The Time of the First Born – Part 2

How is Jesus Christ the image of God?  Join us for Part 2 of our Christmas Series.

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INTRODUCTION: You’re listening to the Jay Sekulow Band, lead vocal is by John Elefante, former lead of Kansas, and John Schlitt, former lead of the rock band, Petra. We hear those lyrics and we think of this innocent baby. Innocent could of course mean a lot of things, but technically innocent meaning without sin, not that He’s this helpless child necessarily, but He’s innocent in that He’s never sinned; He’s existed forever and Christ is child King, born to die, that we might live is also the sovereign Creator of all. Welcome to the second Part of the Time of the Firstborn, taken from Colossians, Chapter one as we think about this Christ child. We think about the images of Christmas, being a baby, wrapped in swaddling cloth, and laid in a stone hewn manger, but to change that scene a little bit I wanted to look at a passage in Colossians where Paul speaks about this incomparable Jesus Christ. He is the firstborn of all creation. He is the image of the invisible God. What in the world does Paul mean when he describes Christ as the sovereign Creator? It helps me to think about this passage in perspective that Christ has always existed. He was at creation. In fact, I think He was the Creator. Obviously, God the Father, the Son, and Spirit involved in the Trinitarian creation of all that we see, but Christ we might say as an illustration is the hands on Creator. I think Jesus, according to Paul’s record in Colossians, is the One doing the creation at His Father’s good will. Well let’s continue our passage as we see Paul explain to us this inessinable, indescribable, incredible Saviour, we have the firstborn of all creation.

EASLEY: Christ is the Creator, by Him all things. Secondly, Through Him all things. John, the gospel, John 1:3: All things came into being through Him and apart from Him, nothing came into being, that has come into being. All things He has created. And that expands pretty much any of our imagination. Third, for Him less we think too highly of ourselves, Christ has created these things, not for your and my benefit alone but for Himself. For Him, He has done this creation and fourthly, in Him all things hold together. He is the theological glue, if you will that holds things together. We continue to exist because He suspends us in this atmosphere, in this broken fallen body that is decaying and is getting older and will die. He is sustaining us in this environment. We’re not doing it ourselves. The brevity of life as all know can be taken away very quickly and very early, and unplanned and accidentally. We only exist and move in that breathing because He allows us to.

So in the hubble, they got a new one coming out. I’m very intrigued by that stuff. They have another one they’re going to launch. It’s going to be better than the hubble. I’m going ok they’ve identified billions and billions more galaxies. What are they going to do with that data? Well let’s go get some more data. Let’s go. That sounds exciting. I’m all in. Let’s go see what else we can see. You know what? They’ll see some more stuff, but they won’t know what to do with it. We orbit around a sun that keeps us alive because Jesus Christ sustains it, because He created it. It is not the laws of physics that hold things together. It’s the Word of Christ who placed those laws in effect for a time. When you’re cut on, when you have cancer, when they cut it out of you, when they radiate you and they give you chemotherapy, when you have an accident, and you go and they stitch you up, the doctors of medical professions, wonderful, extraordinary, men and women, they don’t heal you. They just give it a little help and your body has to do the rest of the work. Through Him, for Him, in Him, all things have been sustained by Him. Get a little bigger picture of your Jesus.

