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Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
December 21, 2021 9:00 am

Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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December 21, 2021 9:00 am

Have you ever had one of those moments when you’re singing along with a song that you’ve heard it a million times before, but all of a sudden something clicks, and you realize what the lyrics are actually about? Well, a similar thing can happen with familiar Bible stories, like the Christmas narrative. Pastor J.D. urges us to look at the Christmas story with fresh eyes so we can discover the true wonder of the incarnation. Pastor J.D. is teaching from a First Century song recorded in Colossians 1, verses 15 to 20. It’s part of our series called, God With Us.

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Today on Summit Life, Pastor J.D. Greer is getting to the heart of the Christmas story. This Christmas, I want the mystery of the incarnation to overwhelm you, to just overwhelm you, to see it with those eyes, to feel it, that what he was doing, he was doing for you. As the son of God, he could feed 5,000, but as the son of man, he became hungry so that he could say to you and to me, I'm the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never hunger. Welcome to Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. We're so glad that you're back with us today as we journey towards Christmas Day this week. Okay, so have you ever had one of those moments when you're singing along with a song and you know every word, every guitar riff, you've heard it a million times, but all of a sudden something clicks and you realize what the song is actually about? Well, a similar thing can happen with familiar Bible stories like the Christmas narrative. We've heard it, we've celebrated it for years, but then something just feels new. Today, Pastor J.D. is urging us to look at the Christmas story with fresh eyes so we can discover the true wonder of God becoming man. He's teaching from a first century song recorded in Colossians chapter one, verses 15 to 20.

This that you're about to look at is a Christmas song. You see, scholars tell us that what Paul does in verse 15 halfway through this chapter in Colossians is he breaks into a song. We're going to go through it line by line because in it, Paul gives one of the clearest descriptions of who Jesus is. In short, his answer, Jesus is God. He's going to say it in a half a dozen different ways. We'll go through it line by line, and then he's going to, at the end, turn it around and say all this that he did, he was doing for you. And then he is going to persuade us that in all things, Jesus ought to be preeminent in our lives.

And I'm going to give you a few ways that he should be preeminent. Starting in verse 15, Jesus is the image of the invisible God. Invisible. God is invisible. He is spirit.

Human eye cannot see him. So the question is, how can he be known? How can he be perceived by us? Well, Jesus was the image, the icon of God. He was the representation of God. If Jesus were not fully God, then he would not be the exact representation. We are made in the image of God. Jesus was the image of God.

He goes on. He is the first born over all creation. First born in Hebrew culture could mean one of two things. It could mean literally the first born, or it could also be a position where you are the one who is going to receive the inheritance. Well, in this case, clearly first born refers not to Jesus being the first thing God created, but it means the position that God gave to him.

I'll show it to you. Look at how the verse continues. Verse 16, for by him, by Jesus, all things were created in heaven and on earth. He was the creator. He created all things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities, all things were created through him and for him. Jesus is in the position of first born. All creation was made by him and for him, which means, listen, that in the creation, what you are looking at or what you are smelling, if you will, is the perfume of the creator.

You are getting a sense of the artistry of the artist. Verse 17, he is before all things and in him all things hold together. At the center of the universe, at the center of our creation is a God who is so core to it and so central that all things hold together in him. Paul would say this, in him we live and we move and we have our being. Whether you're a Christian or not, that's true.

To be present in him is to be harmonious with all of creation and with your creator. He's the first born. It's all by him. It's all for him. It's all about him. He was there at the beginning. He writes the story in the middle.

He's going to be there at the end. Verse 18, and he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the first born from the dead.

Two ideas Paul gives you here. The first one, he's the first born from the dead. In Jesus, we get a glimpse of what we and all of creation are going to be like in the future. You know, Jesus, when he was here on earth, they said that he was not physically impressive.

He was just very average. But when he was resurrected from the dead, he was glorious and he was beautiful and he could fly and he could walk through walls. And that gives you a picture of what God is making you in the new creation and what God is making all of the new creation. He's also the head of the body, which means that he is the source of this new life so that the closer we get to him, the more that his life is going to flow into us. Paul is showing you that if you want this resurrection life, this first born from the dead life in you, he's the head of the church. You want to have it in you, then you've got to be connected to the head so that the closer you are to him, the more you'll see the effects of him in your life. Verse 19, for in him, all the fullness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell.

