was going to point to and I had things to say about them, but I couldn't. And then I was... But the Lord led me to Isaiah 44:24 and I said in the Japanese language, "He was alone, He was alone, He was alone." In the Colossians it says Jesus created it. Don't you see? If we don't have a Trinity we can't make sense of this. It makes no sense at all, we can't make sense. You say they're separate beings, that's impossible. The creation of the universe was something God did by Himself; therefore we believe in the Trinity: Father, Son, and Spirit. The Father created Him but He did it through the Son. Now I don't understand that through language, I don't know what it means. The Father, the Creator, but through the Son, through Him all things were made. You get the sense of the Father and the Son like in a workshop working together. I don't know what image fits, but I do know that they work together in it, but there was no one else with them.
And it says here that He is the first born over all creation. The Jehovah's Witnesses and other Arians make a lot of this. They say He's clearly a created being, but actually it has here to do with position in the universe. He is placed in a position as first born. There's a story of Joseph's sons being brought in Egypt to Jacob, aging Jacob. And he was toward the end of his life and he was not as strong, and his eyesight wasn't what it could be. So Manasseh, the physical first born, and Ephraim, the younger, came and aging Jacob crossed his hands and put his right hand on Ephraim's head and gave him the first born blessing. Joseph was displeased and he tried to uncross his father's hand. He would then lose that battle. He's not going to uncross his hands because Jacob as a prophet of God, determined to set the younger over the older for his own purposes and therefore in Jeremiah 31:9 he calls Ephraim his firstborn. That he determined to do that. Jesus is the first born over all creation. It's positional language.
It says in Hebrews 3:5-6, "Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house…but Christ is faithful as a Son over God's house." Do you see that? He is the Son over the house, He is in charge. He rules, it's a position of power. It also says that "He is before all things," that means He has preeminence, He stands first in line. He is the name that is above every name, He is the highest of all. So He stands above all the rest of creation, it's a position of preeminence.
Universe Created by Christ
But then as we've said, the universe itself was created by Christ. Let's get specific. "For by Him all things were made, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, all things have been created by Him." Now let's focus on the physical universe. That means every atom in the universe was created through Christ. All of them. The periodic table, remember that? When you studied chemistry? Jesus made them all. All of those atoms, He made them exactly like He wants and He didn't just figure out a recipe for each atom, He figured out how many there would be, and how they would combine into molecules, and into larger organs and all that. He worked all of that out. All the hydrogen and helium and all of the stars, Jesus made it all. All of the gold in every mine on earth, all of the diamonds, the carbon that's in the diamonds, He made it all. Crafted it and shaped it.
All the physical universe, He made all of it. And all of the animals. Millipedes, they're nasty looking things aren't they? Little, thousand little bugs, creepy looking bugs, He made them. Hummingbirds, my wife saw a hummingbird this week. The beating wings. It's just an amazing little creature and going from flower to flower, Christ made it. He made it. Distant stars, He made it. Ponder Jesus of Nazareth walking down the dusty roads of Palestine, sleeping out under the stars, for they were poor. And they're looking up and Jesus made those stars. It boggles the mind. The mind needs to be boggled by it. He made the mountains all different kinds of mountains. Like the Smoky Mountains out in the western part of the state. They are sweet mountains, they really are. And they're pretty, they're just not dramatic. I'm not originally from here. They're not dramatic, but they're pretty, okay? Then there's the Grand Tetons which are more dramatic, more striking, Jesus made them. The Rockies perhaps a little more so, the Karakorum's in Pakistan even more so with K2, the second highest mountain in the world. And even more then, the Himalayas.
Universe Created For Christ
All of them in their proper place showing the glory of God in His own way, Jesus made them all, created all things. But not only that, it says that the universe was created for Christ. It's His personal playground. It's His stuff. It's made for Him. I remember some time ago I preached on Psalm 50 which is a marvelous Psalm on this and it says, Psalm 50:9-12, "I have no need," [this is God speaking], "I have no need of a bull from your stalls or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you." [Or me] "If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine and all that is in it." Jesus could say that, it was created for Him. Every single green hill, every bubbling brook, it's all His. Every bird, every creature of the field, they're all His. And so also every single human being. For He made them all, all of them. You belong to Christ by creation, whether you're Christian or non-Christian, you're His possession by creation at least. For He knit you together in your mother's womb.
Your hair is His, your face, your vital organs; all of His by creation. So also are all of your loved ones, your parents, your siblings, your children, your spouse; all of them belong to Him for He made them. So also the people that you are seeking to reach with the gospel, they belong to Jesus for He made them. The universe was made for Christ, for His pleasure, for His glory, for His private possession. And what is ascribed generally to God in Romans 11:36 is specifically ascribed to Jesus here, "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.”
Universe Sustained by Christ
But the Scripture here says more than that, it also says that the universe is moment-by-moment sustained by the power of Christ, and this is where it gets really interesting. The more you meditate on this, the more mind-boggling it gets and the more ethical problems come from it. "In Him," it says, "all things hold together." Kind of like they're all glued together. In Christ. I believe that God created a needy universe. It needs its Creator every moment of the day, our physical hunger is evidence of that neediness.