Number 1) He’s the image of God. Number 2) Firstborn of all creation. 3) The Creator. 4) He is the head of the body as church. He has authority over His church. Most of us have grown up in some church background of some kind and maybe you read the doctrinal statement or the statement of faith of that church and invariably when it talks about the church it will say Jesus is the head of the church. In our particular language, it says we believe Jesus Christ leads the local church, so we put Christ as the head of the church. What does that mean? It’s not an organization run by people, it’s an organism run by Christ. Christ is our head. For church leaders, this is a tremulous passage. It’s a dangerous passage as are many, not to take lightly what it means to lead His church. A company can come and go, but to misrepresent or do His church poorly, is very different. Ephesians 1:22, He put all things in subjection under His feet and gave Him as head over the church. It’s a great metaphor. He put all things in subjection under Christ’s feet and gave Him as head over His church. It promotes our view of the local church. The once and future King of all has established an organism called the local church, of which you and I are a part of, lots of different expressions, and lots of different hats, not just fellowship; lots of expressions of His church, but don’t miss the priority over astrophysicists, over science, over space, over thrones and dominions and authorities that we can’t see. Don’t miss He’s lining up. He’s head of the body of His church. He’s created all these things for Himself, but “oh by the way,” He’s head of His church. Don’t miss this. Now I want to kindly encourage you, and it may come as a bit of an admonition. It’s ok, I hope. This should be the most important hour of your week. Granted, your time in the Word with the Lord, one on one, is the staple. Everyday I hope you’re in the Word for a little time, hour, half hour, whatever it is, where you’re praying, your reading Scripture, you’re getting calibrated for the day you’re about to head on and do your work. I pray and hope that everyone who calls Fellowship their home, your knee jerk response in the morning, is to spend some time with the Lord. If you’re a nightowl you can do it at night, but that you do it. Because it’s the only way we’ll learn if we stay in it because we forget everything. Morning by morning, new verses I read. I forget everything I read these days. Never saw that before. After that this should be the most important hour of your week. I do not understand all I know men and women, but I know this one thing; we assemble here freely to pray, to try and clear our minds of the to do, and the distractions, and all the things that take away the horizontal of life and we come together with likeminded men and women, who love Christ, who are trying to live the life of Christ and we all do it poorly, and well, and mishap and do it better. We’re learning and growing hopefully, and we are to come together as God’s people, with God’s Word, and God’s Spirit. I do not understand all l know, but I know Christ puts His church as primary.

So we have seasons tickets, we have schedules, we have travels, we all have freedoms to do, I’m not dissing that; I’m not saying you never do that; I’m just asking as a question. I’m probably talking to the wrong group because you’re here. But I want to say it kindly, but I want to say it with a bit of admonition. This needs to be the priority of your life and if you got kiddos bring um. They need to see a family that puts this as the priority, because work, and jobs, and home, and football, and all the things are fine, they’re fine, they’re fine in their place. I love them too. Christ is the head of His church, not of our leisure and our schedules that are wonderful and important. Praise God!  We have the freedom to do those things, and the resources. I’m not against those. But I’m compelling you; I’m imploring you, make this a huge priority. Hebrews 10:24 and 25, Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together as is the habit of some. Listen again. Let us consider how to stimulate, it’s the word in Greek (paroxysm).paroxysmos.  Come back to that. How to paroxysm one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together as is the habit of some. Paroxysms in the medical world, Paraxism perhaps is the idea of an attack. You might have an asthma attack. That’s the word they would use sometimes, an irritation, a stimulation. We’re to gode one another, stimulate, to cattle prod us to love and good deeds. Why? Because we need it. Consider, think about how to paroxysm the body of Christ to love and good deeds, not forsaking our assembling together as is the habit of some. It’s for our good. It’s for our eternal good. I don’t understand all I know, but I know Christ puts a premium on His church and He’s head of this thing that we call His church.

Number 1) He’s the image of God. Number 2) The firstborn of all creation. Number 3) The Creator. Number 4) He’s head of His church. 5) He’s the beginning and the firstborn from the dead. He’s the beginning and the firstborn from the dead. Now the hymn changes from the origin of creation to the origin of reconciliation, where moving from how things got started and how Jesus is head and created all, to how Jesus is the one who makes our reconciliation possible. You songwriters this is low hanging fruit men and women. If you don’t write some songs from this, I mean you’re losing money. I’m telling you. This is a song waiting to be written. It’s chocked full of great imagery. We’re moving from the origin of creation to the origin of how we’re reconciled. Fifthly, He’s the firstborn from the dead. Now, beginning means supreme rank. It also means the creative initiative. He’s the one that holds that place. Look at vs 15. First born from creation, vs 18 First born from the dead. There’s your song right there. He’s alway existed and created everything and He’s also the firstborn from the dead. Now, we need to talk a little bit about this. We do know that there were others who rose from the dead before Christ, so He can’t be the first one who was ever resurrected, right? But He is in I Corinthians 15:20, the firstborn to never die again. Everybody else died again. I often make a poor joke of Lazarus thinking Lazarus got a raw deal. He was dead and on his way to glory and God resurrects him and he’s got to die again. That’s a rip off in my book. I want to go. I don’t want to come back after I’ve been there for goodness sakes. Interestingly, we hear nothing about him afterwards. Christ is the only one, never to die again. The firstborn of all creation, and firstborn from the dead.

