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What if Jesus is who He says He is? Todd examines one of the single greatest descriptions of what the Bible says about the true nature of Jesus. And if Jesus truly is the fullness of God, the firstborn over all creation, how should that affect the way we live?
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Experts Are Everywhere but Can They be Trusted: How to Respond to Philosophy's Challenge
Our Journey to Get the Stain of Spaghetti/Sin Out of Our Lives
Why The Light Has to be Left On
What You Lose If You Leave This Chance To Serve This King
Our Colossal Christ and What You Must Quit When You Know Him
The First Thing We Ought to Pray for and Pursue
Investigating the Colossal Claims and Obligations of the Gospel
Who is this Jesus who is the center of this great controversy that has arisen 2,000 years ago in the town of Colossae? We're in a little series called CSI: The Colossians Scene Investigated. There's a group of folks who lived 2,000 years ago that embraced the truth. The truth they embraced was rejected by the people who lived in that region when it came to them because the man who brought that to them had heard about it on one of these exciting, extravagant coastal regions of Asia Minor had this idea that was new and strange.
There were some who believed, but there were many in the community who began to attack those who believed in this Jesus, this one who they said was the hope they had been looking for, that they didn't need to listen to the great philosophers of Athens, they didn't need to rely on the worship of angels or the many gods who existed in the Roman and Greek world. There was one who came that was the true God, that wasn't the fancy of men.
We're going to look at this little book of Colossians. We're going to study, and we're going see if there is truth that is there that is relevant to our life, our faith. It is not new and strange. It is old and familiar, and our world would kind of tell us we need to move on past this ancient idea that some man who lived 2,000 years ago could have any relevance or impact in our life.
I'll tell you what. If he was just a man, he probably wouldn't have the same relevance and impact in our life, but if, in fact, he is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, if he is almighty God, if he is Prince of Peace, eternal Father, then we ought to spend some time figuring out who he is and rightly responding to him. That's what we're looking at.
When Paul wrote these folks… If you have your Bible, turn with me to Colossians. If you don't, we're going to be glad to put it up for you there in a minute. He started off by saying, "Look. If there's even so much as a flicker of faith in you, there is a ton at stake." Paul himself had never been to this little town, but his friend had, his friend who had heard Paul talk about this Jesus.
This friend went back and shared with the folks who were there. They became believers and followers of the hope that could be presented and found only in Christ. Then Epaphras left and met Paul back in Rome where he was in prison. Paul wrote them a letter to encourage them that this faith they have is the faith that is the hope of the world that is true universally and everywhere. It is not just some small idea carried out by heretics in local regions.
It's changing lives and bearing fruit everywhere, as truth always does. You shouldn't abandon that truth. In fact, he spent the first portion of his letter praying that they would grow in the knowledge of this truth. That they would know the knowledge of his will. That they would share in the inheritance they had received through this King who had reconciled them to God. That they would rejoice in the fact they had been delivered from the domain of darkness, and that they had been forgiven of their sins by the provision of this man, Jesus.
Now there's a lot of controversy because this Jesus was a guy who had lived just 30 years ago in some small region. His own clan, the tribes of his own people had turned him over to be murdered. There were folks who were still alive and remembered him as a physical friend. They had a hard time believing this man who was a contemporary of them could be anything significant.
Let me just tell you why this is such a great book for us to study. Because, like I said, there are folks who come alongside of us now, and they will hear us talk about Jesus. I'm going to walk you through just a few. They're going to tell you our view of who Jesus is is a view that, frankly, should not be embraced.
No one is denying that Jesus was a historical figure who lived. As we already have mentioned, the whole earth's calendar pivots on this one man's birth and death. That should indicate to you right there that there is something unique and significant about him. Not everybody who talks about Jesus talks about Jesus the way the writer to the people at Colossae talked about him.
He is about to go into one of the greatest sections in the entire revelation of God that describes to you who this Jesus is and how you should respond to him. What Paul is saying is he is praying so desperately that they would grow in relationship to this Jesus. He is saying, "Look. You won't maintain this faith if you aren't sure who your faith is in. Let me tell you again who this Jesus is."
I've used this illustration before. It's relevant right here. I said before I like Barney. I know that seems odd. As a dad of six kids, you know Barney is one who could occupy their attention at times. Even though he can be kind of dorky and clumsy and a bit of a nuisance at times and gets in the way and kind of a bother, I still like Barney. Frankly, I believe as deputy sheriffs go, he is the best one Andy ever had.
Now the reason I do that is because when I start talking about Barney, all of you guys thought of a terrible huge purple dinosaur. You go, "That guy likes Barney? What is wrong with him? Why am I listening to him speak?" No, that Barney annoys me as much as he does you, but I do like Barney Fife. When you talk about Barney, though, in our culture, people are going to just go one direction with it.
