Preeminence of Jesus

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Today we’re going to study this idea of creeds. And I’m going to invite you to turn to Colossians chapter one. We’re going to pick up in verse 13. And the reason we’re studying the Creed today is because Paul has inserted a hymnal Creed in Colossians chapter one. He does it again in Colossians chapter two. And in fact, your Bible is really full of them When you study early church history, tradition, when you study Old Testament, you’ll find there are lots of poetry songs written within Scripture. And the reason for that is because society was built on oral tradition to own any sort of paperwork. During this time period, you would have had to have been a wealthy individual. There weren’t printing presses, there wasn’t a Office Depot you could go to and pick up your sleeve of of paper from or your box of copy paper in to even create a piece of paper. It took a lot of tedious work and effort and it was expensive. And so in order for societies to understand teachings that were significant to them, they would develop creeds or hymns to sing to one another. And so they would pass their traditions and their identity in in oral ways of expression. And they would write these expressions in ways that were memorable. And so throughout your Bible, there are actually portions. You don’t see this in the in the English version of it, but there are rhythmic portions of scripture that are expressed in creedal ways or hymnal writings, some of which Philippians chapter two, verse five, Paul wrote, Have this mind in you, which is also in Christ Jesus.

He goes on to describe Jesus, though being in the form of God took on the form of sinful man and humbled himself to death on the cross. He writes about a creedal statement in First Corinthians 15 I delivered to you, which I also received What Paul is saying in First Corinthians 15. Verse three is This is a statement the church has already been saying and I’ve received it and I’m passing it on to you. And so he writes it in First Corinthians 15. The same is true with Colossians chapter one. And so any time you get to a passage like this, you say to yourself, okay, this is such a significant place of scripture, because Paul is either writing this as a song for the church to sing or a creed for the church to remember and recite together, or this is already something the church has been doing, and Paul has written it down in Scripture for us. What really attests to the significance of this is Paul’s testimony. The validity of Jesus and who he is is really important to us as a church. It’s where we develop our identity as people. It’s what we stand for as a as a congregation. Paul when he’s writing this creed, if we give if we give credence to Paul and where he’s been in his life to the point of where he is writing this now, this really validates this text.

And the reason I say this is because, Paul, in Acts Chapter nine, if you remember his conversion story, he’s persecuting Christians, he’s killing Christians. Paul hates Christians. Paul on his way to persecute more Christians, encounters Jesus. His life is radically transformed to the point when he composes this letter to us. He’s in jail and his life is being threatened. In fact, the story tells us that Paul is released in Acts. We find out that Paul is in jail here. History tells us he’s released, he’s placed in jail again, and he ends up being beheaded for his faith in Christ. And so Paul is radically transformed. And the transformation that he’s experiencing, he expresses in this creed, there’s nowhere else in scripture that I think we can turn to that testifies more powerfully to the significance of who Jesus is than what this passage of Scripture says. This passage is highly important to us as a church, especially when you place it in the cultural context of American society Today, when you study American Christianity today, American Christianity is on the decline. The millennial generation is made up of a group of people between the ages of about 35 to 20. Today, if you study just that demographic, you’ll find that one third of that generation does not attend a church.

In fact, one third of them hate church. 20% are less than 20% of that even state that they are committed to Christ. So if you find yourself here this morning between the ages of 20 to 35, you are an anomaly within American Christianity and the church. Today. Paul writes a creed like this in the first century, not so. That just stands with the first century, but so that it’s present within the church for all centuries. And so what Paul says here he’s giving his life for he thinks it’s significant for the church to understand. Recently, researchers studied America and asking the question, what does American Christian, what does America believe today? Who is America’s God of Christianity is on the decline? And what they walked away with was this. After 3000 interviews from the University of North Carolina, they came to the conclusion that what America’s God actually is today is a moral, moralistic, therapeutic deism. And what that means is that they believe moralism. God. Us wants us to be good therapeutic gods here to make me happy and deism gods really not involved in our in our lives today. What Jesus tells us is far different from that. Jesus himself becoming flesh tells us he is not a deistic God, that God is very near. God cares. God loves you. In fact, God loves you so much that Jesus came even even for our sin.

