Colossians 1:15-20:“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.
Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.”
So often we tend to put Jesus in that little box called humanity because He looked like us, talked like us, and walked among us. We tend to see Him as a very special human—blessed of God like no one else before Him. But He is so much more. If we truly get a glimpse of who He is, it will change our lives. First John 3:2 says, “We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” That is yet future. But the relationship still holds—the better you know Jesus the more you will be like Him. When it comes to spiritual growth and connectedness to God, it is not about following rules and regulations or laws; it is about knowing Jesus and following Him (John 17:2). Never before in history has God revealed Himself the same way as He has in Jesus Christ. Hebrews 1:1-4: “Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names.”
John 1:1-3: “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.”
John 1:14: “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”
John 1:18: “No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.”
What are the Colossians, Hebrews, and John passages telling us? In Jesus Christ, God is fully told out. As our words tell out what we want to say, and often who we are, so the Eternal Son tells out the Father, who no one knows but the Son (Matthew 11:27). Jesus Christ is the Son in two aspects. First, He is the Eternal Son who from eternity reveals God to the Universe. Second, He is the virgin born Son, the Son of Man, come to reconcile heaven and earth through the blood of the cross. Jesus Christ is unique. Never before in the history of the universe has someone like Jesus of Nazareth existed. When Jesus was delivered in that stable 2000 years ago, someone new was revealed to the world. Ironside put it like this. “When the [Eternal] Son became incarnate, He was the same person that He had been from eternity, but by His incarnation He took humanity into union with Deity and so became Son in a new sense as Man born of a virgin. Having no human father, God alone was the Father of His humanity as truly as of His Deity.” The Eternal, preexistent Son did not begin to exist 2000 years ago. He is the Jehovah of the Old Testament. But in a sense, Jesus of Nazareth did begin 2000 years ago, because it was then, and then only, when Deity took humanity into union with Itself. The following link will take you to an article by Rich Deem that will establish the divinity of Jesus Christ---http://www.godandscience.org/doctrine/was_jesus_god.html. The biblical evidence is overwhelming. Christ, Jehovah, is the Creator God come to live, and die, among and for those He created. If you truly comprehend that, it should not just startle you, shock you, but change you from the inside-out.
If Christ, Jehovah, is the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe, as the Bible claims, how is He able to be human? Is it blasphemy to claim such things about Jesus? Isn’t God bigger than the universe? If so, how could such a vast Being, vast in both size and power, live and die among 5-6 foot human beings? Think about it. Many refuse to believe it. Jews and Islamists do not believe it. A greater part of Christendom does not really believe it. But that truth is central to Christianity. The redemptive work of Jesus Christ depends on it. What exactly is the incarnation? The definition of incarnation is to be embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. Theologically it is the Eternal Son uniting Himself with humanity to make one unique Being—Jesus Christ. The Eternal Son revealed Himself in the Old Testament as Jehovah. In the New Testament, He is Jesus Christ. Even though He sometimes appeared as a man in the Old Testament in order to communicate with us, as He walked and talked with Adam in the garden, He was never truly human. Such appearances are called theophanies—God appearances. Jesus Christ is not a theophany; He is an incarnation. He is unique. Never before has anyone existed who was 100% God and 100% human. He often referred to Himself as Son of Man, as well as Son of God. The incarnation is the Eternal Son, the Eternal Word, becoming the virgin born Son of God—uniquely God and uniquely man. And why did this happen? Why weren’t theophanies enough? Theoretically they should have been enough. God appearing to us in person to walk and talk and teach us should have been enough for us. But it wasn’t. Why not? Why was the incarnation necessary? In one word, sin, human revolt against the authority of God! The incarnation was necessary for our redemption, our reconciliation with God. Jesus was born to die. To achieve genuine redemption, God needed to be genuinely human. And that occurred in Jesus Christ. “Before the foundations of the world were set, the lamb was slain” (Revelation 13:8). Before the first motions of Creation