Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 July 15, 2018
“The Work of Christ”
We continue in a three-part series, The Great Christology (Colossians i.15-23), within our larger punctuated series through Colossians. Last week, we noted in detail the Person of Jesus Christ—that is, Who He is—as we examined Colossians 1:15-17. Next week, God willing, we shall note the effects of the Person and work of Christ upon the Christian believer as we examine Colossians 1:21-23 together. This week, we look more closely at the work of Christ—that is, what He does—as we examine today’s text. Let us hear God speak to our souls from His Word.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
First, Jesus Christ serves as the Head of the Church (cf. Ephesians 1:22). Jesus is the Head; that is, He is the Leader of the Church. He is the One in front of us showing us the way (and being Himself the Way, et al., cf. John 14:6). Jesus, our Head, also is our supreme authority. He is the One joyfully compelling our joyful obedience. Christ’s service as the Head means that He is distinct from the Body, yet He is inseparable from it. Moreover, God, the Father, made Jesus, the Son, the Head for the Church. Christ’s Headship, then, exists for God’s glory and for the Church’s inestimable benefit.
Now let’s look at the Church, which is Christ’s mystical Body. As just noted, Jesus is the Head—with all that entails. We, by extension, are the body parts—distinct, yet interdependent, under one Head (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:12-31). Hence, none of us is useless, and none of us is fully independent—surely not from Christ, but also not from our fellow believers. Hence also the old saw that the Church is not so much an organization as it is an organism—a Body, as Scripture here and elsewhere declares.
Second, Jesus Christ stands as the first-fruits of those raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20). Scripture testifies copiously to Jesus’ resurrection, and His resurrection is the best-attested extra-Biblical fact in antiquity. Hence, we confess again today what we confess especially at Easter, “Jesus is risen; He is risen indeed.” Jesus tells His disciples in every age, “Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19). This life that Jesus promises is abundant, eternal, and—at the end of all things—bodily. Jesus’ risen life is the guarantee of our own eternal life—and Jesus’ very position as first-fruits of the ones raised from the dead in ongoing testimony to the fact.
Third, Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of the Father as the One pre-eminent above all. The Apostle John, writing by the Spirit’s leading concerning the end of all things, notes One riding a white horse—bearing a name written on His thigh: King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 19:16). He has first place in all things—whether acknowledged by people or not. One day—and may the Lord hasten the day by His grace—all will acknowledge, either gladly or grudgingly, that He is Lord (cf. Philippians 2:9-11). Let us be among the throng—this day, even now—declaring and accepting His pre-eminence in all things.
Fourth, Jesus Christ exists for the Church as the One in Whom the fullness of God dwells (Ephesians 1:23). It is hard to wrap our brains around the two-fold nature of Jesus. One honest attempt asserts that Jesus is partly God and partly man, but we can do better with the Scriptural evidence. Remember that Jesus is not partly God and partly man, but He is fully God and fully man. This is the orthodox stance, as affirmed definitively by the Council of Chalcedon in A. D. 451 and rightly since by every affirmation conformed to it. Therefore, as Jesus declares to Philip on the night of His betrayal, “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
Fifth, Jesus Christ reconciles all things to Himself (thus making peace, cf. Ephesians 2:14-18). We, by virtue of original and actual sin, alienated and estranged ourselves from God. Hence, as Robert Robinson wrote of Jesus in “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”, “He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.” The Holy Spirit, upon our belief in the Son, applies the merits of His Person and work to our souls—thus making us right with God. We are reconciled. Hence, we have God’s divine favor and assurance of the same. We also have good gifts from His hand—including, but not limited to, forgiveness of our sin.
Jesus declared in His day to certain opposing Jews, “My Father is working until now, and I am working” (John 5:17). Thanks be to God for this. Thanks be to Him for the Spirit’s effectual application of the merits of Christ’s work to our needy, believing souls. Thanks also be to Him for His ongoing work in our lives today. Thanks be to God, Who sustains us in every way: with the next heart-beat, the next breath, and everything we need for life and godliness (cf. 2 Peter 1:3). Thanks be to God, Who delivers us through and from every providential trial. Granted, our desire usually is for immediately deliverance from any presenting trial, but God, in His perfect wisdom, often blesses us and glorifies Himself by delivering us through the heart of the trial to safety on the other side. Thanks be to God, Who gives us all manner of good things. I hope this taxes not your recall inordinately—nor mocks your current pain—but recall the good things you have received from God’s good hand in your life. Now think of the good things He has given you lately—even if lately you find yourself in the fiercest part of one of God’s providential storms. Then thank and praise Him for these.
We’ll hear more of these effects next week, God willing. Until then, may He keep you in His strong, loving care.