Supremacy of Christ in Reconciliation
Copyright © 1997
Indian Hills Community Church
We are considering a portion in Colossians which draws great emphasis to that subject which is of greatest importance in the word of God - the absolute supremacy of Jesus Christ to everything that is in existence. In reality, the Bible does not make any sense if you do not understand it in the context of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the sovereign Lord, the One who is the focus and center of the plan of God for His creation. What is totally unique about Jesus Christ is that He is God completely and man completely. He is God who has taken upon Himself humanity, and in so doing He has not ceased in any way to be completely God. And yet He is also fully human. One person, both God and man. I do not comprehend it with my finite mind. I have many questions of how this can be. But nonetheless, it is absolutely true as God has clearly stated it in His word.
During the time of Jesus' earthly life, many would not accept the reality that He was God in the flesh. They could see Him there in the physical body. But they could not accept that He was God in the flesh. They thought He was blaspheming when He declared that He was indeed God. People right down to our day have continued to struggle with the reality of the Deity of Jesus Christ. He was not just a man, a good man, even a perfect man. He was the God-man. We refer to this theologically as the anthropic union. Theos - God; anthropos - man. The God-man union.
In the first chapter of Colossians, verses 15-20, Paul draws our attention to the absolute supremacy of Jesus Christ. That supremacy is focused in two areas: His supremacy in relationship to all creation and His supremacy in relationship to the work of reconciliation. The creation needs to be reconciled to God. But in all of this, the overriding emphasis is that Jesus Christ is supreme. note the last phrase in verse 18: "...so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything." That tells you what verses 15-20 are about. Paul talks about His relationship to creation, His relationship to reconciliation. At the heart of it all is that He might come to be preeminent in everything.
Paul begins by talking about the relationship of Jesus Christ to creation in verses 15-17. And he demonstrated that Christ was supreme over all creation because He was before all creation and He is the creator of all creation. You are going to see basically the same arguments repeated when Paul talks about reconciliation. He is before all creation, and He is the creator of all creation. He is God. Verse 15 says, "And He is the image of the invisible God..." When you have seen Jesus Christ, you have seen God. He is God manifest in human form. He is the firstborn of all creation, but He is not part of creation. He precedes creation. As such He is preeminent over creation.
Two ideas are entailed in firstborn - priority in time and preeminence in position. This is demonstrated in verse 16: "For by Him all things were created..." We note three prepositional phrases here - For by Him, then at the end of the verse, through Him and for Him. All creation is centered in Him. As a result of His creative energy, nothing is created outside of Him. It's all done through Him as the mediating agent of the triune God. It is all ultimately for Him, so He is supreme. He is before all things, verse 17 said. He precedes everything, and in Him all things hold together. You see the person and work of Jesus Christ constantly emphasized in verses 15-17, and 17. In His person, He is the image of the invisible God. He is before all things. He is God. In His work, He is the creator of everything. Not only is He the creator of everything, but in Him everything holds together.
Now Paul moves in verses 18-20 to demonstrate the supremacy of Christ in the context of the work of reconciliation. There is a major piece missing as Paul makes this step. He talked about the creation by saying everything that exists was brought into existence by the sovereign work of Jesus Christ. Now it is going to be shown that everything is brought into the right relationship with God, reconciled to God through the sovereign work of Christ. What He does not explain is how the creation got out of alignment. What went wrong is presupposed. But he will talk about it in verses 21-23 when he focuses in on the personal focus of reconciliation for the redemption of the elect. In verse 21 he will talk about being alienated from God, being hostile against God and engaged in evil deeds. But for now, he simply focuses on the reality of the creation, Christ's supremacy in that creation and the work of reconciliation in Christ's supremacy in reconciliation.
