Cashews chapter 1. Verse 15. The son is the image of the invisible god, the firstborn over all creation. For in him, all things were created, things in heaven, and on earth visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities All things have been created through him and for him.
He is before all things. And in him all things hold together. 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.
For god was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 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. Once you were alienated from god and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now, he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you wholly in his sight without blemish and free from accusation. If you continue in your faith, establish and affirm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard, and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in God to Christ afflictions for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become it servant by the commission god gave me to present to you the word of god in its fullness. The mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the lord's people. To them, god has chosen to make known among the gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Here's the 1 we proclaim admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.
To this end, I strenuously contend. With all the energy, Christ so powerfully works in me. Tom. Okay. Thanks, Rory.
Good morning, everyone. My name is Tom Sweakman. I'm 1 of the pastors here at the church and this is a series that we began a number of weeks to go in this wonderful letter to the colossians, and we've come to the most magnificent portion of it here here this morning. 1 of the things that we're gonna be learning is that Christ is sovereign over all created things from the very big things to the very little things. And I'm afraid there is actually a very little thing, crawling around at the front of this place today.
So some of you on the front rows may have seen this little mouse that is darting around, and if you see everybody raising their legs and looking terrified, that's what that is. Okay. 99 percent of you, she's gone. Canita doesn't believe Jesus is lord of all faith. She's out the door.
Okay. So look, 99 percent of you in the room do not have to worry about the little mouse. This portion of the room may have to worry a little bit about the mouse. Okay? But I think every time you see it, let it remind you of the sovereignty of Christ over all things, little and large.
And if it comes up to you, remember Christ. Lord of all things that no. Is that okay? Can you can you work with me on that, do you think? Is that alright?
Should we pray for the help of the lord particularly for this section of the room? Father, we thank you, even for living things like that, that they do remind us that you are you are the god of all things. You are the creator. We thank you, for your sovereignty. We thank you for your word, and we thank you for Jesus who you have given to us, and you have placed on the highest throne in the universe.
And we pray that as we come to these words, you would help us to have a bigger, more expansive view of the greatness of Jesus we know lord that our spiritual lives will decline the smaller our view of Jesus's, but the bigger that we can see him, the more that we can appreciate him the more that we will grow into maturity, and so help us we pray in Jesus' name. Oh, man. Well, polytheism, as you may know, polytheism is the belief, or the the worship in many different gods, many different spirits, many different divine beings. So unlike monotheism, where there is only 1 god, the belief in only 1 god, polytheism says, no, no, there are many. There are many different types of gods, many gods for us to worship.
And I don't know about you, but when I think about polytheism, I tend to imagine, you know, temples and lots of statues, lots of carvings, stone carvings, wood carvings, all kinds of different gods that people would go to and bow down to and worship And certainly polytheism does take that form and has taken that form in the past. So when you look at the old testament, you see that there were many, many different gods were gods of fertility, there were gods of harvest, there were storm gods, there were creation gods, there were judgment gods, there were war gods, And there was all kinds of different temples and carvings and rituals and ways by which you would celebrate and worship these different gods. But polytheism can have a more subtle expression and, and can be seen in many other different ways. So a number of years ago, quite a few years now, a few of us from the church went to Belarus to visit some mission partners there. And, on 1 occasion, we were walking through central mint which is the capital city.
And there was a large Orthodox church in the center of Minsk. And, we were standing with with Taras, who who used to live there. And, we were just in the foyer or the reception area of this Orthodox Church. And there was a man who came in, looking quite agitated and troubled and there was a priest, an Orthodox priest waiting there at the front of the temple, uh-uh, the, the church. And, he said in kind of whispered Russian to the priest.
Something that we couldn't understand. But Taras had overheard it, and then Taras interpreted for us and and said, yeah, his this man has got problems with his business. And problems with his finances, and he's just asked the priest, which saint would be best to pray to, to help him out with his business and financial troubles. And so the priest directed him to a particular saint within the church, whether it was Saint Barnibas or Saint Joseph, I don't know which 1. And he went up before the icon of this saint and venerated this saint and was praying to this saint and, so that his business would improve and that he would get get more get more money.
