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Author:Rev. Mark Chen
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Congregation:First Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore
 Singapore
 ferc.org.sg
 
Title:The Son Doesn’t Set
Text:Colossians 1:15-20 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Christ's Kingship
 
Preached:2021
Added:2022-10-18
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Trinity Hymnal Revised 1990, The Psalter 1912

TH 82 - Great God of Wonders! 
Psalter 143 - Prayer for Pardon and Cleansing 
TH 441 - Jesus Shall Reign 

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mark Chen, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


The only son of a widow ran off to sea when he was very young. In order to make ends meet, she took in lodgers. After many years, a sailor came requesting a room. She gladly took him in for a price. As he stayed with her, she started to notice things. A remark, a gesture, a mannerism - looking hard at him she finally recognized him as her son. She was overjoyed to see him and he told her he was now a wealthy captain. She didn’t need to work. She didn’t need lodgers. He’d take care of her.

There are things that we don’t expect - things that surprise, things that shock and trouble, or things that assure and comfort us. When Samuel came to Jesse, and asked to see his sons, Jesse produced a line up, but one where David was absent. Who knew he would be king? Imagine the shock of his brothers when Samuel anointed him. When little David showed up before Goliath, Goliath sneered and asked - am I a dog that you’ve sent this stick to beat me? Those were Goliath’s last words. Who’d have expected him to kill a giant? When Joseph was sold off to slavery, his brothers never expected they’d be asking food from the most powerful man in Egypt. They didn’t recognize him. But when they finally did, they bowed down to him, reverenced him, and relied on him. We’re often like that widow and Joseph’s brothers. We see Christ dimly, and other things become more important; but when we truly recognize him, that knowledge affects us profoundly.

Last week, we saw Paul’s prayer for the Colossians - that they’d be dominated by the knowledge of their salvation. Verses 15-20 is the second part of the prayer. Here, he directs their attention to Christ as the source of their salvation. You see, Christ is not someone we can use to get saved and simply leave behind. He’s God. But the Gnostics downplayed Christ. They only saw him as a trampoline - to propel them to some greater knowledge beyond the horizon. Christ is yesterday. Some new knowledge is tomorrow. Similarly, we can be functional Gnostics. We hear the Word of Christ and are satisfied with the ideas that come into our mind - the doctrines, learning, arguments. Christ is the means for us to be satisfied, rather than being satisfied in him. We love the doctrines, polish them, worship them. But not the Christ of the doctrines. Paul emphasized here that Christ is the goal. Christ is not the means to an end - he is our chief end. Verse 18 says “that in all things he might have the preeminence.” Christ is not yesterday. He is today. The Son doesn’t set.

This passage describes 2 things about Christ. Firstly, who Christ is to all people. Secondly, who Christ is to his people. And if the Colossians really understood who Christ was, they would hunger and chase after him.

Firstly, who Christ is to all people. He is the almighty God. Verses 15 - “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.” This is talking about Christ, because the pronoun “who is” refers to verse 13 - God’s dear Son - Christ.  

While the world recognizes Jesus as a teacher, prophet, or even a god among other gods, the Bible says that Christ is the image of the invisible God. God is invisible, literally. No man can see him. He’s a spirit - he doesn’t have a body like men. God is also invisible, intellectually, if you will. No man can know God - he’s so vast. And if we were to see God in all his glory, we would perish. Moses could only see God’s afterglow. But God became visible. Christ was born, he could be seen, he could be known. He is the image of God. The Greek word is “eikon.”  It means an exact replica - a precise copy. God is invisible, unseen; but Christ is the visible version of God.

As we mentioned last week, the Colossian church had false teachers - the Gnostics. One thing they taught was that physical matter was evil and only the spirit was good. And so if God was spirit and therefore good, he could never create matter, which was evil. And if God became man, even worse! It means a good God united himself with an evil body. Therefore, Christ couldn’t be God - he was a lesser being. Therefore, Paul had to assert that Christ is the visible representation of God. In John 14:9, Jesus said, “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.”

Hebrews 1:3 describes Christ as the exact image of God - the brightness of his glory. God has a glory that no man has seen, but Christ is the radiance, bringing that glory to man. No one can approach the Sun without perishing - it’s too hot; but it’s brightness and warmth reaches to earth. Christ brings God to us because he is God. He radiates God to us. When he was on earth, he showed God’s power by healing and controlling the weather; he showed God’s wisdom by knowing things only God could; he showed God’s compassion and mercy; he showed God’s holiness.

Charles Spurgeon said, “If it were in our ability to understand the time when God dwelled alone, without his creation, we would have one of the most profound understanding of God. There was a time when there was no sun, no radiance. There was a time when there were no stars shining in the sky. There was a time when the universe was not born. There was a time when no angels sang, no cherubim worshiped. God sat alone on his throne - the mighty God, the awesome sovereign, in solemn silence dwelling by himself in vast immensity, the light of his own face, forming the brightness of his glory.” But God came in the flesh and shone that glory to man.

And as God, verse 16 says, he is creator of all things -“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers” Jesus made everything. John 1:3 says that all things were made by him, and without him, nothing was made. All things that are in heaven. The half a trillion galaxies, the immense stars, all the planets. It’s amazing. Saturn’s rings are 750,000 kilometers in circumference, but only about a foot thick. Christ has also created things that are in earth. Things visible to the naked eye - like mountains and trees; and things invisible to the naked eye - like DNA. A single human chromosome contains twenty billion bits of information. If written in ordinary books and language, it would take about four thousand volumes. And we have 46 chromosomes. 