Fullness is the word pleroma. And what it means is that God is not a pie. God's not a pie that's divided into Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Listen, this will blow your mind if you think about it for longer than three seconds. In Jesus, the fullness of the Godhead was. In the Father, the fullness of the Godhead was. In the Spirit, the fullness of the Godhead was. That means in the Father is the Spirit and the Son. In the Son is the Father and the Spirit. In the Spirit is the Father and the Son. You think about that, but they're separate.

I don't know how that works. One God existing eternally in three persons, each of them has the fullness of the Godhead in it. All I know is that Paul is trying to say that if I am in Christ, then the fullness of God dwells in me. And that amazes Paul and it should amaze you. Verse 20, and through him to reconcile all things to himself, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Has any other government agency ever done that? Where it takes the traitor, it takes the rebel, and in addition to trying to bring them back, it actually pays their debt? That here is the King of the universe taking the rebellious traitor race, taking upon himself the affliction for their sin and dying for it. And he did it himself. Jesus was God. God was the one that was doing that. Why?

Listen, you can't miss this. So that he would be in all things preeminent. God would not let anybody else stand as a substitute for my sins because he wanted to be preeminent, not that creative thing. Here's a verse that the Greer family is learning. Psalm 130, verse four.

It's a verse that my whole family is learning. There is forgiveness with you that you might be feared. There's forgiveness with you that you might be feared. Question, according to that verse, why did God forgive you? You might be tempted to say, well, because he loves me. Because he wanted me to be with him for eternity.

And those are good answers. That's elsewhere in scripture. But according to that verse, I asked my kids, why is there forgiveness?

Why did God forgive you? That God might be properly feared. Don't let the word fear trip you up because fear is not like you're terrified so much as, think of it how you relate to the sun. If you get out of right relationship to the sun, you get too far or get too close, you either burn up or you'll freeze.

But if you're in right relationship to the sun, it's life and peace. God forgave us so that for all of eternity, we would know we would be scared to death to be out of fellowship with him because we know that in him is eternal life and to know him is to know eternal life. That's King David's way of saying, and in all things, he might be preeminent. Now watch how Paul makes it personal. And you, you who were once alienated and hostile in mind doing evil deeds, you he is now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.

Paul says, this is mine. All this that he did, he did for me. He did it for you. And that makes him burst into praise.

It makes him write songs. See, that's what I want for you. I want you to sit in stunned awe of who Jesus is and not just who he is in a doctrinal sense, but who he is in a relational sense, because you see that what he was doing, he was doing for you and then let all of your life flow as a response to that. Your spiritual life will never take off until doctrine becomes dynamic relationship, until verses become voices that God is speaking to your heart. And when that does, I pray that he will become preeminent in at least four areas with us, four areas in your life.

You may want to jot these down. Number one, may Christ be preeminent in our worship. Paul cannot talk about these things without breaking into a hymn of praise. Worship for him was not something he worked up to once a week, came in, sang some songs, went home. What he did, in fact, on the weekend when he worshiped with God's people was an overflow of just the saturated nature of his heart that he's just so overwhelmed at what God had done for him in the incarnation of the cross that he can't help, but just at any point you tap into him, he's just going to burst with praise. See, this Christmas, I want the mystery of the incarnation to overwhelm you, to just overwhelm you, to see it with those eyes, to feel it, that what he was doing, he was doing for you. As the son of God, he could feed 5,000, but as the son of man, he became hungry so that he could say to you and to me, I'm the bread of life.

Whoever comes to me will never hunger. As the son of God, he turned water into wine. As the son of man, he was thirsty so that he could say to me and to you, whoever thirsts, let him come to me and drink.

The water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up into eternal life. As the son of God, he spoke the world into existence. As the son of man, he grew weary so that he could say to you and to me, come unto me, all you who are labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. As the son of God, he dwelled in the palaces of glory. As the son of man, he was born into a stable. He grew up in poverty. He with no place to lay his head so that he could promise me and you an inheritance that could never be taken away.

