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197 - Everything, Through Him, For Him

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin
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May 25, 2024 1:00 pm

197 - Everything, Through Him, For Him

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin

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May 25, 2024 1:00 pm

Episode 197 - Everything, Through Him, For Him (25 May 2024) by A Production of Main Street Church of Brigham City

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You pick up your Bible and wonder, is there more here than meets the eye?

Is there anything here for me? I mean, it's just words printed on paper, right? Well, it may look like just print on a page, but it's more than ink. Join us for the next half hour as we explore God's Word together, as we learn how to explore it on our own, as we ask God to meet us there in its pages.

Welcome to More Than Ink. You know, you ask anyone who Jesus is and they'll give you a lot of crazy answers. Oh, he was a great moral teacher. Oh yeah, or sort of like a life coach. He was the best life coach ever. Yeah, tips on living a better life. But the Scripture says something other than that.

No, in fact, it says something huge and we'll see that hugeness in Paul's letter to the Colossians here today on More Than Ink. Well, wonderful. Good morning to you. I'm Jim.

And I'm Dorothy. And we are delighted that you've decided to join with us. And we're delighted that you're exploring Colossians with us. It's a, like we talked about last time, it's a book that has such incredible depth, but it's not lost on the first readers.

I mean, you can gain so much from just the first reading. So if that's your experience, we're glad you're with us because Colossians will change your life. It'll change your mind.

It'll change your heart. Yeah, yeah. And we're coming into a very famous section in Colossians. I mean, he does this right out of the chute when he starts Colossians. It's called The Preeminence of Christ. And so he just right off the top talks about from the biggest picture possible, who is Jesus and what has he done for us. And he actually, he started this topic last time we met.

Right. At the end of his prayer, he kind of shifts into talking about this one, this beloved son who has delivered us and he is our king. Remember that phrase, he delivered us from the domain of darkness. Yeah, here, let's just read it, verse 13 and 14.

This is last time, yeah. It comes right before this. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

That there's a mouthful. And then he's going to go right on saying, and he is all these things. So this is what he's done for us. And now why is Christ positioned to be able to do this for us? And he talks about it right here as we come into chapter 1, verse 15. Who is Jesus? Who is the Christ? Who is Jesus? Who is Christ?

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. Yeah, let's just stop right there. Can we take these in chunks? Okay, well, I was thinking maybe we should just read the whole thing and then let that wash over and then kind of circle back. Oh, okay, well, we can do that.

Because if we start taking them apart right now, we're going to use up our whole time. Okay, so we're going to look at 15 to 20. 15 to 20 is all about who Jesus is. Okay, let's start again.

Do it again. So we need to do it in a breath. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities, all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Oh, boy. So I think it's important to just let that gigantic statement just wash over you before you begin to circle back and pick it apart. Yeah, and he starts in 16 with the creation, and he ends in 20 with redeeming and reconciling things back to himself. So, you know, before we begin to talk about these things ourselves, I just want to say, since our purpose here is to help people begin to know how to unpack these things themselves, I would just offer you listeners a study technique that's good for this particular passage in particular, is to list these different statements that are made about Christ and then look for cross-references for each one. Where does the Scripture comment on that or use the same term?

Look for words that you don't immediately understand what they mean. Probably the biggest one in this passage for most people is firstborn. What does firstborn really mean? Define that.

Find a Bible dictionary and look that up, because it doesn't just mean the first child born, as we often read it. And I did a lot of that before we started here, so I can share some of the stuff I found. You'll find it too. So that's just a study technique that's going to be helpful to you. List these things and leave lots of space between them so you have room to write your cross-references and what you learned from those. And also, by doing that list, it gets around the problem of the fact that a lot of this feels like one gigantic run-on sentence. And it sort of is. So just make the list and see what he's calling out as he goes along. Yeah, so you look for he is, or by him, or through him, and then the words that follow. And so, because there's a dozen different things here.

Yeah, well, let's start in 15. And he starts off by saying that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. The image of the invisible God. And we're not talking a picture image, we're talking in Greek this word icon. And it was the word that was used when you picked up a coin, and you looked on the coin, and there was a picture of Caesar on it during that time.

