- Sermon Title: Jesus: Creator of the world and the source of our salvation.
Text: Colossians 1:15-23
- 1. Contemporary Connection: I sort of like to cook. I am not always that great of a cook and do not usually cook meals that are too extravagant – actually much of the cooking I do is pretty straightforward sometimes. But over time I have learned the recipes of the meals I tend to make. I have become comfortable with them enough that on occasion I can guess how much of some ingredient I may need. How do I know, you ask? After a certain amount of experience you just know what to do. You know, like the chefs on TV, they know how much of each ingredient to use, it’s always a pinch of this, a bit that, handful of this, a cup of that, etc. Sometimes though we can get carried away and add too much. We always like to add stuff don’t we?
We can’t always be happy just to follow the recipe and leave it at that. We have to add things and mix things in.
Well, another thing I have learned is that certain ingredients don’t mix well – kind of like the whole thing with oil and water – they don’t mix. In some cases if we mix the wrong ingredients together they can result in sickness or even fatality. At some point we have to learn that certain things just don’t mix. Even so, with this knowledge I can be confident that when I make some food I am familiar with making, it will come out well.
In the Bible we’re going to see how Paul has to bring correction to the Christians in the Colossian church who were mixing Jewish theology and practice with Grecian and Roman philosophy/religion and practice. It was leading to disastrous results for the Christians there. The Colossian church was young and in a bit of a small town – they had not learned yet that certain things don’t mix. They were vulnerable to the pervading culture and the pressure others put on them to conform to the majority culture. They were too young in the Lord to know the difference sometimes. Today as we look at Colossians we are going to see all we need to know to be Christians: That Christ is all-sufficient for our salvation.
- The central proposition: Jesus is the source and ruler of all creation. He is all we need for our salvation.
restate it: He is the image of God and the source of all creation who through his death on the cross, and resurrection from the dead, provides all we need for salvation and reconciliation with God. restate it again: In Jesus is all the fullness of God and because of his work on the cross and resurrection from the dead, he has supremacy over all creation.
The main points: In this passage we are going to see that because Jesus is image of God he is also the sole source of creation because his is the firstborn of all creation and by him all things were created. Next we’ll see that because through Jesus all things were made, he has supremacy over all creation. Finally, we’ll see that Jesus is all we need for our salvation. We don’t need to add anything or mix anything in. Jesus is all-sufficient for our life in God.
Announce the text and read the passage:Let’s read together Colossians 1:15-23.
Before we get into the passage I want to explain the historical situation a Colosssae. Understanding the historical background helpset the things Paul wrote in context helping us better understand the passage and why Paul wrote what he did, or why people needed to hear what he talked about.
The Situation at Colossae: In the first century, Colossae was in the province of Phrygia in Asia Minor, in the south part of what is now modern day Turkey. Phrygia was a place where religions and philosophies were often followed and practiced with intensity and sometimes frenzy. It was a small and socially unimportant city in the time of Paul though it was cosmopolitanin that cultural practices, religious ideas, and philosophies were varied and mixed together. Though small, it seems the situation with the church there was significant enough that Paul deemed it necessary to write them a letter. (It’s also possible that other churches in the area (e.g., Laodecia, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, etc.) were being affected by the same issues as at the church in Colossae and so Paul wrote one letter and asked that it be read to the other churches (see Col 4:16). Remember, Paul and his emissaries planted and established a lot of churches but he did not write letters to them all and to some he did but they were not included in the Bible.
- In the church at Colossae and in many churches around the world today – the mixing I mentioned, also called, syncretism, was quite a common problem. What is syncretism? This is when people take aspects of two (or more) different religions (or religious philosophies, or even cultures) and blends them together. The Phrygians were heavy into mysticism (emphasis on experiences), asceticism (emphasis on self-denial), a multitude of philosophies, traditions, occultism, elemental spirits (focus on the elements),angel worship, and the like.Then there was Christianity (at this point still very much Judaism with a focus on Jesus as the Messiah – it was a young church). The Christians at Colossae still followed many of the common Jewish teachings and practices but were also influenced by the culture of Phrygia. It was very challenging to keep up with the culture while also trying to keep allegiance to Christ as God and Lord and not mixing the two. The mixing of the Phrygian ideas and Christian ideas turned into what some call the “Colossian heresy.” And to Paul, the “Colossian heresy” was very dangerous because set aside Jesus Christ as the Lord and ruler of all creation.
The “Colossian heresy” was a blend of ascetic practice and discipline, the cult of angelic worship and a pride in superior wisdom and knowledge (as a way to salvation from this world) and various Jewish/Christian practices and beliefs. When it comes to belief in Christ, the “Colossian heresy” implied there were spirit powers (over and above Christ) which controlled the natural world and which were to be revered as mediators between God and his creation. The result was that both the person and work of Christ were down played by this system of angelic mediators. It undermined and played down the Christians’ belief in Christ as Lord of Creation and all-sufficient redeemer of the church.
The way of salvation was asserted to be through fellowship with these angelic mediators. It was believed there was an impassable gulf between the universe and God’s presence. This gulf was called “the fullness” and it could only be bridged through acknowledgement and reverence of these angelic beings or elemental spirits. But it was all based on human knowledge and not true knowledge of God through Jesus Christ. What this did is lead the Colossian believers to believe they were alienated from God and unable to relate to him unless they emphasized a rigorous human spirituality based on asceticism and worship of the elemental spirits just like Phrygians did. What happened then was and it downplayed and undermined the gospel Paul had taught then through his emissaries
- The heart of the gospel is the focus on the all sufficiency of Christ for our salvation and his supremacy over all creation because he is the first born of all creation. He is the source of all things and in him all things hold together.
- Main Point 1: Jesus is the sole source of all creation. He is all we need for our salvation.
