The Old Testament Template: Chapter 14

We Need a Supreme Christ

If believers are to regain the influence God designed for us in every arena of life, we are going to need a greater revelation of Christ. One of the most important questions in the New Testament, one Jesus was continually leading people to ask, was, “Who are You?” The great transforming truths of the gospel are all contained in the answer to that one question. “Who is Jesus Christ?” Like me, you probably feel as though you’ve known the answer to that question since you were saved. You say, “Jesus is the Son of God, born of a virgin and through His death on the cross and the forgiveness of my sin, He is the Savior of my soul.” And as far as it goes, you are accurate. When our minds are split between secular and sacred we think the gospel is primarily concerned with the sacred, things of a spiritual nature, eternal things, heavenly things… things that are holy. We feel we know who Jesus is. But this is a very “small” Jesus. If we are going to regain greater influence as a generation of Christians, we are going to have to wrestle with His identity, as Paul did with the Colossians. Let’s look at the size of Paul’s Jesus:

Colossians 1:15-20
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
16 For 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.
17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
18 And 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.
19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Look at the letter from Paul to the believers in Colosse. What questions were the readers dealing with that Paul is answering? In this letter he states his desires for the Colossians very clearly by telling what he has been praying constantly for them:

Colossians 1:9-14
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully
12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

The Colossians have been converted. They know Christ in a personal way and they love the Spirit.1 They have been faithfully pastored in these things by Epaphras, their minister. But Paul desires deeply for them to move beyond these basic foundations of the gospel that have been laid in their lives. He wants them to grow from salvation into knowledge of the will of God, having wisdom and understanding in their daily lives. He wants them to learn what will make them effective in “every good work.” He wants them to grow in the knowledge of God so that they may demonstrate through their lives the difference between the “kingdom of light” and the “domain of darkness” which they have been saved from. He wants their “salvation” to get feet and start being walked out in everything they do.

What is important here is that the very first thing Paul focuses on, in order to accomplish this greater maturing growth in the Colossians’ lives, is the answer to the question “Who is Jesus?” They know Him as Savior. They know Him as the One who sends the Comforter in the person of the Holy Spirit. But that is not enough! He is more! If they are going to “live a life worthy” of Him, they are going to need a greater revelation of His absolute supremacy over everything! Our soul? Yes. Our spirits? Yes. Heaven? Yes. The invisible world? Yes. And more! Look at how Paul labors with them to understand. How can he spell it out any more clearly?

The Lord Of All!
Christ created all things! All things in heaven and on earth! He created everything, invisible and visible! All things were created for Him and He ranks as commanding officer of all things! Are you getting the point? He is supreme in everything! What does this mean? This means there is no such thing as a “secular” and a “sacred” world. All things belong to Christ. This means the temporal things of life are not less important than the eternal things of life… because all things belong to Christ. This means the gospel is not about salvation alone and how Christ saves us. The message is also about God’s reconciling power in every area of our lives, families, communities, and nations. What has the cross of Christ, the blood of Jesus, reconciled? Everything! Everything on earth and everything in heaven. Christ has made peace with every part of His creation through Jesus. He is not at war with any part of it. My little brain barely knows how to think about this Jesus.

What Paul is saying to us in Colossians is that Jesus is Lord of everything. He is Lord of the so-called “spiritual” and the material world. He is Lord of salvation and all social concerns. He is supreme over the eternal and the temporal. He is King of heaven and of earth. Because He is Lord of all, there is no such thing as the “secular.” Because all things were created by Him and for Him, they all belong to Him. He is the rightful heir to all that is; and He has shed His blood to see it all reconciled.

The Message Is The Kingdom
This means when we preach salvation alone we are missing the majority of God’s kingdom message. Salvation is essential. There is no other way into the Kingdom of God. But salvation is the entry into the Kingdom; it is not the goal or the Kingdom itself. By making it the goal we have lost most of God’s message. We cannot “bear fruit in every good work” because with salvation alone we cannot grow “in the knowledge of God” in the rest of life. We cannot be “strengthened with all power” because we do not have the “knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Therefore, we are the largest church in history, but the weakest church when it comes to actually influencing the lives, communities, and nations we have reached.

We must destroy the split thinking we have been taught and take up again the gospel of the Kingdom. Then, and only then, will not only our words, but our actions and influence bear witness to the absolute supremacy of Christ and His message. How do we do this? How do we restore our Christian minds? How do we get the gospel of the Kingdom back?

There Are Only Two Kingdoms
It seems to me that a careful study of the Word of God reveals two Kingdoms and therefore, what we would call today, two world-views. In one view, Jesus is Lord of everything, and in the other He is not. In God’s view of reality, everything is integrated under His supreme authority. All other world-views have a split view of reality, that is to say, that one part of creation is more real than another. In philosophy, this debate uses the language of “the one and the many,” particulars vs. ideal. Scientists talk about the material vs. immaterial, visible vs. invisible. In theological language, we discuss this dichotomy in terms of temporal vs. eternal, heavenly vs. earthly. Existentialism puts its emphasis on the unseen world, Communism on the seen. Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam say the earthly is unreal – reality is in the unseen world. Empiricism says if I can measure it, it is real. The God of the Bible says there is no “versus.” It all belongs to Him. All that has been made is from Him and to Him and reconciled to Him through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. This is what Paul is struggling to convey in Colossians 1, and every other New Testament writer in the exploding Gentile and Jewish churches.

The only way we can live in the Kingdom of light is by integrating all that comes under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We must remarry the elements of God’s Kingdom that have been estranged through split thinking. We must dispel the darkness of our minds by refusing the concept of secular and sacred, the dualism of a lost world. God is not just or merciful. He is just and merciful. He is not either the God of heaven or earth. He is the God of heaven and earth. God does not care more for the invisible than the visible, the unseen than the seen. He is the Lord of science and prayer. God is not only redeeming His human creation, He is redeeming His material creation. He cares for every bird, species, and plant He has made. God is not alienated from our ecological concerns; in fact, ecology is of vital concern for the Lord who created ecology in the first place. This Christ does not turn a blind eye to earthly justice, preferring heavenly. He suffers with those who suffer and calls on His people to give voice to the silenced.

Keys To Greatness In The Kingdom
In Matthew 5, Jesus reveals the keys of greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven. He says we are to integrate the teaching of the Law and the Prophets with His teaching of grace, the cross, and the Holy Spirit, and that “whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”2

Matthew 5:17-19
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 13:52
And he said to them, ‘Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.’ If we do not integrate the Old with the New Testament, if we do not preach the old and the new, if we do not integrate the spiritual and material, the heavenly and the earthly, the seen and the unseen, then we are not seeing the real Jesus.

1. Colossians 1:6-8
2. Matthew 5:19