Our Resurrected Head
HEADSHIP AND RESURRECTION
1. The Church is a New Creation.
a. It was a mystery. (Col. 1:26)
b. Corporately, it is a body organically connected to Christ the Head… Christ’s Body. (Col. 1:18)
c. Individually, its members are called “New Creations.” (II Cor. 5:17)
• This speaks of regeneration…
• But more than regeneration… it speaks of a new position… “In Christ.”
• The new creation is created in Christ… (Eph. 2:10)
• The body is called “one new man.” (Eph. 2:15)
2. The Church, the new creation, has been raised up with Christ in His resurrection and ascension.
a. Eph. 2:4-6 – The believer today shares justification by faith with Abraham and Old Testament saints. But in this dispensation, salvation brings us into new territory: heavenly places…
b. The same power that raised Christ from the dead has raised us from the dead… and has seated us with Him in glory positionally.
c. The church has entered into holy ground… a heavenly position not attained by any Old Testament saint… no matter how godly.
d. The LEAST of the Christian believers is exalted in his position, far above the godliest Old Testament saint… far above David, Moses, Elijah, etc.
e. The church shares with Christ in His position in heaven. We have been RAISED UP with Him.
f. We are CITIZENS of heaven… something that could not be said of Old Testament saints. They LONGED for that heavenly city… but were never called “citizens of heaven.”
g. Their inheritance was in the land of Israel. Ours is in glory!
h. In the evangelical world, most Christians glory in the cross… in the finished work of Christ at Calvary (and rightly so!) They rejoice in the fact that they are forgiven and saved!
i. Yet few seem to recognize the emphasis in the epistles on the ascension of Christ… and the new position to which He has elevated those IN HIM…
j. And this is SO unfortunate, for this position is really the BASIS of our victory in Christ… and the basis of the believer experiencing the spiritual blessings…
k. It is what Christ hinted at when He spoke of the believer ABIDING in Him… the Vine… and the FRUIT that would result from resting in our new relationship to Him… the RISEN Savior!
3. Christ brought many sons into glory because of our UNION with Him (Heb. 2:9-11).
a. Christ, the eternal Son of God became a man… subject to mortality.
b. As such, He was made lower than the angels (they can’t die!) Angels are over man in his fallen condition. Christ became a man so that He might experience death in order to DELIVER fallen men from sin and condemnation.
c. But Christ did not remain in that mortal state, lower than the angels!
d. He was crowned with glory and honor, as the Man in glory.
e. Christ rose from the dead and entered into the glorified state… a glorified human body… then ascension… and exaltation.
f. He rose from the dead FAR ABOVE all principality and powers…
g. Christ entered into a new realm, never before entered by a Man… glory! AND He brought many sons with Him!
h. Vs. 11 – He and we were UNITED.
• He became part of humanity so that glorified humanity might be united to Him… and brought to glory.
• This union occurs by means of Spirit baptism INTO the Body of Christ, the church.
» Those “In Christ” have been organically united to Christ in such a way that CHANGE is now possible…
» We are in union with One who is able to change us… transform us… empower us… enable us…
» It is not just a member of an organization, but a member of an organism… through which flows the very LIFE of Christ!
» The power that raised Him from the dead and brought Him into resurrection LIFE is now operative in US… in the person of the indwelling Christ!
» His life becomes our life.
» Those baptized into Christ are thus ABLE to walk in newness of life! (Rom. 6:3-4)
» This is new life… resurrection life… all based upon Christ’s resurrection.
• All those IN HIM are seen by God as if “in heavenly places already.”
• All those “In Him” have been united with Christ in His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, and have a new position… in heavenly places…
• And thus, all those in Him are blessed with all spiritual blessings available to those who are IN HIM.
• This is far superior to the position of Old Testament saints. They were God’s earthly people. The church is God’s heavenly people.
i. It was God’s eternal purpose to identify many sons with His Son in glory! (Eph. 1:4-5)
• God chose us and determined before the foundation of the world that SOME would be like His Son.
• God WILL carry out His plan for some to be like Christ.
• It took many ages for this plan to come to fruition… (Old Testament days; earthly ministry; cross; resurrection, ascension).
