The FISHERS Magazine (Issue 232)
In Him All the Fullness of God Dwelt
"15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.16 For by Him all things were created, 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. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also 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.19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 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.
Jesus Christ is the very heartbeat of Christianity, the central focus of the entire Bible. The Old Testament (OT) prepares readers for His first coming. In the New Testament (NT), the Gospels present Him as the Son of God incarnate, the book of Acts records the proclamation of Christ in the early Church, the epistles instruct in greater detail Who He is, then Revelation affirms to us that He will come again to establish His Kingdom. In Col 1:15-23 we will examine the glorious Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, in Whom sinners have peace with God.
Christ the Image of the Invisible God (1:15a)
Christ the Worthy Heir Over All Creation (1:15b)
The word “firstborn” in Greek refers to rank and position, not to chronology. The “firstborn” in Jewish culture is the one who has the double inheritance; he is not necessarily the first son to be born. So, what Paul is saying here is that Christ is the appointed heir of the entire universe, the highly honoured One who is accorded all prestige. He is the preeminent One.
Christ the Universal Creator (1:16)
Paul is making the point that Christ made all of creation. The last part of v. 16 states, “all things were created through Him and for Him” – not only did Christ make everything in His loving wisdom and creative genius, everything was created for His pleasure, and to His glory. All creation finds its reason for existence in glorifying Christ the Creator. For this reason, He has a primacy and a pre-eminence over all creation.
Christ the Pre-Existent Sustainer (1:17)
V. 17b continues with, “in Him all things hold together.” This denotes that Christ is also the One who sustains creation. Hebrews 1:3 puts it positively that He upholds “all things by the word of his power.”
Christ the Head of the Church (1:18)
Christ is also “the firstborn from the dead” which refers to Christ’s resurrection from the grave. To be “firstborn from the dead” means that Christ had to die first, and He did die on the cross to save sinners and make them a part of the Church. He then resurrected, and He is the “firstborn” meaning chief, of highest rank, amongst all who would experience resurrection unto eternal life. The latter refers to all who repent of their sins and turn to Him as their Lord and Saviour.
The last part of v. 18 explains the purpose of the preceding parts, “so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything”. The Lord Jesus will, in all things, have the pre-eminence, and especially in His Church.
Christ the Agent of God’s Reconciliation (1:19-20)
The Concept of Reconciliation
The reconciliation Paul speaks about is deep reconciliation. It is not half-hearted, it is not waiting to be fully completed, but an exhaustive, meticulous restoration – everything is now utterly well between man and God. What this means is that God has replaced His hatred of the sinner with a strong, sacrificial, unconditional, undying love for him. God is not satisfied to do anything less than that in His work of reconciliation.
The Cross is Reconciliation
First, when Jesus died on the cross, He took upon Himself our punishment; and God, having expended all His wrath on Christ, is now appeased toward us. As 2 Cor 5:21 attests, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”.
Second, when man puts his faith in Christ, he is given a new nature, his sinful nature is changed, and he is given the righteousness of God Himself. This is stated in 2 Cor 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
The Cost of Reconciliation
When “the blood of Christ” appears in the NT, it speaks of the death of Jesus as a substitute for sinners, and it also speaks of the violence by which He was killed. Reconciliation between a holy God and sinful men is possible only because Jesus died a brutal, violent death as a substitute for sinners.
When a man dies without Christ, he will suffer the eternal judgment of God in Hell for his sins. Then how is it that Jesus, suffering only for 6 hours on the cross, can fully pay for the sins of millions who call upon Christ for salvation? Because Jesus is the Son of God, the beloved Son of God, in Whom God is utterly satisfied. He is of infinite value to God. And God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him may be reconciled to God. The cost of reconciliation was absurdly exorbitant. But God the Father was willing to pay the price; and God the Son was willing to be the price. That is why sinners can be saved from their sins and this is the glorious Gospel of a glorious God who reconciles sinners to Himself.
The Consequences of Reconciliation
Second, they are “hostile in mind”, that is, in their attitude as they vehemently oppose God. They are self-absorbed; their only concern is to advance their own wills; they turn their backs on God, and would never submit to His rule over their lives. Perhaps you don’t know Christ, and you say, “I am not hostile to God, I do not hate Him; I may be apathetic towards Him, or I may not believe He exists, but I am not in animosity against Him!” If that is your attitude, you are “hostile in mind” toward Him, because He is the Almighty God, the Creator of the universe, your Creator! He will not accept indifference. As God, He has a right to demand that every knee bow to Him; He demands total allegiance and total obedience to Him.
Third, they are also “doing evil deeds”, given over to sinful works. This may raise an immediate protest, “Hey! I am not all that bad; in fact, I did do many good works, and people around me regard me as a good person.” But God’s Word insists that non-believers are continually doing only “evil deeds”. Why? Because apart from Christ, we can never do good works with right motives, for the right reasons, with the right ultimate objective. Nothing we did was for the glory of God; it was always for our own glory. We do good works as men-pleasers, not out of selflessness. We are by nature self-centred; we are invariably disobedient to the Law of God.
So, how does reconciliation between God and man actually play itself out in the life experience of those who repent of their sins and trust in Jesus for forgiveness of sins?
The ultimate goal of reconciliation is so that we can stand in God’s presence holy, and blameless, and beyond reproach. “Holy” has to do with our relationship with God; it means to be cleansed from sin, separated from all that is evil unto God, altogether His, for His service. “Blameless”, or faultless, has to do with ourselves; it means in you, there are no blemishes whatsoever, no imperfections remaining. “Beyond reproach” or unreproveable, is in relation to others; it means there is absolutely nothing that anybody can find in you that is less than perfection. Oh, what a wonderful blessing this is!
All in all, our salvation is an unbelievably wonderful thing that God does for us:
This sounds too good to be true – only that it is entirely true. So, we implore you, on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.