1.Christ Is Head of the Church
Look at verse 18. Christ is also head of the body, the church. One writer said, "As He is supreme over natural creation, He is also supreme over the new creation." The new creation is that part of the creation that has experienced the work of redemption. Paul mentioned in verse 14 that Christ is the One "in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." So those who have been redeemed experience the forgiveness of sins. "He is also head of the body, the church..." verse 18 says. The picture of the church as the body of Christ is used several times by the Apostle Paul. It is used in a general sense in a couple of the earlier epistles. Then he clarifies and elaborates a little bit on that picture in Ephesians and Colossians.
Turn back to Romans 12:4. Paul writes: "For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function." He is talking about our physical body. We have one physical body, but there are many different parts. And even though it is one body, all the different parts do not have the same function. The application of the picture is found in verse 5: "So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another." There is one body of Christ, and we are the various parts in that body. The emphasis in Romans - and we will see it in 1 Corinthians as well - is on the unity and diversity of the body. So Paul uses the physical body to picture a spiritual body. Just as the physical body is one and has many parts, so the spiritual body is one and also has many parts.
Come over to 1 Corinthians, chapter 12, where Paul discusses the doctrine of the spiritual gifts. Everyone who is part of the spiritual body of Christ is gifted or enabled by the Spirit of God to contribute to the functioning of the body. 1 Corinthians chapter 12:12: "For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ." This physical body is a picture of the spiritual body. Look at verse 27: "Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it." There is the point. We are part of Christ's body and each of us is a member of that body, contributing something through the gifts and abilities the Holy Spirit has given us.
We also are told here how we come to be members of the spiritual body of Christ. Look at verse 13: "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit." It is the work of the Holy Spirit of God to place us into the body of Christ. How does it occur? Well, details of the baptism by the Spirit are unfolded in Romans, chapter 6. There we are told that when we recognize that we are sinners, turn from our sin and believe that Jesus Christ died to pay the penalty for our sin, the Spirit of God identifies us. That's what baptism is; it's an identification. The Spirit spiritually identifies us with Christ in His death, in His burial and in His resurrection. That is the baptism by the Spirit. By one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. We came to be members of the spiritual body of Christ by believing in Him as our Savior. When we did that we were identified with Him in His death, His burial and His resurrection to newness of life. Now we all partake of the same Spirit. We have all been made to drink of one Spirit. Now I have the Holy Spirit, who dwells within me and directs the use of the various parts of the body. So there is unity in the body as well as diversity. That's the picture of the body as we have it in Romans and 1 Corinthians.
Turn to Colossians, where Paul will elaborate on the analogy. Paul becomes more specific in Ephesians and Colossians. Jesus Christ is the head of the body. The head gives direction to the body. It rules the body by telling the various parts what to do. In a sense, it gives life to the body. We could not function without the head. Unity of the body takes place when the parts respond to the head. When there is a breakdown in communication from the head to one part of the body, a malfunction occurs in that part of the body. Perhaps a person has been in an accident and the connections between the arm and the head have been broken. No longer does this arm respond when the head tells it to. There is a malfunction in that part of the body. So the picture where we are in Colossians and also in Ephesians is that Jesus Christ is the head of the body. Again, that is the position of supremacy, authority and preeminence for the spiritual body.
2.The Church Is not an Entity
I want to note some things about the church here. It's true the church is comprised of all believers, but the emphasis of Scripture is that the church is a local function. In fact, I was doing some reading this week on the use of the word ekklesia in secular Greek as well as in the Greek translation of the Old Testament. In those uses, the word ekklesia always refers to a group that assembles and meets together, never just to an entity. So the manifestation of the spiritual body of Christ is the local church, as is every other local church that is comprised of those who are members of the spiritual body of Christ.
Let's be careful. The body is an organism. It has life. There is organization within the body. But this is not an organization that you put together. There is order. But that flows out of the fact that there is a unity that characterizes the body as an organism. So the church is not primarily an organization even though it has organization. Certainly, it has order. What kind of body would this be if there was no order? It is the same way in the spiritual realm. The directions are given by the head of the body, Jesus Christ, and those primary directions are contained in our Bibles. 1 Timothy 3:15 tells us the church is to be "...the pillar and support of the truth." We take our instructions from the head, Jesus Christ, and they are contained in the word. When the church moves from being an entity comprised of those who have a spiritual relationship with the head, Jesus Christ, it becomes simply an organization. It is no different from any other organization except a spiritual banner is associated with it. But it is not a church in the sense that the word is used in the New Testament.
