Colossians 1:15-20

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Colossians 1:15–20 NIV
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
We went through this phase a little bit ago where every rock was worth putting in our pockets and carrying with us.
At a restaurant and he plops out this dirty unattractive rock.


We are going to spend the next six weeks working through the book of Colossians. I am excited for this series as it is a book of the bible that I have probably studied more in depth in recent years than any other. Some of you may remember my lecture series on the book a couple of years ago.
The Apostle Paul is writing a letter to the people of Colossae. Colossae is in Asia Minor, North of the Mediterranean sea close to Laodecia. He is likely writing this letter from Rome while in prison. He sent this letter and others out to churches to address important needs.
When we read a letter like this, we are reading someone’s mail. I want you to think about it that way. Paul is writing for a purpose, to a people.
General versus Specific
Sometimes these letters are written to circulate and address general problems in a region, sometimes they are pretty specific to a problem…that is the case here. There is something specific going on.
There are two main themes that will develop throughout the book:
1. Colossian Heresy:
There is a philosophical/ ascetic heresy that is happening in the region. It has fringe mixes with Jewish heritage. This philosophy has enough truth and alignment with their past that it is connectional, but also some salvific hope to be compelling.
Christian nationalism as an example
The Colossian Heresy in some way devalues Christ (as most heresies do) and Paul is compelled enough to give time and money to address it, and to address it strongly.
2. Christology is the center of the wheel
Everything in the good news of the gospel is oriented and placed in relation to the center piece. Get that wrong and you get all the rest of the good news wrong.
JD Walt:
“While the gospel is a message, it cannot be confined to messages. While the gospel is truth, it cannot be captured by a series of propositional truths. Before the gospel is anything else, the gospel is God. Gospel means “good news,” and the good news is God. The good news is not that God loves us. It is that God is love. The good news is not that Jesus saves. It is that Jesus is himself salvation.” -JD Walt
So we have to get the center of the wheel right. And this is what Paul begins with in the first chapter.
What we believe about Jesus shapes everything else in our life. If the center of the wheel is off…even the good news is distorted.

The original Image Bearer:

Paul does something interesting (and he is not the only one, John does as well)…he goes back to creation.
Colossians 1:15 NIV
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
Image of God:
Genesis 1:26 NIV
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
Relationship with God
Relationship to Humanity
Relationship to creation
Sin distortion breaks all of this.
Teach this out
As God is walking through the Garden and Adam and Eve hide…this is our disposition. To hide from God. We believe we can, but also we project upon God all kinds of things. Some of us do not know what love is at home or even from our childhood and we project this idea on God that we must hide.
Adam blames Eve, Eve brings this “the devil made me do it.” All human relationships are toiled with sin.
Creation is not under our full control of stewardship
The residual image of God is the universal human essence.  All normally-developed  humans have the needs, capacities, and responsibilities for relationship with God, other humans, and nature even though we lack the desire, will, and ability to exercise them as intended by God.  We still trust and seek to serve something in place of God that promises us a good life in a peaceable kingdom.  We remain social beings and exercise dominion over creation.  But on our own, we cannot discover the meaning of life, much less achieve true love, justice, and holiness.

Image Bearer brings restoration

Jesus is the ultimate image bearer, the representation of humanity, the perfect relation to God, perfect relation to humanity, perfect steward of creation.
So Paul says Jesus makes peace and bridges the gap that sin has caused.
Colossians 1:19–20 NIV
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
One profoundly biblical way of understanding salvation is that God restores his fallen image-bearers by means of the perfect image of God, Jesus Christ.  For our salvation the Wisdom and Word of God became flesh and assumed our human nature, which images God.  Paul explicitly teaches that Jesus Christ “is the very image of the invisible God” through whom God reconciled all things in heaven and on earth to himself through his blood, shed on the cross (Col. 1:15-20; also 2 Cor.4:4).  Thus the true and perfect image of God is the means of salvation for humans and the whole creation.
What’s more, salvation involves renewal of our likeness to God.  Paul explicitly links salvation with restoration of the image in Ephesians 4:24 where he urges us “to put on the new nature, created in the likeness of God—true righteousness and holiness.”  Joined to Christ by the Holy Spirit, we—the image of God in us–are “new creations” (2 Cor. 5:17).  We are regenerated, reformed, and re-enabled to function as designed so that true virtue, joy, and fulfillment can be realized.  During this life we struggle against the lingering effects of our sinful nature.  The renewed image fully blossoms only in the life to come.  Meanwhile, the Spirit empowers us to become more like God in love, wisdom, righteousness, justice, and holiness in relation to him and all our earthly endeavors.
Example: ministering to someone a couple of years ago. A man very successful and he spent a lot of time with executives that had a very colorful life experience.
Can I preach here for a second:
If you are not battling against sin in your life then maybe there has not been new birth.

Image bearer is bringing new creation in the church

Restored to God
Restore humanity
Restored Creation
Teach this out.

Restored to God

We should be a place where we, focused on the head of the church, are able to seek God.
We sing songs, we come down for prayer, we fall on our knees, we cry out here in this place because we have access to God because of the life death and resurrection of Jesus. The image bearer brings us out of hiding from God.

Restored humanity

His Spirit Unites us in the body so that we can have relationships that are not possible otherwise.
I had a professor in seminary that was a missionary to Papua New Guinea. His mom was dying of Alzheimers when he answered the call. While he was serving over there he got the call that she passed and he couldnt get a flight out for a week. His wife went to church that first Sunday
She shared about my mother's death as a prayer request. That afternoon, someone called from one of the Provincial Groups at church. They asked permission to come over Monday evening to grieve with me. A group of twenty to twenty-five people came. They asked me to tell them about my mother, they sang songs, they read Scripture, and they prayed with me. Teresa fixed tea and biscuits." They stayed until about 10:30. Tuesday another group came, Wednesday night another group, Thursday night another group, and Friday night yet another. A Melanesian understanding of death, grief, and community dictates that the community cannot leave the bereaved person to be alone but must surround them with care. It was helpful to me. The last night, as people were leaving, a friend who was a professor at the University of Goroka shook my hand. He said, "Thank you for letting us minister to you in your grief" Then he pulled me closer and said "We have never done this for a white man.”

Restored Creation

Justice, authority, good and recreation happens through the church in the world. The kingdom of heaven is planted through the church. Where there was death and decay, now there are signs of life.
If you think we worshipped in the center of Tyler last week just do feel good about things or to celebrate spring or for a photo op....youre wrong. Resurrection people means we claim life over death and we proclaim heaven’s potential in this world as image bearers.
We may not believe in some ascetic philosophy that believes if we meditate and celebrate the right holidays then we can be set free of our bodies. We may not believe in energy in rocks.
But we replace Jesus in so many ways.
We believe we can will our selves into some better way of life
we believe our image is completely self-determined. You just need to find yourself.
We believe the kingdom is full of people that look like us
We think the church is a place that exists to make us feel good
Paul reminds us…you were made for more. Jesus shows us that. He made it possible again.
Church you were made for more. Let’s be a church that knows the centrality and supremacy of Jesus. That casts out superstition and humanism and self-dependence. A church that loves like heaven. A church of authority. A church of image bearers.
In the name of the Father, the son, and the Holy Spirit.
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