The Supremacy of Christ, Part 2 (Colossians Sermon 3 of 21)
September 09, 2007 | Andrew Davis
Exaltation of Christ, Fullness in Christ, The Kingdom of Christ
Alright. For the second week, we get to look at a magnificent text of scripture. The supremacy of Christ is our theme this morning. Could there be a better one? Could there be a greater theme to occupy our attention this morning than this one, the supremacy of Christ? And there was a phrase in particular that arrested me last night as I was looking over the text and thinking about it again. And I was reading also a Charles Spurgeon sermon on the same passage, and it really struck me, look at Verse 19, speaking of Christ, "For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him." Now, "fullness" is already a perfect and complete word, isn't it? Fullness, the fullness of God. The fullness of Him who fills the entire universe. “Even the highest heavens cannot contain God.” It says in Jeremiah, "'Can anyone hide in any secret place and I not see them? Do I not fill heaven and earth?' Says God Almighty." The fullness of God, an infinite topic.
But Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, thought it insufficient, so he added another word, "For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Him." A double infinite blessing for us, therefore, to meditate on this today. Think about fullness. When you think about fullness, what do you think about? Maybe some of you inclined toward eating, think about Thanksgiving maybe, with a table laden with every kind of food you could want and six desserts besides, and a house filled with family and friends to enjoy it with you, a picture of completeness, of fullness. And sleepiness, too, afterwards. But there it is, a picture of fullness. For me, more historically, I think about Spanish galleons in the 16th century coming from the New World, laden up to the scuppers with gold and silver and with precious stones taken from the mines of the New World. Imagine yourself a captain of one of those ships, surrounded by an armada of ships of the line, and you're going back to your reward. You're going to give all of that stuff to the king and queen, and they may give some of it back to you, and you might actually be established in a position as a noble there in the court, a feeling of fullness.
Or perhaps, maybe you're a pioneer traveling across the West, maybe across Death Valley or some other arduous place, four or five months from the Gateway City, Saint Louis, until finally you cross the Sierra Nevada mountains and you go down into the delicious climate of California, you see the rich soil, you see fruit trees, you smell the breeze, and you know that your family is going to be fine there. You're going to establish your farm there and you're going to live there for the rest of your lives, a feeling of fullness. Now, I could go on and on, but God has given little pockets of fullness to our lives, but I tell you that nothing we experience in this world compares with the truth behind this verse, in Verse 19, that “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Christ." And what's so amazing is that this is the exact same fullness that he intends to give to us, for because of sin, because of Satan's work in this world, we have been fully acquainted with emptiness, haven't we?
Christ’s Supremacy as God’s Visible Image (vs. 15)
One Bible for Life class is studying the Book of Ecclesiastes, it begins, "Vanity of vanities." “Everything is vanity or meaningless, an emptiness.” And you have to understand that book in context, but basically it's everything done under the sun really apart from a sense of eternity and the work of God through Jesus Christ on the cross. That's what life would be like if it weren't for Jesus, utter meaninglessness. You live a short time and then all the things you labor on, they go over to dust or to nothingness. That's life apart from Christ, and we are freed from it. This book, Colossians, is a book of fullness, isn't it? It's a book of completeness. I was looking at this, I was intrigued, and I said, "I think there's more than just this one verse." Look at Verse 25. The Apostle Paul said, "I have become the church's servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness." So that's part of my joy, I get to present the fullness, the richness of the word of God. Or then, again, in Chapter 2, Verse 2, Paul's purpose and ministry, "My purpose," says he, "is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding." Again, fullness, that you might have the full riches of complete understanding. And then best of all, in Colossians 2:9 and 10, "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority." Amen and amen.
The exact same fullness that God has poured out into Christ, he desires to pour into the empty spaces of our hearts and our lives. He intends to fill this universe with his glory. He intends to fill your life with the glory of Jesus Christ. And so we'll get there in due time, but I just thought, "What a meditation." All the fullness of God is in Christ. My prayer for this morning is that through our meditation on this scripture, we would have a sense of that fullness. What does it mean that all the fullness of Deity, of God, was in Jesus in bodily form? This is the supremacy of Christ. And for the second week, we get to look at it. Last week, we saw Christ's supremacy as God's visible image, look again at Verse 15, "He is the image of the invisible God." The image of the invisible God, so if you're looking at Christ, you're seeing God.
