Today on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. That's why your heart is in the state that it's in. That's why your family's in the state that it's in.
That's why you're worried all the time. That's why you can't find peace or happiness because you are not connected to the one in whom we live and move and have our being. To be present in Him is to be harmonious with all of creation and with your Creator. Thanks for joining us for a brand new week of solid biblical teaching here on Summit Life with Pastor J.D.
Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vitovich. During this time of year, you hear a lot of talk in church about this concept called the incarnation.
And frankly, it often seems pretty mysterious and confusing, right? Well, today Pastor J.D. kicks off a new teaching series titled God With Us, and he's gonna break down what the incarnation means to us as well as for us. Let today begin a week-long journey closer to the manger in Bethlehem that we'll all celebrate together on Christmas Day.
As the popular Christmas carol says, we want every heart to prepare Him room. Our first step is today's message from Pastor J.D. titled Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery. We're gonna start a mini series that I'm gonna call God With Us, in which we're gonna explore the almighty God coming close to us in what we call, Christians call the incarnation. Incarnation, Christmas, God becoming flesh, incarna in the flesh. For many years, my relationship with God felt distant. Long after becoming a genuine Christian, even several years as a pastor, I knew a lot of truths about God, and I was trying to do the things that God had commanded, but it always seemed to me to be like I was doing it from a distance.
God was like a busy teacher that had given an assignment and then stepped out of the room and left the students there to kind of get it done on their own. But you see, the great commandment is that we love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind, which means that God, the essence of a walk with God means that God is first in your affections. It means that you crave and you love and you desire, you feel connected to, you depend personally on nothing as much as you do God. I wanted that warmth of emotion. I wanted that intimacy.
I wanted it, but I just didn't know how to develop it. What I wanna show you in this series is that you'll never love God until he becomes personal to you, until you see that what he did in history, he was doing for you, and that leads you to a personal intimacy with Jesus. JC Ryle, a British pastor of 150 years ago, said it like this, you will never grow as a Christian until you develop, listen, a personal intimacy with the Lord Jesus, until you deal with him as you would a best friend, until you turn to him first in every need, consult him at every step, talk to him about all your difficulties, spread before him all your sorrows, allow him to share in all your joys, do all things as in his sight to go through every day leaning on him. You see, that's that point at which doctrine turns into a dynamic relationship. That's that point at which verses become a voice. And that is when Christianity becomes sweet, and that's when everything else in the Christian life takes off.
Here's my question for you as we get into this series. Do you have that kind of intimacy with God? Do you relate to God as a man would relate to a friend, as a lover would relate to his or her beloved?
For the next few weeks, that's what I want to press because at its very core, that's what Christmas was all about. To do this, we're gonna look at two of the oldest Christmas carols ever written. Sadly, we do not sing either of them today, but they both get at this idea, God is for me. God is with me. I am his and he is mine.
The first one is found in Colossians chapter one. Before I get into this, this is a song we're looking at. Could you allow me just a minute to vent about Christmas music?
I like it, I really do. I genuinely like Christmas music, but some of you people started playing it about three weeks before Halloween. And by now, when I hear it, I want to take a small blunt object and smash it against my head, okay? If you listen to Delilah, you are dead to me, all right?
I'm just gonna say this. And it seems to me like everybody feels qualified to produce a Christmas album. And I don't know who it is in the world that ought to be able to decide, you can do a Christmas album and you can't, but I feel like we ought to have some say in it.
Some of the stuff that you hear is just so absolutely icky, sentimental, syrupy, that it makes me want to vomit. A friend of mine wrote this up, five ways to survive the song Christmas Shoes. It's a little boy buying a jolly Christmas shoe. It's a little boy buying a Christmas shoes for his mother.
Here we go, this is from a blog he wrote. Number one, five ways to survive the song Christmas Shoes. Number one, if it comes on the radio while you are driving in a car, don't forget to tuck your shoulder when you open the door to roll out onto the highway. What about your car, you say? You can always buy a new car, but you cannot unhear that song.
Number two, do not try to negotiate with it. Much like fear, the Christmas shoe song cannot be beat with logic or rational thinking. So don't waste time with questions like, where's this kid's dad?