God loves us in our sin and gave himself for us in that sin so that we can be reconciled to him. As it relates to Jesus, moralism breaks down. God, God in moralism. What we find is this this religious system that’s established that that that communicates to us, I should say, it communicates to us that you are good based on what you do. What Jesus communicates to us is that your value isn’t based on what you do. Because when you follow that system to the end, what happens when you encounter people that don’t do or can’t do? And what about unborn children? Where is their value placed? Is their value on what they do as individuals being unborn, not having a a a a system to merit favor moralism in that sense fails them. Worth for us when it comes to Jesus isn’t based on what we do. It’s based on what’s been done. Jesus has given his life for us and that displays our worth, which is where the therapeutic idea of God breaks down this moralistic therapeutic deistic God breaks down the therapeutic, God breaks down. This ends God. God is interested in your joy. In fact, the fruit of the spirit is joy. But joy in itself isn’t a isn’t an end. And what I mean is, you know, maybe you’ve recognized in your life you want to be a better husband.

You want to be a better mother. You want to be you want to conquer some character in your life that you feel like you’re short in. And when you make that an end in itself, you rob yourself of answering the question why? I mean, why even do that to begin with? Without an identity in God, you have no framework for establishing why you would even want to function that way. And so this therapeutic idea of God’s just interested in me makes me an end in myself. But here’s what’s true about God. God is the only being who finds the purpose for existence within himself. Meaning everything that’s created finds its purpose for its existence outside of itself. And so if you really want to find the joy for which you were created and the worth of who you are, it doesn’t start in you. It starts in the identity of the one who created you. And one of the things that we’ve really robbed our culture of today is how to understand ourselves as it relates to God, because our educational system is not established for us to think that way. And anyone who’s present, who teaches in public schools or is a teacher in general that loves God, cares about Him, you are the people we need to pray for, specifically for our future generations. Because the idea and the identity of who we are related to God really shares the value of who we are as people in God’s care for us.

And so we approach this creedal statement that Paul writes in this passage. It was great for the first century. It answered challenges the Colossian Church was facing. It’s great for this century. It answers challenges that we are facing. There is nowhere you’re going to go in life to experience a greater love than what God has given you in Christ. Meaning if you if you study religious systems today, religious systems are all about this. How you avail yourself to God, your value is found in how you avail yourself to God. What Christianity screams. This is your value is seeing how how God avails himself to you. Jesus has given everything for you that you may enjoy relationship for him for all of eternity. And the beauty of who Christ is, is is really experienced in this text of Colossians as Paul communicates it to us and our value is found as we relate to this, this, this word for creed that I think Paul is writing a creed here. This this creed was much of this passage of scripture finds itself in in the Apostles Creed, which was written early on in Christian church history. But this word creed literally means, I believe. And one of the things I think our generation lacks is something really to root itself in and to stand up on.

In fact, G.K. Chesterton, 80 years even before today, in 1936, he died. But he wrote this late in life as it relates to the modern man. And this is what he said. Listen to this. But the new rebel is a skeptic and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty. Therefore, he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything for all. Denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind. And the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. Thus he writes one book complaining that imperial oppression insults the purity of women. And then he writes another book in which he insulted himself. He curses the sultan because Christian girls lose their virginity, and then he curses Mrs. Grundy because they keep it. As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life. And then as a philosopher, that all life is a waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. In short, the modern revolutionists being an infinite. It is always engaged and undermining his own minds. In his book on politics, he attacks men for trampling on morality. In his book on ethics, he attacks morality for trampling on men.

