Hymn of Praise Or To HIM Be Praise

 

Colossians 1:15-20

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, 16 for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. 18 Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning,  supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. 19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ. 20 and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

INTRODUCTION

These days when I approach the pulpit I feel like I am about to wade into a sea of truth that is way over my head and it is not just a feeling, it is a reality. The best I can do is grab hold to something that is floating on the surface. There is no telling how many sermons have been preached from this hymn or how many can be. I can assure you that I will only scratch the surface at best but here goes.

A part of the Colossian heresy is that Jesus is more than man but less than God. The Gnostics had Jesus on the same plain as the angels–somewhere between God and man. In this brief hymn about Jesus, Paul shots a theological clip of holes in their false doctrine.

  1. Paul said [1:15] “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God”
    • Jesus was not God like–He was God!
    • Jesus was not a symbol of God–He was the substance of God!
    • Jesus was not a representative of God–He was a manifestation of God
  2. The Greek word for image is icon [eikon] and it refers to an image of exact likeness. Same word used in reference to a passport, it reveals all personal characteristics and distinguishing marks. If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. He is the full, complete and perfect revelation of God.
  3. The Jehovah Witness us verse 15 in KJV as a proof text that Jesus is not God because He was created. The NLT makes it much clearer…Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation. Christ is the creator, not a creation or creature. He was begotten, not born. He was born into to time and space as a human but as a being, He has always existed. As the black preacher said, Jesus is, He always has been is and He always will be is.” I don’t think you can say any better: I know I can’t.
  4. The Deity of Christ is not just an issue with cults, it is a big issue with culture. The world does not believe that Jesus is the Son of God. The secular world portrays Jesus as a moralist, a teacher, a revolutionary who gave his life for a cause and made an impact on the world. C.S. Lewis is right when he says, “Either Jesus is who He said He was or He is a lunatic and a liar. The one thing is not is a good man.” So Paul writes this hymn of praise to refute the false doctrine that Jesus is not God.

In the passage, the key to look for is “Everything” or “All things.” When you see these words, you know that Paul is about to make a major point.

I. PAUL SAYS JESUS EXISTED BEFORE ALL THINGS He existed before anything was created”

Jesus cannot be a creature because He existed before creation. Before anything was visible, Jesus was. I know you have heard the riddle, “Who at birth was the same age of their Father and older than their mother?” Yahweh which is translated in the Septuagint at Jehovah comes from the Hebrew verb for being ‘hayah‘. Many times it is translated into English as LORD is small caps. The word God used to reveal Himself to Moses comes from this verb which contains all the tenses. Not just present but past and future and future perfect, etc. It is a fascinating word because it contains every tense imaginable. In English it can be translated “I AM” or I AM BECAUE I AM…I AM SINCE I AM…I AM BECAUSE I WAS…I WAS BECAUSE I AM…I AM SINCE I WAS… I WILL ALWAYS BE WHAT I AM. It is an inexhaustible list of ways you can translate the verb but each way says something true about the nature of God. Moffatt always translates the word “The Eternal” which is great. God is the eternal, self-existent, infinite One who has not beginning and no end. Jesus Christ is God’s Son and has these same eternal qualities. Don’t ask me to explain it: I can’t explain it and if I could you couldn’t understand: God is infinite and so is Jesus Christ. If we could put Him in a finite frame, He would not be infinite.

The liberals, bless their idiotic hearts, come up with the most outrageous explanation for creation minus a Creator. The big bang theory. My soul folks, you would have to be a moron to believe such an idiotic theory. Do you believe I could drive by a junk yard and throw out a hand grenade and after the dust of the explosion settles, there out of the explosion would sit a brand new Lexis? The big bang theory is stupid and no intelligent person is going to fall for this nonsense. Ask your liberal friends one question: when and where did it all start? The evolutionist believe that matter creates matter. Where did the matter come from? Ask them to explain infinity. Don’t worry, they can’t. Infinity is a witness to the infinite, dah! Just as a creation is a witness to a Creator. Does the sun need a witness to its glory? Would you argue that the sun is not glorious when you can not look directly at it due to its radiance. Moffatt always translates YHWH as “The Eternal One” but it could be translated “The Infinite One”. The liberals have Albert Einstein posted as an atheist. That is wishful thinking on their part. He was not a Christian by profession but he was not an atheist. He may have said some things in his early life that leads one to think he was a atheist but he was no atheist. He like most all great philosophers and scientist believed in the infinite. I did not say that he believed in a personal God but he believed in an infinite power: Only a fool would not. So Jesus is the essence of the infinite God who is and always has been.