If they happen to be a fan of Mayberry, they're going to take their mind's eye to this guy who only put one bullet in his pistol. If, on the other hand, they have young kids, and been around different places where the dinosaur has made his mark and left his tracks, they're going to immediately think of that Barney. The same is true with the name of Jesus.
It is not enough that you talk about the fact you love God. It isn't enough that you talk about the fact you love Jesus. Because the entire world will tell you, "We have no problem with Jesus," but not very many will define Jesus the way Jesus defined himself. Let me walk you through a little bit of this.
The Mormon church. Folks ask all the time, "Are Mormons Christian?" I will say if they are a good Mormon, they are not a good Christian. If they are a good Christian, they cannot be a Mormon. Mormons do not believe God is Spirit as the Scripture says God is Spirit. They believe God is material. God is man.
Joseph Smith said, "God himself was once as we are now, and is [simply] an exalted man..." They don't believe Jesus was born by the Holy Spirit doing a work inside Mary to bring forth a perfect God-man. They believe he was the actual product of a physical sexual relation by an exalted God-man and Mary.
They believe the wedding at Cana was Jesus' own wedding, that he was making wine out of water at, where he married Lazarus' sisters, Martha and Mary, so he could populate this earth as his reward for being a faithful man. They don't believe Jesus is almighty God as Jesus himself claimed he would be.
Jehovah's Witnesses. They don't believe Jesus is God. They don't believe he is man. They believe he is Michael, the archangel. That he was sent to earth and stripped of his angelic nature, but he was only a man, and he was never bodily resurrected.
The Christian Scientists. They think he was an outstanding teacher but not a real man. They believe he was only a spirit, they will tell you, in Mary Baker Eddy's writings. They will say that even though he was spiritual in nature that somehow he took on a materialistic form where he could be seen. He was not a Savior. He was not resurrected.
Muslims will tell you Jesus is simply a man or prophet equal to Abraham, Noah, Joseph, and Muhammad. They will you Christ was not the Son of God. He never died on a cross, but he was removed by Allah just before the crucifixion. That Judas was made up to look like Jesus, and Judas was the one who was crucified.
They will tell you the Christians have it wrong. There was no need for him to be resurrected because he was removed from this earth. They will talk to you about Jesus. They do not believe that Jesus, who they say was a great prophet, told the truth which would necessarily not make him a great prophet if he was a liar.
Hindus. Christ is one of many manifestations of what is good and right and holy. Buddha would tell you Jesus was a good teacher. He is less important, however, than Buddha himself.
Unitarian Universalists would tell you Jesus is no more or less divine than any other man. There is no heaven. There is no hell. So there is no need for a Savior. He is just an exceptional teacher like Gandhi, like Buddha, like Muhammad, like Confucius. Just a good teacher.
The Jews would tell you he is a good teacher. He is not Messiah, because he did not bring permanent physical peace, so they can't trust in Jesus as their Messiah.
What's my point? I go through all of this with you because there is a lot of controversy about who this Jesus is. The people in this community who lived 2,000 years ago were being ridiculed for their confidence that this Jesus was who he claimed to be or who they heard him to be and who the folks that knew him were professing him to be, all revolving around his works, which verified his words, and his grave, which showed him to be victorious and sovereign even over death, which we know and was considered to be the wages of rebellion and sin against God.
Paul was saying, "I want you to know what you have, because if you have faith in the true God, the true Savior of humankind, there is a ton at stake. If you abandon that, you are the hope of the community at Colossae. If you don't stand firm in who this Jesus is, a couple of things will happen." This is what always happens if you're not truly convinced of the truth of something. I'll walk through with you on a few of these things.
If you're not truly convinced of the truth of something, you're going to be easily swayed by culture instead of strongly influencing it. Paul said, "Look, man. You all are salt and light in this town." Just like we're salt and light in Dallas. If we're not sure of what it is we believe in, we're going to be easily influenced instead of being strong influencers ourselves.
We're going to be anxious and depressed as individuals instead of being folks who are confident and hopeful and making a difference. In other words, if we're not sure of truth, we're going to still look for truth. We're going to always wonder and constantly be concerned we're climbing the wrong ladder that might be leaning against the wrong wall. We're not going to be people who exude confidence.
We're not going to be men and women of faith. We're not going to show we have a solid foundation to stand on, a hope that surpasses our circumstance. If you're not sure you're investing in the truth of something, you're not going to stand firm with it. You're going to be a person who is unchanged in character. Primarily because you're going to be constantly changing with the truth you are given. Paul said that shouldn't be the case. You should be conforming to one thing, to the truth.
If you're not convinced of the truth of something, you're going to be unable to give good answers to the good questions the world will and should ask about our belief. They're going to think it's because we don't have them. Paul said, "You have good answers. I hope you grow in your ability to rightly respond to the good questions people might ask."