Therefore, the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything, he has lost his right to rebel against anything. There are certain things in life in which we should stand for. G.k. Chesterton himself went on to write and said, The open mind is like an open mouth. When you find something solid, close it. It’s not to say God desires for us to be an ignorant people. In fact, Scripture speaks specifically against that. Love the Lord your God with all of your mind. God created your mind for His purposes. God wants you to know and grow. But God, in creating this world, created certain verifiable absolutes of which we should stand on as people, which makes creeds important, which makes passages of scripture like this significant to our lives, and which should challenge us that we should stand for something. And when we see something worth standing for, stand up on it. When Jesus is declared in this passage of Scripture, the value of who he is signifies the value of who we are. And unapologetically, unapologetically, we should stand for it. Because it not only shows us the value of who God is, but it determines the value of who we are and a world of people that are searching for something in themselves to find meaning when the answer to it is outside of us altogether in Christ and it’s on that backdrop.

Paul writes this story for us as an oral tradition for the church, but written that we could hold on to it for centuries to come, that we may proclaim the glory of who Jesus is in these moments. Paul writes This passage from jail, knowing statements so extreme could cost his life and in his culture were unpopular. In our culture today may be unpopular, but for us it is. It is the worth of who we are. It is the significance of the church and it is everything that we should be rooted in Jesus. And so this is what he says. And I’m just going to read us this passage and I’m going to break it down theologically for us so that we can understand what this verse or these verses say. Starting in verse 13, talking about Jesus, he says, For he rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created both in heaven and on Earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things have been created through him and for him. Verse 17, He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is also the head of the body, the church, and he is the beginning the firstborn from the dead, so that he himself will come to have first place in everything.

For it was the father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in him and through him to reconcile all things to himself, having made peace through the blood of his cross, through him, I say whether things on earth or things in heaven. To break this passage down. Paul begins by defining the salvation of who Jesus is. In fact, if you were to categorically think about it, let me give you this outline in redemption, Paul. Jesus is described in Colossians 113 to 14 in creation, verses 15 to 17in the church, verses 18 to 23. And then in Paul’s ministry, it concludes the rest of this chapter. But Paul, with boldness, is declaring this morning the significance of who Jesus is, not based on Paul and his authority, but based on Jesus and his authority before us. When we read a passage of Scripture like this, I want to I want to challenge our attitude when we take a verse like this, because the way we approach this verse in serving this world is highly important. This verse is not here to bash people over the head with this, this verse or this. This creed, this hymn, this section of writing is here to serve us. That we may understand Jesus as He desires to be made known. The Bible tells us he who worships Him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

We talked about last week in verse ten. It looked we looked at this in Colossians that when we worship God, we want to worship him as he has made himself known because none of us want to be misrepresented. None of us want to be maligned in our character. All of us desire that people know us as we desire to be made known right when it comes to you. You don’t want anyone talking bad about you. You don’t want people undermining you. You don’t want people ripping you apart or tearing you down. I think the same is true with Jesus, and the beauty of who he is is significant, and his identity is precious. That God would become flesh and die for us is important for us to understand and to cherish that, not to undermine it, but to see the value of what it is. And so he says in verse 13, as it relates to our salvation, for he rescued us from the domain of darkness. This idea of rescuing is for us to be taken from danger. That danger for us is the wrath of God because God is a Holy God and because God is a good God, God will judge sin. He cannot be a good God and avoid sin. Goodness demands judgment. If you were to come before a judge and a judge were to have a criminal in his courtroom and declare that that that court and that court that that criminal is guilty but not execute any punishment.

You who are wronged would look at the judge and say he is not a good judge. The wrath of God is against sin to escape the wrath we need. Rescued from the domain of darkness. Jesus rescues us from that danger from the wages of sin. The Bible tells us it is death. And it says this. He transferred. Transferred us. This word for transferred literally means deportation from one kingdom to the next. Jesus deports us from the domain of darkness and transfers us to his kingdom of the beloved son. We belong to a good king. His grace is demonstrated to us and explains how in verse 14, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. This idea for redemption is the word for ransom. It means to release a prisoner by making payment for them. When Jesus paid for your ransom on the cross, it tells us this that he forgave us, which literally means he canceled out your debt. You have the open opportunity to come before God at any moment because of what Jesus has done for you as you place your faith in Him. Christ created you for relationship in Him. You exist that you may know God and enjoy him for all of eternity to the glory of Christ.