Does he have a dad? Why shoes? Why not a Christmas dress? Why not a delicious bowl of queso?
Has an eight-year-old ever successfully purchased women's shoes in the history of mankind? Number three, forget trying to make it an acquired taste. This song is not like algebra.
It doesn't get better once you get used to it. Don't think that listening to it on repeat will solve your problems. Number four, keep it off any Christmas playlist.
I know what you're thinking. John, I'll just hide it in the middle of a hundred-song playlist. No one at the party will notice.
They will notice, and you will notice it too as people begin to leave your party. Number five, stop being friends with people who say it's not a bad song. They're wrong. These people have terrible judgment and they probably prefer unfrosted Pop-Tarts as well.
Just stop doing life with them. All right, so that ends my Christmas rant on music. But 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. He's most likely, they say, quoting a hymn that was commonly sung in the early church, like Amazing Grace for us or something, or he is just making one up. This might be Paul's own hymn that he is coming up with, but either way, the way it's written in Greek is it is written as a song. We're gonna 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 gonna say it in a half a dozen different ways.
We'll go through it line by line. And then he's gonna, at the end, turn it around and say all this that he did, he was doing for you. It wasn't just something he did. He was doing it specifically with you in mind. And then he is going to persuade us that in all things because of this, Jesus ought to be preeminent in our lives.
And I'm gonna give you a few ways that he should be preeminent. Starting in verse 15, let's go to verse 15. Let's go line by line. Jesus is God. Here's how he's gonna explain that. Verse 15, he is, Jesus is the image of the invisible God. Let's start with the last word of that sentence, or excuse me, the last two words, 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. Now you say, wait a minute, JD, isn't man made in the image of God too?
You know, yes. But Paul means something fundamentally different when he says Jesus is the image of God than when he says we are made in the image of God. To say that we are made in the image of God means that there are certain things about us as humans that correspond or resemble God, our personalities, our rational way of thinking, our relational abilities. But Jesus is the exact representation of God.
Hebrews 1, 3 says it this way. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature. Exact imprint means that all that God was, Jesus was. 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. Jesus is the image of God. He is the full representation of God. He is the word of God. Everything that God was, Jesus was.
He goes on. He is the firstborn over all creation. Firstborn in Hebrew culture could mean one of two things.
It could mean literally the firstborn, or it could also be a position where you are the one who is going to receive the inheritance. For example, Abraham's firstborn, anybody know what his firstborn, Isaac. Was Isaac the first one that Abraham bore? No, Ishmael was, but Isaac got the promises. So technically Ishmael is the firstborn, but Isaac is called the firstborn because he's the one that's given the covenant and the promises and all the inheritance, Jacob and Esau. Who was older, Jacob or Esau? Esau was, but Jacob was the firstborn because he got the position. Well, in this case, clearly firstborn 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.
Okay, so you see the dilemma there? If Jesus was the first thing created and all things were created by Jesus, all things would include Jesus, which means that Jesus would have had to have created himself, which is impossible. So he couldn't have done that. 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 firstborn. 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. In every great artist, there is a piece of the soul of the artist in the art that he or she produces. And you can get to know the heart of the artist by looking at the art.
That's the way creation works. We look at it and it teaches us things about the glory, about the eternality, about the pleasure ability of God. Everything that you love about nature, everything you love about creation, everything you love about life is put there by God as a way of communicating to you about his nature. When you think about your greatest joys, your greatest hopes, all that you've loved, it's just a taste of what is in the heart of God in whose presence, Psalm 16, 11 says, are pleasures forevermore. These things are like scattered beams. God is the son that they all come from.
They're like just drops that we get. God is himself the ocean. And if you get fixated on the creation, which so many people do, then you miss the greater gift, which is the guy behind the ring. The guy who says it was my love that put that ring there for you.
Don't take the ring and forget me. And Augustine said, that's what people do is they take the creation, they forget the creator. C.S. Lewis probably said it even better as he almost always does.
C.S. Lewis said the creative things in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we cling to them. The beauty was never in them. The beauty only came through them. What came through them was longing. These things, the beauty, cherished memories from our childhood, these are good images of what we really desire.