Lastly, you're going to eventually fall away from your belief. You're going to fall victim to your own doubts, and you'll join the world in unbelief. You, yourself, will become skeptical. You must be convinced of what it is you say to be true. If you don't know something is true, you're not going to celebrate its inventor, its source.
You won't sell it to your friends. You won't compel them to come and join you in it. You won't depend on it yourself. Paul prays, in the first part of this book, they would not lose the faith they have.
Picking this thing up in verse 15, we're about to dive in to the greatest single place in all of recorded history that describes in a very short hymn, if you will, who this Jesus is. You've heard us proclaim who this Jesus is already for 20 to 30 minutes through song and other creative ways to communicate it to you. Let's take a look at what Colossians says. Let's just read it together. Colossians 1:15. He says,
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him [this Jesus you have confidence in] and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven."
Let me just walk you through these little passages right here and show you seven or eight things you need to know the Bible says is true of Jesus. I want to throw out again, if you're somebody who goes, "Well, sure. You just got through saying others don't think this is about Jesus. If I read Joseph Smith's work, he is going to tell me God is as we now are. That he is just an exalted God-man and Jesus is just his product and son. If you read the Qur'an, Muhammad's work, he is going to tell you he is just a prophet. Why should I be influenced by what this book says?"
If that is your hang-up, great. We can answer it. Why is the Bible worthy to be trusted? We spent a whole morning on it. That CD is available to you. You pick it up. If that is your question, why this book is unique and separate and distinct from all other books that claim divine authority, then you do the tough work and due diligence to figure out if it can be trusted. If, in fact, it is what this book claims to be, the very breath of God, perfect and without error, then this is what in one concise place, it says about who this Jesus is.
First of all, he is the image of the invisible God. Which is to say, when you talk about Jesus, you don't talk about his strong points. Everything he did was perfect. Righteousness, wisdom, power, goodness, love, hatred of evil, oppression, mercy and grace, compassion and concern. Every good attribute and characteristic of perfection was manifested in Jesus Christ.
This is what it says in Hebrews 1:3. It says, "… [Jesus is] the exact representation of His nature…" You want to know what the nature of God is like? Then you watch Jesus and the way he handles hypocrites. You watch Jesus and the way he handles those who are oppressed. You watch Jesus and the way he pursues those who are lost. You watch Jesus and the way he deals tentatively with friends.
You watch Jesus and how he reacts in the face of death. You watch Jesus and the way he sacrifices himself for the good of others. If you want to know God is like, then you look at the person of Jesus Christ because the Scripture says he is the exact representation of his nature.
John 14:9, "Jesus [himself] said, 'Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know [who you're dealing with] , Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you[talk to me and]say, 'Show us the Father'?"
Paul is saying Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. Jesus, in John, chapter 12, said, "If you behold me, you behold the one who sent me." In John, chapter 15, he said, "If you hate me, you hate my father. In John, chapter 8, "If you know me, you know my father." In John 12:49, "If you hear me, then you hear God."
There was no question who Jesus thought he was himself. In John 10:30, he said, "I and the Father are one." Now watch the way this Jesus addresses different things. In fact, in John 1:18, this is what it says, "No [man] has seen God at any time; the only begotten God…" Which doesn't mean born from, but brought forth out of, the nature of God. "…who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him." He has exegeted. He has taken out of what we cannot see and made it known to us.
What I am doing in Colossians is I am exegeting. It's a big word they like to use in pastoral circles. It means nothing. In fact, at the very first class I ever took at seminary was a class called "The Life of Christ." I swear to you this is my very first experience in a class. Dwight Pentecost… What a great name for a seminary professor. Dwight Pentecost asked the question, "Why did Jesus come to earth?"
I'm sitting back there thinking, "All right. I'm not going to raise my hand. This guy has been here for four years. Let's let somebody else go at it." The very first guy was sitting in the front row. He raised his hand, he goes, "Jesus came to exegete God." I about jumped out of my chair. I go, "Wait a minute! Is that what I'm going to learn, because I'm out of here! That makes no sense to me. What do you mean he came to exegete God? Who believes that? What's that mean?"
The guy actually gave a pretty good answer. Because he really was using the word that is used right there in John 1:18, where it says, "No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten of God…He has explained Him." Another word, if you care to know it, in the Greek is hermeneus. We get the English word hermeneutic, which is a right way to study something. It's the idea of to take something correctly out of what is there.
Jesus, if you will, came to exegete God, to explain rightly who God is. Because no man has ever seen God, but Jesus became the visible image of that invisible God. John 8:31. Let's walk through this, this is some good stuff. Because so many folks have this picture of Jesus that's kind of this weak, placid, compliant lamb who just kind of humbly walked to a cross and got whipped and beaten so he could die.
Watch this exchange. "Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed him, 'If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.'" Then he continues, "They answered him, 'We are Abraham's descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, 'You will become free'? Jesus answered them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you….'" Again, another claim he was God. Anytime you are a prophet, you say, "Thus sayeth the Lord."