• THEN, finally, the Risen Christ was able to bring many sons into union with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection… and bring many sons to glory… to a new realm…
4. Christ’s Headship over the New Creation was contingent upon the Resurrection.
a. Christ was not made Head of the Body by virtue of the incarnation. Nothing He did or said during His earthly ministry made Him Head of the Body. Nor was He made Head of the Body by virtue of the cross.
b. It was the resurrection and ascension that made Christ head of the Body.
c. Eph. 1:20-23 – It was resurrection power that raised up Christ from the dead AND cause Him to ascend into heaven.
d. From His position in heaven, He became Head over the Body, the church… and entity that did not exist before the ascension… and COULD not exist before the ascension.
e. It was when Christ was raised up into heavenly places (ascension) that it was GIVEN to Him to be Head of the church, which is His Body. (vs.22)
• This Body is the FULLNESS of Him… (vs. 23)
• It is the completion of Him…the Body in a sense completes or complements Christ in glory…
• In this figure, a Head would be incomplete without a Body. The Body is the complement of the Head.
• Vs. 23 – And He fills the Body with Himself… His life…
• And He fills ALL of His Body—every part… (Be careful how you treat members of His Body!)
f. Eph. 4:7-11 – Christ ascended to heaven before He gave any gifts to the church…
• The gifts are in fact spiritual gifts… capacity to function in the Body… (teachers; pastor; evangelists; etc.)
• The Body could never function without these gifts… hence, the church could not have existed in the Old Testament.
• It would be a body without any capacity to function.
• It would be a body without a head…
• It required Christ’s entrance into glory.
g. Acts 2:31-33 – It was the ascended Christ who sent the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost to BEGIN the church.
• The Body would have no spirit… no life before the ascension.
• Christ sent the Holy Spirit to begin the work of Spirit baptism… baptizing believers INTO the Body. (I Cor. 12:13)
• Spirit baptism is HOW people get INTO the Body… how men are placed “IN Christ.”
• This did not begin… could not begin… until after the ascension.
h. UNION with Christ was not the result of incarnation, but of resurrection.
• Union with Christ did not occur because Christ came down below to become one of us.
• Union with Christ occurred because Christ rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and took believers up to glory with Him.
• Our union is with the RISEN Savior…
• In His earthly body He had a ministry to His earthly people, Israel. He offered them an earthly kingdom. (Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth…)
• In His glorified body, He has a ministry to His heavenly people, the church… the Body of Christ…
• This is our new position and where we are to dwell by faith.
THE BEGINNING AND THE FIRSTBORN FROM THE DEAD
1. Firstborn of the dead…
a. This term is the same as we saw in vs. 15 – the firstborn of every creature.
b. There it spoke of Christ as being preeminent… as being superior to all of creation. Why? (vs.16) FOR He is the Creator!
c. Firstborn can emphasize either first in time or first in rank.
d. In vs.15 it spoke of RANK. (His being BEFORE all creation in time is mentioned separately in vs.17)
e. In vs. 18 the term firstborn also speaks of RANK.
f. Of all those involved in God’s resurrection program… Christ is SUPREME… Highest in rank… superior… over all.
g. The bodies of all the saints of all ages lie in the ground today. Their souls and spirits are with the Lord, but their bodies await resurrection.
h. In God’s order, the body of every human being will be raised from the dead—some to honor, some to dishonor… some to the resurrection of the just… some to the resurrection of the unjust.
i. But of them all, Christ stands in a unique position as firstborn… the highest in rank… supreme… preeminent.
2. In the middle of verse 18, Paul states that Christ is “the beginning, the firstborn from the dead.”
a. The grammatical relationship of these two terms to each other (apposition) indicates that Paul is speaking about the same thing… the same concept.
b. The term for beginning (arche) is a term that can have a couple of different meanings. The context must determine its meaning.
• Arche can mean “ruler; prince; chief.”
• It can also mean “beginning; first; originator or origination point.”
• It is the term John uses to describe Christ’s relationship to creation: the beginning of the creation of God.” (Rev. 3:14) In this passage it implies the Originator… the One who began creation – Creator!
• In Col. 1:18, it has a similar meaning. Here it relates to Christ’s relationship to God’s resurrection program.
• With respect to God’s resurrection program, Christ is called the “Beginning” (time; source; beginner) and the “Firstborn.” (rank)
3. The Beginning… speaks of Christ as the first one in God’s program of resurrection chronologically.
a. Jesus Christ was the first human being (God-Man) to experience resurrection… and enter into the glorified state.
b. There were several examples of individuals in both Testaments who were raised from the dead—but that is not exactly the same as resurrection.
c. Lazarus was raised from the dead; Elijah and Elisha each raised a young boy from the dead. Tabitha was raised from the dead.
d. However, these folks were raised from the dead into the mortal state… to eventually grow old and die again. That is not resurrection.
e. Resurrection is being raised from the dead into incorruption… immortality… into the glorified state… to die no more.
f. Christ’s resurrection was far more than a mere reversal of His death. He was raised FAR ABOVE the estate He occupied on earth before His death.
g. Christ was the FIRST to be raised to glory… the very first to experience resurrection.
h. He has won for man a position of honor and glory that changes not… incorruptible forever!
i. When Christ rose from the dead, He was the BEGINNING of something new. He was the first Man in the glory! Awesome thought!
j. God has a plan for resurrection… and it all BEGAN with Jesus Christ.
k. And when united by faith to Him – to the Risen Savior, we become partakers of that glory in Him! What a privilege!
l. Jesus said, “The glory which thou gavest me, I have given them.”