We see in Colossians 1:18, then, that Jesus Christ is the head of the body - the church. He is preeminent and supreme in creation, but now His supremacy and preeminence is demonstrated in the context of the church. Paul shows why Christ is supreme when he writes, "...He is the beginning..." Christ is the head of the church since He is the beginning of the church. He has brought the church into existence. He is the source of the life of the church. This is similar to what is said in Revelation 22:13, where Jesus says, "I am the Alpha and the Omega..." - the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet - "...the first and the last, the beginning and end." That word beginning is the same word we have translated here in Colossians 1:18. He is the beginning, or arche in Greek. He is the cause of the existence of the church, just as He was of the creation. So, naturally, He is the head. Naturally, He is preeminent. Naturally, He rules over all. That is essential in the context of being the Creator.
3.To Reject Creation Is to Reject Christ's Authority
In the Old Testament, God reminds the people on several occasions that He is sovereign over them because He created them. That's true of the general creation. That's why there is such a reaction against the creation account in the opening chapters of Genesis. It has nothing to do with science as science. It has much to do with the rejection of the authority of the living God in our lives. And since God is the creator of all, He makes the claim that all are under His authority, rule and reign. That was true of the nation Israel. God had brought them into existence, and they were under His authority and reign.
So it is for the church. He is the beginning. He is the cause and reason for existence of the church. He is also "...the firstborn from the dead..." That word firstborn, remember, denotes priority in time, preeminence in position. And that priority in time becomes dominated by the preeminence, as we noted in our study last week. The firstborn was not always the one who came first in time. But he is the one who has preeminence. Here, the context shows that Jesus Christ is not only preeminent, but He is first in time, and the two are linked together. He is the firstborn from the dead because He was the first person to be resurrected bodily from the dead with a glorified body. Yes, there were other people who were resurrected from the dead. One outstanding example is Lazarus. Jesus called him back to life after four days in the tomb. But Lazarus was resurrected to physical life, and he had to die again. Jesus Christ is the first person to be resurrected from the dead with a glorified body. So He is the firstborn from the dead.
He is also the One who is preeminent, as you will note from the last statement of this verse: "...so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything." That's what it means to be preeminent. Just as He preceded creation and so is preeminent over creation, He preceded the church and so is over the church. And He is the first to experience resurrection, which is the necessary work in bringing the church into existence.
4.Resurrection Allows Christ to be Preeminent
Turn over to 1 Corinthians 15 on this matter of resurrection. This is the great chapter on resurrection in the Bible. If you want to study the doctrine of resurrection in Scripture, you ought to start with I Corinthians 15 because this is the fullest account that we have in any one place. Verse 20: "But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep." First fruits were brought in from the harvest, which portrayed that there was a coming harvest. The first fruits are presented to God, and Christ is the first fruits. His resurrection guarantees that there will be subsequent resurrections. Verse 23: "But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming."
Now Christ is not only preeminent because He was the first to be resurrected. He is preeminent because He is the one who brings about all resurrection. Back up to John 5:28. Jesus is speaking. He just talked about the fact that the Son of Man is going to be the judge of all mankind. Verse 28: "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice." Whose voice? We see at the end of verse 27 that it's the voice of the Son of Man, Jesus Christ. So everyone in the tombs will hear His voice, verse 29, "...and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment." So you see He is preeminent in resurrection because He precedes it, He is the first to experience it, and He is the cause of it. All human beings will experience bodily resurrection, and they will do so under the authority of Jesus Christ. Look at John 6:40: "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise Him up on the last day." It is a declaration of personal authority and power to bring about resurrection.