Paul starts his passage, this chapter unapologetically in what Jesus has done. And then He He declares the significance of Christ not only as redeemer, but also as Creator. And he says this, in whom we have redemption. Excuse me. The forgiveness of sins. Verse 15. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. He is the image of the invisible God. Notice what it says about God. God is what? Invisible. When you study Scripture in John chapter four and verse 24, it says this. God is Spirit and Luke 24 and verse 39, it tells us a spirit has no flesh and bones. The Bible tells us in John chapter one, Jesus became flesh in John one and verse 14, the Godhead took on flesh in Christ, which is saying to us, If you want to see God, if you want to see the concern of God, if you want to see the character of God, if you want to see how God interacts in this world, look at Jesus. The Gospels declare the glory of Christ in coming in flesh, God becoming flesh coming for you. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. Now I want to be careful with the second phrase, the firstborn of all creation. Because what we tend to do as people when we approach phrases in our modern time is we attribute definitions related to our modern.

Earned day. And this word for firstborn does not mean Jesus was the first one born. This word for firstborn deals with the preeminence and and authority of Christ. When you study the word firstborn in scripture, it deals with the authority of an individual. Meaning if I were to go visit a home during the time of Jesus or before this and I wanted to speak to the one in authority, I would say, where is the patriarch? If the patriarch had passed, my next question would be then where is the firstborn? Because the firstborn was given the authority to represent the family. In this passage, when it’s referring to the firstborn, it’s declaring his authority. If you want an example in Scripture, I would tell you Psalm 89 and verse 27, King David is talking about his son, Solomon. Solomon is to take the throne of Israel. He’s to be the third king over the nation of Israel. Saul David Solomon. Solomon in this passage of scripture is referred to as the firstborn. Solomon, however, was not the firstborn child of David. Solomon was somewhere in the middle of David’s children, yet David attributes him as being the firstborn of his kingdom or of his family. Why? Because he’s given the authority to rule on behalf of King David. Jesus, in referring to him as the firstborn, is not saying Jesus is the firstborn. It’s declaring the authority of Christ. And if you’re asking still, how do we really know this? My answer is read the next verse.

Because what it says about Jesus in him being the firstborn of creation is how this came to be, where his preeminence and authority derives from. And so Paul says this for by him, all things were created both in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authority, all things have been created through him and for him. So when it comes to Jesus, Paul is very plainly saying Jesus created everything that exists both physically and spiritually heaven, angels, all of it created by Jesus. Anything in this world created by Jesus. This thought that Paul shares invisible, declares the the spiritual world. This visible declares the physical world, this thought of thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. When Paul would use these expressions, he would often use it in relation to the spiritual world. In fact, he said in the book of Ephesians chapter six and verse 12, we battle not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual spiritual powers of darkness, of rulers and authorities. Paul is talking about the spiritual world. Jesus created all of these things. Nothing then exists apart from Christ, because Jesus has made all things sometimes for fun. I like to say in Greek the word all means all, and that is all it means. Everything is under Christ. And so when you look at this word for first born, to just simply say Jesus is the first one born, not only alienates the identity of Jesus, but a completely undermines his authority as creator God.

Verse 17. Paul goes on from there in this creedal thought for the standing of the church, and he says he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is also the head of the body, the church, and he is the beginning the firstborn from the dead, so that he himself will come to have first place in everything. Again, Jesus is the one that holds this whole world together. Acknowledge him or not, The reason you’re allowed to exist in this world is simply because the grace of Christ allows you to do so. That is the type of authority Jesus carries. He is the head of the church. And so for the church to dis acknowledge or deny or demean or to take away from the authority of Christ is to undermine the very preciousness of who Jesus is. And then it goes on to say, He is the firstborn from the dead. Again, this word for firstborn Jesus wasn’t the first one ever resurrected. You can read the story of Lazarus. Someone Jesus resurrect himself. But what it means is that Jesus is preeminent over life. Once we go to the grave, Jesus is the one who has the authority to resurrect all all of us. He is the one by faith in him who will resurrect us in him for eternity so that it says this He himself will come to have first place in everything.