4. Firstfruits of the resurrection – (I Cor. 15:20-24)
a. There is a planned order to the resurrection program. Christ is the firstfruits.
b. “Firstfruits” implies the first one, but also implies that there are many more to come!
c. Then, every man in his order. First Christ, then the resurrection associated with His coming (Rapture and Second Coming) and then the “end” – the final resurrection of the unjust. You don’t want to be part of the END resurrection! Be saved today!
d. This term is similar in meaning to the way Paul uses “the beginning” the Firstborn from the dead.
e. When Christ rose from the dead, He blazed a trail in new territory… He paved the way for others to follow… the way to glory!
5. Forerunner: Heb. 6:19-20 – The author of Hebrews expresses this concept with yet another term: forerunner.
a. Christ rose from the dead and entered into the heavenly sanctuary… within the veil… into the Holy of Holies
b. Forerunner: Strong’s: prodromos: one who is sent before to take observations or act as a spy, a scout, a light armed soldier. 1b one who comes in advance to a place where the rest are to follow… a trailblazer.
c. Christ rose from the dead and ascended into heaven… and in doing so, opened the way for those who believe on His name to do the same…
d. He paved the way… through the veil and right into the heavenly holy of Holies with God… an awesome privilege!
e. He paved the way for our physical resurrection…
f. AND He paved the way for us to enter into REST now… into a holy, communion of a heavenly order!
6. Each of these terms speak of Christ… as Head of the Body… and His relationship to the New Creation.
a. As Head, He is sovereign over the new creation.
b. As the Beginning, He is the Originator of and the first Man to enter this new realm.
c. As Firstborn from the dead, He is Superior to all others who shall experience resurrection and enter into this new realm.
d. As the Forerunner, He paved the way for others to follow.
e. As Firstfruit, He is the choice one… and an indicator that there are many more to come.
f. Paul writes all these things about Christ the Head of the Body so that it should be clear that in all things HE might have the preeminence.
g. All of these terms speak of Christ’s relationship to the new order of things… the New Man… the New Creation… the Church… God’s heavenly people.
7. Christ, the Head of the New Creation.
a. Christ is the beginning of a new order of spiritual life in the Church, by His resurrection and ascension.
b. Adam was associated with the original creation.
• The first Adam dragged humanity down into depravity and degradation.
c. Christ, the Second Adam is Head of a new race… and the beginning of a new creation.
• The Second Adam lifts up this new humanity with Him.
• Christ is now seated in the heavenlies, and He shares His position with the new creation… His body, the church.
• As Head of the church, the new creation, Christ is exalted in heaven as MAN… a glorified Man…
• What security! The first Adam fell and dragged us all down with him.
• But now, there could never be another fall… not with Christ as our new Head! Secure forever!
d. Christ died on the cross and settled the sin question and satisfied the Father’s justice. Forgiven… what a wonderful blessing.
e. But in His resurrection, He brings us beyond forgiveness to a foretaste of glory divine!
f. In God’s mind, when Christ ascended into heaven, He took us with Him… positionally.
g. Christ has entered into the holy of holies in heaven, and has paved the way for US to enter too… by faith!
h. This new relationship to God is infinitely superior to what Old Testament saints experienced.
i. We can by faith enter into God’s REST—knowing the score has been settled once and for all and forever…
j. We can dwell upon this new position in Christ… knowing that we are in Him… part of His Body. What marvelous things God has planned and provided for His Body!
k. We are united, not with the Jesus of the gospels… in His earthly ministry… in His period of humiliation and weakness. Rather, we are united with Christ in His resurrection power… and in His heavenly position!
l. It is His resurrection life and power that flows through His Body today. This is our great joy and delight!
m. IN Him, we have access to the Father… to that heavenly holy of holies… to the throne of grace…
n. And as we abide in Christ… abide in our high calling, FRUIT will be borne through us… not by mere human effort, but by the indwelling life and the power of the resurrection that is now ours!
o. This new order is not a restoration or reformation of the old man. Rather, the old man was crucified with Christ—and we are completely NEW creatures in Christ… a new man… a new race… following the Second Adam.
p. Christ is the Head, not of a restored or revised order… but of a NEW order… a new creation… soon to be followed by a literal creation of a new heavens and a new earth.
q. The New Testament revelation of Christ as Head of the Body is always seen in a context of resurrection and glory.