And apparently, that is a very common way, for orthodox believers to to behave, certainly in that part of the world. And it's very interesting, isn't it then? Because on paper, as an Orthodox Christian, they would be monotheistic. They would actually believe in only 1 god. That would be in their creeds and their confessions.
But in practice, there were all kinds of spiritual authorities working out in the life of that religion, all kinds of different beings and spirits and saints to pray to for help in particular areas. It's interesting, isn't it? Monotheistic in paper, but polytheistic in practice. And I wonder too if we can fall for a version of that And it gets at what we call the the kind of sacred, secular divide that many of us unconsciously live with. In other words, there are some areas of our lives like when we go to church and how often we read our bibles that we definitely know belong to Christ.
That's the kind of sacred portion of our lives. That's the sacred and we listen to god on that. But there are other areas like how we spend our money, or what media we consume, or how we think about current affairs, or how we think about our career where we can be in practice more influenced by the spirit of this age in which we live, or what our friends think, or what neighbors think, and how they spend their money and what their life aspirations are or what the algorithms think that we should be buying and listening to, there are all kinds of spirits which might practically rule us in those particular areas of life. And so in other words, what I'm saying is, although that I, I am a monotheist by confession, I believe in only 1 god I wonder if in practice I've got all kinds of little authorities in my life which I'm listening to and which rule over me more than the 1 supreme god in which I claim to believe, which you could argue, is a type of polytheism. Isn't it?
All kinds of spirits in my life, which rule me and govern me and direct what I do with what I've got and how I live And so for me personally, it has been a huge help preparing this message on colossians 1 verse 15 to 20. I mean, I think we can all agree and it's said by every commentator, these are absolutely breathtaking words, aren't they? These are stunning words. In fact, many people actually think verses 15 to 20, are a him. An ancient hymn or a confession or a song of celebration about Jesus that was going around the churches at the time which Paul knew of and chose to corporate into his letter.
So rich, is it? So poetic, is it? That it's it's often seen to be a type of song. And it is like that, isn't it? These are the kind of words which give wings to your heart and make your heart wanna soar and sail through the heavens.
They they are staggering words, but they are also designed to help people like me who may be monotheistic on paper but in practice, be more of a poly fit. Cause you see, the colossians, and we've seen this in the series, were under attack from these new teachers. Who had come into the church. And my guess is that these new religious teachers would be monotheists by confession and by creed. I would think they would only believe in 1 god.
They may even be willing to die for that, but in practice, They were offering brand new spiritual authorities for the church to listen to and which would upgrade and improve upon what they had already heard. So this church could keep the Jesus that they had come to love, the Jesus that they've learned about from epaphras. But in life and in worship, they should now listen to them, to their new religious authority. To the new spiritual experiences that they were offering and that actually all of these systems could work together. We don't need to worry so much about just having the the 1 lord Jesus Christ ruling over everything.
Why would we limit our religion is away. All of these things can work together. All of these authorities. You can have Christ as the main 1, but why not have what we're saying about religious practices. Why not what we have what we're saying about dietary laws?
Why not have what we're saying about dreams and visions of angels altogether? As a sort of corporate authority over your life. The Paul with this song of celebration is saying, no, no, no, no. No. There is only 1 lord who is lord of all areas and every area of your life.
There is just 1 lord who created all things visible and invisible. Who created all things in heaven and on earth who created and is lord over past present and future and sits on the highest throne and his name is the lord Jesus Christ. And he is the only authority that you need in all areas of your life. And that is such good news for us. This is such a good news section of Paul's letter.
1 of the hymns that we're gonna sing or the songs we're gonna sing at the end of the service is yet not I. And I love I love that song. It's 1 of my personal personal favorites, but the first line of it hadn't really struck me until I was looking at it again this this this week. And the first line goes like this. What gift of grace is Jesus, my redeemer?