Christ’s Supremacy Over the Spiritual and Physical Universes
We saw also last week Christ's supremacy over the physical universe. Verses 15 and following, “He is the image of the invisible God,” it says, "the firstborn over all creation. For by Him, all things were created." And so we saw Christ's role as creator of the universe, Christ's role as firstborn, established in a position of authority over the universe. We said that the universe was created by Christ. The universe was also created for Christ. And we said in a very mysterious way that the universe is, moment by moment, dependent on Christ for its very existence. That in Him all things hold together, and so that God, through Christ, created a needy universe. It needs Jesus, and so do you and I. And we see the supremacy of Christ, we saw it last week in his rulership over the spiritual universe as well.
Again, the Colossian heresy was that Jesus is a created being, not fully God, and not fully human. Because matter, physical stuff, is evil, so they said. The Earth, the physical world, is evil, so God would never have taken on a human body. And actually salvation, they said, was to be liberated from this physical stuff and brought into an out-of-body, pure spiritual experience. And the way that that happened is if you had fullness given to you through special philosophies, that they alone could teach you, and by asceticism and legalism and various harsh treatments of the body, so that you could be liberated from this physical world and go into that pure spirit world. Well, fundamentally it's flawed, right at the very beginning with its consideration of who Jesus of Nazareth was and is. And so Paul refutes it by saying that Christ actually is supreme over the spiritual universe. He created it, he sustains it, “whether thrones, or powers, or rulers, or authorities, all things created by him and for him, and in him they all hold together.” I was talking with someone this morning and they're saying, "What a deep thought and how difficult it is to conceive of Jesus continually holding Satan's being together for his own mysterious purposes." But that's the universe that Colossians teaches. And so we saw Christ's supremacy last week. Now, we're going to see Christ's supremacy concerning the church.
Christ’s Supremacy Over the Church
We're going to see his supremacy over the church presently, and we see his supremacy in what he did so that the church would be blameless and free from accusation before God. We will see the supremacy, therefore, of the cross of Jesus Christ today. Now for myself, I yearn to preach the cross every week. I yearn to proclaim Christ so clearly, Christ crucified so clearly, that anybody who came and listened, not knowing Christ as their personal Savior, that they would hear the gospel plainly and clearly, and that they would be able to be saved. They wouldn't walk away saying, "What do I have to do to be saved?" They would know.
Furthermore, following Charles Spurgeon, I expect and trust and hope that God brought someone like that here today. Maybe it's you, I don't know. I don't know who you are, but I want to speak to your heart if you're that person, that you don't know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, today, this morning, you will hear everything you need to be saved today. So listen carefully and it could be, while you listen, that God the Holy Spirit will kindle faith within your heart and God the Father, seeing that faith, will justify you forever and you will be righteous in his sight for eternity. It could be that'll happen this very morning, and I have prayed for it to happen.
Christ is the Head of the Church
So let's look at the supremacy of Christ over the church. Look at Verse 18, speaking of Christ, "He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead so that in everything, he might have the supremacy." So Christ here is presented as the head of the church. Now, many different analogies are used for the church, the people of God, in the Bible. The body analogy used here is only one of them. There are actually many different ones. There's an image in 1 Peter 2 of the church as a holy temple and we, like “living stones, are built together into that holy temple.” We're offering spiritual sacrifices constantly to God, a sacrificial image, and we're the temple and we're offering also, as the priesthood, the sacrifices to God. In another sense, we are like a family of God. Jesus, like an elder brother, and “he's not ashamed to be made like his brothers so that in everything he might share with us, even being tempted like we were yet was without sin.” So there's a sense of a family of God with God as our Father. Or a royal kingdom, a sense that we are part of a royal kingdom. He, the king, and we, kings and queens, under Him, rulers under His highest authority. We are a vineyard in another place. We are a flock with a shepherd tending us. We are a bride heading toward the day of our wedding. But this image of the body is used in a number of places, used in 1 Corinthians chapters 12 through 14, a picture of the body, the church like a body. It's used in Romans 12, and it's used here in Colossians, and also in Ephesians. Christ is the head of the body. Now, if the church is a body, what that means, as Christ as our head, is that He rules over it, he directs its movements. And all functions in the body exist to serve the head and the head governs all. The heart beats when the signals go forth from the head. The lungs breathe when the signals go forth from the head. Christ is the head of the church.
