The organization of Christ’s church is taught in His Word as clearly as is the manner of worship in the church. The subject of this lecture has to do with a part of that divinely ordered organization, the office of deacon. In order to understand this subject rightly, it must be set out in its proper connection to the office of the overseer, or elder, or pastor – terms that are used interchangeably in the Word of God.
We read in the scriptures of a day when our Lord had been very busy with public ministry, teaching a large crowd with many parables about the kingdom of God. He was also engaged in speaking more privately with His own disciples, since they asked Him what some of the parables meant. And then He also found it necessary to address private seekers who wished to follow Him, instructing them on the demands of genuine discipleship. (Mt 8; Mk 4; Lk 8)
After this demanding public and private ministry, in the evening, we read that Jesus and His disciples entered a boat and began to make their way southward across the Sea of Galilee. It wasn’t long, I suspect, before He was asleep in the boat after such a physically and mentally demanding day.
It was not long either, before a storm arose and began to toss their boat to such a degree that the disciples were growing anxious for their safety. The Word of God tells us that a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves and that the boat was filling with water. When the situation had gotten grave enough to cause panic or annoyance in these men, they roused Jesus from His sleep, pleading for Him to save them from what they must have been convinced was their immanent drowning.
Being awaken, Jesus first addresses the men, Why are you fearful? Where is your faith?
Then He turns His attention to the wind and the water and speaks two words, translated in English as
Be quiet, be muzzled.
Immediately the wind and the sea settled into what the scriptures call a great calm. What was a great tempest becomes a great calm at the word of Jesus. Without exception, each of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke record that after this, the men in the boat were amazed, even afraid, saying to one another, Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!
We have been hearing sermons on the letter to the Hebrews for some weeks now. If the writer of that letter could have been in that boat, knowing what he knew when he wrote his letter, what do you suppose he would have said in response to their question? I think his answer would have been something like this;
This is the Son of God, whom God has appointed heir of all things. Through Him the worlds were made. He is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person. He is the One who upholds all things by the word of His power. (Heb. 1:1-3)
And if Paul the Apostle could have been in that boat, what do you suppose he would have said in response to the question raised by these men?
I think we find something of what his answer would have been right here in our text, Col. 1 in verses 15-16.
He is the One who is the image of the invisible God. He is the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth. All things were created through Him and for Him, and He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
In other words, if Paul were in the boat with those fearful and amazed men, he would have told them that the reason why Jesus can command wind and waves and they obey Him is because He created them. He created all things and upholds all things by the word of His power. Do you ask what manner of man this is? That is the answer.
These words of the apostle Paul are found in a passage of scripture some have called the Great Christology. They see in this passage of scripture what a highly exalted position the Apostle attributes to Jesus Christ. I will open the passage under three headings and then make some application of its truth to us as a congregation.
I. Christ the Redeemer
II. Christ the Lord of All Things
III. Christ the Head of the Church
I. Christ The Redeemer
In verse 12 Paul expresses thanks to the Father for two tremendous blessings.
There are, as it were, two great objects before the mind of the Apostle here. There is an inheritance to be gained, and a kingdom to be inhabited. The inheritance is that eternal life which is promised to the saints, who are those sanctified by the work of the Holy Spirit. The kingdom is that of His dear Son.
There are also, as it were, two dismal realities before his mind. The first is that no man left to himself is fit to receive this inheritance. The second is that every man born into this world is under bondage of darkness outside of the kingdom of His Son.
It is the glorious work of the Father to overcome the dismal realities and to confer the tremendous blessings! He makes men fit to share in the inheritance, and He translates them out of the power of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of His love. This is the reason for Paul’s gratitude. But He does not stop here. He moves quickly on to show the One by whom God the Father overcame these dismal realities and conferred these tremendous blessings.
Notice the first words of verse 14…in whom. This is a reference to Jesus Christ, the Son of His love, just mentioned in verse 13.
It is here that the Apostle begins to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ, attributing to Him, first of all, our redemption. This is more than mere deliverance. It is not the picture of a mighty deliverer coming with power to free captives by his might. Rather, it depicts the same deliverer coming, not with might, but with something that costs him – a ransom — to set free a people who were under bondage. That price was His blood which He shed on the cross. These are the words Paul uses, redemption through His blood.