So it's actually, it has two things involved. This icon thing is about there being a likeness, which is you look at him, you see him in a way, a likeness, as well as a real manifestation. So when you're talking about Jesus, Jesus is the solution to the fact that we cannot see God.

Right. Now you can, if you look at Jesus. And remember, they asked him that at the end of one of the Gospels. They said, well, why don't you show us the Father?

And Jesus says, well, I've been with you all this time, and you're missing it? You look at Jesus, you're seeing the Father. Well, in Hebrews, the writer of Hebrews says something interesting here. In verse three of Hebrews, it says, he is the radiance of his glory and the exact representation of his nature. Okay, so that's the word icon.

That's the word icon. The exact representation, that's that imprint of the Father in the person of Jesus. So he makes visible the invisible God. So could you actually say that one of the purposes for Jesus coming in a human body was not only just to die for mankind, which is a big deal, but also to give us an understanding of who God is in a way we've never had before. Totally, because that's what the Gospel of John says. Right, in John 1.14, John says, and the word became flesh and dwelt among us. We saw his glory, right, full of grace and truth. But then in verse 18 of John 1, it says, no man has seen God at any time, the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father. He has explained him. Made him known. In the person of Jesus, God has fully and completely declared who he is and what he's like.

Yeah, yeah. So he is, I really like the Hebrew description. He's the outshining. He's the light flowing out. He'll let you know who God is with great brilliance. That's who he is. And then he goes on after that and says, did you have more on the image? No, go on, the firstborn, right?

That's where you're going? Which is a word that we don't relate to at all. No. We just have no clue what that is. We just think the firstborn is our oldest child.

Right, right. And this term right here, this firstborn has been a matter of confusion for a lot of people for, well, for centuries and centuries. It's a word in Greek, it's prototokos. And so they say, well, how does prototokos used in other secular things?

But it's really not that hard of a term to understand. It's just that we don't really honor the firstborn and families anymore. Well, no, but in the first century when this was written, and even all the way back through the Old Testament, the firstborn was the heir, the one who represented all the rest of the family that was to follow and who would inherit everything that was the father's. He carried on the business of the father. Right, he carried on the family name. Even before the father died, he could do contractual agreements with people in the name of the father.

He had all the authority of the father. So if you were looking at the firstborn son, you were essentially looking at the father. Exactly. That's what Jesus said to Philip on the last night at the Last Supper when Philip said, Lord, if you'd only just show us the father.

And I can see him slapping his forehead and saying, you know, now don't you get it yet? If you've seen me, you've seen the father. That's in John 14.

Right. So the firstborn is really the idea of having exactly the same authority, the same power, the same sovereignty. I mean, everything about the father, the same purpose is reflected in the son, totally in the son. So he is the firstborn of all creation, the firstborn of all creation. So whatever the intent of creation was, he is the firstborn of, doesn't mean he's the first created thing. Doesn't mean he's the first created. Right, and that's where a lot of the misinterpretation comes from. They'll say, well, look, he's the first thing created.

No. Because he is the uncreated son. And he'll make that clear in the next verse, by the way. So just don't take that out of context. But let me read you a couple other things really quick because when I did a search on firstborn, there's a lot of interesting things. I'm not going to explain them all, but I'll give you the reference.

You can look and kind of think about it. But if you go all the way back to Exodus 4, when Moses goes to Pharaoh and says, basically, look, he says to Pharaoh, thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son. And I say to you, let my son go that he may serve me. And if you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son. So that's the reason why the death of the firstborn is that that final plague is because God considered Israel his firstborn son, the inheritance of a whole future of life with God is what that was about.

And there's several other places I'll go on. And Romans 8, 29 is a great one. For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined, he's talking about us, predestined to be conformed to the image of his son in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. So he's actually, this is the beginning of an inheritance of Christ's likeness built into us. So in that sense, it actually has a little connection into the idea of the first fruits.

Yes, it does. The first fruit representing the whole crop to come. Yeah, yeah. Jesus, the firstborn represents all those who would believe in him who come after.