He took the stable so that he could promise me a place with many mansions. As the son of God, he was adored by angels and the perfections of holiness. As the son of man, he was condemned by Pilate in the filthiness of the Roman court.

He was scourged by whips and scorned by man because God was making him who knew no sin to become sin for me so that I could become the righteousness of God in him. And Paul sees that in the incarnation. And Paul sees that though Jesus, listen, though he looked weak in the incarnation, which he did, Paul lifts his eyes in this passage to when Jesus is coming again. And he says, he is not coming again as one who is weak.

At his first coming, Jesus was born in a stable. At his second, he'll come riding on the clouds. Paul looks upward and he said, he's coming again.

And every eye is going to see him this time. And they're all going to fall immediately on their faces in worship. But I, Paul says, have no reason to fear.

I have no reason to fear because at his first coming, he came to bear my judgment and stand in my place so that at his second coming, there will be no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus and nothing that could separate us from the love of God in Christ. How does that not make you burst into worship? One of our pastors, one of our songwriters here, Matt Papa wrote it this way. Come behold the wondrous mystery. In the dawning of the King, he the theme of heaven's praises, robed and frail humanity. In our longing, in our darkness, now the light of life has come. Look to Christ who condescended, took on flesh to ransom us. What a foretaste of deliverance, how unwavering our hope. Christ in power resurrected as we will be when he comes. Paul said, you, you were once alienated. I was once alienated. He's reconciled me and his body of flesh through death that I would be holy and blameless and above reproach before him.

All this was for me. The joy of the Christian life is found in worship, period. And I don't mean that you just get into the songs that we sing here. In fact, that's one of the very minor parts of worship. I mean the worship that consumes you so that you are overwhelmed continually with the majesty and the glory of what God has done, so that everything else in life pales in comparison to the treasure that you have in Jesus. The joy in Christianity is not found in successfully completing the assignments. The joy in Christianity is not found in how much you know, how much you learn. The joy in Christianity is not getting the gold star at your church for being our best volunteer. The joy in Christianity is found when you overflow with worship, where your eyes cannot help but fill with tears when we talk about the glory of what God did when he came after you who were his enemy to rescue him and he put the fullness of himself into you.

Number two, may Christ be preeminent in our affections. When the almighty God comes into the life of a human being, there is a life quake because there is something so massive and so glorious about God, listen, that everything else in your life becomes fundamentally different because of the treasure and the power of what you now have in God, which is why when I'm talking to a college student and college students are not the only ones who say this, but I've heard it certainly a lot from him and one of them will say something to me like this, well, I'm thinking, yeah, I've thought about becoming a Christian, but you need to have to give up having sex before you get married. There is something about that statement that is so absurd to me that I almost don't want to answer it.

But basically, let me give you what I say. I'm saying, okay, let's say that you got a rare disease. You got a rare disease and death is certain. You will die within a week. There is a cure for this disease, but the one condition is that you cannot eat chocolate. What person is going to look back at that and say, oh, that's terrible.

Oh, this is, oh, I just hate this. No, in light of the fact that it's saving your life, chocolate seems like a trifling thing for you to give up. When you say, when you think about the infinite God coming into your life and his joy for eternity being shed abroad in your soul, and you're complaining about some dumb little thing, like you can't have sex before you get married, as if that were a condition on which you would know the God of the universe, that just shows me you don't understand at all the value of God. Because when you understand his value, there is nothing on earth that you would want to hold onto if it would keep you from him. In light of him, everything changes.

Believer, when he is in your life, it's so massive that in light of his presence in your life, everything in your life changes. Even things like your pain. Pain hurts. I mean, it never gets not painful. But when you have the treasure of God in your life, it ceases to be devastating.

The analogy I've used with you is this. It's like if you found out you inherited $100 million, and then your car broke down. And you're like, you don't get mad about your car breaking down. You're like, who cares? I'll buy a fleet of cars.

