THE PRE-EMINENCE OF CHRIST – (Part 1)
The apostle shows us in this text that it is the will, the pleasure, and the determination of the Father's heart that his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, be pre-eminent in all things and above all things. GOD HAS SO HIGHLY EXALTED; HONORED, AND MAGNIFIED HIS SON THAT THE ONLY WAY ANY CREATURE CAN EXALT, HONOR, AND MAGNIFY THE TRIUNE GOD IS BY EXALTING, HONORING, AND MAGNIGYING THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. So determined is the eternal, triune God to make Christ pre-eminent in all things that God can only be known and revealed to men by the knowledge and revelation of Christ. THE ONLY WAY GOD MAKES HIMSELF KNOWN IS THROUGH THE SON. AND THE ONLY WAY GOD DEALS WITH MEN IS THROUGH THE SON. "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand" (John ).
WE ARE TRINITARIANS. We worship the one true and living God in the trinity of his sacred Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. THERE ARE THREE DISTINCT AND SEPARATE PERSONS IN THE GODHEAD. YET, THESE THREE DIVINE PERSONS ARE ONE GOD. The Father is the Father. The Son is the Son. And the Spirit is the Spirit. They are three distinct Persons. Yet, they are one God. There is no way to explain the doctrine of the Trinity, or even illustrate it, in human terms. We simply believe it, because it is plainly revealed in Holy Scripture. In the baptism of our Lord (Matt. -17) we see the three Persons of the Godhead: the Father speaks from heaven, the Son is immersed in water, and the Spirit descends upon him. Believers are commanded to be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19), three distinct Persons. Yet, our Lord says plainly, "I and my Father are one" (John ). "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9). The Word of God plainly states the doctrine of the Trinity in I John 5:7, "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and THESE THREE ARE ONE." The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are one in essence, one in purpose, one in character, one in power, and one in Being. All true believers are Trinitarians. "This matter is not to be pried into by human wit, for this of all the mysteries in Scripture, is the pure object of mere faith" (Tobias Crisp).
THE PRE-EMINENCE OF CHRIST (Part II)
We know, worship, and serve the triune God only as we know, worship, and serve the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other God in this world but what Christ himself is. Thomas, with his hand in the pierced side of the crucified, risen Christ, said unto him, "My Lord and my God" (John ); and he was right in doing so. Paul says, "In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9). What can he mean but this? - IN THE GOD-MAN, JESUS CHRIST, ALL THAT GOD IS, FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT, PERPETUALLY AND ETERNALLY RESIDES. "You must know that you are never to separate in your thoughts God from Christ; always as you look upon Christ, so look upon God; or as you look upon God, look upon him no otherwise than as he is in Christ, not as if there were another God besides what Christ is; for there is no such thing" (Tobias Crisp). JESUS CHRIST OUR SAVIOR IS GOD.
EVERYTHING GOD HAS EVER DONE, IS DOING, OR SHALL EVER
DO, HE DOES THROUGH THE MEDIATION OF HIS DEAR SON, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. The
triune God never does anything except what He does by Christ and for Christ.
THE COVENANT OF GRACE was made before the world was with Christ the
Mediator. That solemn compact of mercy, ordered in all things and sure was made
with Christ (Ps. 89:3-4, 19-37; II Sam. 23:5; II Tim. 1:9). THE WORLD WAS
CREATED BY GOD through Christ the Mediator. When Paul says, Christ is
"the firstborn of every creature'' (Col. 1:15), he is simply declaring
that Christ is the One out of whom creation was born. All things sprang from
him. He is the original cause of all things, "the beginning of the
creation of God" (Rev. 3: 14; John 1:1-3). God's PROVIDENTIAL RULE
of the world is by Christ the Mediator (Dan. -14;
John 17:2). In time, as the reward of his obedience and death as our
Substitute, Christ took his place of dominion as a
THE PRE-EMINENCE OF CHRIST (Part III) Colossians 1:18
Our Lord said, "All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him" (Matt. ). GOD REVEALS HIMSELF TO MEN ONLY IN CHRIST (John ; 14:6). Christ is the Word, the revelation of God (John 1:1-3). All that we know of God is Christ. He is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his Person. The Lord Jesus Christ is God incarnate. We know the Father and the Spirit only as they are reveled in and by the incarnate Son.