Christ is the Source of the Church
The scripture here also says that Christ is the source of the church. The word "arche" means beginning or source, so you think about the source of the river. If the church is like a river, then Christ is the source or the headwaters of the river and the church flows forth. Now, we believe that God ordained the church in His mind before the creation of the world. It says in Ephesians that we were “chosen in Christ before the creation of the world,” and so therefore it is in Christ that we exist. Christ is the arche, the beginning of the church, because before the creation of the world, before there was any time, God the Father saw us in Christ. We could also say that in space and time and the fullness of time, Jesus Christ, having taken on a human body, died on the cross, shed His blood for us. God raised him from the dead on the third day, He sent the Holy Spirit through the Son, and that is the beginning of the church. The day of Pentecost founded on the work, the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, the empty tomb. In that way also, in history, Jesus is the beginning of the church. There wasn't a church before Jesus came and did that work. And so Christ is the source of the church.
Christ is the Firstborn from the Dead
He is also, it says, “the firstborn from the dead.” Though Christ was not the first to be resuscitated after death, actually, many others, He himself raised people from the dead, yet Jesus is still “the firstborn from the dead.” We say this in two senses. First of all, He is in the position of preeminence. He's the greatest of all that have been raised from the dead, but also, temporally in time, He's the first and, at present, the only one with a resurrection body. Lazarus died again. The little girl that He raised from the dead, she's dead now, physically separated from her body. All of the people that Jesus raised, all the people, the apostles raised from the dead, all of them are dead now. But Jesus lives. He lives forever, and He will never again be separated from that body that God gave Him on the third day. He is in a resurrection body, and so He is “the firstborn from among the dead.” And there will come a time that “a great multitude, greater than anyone can count, from every tribe and language and people and nation will stand around the throne” also, all of us, in resurrection bodies, He will still be the firstborn from among the dead. He will be in the position of preeminence, even when we have our resurrection bodies. And, by the way, that is the only perfect healing there is in this universe, the only healing there is for AIDS, the only healing there is for cancer, for diabetes, for all of these dreaded illnesses. It is a resurrection body given you by God. Amen? And that is the future. That's where we're heading, free from all death, and mourning, and crying, and pain, with Jesus as the firstborn from among the dead. That is our hope, and we yearn for that, everyday brings us closer. Be happy. Don't worry about aging. Do what you need to do, but don't worry about aging because everyday brings us closer.
Christ is Supreme Over All Things for the Church
It says also that Christ is supreme over all things for the church. And from this, I got my sermon title over the last two weeks, this week and last week. "So that in everything," Verse 18, "He might have the supremacy." We should be falling down in awe before Jesus Christ. And it's only because of the dullness and the dimness of our faith that we don't. Someday we will. “Every knee will bow, and we will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” and we'll be glad to do it. And we will fall down before Him as the 24 elders, and we'll cast our crowns before Him, and we will honor Him because, in everything for the church, He has the supremacy. No human being can take that role from Him. It is His. He earned it. For He's the only one who shed His blood for the church, and how many human beings in history have forgotten that?
I was raised Roman Catholic. It is appalling some of the things that Catholic theologians say about the role of the Bishop of Rome called the Pope. It's amazing the statements they make. For example, Pope Leo the XIII, in an encyclical letter in 1894, he said this, "We, Popes, we hold upon this Earth, the place of God Almighty." Or this one, "The Pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ, he is Jesus Christ himself, hidden under the veil of flesh." Do you believe that? No, no, no. "So that in everything, he might have the supremacy." Jesus said of the scribes and Pharisees that “they like to walk around in the marketplaces with flowing robes and to be greeted and given titles of honor and the most important seats at the banquets and the synagogues, and to be called rabbi with these important titles.” But he said, you're not to be called rabbi for you're all brothers and you have one master, one teacher, Christ.