Come back to Colossians, chapter 1. Keep in mind that Paul is demonstrating the preeminence of Christ and why He is head of the church. We have seen His preeminence in creation and have seen why He is preeminent in creation because He precedes it and brought it all into existence. Those same arguments are used for the church. He precedes it and brings the church into existence. The purpose in all of this is found at the end of verse 18 - "...so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything." Preeminence in everything. In the work of the creation of all things and the work of reconciling all things to God, He must have preeminence - first place. There is a contrast here, I think, in the context between the Deity of Christ and the humanity of Christ. What is true of Him as God has always been true of Him. He has always been preeminent as God. We can read Isaiah, chapter 6, and see the picture of the glory of Christ on the throne in heaven before His incarnation. The train of His robe filled the temple, and the Seraphim cried out, "Holy, Holy, Holy," to the Lord God Almighty.
So in verse 17 of Colossians 1, we read, "He is before all things..." That is His Deity. We will come to that again in a moment. But, also, verse 18: "...He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have preeminence in everything." Some translations have the past tense, which is the normal translation of the aorist tense in Greek: "So that He Himself has come to have..." - or came to have - "...first place in everything." So both His Deity and His humanity work together. As God, He has always had first place. The focal point in reconciliation is His work as the God-man. It's His work as a result of the incarnation, which is the Greek word for flesh. Incarnation - His infleshment, His becoming human flesh, which was accomplished "...so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything."
Now Paul is going to give two expanded reasons why this One is the head of the church, preeminent in everything. Again we pick up the same argument that is used in relation to creation. Number 1: His person. Number 2: His work.
5.As Man, Christ was Fully God
His person is that He is God in human flesh. His work is that He accomplished reconciliation for creation. Look at verse 19: "For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him." In His person, Christ was fully God. Now you might ask why it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Jesus Christ. You say, "Jesus Christ was God, and He was always God. So why did it take the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him?" Well, look at Colossians 2: 9, which is an expansion of this verse: "For in Him..." - in Christ - "...all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form." Keep in mind that we are talking about the incarnate Christ, the Christ who has become man. The amazing thing is not that Jesus Christ is God. He has always been God. The amazing, unique thing is that He is now God in a human body. All the fullness of Deity, everything that makes God God, are contained in the physical body of Jesus Christ. That is what Colossians 2:9 tells us. That is what we are being told in Colossians 1:19. So we are talking in the context of the incarnation. It was the Father's good pleasure. It pleased the Father that the second person of the Trinity, the Son, would be born into the human race, and in that physical body would be contained all that God is as far as His attributes. Now it is not all that God is because there is more than Jesus Christ to God. There is the Father and the Spirit. But all that is necessary to make God God is contained in that physical body. This was done so that He might have first place in everything.
This repeats what Paul said already in verse 15 regarding the creation: "And He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation." Now we are told that "...it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him." Here in His humanity, Jesus Christ is preeminent because He is God in the flesh. He is the image of the invisible God because He is God.
In verses 19 and 20, Paul reveals two things that are the Father's good pleasure. "It was the Father's good pleasure..." - Number 1 - "...for all the fullness to dwell in Him." Number two: "And through Him to reconcile all things...." There is a parallel with two infinitives we have in English using to - to dwell, to reconcile. It was the Father's good pleasure to have dwell in Christ all the fullness and to reconcile through Him all things.
We understand reconciliation. We do it all the time. You get your bank statement at the end of the month, then you sit down at the table with a pencil and a pocket calculator. Somebody asks what you are doing. "I'm reconciling my statement." What do you mean? "Well, I am taking my account and checking it with the bank account and hopefully bringing them together." I did my bank statement this past week. I went to the bank with a check. I got a little bit of cash from the check and put the rest of the check in the bank. I put in the bank 15 or 20 times as much as I took out, but they credited as a deposit what I took out, not what I put in. Panic. Go to the phone. We want to reconcile it. If it is not reconciled, it has not been brought into alignment.