But not only is he creator, he’s sustainer. All things, as verse 17 says, by him consist. In other words - all things are held together by him. He upholds the earth. If the earth’s rotation slowed down, we would either freeze to death or burn to death. If there weren’t four seasons there would be ice continents in the north and south. And if the moon wasn’t where it is, the ocean would flood the earth twice a day. But Jesus holds the earth he created together. AT Robertson said, “The permanence of the universe rests on Christ far more than on gravity.” Why did Christ create? Why does he hold all things together?

It’s because these things belong to him. He is inheritor of all things. Verse 16 says, “all things were created by him, and for him.” All that he created, he created for himself. Yes, this is my father’s world, and to my listening ears, all nature sings and round me rings, the music of the spheres. We enjoy God’s creation, we marvel at God’s power, we love the snow capped mountains, the balmy breezes at the beach, the rustling autumn leaves - and we thank God for his creation - yet, Jesus didn’t create it for you - he created all for himself. Verse 15 says he is the firstborn of all creation. The “firstborn” in ancient times got the inheritance. So it refers to his right to rule and inherit.

And so all things, in heaven, on earth - visible, invisible, powerful things - not only did he create them, he is greater than they are, and he owns them. When Jesus was born, and the kings from the east came to visit. They were so large an entourage, that Herod was alarmed. He wanted to kill the King of the Jews. What Herod didn’t realize is that Jesus was King of the Universe. And those eastern kings knew that and bowed before him.

Christ owns all other principalities and powers. This is a description of the invisible world of angels. There are different ranks of angels - Gabriel was an angel; Michael was an archangel. The very angels who came to announce his birth, were the very ones he had created. They were made to worship him. Hebrews 1:6 says, “And let all the angels of God worship him.” And one day, as Philippians tells us, at his name every knee shall bow, in heaven, on earth, and even the perpetually wicked and rebellious ones in hell shall be made to bow to him.

Now, beloved, why did Paul take great pains to pray the Colossians would understand this? The gnostics were making Christ as something less. The world makes Christ as something less. Even we Christians functionally treat Christ as something less. When was the last time you refrained from gossip because the one of whom you spoke was a fellow Christian, created by and created anew in Christ? When was the last time you refrained from anger, because Christ who had made you, made you in his holy image? While we acknowledge him as God, kings of the earth, seem to receive greater honor in our sight than he does. Which excites you more? Tea with the Queen of England, or the Lord’s Supper with the King of Kings? You and I know the real honest answer. But take a page from John Knox’s book.

Once, his friends asked him how his audience with the Queen of Scotland went, with all the dukes, and earls, and nobles in waiting. Knox replied that it was nothing compared to the private audience he already had in the morning with the King of Kings. John Knox knew who Christ was, because he knew who Christ was to him.

That’s the second point - who Christ is to his people. Dearly beloved, it’s one thing to know that Christ is the almighty God, it’s another to know that he is your tender and faithful savior. Verse 19-20 - “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross.” Even though Christ was the exact image of God, and he had the fulness of God dwelling in him - whatever God was, he was, God made him to die for you, so that he could make peace with you. The Gnostics wanted to downplay Christ - that his body made him inferior. But God was the one who said - this is the way I’m going to make men spiritual - by Christ’s body on the cross, shedding blood, to achieve peace between God and sinner.

And it was because of what Christ had done, God made him head of the church. Verse 18 - “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”  

Christ was made head of the church because of his work on the cross. It was his reward for dying on the cross. He became the leader of the people he saved. The following 2 words explain why he was given that reward. He was the beginning, or more clearly, the source and originator of our salvation. And he was also the firstborn from the dead - the one who triumphed over death to be the first one to resurrect. Here you have a man, who against all odds, triumphed over sin and death, for you - like Joseph, who against all odds - having been exiled from his home, to be a servant, to be betrayed, forgotten, and then rising from the ashes to be powerful savior. Or like David, little David, forgotten, sidelined, to be a conquerer and savior of his whole nation. And so Christ, like they, was made head. That everyone might give him the preeminence. He is supreme. Christ has slain his 10,000s. Not only do the sun and moon and 11 stars bow to him, the whole universe which he has created, worships him.

And it doesn’t stop there. Verse 20 says that through Christ, God will reconcile all things to himself, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. Christ is the restorer of all things. Things which are broken because of sin, things which are broken because of rebellion. All the wars, all the disasters, all the family brokenness, all the loose ends in conflicts, all the diseases, all problems - God will fix through Christ.

The point is very clear, dearly beloved. Christ is supreme. Is he supreme in your life? What are the ways that we are functional Gnostics? We love knowledge more than we love Christ. We forget the bodily and spiritual sufferings he went through, and as it were, treat them like nothing when we sin willfully. While we are grateful he has saved us, we live our lives without considering the preeminence he ought to have in the life that he has saved. 

Here then, today, is an opportunity for us to remember his preeminence in our lives. As we gather together around his table, let us consider how he has been chief in our lives - the fairest of ten thousand, the altogether lovely one.

 

Sermon Outline:

1. Christ’s Relationship with the World

    A. He is the Almighty God

    B. He is the creator of all things

    C. He is the inheritor of all things

2. Christ’s Relationship with His People

    A. He is the faithful savior

    B. He is the head of the church

    C. He is the restorer of all things

 

Conversation for Change:

1. In what ways does Jesus reign over your life? In what common ways do you perceive he does not reign in the lives of believers in Singapore 2021?

2. Why is Christ's preeminence such an important teaching, especially in a doctrine and service heavy church? How does Christ's preeminence aid us in our relationship with others in church?




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mark Chen, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2021, Rev. Mark Chen

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