Jesus was a guy who folks marveled at when he spoke because he didn't say, "I want to quote to you from Rabbi So and so." Or, "God has told me to share with you." Jesus said, "Look, I have innate authority in and of myself. You want to know truth? Here it comes. Truly, I say to you." Why? Because he himself was God. He himself was truth.
"Truly, truly I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin." I'll tell you about freedom. "The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does [however] remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham's [physical] descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you." It doesn't register to you as true.
"I speak the things which I have seen with my Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father." Watch where he is going with this. "They answered and said to Him, ' [Wait a minute.] Abraham is our father.' Jesus said to them, 'If you are Abraham's children, do the deeds of Abraham.'" You start to look like your daddy.
I want to tell you why you don't look like Abraham, who had faith in God and believed the words of God. It's because you have a different daddy. "But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me…" That's not what Abraham would have done. "…a man who has told you the truth…" Abraham loved the truth. "…which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do."
"You are doing the deeds. Here's your daddy." Here's gentle Jesus, meek and mild, making friends. I'll tell you who you are. "'You are doing the deeds of your father.' They said to Him, 'We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.' Jesus said to them, 'If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I have proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not come even on My own initiative, but He sent me.'"
Then he says this. "Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word." This is why. "You are of your father the devil..." That is a great way to garner votes in an election year right there. "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him."
Then he says, "Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies." So he says, "But because I speak the truth, you do not believe me." Then this incredible statement. In the middle of his enemies, and I say this in the context of Jesus being the visible image of the invisible God. Because if you are God, you are the summation of perfection, the totality of that which is good.
Jesus says, "You guys don't like me, right? This is a great opportunity for you right here. I'll take any question from the audience. I'll take any prosecutor who wants to come. Who has ever seen me do anything wrong? Classmates? Neighbors? Folks I am debating who I just called sons of the Devil?" Now that's a pretty amazing statement. You will never hear me ask that question here at Watermark. Because we don't have time for the line to form behind the microphone.
"Which one of you convicts Me of sin?" Silence. "Well, then, if I speak, live, and do the truth, if my life defines righteousness, goodness, mercy, and light, why don't you believe me? Answer: Because you are liars. In your heart you want to reject my message because you know it calls you to something."
That's why you deny there is a God. That's why you play games with God and invent a god who is no God at all. He is some creation in your own mind you can control so you can live the way you want because you are a devil and not a son. Now there's your Jesus. He is the image of the invisible God.
Peter, who was with Jesus for three and a half years, when he wrote his little epistle, when he wrote his little book, he said Jesus is the Lamb unblemished, spotless and perfect. When John wrote a little bit later, he said, "In him there is no sin. I was around the guy night and day. I never saw him do anything wrong."
These are not distant relatives. These are not faraway observers. These are intimate allies who were close to him. They said he batted a thousand. Only God can bat a thousand. Only God is ultimately good and perfect, and this Jesus is the embodiment of perfection because he is perfection itself. Somehow fully man and yet fully and completely God.
Not only does Paul say in Colossians, chapter 1, that he is the visible image of the invisible God, he goes on to say that he is the firstborn of all creation. Now some folks get hung up on this. Because when they think he was the firstborn, they think Jesus was a created individual. That cannot be so for a number of different reasons.
The idea of firstborn in the Scripture, when you trace it back through, has the idea of prominence, that he has preeminence over all other like creatures. When Jesus was entered into creation, he is the anticipation, fullness, product of, source of, and object of creation. It doesn't mean that he is the firstborn of all other creation.
The New World Translation is a translation, if you can call it that, that Jehovah's Witnesses use. They come to your house and they will have with them the NWT, the New World Translation. This is one of the places, if you turn with them to Colossians 1:15-20, you will find the word other inserted six different times in their little English translation right there.
The word other exists nowhere in any of the Greek manuscripts. It was inserted to serve their purposes that Jesus was an angelic being, Michael, who was stripped of his angelic title and assigned as a man to come and to talk about Jehovah. It is their own invention to remove the divinity of Jesus Christ.
They will say Jesus is the firstborn over all other creation, and they talk about it not in terms of status, which is how it is intended, and I'll prove it to you logically in a second, but in terms of schedule of birth. That Jesus was born; therefore, he was created. One of the reasons you can't believe that is because we're going to find out he preceded, which is the idea of the firstborn, that he came before all other sons in the family. He was there before the rest of creation.
The firstborn in my family, that's Ally, was the firstborn of all other kids in my family. She preceded all of them. In the culture that was there, that meant she was given honor, authority, and preeminence in everything. She would carry forth, if you will, sovereign ability to rule, and given priority, dignity, and superiority over all others. Specifically, the firstborn male in that culture.