Yeah. And that idea is also, that's also pictured in Revelation 1, because when he writes to the seven, John writes to the seven churches in verse four, five, six, and then goes on for several chapters, his opening sentence is grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits, or before his throne, in verse five of chapter one, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of earth, to him who loves us and who has freed us from our sins by his blood. Firstborn of the dead. So in that sense, too, he's the first of those who will find life because of the payment he did through his blood.

Firstborn. He's the preeminent one that way. Well, let's move on.

Oh, I just love that. You'll find lots more other places. So use your concordance. Yeah.

Use firstborn and start scratching your head, because it's really good. Okay. So it's going to get bigger. Sixteen. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities, all things were created. Everything. Through him and for him. Everything. Oh, mercy.

I think I was an adult before the significance of that sunk in to me. Yeah. Right.

The Son of God was the one who actively was creating, which John says in the beginning of his gospel. He does. Right? A very beginning. He does. In the beginning was the Word. He missed it. The Word was with God. The Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by him. And apart from him, nothing came into being that has come into being. You can put to rest this heresy that Jesus is a created being, because, no, everything was created by him. He created everything. And through him and for him.

And for him. There's a purpose to creation, and it's for him. Yeah. Exactly.

Exactly. So Jesus is not a created being. And not only is he talking about, you know, when he says heaven and earth, he's talking about what you see in heaven, you know, there's a thought that one of the levels of heaven is what you see in the sun, moon, and stars. But then everything above that.

I mean, everything that's unseen. So he created everything. He even created the ruling kingdoms on the earth. I mean, they came about because he allowed them to be there, and he created them. But doesn't, you know, a lot of people will say, but doesn't this put this in conflict with Genesis 1-1?

Because Genesis 1-1 says, in the beginning, God created. And you go, oh, well, so does this mean that Jesus is equivalent to God? Jesus is God? Yeah. Yes. Right. So this is the conundrum, because they'll say, well, no, when we talk in Genesis 1-1, and you connect it to this, it sounds like Paul is saying that Jesus himself is God. Well, he is. He is.

And it's inescapable. Of course, that's exactly what he's saying. He's saying that for someone, for a Jew who would read this, they'd say, no, this is heresy. Only God created the universe. God did. It's in Genesis 1-1.

You can read it there for yourself. Yes. We're talking about Jesus.

Well, he's going to get there in a couple of verses, because for in him, all the fullness of God is pleased to dwell. Yes. Yeah. Yeah.

But, oh, we got to go back. Verse 17. Yep. Before all things, and in him, all things hold together. That's a great phrase. Before all things, and all things holding together.

What does that mean? Does that mean he's before all things in time? Yes. And? And in place. And in place.

First place. And that purpose for him, that puts him first, too. And in him, all things hold together. Now, that's an intriguing phrase.

That is such an intriguing phrase. It kind of means all things endure. All things stay as they should be. But as a young believer, I started thinking about this, well, if it's true that all things hold together in him, that means he's holding together my cells. He's holding together the universe, the planets in their orbit.

They're all staying where they should be. And then I started thinking, and this is, I was 15 or 16 at this point, I was thinking he's holding the very atoms together and the very things that circle around. Remember how hard it was to break open the atom to release the energy, because the Lord Jesus was holding it together.

And it's not because man overpowered him, it's because he allowed them to wrestle with how difficult that was to do and then to control the power that was released. So that was really helpful to me as a young believer, to think about Christ being the one who holds all those things together actively. He's not only a creator who starts it, but he's a creator who keeps the creation going.

Keeps it in order. And from a scientific perspective, you're exactly right. Because inside the atom, they look at the charges of things like protons and electrons and stuff like that.

And they look at that and they say, this little atom ought to just fly apart. The only reason it doesn't is because this mysterious force that they give this very elegant title, the strong force, it's still what it's called today. Because we can't define it.

We can't define it. We don't know why it's there. We don't know why something is holding this together. Because what we know about the physics of the component to the atom, they ought to fly apart. They just ought to fly apart.

It does not make any sense. Well, there's a strong force and no one has been able to crack exactly what that strong force is. There's something that actively holds every bit of matter together. And if that was gone, we'd all just fly apart.

The universe would unmake. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And that's like, we just can't even contemplate the reality of that. But, in our complaisance, we tend to take for granted this place that we live and think that, you know, it's always been here, it'll be like this next time that we wake up.