Heaven has no more to give. Heaven has no more to give. Interesting thought, isn't it? It's like heaven has got a bank account or a wallet. And in the giving of Jesus, the wallet has been turned inside out.
There are no more coins, and there is no more cash, and there are no more cards left in it. It has heaven has emptied its bank account in the giving of Jesus. Heaven has no more to give you. It's what Paul meant in Ephesians. When he said that in Christ, we have every spiritual blessing.
It's as if god wrapped up every spiritual blessing that he could think of decided to give it all and said, what's the best? Let's send Christ. Christ is every spiritual blessing. Heaven has no more to give. And so what we're gonna see this morning is that Jesus is not just the authority overall.
We're gonna see that life under him is the best life imaginable. To have this 1 ruling over every part of your life the truest, fullest best life that we could ever enjoy. And so 4 things that I wanna show you from this passage this morning The first is this, in Jesus, you have the fullness of god. In Jesus, you have the fullness of God. Verse 15, the son is the image of the invisible god, the firstborn overall creation.
And in verse 19, for god was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him. Now for a Jewish believer, we've gotta get the significance of what he's saying there. The idea that you could see god with your own eyes would have been an outrage to you if you were from that tradition. I mean, it might be that from time to time, you could see a glimpse of the glory of god, but never would you dream of being able to lay your eyes upon the invisible. And yet as the new testament opens, John begins with these explosive words.
No 1 has ever seen god. Well, we all agree with that, don't we? No 1 has ever seen god. But the 1 and only son who is himself god and is in the closest relationship with the father has made him known. That's how the new testament begins.
With that explosive news, that in Christ Jesus, the god who no 1 can see is seeing. And it's the testimony of the whole new testament. In the letter to the Hebrews, we're told that the sun is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his being. In Philippians 2, we're told that the 1 who is in very nature god without ceasing to be god for a moment gave up some of the glory and the riches of heaven took to himself a true humanity and became a servant even willing to die. That this is the god who no 1 has seen who is now seen in Christ.
I mean, you're a Jewish believer reading that. This just this is a kind of glory that bursts all of your categories. But it's also A dangerous glory. Verse 15 is a dangerous glory. Now, what do I mean by that?
Well, remember where this church was situated. See Colosse was in the Roman province of Asia. It was a Roman province. And in Roman mythology, There was already a son of god. You see, if you had said to a Roman, show us the firstborn.
Show us the 1 with all authority on heaven in heaven and on earth. She who who's the 1 that we can look to? It's a 2 plus 2 question. Everybody knows the answer. What is Caesar?
Caesar's the son of the invisible god. Caesar's the 1 with all authority in heaven and on earth. If you wanted to look upon a son of god, you could, a, go to Rome and look at him yourself, or b, you just had to walk out your front door. Because all across the empire were statues of Caesar so that if you ever forgot what a son of god looked like, All you would have to do was look at the image. Look at the image.
And in the image, you would see that which was invisible to you at the time. You would see Caesar the firstborn. What Paul says, verse 15, the sun is the image. The son is the image of the invisible god. I mean, the safest thing for Paul to do from a Roman prison, remember, The safest thing for him to do would be to ignore words like image and firstborn and all authority.
But Paul is not the apostle of safety. He, verse 1, is an apostle of Christ by the will of god. And his mission in verse 28 is to proclaim the supremacy of Christ over and against every rival that they might see or hear in their day. Brothers and sisters saying. Any form of polytheism must go.
You don't need a Roman cult And you don't need any new spiritual knowledge, and you don't need false images of false sons or false promises from false teachers because in Christ, you have the fullness for every area. If you want to see god. Look to the image of the invisible. Look to Christ. He is the fullness of god.
Your supreme lord. For every area. What gift of grace is Jesus my redeemer? There is no more for heaven to give you. No more for heaven to give you than Christ, who is the fullness of god.
And that's a very important word. Thing for us. It's interesting that in the in the west in our in our part of the world. There's a number of evangelicals evangelical believers and evangelical leaders, who are leaving the evangelical church for traditions like Eastern Orthodoxy and for Catholicism. And, I read a an article recently by a man called John Piper.