IN THE REVELATION OF GOD, CHRIST IS PRE-EMINENT. God deals with men only in and through his beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who said, "No man cometh unto the Father but by me" (John 14:65 10:9; Eph. ; Heb. ; ). "GOD WILL NOT SPEAK TO, NOR WILL HE BE SPOKEN TO BY ANY MAN APART FROM THE LORD JESUS CHRIST" (Scott Richardson). The whole of our salvation is in Christ, He is made of God "unto us Wisdom, and Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Redemption'' (I Cor. ). And the only way we can approach God is in him. God will not receive any worship, prayer, sacrifice, or service offered to him by man, but through the merits and mediation of Christ (I Pet. 2:5). Everything done for God and offered to God must be performed and offered in the name of Christ with a conscious realization that we have no access to or acceptance with the eternal God but by Christ. All that God does for us is in Christ, too. All the blessings of grace and glory are freely bestowed by God upon his sinful people for Christ's sake and through his merits alone (Eph. 1:3-14; ).
And when this world is folded up like a worn-out garment, WHEN TIME SMALL BE NO MORE, AND ALL MEN STAND BEFORE GOD IN JUDGMENT, CHRIST SHALL YET BE PRE-EMINENT. Even at the bar of judgment God will deal with men only in Christ. The Judge who shall sit upon the great white throne in that day shall be none other than the God-man, Christ Jesus our Lord (John 5:21-22; Rom. 14:1-12; II Cor, 5:10-11; Rev. 20:11-15). God has determined that in all things HE MUST HAVE THE PRE-EMINENCE.
THE PRE-EMINENCE OF CHRIST (Part IV)
Throughout the endless ages of eternity, according to God's own wise and holy decree, the Lord Jesus Christ shall have the pre-eminence. When all creation is brought to bow at the feet of Christ and acknowledge him as rightful Lord of the universe, God will be glorified (Col. 1:20; Phil. 2:9-11; I Cor. -28). In fulfillment of his last engagement as our Surety in the covenant of grace, the God-man Mediator will present all the universe to the triune God, and in all the universe God will be glorified. God will be all in all as the enthroned Christ reigns forever and ever in the infinite splendor and majesty of his righteousness and glory.
What the sun is to our solar system, Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, is to heaven and eternity. He is the Center of heaven, the Light of heaven, the Life of heaven, the Strength of heaven, and the Joy of heaven. Withdraw the sun from our solar system, and everything would be darkness, destruction, and death. Withdraw Christ from heaven, and heaven itself would be hell! IN HEAVEN CHRIST IS, AND FOREVER SHALL BE PRE-EMINENT, BECAUSE FOR ALL ETERNITY CHRIST IS ALL! Christ is forever all our Reward, all our joy, all our Peace, and all our Love. In heaven's eternal bliss, Christ alone shall fill our vision, and Christ alone shall have our praise (Rev. 4:9-11; 5:9-13). This is the ultimate end for which God said in the beginning, "Let there be light." This world was created by God, so that "in all things he (the Lord Jesus Christ) might have the preeminence."
AS GOD THE FATHER HAS GIVEN THE SON ALONE PREEMINENCE, SO MUST WE. Let us honor the one true and living God in all things. There is only one way for us to do so. We must honor the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (John -24). When I acknowledge my sin and my need of Christ, I honor him (Psa. 51:1-5; I John 5:7-10). When I trust Christ alone as my all sufficient Substitute, I honor him (John ). When I bow and surrender to Christ as my rightful, sovereign Lord, I honor him (Matt. -39). When I confess Christ before men, I honor him (Matt. -33). God delights to give his Son the pre-eminence. And God delights in those who give Christ alone pre-eminence in all things.