But it isn't just the Catholics, even in some Baptist churches or other Protestant churches, some human beings arrogate to themselves positions of honor that are inappropriate. Pastors can be that way, taking a tyrannical view of their own authority. So also can lay leaders or even committee chairs. It can happen. We forget who we are. We forget that, “in everything, Christ might have the supremacy.” They think too highly of themselves. But I tell you it is impossible, it is impossible to think too highly of Christ. You can't do it. You cannot do it. There's not a man or a woman or a child in this sanctuary today that is presently thinking too highly of Christ. Though I've been preaching about 10 minutes about the supremacy of Christ, and perhaps you think more highly of Jesus than you did before you walked in this room, you still don't think highly enough of Jesus. And so therefore, in sanctification and growth and holiness, it's always a yearning that we think more and more and more highly of Jesus. “Oh, magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together,” make Him greater, make Him greater. And that's what this meditation is all about, that Christ, in everything, may have the supremacy.
Christ’s Supremacy in Our Reconciliation
God’s Pleasure in Our Salvation
He is supreme over the church, but He's also supreme over the actual process of our reconciliation. God ordained the salvation plan where He gets all the glory and we get all the joy. Isn't that wonderful? Are you willing for that agreement? He gets the glory, we get the joy. We get to be in heaven forever. We get to enjoy all of these rich blessings. We're just stripped of our pride in the process. Are you willing for that? I'm willing. We enter through the narrow gate, we stoop, we're stripped of all of our good works and all of our pride, and God, in His wisdom, ordained that He would get the glory through His Son, Jesus Christ. And therefore, He gives glory to Christ here through the Apostle Paul. Look at Verse 19 through 23, "For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him 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 minds because of your evil behavior. But now, He has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation, if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant." Christ's supremacy, in our reconciliation, is proclaimed in these verses. He is supreme in that process. But notice how it begins. It begins with the pleasure of God the Father in all of it. Do you see it in Verse 19? "For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him." God was pleased, though the focus here has been on Christ, yet it was the plan and purpose of the Father to set in motion the salvation of the church through His Son, Jesus Christ. And God was pleased to have it. This whole thing, the whole salvation process, pleases God the Father. It brings Him joy. Ain't that wonderful? Meditate on that. God is a pleased being. Otherwise, would you want to spend eternity with Him? Think about that. Enter into the joy of your master. I want to go where there's joy, don't you? Eternal joy. Well, that's in God's presence, at His right hand. God is a pleased being.
"Our God," it says in Psalm 115:3, "is in heaven. He does whatever pleases Him." I guess that means He doesn't do anything that irritates Him. He only does those things that please Him, those things that were down to His glory, that display His nature, that's what he does. Christ spoke so beautifully in Luke 12:32 of the delight of the Father in giving us the kingdom. I love the KJV in particular here. "Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom." Meditate on that. God enjoys doing this. He really does. He enjoys saving people “from every tribe and language of people and nation.” He enjoyed saving you. And as a matter of fact, the scripture reveals that there was more joy in heaven over your salvation than over the sustaining work of grace and a hundred other people that didn't need it. You see? He celebrated the day you came to faith in Christ and the angels, saying, "Oh," they reacted and celebrated, too. We should never think the angels precede the Father in anything. The angels responded to God's joyful celebration. It is God's good pleasure to save you. It's His good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.
Well, here in these verses, God's pleasure extends to every detail of reconciliation. God was pleased, first of all, to have all His fullness in a human body, in His Son. He was pleased also to reconcile us through Christ's death. Yes, pleased. And we'll talk more about that in a moment. He was delighted to welcome us even though we were hostile enemies, enemies in our minds as displayed by our evil behavior. He is pleased to present each one of us to Himself holy and blameless, free from any kind of accusation. All of these things bring Him pleasure. God's pleasure extends to the entire salvation plan.
Look at the first part, Christ's incarnation. "For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him." Christ is full of God. He's full of God's power, full of God's mercy, full of God's compassion, full of God's love. He is full of God. God didn't hold anything back from His own Son. He fully reveals himself to His Son. He didn't just reveal Himself, He poured Himself into His Son. All of His fullness dwelling in Christ, even in bodily form.