So your physical hunger that you're feeling right now? It's evidence of your ongoing need for Christ, but you need the word of God more, I'm bold to say this, so we're going to hang in there on the deity of Christ for a few extra minutes. But you were created needy, so were the atoms themselves. They need their Creator every moment of the day. Now, the deist posited a universe that was created by God like a clock, wound up and let run and He doesn't interfere. Dare He not interfere! If He doesn't interfere, the universe flies apart. Now, this is a sermon not a physics lecture, so we're not going to talk about protons and their positive charges and all that. This is, by the way, a rhetorical technique where you say you're not going to talk about something and then you actually do talk about it. But at any rate, we're not going to discuss much how the protons being positively charged really have no business hugging each other in the atom, and loving each other, and hanging together the way that they do. Why don't they fly apart? Well, the physicists, they tell us why they don't fly apart. You know what the physicists tell us? It's the strong nuclear force. That's just a name, friends. I have a better name than that. What's a better name than that? How about Christ? In Him, all things hold together.
And what a picture, how opposites, people who ordinarily wouldn't love each other can come together in perfect unity, theological principle, but physically, materially, He holds those atoms together every moment. That's mind-boggling. He exerts active energy as God to keep the universe together in the pattern He first made it. It's amazing. "In Him, all things hold together." That means if Christ stopped holding the atoms of your body together, you would fly apart. If He stopped holding the atoms of this church together it would fly apart. He holds it all together at every moment. Let's pause for a moment and apply this ethically. What that means is that He kept Hitler's body together every moment of his life, kept it together by an act of his constant will. He did it in such a way that He was in no way responsible for any of that man's evil deeds, "For He cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone and He will bring every responsible being to judgment for what they do with their freedom." But, He held his body together, and I say if He didn't then I don't understand the universe we're living in from a biblical point of view. He did hold it together. He keeps air molecules of tsunamis and hurricanes together while they're doing their damage.
He keeps bullets together, they're flying through the air knowing full well they're going to end up in some innocent victim, maybe even an infant; keeps them together. And if He didn't, if He chose not to, He could make it just poof into mid-air. Is it not possible for Him to do that? Yes, He can do it, but He exerts active power to keep those atoms together while the bullet's flying through the air. Let's go even beyond that, He kept His own nails together while they held Him on the cross. I don't understand it, He's not aloof from the suffering. He's actively willing suffering on His own part that we might have eternal life, that His blood might be shed; He's actively willing it. And by the way, don't give me any of those Gnosis theories how He stopped being God for a while. Philippians, "He left his deity beside." He never leaves his deity anywhere, He is God. He will always be God and if He stopped being God, this stops being the universe. So He's actively holding the cross together, the spikes together. He's holding it all together so that He will suffer so that we might go to heaven. It's incredible. More than that, He holds together spiritual beings as well for He rules over all things. Christ's supremacy of the spiritual universe is portrayed here as well. It says, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 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. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."
He's holding it all together. You know what that means? You will continue to live another moment if He wills, because He wills, and for no other reason. Therefore, just like James says, “Now, listen you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow I'll go to this or that city, spend a year there.’” "A year?" "Yeah, a year." "Spend a year there, carry on business, make money. Why you don't even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? It is a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say what? “If the Lord," [that's Jesus by the way] "if the Lord wills, we will live." Did you hear that? If Jesus wills, I will stay alive. My body will hold together and I will do this and that. Parenthetically, don't you think you ought to ask Him what you ought to do if He chooses that you live? Doesn't He have a purpose? Shouldn't you go before Him every day as a living sacrifice and say, "What do you want me to do? What are you holding my hands together for? What are you holding my feet together for? What are you holding my mouth together for? What is my life for? What am I here for Jesus?" Every day you go to Him, if the Lord wills.
III. Christ’s Supremacy over the Spiritual Universe (verses 15-17)
Colossian Heresy: Christ Like an Angel
Jesus holds the physical universe together, He holds the spiritual universe together as well. The Colossian heresy was that Jesus was some kind of emanation, some spirit being. And that Satan's a spirit being, and they're all spirit beings, and they're all kind of... and the physical world is evil. And out of that came all of the trouble in the world. That's a heresy. What Paul does, is he said, "Actually, Jesus made the spirit world. And He made every inhabitant in the spirit world. And He sustains the spirit world every moment."