If you'll keep reading with me right there in Colossians, chapter 1, where it says, "He is…the firstborn of all creation." Look at what it says, "For by Him all things were created..." If he created all things, he could not create himself. "…both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things..." There it is. That's the idea being communicated right here.
He can't be created if he created all things. The word other isn't there. Paul is saying Jesus is superior and sovereign and he is not to be a priority. He is not to be the first one you look at. He is not even to be prominent, which is to say the first considered. He is to be preeminent, which is to be influential over all. That's the idea being communicated to these folks right here.
Don't make Jesus a priority in your life. Don't make him prominent in your life. In other words, don't make him the first and largest percentage of your consideration. You make him preeminent over everything. There is nothing in your life that can be considered secular because Christ is over all in creation, just as God would be.
Look at what else Paul said about this Jesus in this little great hymn. "He is the creator of all things." People in that region were prone to worship angels. Paul would simply say this. "Why would you worship angels when they report to him?" In fact, this goes to even what I just got through saying he wasn't part of creation because all things that are created are forbidden to be worshipped. Yet angels worshipped this firstborn one. Why? Because this firstborn one… The idea there is status, not schedule of birth.
Christ is the creator of all things. It's really interesting when you look at the miracles of Christ. The very first miracle he did, the very first miracle of Jesus I mentioned already, was this turning water into wine at this wedding of Cana. Now what is wine? In fact, when Jesus created it and they partook of it, they said, "What kind of party is this, man?" Normally you give the good wine first and then we all get a little loopy and you start to bring out the watered down stuff.
They ran out of their wine, and the host there panicked, went to Jesus. Actually, the mother of Jesus went to him. Said, "Jesus, they're out of wine. It's going to be an incredibly humiliating event right here." Jesus said, "I'll take care of it." He went and turn six large vats of water into wine. When they brought that stuff out, they said, "Man, this is the good stuff. There is nothing about this that is watered down. This is the undiluted strong drink. This is the right stuff."
What is wine? Wine is Welch's with apparent age. That's all it is. It's just aged grape juice, fermented grape juice. What is the very first thing God created? Adam. The first supreme part, we know God created the earth, the heavens, the skies, the planets, the trees, and forests. He didn't put seeds in the ground. He didn't put eggs in nests. He just spoke a bird into existence. He spoke Adam into existence.
How old was Adam? How many of you think he was in diapers crawling around the Garden? No. We all think Adam was probably…I used to think it was 30, now I'm convinced he was 41. God created something that was brand new and yet had apparent age. When Jesus did his first miracle, he said, "Let me just show you my creative abilities. I can't just make something that will come out of nowhere, but I can create something that looks older than it really is."
There's a lot of debate about old earth and new earth. We've had some discussions around here. It is not something I'm going to part fellowship with somebody over, but anybody who thinks and gets intimated by the fact that we look at our earth and based on what we know about science, the way layers are formed and the way we find fossils in certain parts of rocks and we date things.
We say this earth is two billion years old, or that fossil, that dinosaur lived here in this age. Why do we say that? Because there are certain shells, certain bones and certain layers of earth, so it took that many layers to get over top of it so the layers of earth must be this old because the bones under it are this old because they're in that layer of earth. It's very circular reasoning.
To that I say there's an explanation Scripture gives. It's called a universal catastrophic flood where lots of sediment was settled in a very quick amount of time and some animals became extinct. God has the ability to create an earth with apparent age. I could care less how old science would determine our world would have to be to create fossil fuels and the like. God can create something immediately that looks older than it is. See also the very first miracle of Christ and the very first miracle of creation.
He is the Creator of all things. He is the sustainer of all things. Now this is key. This is what Paul is saying right here in Colossians. That all things are sustained or held together by him. Let me tell you, I hate the bumper sticker, but I like the theology. Here it comes. "Know Christ, Know Peace; No Christ, No Peace."
I was talking to a friend this week who suffers from panic attacks. Who, frankly, has a hard time driving because he has been involved in some difficult situations on the road and is fearful. Every now and again he gets real excited about something only to find that something he is excited about that would give him meaning in life slowly starts to fall away as he saw it wasn't going to provide for him the sustenance and strength and meaning and purpose that he hoped it would.
I looked at him, and I just said, "You know what? Here's the reason you're having these panic attacks. Panic attacks are the only reasonable response to your self-reliance." Because you realize this world is a lot bigger than you, and you can't control your own health. You can't control your own destiny. You can't control your own tomorrow. You can make sure you do things today that aren't going to cause you to have a reputation tomorrow that you have to be ashamed of.
You ultimately can't guarantee that come tomorrow you're going to be strong, virile, and healthy. You can't guarantee that tomorrow this world will be something you enjoy and want. You have no peace in your life. When you start to realize it's up to you to figure this thing out, become somebody the world will look at and respect, become somebody you want to live and enjoy life with yourself, that's going to freak you out.