Number 1) The image. Number 2) Firstborn of all creation. Number 3) The Creator 4) The head. 5) The beginning and firstborn from the dead. 6) He is the fullness of God. This perhaps is the most important theological term in the list. John Calvin writes, The fullness of righteousness, wisdom, power, and every blessing. Whatever God has, He conferred upon His Son. He’s the incarnation of deity. God did not find a human being and take a pitcher, and pour a little bit of God in and name Him, Jesus. Jesus is the expression of God whose eternally existed, the Trinitarian Godhead, Father, Son, and Spirit. He’s eternally existed and at the proper time, He submitted to the Father’s goodwill to be born of Mary and lived  thirty-three years and change on this earth to make reconciliation possible. But He’s always been fully God, and that’s what the song is trying to explain to us. He’s created everything even what you cannot see. He’s the Head of the church, the most important organism in the universe we might say. He’s the Supreme God; He’s the firstborn from the dead; the only One who will never die again; he’s not a man with a little God in Him. The incarnation is one of those truths that to be fully God and fully man, we call it an antinomy: two truths that can occupy the same space. How can He be completely God and completely man? He can’t! The way we view it. Both are taught in Scripture. An illustration at best stands on three legs. This one stands on two, barely. If you envision a piece of steel that’s wider than this campus, the seventy some acres we have. A piece of steel that’s seventy acres in diameter, and then take the same steel and make a coat hanger gage wire and wrap that coat hanger around the whole length that seventy acre piece of steel. You with me? That piece of seventy acre diameter steel cannot be bent. That’s God the Father, finite God the Father, but from the same material the God man, fully God, fully man, has been created if you will, when He’s born He’s eternally existed. He can be bent. He gets tired. He sleeps. He gets hungry. He dies. It’s the same, but it’s different. Again a two legged illustration at best. Fully God, fully man, incarnate, He comes and allows Himself, empties Himself. We’ll look at this more in a moment.

Number 1) The image. The icon of God. Number 2) The firstborn over all creation. Number 3) The Creator. 4) The head of His church. 5) The firstborn from the dead. 6) The fullness-all of God in Christ. 7) The Reconciler in vs. 20. Reconciliation presumes there’s a hostility between two parties. If you have litigation between two people, they’re probably not going to be reconciled. It’s going to be settled by a court; it’s going to be settled by a judge; settled on a negotiation; settled by a jury of some kind and in all those cases, of course no ones ever guilty. Everyone’s always innocent, right? If you watch the last Titans game, great game. I loved it!  We won. New York wasn’t real happy about that loss and if you watch that coach across the field, he was saying some not nice words. You don’t have to lip read or hear, you could see what was coming out of his mouth. He was one unhappy individual. He was mad! And he comes across to shake Coach Munchak’s hand and they didn’t have any words. He walked away angry. Now, let’s just say for a moment that coach said, “Man, we played a horrible game. Munchak you did a fabulous job. Congratulations!.”  That’d be a different ending, wouldn’t it? See, there’s no reconciliation on the part of that team and that’s why they do so badly. (laughter) Bad joke. Reconciliation happens when an offended party has been reconciled too. You see, two men, two teams, two people in litigation, a family dispute, a divorce, the things that happened were not reconciled and the ending is rarely, if ever reconciliation because reconciliation means the one who’s offended is now satisfied. You see, in this equation God is the one offended. We’re not offended by God. God has done nothing wrong. God doesn’t need to be reconciled to us. We have to be reconciled to God and we can’t be reconciled to God. We can’t do any good deed; we can’t keep the law; we can’t save baby seals; we can’t save the whales; we can’t clean up the environment. There’s nothing we do that gets God’s attention. In fact, reconciliation you notice what Paul says, “is through the blood of His cross.” God says, “I’ve got to send my incarnate Son, fully God and fully man, to die in your place on your behalf, instead of you because you can’t even get my attention to be good enough to beg some interest on my part. I’ve got to do it for you.” The most remarkable reconciliation ever accomplished. That the One who’s offended, makes a way for the offender to have a relationship with Him. So He is finally the Reconciler. 1) Image of God. 2) The firstborn of all creation. 3) The Creator. 4) The head of His church. 5) The beginning and firstborn from the dead. 6) The fullness of God. 7) The Reconciler. He is a supreme sovereign of the universe. It is the time of the firstborn no matter what the culture, or our experience, or our traditions may try to tell us.