8. The practical side…
a. Since the church is a heavenly assembly, God has certain expectations from us…
b. Col. 3:1-2 tells us to set our affection there – on things above.
c. Col. 3:8-11 – having been raised with Christ the Head of the New Creation means we have new responsibilities.
d. Col. 3:15 – let the peace of God rule in our hearts—we are one Body!
e. We are told to store our treasures there… not on the things of the earth… where moths and rust doth corrupt.
f. We are to be looking unto Jesus… who is there… not the earthly Jesus of the gospels, but Jesus Christ as He is NOW: glorified, exalted, at the Father’s right hand… in heaven.
g. As we behold Christ in His present glory – we will be transformed into that same image by the Spirit of God.
h. These are not ethereal thoughts with little to no practical meaning in our everyday life. These truths ought to CONTROL our thoughts and motives and actions in this life! When this truth really sinks in, it is life dominating… life controlling… and life transforming!
HEADSHIP INVOLVES HIS WILL
1. The Headship of Christ over His Body is more than a theory.
2. It is intended to be exceedingly practical when one considers that Christ is called the Word in John 1:1.
a. The One who presides as Head of the Body is called the Word of God… and He has also revealed His will for that Body in the written Word… the Scriptures.
b. John 5:39 – The Scriptures bear witness of Christ.
• In the Word we have the mind of Christ… His will…
• If we truly seek to carry out the will of the Head, we MUST be sold out to the idea of being as Biblical as we can possibly be!
• The question that we should seek to answer is not “what are all the other churches doing?” OR “what do the people like or want us to do?” but rather, what saith the Lord? What does God’s Word say about the local church?
3. A local church can be said to be in submission to the Headship of Christ only insofar as it submits to the written Word of God.
a. All authority resides in the Word of the Head.
b. The church is not a democracy. Christ rules.
c. Congregational rule is not what the Bible teaches. The people don’t rule — Christ rules! The church is not governed through a popular vote.
d. When the people rule, God’s purpose for the local church is violated (Rev.3:14-20). Christ is no longer in a position of preeminence… but is on the outside looking in…
e. Christ rules! And He does so through His objective Word.
f. It is not up to us to come up with our own ideas as to what is church or what it is to emphasize.
g. It is not up for us to decide. It is up to us to READ what is written and thus follow the will of our Head.
h. The pastor and the board of elders are said to rule in I Tim. 5:17 – but only inasmuch as they are submitted to the Word of God. And thus, the real authority does not reside in them, but in Christ through His Word.
4. The will of the Head has been recorded. The Head has TOLD us what His Body is to emphasize…
a. The pattern for the local church was established in the book of Acts (2:41-47) and its function, mission, ministry, and purpose are revealed in the epistles.
b. Evangelism, doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread—the Lord’s Table, and prayer.
c. This is God’s pattern. Let’s stick to it.
d. In fact, the Scriptures contain ALL that is needed for the life and godly growth of a church (II Pet.1:3-4).
e. Modern churches are altering that pattern—so that the church is becoming a country club… a social club… a soup kitchen… a political action committee… sports zone… entertainment center…
f. That is wandering from the pattern. The pattern the Head recorded for us is clear: the emphasis is on SPIRITUAL things…
5. Since the Head of the Body has given us His Word, the will of the Head can be known and practiced.
a. Most of it is recorded for us in the Word.
b. His will doesn’t need to be discovered (as if it were hidden); it needs to be read and obeyed.
c. As the members of the Body saturate their minds and hearts with His Word, they are transformed into the image of Christ (II Cor.3:18). As we follow His pattern – His purpose for our lives is carried out.
d. The thinking of those believers will be in harmony with the mind of Christ (I Cor.2:15-16).
e. Instead of being conformed to the philosophies of the world, they will be transformed into Christlikeness (Rom.12:1-2).
f. Their minds being renewed will thus be enabled to prove (practice) that good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.
g. The Head rules in an assembly when its members have offered themselves to His service as living sacrifices are filled with the Spirit, and are (by faith) dead to self will.
h. When the Body members get self out of the way—the will and life and character of the indwelling Christ will be manifested through us—which in turns exalts our Head – the Lord Jesus.