The only difference between you and the reason the rest of the world doesn't have a panic attack is because they are somehow putting it away. They use a crutch, which is denial, to enable them to get through life without freaking out. At least you have the integrity to realize this world is bigger than you.
I go, "I think your panic attacks aren't a problem. I think what they are is a sign of your intellectual integrity." He looked at me and he said, "Well, I'm supposed to live like this?" I go, "Absolutely not. God doesn't intend for you to live like that. The problem is your life is a mess because the one who sustains all things, who holds all things together in truth, is absent from your life.
So there is chaos where there should be order. There is hopelessness where there should be hope. There is no Christ so there is no peace. I'm going to tell you that you don't need the drugs they're telling you and the psychotherapy they're telling you. You need Christ. When you have Christ, you'll watch, as you trust in him, your anxiety, worry, and depression go away."
That's what I believe. You don't like it, keep going and doing what you're doing. Keep going to people's offices and talk to them for an hour and a half. Let them charge you 200 bucks. Let them get you over to a psychiatrist, give you some medication. Let them give you little strategies. It will work for a while. Some of them will get you by for a little bit, but in your heart of hearts, you'll still know it's out of control. That should freak you out. Because the one who holds your life together and gives it meaning isn't there. He is the one who sustains all things.
This idea is much greater even than just our own personal mental health. The idea here is he holds the fabric of all creation together. It's really interesting. When you go look at 2 Peter, chapter 3, it talks about the end of the world. The words it uses there are words that are consistent with words people used when the Manhattan Project was tested in New Mexico, when there was an atomic explosion and they heard this whistling, humming sound, when this atom was split.
At the time what we would see as the very basis of creation, when it breaks apart and the energy in it is released that there is this atomic melting and destruction that comes. There were some people at a certain time and age who looked at that and said the world is going to be destroyed by nuclear war. I have to tell you, it's my personal belief this world will not end with atomic war.
God is not going to let man destroy what he created. He has told us, though, he will destroy what he created. There will be a day when God will let go what he holds together. There will be a meltdown like we have never seen. You go read 2 Peter, chapter 3, and you'll see a description of the end of the world. It talked about intense heat, and it talks about the elementary principals in the world being destroyed or let go of or broken.
Because there is going to be a day when God is going to split, not just the atom, but the quark. It's going to all go away. On the day that he decides, "I'm not going to sustain this anymore. I will create a new heaven and a new earth and do away with the evil that has damaged my creation."
He is not just the sustainer of all things, Colossians tells us, he is the head of the church. Which is to say, not only is he the King of creation, he is the one who redeems the creation that was lost, because he is a lover. Because he is the visible image of the invisible God. He has come to reclaim what has been taken. That is why we are to keep our eyes focused on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.
There are a lot of folks who say they don't want anything to do with church because it's leaders are hypocritical. Like I said, you'll never hear me say, "Which one of you has ever seen me do anything wrong?" If you have, leave, because there would be nobody left in here. But if I said to you, "Which one of you has ever found anything wrong with this Jesus who we worship and subscribe all our greatness, glory, and security to?" There is not a single person who will leave, because they can't.
He is the head of this church. He is the one we trust. He is the one we exalt. As I will mention again a little bit later, all the hypocrites are is evidence that there is truth we say is right. You can't be hypocritical if you don't believe there is something that is right. I'm telling you, there are hypocrites in the church because we are all not like the God that God in his grace is going to conform us into the image of. Not make us gods, but deal with the sin in our hearts that moves us away from that which is good, right, true, and pure.
When you see me act like a hypocrite and be less than loving and kind, don't leave this church. Embrace the head of it. Because he is the one who deals with my hypocrisy and failures. Also celebrate how my hypocrisy is being minimized as God's redeeming, transforming work in my life is taking place.
You want a new pastor? Then pray for the one you have. You want a pastor and a leader who you'll never, ever have a problem with? Then you look at the pastor and leader of the church of Jesus Christ universal. It is Christ himself. He is the head of the church. He was not only the King of creation, he is the King of creation redeemed. He is the firstfruits, Paul says, of God's redemptive work.
In other words, he is the one who has paid sin's wage so he is the one who can reclaim the hostages of sin. The Scripture says, "For the wages of sin is death…" and we are held captive by our sin. The wage we owe is our very soul and life before God. God, who is a God who loves us, comes, and he redeems us. To show that he has satisfied the wage of sin, he conquered death. He entered into the strong man's house because he was the stronger one.
He took back what was his. The Son of God, it says in 1 John, appeared for this purpose: to destroy the works of the Devil. He has done it perfectly. Somebody has ransacked his house, and he has returned to execute judgment and restore order. Jesus makes that strong reference in Matthew, chapter 12, when they say, "Man, the work that you do, you do by the Devil."
He said, "That's crazy. I'm here to kick the Devil's tail. You can't do that unless you're stronger than the Devil. Who is stronger than the Devil? The one who created all things, whether in heaven or earth, visible or invisible. I'm here to call into account. I'm here to pay the debt that is owed, not the Devil, but me, who is righteous, just, and true."
