The Preeminence of Christ:
In Creation and the New Creation
The Divine Purpose: That He Might Become Preeminent
“In order that He Himself might become the preeminent One.”
NOTES FROM THE GRAMMAR:
a. “He” is the intensive autos, and should be understood to mean “he himself, he and no other” has become the Preeminent One.
• The idea is preeminence belongs to Him and only Him.
• This is highlighted here to serve Paul’s purpose in writing the letter.
• Paul’s purpose in Colossians:
» The Gnostic like false teachers were teaching that Christ was merely one of many emanations from God and that He was NOT the preeminent One.
» Paul affirms that Christ IS in fact the preeminent One—in all things and in every realm!
b. That: the final clause which speaks of God’s purpose: ἵνα γένηται ἐν πα̂σιν αὐτὸς πρωτεύων.
• God’s purpose is stated here.
• Christ rose from the dead SO THAT He might become the preeminent One…
• God had a plan for His Son – to make Him the Preeminent One.
c. Γίνομαι – Ginomai – the word translated “might have” is ginomai in Greek, and means to “become.”
• This is different from saying that Christ always was preeminent in all things.
• The particular KIND of preeminence is linked back to Christ as the Firstborn from the dead.
• Christ is BOTH the firstfruits of the resurrection (first one) and firstborn from the dead (most important one).
• He was the first human being to experience death and then to be raised into the glorified state. He is first both in time and in dignity.
• Here Paul states one of God’s purposes for Christ’s resurrection: so that Christ might BECOME preeminent.
• This implies that He was NOT the preeminent One… but BECAME so in His resurrection.
a. Paul is not saying that Christ’s nature changed. He has always been Divine and preeminent in that sense.
b. But something DID change for Christ in His resurrection: His role and position.
• In the resurrection and ascension, Christ BECAME the HEAD of the Body.
• In His resurrection and ascension, it was God’s purpose that His preeminence would extend to realms beyond… in the heavenlies… as the God-Man.
• It was the Father’s purpose to raise the Son from the dead SO THAT the Son might once again be seated at His right hand in that place of preeminence in glory itself!
c. On earth, Christ demonstrated His preeminence in the old creation.
• Col. 1:15 – even during His earthly period of humiliation, He was still the firstborn of every creature.
• He was first over the old creation.
• He demonstrated that He was Lord of the old creation. The wind and the waves obeyed Him. Sickness melted away at His voice.
• Vs. 16 – In fact, He was Creator! All things were made by Him. (note the connection between 15c & 16a – FOR)
d. By rising from the dead He extended His preeminence into the new creation… into the heavenly sphere… the realm of glory.
• In rising from the dead, His preeminence became universal… over the old and new creations. He is exalted above all—and in every realm!
• This was one of God’s purposes in the resurrection of Christ: that He might become the preeminent One in ALL things… and in every realm… on earth and in heaven…
• BECAME: (ginomai) – Christ BECAME the Head and Preeminent One in the church by means of the resurrection. With respect to the old creation, He was ALWAYS the preeminent One… the Great I Am… Lord.
• But He BECAME Head over the church… the new creation… and new creatures… by means of His bodily resurrection out from among the dead.
» He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven so that He might take that position as the Preeminent One… over all creation… and the new creation… visible and invisible… over all creatures… heaven and earth… all things!
» Phil. 2:9 – He was raised from the dead and then ascended into heaven where He was exalted above all and given a name above every name!
» Heb.1:4 – He obtained a more excellent name than any angel!
» Of course, Paul is speaking about Christ here as the God-Man.
a.) He was eternally LORD of heaven.
b.) Angels worshipped Him as Creator and God before the incarnation.
c.) But Paul is speaking about Christ with respect to His relationship to humanity… as the God-Man.
d.) When He became a man, He emptied Himself and entered a period of mortality and humiliation.
e.) But when He rose from the dead – He BECAME the Preeminent One in glory as MAN—the Man in glory—the God-Man and Redeemer!
f.) And having gained this victory, He is able to bring many sons to glory too! He is thus the forerunner… the firstfruits of the resurrection… and has paved the way for us to follow. Praise God!
THE SPHERE OF HIS PREEMINENCE: IN ALL THINGS
In all things:
a. The clause (that he might have preeminence in all things) seems to relate back to the entire section on the glory of Christ—way back to verse 15.
b. By means of the resurrection, the Son was exalted far above all principalities and powers.
c. He extended his preeminence into ALL realms… and ALL things.
Salvation: He alone is the Redeemer (vs. 14)
a. In HIM we have redemption and in no other!
