In my last blog-post, JESUS Is More Than An Image, I intentionally skipped over Colossians 1:18 to address the importance of who JESUS is and His headship of the body, the Church.
“He [JESUS] is the head of [His] body, the Church, seeing He is the Beginning, the Firstborn from among the dead, so that He alone in everything and in every respect might occupy the chief place [stand first and be preeminent]” (Colossians 1:18 AMP).
A Song of Old – “The Church in the Wildwood?”
I’m probably dating myself with this song, but here are but a few of the lyrics:
There’s a church in the valley by the wildwood.
No lovelier spot in the dale. No place is so
dear to my childhood.
As the little brown church in the vale.
I enjoy the song, but being perfectly honest here, what a sappy and sentimental picture this is of the Church. The words might bring back some memorable images, but not a true picture of the Church.
The Church is…
The Church is the body of Jesus Christ Himself.
The Church—the one we might be attending–is the body of Immanuel, God with us.
Before we start the detective journey together, let me give you understanding of why I chose the word PREEMINENCE in the title of today’s blog.
PREEMINENCE simply means “to be first” (Grk. protos) and is used of Christ in relationship to the church in verse 18. So now perhaps you understand a little better and I’ll continue on with the importance of Christ being Pre-eminent; in everything that we do personally and the effect of our responsibility in the church.
How dare we ever take that for granted. How dare we abuse the body of Christ with gossip and backbiting. How dare we neglect the body of Christ with messed up priorities and apathy. Notice who the apostle Paul is talking to here–the local church and not some unseen universal church. He is writing to a specific group of believers who gathered together on a regular basis; the local church in Colosse. Paul tells them they are JESUS’ body!
The Church Is the Body of Christ Jesus–
The word “church” comes from ekklesia (ek-klay-see’-ah), meaning a congregation or assembly made up of people who have been “called out.” Being “called out” by the gospel (“born-again”) means being part of the local church as Jesus’ body. This is the only way that we can truly give Him the preeminence in verse 18 of Colossians 1 refers to.
Don’t misunderstand me here, the preeminence is already His:
“Therefore [because He stooped so low] God has highly exalted Him and has freely bestowed on Him [JESUS] the name that is above every name” ~ Philippians 2:9.
JESUS willingly obeyed the will of the Father, and the FATHER highly exalted Him–lifted Him up.
When JESUS saves a person, He saves them to be baptized into the local church, to be united with other believers into His body. If you think that you are saved and not part of a local church, you might want to check your heart. The Bible doesn’t talk about JESUS’ body parts floating around by themselves.
Jesus’ Relationship to His Church and its Importance–
His relationship to His church is His body on earth. Paul speaks of the many parts of the body; the body does not consist of one limb or organ but of many (1 Corinthians 12:12-24). So when you hear of a friend in the local church who is in the hospital sick, don’t ask and expect the Pastor of your church to go–you’ve got feet…you go!
JESUS in-dwells those who trust Him as Lord and Savior and because He in-dwells us, we become part of His body. As a part of His body, we should desire to unite with the rest of His body.
But Only In The Context Of Worship and The Work In The Local Church–
I am probably sounding redundant to you at this point, about PREEMINENCE, but the emphasis is critical to the church. This is where the body gathers, where we can truly show JESUS the preeminence He already has. Our worship, our work (James 1:22-27; 2:26), is the only thing that truly shows who JESUS really is to a lost and dying world. Don’t judge your own past relationships with people in a church you once attended by what God has to offer. It’s not all about you, it’s about JESUS–His preeminence.
JESUS HAS A RELATIONSHIP TO HIS CREATION:
In 1985, being without employment, I decided to take an opportunity of a new job and location in the United States–Honolulu, Hawaii:
I lived with a young couple who also worked at the same job in a small cute home. They were parents of a three-year old little girl and were having difficulties with their finances. Contrary to belief, Hawaii isn’t the Paradise you might think. So here I was, in Paradise (not really), living in a small but full house, with people I barely knew. Three months later, I left the island of Oahu after sharing the Gospel and seeing a young man saved by JESUS. This would have never happened if a relationship hadn’t been developed and nurtured. It’s called Life Style Evangelism and I had become like a member of their family.