Do you see what Paul is saying to these people? This is whom you have believed in. Don't abandon it. Don't go back. Don't let somebody tell you you have to add to this Christ. You hold firm to this faith and this Jesus. He is the one who the world has been looking for. He is the hope of the world. You hold onto him.
He is the fullness of God, Paul says here in Colossians. We just read it. He is the fullness of God, you'll see in Colossians 2:9. It says, "For in Him all the fullness of [God] dwells [in him] in bodily form..." The idea here is when something is full, not only do you not need to add anything to it, you cannot add anything to it. So don't look to supplement your faith in Jesus with some insight from Gandhi or some special insight from Dr. Phil or some help from Oprah. Or Deepak Chopra's good ideas.
You are full of everything you need, so don't add to it, because when you add to it, it insinuates you haven't found the truth. Paul is saying you guys are the hope of the world because you are a people who can lead folks to the light. Look at this. Philippians 4:19, a familiar verse to many of you, "And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus."
He is the fullness of God. It says in 2 Peter 1:2-3 , "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus [Christ] our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness..." In other words, you're lacking in nothing. Why? Because the fullness of God is available to you in him. Don't supplement your faith, which goes to the last thing Paul says in this little great section about who this Jesus is.
He is indescribable, gang. We could go on and on and on and on about him. He is the provider of peace with God. Romans 5:1. "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ..." The idea here is because he is the fullness of God, he is the provider of peace, you don't need to add anything to your salvation.
If you want to worship him through sacraments, fine. If you want to worship him through the sacrament that somebody says will help you, fine, but don't ever believe the sacrament is a means to salvation. Jesus Christ and his shed blood alone is the means for salvation. It is Christ and faith in Christ plus nothing, because he is the fullness of God. When you add to the cross, you denigrate the cross and make it less than it is.
What does all this mean? Let me just give you some quick points about what this means and walk through it very quickly.
1._ Because Christ is the image of God and all the fullness of deity dwells in him, and he is the perfection of all that is good, Paul would say to the people in Colossae, and I would say to you today, quit looking._ Quit searching. You have found it. Now some of you may need to do the diligence of work and go, "Well, is Jesus the image of God, and does all the fullness of deity dwell in him, or do the Mormons, Muslims, Unitarians, Christian Scientists, and Jehovah's Witness, and Universalists have it a little bit right?" You need to figure that out.
I'm going to tell you when you go to look and you do the intellectual work and have the integrity to truly open your heart and mind to the evidence that is there, you will find out you are compelled to believe in this Jesus who has come. I would tell you then, quit looking. You hold onto him like your life depends on it, because it does.
2._ Because Christ is the ruler of all things and all powers are in subjection to him, I might add to that, and he loves you, you quit worrying, because your worry suggests that somehow, somewhere, a stronger one has slipped in and your God cannot deliver you through this moment._ I know there's some real pain that's out there. I know there is some real uncertainty about tomorrow, but quit putting your hope in what tomorrow is going to look like. You put your hope in the fact that the God who says he loves you and will care for you and deliver you even from the grave.
I will tell you this, and I'll say it again. There will never be a single person who is a member of this body of Christ that will want for food, clothing, or shelter. That doesn't mean you'll all live in the same zip code and drive the same cars and wear the same kind of clothes. I'm going to go on record as saying right here, as long as any of us have the ability to clothe ourselves, feed ourselves, or shelter ourselves, there will never be a single person who goes without clothing, food, or shelter. Quit worrying.
3._ Because Christ is reconciled to all things and satisfied the requirement of God and provided complete forgiveness through his sacrifice and shed blood, you quit considering what else you need to do to find salvation and peace before God._ Rejoice in what he has done rather than sample what others are calling you to. You rejoice in what he has done. You respond to what he has done. You quit worrying if you have to add something to the finished work of Jesus Christ. You start telling other people, "I have found it. The answer is Jesus."
4._ Because Christ is the one who sustains the entire universe, he is the one who can sustain you. _Quit relying on yourself. It ought to freak you out. You ought to have panic attacks if you rely on yourself. "How cursed is the man who trusts in his flesh." "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."
I pray you would grow in the revealed will and knowledge of God so you might walk in a manner worthy of your Lord, bearing fruit in every good work in all that you do. Quit relying on yourself to figure out what is right and what is wrong. You go to the standard of right and wrong.
5._ Because Christ is the head of the church, quit using underservants as an excuse to not believe._ This is what I was talking about earlier. Hypocrites are nothing other than proof that truth as a standard exists. You have to quit saying, "I'm going to reject Jesus because there are people who don't live the way they say they should live if they love Jesus." Jesus tells you, if you say you don't have sin, you are a liar and make God out to be a liar.