Restate it: He is the image of the invisible God and the source of all creation who through his death on the cross, and resurrection from the dead, provides all we need for salvation and reconciliation with God.
Restate it again: In Jesus is all the fullness of God and because of his work on the cross and resurrection from the dead, he has supremacy over all creation.
The Phrygians were not believers in Christ – they were advocates of mystery religions and mystery philosophies, they worshiped the invisible elemental spirits – they believed that to key to salvation was to unravel the mystery. To do this they believed one needed special spiritual knowledge and contact with these invisible angelic mediators we talked about – they believed in a multiplicity of these angelic beings who would help pass the gulf between them and God – isn’t this what we do today? We’re still trying to accessGod by means other than Jesus Christ. Remember a few years ago the big fad about angels and how everyone has one and that you can talk to your angel? Things haven’t changed much have they?
With God, at one time things were mysterious and not all that we could know about him was known (well, there is still a lot to know of God but I digress). But now, God has revealed the mystery and his is fully open about who he is, how he works and what his intentions are. God who is invisible, has now become visible. He has done this through the person and work of his Son Jesus Christ. See, we believe the Bible is a progressive revelation from beginning to end. In Genesis we see a bit of God as “El Shaddai,” God Almighty. Then in Exodus he gave a fuller revelation of himself to Moses as YHWH. He gave Moses his name: I AM who I AM. Fast forward to the first century and we see that Jesus is now the full and complete revelation of who God is – in the person of Jesus of Nazareth the nature and being of God are perfectly revealed and he has made himself known completely and without reservation. If you want to know God, know Jesus. The Phrygians were confusing the Colossian Christians and pulling them from their understanding of Jesus – that he is image of the invisible God the firstborn over all creation. That Jesus is the source of ALL creation.
He is the creator of ALL things because ALL things were created by him and for him – YOU were created by Jesus and for Jesus. He is over ALL things and in him ALL things hold together. He is the beginning and the end of ALL creation, he is its source and its means of existence. There is no more mystery, one doesn’t need angels or some special spiritual esoteric knowledge to gain access to God – all one needs is Christ and him alone. Jesus is the source of all creation and as its source and means he has supremacy over all creation, He is Lord of all add over all.Transition, restate main point; introduce next point.
- Main Point 2: Jesus has supremacy over all creation.
Restate it: Because Jesus is before all creation, in everything, he has first place, meaning that he is before all others with respect to time, order, rank, importance.
Jesus is superior to all other supposed gods and the elemental spirits – he made them so he is superior to them. Look at verse 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. He created all things therefore he is over them.
Again the Phrygians were implying through their beliefs that Christ was not over all – but was just another of the elemental spirits. I mentioned that the gulf between the universe and God was called “the fullness” and that the fullness could only be passed though acknowledgement of the elemental spirits. Paul takes on this philosophy head on and turns it around – in Jesus is “the fullness” of God and it is in him and through him that man is reconciled to God – it is in him and through him that the gulf has been bridged. Jesus is the fullness – the fullness is not some impassable gulf that can only be passed by angelic beings, rather Jesus Christ is the fullness – Jesus makes it possible to know and be known by God on personal terms! How did this happen? He did this through the blood of the cross – through his work on the cross and his resurrection from the dead – Jesus has become supreme over all creation and made it possible for us to be with God! We don’t need to add anything to this formula, we don’t need any extra ingredients because Jesus is all sufficient for our salvation – he is all we need. Again, in Jesus is all the fullness of God and because of his work on the cross and resurrection from the dead, he has supremacy over all of creation.
Transition, restate main point; Jesus is the sole source of all creation. Because Jesus is before all creation, He is all we need for our salvation. He is the image of the invisible God and the source of all creation who through his death on the cross, and resurrection from the dead, provides all we need for salvation and reconciliation with God.
introduce next point
- Main point 3: Jesus is all-sufficient for our salvation!
Restate it: Jesus is all we need for salvation and reconciliation with God.
It is true there is a gulf between humanity and God – the gulf that separates us from God and alienates us from God is our sin and state of fallenness. Our sin separated us from God and it had caused us to be hostile toward God so that we would do evil deeds – were not at peace with God but rather at enmity with him. Because of our sin there is no way we can pass the gulf – not through the elemental spirits, not through varied philosophies or special spiritual knowledge, not through good works and loving lots of people (whatever that means) but only through Jesus Christ can humanity cross the gulf and be reconciled to God.
The cross of Christ has paid for our sin and made us acceptable to God, holy in his sight and free from blemish and free from accusation. If you want to have peace with God recognize that Jesus alone is both the Savior and Lord of all creation, that he is all we need for salvation and reconciliation with God – we don’t need to add any ingredients or mix extra stuff into the formula – Christ is all sufficient for our salvation.
Now, of course we need to stay strong in the faith, established and firm – not allowing others to move us from the hope of the gospel which is Jesus Christ and his sufficiency for our salvation. If we wander from that then we risk his all-sufficuency to save us. Note too, Paul says at the end of verse 23 that this is the gospel that has been proclaimed to all creation – it wasn’t shared in secret and is not a special spiritual knowledge – every person has access to God through Jesus Christ because “the ground is level at the foot of the cross” and all have equal access to God.
- Sermon Conclusion:
Central Proposition: Jesus is the source and ruler of all creation. He is all we need for our salvation.
restate it: He is the image and full revelation of God and the source of all creation who through his death on the cross, and resurrection from the dead, provides all we need for salvation and reconciliation with God.
restate it again: In Jesus is all the fullness of God and because of his work on the cross and resurrection from the dead, he has supremacy over all creation.
May we now not try to obtain our great salvation on our own or through the ways of the world, but only through the all sufficient means of Jesus, his work on the cross and resurrection from the dead.