• It was HIS blood that procured forgiveness of sins—and no other sacrifice will do.
• There is no other name under heaven (Acts 4:12).
• He is THE way (John 14:6) He isn’t one among many religious founders: Mohammed; Confucius, Moses… He is in a class by Himself. He is the ONLY Savior. Preeminent.
b. Later Paul notes that Christ as Savior and Redeemer is the preeminent One in that His reconciliation also extends to “all things” both in heaven and on earth. (1:21)
c. He is preeminent as Savior. In fact, the ONLY ONE! (Isa. 43:11)
Creation: He is Creator! He is before all things! He is the firstborn of all creation (vs.15) Preeminent!
a. Note that this section dealing with His supremacy in the old creation begins with “who is” (vs.15).
b. In the realm of physical creation, He is preeminent: Creator; before all; by Him all things consist; firstborn! Lord!
c. The only creatures who don’t seem to grasp this fact are humankind—fallen, sinful creatures like us… who refuse to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord.
4. New Creation: (vs.18a)
a. Note that this section dealing with His supremacy in the New Creation also begins with “who is”… the beginning of a new paragraph which speaks of the new creation (vs.18b).
b. In this new realm… in the New Creation, Christ is:
• Head of the Body—a whole body of new creatures.
• He is the beginning (arche – ruler; chief; first one)!
• He is the firstborn from the dead!
• All of this speaks of His preeminence in this new realm.
PREEMINENCE IN THE LOCAL CHURCH
1. The church is part of this New Creation.
a. It is called the New Man in Eph. 2:15.
b. Each member has been spiritually raised up WITH Christ in His resurrection: the new birth.
c. They have also been raised into a new position: In heavenly places (Eph. 2:5-6)
d. It consists of born again members who are called new creatures in Christ (II Cor. 5:17).
e. All of this “newness” is linked to Christ’s resurrection. In fact, the church itself was NEW in that sense. It did not exist before the ascension.
f. Paul states that Christ BECAME the Preeminent One in this new realm… in the church by means of resurrection and exaltation.
g. We have a RISEN Savior who has entered into a new sphere… the realm of glory… and raises up His Body to SHARE in His heavenly position.
h. In that new realm, Christ is to have all the preeminence: in the church.
i. This is awesome truth revealed.
2. But it is not just doctrinal information. It is quite practical too.
a. That He might have all preeminence in this new realm: the Body of Christ in the church… in THIS church!
b. This is really what it means to be a separatist: we are separated UNTO HIM. (from sin, the world, apostasy, yes, but UNTO Him)
• We so often think of separation from the negative perspective. (One who doesn’t participate in ecumenism; rejects neo-evangelicalism; the charismatic movement; heresy.) (separation FROM)
• But it is the POSITIVE side of separation that is most important: separated UNTO CHRIST.
• The separated one has his eyes on Christ.
• Separation stems from an absolute love for Christ and a desire to please Him in everything… to honor Him… and to give HIM preeminence in all things.
• If other folks don’t want to be separated unto Christ, that’s up to them. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord… give HIM first place AS LORD… He gets the preeminent position… in our lives and in this church.
c. Col. 3:23 – whatever we do here is to be done heartily as UNTO HIM… and not unto men. We serve the Lord Christ (vs. 24).
d. We are commanded to be HOLY for He is holy.
• Holiness is being separated unto Him.
• As holiness and purity is upheld here, in individual lives and corporately as a church body, we are giving Christ the preeminence that He deserves.
e. He doesn’t have the preeminence here because we painted the words on the wall.
• That is an expression of our desire to give Him preeminence, but it is certainly not a fulfillment of that desire.
• It is a mockery to SAY Christ has preeminence here… and then for us to behave as if WE had the preeminence.
• Christ has preeminence in the church we walk before Him in humble obedience… bowing before His word and His will. (Why call ye me Lord, Lord and do not the things which I say?)
f. Christ has preeminence here when each one of us keeps SELF on the cross… and the resurrected Christ expresses His LIFE and will in this body through yielded, surrendered, Spirit filled members.
g. We demonstrate our desire to give Him preeminence when we sing hymns that are in harmony with His Word and exalt Him… not by singing sensual or worldly music that appeals to the flesh… self reigns then.
h. We demonstrate our desire to give Him preeminence by our deportment in the Lord’s house… by what we say… what we wear… how we behave… and the respect we give to Him here.
i. When the church body assembles together, it isn’t like going to McDonalds. We come here to honor God; show respect to Him; to express worship; reverence; to be still and know that He is God. This is different than anywhere else in the world.
j. This is REALLY what’s wrong with the new way of worship today: the casual, come as you are, anything goes, don’t rock the boat, emphasis on entertainment, psychology and meeting felt needs, user-friendly, non-confrontational kind of church. It is man-centered rather than Christ-centered. MAN has preeminence in that setting, not Christ. And it is all so VERY obvious… Do they really think the Lord doesn’t notice?