It used to be a pastor in America. And, he's written a piece called Y evangelical go Catholic. Why evangelicals go Catholic? And the point he makes there is that often what you have is people who are hungering for good things, but they look for those things in all the wrong places. So you have people who are hungering for a sense of Christian tradition.
In other words, they've been in their church plant meeting at a school hall for 20 years or so, and it's all very modern, and it's all very new. And at some point, they begin to hunger for something older, hunger for some roots and some tradition. But he says good thing to long for, but your sense of tradition doesn't come in a building or a medieval religious experience. It comes in the apostolic word That is 2000 years old and that it's come to you across the generations. This is where you find your roots and your sense of authority, not in a building or an incense, but in an ancient word that has come to He says the same about the experience of god, but many people evangelicals hunger for more of a sort of tangible felt sense of god.
But instead of looking for it in Christ who is the full experience of God, they go looking it in a medieval version of Christianity with a particular type of worship and liturgical form and smells and rituals as if the sort of the feeling of god is found in man made medieval religion. Good thing to hunger for. But we mustn't go looking for it there because in Christ, we have the fullest experience of god. The feeling of god is not felt in medieval religion. It is felt in Christ.
Who comes to us by the spirit from the pages of scripture. And so do you see this doctrine will guard us against many errors because in Christ, we have our tradition and in Christ we have the fullest experience of god available. It's in him as we find him here in the words. You have the fullness of god if you're a Christian. Secondly, in Jesus, you have the lord of the universe.
In Jesus, you have the fullness of god and the lord of the universe. Verse 16, for in him, All things were created, things in heaven and on earth visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities, all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things and in him, all things hold together. Abraham Keiper, who was a a theologian and, he was a a a prime minister of of the Netherlands actually at 1 time. He said this quote, which is is widely used and and wonderful.
He says that there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence. Over which Christ, who is sovereign overall, does not cry my There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ who is sovereign overall does not cry mine. You imagine a prime minister saying that today. That'd be amazing, wouldn't And he's absolutely right. Just try to get your brain around that for a minute.
Everything that you can see trees and water and stars and flowers and concrete and brick and tiles and schools and colleges and fish and birds and your neighbors and family and children. And reptiles. I didn't put those 2 together for a a reason, by the way. Children and reptiles. Eyes and ears, batteries, cars, even those little fruit flies that make their way over to your green bin somehow.
Those little fruit flies, even that legion of bed bugs, which is on its way over from France, you know, even those all all things. In some way, all visible things are from him and held together by him and are for his glory. Every person in this room the ones next to you and in front of you and behind you. Every breath given, every blink of your eyes. It all things from him held by him and for his glory.
And then how about the invisible tiny little atoms whizzing around which you can't see. Sound waves and radio waves and X rays and gamma rays and Bluetooth and WiFi and the wind and galaxies, millions of them. I've as yet unseen and uncharted by humans. And perhaps most glorious of all, the soul, your soul and your conscience. In some way, all things invisible are from him and held together by him and are for his glory.
The authorities, the ones that we can see, politicians, kings, queens, prime ministers, presidents, generals. And the ones that we can't see, angels and forces for good in this world, and even demons and the forces of darkness in this world, even they to their massive disappointment are under his sovereign, rule, and reign. And in the grand scheme of eternity, even what they do and what motivates them is wicked Even that evil in the sovereignty of god will be seen to be ultimately serving his grand purpose in all of humanity because everything that exists is from and by and for the sun. All things, he says, and we could go on and on like this. The visible and the invisible.
The spiritual and the material, your present, and your future, your church life, and your work life, your knowledge, and your experience your family and your wallet, your health, and your hobbies, your best days, and your worst days. And your healthy days and your sickest days, and your school days, and your office days, and your retirement and your singleness and your marriage and your first breath and your last breath and creation and new creation all things. All things are from him and to him and for him. You imagine thinking there must be more to Christianity than Jesus. You imagine thinking that I fully appreciate that Jesus is the main meal but there must be a supplement somewhere.