Now, this is a point that Paul makes again in Colossians 2:9 and 10, we've already quoted it, listen again, "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form. And you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority." The Colossian heretics denied that Jesus was human. They denied that He had a body. Jesus had a body, He has a body now. So therefore, if you had been walking along one of those dusty roads of Palestine, you could have shaken His hand, you could have put your arm around His shoulder, you could have looked Him in the face, you could have touched His beard. All of these things were part of His physical presence, and God was delighted for the incarnation. It is also foolishness to some people, isn't it? As we mentioned last week, foolishness to Thomas Jefferson, foolishness to so many unbelievers that God could take on a human body, but God was pleased to do it.
God’s Plan for Comprehensive Reconciliation
Secondly, we see also God's glorious plan for a comprehensive reconciliation. Verse 20, "And through Him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven." The word "reconciliation" is potent, isn't it? It has to do with broken relationships. It has to do with things that were together that are now blown apart, and the most explosive power there's ever been in the universe is sin. Greater than any fertilizer bomb that blew up half of a building somewhere. You've seen the pictures like in Oklahoma City and all that, the effects of a bomb like that, that is nothing compared to what sin has done in the universe. Nothing. All of the broken relationships there's ever been, all of the wars, all of the conflicts, and that bombing included in all of that, all of that part of sin. And it's amazing, therefore, the healing and the pulling together work of Jesus on the cross, taking these particles that have been blown apart and drawing them back together to be reconciled to God, reconciled and brought back into a right and sweet relationship with God. How wonderful is that? The universe itself, the physical universe was cursed, estranged in some sense from God's original pattern, subjected to frustration by human sin. And so the present creation is groaning, it says, "as in the pains of childbirth until it can be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God." So the physical world needed to be reconciled, so also human beings. God's marvelous plan, therefore, is to reconcile all things back to himself.
Now, don't misunderstand. This is not teaching universalism, it's not teaching that Hell will be empty, it's not in any way teaching the reconciliation of Satan and God, they will not be reconciled, but rather reconciliation of all categories of things, both visible and invisible. All of these things are being brought back together through Christ's work on the cross under one head, God. And so it says in 1 Corinthians 15, "Then the end will come, when He,” Christ, “hands over the Kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” “And when He has done this, then the Son Himself will be made subject to Him who put everything under Him, so that God may be all in all." Do you see how Christ is pulling everything back together? The opposite of the image of the Big Bang. All of these things pulled back together in Christ's redemptive work and handed back to the Father, then Christ Himself subject to the Father “so that God may be all in all.” And that is powerful.
Christ’s Blood Atonement
The most powerful work in history, therefore, is the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. And we see it in His blood, look at Verse 20, "Through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross." The marvelous plan of God, therefore, is blood atonement. We'll never get tired of speaking about the blood, we'll never get embarrassed about the blood. We must speak of the blood because this is the way that God humbles us, the way that God shows us our role because it was through human sin that this explosion happened, and therefore, since the wages of sin is death, it is only by the death of a man, Jesus, the bloodshed on the cross, that all of this reconciliation can come about, and so it's through the bloodshed on the cross. And therefore, let's go back to the beginning, God was pleased to shed the blood of His Son.
This is holy ground, friends. I don't fully understand this. The things I'm about to say over the next two or three minutes, I don't fully understand them. I believe in my heart that they're true, but I don't fully understand it. How can God the Father be pleased to shed the blood of His own Son? How does He find pleasure in that? Most fathers would rather die than see their own sons die. They'd take the place of their sons, they don't want to bury their children. They face great threats and great danger to save their children from death. Speaking of this, some time ago I heard a story of a father who was with two other men and his teenage son fishing in Alaska, and their seaplane took on some water, frigid waters, and the three men made it to the shore, but the young man was not able to swim, his limbs were so stiff, so the father swam back out to be with his son. He didn't think he'd be able to rescue him and in the end he didn't, but he'd rather be with him than live without him. Now, I can understand that. I can understand that, I'm a father of five children. I can understand a father that will sacrifice or lay down his own life to save his children. I don't understand a father that would act to kill his children except as a monster.