3. If Christ is to have preeminence here, then MEN are NOT to have preeminence here. The very meaning of preeminence forbids it’s being “shared.” You can only have ONE master.
a. II John 9 – Diotrephes loved to have the preeminence and is soundly rebuked by John for his self-centeredness, pride, and divisiveness and for treating members of Christ’s body so poorly.
b. No man is to have preeminence in the church: Christ only. Churches built around the personality of the pastor or any other man, do not exalt Christ. They exalt man.
c. Gal. 6:3 – we think we are something; God says we are nothing! (Imagine preaching this verse in Schuller’s Glass Cathedral?!) Christ is something… we are nothing.
d. Eph. 3:8 – we are to be like Paul and consider ourselves to be the least… and give Christ the proper place He deserves.
e. Col. 3:11 – in the Body, Christ is all. Period.
f. Martin Luther once said, “God created the world out of nothing and as long as we are “nothing” God can make something out of us!”
g. Our real value comes only in our relationship to Christ… we are in Him… We are but dust… but a piece of dust for whom Christ died to raise up… and indwell… and manifest HIMSELF through us!
4. The preeminence of Christ in our lives is demonstrated by the preeminence we give to His Body.
a. Good Samaritan illustration… (Imagine if you saw Fred lying on the side of the road, beaten, wounded, bleeding, writhing in pain. Could you really say, I love Fred but I don’t like his body, therefore, I will not help him. Fred is my preeminent friend, but I am not so concerned about his body, so I think I will walk on by and ignore his body… but I really like Fred!)
b. If Christ is preeminent in our thinking, then will His Body be. The Head and the Body are inseparable. Don’t try to separate them in our thinking.
c. When Saul of Tarsus was persecuting the Body of Christ, Jesus said, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou ME?!”
d. As we minister to members of the Body of Christ, everything is to be done on the principle of grace.
• We minister to that member for his good… but ultimately, and above and beyond that, we minister for the glory of Christ!
• The member himself may not be worthy of such good treatment and care, but Christ is! By exercising grace to His Body, we are demonstrating the preeminence Christ has in our lives.
• We want CHRIST to be magnified.
• Our goal of ministering to His Body is not the individual member alone, but that “Christ be formed in you”… so that Christ is magnified… that that member might be conformed to HIS image for HIS glory.
e. If Christ is preeminent, we should desire that the Body be a good witness OF CHRIST in the community…
holy, pure, just, chaste, gracious… (I Pet. 2:9 – to show forth HIS praises)
f. We should BE and DO everything we can toward that end… as God so leads.
5. A Church where Christ is truly HEAD… the Preeminent One will not go over well in our country in our day and age.
a. Here’s a warning, a heads up: this kind of church is not what people are looking for today in the me generation.
• Folks call all the time seeking what they can GET out of the local church. How will it benefit me, my needs, my family, my goals in life?
• Folks are looking for friends, social activities, things for their kids to do; soccer teams; games; programs; etc.
• Folks call looking for a school; a day care center; etc.
• Folks call looking for the now well-entrenched expectation of a long menu of specialized ministry offerings to make them happy.
• I have yet to have a family call inquiring about the church and ask, “Is Christ central there? Is He the preeminent One in Salem Bible Church?”
b. We highlight only one item on our menu: Christ… the Risen and glorified Savior. If folks don’t like that, they will never like it here.
c. Christ IS to have all the preeminence… and by God’s grace it will stay that way.
d. All those “other things” people are looking for are just that… other things… minor sub points… peripheral issues… footnotes… not that they are wrong or evil… but ancillary to the Preeminent One.
e. The Bible is exceptionally clear. The church is to be Christ-centered, not man-centered. Pleasing Christ is our goal, not pleasing men. Putting the will of Christ in the central place, not the will, desires, and expectations of men.
• The Bible plan and pattern is exactly the OPPOSITE of what is being taught in Christian schools today: where the church is marketed like a product… and caters to the whims and wishes of the “customer.”
• The problem with the church marketing that has taken over the evangelical world (and in many fundamental circles!) is not that it doesn’t work. It is that it isn’t right. It is thoroughly MAN-centered… to the core.