I'll buy a car company. If you understand the value of God, then yes, when things happen in life, they're painful. Sometimes you weep through them, but they're not devastating. They're not devastating because of the treasure you possess in God. The way I've explained it to you, how much you believe the gospel is measured by your ability to be joyful in all things. How much you actually believe the gospel is measured by your ability to be joyful in all things.

If pain devastates you, that doesn't mean that your pain, I'm not trying to be callous toward it and say it doesn't hurt. But I'm just saying that there is a treasure that makes everything on earth seem a little bit trifling in light of the glory that he has given to us. Number three, may Christ be preeminent in our objectives. I got a call on Thursday from a pastor friend, Matt Carter, who preached here this summer. It's one of their staff members had went overseas to live as a servant of Jesus Christ in a place in the Middle East.

It's very hard to reach. Was shot and killed on Thursday. Shot cold blood killed because of what he was doing. Matt told me this has been very difficult for their church, as you would imagine. He said, but the one thing we know, he told us this many times before he left, was that he realized that the story that God was telling on earth was much bigger than his story. And if his role, this guy's name was Ronnie, if Ronnie's role in this story was living or dying, it did not matter to him because he knew that in a hundred years, what would matter is what King Jesus was doing on earth. And he was honored to be a part of that story. That Christ was supreme, preeminent in his objectives, whether living or dying in all things. I'm just here to give glory to God.

What I want for you is for you to re-see your life and see everything in it, the pain, the blessing, to see everything of it through the lens of what if Christ was preeminent in this objective. The analogy I've used with this one over the years is this, it's like a movie. In a movie, you're there's major characters and minor characters, right? If your life were a movie, who would the major character be?

For most of us, it would be us. God, when you come to him, offers you a chance to become a part of his movie where you're a minor character. Now, what happens to minor characters?

This is kind of the bad news, maybe. What happens to the minor characters is not really that significant because there's what's going to happen. If your story's about you, then at the end of your life, when those credits roll, that's the end.

Half a dozen people in your family, will clap and say what an awesome person they were, and they'll tell a bunch of lies about you and me, and then that'll be it. But if my story's been wrapped up in Jesus, it goes on through the ages, and it never ends, and the credits never roll because it's his story, and so I will gladly become a minor character in his. I want him to be preeminent in your objectives, in your pain. I want you to say the point of my pain is not getting better necessarily. The point of my pain is giving glory to God, and I can do that maybe by getting better. I can do it by suffering well. And I can do that maybe by getting better.

I can do it by suffering well. If you're blessed, if you're in prosperity, I want you to look through the lens of that prosperity and say maybe God gave this not for my story, but for his. Here's a little thing the Greer family does at Christmas. It's one of our traditions. We say that the largest Christmas gift ought to be given to Jesus.

That doesn't have to be your tradition. I'm not saying that's not the Bible, but for us, it just helps us remind ourselves that at Christmas, we should not be preeminent of all types. So we say, let's make sure we all give money. Let's make sure that the largest monetary gift given at Christmas is given to the one who it is about.

I want you to see your life that way. In all things, he'd be preeminent. Number four, and very quickly, may Christ be preeminent in our church. Maybe he'd be preeminent in our church. May the focus never be on us, always on him. Guys, real quick, how does this happen?

How does this happen? I've thought about that this week. How could Christ be preeminent in our church? I hope it's reflected in the way that I preach because my desire when I preach, I don't always do a good job of this, but my desire is not to point you to me.

It's to point you to Jesus. I don't want to stand up here and make you think that I'm something that I'm actually not, where you walk out of here saying, I want to be like JD. You don't want to be like JD.

Ask Veronica, right? I don't want you to compare yourself to me because you won't do anything trying to imitate me because A, the person you're trying to imitate probably doesn't exist. B, the point is not whether you're a bigger or lesser sinner or lesser sinner than me. The point is there's a savior who has rescued me and is working in me and is putting a broken person back together and he can put you back together. So I'd much rather you be thinking about him than about me. So as often as I talk about successes in my life, I want to tell you about failures because I want to point you to the one who is the rescuer, not someone who is a model. We think about this summit church and how we plan.