But if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself, they are only the scent of a flower we have never yet found on earth. They are the echo of a tune that we have never really heard.
News from a country that we've never yet visited. Lewis said, how is it that we are homesick for a place that we've never actually been to? That's because of the good gifts that God put in our heart and in our world. So many of you will experience that at Christmas. That's why it's a sweet time. Family, it's joy.
That is something that's just longing. It's something the creator put there because he's the firstborn of all creation. All things were made by him and for him. Thanks for joining us today on Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer. We'll get back to today's teaching in just a second. But first, I wanted to make sure you're in the loop about all of the resources we make available to you at jdgreer.com, completely free of charge. At our website, you can access our entire library of Summit Life broadcasts, as well as our preaching catalog of full sermons with a transcript for each. You'll also find Pastor J.D. 's blog with an archive of all of our services. You'll also find an archive of more than 10 years of content for you to learn from. You can also find links to Pastor J.D. 's podcasts, his social media accounts, and you can sign up for our daily devotionals all for free. And while you're on the website, be sure to check out jdgreer.com slash donate to learn more about how you can be a part of helping this ministry grow and thrive so that we're able to reach more people with the gospel of Jesus.
Once again, all of that is available for you at jdgreer.com free of charge, so browse away. Now let's get back to today's teaching on Summit Life. Once again, here's Pastor J.D. Verse 17, He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together. 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. You know, they say that scientists still have not really figured out fully how an atom holds together. Take the oxygen atom, for example, there are eight protons at the heart of the oxygen atom. Protons are all positively charged. Things that are similar charge, you know, repel from each other. It's how magnets work. There's also some neutrons in there, and then the negatively charged things are called electrons, and they're whirling around on the outside, and scientists cannot figure out, at least fully, why it is that the protons just doesn't fly apart.
How would you have all these little particles in there that are the same charge not just fly apart? So they know there's just some kind of power in there, and up until the 1970s, they had no idea what it was, but they figured out in the 1920s that if you tapped into that power and you split it, it would produce a thing called nuclear power, right? Which is so complex that only Albert Einstein, some top physicists, and myself understand it.
But it was something that released this power that was unlike anything else we'd seen on earth. In the 1970s, they figured out, they gave some names to it. It's like gravity.
They know it exists, but they don't know why it works. So they come up with these names like quarks and gluons and all kinds of stuff in it. But the bottom line, it's a mystery.
It's a mystery. What holds this atom together? Now, I'm not trying to say, hear me, I'm not trying to say that it's the hand of God holding it together.
Given enough time and the more scientific knowledge increases, like just about everything in creation, we'll figure out that there's a natural reason why that's happening. But what I'm trying to say is just like at the center of the atom, there is this invisible power that is holding together. Paul is saying that at the center of our being is a God who is holding it together.
And a God that when, listen, you are in right relationship to him, holds your life together. But just like when that atom is split, it creates chaos and destruction. When your life is out of fellowship with the almighty God, your life begins to disintegrate.
You're like a planet that's out of orbit. That's why your heart is in the state that it's in. That's why your family's in the state that it's in.
That's why you're worried all the time. That's why you can't find peace or happiness because you are not connected to the one in whom we live and move and have our being. To be present in him is to be harmonious with all of creation and with your creator. He's the firstborn. 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 gonna be there at the end. Verse 18, and he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead.
Two ideas Paul gives you here. The first one, he's the firstborn 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 firstborn from the dead life in you, he's the head of the church. You wanna have it in you, then you gotta 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. The analogy I've used with you over the years on this is, spiritual fruit is like physical fruit. Physical fruit, like a man and a woman who are married, physical fruit is a child. When a man and woman come together to make physical fruit a child, think about the mystery of this. They're not thinking about the mechanics of making that child.
They're usually not thinking about the child at all. They get caught in a moment of loving intimacy with one another. All my attention is on you and the fruit of that is a child. When the same way, spiritual fruit, whether that's having a good marriage or whether that's peace in your career or peace with your family, that is not the result of you figuring out the techniques to have peace in those things. Spiritual fruit is a result of you getting swept up in a moment of loving intimacy with Jesus, see? And the fruit of that is these things. He's the head of the body. You want horizontal peace in your relationships, you gotta have vertical connection to he that is the head of the church. That in everything Paul says, he might be preeminent.