existed, the Eternal Son consented to lay down His life so God and sinner could be reconciled. This points to a two phase Creation model. The first phase is characterized by free will and the possibility of not doing the will of God, creatures going their own separate ways in a natural world ordered by physical laws and the Second Law of Thermodynamics, a world subjected to futility from the start (Romans 8:20). The second phase is characterized by the will of God and creatures that want to walk in union with Him with no possibility of turning away—who through the work of Christ have been confirmed in righteousness. This is described in Revelation 21 and 22. It is the joy that was set before Christ (Hebrews 12:2) that motivated Him to humble Himself in the incarnation (Philippians 2:6-7) and endure the pain, suffering, and death of the cross (Philippians 2:8). The first phase is a place where sin can be exposed for what it is and what it is capable of. I heard someone recently ask the question, “Why doesn’t God just get rid of the devil?” And the answer is because God intends to defeat sin forever. Satan, who was once called Lucifer because he was once the greatest and most luminous of all God’s creatures, became the prince of darkness in whom dwells no good thing. Jesus said he has become a liar and murderer (John 8:44). That is who he is. In order to maintain his defiant position against God, he must lie and eliminate those who oppose him. All his intelligence is used to exalt himself and scheme against God. Instead of isolating him as soon as he rebelled, God allows him to influence our world so that sin can be exposed for what it is and what it is capable of. God’s judgment of eternal separation of all those who continue to rebel against Him and His holy ways is a tragic and terrible thing. In God’s gracious presence is much blessing. Outside of His gracious presence is “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” ‘Sin’ tries to make a world separate from God, but little does it realize that removal from God means removal from blessing as well. Exposure of the depths of the destruction that sin is capable of gives justification to God’s eternal judgment against those who embody it and refuse to repent of it.
The present phase of Creation is where sin is dealt with and defeated and also where God is gathering to Himself all those who want to be with Him forever—the future phase of Creation. God graciously gathers to Himself all those who respond to the illuminating and enabling grace of God by wanting things to be different—they repent of their rebellion against God and receive the Lord Jesus Christ and His redemptive work into their lives. Upon this God promises to change them and make them fit for His holy presence. There might be some who read this Colossians passage who are skeptical. How can the Eternal God, who is bigger and more powerful than the universe, be ‘reduced’ to a man with flesh and blood? Why, isn’t that idolatry and wouldn’t you be advocating polytheism by teaching such a thing? Aren’t there places in the Bible where He calls the Father His God? And aren’t there places in the Bible where He does not know things? I mean, isn’t God omniscient? As you saw by reading the Deem paper, the Biblical evidence for the divinity of Jesus is very strong. The passages and cross references are many that point to Jesus as Someone special, to Him being God the Son uniting Himself to humanity. When Jesus walked among us, He had two eyes, two ears, one mouth, two legs, two arms, He had a human body. He was physically limited, as we are. He was in complete dependence on the authority of the Father and the omniscience and omnipresence of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is everywhere and knows all things. Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem, lived as a carpenter in Nazareth, and walked the dusty roads during His last three years teaching the world who He is and what He is about to do. All with the limitations of a human body. But there was a difference between Him and us. Because He was the faithful Son of God, the Father revealed to Him everything He needed to know for His ministry. There was a connection between them that extended back into eternity but His earthly mission required Him to walk this earth as other men do. And because He was holy, the sensitive Holy Spirit was free and eager to rest with Him. Where obedience was required, to prove Him as our example, Jesus sometimes was required to walk into the unknown, as we might also be asked to do. His love for the Father was never more proven than when He hung on that cross alone because the Father withdrew His fellowship as He became sin for us. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me!” Can you imagine any more agonizing words than these? And yet He remained true to His holy and righteous nature and was able to say, “It is finished.”