This word for first place means preeminence. He is the preeminent one. He is God. And so in verse 19, it goes on, for it was the father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in him. This idea for dwelling, it means this to be at home permanently. In fact, it goes further, not only to be at home permanently, it means to have always been at home permanently in him, the fullness of God dwells. In fact, Paul, as he declares this statement in chapter two of Colossians, then goes on to defend this statement and listen what he says in verse nine. For in him all the fullness of deity, which means God dwells in bodily form, verse 20 and through Him. To reconcile all things to himself, having made peace through the blood of his cross, through him, I say whether things on earth or things in heaven. All of creation, the Bible tells us groans. All of creation is affected. Affected by the curse of sin. We as people can sometimes approach this with hypocrisy. And let me let me let me tell you what what I mean. When things go well in life, we like to say, good job. I did that. When things go bad in life, we like to look at God and say, why did you do that? You know, it’s interesting when you study what this passage says to us, what Romans eight says to us when all of creation groans.

When you turn on the news and you see despicable things, that’s happening throughout the world and it grieves you. You aren’t acknowledging those things. Contrary to a God who doesn’t care. You’re acknowledging those things in a way that images a God who does care. And what I mean is Jesus cares about the curse of sin on this world. Jesus cares about those who are affected by sin. That’s why Jesus came. And so when bad things happen and you get upset. You’re not disagreeing with God. Jesus cares about sin. And the way that it affects you. In fact, Jesus desires to make peace. That’s why Isaiah chapter nine says this. He is he is the prince of peace. God desires to bring peace to our hearts, to this world, and to restore the brokenness. And as we place our trust in him, when that God pours wrath on sin to those that are acknowledging the beauty of Christ and placing their faith in Him, you see the justice meted out against a sin that has destroyed our world. Jesus cares. He cares so much for you that even in our sin, he offered a way to experience his grace for eternity. Because God didn’t create you to be a moral being.

That’s not the entirety of your existence. What God created you predominantly or predominantly for in him is your relationship to him that you would reflect his glory through that for the rest of eternity. God created you for relationship. God created you for his good purposes. Moralistic, therapeutic God or Deistic God that America worships today completely breaks down when you study the identity of Christ. If you think about this as it relates to Jesus, if you really think that life is about just doing the best you can. I mean, why would God create human beings who falter at it when he himself is better at doing it without you? He doesn’t need you to do it. God can make it and he can make it perfectly. If your primary purpose for existing is moralism and you have a God that can already do it better than you, that is pretty depressing. God created you for more than that. Or something greater than that. God created you that you may relate to him and understand in his image that He is bore his image upon you and you connect to him as God. And through that relationship you reflect the beauty of your Creator in this world. You get to connect to Creator God and enjoy him for eternity. He reconciles all things. To himself. Paul. In fact, as the passage goes on, shares about his own suffering and ministry.

He says in verse 23, If indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister. Listen, this is the pillar of what you stand for in pursuing Jesus unapologetically. In verse 24, Paul goes on and says this. Now I rejoice in my suffering for your sake and in my flesh. I do my share on behalf of his body, which is the church. In filling up what is lacking in Christ’s affliction. I mean, you think throughout the centuries the church has literally laid down its life to stand for this claim. And Paul in this passage says he’s giving his life for what is lacking in Christ’s affliction. What Paul is saying in this passage isn’t that Jesus is lacking. Jesus’s death is sufficient. We said this last week. But when we talk about Jesus, any time in life, we ever undermine the authority of what Paul has just said in Colossians. What we end up doing is creating religion in its place to to help met. What Jesus doesn’t make up for religious living makes up the difference. What Paul says is that Jesus alone is sufficient. And in verse 24, though, he does say he’s making or filling up what is lacking in Christ. What does he mean then, if Jesus is sufficient? In Acts Chapter nine, when Paul gives his life to Christ, it tells us he’s on the road to Damascus and Christ appears before him.

