Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Full Length View of Jesus Christ

Colossians 1:13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son

In Paul's letter to the Colossians, the overall theme is: "Finding Fulfillment in Christ's Supremacy".  Over the past several days we have been discussing the nature of true Christian fulfillment.  However without Colossians 1:13-22, all of Paul's statements for finding fulfillment in Jesus Christ would have no foundation. 

Below I want to sketch out in outline form some of the doctrinal treasures that we can mine concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ.  It is my prayer that you would find fulfillment in this full length mirror view of Jesus Christ.

I. Christ forever God. Colossians 1:13
In the Old Testament, we read in Isaiah 43:11 “I, even I, am the LORD, And there is no Savior besides Me." Jonah 2:9b tells us:  "salvation is from the LORD".  With those verses noted, when we read that God (the Father) in Colossians 1:13 transfers believers from the Kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of His Son, we understand Paul assigning equality of power to the Son.  We can place this biblical teaching in the following logical form:

1. Main idea: God alone has the authority to grant salvation
2. Second idea: The Son has the authority (i.e His Kingdom) to grant
3. Conclusion: Therefore The Son is forever God with the Father

Paul combatted his opponents in the Colossian church who denied that Christ was ever God from all eternity. 

II. Christ became fully man. Colossians 1:14-15
Colossians 1:13 reminds us of what Christ was like before he came into this world to take upon Himself full humanity.  Because Jesus Christ has been forever God, this means He has the authority to provide salvation.  However as God, Christ could not die - thus He had to take upon Himself a second nature - a second way of expressing His existence - namely humanity. 

In 1:14, as well as the parallel passage of Ephesians 1:7,  we have redemption (through His blood), the forgiveness of sins. Because Jesus Christ is God - he is Almighty to save and because he is man - he is able to save. 

In regards to being the "firstborn" over all creation, this phrase does not mean Christ was the first creature (contra Jehovah Witnesses).  Rather the statement points us back to what Christ became in his humanity as the "New Adam". (Romans 5:11-21)  Old Adam had been the original heir to creation, and forfeited that in his rebellion in the garden.  Just as a man lost the title deed to earth, Christ came as Eternal God in human flesh as the New Adam to lay claim to what the enemy had stolen.  When He returns, He will come to possess what He legally won at calvary - namely the title deed to this world that had been lost by the first Adam. (Revelation 5)

In contrast to those who taught that Jesus was some type of spirit being, Paul full asserted the true humanity of Jesus Christ. 

III. Christ is still fully God. Colossians 1:16-19
So when Jesus came into this world to become a man, did His Divine nature change or cease to be?  In contrast to his opponents, the Apostle Paul argues that Christ in His Deity underwent no change whatsoever. Though He temporarily chose to not to operate exclusively from His Divine attributes in the time he walked and ministered on this earth (Philippians 2:5-11); yet He never ceased being God.  (Colossians 2:9)

As God, Christ had, did and still holds together all of creation.  While ministering on this earth, Jesus Christ, the man, got tired, sweated and got hungry.  On the cross, Jesus Christ as man died.  As God, He excercised and still does excercise rule not only over creation (Colossians 1:16-17) but also the church (Colossians 1:18).   

Jesus Christ never ceased being God, since with the Father and Spirit He retained control of our universe. In His humanity the person of Christ looked up through His Deity and saw the wrath of His Father on sin, while in His deity he looked down through His humanity and willingly endured the wrath and separation he experienced as man for our sin. (Colossians 1:19)   One person, The Son, died as a man on the cross, since this same person, as God, possessed the authority to lay down his human life and raise it up again from the dead. (John 10:17)

IV. Christ is still fully man. Colossians 1:20-22
So when Christ ascended into heaven, did he still remain fully man?  Paul's answer is undoubtedly yes.  Colossians 1:22 plainly states - "yet He now has reconciled you in His fleshly body".  This truth is important, since the Bible teaches Christ's full, visible, bodily return.  In contrast to the Jehovah Witnesses, who teach that Christ's resurrection brought forth a spiritual, non-physical body - Paul is saying here that Christ's body, now glorified, is a physical one. 

This is crucial, since the resurrection and redemption of the believer's body is a cornerstone of the biblical teaching of salvation.  Otherwise, statements such as 1 John 3:2 would not make sense: "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is."

This also combatted the ancient heresy in Colosse that the material world was totally evil, and thus was never going to be redeemed or restored.  Christ's resurrected humanity communicates that God's plan for redeeming His people and the physical creation will not be thwarted. 

As Eternally God, Christ, has with the Father and the Spirit forever been the Author of salvation.  In becoming man, Christ came to provide salvation through the shedding of His blood as man.  By still being God, Christ demonstrated that he never changes and has the authority to provide salvation.  By still being man, Christ lives to be the mediator between believers and God.  We look forward to His return as the one who is God and man.

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