That is what we mean when we talk about reconciliation - through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, to bring all things into proper alignment and proper relationship to Him. You see, we have a standard. All creation must be reconciled to God, just as in a more trite sense, the bank. I reconciled my account to the bank. I don't send my statement in every month so the bank can reconcile. They send me a statement so I can reconcile. So there is an ultimate standard and authority of which the world has lost sight. Our country, in particular, has lost it. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes. It is not new, but it is in vogue today as though there was no standard.
6.Christ Reconciles All Creation to God
What God is doing in Christ is reconciling all things to Himself. Everything must be brought into proper alignment to God. He is the standard. Verse 20: "and through Him..." - through Christ - "to reconcile all things to Himself." Reconciliation takes place through Jesus Christ. And, you'll note, all things are reconciled through Him. That stresses His preeminence. Now this all things was stressed several times by Paul earlier in this same section when he wrote in verse 16, "For by Him all things were created..." And at the end of verse 16, "...all things have been created through Him and for Him." Verse 17: "He is before all things...." Now again in verse 20: "and through Him to reconcile all things..." Now we know from the rest of Scripture there was nothing wrong with the creation as God created it. But the creation rebelled so it no longer was in proper alignment to the God who created it. Now, through Christ, it is God's intention to reconcile all things to Himself. That's why it was necessary for all the fullness of Deity to dwell in Him so that through Him as the God-man the reconciliation of all things could take place.
How so? Well, "through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross." Having made peace... We will see this again in our next study when we look at verse 21 and find out we were alienated. We were hostile. We were engaged in evil deeds. We were the enemies of God. We were at war. There was no peace. Romans 5:1 tells us that "...having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." That peace was established and made possible through the blood of His cross, through His death on the cross. That word blood as carried out of the Old Testament brings with it the context of a sacrificial death where the blood of all the animals that were sacrificed was shed. It was a sacrificial death. So His blood on the cross, the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross, was necessary to make reconciliation possible. That's a very important concept here.
Paul doesn't go on to elaborate at this time the fact that sin had entered the creation, that the penalty for sin is death, that Christ had to become a human being so that He could die for humanity and thus bring about reconciliation. But he will get into this in chapter 2. And it was our transgressions that were nailed to His cross. This is the reason why all the fullness of Deity had to dwell in bodily form. He had to be not just God, but He had to be man because it is man who needs to be reconciled. That is at the heart of reconciliation. Christ also needs to be more than man if He is to accomplish reconciliation for all things. All things includes all humanity, but the work of reconciliation goes beyond humanity. So the person of Christ is absolutely essential. He is the God-man. Anyone who does not believe that has not experienced God's salvation and is not a member of the spiritual body, the church. His work flows out of what He is. He made peace by satisfying the demands of a holy and righteous God in paying the penalty for sin, which is death.
Now we have an elaboration here. Paul said in verse 16: "...by Him all things were created." Then he elaborated on the all things - "...both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created through Him and for Him. Paul does the same thing in verse 20 in the context of reconciliation. "and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself..." Then the end of verse 20: "...whether things on earth or things in heaven." He is saying the all things includes all things.
The doctrine of reconciliation is found a number of times in Paul's writings. The focus of that reconciliation usually is the reconciliation of the elect of God. They experience His redemption and forgiveness of sins. That will be the focus of verses 21 to 23 in this chapter. It could be the focus in this context as well, because he stated in verse 18: "He is also head of the body, the church." Paul will go on to talk about the redemption of the individual members of the body of the church in verses 21 to 23. We say the all things is confined and defined by the immediate context, along with the broader context of other passages that talk about reconciliation. But it seems to me that since Paul has stressed all things in the context of creation, then he elaborates the all things to include things on earth or things in heaven, it has the breadth of what we had in verse 16.
7.Sin Impacts All Creation
Now I think there is a dimension of reconciliation that is broader than just the personal reconciliation of the elect. There is a sense in which the work of the reconciliation of Jesus Christ, the God-man, encompasses everything that God has created. Why? Because the impact of sin goes beyond its personal impact upon human beings.