I heard another story, and I've related it to you. I love reading work by Voice of the Martyrs and reading martyr stories, even modern martyr stories. And some time ago, I read this story by Richard Wurmbrand of a Romanian pastor, Pastor Florescu, who was arrested by the communist forces before the fall of communism and was being beaten and tortured in the cell that he would give up the names of his church members, who were the men and women that came and worshipped with him, and he wouldn't give in. And they would beat him, they would cut him with knives, they would bleed him, and then they'd put them back in his cell, and they would force large rats into his cell through a drain pipe at night so that if he tried to sleep, they would gnaw on his flesh. So he basically had to beat the rats off all evening long, standing up the whole time. This went on for two weeks.
They're beating him down, beating him down, but he still won't give up the names, until they bring in his 14-year-old son Alexander and they start beating him. And it's pretty clear that they mean to kill him, there's no question about it. And at this point, this man, Pastor Florescu, is just crazed with fatigue and pain and agony, mental anguish of watching his own son, who was a Christian, getting beaten probably to death. He said, "I can't take it anymore. Son, I've gotta tell them what they want to know." And his son, I'll never forget this, he said, he said, "Father, don't do me the injustice of making me the son of a traitor to our Lord Jesus Christ." And so he held back while his son was tortured to death, blood spattering the walls and the ceiling, tortured to death. I can understand a father like that, but a father who will do the torturing, I don't understand. And yet, this is what the scripture says. Isaiah 53:10, it says, "The Lord was pleased to crush him and cause him to suffer. And though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand."
Here's the thing, Jesus died on the cross. As He saw the cross coming toward Him, it was for the joy set before Him that He endured the cross despising its shame. There was nothing in the process that He delighted in, it was in the product that He delighted in. And so also I understand the Father's pleasure in crushing His Son. There is no pleasure in the thing itself, but there is eternal pleasure in what it produced in your life and mine. The Lord was pleased to do it. He was pleased to shed the blood of His Son. He was pleased to pour out His active wrath on His own Son. He was pleased to go through the process of having His only begotten Son cry out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" He was pleased to listen to that, being omnipotent still not exert any power toward rescuing His Son, but only pour on the wrath more until Jesus spoke the words ending it, "It is finished." And then it was done. And God was pleased to do it. Not the process my friends, but so that you and I could stand before Him blameless, and unafraid, and unashamed of His coming, that we might spend eternity in His presence. We, sinners. We, who are, at one point, alienated from Him and hostile enemies in our minds, because of our evil behavior, we were the ones He rescued and He saved us.
The Infinite Journey of Our Reconciliation
Like I said, it's holy ground and I cannot fully understand it, but it's what the scripture teaches. And I think you and I ought to spend time meditating on the infinite journey of our reconciliation. “We were, at one time, hostile to God. We were dead in our transgressions and sins.” We weren't basically good people. I know you said you were, "I'm basically a good person." No, you aren't. No, you weren't. You were dead in your transgressions and sins, and so was I. But we are the kind of people that he saved. We are the ones, look what the text says, Verse 21, "Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior."
"The mind of the flesh," it says in Romans, "is death." We displayed this internal hostility to God by disobeying his commands. We broke all of the Ten Commandments. Whether you actually murdered someone or not, whether you actually committed adultery or not, Jesus said that if you have been angry at someone, you've murdered them in your heart. If you have looked lustfully to a woman, you have committed adultery in your heart. Jesus said these things. We've had other gods besides God. We have coveted. We have lied. We have stolen. We have broken the Ten Commandments. And we have broken the two great commandments, the summary of all of the law. We didn't “love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We did not love our neighbors ourselves.” “We were alienated from God.” We were enemies.
And through the blood shed on the cross, He has reconciled us fully to God. And how sweet is that? But now, He has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation, if you continue in your faith. He has reconciled us, reconciled us fully. And what does this mean? It means we're without blemish. Nothing's wrong with God's eyes, by the way. He still sees well. Even though he's the Ancient of Days, He still sees as well as He ever did. His eyes are still pure to look on evil. He can't look at it, and yet He gazes on you and says, "My beloved." How does He do that? It's the intervening blood shed on the cross for you. It's the perfect righteousness with which you are now clothed. You have been reconciled to God, fully reconciled, and you are free from accusation.
Satan's going to be quite busy on Judgment Day, trust me. He will not have any time to fling accusations your way. You are free forever. Who shall bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? “It's God who justifies, who dares condemn?” We are free from accusation.