II. SECOND: PAUL SAID JESUS CREATED ALL THINGS Jesus is supreme over all creation, for through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. [15b-16]]

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

Read it again with Jesus in His proper place, He being the Logos.

In the beginning the Jesus already existed. Jesus was with God, and the Jesus was God. Jesus existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through Jesus, and nothing was created except through Jesus. Jesus gave life to everything that was created, and Jesus life brought light to everyone. Jesus shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish Him.

Jesus is the logos, the word or mind of God expressed in human flesh. The Bible is the written word and Jesus is the living word. All things were created by HIM and for HIM and He is supreme over all creation whether visible or invisible. Jesus spoke everything into being that is and nothing was spoken into being a part from HIM. He created everything in all realms: heaven or earth, spiritual or natural. Nothing was created that He did not create and He created everything from nothing. As one of my seminary professors was fond of saying, “Jesus can do a lot with nothing.” Man can duplicate, he can manufacture from existing goods but man cannot create and neither can Satan. The devil can twist and pervert what has been created but he cannot create. He did not create pleasure, joy or fun but he wants you to think it is his creation. He didn’t create anything and he could not have fouled anything up had we not cooperated with him. He used us to bring sin, guild, fear, death, sorrow and the lost of dominion to the earth.

Jesus is the Creator and an infinite Creator is He. He has the ability to make all things new. He rarely does the same thing twice. One Red Sea, one Mount Sinai, one John the Baptist, one cross, one resurrection [Christ], one Pentecost and one Paul. You can pray for a second Pentecost but I don’t think you will get it. He has something new and fresh for you. He creates new mercies every day. The more He gives, the more His wealth increases. He will never burn out of give out.

III. THIRDLY: JESUS SUSTAINS ALL THINGSHe existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. {2:17}

Jesus is the cosmic glue of the universe; He literally holds all things together. The atomic age has brought much truth to light. The atom is a tiny particle, so small that millions can light on the tip of a needle. How many are in the human body? They estimate 7 x 10 to the 27th power which is more than you and I can count. The strange thing about this tiny orb is that it is mostly space. It appears as a tiny solar system. The core that is called a nucleus is made up of a cluster of protons and neutrons. This is also called the core. If you disturb the core, you get a nuclear reaction which may or may not be good. Zinging around the core is an array of electrons. They are traveling at unbelievable speeds. What keeps all creation is place is the nucleus of the atom and no scientist knows what hold this core together. If the core were to come a part, we would have a universal instant melt down: everything visible would become invisible, even space. The world doesn’t know what holds all things together but we do…Jesus!