Turn back to Romans, chapter 8, where Paul writes about how the inanimate creation of our earth, the non-human creation, awaits the return of Christ. This is in the context of a future time when we receive glorified bodies. Verse 19: "For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it..." In other words, when Adam sinned, the curse of sin impacted all creation. Now the ground brings forth thorns and thistles. The ground didn't personally rebel against God, but the impact of man's rebellion has impacted the creation. So we don't live in a perfect world. We have disasters and acts of nature, as we call them. We have the beauty of the flowers that die. But the creation was subjected to futility "...in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God." You see, when we are brought into the fullness of our glory, the impact of that reconciliation that we experience also encompasses the rest of the creation. In that sense, it is reconciled to God and brought back into proper relationship to God now to fulfill the purpose for which God created it. So in that sense a reconciliation of the creation itself takes place, which ultimately is realized in the new heavens and the new earth mentioned at the end of the book of Revelation.
8.Salvation Isn't Provided for Fallen Angels
There is also a sense of reconciliation in the spirit world. Now follow along. I don't want anyone going out of here saying, " Gil Rugh preached today that fallen angels will be reconciled in the same way that the elect are reconciled." In Hebrews, chapter 2, we are told that Jesus Christ did not provide redemption - salvation - for angels. His death on the cross and the blood of His cross did not make it possible for fallen angels to be redeemed. Verse 16: "For assuredly He does not give help to angels..." There you have the assured statement of Scripture. The help mentioned here is in the context of salvation. "...but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people." You see, that's why Jesus Christ had to become a human being. It was God's good pleasure to save a portion of humanity. Angels, however, are not included in the redemption provided on the cross. It is not possible for a fallen angel to be saved. They sin once for all eternity.
God also is not obligated to provide salvation for sinful beings. Keep that in mind. Our salvation is always a matter of mercy and grace. We sometimes speak as though God is obligated to save someone. We say it is not fair if he doesn't. But God has already established the ground rules on that. He didn't provide any salvation for angels. He allowed them to sin, and then He determined that they would be confined for eternity in the fires of hell. But in mercy and grace he has provided salvation for fallen human beings.
Still, there is a sense in which even the angelic realm, the spirit realm, experiences the impact of the reconciling work of Christ. Back in Colossians, chapter 2, Paul talks of what happened following Christ's death and resurrection. Verse 15: "When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him." So, in the plan of God, Christ's work of reconciliation spreads out to all things in the sense that all things will be brought back into proper order and alignment, which is subjection to God. Order will be restored in the universe. The rebellion that exists in the angelic world will no longer exist. Now, according to Ephesians 6:12, we do battle against principalities and powers of darkness - the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenlies. But the work of Christ on the cross and of His reconciliation is provided for the time when all of that will cease. Everything then will be brought into proper order in submission to God.
Come back to I Corinthians, chapter 15, which is in the context of resurrection. Look at verse 24: "Then comes the end, when He..." - Christ - "...hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and all power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet." The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. You see, in the work of reconciliation that Christ accomplished through the blood of His cross, He has made provision for everything to be brought into subjection to God. So there will come a time when even the rebellion of Lucifer will be ended.
9.Every Knee Shall Bow; Every Tongue Will Confess
Another passage on this is in Philippians, chapter 2. Pick up with verse 5: "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God..." - that was His existence prior to the incarnation - "did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but He emptied Himself..." He didn't set aside His Deity. We have already seen that all the fullness of Deity dwells in Him. But He set aside, as we call it, the independent use of His attributes. "But emptied Himself..." - verse 7 - "...taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus..." - now note this - "...every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
In that context, everything is reconciled by the finished work of Jesus Christ because all creation at that point will bow and acknowledge that he is Lord. By that acknowledgment, that bowing, glory will be given to God. That does not mean all creation will be saved. It does mean all creation will bow. This is provided because Jesus Christ stepped down from the throne of glory and incorporated His humanity into His Deity. He lived as a man, died on the cross as the God-man and was exalted to glory so that God's work of reconciliation can be accomplished. That point in time, which is to come, is founded on a work done in the past - the death of Christ on the cross and His resurrection. At that time in the future, all creation will bow before Him and acknowledge that He is Lord. That includes angelic beings, fallen and unfallen. That includes all humanity, fallen and unfallen in the sense of redeemed and unredeemed. All will acknowledge that He is the sovereign Lord.