That's your application. We're gonna come back to that here in a minute. Let's keep going, verse 19. For in him, all the fullness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell. Fullness is the word pleroma. 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. He would be the savior so that our affections would go to him. Can I tell you why I'm not a Mormon or Jehovah's Witness? Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses are different, but they have one belief that is very similar.
They hold it in common. Mormons believe, well, here's the common belief. They believe that Jesus and God are separate. Mormons believe that Jesus is like a new God that's growing up to be full God, but he's different than God the Father. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that God the Father created like a demigod, a God like a double A God or something that he's just kind of lesser God. But the point with both of these, when I've talked to them in my house ad nauseam, as you probably have too, is I asked them at the end of the day, why would God create somebody else to die for my sins?
Because here's what's gonna happen. I know that I'm supposed to love God supremely. I'm gonna end up loving the one that saved my soul. And that's going to put him in competition to the God of the universe and the true God would never let that happen. Because the true God wants to be chief in our affections.
True God wants to be the highest in our worship. Isaiah 43, 10 and 11, I am Jehovah, that is my name. Besides me, there is no savior. Isaiah 42, eight, my glory, I will not give to another. Nobody else will save but God. And if God created somebody else to save, then that means my affections are gonna go toward that person. That's why at the end of the day, that's what I say to them is I can't love or worship anybody except the one true God.
You follow that? Can I tell you all about the greatest practical joke I played ever? Would you like to hear that? It doesn't have that much redemptive value, but I'll tell you anyway.
A few years ago, about six years ago, I was out in Salt Lake City and I toured the Mormon temple, kind of the capital out there. So at the end, it's like this big conversion. I mean, it's like they got you. They sit you down, you have a counselor. They wanna ask you, what do you think about this? Would you like to become a Mormon? And I'm sitting there looking eye to eye with this person and I got my little card I'm supposed to fill out. And I looked at him and said, you know what? I think I might wanna do this.
I think I might wanna become a Mormon, but not today. I was like, if I fill out my information here, will you come visit me? Would y'all do that? Y'all do that. And they're like, oh yeah, we do that. I was like, great.
I'd love for you to come to my house. And I said, let me write down my name. And I wrote down my best friend's name and I wrote down his address, his phone number, his email. And then, no, this is the good part.
Under the comment section, here's what I wrote. I said, I know I would like to become a Mormon. However, when I get back to North Carolina, I know that I'm going to get under the influence of my friends and my family. And they're gonna try to talk me out of this and I'll probably lose courage. But right now, I'm seeing clearly. So please don't give up. Please keep coming.
Please send people out, persuade me. So I actually asked Bruce about it this week because I was trying to make sure I had the facts right. He said that for three months after that, he said probably four times a week, he's having people come to his house. That story has no redemptive value at all, but I just thought, maybe it's confession.
I don't know, but I just thought you'd want to know. Later at whatever dinner or whatever meal you're talking about the sermon, and this is the only story you remember, let it bring your mind back to this. God would not let anybody else stand as a substitute for my sins because He wanted to be preeminent, not that creative thing.
Allow the mystery of the incarnation to overwhelm you and leave you in awe. The firstborn of all creation was born in the flesh to die for you, and that good news should bring us the greatest joy this Christmas. You're listening to Pastor JD Greer on Summit Life. As we approach the end of the year, your gift is needed now more than ever. We know that God will provide, and we would love for you to be a part of the team that He uses to do that. When you support this ministry and the mission to spread the gospel to those in your neighborhood and across the nation, you join with countless others, helping us continue to bring these gospel-centered broadcasts to radio, TV, and to the web.
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That's 866-335-5220, or give online at jdgrier.com. I'm Molly Vitovich, and I am so thankful that you joined us today. We'll see you again here tomorrow for our next step when Pastor JD urges us to look at the Christmas story with fresh eyes. Listen Tuesday to Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
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