We want him to be preeminent. By the way, that's why we try to plant so many churches. You realize this, planting churches does not help our bottom line. Are we aware of that?

These churches don't give back to us. But see, we know that it's not about the name of the summit. It's about God's kingdom. That's why we want each other churches to succeed in our area because we don't want the summit church's name.

That's not what's going to save Riley Durham. It's Jesus's name. And God is my witness. Listen, if God wants to do that by prospering another church, if he wants to grow another church at the expense of ours, let it come.

Who cares? If somebody else increases and we decrease, then let God be praise because it's his name, not ours. There's not salvation found in the summit's name. It's found in Jesus's name.

So God help us if we ever put the focus on us and not on him. John Wesley, I'll close with this. John Wesley, one of the preachers of the Great Awakening, founder of the Methodist movement, three, 400 years ago. John Wesley was a missionary and a theologian, yet not a Christian yet. He thought he was a Christian, but see, it's very possible to be very religious, to know a lot of things, to do a lot of things for God, but to never have really met God personally.

Wesley describes his conversion like this. He said, my friend was trying to get me to go to a church service with him on a Tuesday night. I didn't want to go. I'd already gone three to thrive, Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, already done that.

So I didn't want to go on Tuesday night, but he persuaded me. And when I got there, the preacher that night was not preaching a sermon. He was reading Martin Luther's preface to his commentary in the book of Romans. Now talk about a stem winder of a sermon, right?

Reading a commentary written like 500 years ago. Listen to what Wesley says, yet about 8 45 PM while Luther was describing the change, which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I knew that I trusted Christ and Christ alone for my salvation. He had come for me and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.

My sin for me, that's conversion. It's where the verse becomes a voice. It's where doctrine becomes a dynamic relationship for what God did in history did for you. Have you heard that voice? Have you felt that presence? Where doctrine becomes a dynamic relationship, a powerful picture of what following Jesus truly looks like.

Have you experienced that? If not, we'd love to help you begin that journey today. Send us a note to requests at jdgrier.com or call 866-335-5220. You're listening to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of J.D. Greer. As we've encouraged you all this year to just ask, we ourselves have been reminded of the great privilege we have to pray for each one of you, our partners in this ministry. We've celebrated miracles with you. We've walked alongside you in hardship.

What a privilege. What an honor for us that is. We witnessed you shining the light of Jesus. We boldly prayed for each and every prayer request that we received here at Summit Life. There are eight staff and volunteers who prayed over every one of your requests every week.

We spent a total of more than 480 hours, right around 500 hours in prayer over the course of the year for the things that you asked us, that you allowed us to enter into prayer with you on. We're so excited for another year of partnering with you and praying alongside you. I want to ask that you consider becoming one of our first 500 gospel partners in the new year. As our ministry grows, so does the need for more gospel partners to help sustain the work and equip us to reach even more people and take the gospel into new places.

That increases too. Let me remind you that we've also got an audacious goal every year of giving away 10%, at least 10% of our revenue to church plants around the world. But that's just not something we can do without you. Our gospel partners, we like to give you special content, just as a way of saying thank you. Thank you for your dedication to the ministry. And thank you for being a partner and family member with us and getting the gospel to new people and new places.

Your gift today means so much. And to show our thanks, we've put together a resource that we think you'll really enjoy in the new year. It's the annual Summit Life 2022 Planner. Now this is so much more than just a day planner. Of course, there's space for you to record all of your notes and to do items, but as you use it, you're also going to notice Bible verses that remind you of the truths that you're learning on the program.

JD often talks about having wisdom and how we manage the resources that God has given us, including the resource of time. And this planner will help you do that during the coming year. Ask for a copy of the Summit Life 2022 Planner when you make an important year-end donation or when you commit to become one of our first 500 monthly gospel partners today. Call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.

Or if it's easier, you can give and request the planner online at jdgrier.com. I'm Molly Vidovitch. Tomorrow we're continuing our series called God With Us, talking about what it really means to experience God's blessing. That's Wednesday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-06 19:59:50 / 2023-07-06 20:11:32 / 12

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