One writer put it this way: "At that time, the universe has been reconciled in that heaven and earth have been brought back into their divinely created and determined order. The universe is again under its head, and cosmic peace has returned." We might say, "Well, couldn't God have just brought this about by the declaration of His word?" He could have confined all humanity to hell, even as He did with the angels who sinned. But it was His plan to bring about reconciliation, and you see what will happen. God created Adam and Eve and put them in the garden with His intention that Adam would rule over creation. That position was forfeited when Adam submitted to Satan, and now the god of this world, Satan, rules. But God's ultimate intentions will be realized. This creation will be subjected under the authority of the man he has appointed to rule over all - the God-man, Jesus Christ. And the work of reconciliation includes all things.
There is a sense that all creation will be reconciled to God, but the work of salvation does not include every single being. In Colossians 1:21-23, Paul will focus on the personal reconciliation of the elect and how they are brought into that unique relationship of being reconciled to God through the salvation that Christ has provided. What a picture we have of the absolute supremacy of Christ. He is supreme over all creation. He is supreme over the church because He is supreme over the work of reconciliation. What this means is the sovereign One who created everything is the same One who has done the work that provides for the reconciliation of all things. At the appointed time, all that He has created will be brought into proper alignment by bowing before Him in submissiveness and will acknowledge His Lordship over all. So peace will reign because He reigns. What a work. The supreme Christ - supreme in creation, supreme in reconciliation.
You will note the question is not will you bow, but when and how you will bow. Some bow before Him now because they recognize the truth of what He has said - that we are sinners under judgment, under condemnation, destined to an eternal hell. But in the marvelous plan of God, God the Son has been born into the human race. He has been crucified on the cross so that by the blood of his cross - His death on the cross that pays the penalty for our sin - we might be forgiven, cleansed and caused to be born again. We become new creations by faith in Jesus Christ. Some bow and receive the free gift of eternal life. Some refuse to bow, but they will bow before the story is done because "every knee will bow...and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." The reconciling work of Christ has guaranteed that will happen. And we can praise Him that it will happen because within that reconciling work is our personal reconciliation within salvation.
All will bow. It's just a matter of when and how. Have you ever bowed before Him? Why would you not bow in faith to receive the life that He provided at such great cost and out of such love to pay the penalty for your sin. That people would spurn that love and continue in rebellion and rejection simply demonstrates it is only fitting and right and just that they be sentenced to an eternal hell, the deserving punishment for sin. Let's pray together.
Thank You, Lord, that you are a reconciling God, that the supremacy of our Lord Christ
extends over all creation, but that it also encompasses the work of reconciliation. Lord, we
thank You for the personal dimension of that reconciliation that we have experienced as the
redeemed. Lord, I pray the impact and the truth of Your word will be felt in every life and
that we as the redeemed might manifest the supremacy of Christ and our recognition of His
Lordship in all ways and all areas of our lives. The desire and burden of our hearts is that
those who have not bowed the knee before Him might do so now in time while You
graciously give opportunity. And in it all we give praise to You and to Your Son who is
supreme over all. We pray in His name, amen.
This file was converted from Adobe PDF format to HTML by Tony Capoccia of Bible Bulletin Board (BBB). Permission was received from Indian Hills Community Church for the conversion and the posting on BBB. Our gratitude to the Holy Spirit for a church that preaches/teaches messages that are bold and doctrinally sound—they are so needful to this generation.
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