THE PRE-EMINENCE OF CHRIST (Part V) Colossians 1:18
Christ alone has pre-eminence as the Revelation of God, the Savior of Men, the Ruler of Providence, and the Glory of Heaven. God the Father gives Christ all pre-eminence. And God the Holy Spirit gives Christ alone pre-eminence. All the comfort, instruction, and direction of God the Holy Spirit comes to men from the Lord Jesus Christ (John ).
THE HOLY SPIRIT, ACCORDING TO THE DISPOSITION OF THE COVENANT OF GRACE, IS CHRIST'S AGENT IN THIS WORLD. He does nothing of himself, speaks nothing of himself, and receives nothing to himself. It is the Spirit's delight to do the Father's bidding. Christ is the Fountain of all grace. The Holy Spirit is the channel through which all the blessings of grace come to us, but Christ is the Fountain. If you will compare I Corinthians with Ephesians 4:7-12 and Psalm 68:18-20, you will see that ALL THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT ARE REALLY THE GIFTS OF CHRIST, which he has bestowed upon the church for the glory of his own great name, for the furtherance of the gospel, and for the spiritual welfare of his people.
Everywhere today men talk much about the Holy Spirit. We are told, "This is the age of the Holy Spirit." They talk much about the anointing of the Spirit, the baptism of the Spirit, the power of the Spirit, and the presence of the Spirit, and say little about the Person and work of the Son. This is all wrong. Those who preach the Holy Spirit and ignore Christ do not have the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit speaks only of Christ; and those who have the Spirit speak of Christ, only of Christ. Do not misunderstand me. Believers reverence, worship, and honor the Holy Spirit. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS GOD. But the only way to reverence the Spirit is to reverence Christ. The only way to worship the Spirit is to worship Christ. The only way to honor the Spirit is to honor Christ. All who have the Son have the Spirit also, and have the gifts of the Spirit as God is pleased to give them. THIS IS THE AGE OF THE SON. This is the age of Christ. This is the gospel day. It began when the Sun of Righteousness arose with healing in his wings. And God has determined in this day that Christ must have the pre-eminence.
THE PRE-EMINENCE OF CHRIST (Part VI)
God the Holy Spirit speaks of and reveals Christ to men. He takes the things of Christ and shows them to us. In regeneration, he creates and forms Christ in us. He comforts our hearts by showing us what Christ has done for us and is yet doing on our behalf. He gives us assurance by applying the blood of Christ to our hearts and consciences. And he both reproves us for sin and leads us in the paths of righteousness by showing us the example Christ left for us to follow. When it was needed, the Holy Spirit even gave men the ability to preach the gospel of Christ in languages unknown to them. In the work of the Holy Spirit, Christ is pre-eminent. He is the center and the object of the Spirit's ministry. He neither seeks nor receives any honor to himself. He promotes the honor of Christ.
TO BE BAPTIZED IN THE SPIRIT is to be baptized into Christ's death, resurrection, and life. It is to be translated from death to life in Christ (I Cor. ; Gal. ). The ANOINTING OF THE SPIRIT is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27; I John ). The GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT are the covenant blessings of God's grace, promised in eternity, purchased by the blood of Christ, and bestowed upon men by the royal authority of Christ our King through the agency of his Spirit (Gal. 3:13-14). TO BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT is to be filled with the character of Christ (Eph. -21). The POWER OF THE SPIRIT UPON MEN is the power of the enthroned Christ (Luke 24:49). The blessed PRESENCE of the Spirit is the presence of Christ, made known to us by the Spirit (Matt. ; 28:20; John , 23). TO WALK IN THE SPIRIT is to walk in Christ, with Christ, like Christ, toward Christ and for Christ by faith (Gal. -24).