It's utter blasphemy, isn't it? When do you take a supplement? When your main meal is deficient. When your main meal doesn't have what you need, you go looking elsewhere. Brothers and sisters, this world is so possessed by Christ.
It is so completely ruled by Christ in every area. There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign overall, does not cry mine. And that same Jesus is all yours by faith. Is there any decision that he can't help you with? Is there any part of your life that he doesn't have wisdom for?
Is there anybody that you know who can offer more than him in any part of your life. What gift of grace is Jesus My redeemer. There is no more for heaven now to give. He's given you the fullness of God in Christ, and the lord of creation is yours in Christ. Thirdly, in Jesus, you have the lord of salvation.
You have the lord of salvation. Look what he moves to now. And he verse 18 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. And at first sight, it might feel like Paul is beginning to wind down a bit now.
That his glory high is coming off. I mean, if you think about creation, you know, the woods and the ocean and the hills and the sunset, and the the northern lights. You know, it's very obvious, isn't it? That the glory of Christ is in those things because they're so big and they're so beautiful and they're unlike what we could make. But then he moves to the church.
Really? You know, these these people around me, This is the this is the this is the body. This is the glory of Christ. You know, what are these compared to the northern lights? They're so irritating.
I mean, they're so they're here every week, and they they won't leave me alone. You know, what what is what is that compared to this? But if only we could see things for what they are, creation, of course, has nice stuff in it. But more impressive than any mountain or any sunset are the people around you who have the life of the risen Christ in their veins. Are the people around you who have already got 1 foot in the new creation, which Christ won at his resurrection?
Are the people who are around you who are alive with the risen Jesus. That's the meaning of verse 19. He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead. It's the same firstborn word in verse 15, and it has less to do with order and more to do with authority. So it's not just that Christ was the first person to be raised, but that Christ now as exalted lord of all, has the right and the power to pour out and to share resurrection life with all who believe in him.
I was talking to a member of the congregation this week, whose whose father has recently died. And, she was around the house, and we were talking about his life. And, his death and talking about the, the Thanksgiving Service to come. And, she was there and she was crying, as she remembered her father and all that her father meant to her. But it was such a joy for us to be, ministering to her.
And for her to be so assured of resurrection life to to be so certain that the father which she enjoyed on this earth has gone to be with Christ which is better by far and so assured that she will be with him again in the new creation and so happy that of all the pleasures and delights that he had, his greatest was to know the resurrection life of Christ in his veins. Who who else could you go to for that sort of resurrection life and for that kind of assurance. Can any other profit of any world religion give you give you that? No. Because to a man, they are dead in the ground.
They didn't rise. They're rotting. Could any could any other teacher or any lifestyle or any sin or any choice can can anything do anything like that for us. To call us into resurrection, new creation life. That is what god was pleased to for those that he loved.
See it in verse 19. For god was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him and what else has god been pleased to do? 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. And it just had to be all things there, didn't it? Verse 15.
I mean, imagine how silly Paul would have looked if he'd only some things there given what he's done. Verse 15. All creation. Verse 16. All things.
Verse 16 again. All things. Verse 17 before all things. Verse 17. All things held together.
Verse 19. All his fullness verse 20 to reconcile to himself all things. Now, of course, we know from the rest of the Bible that that doesn't literally mean that every single person will be saved by the blood of Christ. That's called universalism. That's sahara c, and that is nothing to do with new testament teach.
Jesus more than anybody else believed in a real separation, a real heaven, a real hell, and that those places would be really occupied. By people. But you've gotta get and appreciate the scale of what he's saying here. That the cross and the resurrect are not just quaint religious ideas from history. When the blood of Christ was shed on Easter Friday.
The curse of sin was laid upon Christ so that the church who believe in him would be saved. And that church is expansive and world filling. It is all kinds of people from every type of tribe and tongue and nation, all who will look to the cross and trust in the blood will be reconciled to god. And it was through that same blood that Jesus bought for himself a new creation. That in some extraordinary miracle of grace that as Christ said, it is finished, and the blood of son of god ran to the earth, creation and the cosmos reverberated with these waves of hope and redemption.