And that's really not true. It's only because of the active involvement of Jesus himself that things stated, that the creation holds together. Yeah. It's a fascinating thing. He started it and he's still holding it together. Which implies the fact that someday he'll let it go and it'll fly apart.

Well, you know in Revelation, when it speaks of the heavens being rolled up like a scroll. Right. Right. I think that speaks to this.

It does. He's going to just begin to unmake what was made and we'll see behind the scenes. Well, and he'll make all things new. Right. Yeah. Yeah. We've got to push on.

This is great stuff. Well, I'm thinking maybe we should only go through verse 20. We can't go any farther than that.

Because we'll never make it. That might be true. Yeah. And he, verse 18, ready? 18. And he is the head of the body, the church. Okay.

Stop there. Yes. The body without a head is dead.

Has no leadership. But literally, if you decapitate something, it is dead. There is no life in the body if there is not a head. Yeah. Yeah.

He's the head of the church. And actually, this word, I was curious this time to look up. It's like when you talk about the head of a river. The beginning of the river. Right. The beginning.

The source of the Nile. It's really, it encompasses this idea of source and origin as well as the ongoing source. So he's basically saying that if you want, you see the body of Christ right now.

If you want to look to the source and the origin of that and the act of beginning and ongoing source, it's Jesus himself. Yeah. He's the head.

Which leads us into that next statement. He is the beginning. Yeah.

Right? The source. He's the beginning.

The firstborn from the dead. Yeah. Yeah. That in everything, he might be preeminent. Right. He's first.

So what is preeminence? Right. That should send you to the dictionary.

That's true. Because that's not a word we use very often. And so did you look it up? Well I did look it up. Okay.

Well I thought you might have. If something is preeminent, it means it holds first place. First place. First place in rank. First place in influence.

Yes. First place in everything. In everything.

In everything. And since he's saying this not only about the church but in creation too, he's saying that everything that you see and touch and feel and look at through a telescope has been created by him and for him. He's preeminent. He's the first thing in charge of everything, including what you can see. So Jesus is preeminent because he's the creator and he's made this and he's made this for himself, for him. So he's preeminent. Yeah.

You know when you are cross-referencing this idea of the preeminence of Christ you may come to Ephesians 1 where Paul says God is summing up all things in Christ. Oh yeah. Right. Right. Right.

So it's all about him. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

From beginning to end. Yeah. And it's not just a small character in the timeline of history. You know he is the reason for history itself.

Mm-hmm. And his earthly presence is the fulcrum of all history. Right.

The hinge on which history turns. Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah. He is preeminent. That's why this section is called the preeminence of Christ because that word, that word, if you look it up if you're a Greek nerd it really is a big word. Big is not a big enough word to call how big this is but he is preeminent both in time and space and purpose and ownership in every way and sovereignty in every way. Yeah. So you know in the preeminence Paul says in verse 19 then, for in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.

Now that's a mouthful right there. We can't even get our brain around the fullness of God being poured into a human being. This is what, it takes me always back to John 1 14 when John says, and the word became flesh and dwelt among us.

Yeah. And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. And if we press on in the passage a little bit, verse 16 in John 1 says, for of his fullness we have all received and grace upon grace for the law was given through Moses, grace and truth were realized, were brought into reality through Jesus Christ.

No man has seen God at any time. The only begotten who is in the bosom of the Father, he has explained him. And I know I read that earlier but it bears repeating, that word explained means he has been declared thoroughly and completely in the person of Christ. And this word here in 19, it's this fullness, it's pleroma and again, that's been a word that's been debated for two millennia. But not really debated because people say, it says means fullness, does it mean fullness fullness? It means full. It means full. Like a fragrance fills the house, like when you're cooking, the odor of what you're cooking or the delicious smell of what you're cooking lingers. And it doesn't say that the fullness was in him, it says that the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.

So this is a way in which the Father wanted to proclaim to all of his created humanity what he's like through the person of Jesus. The fullness was pleased to dwell. And this dwell word doesn't mean just temporary. There's actually a temporary word for dwelling in Greek that's applied many times to tents and stuff like that. What he's saying here that this is the fullness of God that permanently dwells in who Jesus is. Permanent home.