The Ongoing Ministry of the Gospel: “IF you continue…”
"If," does that word bother you, by the way? If. There's a condition to all of this, “if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out.” If you continue. You say, "Well, now wait a minute, Pastor, I thought you were one of those that believes in once saved always saved. I thought you can't lose your salvation. You mean I have to kind of keep doing things?" But it does say, "If," doesn't it? If you continue, I say, then you have been saved. That's the way I look at it. If you continue.
Some people look on salvation, I was saying to the new member class this morning, look on salvation like one of those acrylic dried flower paperweights. Eternally beautiful, never changes, beautiful purple flowers inside an acrylic casing. They look on their faith that way. That is not biblical. God has given you a plant, it needs nourishment, it needs sunshine and water, or it will die. All he's saying is that what the plant needs it will get. He will nourish your faith until the day you need it no longer. When faith becomes side and “you don't need faith anymore, you will see Him face to face.” He will nourish it because He who began that good work in you will, what, He will carry it on to completion. So you must continue. You must keep coming to church. You must keep reading your Bible. You must keep praying. You must keep obeying and following the indwelling Spirit as He leads you. You must, if you want to be finally saved in the end.
Now, what application do we take from all of this? First of all, have you trusted in Christ? Did God bring you here today as the answer to my prayer? Lord, please bring someone here who is not saved. Please bring someone here who needs to hear this gospel. I told you you would hear everything you needed to be saved. You've heard it today. Jesus is the Son of God. He died on the cross. He shed His blood under the wrath and curse of God Almighty to free us from all of the guilt that we deserve for our transgressions of His law. You've heard all of that. There is ample free grace available for you. Trust in Christ. Trust in Him. All you need to do is turn to Jesus right now in your heart and say, "Jesus, I can't survive Judgement Day without you. Please save me from my sins. Save me now that I might have eternal life."
For those of you who have already made that commitment, you're in the "if" stage now, if you continue. Are you continuing? Are you continuing to feed your faith with the Word of God? Let's start here. Thank God for the reconciliation we heard about today. Thank God that it was His pleasure to save you. He enjoys saving you. Thank God for it. Feed your faith, and talk to yourself. Preach to yourself. Preach to yourself, say "I'm forgiven. I am forgiven. I'm reconciled. God is at peace with me. I stand in the righteousness of Jesus right now. I can't be more righteous in God's sight than I am right now in Jesus. He has forgiven me. On judgement day, I will stand blameless and unafraid. I am forgiven." Say that to yourself and thank God for it, and then feed your faith. Learn to trust Christ for more and more in the future. Step out in faith. At the end of this, he says that he has become a servant of the gospel. Step out in faith and become a servant of the gospel.
There are people surrounding us right now who are not reconciled to God. Do you have a ministry to them? Do you open your mouth and say anything about these wonderful truths we've been looking at today? Do you have a ministry? It was a great week at First Baptist Church this week. A wonderful new ministry called Jobs For Life started. You may have heard about it. We have some wonderful dedicated servants that have worked hard to make this thing happen. We had our first time on Thursday evening. It's a Bible-based curriculum, helping people to get and keep jobs based on teaching a scripture. These are unbelievers that are coming into our church on Tuesdays and Thursdays to be trained by some wonderful people, members of this church, on how to get and keep a job, and there's a promise of some companies out here that are eager to hire graduates of this program. That's the attraction to them. We're hoping they'll find an even greater attraction though. Jesus. We want them to find Christ. What would it profit a man or woman to get a job and lose their soul? Alright? Yes, they need a job and we want to help them with that. It's Christ-like to minister to temporal needs. But we need some laborers for that harvest field, friends. We had 14 students on Thursday evening, nine women and five men. And we need mentors who will build relationships with these folks and help them through the first few months, many months perhaps, of their job, and more than that get to know them in Christ and lead them to faith in Christ perhaps, and disciple them after they've come to faith in Christ. I'd like to see some of them baptized right up here. If that ministry doesn't appeal to you, that's fine. Alright? One part of the body is a toe, another a hand, another an eye. We have different functions. You should care, and pray, but what is your ministry? Are you a partner with Christ in the gospel? The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost. Are you involved in that? Are you a partner, a sharer in the gospel ministry? Close with me in prayer.