That now a new world would really come and a new world had been purchased and all the thorns and the thistles and the curse of creation is in some way been dealt with by the blood of Christ and that his resurrection and death has sealed a new world. And has bought people from every tribe tongue and nation for that world. That's what he's saying here that the cross is not just a little religious thing that we like or an ornament we wear around our necks. It is a cosmos changing event. A new creation, a resurrection, a saved church in the blood of Christ.
What gift of grace is Jesus My redeemer. There is no more for heaven now to give. Jesus, you have the fullness of god. Jesus have the lord of creation. Jesus, you have the lord of the new creation, the lord of your salvation, and fourthly, and lastly, in Jesus, you have everything in Jesus, you have everything.
Some years ago at Revive, which is our commission, and you'll get together that worker churches that we're part of. John Piper, again, was was speaking. We had him speaking this year. And he was he was speaking on money, sex, and power. Money, sex, and power, and how we can, think about those things as Christians.
And he got us to imagine a universe of planets And then if you remember this illustration, a universe full of planets, and he said, when when the beauty and the supremacy of Christ is the biggest planet in your life. When that's at the center of your solar system, then everything else, money, sex, power, health, mental health, work, family. Every other planet is in its right place orbiting around Christ. And by the power and the supremacy of Christ, everything else is put in its proper place and held together by his lordship. But guess what happens when you try and take him out of the center and put something else there?
Or guess what happens if you try to sort of add a planet to Jesus in the middle, then the universe goes spinning off into chaos. And all the planets go shooting off into the galaxy because nothing else has that kind of gravitational pull. Nothing else was made to go there. Nothing else can go there. Only 1, the lord Jesus Christ.
Only he must sit at the center of our unit only then will everything else properly orbit? If we move him or add to him, then our lives will break down in just cosmic chaos. And I think Paul would would would love that illustration. Just look with me as we finish down at verse 21 to 23. Just scan verse 21 to 23.
How many you or yours? Can you see that? Verse 21 to 23? How many you or yours? Can you see that?
I count 8 of them. You were your minds, your behavior, you buy you wholly, you continue your faith, you heard. But in verse 15 to 20, how many yous or yours can you see? How many yous or yours can you see in the verses we're looking at? I count 0.
How many times do you see either he him or his. I count 11. The son in him through him for him He is in him. He is. He might in him through him.
His blood. See what he does. See where he goes first. First, he centers us on Christ, and then he spells out what it means. And of course, there is a sense in which you can never divide those 2 things because what Jesus is, he is for his people, But brothers and sisters, let it let us never reverse the order there.
Let us never reverse the order. Let us never mess with the universe as it should be. When we are at the center and don't we know this from experience, when we are at the center, we have a small view of Christ and a small view of Christ makes us very vulnerable to error. If we have a small Jesus, we will go looking to supplement him with just about anything else that's on offer. If we have a small view of Jesus, then our spiritual lives will decline.
But when the lord of all creation is preeminent, when he is supreme and the center of our lives, we will be protected from a million different errors. We will see past the lies of more and we will grow into maturity. Our spiritual health is directly related to the bigness of our How big is he? Is it this 1 that we know and love and treasure? What gift of grace is Jesus my redeemer?
There is no more for heaven now to give. Let's bow our heads, and I'll give you just a moment to either read over those words again slowly by yourselves and perhaps you'd like to turn every sentence and every phrase into a prayer of thanksgiving. Where you can pray about anything that we've we've heard, and then we're gonna sing that wonderful song. The son is the image of the invisible god the firstborn over all creation for in him All things were created. Things in heaven and on earth.
Visible, and invisible, whether thrones, or powers, or rulers, or authorities, all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things. And in him, all things hold together. 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.
For god was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 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. And so father we pray that you would help this massive beautiful Jesus. To be at the center of our hearts and the center of our minds. In his name, we pray.