It may seem that this is an over-simplification of the Spirit's work. I readily acknowledge that THERE IS MUCH MORE INVOLVED IN THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT THAN I HAVE MENTIONED. BUT WHATEVER ELSE MAY BE INCLUDED IN THE MINISTRY OF THE SPIRIT, IT IS THE SPIRIT'S DETERMINATION "THAT IN ALL THINGS CHRIST MIGHT HAVE THE PRE-EMINENCE."
THE PRE-EMINENCE OF CHRIST (Part VII)
The Lord Jesus Christ is everything to his Father. "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand" (John ), And his reason for doing so is, "That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent him" (John ). The Father loves, delights in honors, exalts, and magnifies the Son, having determined in all things to make the Son pre-eminent. Christ is to his Father what Benjamin was to Jacob, the Son of his love. His great love for his Son is seen in the place of pre-eminence over all things which the Son enjoys by the gift of his Father.
IN HIS ESSENTIAL DIEY, AS THE SECOND PERSON OF HE HOLY TRIITY, THE FATHER GIVES NOTHING TO THE SON, BECAUSE THE SON IS IN EVERYWAY EQUAL TO THE FATHER AND POSSESSES ALL THINGS EQUALLY AS GOD WITH THE FATHER AND THE SPIRIT. But in his Mediatorial character and office, as the Representative of his people and as the reward of his covenant engagements the Son was given all things by his Father (John 17:2), and has been given pre-eminence in all things. Chris is he pre-eminent OBJECT OF HIS FATHER'S AFFECTION (Prov. -31). Nothing is so dear to the Father as the Son. Pry into the Father's heart, and you will see nothing but the Son. God delights in and is pleased only with his Son (Matt. ). God is pleased with the righteousness of his Son and with the sacrifice of his Son; and he is pleased with believers in his Son and for the sake of his Son. Christ is the pre-eminent OBJECT OF HIS FATHER'S TRUST, too. The Father has entrusted everything to the hands of his Son: his people as a Surety (Eph. ), his creation as a King (Psa. 2:7-8), his glory as the ultimate end of his work (I Cor. ). The father has made Christ pre-eminent by giving him THE PLACE OF HIGHEST HONOR, MAJESTY, POWER, AND DOMINION (Phil. 2:9-11; Heb. 1:3--13). And God the Father has made Christ pre-eminent GIVING HE SON EVERYTHING HE ASKS OF THE FATHER (John ). God the Father has devoted himself, his heart, his creation, his very Being to the glory and honor of his Son, because he is determined "that in all things Christ might have the pre-eminence."
THE PRE-EMINENCE OF CHRIST (Part VIII)
As it pleases the Father to give Christ preeminence in all things, it pleases every believer to know that Christ is pre-eminent. Nothing can more effectually comfort and challenge the believer's heart than the knowledge of Christ's pre-eminence. In Colossians 1:15-20, Paul gives us a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Redeemer, our Savior, our Friend, our glorious King holding in his almighty hand all of creation. He who loved us and gave himself for us holds the whole world in his hand. He who died on the cross knows the most distant star by name. He not only knows it, but also guides it. Better still: He so controls that distant star and all things in God's creation that he makes everything serve the interest of his people (Rom. ). The fact that Christ is pre-eminent assures us of four things:
1. THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS AN ALL-SUFFICIENT SAVIOR. In Paul's day, as in ours, there were some who taught that Christ alone is insufficient, inadequate, incapable by his own merits and grace to save his people. To dispel that heresy, Paul says, "Christ is pre-eminent." He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we ask or think (vv. 9-13).
2. THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS
A SOVEREIGN SAVIOR. He who died on
3. THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS
A RICH AND
4. THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS A SAVIOR WORTHY OF OUR HEART'S TRUST AND DEVOTION. You can safely trust Christ in all things, and give him the devotion of your heart, because he is pre-eminent. He to whom God the Father has given pre-eminence should have pre-eminence in the hearts of his people.