Permanent home, yeah. It's extraordinarily powerful. And again, I said back in verses 16 and 17, it sounds like in that creation part of it that he's equating Jesus with God. And when you see this right here, you say, well, Jesus had the fullness of God in him.

So yeah, there is an equation here. I mean, there's just no way of getting around the divinity of Jesus when you read these passages. Well, and here comes the hope of the gospel, right? In verse 20.

Yay, what he did. And through him, this one in whom the fullness of God dwells, through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace through the blood of his cross. Yes. Now, you don't reconcile something unless it's separated.

Right. And we're going back to Genesis with the fall. Mankind was separated from God because of the fall, because the choice of evil, the choice of being independent and rebellious to God.

So here's this problem. In 16 and 17, he created this creation, but then later, a couple chapters into Genesis, the creation itself rebelled against him. And so what does he do as a creator? He comes and he buys it back. He reconciles it back.

And reconcile is a word we almost never use, except in terms of a couple that's estranged or separated and they get back together again. So here's the getting back together again of mankind with God. And he himself, the creator himself, did this. He reconciled to himself all things, everything.

Which also emphasizes the fact that at the fall, it wasn't just mankind that suffered the fall. It looks like all of creation and even things in heaven. All creation was infected. Everything got wrecked. Everything got wrecked. And so this creator, the one in whom the fullness of God is, is also the one who came to reconcile that separation, to fix that separation.

And how do you do it? He says at the end of the verse, making peace by the blood of the cross. Okay. So that is the centerpiece of the gospel. That's the gospel. Right?

That God himself came to fix the problem. Exactly. By not just signing a document that says there's peace, but by actually creating peace by the sacrifice of his son. Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah. And that peace word always means a cessation of hostilities. And when you have two sides fighting, they're separated by some issue that caused them to start fighting. This word peace means to stop the fighting and then bring the two together. It's always about reconciling. Peace here is always about reconciling two warring factions. And God had always loved us, but we were at war with God in our rebellion. And so to the reconciling that he does on our behalf, that he accomplishes, he accomplishes on our behalf, he's the one that brings peace then in the relationship because of the payment of the blood and the cross. Wow.

This is big. So I think it's an amazing thing when you look back over this whole section starting in 15 to 20, he starts off as being the full reflection of who God is as the creator. He's before all things.

Fighting is for him. And at the end, he takes his creation and he fixes it. He reconciles it back to himself by dying for us.

That's an amazing, that whole arc right there from 15 to 20 is just a mind blower. Well, and that just sets me thinking, Paul says it another way in 2 Corinthians 5, 21. He says, and he made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

God himself did what was required to put the reconciliation, the putting back into relationship in place. Yeah. Yeah. And he did this. And we will say this again. What part of this section did we just read talks about what we have to do for him that we need to do to earn for him. It looks like there's only one person who's doing this and that person is Jesus himself. And that's actually true.

That's the point. Well, and then that takes us back to what Paul said at the beginning of the letter. Taking the grace of God in truth, biting down on the reality that there was no other way for the relationship to be restored other than God doing it by his grace through the person of Jesus. A gift of his grace. And yet there's so many people that walk around and say, well, when I read the Bible, I read a Jesus who's telling us how we need to live our lives and how we need to be good people and we can make ourselves be better people.

It's a handbook on how to be better human beings. And you go, no, actually, that's not it. You have missed understanding what the grace of God is. You didn't understand the grace of God. You missed it. You missed it. This is not a handbook full of tips on how you make your life better.

It's not a self-improvement manual. It's all about what God has done for us, not what we are supposed to do for him. So we are at the end of our time in this and we'll come back in verse 21 and look at what our role was in this bind back and see where we were. So come back and look at that next time with us here on More Than Ink. There are many more episodes of this broadcast to be found at our website, morethanink.org. And while you're there, take a moment to drop us a note. Remember the Bible is God's love letter to you. Click it up and read it for yourself and you will discover that the words printed there are indeed more than ink. Hugeness is okay. That's all right. This has been a production of Main Street Church of Brigham City.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-25 14:30:40 / 2024-05-25 14:43:37 / 13

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