“Forsaken,” what a powerful and tragic word. What does it mean to be forsaken? It is to be abandoned, left alone to face life (and death) alone. Jesus hung on the cross experiencing the pain and humiliation without the supernatural assistance of the Father to lessen His suffering in any way. Not only that, but the closeness and fellowship He experienced with the Father was also withdrawn from Him. This was the worst blow of all. The abyss of aloneness is not a pleasant place to be. And yet He did not utter an accusatory word as He hung there, alone, for all the world to see. The significant part of the judgment of God toward the unrepentant sinner is the Second Death (Revelation 21). “Depart from me, you who work iniquity.” This describes the eternal separation of a holy God and an iniquity working sinner. Those who forsake God in this life will be forsaken in the next. Those who want nothing to do with Him in this life will tragically get what they want in the next. But with tragic and horrifying results. Jesus experienced the ‘forsaking’ but never did a blasphemous word come from His lips. When the unrepentant sinner experiences the ‘forsaking’, there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The sorrow and hatred that will pass from their lips will be horrifying. Their true selves with all the animosity they have for God will reveal themselves in blasphemies. It is interesting to look at the crucifixion accounts. Despite the ‘divine forsaking’ Jesus proved His holy character as He looked down and saw Mary, his earthly mother, and John, His young disciple, in need of someone to care for them. He brought them together so they could care for each other. Jesus cared about others until the end (John 13:1).
In the Colossians, Hebrews, and John passages we read that God created this particular Universe with its planned future because of, or through, the Son. Out of all the possible universes He chose this one. His creative energy could have created another world. He could have gone directly to ‘phase two’ without all the turmoil involved in ‘phase one’, if all He cared about was a trouble free existence. Why didn’t God just create the Revelation 21 and 22 universe right away? Listen to Revelation 21:3. “I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.’” If that is what God wanted from the beginning, why didn’t He just do it? The answer lies in two key words, “His people.” Who are His people? Whoever they are God is at home with them; God is comfortable with them. If God wanted that so much, why didn’t He just do it, from the start? Why all the agony of ‘phase one’ first? The answer is free-will. God is invisible. He cannot be seen with any pair of eyes, no matter how they were made and what range of light they are designed to see. He is invisible. An invisible God can therefore be known only by what He does, His works. But this has limitations. Works can point to truths about you, but to truly know someone requires a ‘face-to-face’ relationship. And that is not possible with an invisible God. Paul in Romans tells us that God’s work of creation tells us about His eternal power, intelligence, beneficence, and Godhood (His Creatorship). All good, but where is the ‘face-to-face’? You will find “face-to-face’ in Genesis 2 and 3. The incarnation of Jesus Christ was not the first time mankind had a ‘face-to-face’ relationship with God. The Eternal Son made and worked in the garden He was about to give the man created in His image. Genesis 1 says mankind, male and female, was created in God’s image. To be specific, mankind was created in the image of the Eternal Son. “He came unto His own, but His own received Him not” (John1:10-11) We saw that happen in the garden and we saw that with Jesus. “They received Him not,” can you imagine any more tragic words than these? The Eternal Son prepared and walked about the garden in the appearance of a man. This was a theophany I spoke about earlier. It was a God appearance. God stood face-to-face with Adam and Eve and talked with them in the garden He had prepared for them. His appearance must have been impressive because when Satan tempted Eve he tempted her with being like Him. And she went for it. As he wanted to be like the God he saw in heaven, to usurp His place, Eve wanted to usurp His glory for herself, as well. Adam followed her into self-exaltation. After the fall of mankind, through Adam, we read of the spread of the consequences of rebellion against God. As a matter of fact, it got so bad God had to stop it with a flood and start over. God never calls the rebels, “My people.” But He shows delight in those who walk in union with Him—Enoch, Noah, Job, Abraham to name a few. He delights in those who respond to His grace and seek to walk in union with Him. Hebrews 11 says He is proud to call them His people. So to be His people is not just a created thing. To be created in His image is not enough to be considered His people. There is something more needed. That something is to accept and cherish the Eternal Son as the Father accepts and cherishes Him (John 14:23). And in so doing that person is accepting and cherishing the Father as well, for the Son is the exact representation of the Father in His inner most being. The Eternal Son is the Savior, or Christ, of His people. It is in Him and through Him they have eternal life. It has always been this way. This is not just a New Testament truth, or reality. The Covenant of grace is God’s way and always has been the way. Old Testament believers, no matter how imperfect their vision or faith, looked forward to Christ. New Testament believers look back on what Christ has already done. Forgiveness through Christ has always been the way. It is as Son of Man that He will rule the world to come (Daniel 7:13-14; Revelation 5:6-10). And this will be to the delight of the Father and the comfort of the Spirit. God will be known for who He is and delighted in by creatures that could have done otherwise. The very end for Creation will be realized.