It’s difficult to see Christ in an important way. Let’s be candid. We’re friends. We’re humans. We all have the same longings, and struggles and problems in life and the problem with me is that life is all about me. I’ve been working on this passage for three weeks. For three weeks, I’ve been looking for the warm puppy story at the end of the sermon. That’s what preachers do. You need a warm puppy story; everybody sheds a tear and they remember the story and they go home. I have never found a warm puppy story for this sermon. When I look at a passage I look at it from two questions: What does God telling us about Himself that man needs to know and then how do we as men and women respond to what God is telling us? That’s the baseline for me. What is God telling us about Himself and then how do we as men and women respond to the truth God is telling us? And that’s what preachers do, we rack our brains trying to figure that out and put it in appealing words so the people will be paying attention and sort of staying awake. That’s our goal. Then you put a bow on it at the end. I never found a bow for three weeks.  But what kept convicting me with this repetition of these Scriptures of the Christ is the sovereign Creator of all, is how little I see Him, and how much I’m obsessed with me. The me, my and I, and my drives me crazy. The all about me never stops. Oh sure, I can serve others and do things, I mean after all I’m paid to be good. It doesn’t mean I’m any better than anybody else. I’m not. I mean, can we acknowledge that we’re narcissist. Hi, my name is Michael. I’m a narcissist. Some of you are far more mature than me. I don’t mean that glibly or cavelier, and you are and you’re doing really well in this area. I’ve got to tell you. I’m a narcissist. How does it affect me? As I’ve been mulling over this passage again, and again, and again, how do I see Christ as preeminent? How do I see Him as Lord? How do I see Him as sovereign? How do I see Him as the Creator and sustainer of all, even my breath? How do I see Him as the one who’s the head of His church, the most important organism on the planet? How do I see Him more importantly especially at this time of year? I close with the passage of Philippians 2 that helps me a little and maybe it will you as well. Philippians 2:7, put your listening ears on. But He emptied Himself taking the form of a bondservant and being made in the likeness of men, being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name. So that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. In the fullness of time He came, and the time of the firstborn is to put Him as first placed in every thing. It’s a cliche to say “Lord of All” but that is where we’re going and how do you and I keep Him with all that’s going on right now. He’s bigger. He’s bigger than you and me. He’s bigger than our problems. He’s bigger than our fears. He’s bigger than our checkbooks. He’s bigger than our Christmas tree. And He loves you.

SONG: SILENT NIGHT

You know as Christmas is upon us in this season of holidays, my prayer for you is that whether it’s a great time, a difficult time, some point in between, that you’ll draw away, you’ll draw back, that you’ll take some time with the Bible on your lap. Maybe you’ll reread this chapter in Colossians Chapter 1 and see the kind of GodKing that we have, that He was born to die that you and I might live, that from eternity past God had planned and that plan A included sending His perfect Son born to die that we might live that innocent child without sin, helpless Babe, the hymn writers explain Him, yet He was far from helpless, submissive to His Father in every respect, the greatest gift God could ever give to man was His Son to reconcile away for you and me to know Him. It’s also a good time for me to tell you thank you. Thank you for listening. Thank you for subscribing to the podcast, for listening on the website. We appreciate your interest. We’d love to hear from you. Send us an e-mail. Let us know what you like, what you don’t like, what you’d like to hear in the coming year. We truly would like to hear back from you to how we can minister to you in the best way possible. So thanks for listening and your support.

If you can, we’d love for you to consider a financial contribution to inContext. You can give online, you can also give through the mail, whichever is easiest for you. I know you have a lot of things to give to, as do Cindy and I. We appreciate your prayerful consideration of how you would use those resources, but thanks for listening and thanks for logging in. Thanks also to Joe Pangallo, Nick Peaks, to all the work behind the scenes, behind the glass to make these programs what they are. They do a lot of labor before and after the programs. I get to do the easy part, and they do all the parts, to put the technology together to present this to you. So thanks to them for their labors. Have a great Christmas, a great New Year. God bless. This is Michael Easley inContext.

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