Am I going to disappoint you as your pastor? As your friend? Count on it. By the grace of God, the way I disappoint you ought to be diminished in its magnitude and further in its distance from the last time, but might you catch me in a weak moment where my tone wasn't right, my attitude wasn't loving, my spirit wasn't self-denying? Count on it.
You quit using that as an excuse to not believe. Because Jesus Christ is the one who you should trust in. You want perfection? You look at the one Jesus says you focus on. Men will fail you. Jesus Christ will not. You cannot use hypocrites as an excuse. When you see my life out of control or out of balance, you'd better tell me so I can repent, ask your forgiveness, and you can restore me to the path of righteousness. I will love you the same. We are never an excuse for a world not to believe.
6._ Because Christ has commanded you to bring others to him as his ambassadors, you quit abandoning your post, folks_. Because you are the hope of the world, with Christ in you the hope of glory. Love others. Seek the lost. Initiate with those who are far from God. Pray with them. Play with them. If God answered every one of your prayers this last week, how many folks' eternity would be forever altered as a result?
How many people do you know by name who are far from God? That you love? That you invite? That you share with? That you're intentional with? If Christ is God and we are his people, then we cannot say we embrace him if we don't embrace what he has called us to go do, which is to take the message into all the world.
When is the last time you've had a meaningful conversation… I didn't even say spiritual. When is the last time you've had a meaningful conversation with somebody who is far from God? If it's been long, then you have to ask yourself, "Do I believe that this Jesus is who he said he was?" because Christ has made himself available for the entire world to consider, to look at and see if he is so.
If he is going to hold all men in judgment, if they refuse his offer of love and forgiveness, then you have to quit making excuses. I have to tell you something, if you're not going to let him be your justifier, one day he will be your judge. If you sit out there today, and you say, "Ahh, that's nice. That guy is passionate about this up there. Paul was pretty sure with the people in Colossae ought to do. You know, not me."
Listen, if you're wise, you're wise for yourself, but if you scoff, you alone must bear it. Who is this Jesus? What was he doing on the cross? You have to answer that question. Why is his claim different than every other claim? Why does history pivot on this man? Who do you think he is? If you're not for him, you are against him.
My question to you, and Paul's question to the folks at Colossae, was how can you say no to him? If he loves you and if it was his body that was broken and his blood that was shed that you might have peace with God, there is a great culpability for rejecting that. If you want to say, "I'll be my own man. I'll stand before God and take my own whipping," then brace yourself.
You have to quit making excuses. Because God has said, "Here I am. Test and see if I am good. Taste and see if I am good. Here I am. If I am true, then no amount of scrutiny will affect me. Bring on Muhammad. Bring on Dr. Phil. Bring on the Unitarians. Bring on the Jews and their wrong view of who I said I am. Bring on the cross. But you will deal with me."
Father, I pray for my friends who are here today. That they would take this strong section of Scripture where it is made infinitely clear who Jesus thought he was. Infinitely clear who his ambassadors proclaimed he was from 2,000 years back. Infinitely clear what should happen as a result of who he said he was and what he came to do. That we ought to be people, Father, who ought to quit looking, quit worrying, quit considering, quit relying on self, quit using others as an excuse not to believe, quit abandoning our posts, and quit playing games.
Father, I pray my friends out there would consider who this Jesus is. As they study him and look at his life and historical credence of it and his empty tomb, that they would ask themselves, "How can I say no to this kind of evidence? How can I say no to this kind of love?" Amen.
Well, when Paul wrote these words, his idea for those folks, man you hold fast. " [You remain] steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain..." You have found hope. Because you have a little faith, there is a ton at stake. If you leave this truth, the world you're supposed to influence and be a hope to is going to not know to look there. That is true of you today.
There are two really right responses to what we've talked about today. Jesus gave them to you in two active verbs. If you know who this Christ is, in all the ways I described today that he has revealed through his Word, then you go and make disciples. You be conformed into the knowledge of his will and the image of his Son and you go.
If you're here today, you have to stop playing games and you come. You come to Christ. You give him your life and respond to his offer of love. We'd love to talk with you. We'd love to make ourselves available to you. You can do that just by checking a box. I'd like to talk to somebody about what it means to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We'll do that on your turf, on your time, in your way. Or we'll do it right now.
You can come and know there is hope. If you have come at any point in your life, and you have never told the world that you have come, then on October 31 you have an opportunity to do that. You need to let us know so we can celebrate with you the fact that having come, it's time for you to go. Have a great week of worship.
From a book that is 2,000 years old comes evidence that has been preserved about the greatest truth the world has ever known and how it can transform our lives. The book of Colossians walks through the radical change that happened to some in an ancient east Asian city, revealing the struggles they faced, the resistance they met, and the transformation they found as a result of the hope they had. Join Todd Wagner as he studies the Colossians scene to discern how their journey can reveal truths that can change us.