IV. JESUS IS TO HAVE PREEMINENCE IN ALL THINGSChrist is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything.

  1. In laymen’s terms…It is all about Jesus which is a mystery to most. Actually, real or abundant life is only found in Jesus. He is the hidden treasure. Once a person makes this discovery, celebrating Jesus is a way of life.
  2. Paul gives us an example and it is the Church. Jesus is the Head of the church which means He is preeminent in our teaching, preaching, ministry, missions, worship, etc. If we do something and it is not about Jesus, we have missed the point.
  3. In our culture, the seekers do not use the term Jesus, they use God in a generic sense. Even when they are speaking of the 2nd and 3rd persons of the trinity, they say ‘God.’ It is a subtle thing I admit but an important thing. Do not attend a politically correct church. You will not get into God’s heaven with a politically correct theology. You must confess CHRIST before men. If there is no JESUS in your theology, you better change theologies. I have heard these guys who fill up a sanctuary 6 times per Sunday preach an entire message [an a good one information wise] and never mention Jesus. We are talking about highly intelligent people with super gifts but they do not exalt Jesus.
  4. God the Father wills that His Son get glory. You will never please the FATHER until you learn to lift up the SON.
  5. Isaiah 42:8–“I am the LORD; that is my name, I will not share My glory with anyone else.”
  6. Remember Jesus transfiguration and baptism: the Father spoke from heaven, “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.” The NLT reads…Who brings me great joy.
  7. John 8:54–Jesus said, “My Father glorifies Me.”
  8. John 16:14–Jesus said, “The Holy Spirit glorifies Me.”
  9. Is this so hard to believe? God the Father and Father of fathers, wills that His only begotten and perfect Son get glory. I grew up in the 50-60’s when kids had to work. I got to play one year of organized baseball and that was my Senior year in high school. County schools didn’t have baseball in those days but I did play basketball and football for 6 years. My dream was to be a professional athlete. I had no other dream. I played a lot in Junior High but in High School my career hit a wall and it actually got worse my senior year. I had already quit Basketball because they would not allow me on the court but I would not quit football although the coach did everything he could to discourage me. In the middle of my senior year, he humiliated myself and five more seniors. He did something unprecedented at Athens High School, he cut Seniors who had played for all three years including one year on the suicide squad. We came to the dressing room on an black October day and our names had been removed from our lockers. It was the ultimate humiliation for a high school football player. Finally, one of the assistants had mercy and told us where to find our equipment. We all sat down in dismay and discussed the situation. We agreed that he did it to force us to quit and we decided not to give him that satisfaction. We dressed for practice and went on to the field. He made us do drills but would not let us scrimmage which is the fun part. Long story short, my high school sports career ended in dismal failure. My son was the 7th man on the Junior high basketball team and I thought, here we go again but by the grace of God and his hard work, he bloomed as a sophomore and started as a Junior and Senior. He was the go to man in his senior season and shared the MVP award. I was sitting in an annual meeting of all things when a country preacher brought a message from this text in Colossians. As he was preaching, the lights came on: in a flash God spoke to me is a real and vivid way. He ask me a question: “Jack, if you could trade places with your son, and you be the star and him sit on the bench, would you do it?” I wept silently and muttered, “No LORD, you know I would not. I would never be happy taking the boys glory. I have no problem with what You have done.” It may seem like a crude illustration but it opened my eyes. The heavenly Father loves for us to praise His Son just as I enjoyed seeing my son get praise for his performance on the court. I have never forgot this moment or this insight. It changed my life completely.

CONCLUSION

I don’t know everything but I know some things:

  1. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself
  2. Everything comes from Christ [the source], it is sustained by His power and created for His glory. [Rom. 11:36]
  3. All things were created by Him, for Him and they are coming back to Him.
  4. The world doesn’t know where it is headed but I do: all creation [Rom. 8] is coming to Christ and every knee will bow and every tongue confess. I’m afraid it will be too late for salvation, but for God’s glory, every knee will bow and every tongue confess. It is going to happen. Christ hating atheist are going to confess He is LORD.
  5. The good news is that Jesus came to reconcile you personally.

STORY

One of the most moving stories I’ve heard comes from Max Lucado’s GENTLE THUNDER. It is the story of Cinderella’s Castle. I’ve never been to Disney World and have to intention of going but every where I tell this story, someone comes to me and says, “I have been there and seen what you were talking about.” At certain times, Cinderella will come out of her castle and mix and mingle with the children gathered in front of the castle. A certain man carried his children to Disney World and they were standing in front of the castle waiting for Cinderella’s appearance. When she came out the kids all flocked to her, surrounding her. She was a beautiful model; more beautiful than the picture this father had seen of Cinderella. He was stunned by her beauty. When he gathered his wits, he noticed two boys in the corner of his eye, they had not moved with the crowd to Cinderella. Now they were standing alone and one was a couple of feet taller than the other. The small boy had a disfigured face and a dwarfed and twisted body. It broke this father’s heart and he voiced a prayer in his mind. If Cinderella would only notice this child and befriend him he prayed. Sure enough, Cinderella had noticed the child to and worked her way toward him. He was petrified and did not move. She came to him and touched him, gently bending to his small frame and kissing him on the forehead. Wow, what an awesome scene! The father thought to himself, “Would it not be great if she could transform his disfigured body?” Then it dawned on him that this is exactly what Jesus did: he came to us, He condescended to our littleness of statue and He kissed our marred frame. Jesus took our ugliness upon His own person and took it to the cross of Calvary and in exchange, He gave us His glorious perfection. What an exchange: You give Him your faith [trust] and He gives you His righteousness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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