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October 9th, 2020

Dear Friends,

Starting Wednesday and continuing through today, we've selected three archived study sessions to share with the EDiBS family. Pastor Stark has been doing well and getting stronger, but has relapsed some this week. It has been determined that he needs a few additional days of rest before he returns to a normal schedule. We appreciate your prayers and well wishes for him, and he said to be sure and send warm greetings to you in the name of Christ.

Pastor hopes to return to on Monday. In the meantime, we hope you will find these sessions to be helpful and timely in your lives.

God's blessings!
The EDiBS Team

Colossians 1:15-18

 

Note: this is archived material.

Greetings
Greetings! Greetings, everyone! Welcome to Friday’s edition of E-DiBS. As we continue on today in the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Colossians, we’re going to get into some compelling material regarding the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. The fact that Scripture proclaims Jesus to be God is an important issue that is as relevant to you and me today as it was to Paul’s readers in the first century. Let’s pray and then go right to our Bibles.

Prayer
Heavenly Father, as we thank you for this day and for this time to be in your Word, we ask that you would give us clarity of mind and openness of heart as we study. Fill us with all wisdom and spiritual understanding as we endeavor to learn from you today. In Christ’s precious name we pray, amen. Getting Started As we get started today, Paul sets out to address the first major spiritual and doctrinal issue facing the Colossian church: the issue of just who Jesus really is and why it’s important. Our focus: the folly of denying Christ’s deity.

Colossians 1:15-18
15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

My son recently found my old PDA in one of our junk drawers in the kitchen. For all of you non-techies out there, a PDA is a personal digital assistant that you use to keep your life organized on the go. It’s been fun watching Jacob discover all of the different features on that little tiny handheld machine, and even though by today’s standards it’s ancient technology, each time he comes across a new function he’s absolutely amazed, like it’s the greatest thing he’s ever seen in his life! For example, he found the mini keyboard, he taught himself the shorthand language using the stylus, he was getting pretty handy with the calendar and the to-do list, but then he figured out that he could also store pictures and video on it and that he could use it to listen to music as well. I haven’t told him yet about the other things he can do with it, because it’s more fun watching him figure things out for himself.

While figuring things out and coming to conclusions about things on your own is a good, inductive way to learn technology, it’s not such a good method to use when it comes to determining theological truth. In that arena there is only one legitimate source for information, and when you depart from that source, you run into all kinds of trouble. The source I’m talking about, of course, is the Bible - God’s inerrant, infallible revelation of Himself given to humanity, which shows us who He is, what He’s like, and more than anything, how he has provided us with a Savior; Someone uniquely qualified and uniquely willing to take our sin upon Himself so that we could be reconciled to our Heavenly Father. When it comes to Jesus, then - His person, His work, His nature - we want to make sure that we understand very clearly what Scripture says about Him so that we don’t fall into error or fail to ascribe to Him all that is due His name.

I say these things today as a way to introduce the verses before us, because as we move into this section of Paul’s letter dealing with Christ and His nature, we want to understand that the reason he is writing as he does is in response to error. One issue that the Colossian church was struggling with was the denial of the deity of Christ, and because the fact that Jesus is God is central to Christianity and central to properly understanding our redemption, Paul needed to set the record straight and clearly define the substance of who and what the Lord Jesus is.

Verse 15: Verse 15 begins by telling us that Jesus Christ is, first of all, the image of the invisible God. Just as Paul took time to spell out in the second chapter of Philippians, so he does here. When we read that our Lord Jesus is the image of the invisible God, it means that Jesus is not only the perfect image of God, the exact likeness of God, but that He is the exact representation of His being. By describing Jesus in this way, Paul is emphasizing that just as He has been from all eternity, Jesus is fully God in every way. The next thing verse 15 says to us is that Christ is the firstborn over all creation. How do we unpack that description? Well, the best way to do that is to explain the term “firstborn.” Most often, “firstborn” refers to the preeminence of position. It’s a ranking. When Paul says that Christ is the firstborn over all creation, it’s not a reference to the idea that He was created before anything else - God the Son was never created at all; He has always equally coexisted with the Father and the Spirit. It simply means that Jesus is of the highest rank that there can possibly be. Think about it for a minute: If Paul is trying to say here that Jesus was a created being, then he’s agreeing with the very heresy he is striving to refute. And as we’ll see in verse 16, if Jesus Himself was a created being, then it would be impossible to say that He is the Creator of all things.

Verse 16: In fact, let’s go ahead and move into verse 16. What we have here is a wonderful affirmation of Christ’s place within the Godhead. All things were created by Him: the heavens and the earth as well as things visible and invisible - which includes, by the way, the vast orders and ranks of angels, which is what the text is talking about when it mentions thrones, powers, rulers and authorities. Paul mentions this fact explicitly, because along with denying the deity of Christ, there were some false teachers in Colosse who were encouraging the worship of angels as part of their doctrine. Cementing Christ as being divine, in the highest place, our Bibles say that not only were all things created by Christ, but they were also created for Christ, meaning that they are subservient to Him.

Verse 17: Verse 17 sums it up and leaves no room for dispute: not only is Jesus before all things, meaning that He is eternal, but in Him all things consist, or hold together.

Verse 18: If such is the case, it stands to reason that the reign of the Lord Jesus must by definition extend to His church, which He Himself established. This is what Paul is talking about in verse 18. No man brought the church into existence, nor did any angel or any other created being. It was the Son, coeternal and coequal with the Father and the Spirit, who by His earthly life, death, resurrection brought the church into being to be His very own. And so, as the text says, our Lord has preeminence, or supremacy, in all things.

Wrapping Up
As we wrap up for the day, it’s always a comfort for me to recognize the power and authority of Jesus Christ over all things. If all things were created through Him and all things are in subjection to Him, I have absolute confidence that first, He is worthy of my worship, my life, my all; and second, that there isn’t anything He can’t lead me through. Do you recognize Christ to be, as Thomas said, your Lord and your God? Have you placed Him above all things in your personal universe with the understanding that His rank is higher than every rank and that as part of His creation, you were not only made through Him but for Him? If you have never done so, then starting today, right now, ascribe to Him all power and might and authority. Surrender to Him. Acknowledge His rightful place on the throne over all creation, and worship Him as the One who made you, who remade you by the cleansing power of His blood, and who even now is drawing you to Him out of a great undying love for your soul. We’ll be talking more about the nature of Christ in our next session - I hope you can join us then. Take care, and God bless you richly!
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