And the question Jesus asks is, Saul, why do you persecute me? What Paul is actually doing is persecuting the church. But the way that Jesus sees it is that Paul’s persecution is actually directed towards him. And the same is true in the body of Christ today, that there are places within the body of Christ where we are lacking. It’s not saying that Jesus is lacking, but what Paul is doing in serving is serving the body of Christ in a way that ultimately serves Jesus. And so we’re the body of Christ Lacks Paul wants to serve to make Christ known because Jesus alone is sufficient. And so Paul serves in this way. He shares this creed and this way so that we as the early church could take such a creed and stand for it and serve the church to serve the world. We don’t bash people over the head with this truth, but we get underneath of them and we serve them with the beauty of who Jesus is. One of my stories, one of the stories that I love in church history and American church history has to do with D.L. Moody. A parliament of religious leaders were coming to Chicago, getting national attention. It was in the late 1800s.

They were teaching on world religions. People interested in world religions are supposed to come to decide if they want to be a part of these religions and how all religions are the same. And they’re not. They’re not. They don’t they don’t believe their creeds are all different. But here they are in this parliament of world religions. And and D.L. Moody wants to share and he decides, you know what? When these teachings on religions end, I’m going to I’m going to take a different lecture halls and theatres and churches and I’m going to rent them out. And when these lectures are over, I’m going to then invite people into these lecture halls to proclaim to them and people who heard what Moody was going to do, they encouraged him. They said, when these lectures are over and you go to proclaim the gospel, you need to bash these religions, of which D.L. Moody said, I will not do that. But what I am going to do is when these people come out of these lecture halls into the presence of me who is going to proclaim the gospel, all I want to do is share the beauty of who Jesus is. If people in this world could just see the worth of who they are in light of Christ, that they’re not trying to avail themselves to a God, that they that that God be satisfied with them, but rather God has unveiled himself to them, that he loves them in their sin, that his their worth isn’t based on who or what they do.

Their worth is based on who he is, their identity in him that God has created them to love Him and lavish His glory on them for all of eternity. To see that God and savor that God to find their identity in that God. That is what’s freeing. That is why the early church spread so quickly throughout the Roman Empire. They go before slaves and before children and before women who are treated as as property, and they begin to proclaim the beauty of who they are in light of who Christ is, and to see that and to savor it amongst religions that teach your worth is based on what you do. It’s beautiful. D.l. Moody proclaimed that message. D.l. Moody is known as an historical evangelist in American church history. Really? In world history. But, you know, when you study the evangelism of D.L. Moody, history tells us at no point in his ministry did he see more converts to Jesus. And during the time that he rented these lecture halls to proclaim the beauty of Christ in the midst of the religious parliament that came to Chicago. We all approach a like this at different places in our lives. God doesn’t care what denomination you want to say you belong to when you enter into eternity. God cares if you belong to him.

God wants you connected to him. God cares about where you are in Jesus. God wants you to understand the beauty of who Jesus is. Find your values who of who you are based on him. There is nowhere you will go that will love you more. There is nowhere you could be that could give you a better identity than what Christ can. We should say, with tears in our eyes that the American church is declining. Having tasted the goodness of a society that was enriched in Christianity for so long, we have forgotten the beauty that we have held on to because it was founded upon Jesus. Paul says in verse 28. We proclaim. Admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom so that we may present every man complete in Christ. I don’t know where we get in society today that those who proclaim to follow Jesus are the ones that are considered unwise. But Paul in this passage says. That is wisdom. At every man. What he’s striving for would be complete in Jesus. That you would see yourself in Jesus as Jesus sees you for this purpose. Also, I labor striving according to his power, which mightily works within me. Paul is reiterating this again, and we said this last week, When it comes to faith, the power of your faith isn’t found in how much you wishfully believe in. Whatever you believe in is true.