• What could be more opposite the simple Christ-centered plan that God has ordained?
f. And this man-centered thinking has become nearly universal in the evangelical world. I am not exaggerating.
• Willow Creek. Their influence is stunning.
• Willow Creek Community Church (near Chicago), pastored by Bill Hybels, has formed its own association of churches, with 9,500 members. Last year, 100,000 church leaders attended at least one Willow Creek leadership conference.
• Saddleback Valley Community Church (south of Los Angeles), pastored by Rick Warren has had more than 250,000 pastors and church leaders from over 125 countries attend Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Church seminars. More than 60,000 pastors subscribe to his weekly email newsletter.
g. I thank God for the godly men who warned me about this 25-30 years ago. They saw the early traces of man-centeredness in infiltrating into new-evangelical ministries way back then, and it disturbed them… and they warned us.
h. I could easily have been swept up by this new wave were it not for God’s grace in giving me such discerning teachers.
i. I thank God that they had the discernment to see it coming. But today you don’t need much discernment to see it: It is blatant… open… it is everywhere in the evangelical world. It has taken over the evangelical world… because it is so successful in the eyes of men. The flesh can do great things on its own… it can build empires, but in God’s sight it is but wood, hay, and stubble.
j. And churches who stand opposed to that tidal wave coming over our country—like this one—will eventually be relegated to the realm of the insignificant… only a tiny remnant hardly noticed by the world.
• But God notices. (Mal. 3:16-17)
• When we were on vacation the Lord led us to such a remnant of godly believers in Utah… tiny, but significant in God’s eyes—for CHRIST had the preeminence in that place and it was obvious.
k. Another problem we face as an assembly is that now that this new way of “doing church” has been around for a while, it has become the “norm” in the minds of many. It has created unbiblical expectations in the minds and hearts of many believers who know of nothing else.
l. Folks coming to our assembly and increasingly will consider it boring, quiet, lacking excitement, old fashioned, and not offering them the long menu of ministries they have grown to expect. I expect to see, as we have, a constant flow of such folks who come to sip, taste, and discover that we are not meeting their expectations, so they will drift on till they find what they are looking for.
m. But every once in a while, folks will come here who are genuinely hungry for truth… for His Word… for Christ.
• They will be tired of milk and will hungering for meat.
• They will grow weary of hearing men talk about what great things they did or are doing FOR Christ… and will hunger to learn about Christ Himself!
• There will be a few whose goal it is to KNOW HIM and the power of His resurrection!
• They will be tired of the external excitement of loud music and high-energy programs… and will find true DELIGHT in God working in their hearts… thrilling them with a deeper knowledge of who HE is…
• And they will find real satisfaction in a ministry that lacks the high tech glitz, but centers on and focuses on CHRIST… the Risen, glorified Savior who alone can feed the hungry soul!
n. This church exists for such folks.
• We are committed to preaching Christ and giving HIM the preeminence.
• And folks looking for something other than that will never be happy here. But that’s okay. We are not trying to be all things to all men.
• But there will always be a remnant of folks who are looking for just this kind of emphasis…tired of feeding on chaff and hungry for the Bread of Life.
o. What other churches do is up to them. That’s not my responsibility. This church is. I only bring this up because we are surrounded by this new influence. It is not only in Chicago and LA… it is here in the Merrimack Valley too! And I don’t want to see our folks look horizontally to find out how a church should function.
p. We should look to Christ and His Word and follow His pattern for the local church regardless of what other churches are doing and regardless of how successful those other methods seem to be.
q. Jesus Christ is the Living Word. This book is the written Word. It is HIS will in print. It is His character and life in print. We give HIM the preeminence when we give His WORD preeminence…
• That’s why we have full-length sermons from the Word and not mini sermonettes.
• That’s why every time we meet we have a Bible study.
• That’s why we approach the Bible in a reverent manner.
• And every one of us can participate in exalting Christ and giving Him preeminence by BOWING our hearts in humble obedience and reverence before His Word every time we open it together!
• Unto HIM be glory in the church… throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
IF YOU DO NOT KNOW CHRIST AS YOUR SAVIOR…
- He invites you to come to Him and trust in Him.
- BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved.
- He shed His blood and died on the cross and paid the penalty for all of your sins. They are already paid in full… once and for all.
- He rose again… proving that the Father accepted His payment.
- He finished all the work… and has left NOTHING for you to do but by faith RECEIVE the gift… eternal life.
- Jesus said, “He that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.”
- Won’t you come to Him today?