THE PRE-EMINENCE OF CHRIST (Part IX)
When God decreed that his Son have pre-eminence in all things, nothing was omitted. In everything Christ is pre-eminent. IN THE PURPOSE OF GOD, we who believe were chosen to be conformed to the image of Christ that Christ "might be the Firstborn (the glorious Head) of many brethren" (Rom. ). IN GOD'S CREATION the Triune God said, "Let us make man in our image and after our likeness" (Gen. 1:26). And Christ is the image of God in whose likeness we were made, and the one by whom we were made (Col. l:15). IN THE PROVIDENTIAL RULE OF THE WORLD Christ is pre-eminent (Col. l:16). All things were made by him and for him. He upholds all things, sustains all things, rules all things, and shall have the praise of all things. CHRIST IS PREEMINENT IN THE BOOK OF GOD (Luke 24:27). The Bible is a Book about Christ. It speaks only of him. The Old Testament says, "He is coming." The four Gospels and Acts say, "He has come." The Epistles and Revelation say, "He is coming again." God has made Christ preeminent IN THE CHURCH (Col. 1:18). He is the Head (the seat of authority and the source of life) to his body the church. IN SALVATION Christ is pre-eminent (Col. l: 14). He is our Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption. Christ is our Salvation. HIS MEDIATORIAL POSSESSIONS as the God-man our Savior, display his pre-eminence (Col. 1.19). All the fulness of the eternal Godhead is in Christ. All the fulness of grace is in Christ. IN THE RESURRECTION Christ will be the pre-eminent One (Col. 1:18). He was the first one to be raised from the dead, and all who believe shall be raised in his likeness. And Christ is pre-eminent IN RECONCILIATION (Col. 1:20-22). We have broken God's law and offended his justice. But "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them," (II Cor. ). By the blood of his cross Christ reconciled us to God. And in the ages to come Christ our Lord shall reconcile all things to God (Isa. 45:22-25). He will clearly demonstrate the glory of God in all things. The whole creation of God will, in the end, show forth the praise of him by Whom and for Whom all things were created (Rev. 5:13).
THE PRE-EMINENCE OF CHRIST (Part X)
Why must Christ have the
pre-eminence? Why must all things be put under his feet? Why should he have no
rival? Why is it that nothing and no one should rival him? Christ must have the
pre-eminence in all things, because GOD THE FATHER SAID THAT HE MUST
(Psa. 89:27). Why was Joseph made the prime minister
CHRIST WAS BORN UNTO THE PLACE OF PRE-EMINENCE (Isa. 9:6-7). He is the Firstborn in the family of God. As such he has a right to the Father's inheritance. He is the only begotten of the Father. Therefore he has rightful possession of all the Father's property.
CHRIST MUST HAVE THE PRE-EMINENCE BECAUSE HE HAS PAID FOR IT (Isa· 53:9-12). Any man who buys and holds the title to an estate is lord of that estate. And Christ both bought and holds title to God's creation. Therefore, he is Lord of all.
CHRIST ALONE DESERVES THE PRE-EMINENCE. He has earned the right of pre-eminence by his obedience to the Father's will, having fulfilled all that was required of him as the Surety of the covenant (John 17:1-4). And he has earned the right of pre-eminence in the hearts of his people (Psa. 116:12). Who else has loved us so freely? Who other than Christ has done so much for us? Who but Christ has given us so much? Who else but Christ has been a faithful Friend to our souls?
Let every redeemed, justified, forgiven sinner say, with God our Father, "Christ alone must have the pre-eminence!" In all our worship, in all our service, in all our gifts, in all the affairs of our lives, in all the desires of our hearts, let us be in agreement with the Triune God and determine "that in all things he must have the pre-eminence". As John Gill puts it, "Christ ought to have the pre-eminence and first place in the affections of our hearts, in the contemplations of our minds, in the desires of our souls, and in the highest praises of our lips."