The power of your faith is found in what you believe. And whether or not what you believe is true. It’s the authority of what you believe in and whether or not it can sustain. In Christ. Paul is saying Jesus sustains this work that works within him. It’s founded not in the strength of his faith, but in the God who has given the ability to even have faith in him because of what Jesus has done for him. And so with deep conviction, he shares this creed with the early church that they may hold on to it unapologetically. So that others can see their love. The love that God has had for them and has for them that they may come to embrace this Jesus who cares so tenderly for them. To love this world as Christ’s love. Or to love those in this world, I should say, as Christ loves. In the 1500s, there was this reformation taking place in Europe. It occurred in different places, different times throughout European countries. In the 1520s, it hit Scotland. In the midst of a church that was facing persecution. Man by the name of Patrick Hamilton was martyred in 1528 at the age of 24 because his conviction in Christ. George Wishart was martyred in 1546 at the age of 33 because his confession of Christ. George Wishart had a had a disciple named John Knox, who was imprisoned, placed on a rowing ship and exiled at one point in the 1550s away from Scotland.

It was during this time, but that a man named Walter Milne came on the scene in 1558. Milne was brought before a trial in which he was determined to be a heretic and condemned to die by burning at the stake. He was 82 years old. Milne received his conviction under Queen Mary, who you probably know in history as Bloody Mary. When you turn on the bathroom lights and do circles until you flip the lights back on. Right? Bloody Mary was notorious for persecuting the church. Killing hundreds of Christians. Million at 82 years old. History records us that he just ragged and ripped apart his body, barely made it to the stake in which he would be burned upon. And he confidently informed the crowd. The cause which I suffer this day is not for any crime laid to my charge, but only for the defense of the faith of Jesus Christ set forth in the Old and New Testament unto us. I praise God that He hath called me of His mercy among the rest of his servants to seal up his truth with my love, which, as I have received it of him so willingly, I offer it to his glory. Milne went on to say, From his ashes, a hundred ministers will come. John Knox, who was exiled at this time, talked of this execution and says man of decrepit age did so highly offend the hearts of all the Godly that immediately after his death began a new fervency among the whole people? It tells us in history he’s he’s he’s burned at the stake at 1558.

Within ten years, Scotland has over 250 ministers for the gospel in this land. By 1574, there were over 500 ministers in Scotland. You know, I’d like to say you could read that story and think that’s great for Scotland. What does it have to do with America? Well, here’s the prominence for America. The persecution in that area continued so much so that believers went to Geneva, Switzerland. They wrote the Geneva Bible, which is the first Bible in English that has study notes. They took that Bible to America, we call them today Puritans. The fire of persecution that was established in this area against Jesus is what led people to this land to found itself upon Christ. The Bible that we carry in our pews today is the new American Standard Bible, which is the predecessor of the Geneva Bible, which was carried in the blood of saints, who lived for the statement that we’re reading, Colossians Chapter one. The beauty of who Jesus is. Has been the anthem of the church. To undermine a statement. Of Christ. It’s to undermine the beauty of Christ. It’s not even Christ. You can put the name Jesus on it all you want.

But it doesn’t make Jesus. Today, our tendency is to take a God that satisfies us and to shape him into whatever form we want. And sometimes we even say, that’s Jesus and it’s not. Jesus, according to Colossians, is this He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created in heaven and on earth. If it’s visible or invisible, Jesus made it, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities, all things have been created through him. And he is for all things. And he, in all things, hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the father’s good pleasure, for all the fullness of the deity to dwell in him and through him, and to reconcile all things to himself, having made peace for us through the blood of his cross. Through him, I say whether things on earth or things in heaven. Anything less than that. It’s not Jesus. But Jesus has come that you may know Him and celebrate him and enjoy him forever, regardless of how unpopular it may make you. The beauty of who Christ is is the anthem of the church and the freedom of this world.