Living in someone else s family, in their home, made it impossible not to have a relationship. JESUS has a developing and nurturing relationship with us–His church.
Biblical Examples of Christ’s Relationships–
“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word. That He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things [that she might be holy and faultless. Even so husbands should love their wives…” (Ephesians 5:25-28).
SALVATION and BAPTISM ARE ALWAYS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE LOCAL CHURCH:
When JESUS SAVES a person, He saves them to be baptized to the local church; to be united with other believers into His body. If you think that you are saved and not part of a local church, you might want to check your heart and the hardening of an artery or two. The Bible doesn’t talk about JESUS’ body parts floating around by their selves.
Washing away our sins in Baptism–
The context here in these verses pertains to the RELATIONSHIP between husbands and wives. Something I’ve learned in over 48-years of being married to the same woman is, “LOVE can only be known by the action it prompts.” Christ uses His relationship with His bride, the church as an example for us to follow.
The definition of the word “washing” as found in Strong’s Concordance Greek Dictionary #3067, indicates that water baptism is used by Christ to achieve cleansing and sanctification of the bride–the church.
“And now, why do you delay? Rise and be baptized, and by calling upon His name, wash away your sins” (Acts 22:16).
I was saved and baptized at the age of 30. Although I understood the meaning of the act–and in obedience to His Word–I somehow had lost the preeminence of JESUS over the years and I know my worship had suffered.
THE REAL JESUS IN OUR CHURCHES:
God almighty cannot be known, worshiped, served in any way, to any decree, except as He is known, worshiped and served by faith in and through the merits of Christ Jesus our Mediator.
Our Savior declares, “No man comes to the Father but by Me.” Our faith, prayers, church services, and sacrifices of praise are acceptable to God only through the person and work of JESUS our Mediator (1 Peter 2:5).
In the Preaching of the Word Christ is Pre-eminent.
The most important aspect of public worship is reading and preaching of the Word of God. But this fact must be understood–it is not enough to just preach the Bible. We are “called to preach” the message of the Gospel! And the message is JESUS CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED.
There is not a page in our Bible that doesn’t speak of Christ, not a page! And there is no preaching of the Word of God unless Christ, who is the Gospel, is preached (1 Peter 1:25).
The Book of Acts–
The Book of Acts demonstrates that our Lord JESUS was the singular subject of preaching in the earliest days of Christianity. The words preach, preached, and preaching is used 37 times in the Book of Acts. Every time they are used the subject preached is JESUS Christ the resurrection! So if the Book of Acts is then our standard, it must be concluded, unless Christ has been preached…no preaching has been done.
That man who pretends to be a “preacher” and doesn’t preach JESUS Him crucified, mocks the people who hear him. Rather than serving their souls, he destroys them.
In all our songs of praise Christ must be Pre-eminent–
It’s insignificant–what musical instruments are used.
It’s insignificant–whether the tempo of the music is modern/contemporary or conservative.
But it is the utmost importance that the Word of and message contained in our songs of praise be both doctrinally accurate and Christ exalting.
Going Back to the Question I Started With–“Who is Jesus to you?”
Is He just a baby in the manger taken out of a boxed stored in the garage, then dusted off once a year?
Is He some “get out of jail free” card to you?
Is He some type of Fire Insurance that lets you live any way that you want to and still escape the fires of Hell?
Do you know the real JESUS or have you settled for a cheap imitation?
What the Real JESUS Demands in His Preeminence–
Preeminence in yours and my church!
He doesn’t just SAVE you to keep you out of Hell!
He doesn’t just SAVE you to make you healthy, wealthy and prosperous!
1. THE REAL JESUS SAVES YOU FOR A PURPOSE–To die to flesh and live for Him!
2. HE SAVES YOU TO GROW IN HIS CHURCH–
3. HE SAVES YOU TO REACH THE LOST– (even going to Hawaii if needed)!
That’s the REAL JESUS! It is your decision if you haven’t already, to make Christ Pre-eminent in your life–in your church. What then are you going to do? I’ll be looking forward to you answers in the comment section of this blog.