Then, closely related to this, Paul adds that in Him also we have the forgiveness of sins. This is the essential effect of the ransoming. The meaning of this word is to send away, to remove. The scriptures tell us that there is no remission of sins except through the shedding of blood. (Heb. 9:22) In Christ the blood ransom is paid, in Christ the remission of sins is made. He is the focal point of redemptive history.
II. Christ the Lord of All Things
The thrust of verses 15-17 is to teach us that Jesus is not only the focal point of redemptive history, but that He is also the focal point of natural history. He designed, created, and governs all things.
Wouldn’t it be refreshing to our souls if we could visit the Museum of Natural History in NYC and find signs posted by every exhibit that state unabashedly The Lord Jesus Christ made this or It is to the glory of Christ Jesus and by His power that this exists for He is Lord of all; from the smallest organism on display to the most immense galaxy portray11ed on the domed ceiling of the Hayden Planetarium!
I cannot dwell too long here, but will simply touch on each of the phrases Paul uses in these verses.
Paul attributes deity to Him – He is the image of the invisible God.
To Christ is attributes the design of all created things — For by [in] Him all things were created…
To Christ is attributed the creation of all things – All things were created through Him
For Christ’s glory all things exist – all things were created… for Him
III. Christ is Head of The Body, The Church
In verse 18 Paul uses the analogy of a body to illustrate the relationship that is borne between Jesus and the church. The analogy is very instructive in this regard. The church, as he is depicting it, is a living organism – it is a BODY. It has a head and it has other parts; joints, appendages, organs.
Other passages of scripture help to lend light to the use this analogy in our text:
The analogy carries both the ideas of the union of all the various parts of the body (none of the members is to behave like an island unto himself), and the life giving union of all the members to the head (it is only in connection to the head that the body has life and growth).
Eph 4:15-16 but speaking the truth in love, [we] may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies…causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
The analogy also caries both the ideas of loving authority and respectful submission.
Eph 5:23-30 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.5 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.
I find it instructive that Paul did no open this Great Christology with the statement that Christ is head of the church. He could have. Whether opening with it or closing with it, the truth is still the truth.
But first he holds Him up to the eyes of the church as the One who saved them so as to capture their affection.
Then he holds Him up as Lord of all things so as to capture their confidence.
The Holy Spirit who inspired the Apostle to write this way knows there is native resistance to authority in every human heart. In the Word of God, He often comes, not with a rod of iron to subdue, but with His arms loaded with gracious motivation to subdue. This is what we see in this passage. The portrait of Christ is indeed that of an exalted King, but not one who has subdued His kingdom by mere power. Rather He has subdued at great cost to Himself, and then calling to all who will hear His voice There, it is finished. Now come unto Me, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
Let us all be determined that Jesus will have His rightful place as Head of this church.
This means that we must strive to understand and endeavor to implement His word in all aspects of our life together. As a very practical example of this endeavor, your elders are working to revise our constitution. Poland distance calculator . It is our earnest desire to craft a document that reflects the principles set down in the scriptures by our Lord.
This ought not to be like a certain construction site where someone might walk up and see one man working on a wall. Further on, he comes upon another worker building a magnificent archway, but it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Then further on, he notices a third man putting down a foundation. When the visitor asks, “Who is coordinating all of this?” he is met with a quizzical look – Coordinating? Rephrasing the question, he asks, “Who is in charge here?” Again, the workmen look a little confused and reply, In charge? They say, You mean someone has to be in charge? But I don’t want anyone to be in charge! This is my arch. I’ve always wanted to build an arch! This is my wall! I will build my wall.
And in so many churches in this age one climbs over walls and walks through the arches and calls out Who is in charge here? Because there is much of man on display, but little of Christ.
We desire that it be clear to all among us who is in charge here. In the coming weeks, we will be turning to the word of Christ Jesus in order to understand what He says about leadership in the church. What has He said regarding the nature and responsibilities of the eldership? What has He said about the nature and responsibilities of the deaconate? We will also seek to understand His mind on the subject of the nature and responsibilities of membership in His church.
In closing allow me to pose a question to you.
Will you allow unthinking, inanimate elements of creation such as wind and water show you up in regards to obedience to Jesus’ voice?
There He was as Lord of creation, speaking two words to boisterous wind and crashing waves, and they immediately obey.
Here He is as Head of the church, He speaks to us in this book…
Let us all be determined to obey, giving Him His rightful place as Head of His church.