Satan and His Demons Created by Christ, For Christ, and are Sustained by Christ
So if I cause you to stumble or have some trouble of that Jesus held Hitler's body together every day of his life, well let's just go to Satan. Hitler's nothing compared to Satan. Jesus holds Satan's being together every moment. This destroys dualism by the way. Jesus and Satan aren't battling it out as equals. Not at all. Jesus can pull the plug on Satan's very existence any time He chooses. Now you may ask, "Well, then why doesn't He?" You may ask that. Because for His own glory, His own purposes, He's choosing to pull the plug slowly over thousands of years. And in the end, what's He going to do but throw him in the lake of fire? He will be powerless to escape. But He will not pull the plug on his existence. He upholds it. Just like every wicked person. He upholds their existence every single moment, for all eternity in hell. And the smoke of their torment rises forever and ever in the presence of the Lamb, it says. He's watching. He's there... He's more than watching. He's holding their beings together. This is His nature. He established at the beginning and He has not changed His mind. And they will continue to have existence because He wills it. They will be responsible for what they have done because He wills it.
This is the God that we worship. Does it boggle your mind? I can't get my words around it. I can't get my brain around it. But I know that this is what the Scripture says: "He upholds all things by the word of His power." Observe then, the unbelievable arrogance, the unbelievable arrogance of Satan. When Jesus was being tempted in the desert, and he takes Jesus to a very high mountain and shows Him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world in their splendor. He said, "All this has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want. So, I'll give it to you if you will bow down and worship me." All right, put that back into Colossians 1, and do you see the arrogance? Jesus is Satan's creator. Jesus is Satan's God. He holds him together at every moment. How wrong is it to demand that your own creator get down on His face and grovel before you, a created being? But I'm brought up short here. I act like this sometimes. There's some demonic side to me, in which I get frustrated with God if He doesn't do my little will. If I don't get my prayers answered the way I want, I'm going to start charging Him with injustice. I'm going to demand that He bow to my will and do what I want Him to do. We should be on our faces before Jesus, and not demand the other posture, that's satanic.
Jesus is not fighting Satan and his demons on equal footing. But rather it says very plainly, in Ephesians 1 that God raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given. Not only in the present age, but also in the age to come. And God placed all things under His feet, and appointed Him, Jesus, to be head over everything,” I'm going to insert something here, “for the [benefit] of the church, which is His body. The fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.” His sovereign ruler-ship is for our benefit, and He rules over Satan and his demons in order to accomplish the building of the church. Amen and amen. This is the Christ that we worship. Now, next week we're going to look at Christ's supremacy over the church, and Christ's supremacy and reconciliation. We'll see the greatness of Christ in those things.
Saturate Your Mind in this Deep Doctrine: The Absolute Supremacy of Christ
Now, let's take a moment and apply this. I want you stimulate yourself to worship. I want you to ask this question: "Am I astonished at the greatness of Christ? Am I astonished at it?" I was saying to one of my kids, I said, "Sometimes we treat this idea, the doctrine of the deity of Christ, whatever, somewhat like mathematics." All right? How many of you like to go home and read a 500 page textbook this afternoon on addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division? Would you enjoy that? The reason you wouldn't enjoy... there's 80 reasons you wouldn't do that, but one of them is, you already feel like you know as much about that as you need to know. You don't want to make a life-study of that. It's a shallow topic that's not going to carry you very far. Well, let's be ashamed when we see that attitude in us toward the deity of Christ. I already know as much about... All right, Jesus, Son of God, died on the cross, all the... The tone. Just the tone is there. You do not know everything there is to know about Jesus. You don't know a millionth percent of the part of it.
And that's why the Apostle Paul... What does he say? "I am an apostle; the apostle of the Gentiles. I saw Christ on the road to Damascus, resurrected in glory. I've had numerous visions of Him. I was caught up to the third heaven and saw things inexpressible that man's not permitted to talk about. I've seen all that, but you know what I want more than anything?" "Paul, what do you want?" "I want to know Christ. I'm hungry for Him. I want to know Him. Yes, I can easily see spending eternity studying this person because there's so much to know. I want to know Christ." Is that what you're like or have idols crept in and diminished Jesus in your mind so you really don't care that much to know more? He's like mathematics. Yeah, you need to know it to get along, but we know as much about that as we really need to know. Well, if it's different then I would spend some time repenting. I'd spend some time pulling idols out of your heart and say, "Let's put Jesus back at the center." The knowing of Christ is the greatest thing that can ever happen to you.
Why don't you go for a walk like Jonathan Edwards did out in the woods? I'm not promising He'll knock you to the ground. I'm not saying that, but He will bless you. He will expand your soul and your mind. He'll give you a vision of Himself that's greater than you had before if you just seek Him. If you just ask Him. Put aside the other things and just spend some time and kneel down and say, "Jesus, show me yourself." Get the Colossians 1 and go over each phrase. "He is the image of the invisible God." What does that mean? "First born over all creation." What does that mean? "For by Him all things were created, things in heaven and Earth, visible and invisible." What does it mean? Let the words come and transform your heart. And the next time that something happens to you that you don't like, maybe later this afternoon, why don't you give Him glory and praise and say that, "It is by your will, and for your glory, and by your power that this has come to me and I praise you, Jesus. I trust you. You're holding my body together, you're holding my life together. Everything you do is right and wise," and trust in Him. Close with me in prayer.