The Credentials of the Savior
Text: Colossians 1:15- 20
Proposition: To grasp what Jesus is doing in Salvation you need to see all of Who He is as Revealer, Creator, Sustainer, Resurrecter and Reconciler.
Introduction: I was watching an ad for this amusement park in Ontario, it claimed that this was the most challenging ride in all of Canada. At its highest point you’re over 300 feet high from which you went down an 80 degree drop, that’s almost vertical. It reaches speeds of up 136 Kph and at various points goes inverted. I would hope that the person who straps you in has had some training, that the one who actually runs it has credentials of some sort. Not only that but I’d really hope that the people who built it were credentialed engineers. The axiom could be that the greater the responsibility, task or purpose the higher the credentialing should be. Are they a surgeon, they ought to have high credentials, are they dealing with nuclear fusion, the credentials ought to be impeccable. The greater the task the higher the credentials, that’s how it works. What about the task of Messiah, the responsibility of the Savior, the purpose of the Christ, what kind of credentials ought there to be here? Apart from the basic skill sets of teaching, wisdom, purity and spiritual perception which characterize most messianic claims, if the Messiah is really going to be able to save your soul, pay for your sin, impute righteousness and not only show you the way but be the way, the truth and the life His credentials are going to have to go way beyond the earthly. It’s this kind of thinking that Paul was using when he wrote the letter to the Colossians. He talked about the measure of freedom we have through faith, love and hope in Christ. He talked about Jesus having the ability to take us from the kingdom of darkness and bring us into the kingdom of light. That’s why the very next thing he speaks of are the credentials of such a Savior. If you were to define what the credentials ought to be of the one who can save you eternally, save you from hell, forgive all your sins, transform your life…what would you put down as being essential credentials for such a person? Turn to Colossians 1:15-20.
I. He Ought Not Only to Know God, He Ought To Be God.
So Paul starts with this amazing statement, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” The word ‘invisible’ has the sense that not only is God unseen He is also unknowable. In essence it is saying that Jesus has come to earth to make the unknowable God known to all who seek Him. All other world religions are about man’s search for God. Christianity alone presents the truth of God reaching down to man, of God coming to man. The unknowable God was made known through Jesus teachings, miracles, wisdom and sufferings. Jesus alone claimed to be God, Jesus alone claimed do what only God could do, Jesus alone did what no other has ever done, He died and then rose again from the dead. These are traits of the unknowable God whose power and purpose exceed man’s. That word ‘image’ is the Greek word ‘icon’, it too has a couple of inferences. Not only does it refer to a likeness in image, like an icon on the computer screen looks like the program it is about to open, it also refers to manifested authority. The full presence of God is in Christ. As such Jesus is called the firstborn, the one of authority over all creation. Think for a moment what you know about this word ‘image’. You remember from Genesis that man was made in the image of God, a reference to the authority and responsibility of man to have dominion over all the earth patterned after God’s authority. You remember that man was commanded to have no graven or shaped images, the penalty for doing so was severe. That was because any such image would amount to a lie of Who God really is and therefore who man is really is. You’ll remember that in days to come the antichrist will set up an image and give it the power to speak, commanding people to bow down and worship it. (Rev.13:15) God’s intention and plan from the very beginning, knowing beforehand the fall of man into sin, purposed a restoration of the image of God in man. Romans 8:29 says, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”. Which means that God has intentioned a great revision in mankind through Christ. Listen to 1 Cor. 15:49, “And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man”. The incredible truth is that as Jesus is the image of the invisible God and we are now being made to be like Christ as the image bearers God had originally established in Adam. In this sense the first credential of the Savior is that He be the great Revealer of God.
II. He Is Not Only the Savior of the World, He Created It In the First Place.
So Paul states, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, whether visible of invisible…”. When we think of creation we begin with what we can see or touch, trees, water, people, birds, animals… but creation is so much more. It’s the unseen aspects of creation that outweigh the visible. Take a molecule of water for instance, the unseen property of water is unlike all other. It can absorb a lot of heat without changing form, when it freezes it actually becomes less dense than it’s liquid state which is why ice floats in water. This simple unseen dynamic of water enables our oceans to be heat absorbers of the planet, ice to be the storehouse and the action of tides caused by the moon to be what keeps the oceans moving and oxygenated for life to be. Or did you know there are more insects in one square mile of rural land than there are human beings on the entire earth? The unseen aspects of creation are all around us and even in us. This is more than intelligent design, this is the signature of the Creator. If there is to be a credential for the Savior it is that not only can He save this world, He created it in the first place. Who better knows how to fix something than the One who made it. Then Paul adds this idea, “All things were created through Him and for Him.” What this refers to is the way creation occurred, the theological term is ‘Ex Nihlo’, out of nothing. It means that the Jesus created the world out of no prior existing material but rather out of His ability as God to create. Through His spoken Word, light was, through His creative Word the heavens and the earth came into being, animals, sea life, birds, wind, planets, solar systems. The creative capacity of God shapes and multiplies electrons, atoms, quarks, planetary systems, blood vessels and DNA strands. It was created through Him and for Him. There are some aspects of creation that no man has yet known or observed, but God has and He delights in it. Our Savior is also the Creator.
III. He Is Not Only Savior and Creator But Is Also Able to Sustain All Things.
Have you ever built anything, a garage, a sweater, field of grain, a smooth running engine, a family? If you have you’ll know that building it is one thing, keeping it together, keeping it running, making it grow, guiding it’s steps … that’s quite another thing. The credential of our Savior is that not only should He be able to create but also He should be able to keep it together. What force has God used to hold things together, to keep planets in their orbits, to keep our bodies working? Did you know that the tectonic plates beneath the earths crust are directly associated with the planets ability to maintain the presence of water? Did you know that Jupiter is perfectly positioned to protect the earth from all kinds of space debris? From the macro to the micro, all matter is made up of atoms. Every atom at its core has protons and some neutrons. The protons having the same electronic charge ought to repel each other and make the nucleus explode but a hidden force, called by scientists as ‘the strong force’, overrules that and keeps the protons together. The strong force keeps the electrons in every atom from simply collapsing in attraction to the positively charged protons. Scientists estimate that the strong force is 6,000 billion, billion, billion, billion, times more powerful than gravity. The strong force that binds atoms is the design of God and it is by His power that all atomic structure is sustained. The Savior ought also to be the Sustainer.
IV. This Savior, Creator, Sustainer Is Also Our Resurrector.
The next great credential of our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ is based on how He saves us. He doesn’t do it from a distance, He doesn’t do it with kind words, He doesn’t do it with the blood of other people or creatures nor with our well intentioned works. He saves us by coming into this world as a human being, with arteries and veins, bones and sinew. He comes born of a virgin, completely God and completely man, with a heart and lungs that need air to breathe yet is without sin in His very nature. He lived as One of us for 30 years and then at the perfect time presented Himself as the One who would die in our place because of sin. Not only did He die for us, He also rose from the dead for us, He is the first born from the dead, He opened the way for us His human companions to experience forgiveness of sin in Him and then through death to be with Him, even to one day experiencing the resurrection of our own bodies. By His Word, the oceans give up the dead that in them, by His command the graves are opened up and the souls of the dead in Christ are reunited with their physical, regenerated bodies. (1 Thess 4) He makes His own resurrection the template for our resurrection. This Savior is our Resurrector.
V. This Savior, Creator, Sustainer, Resurrector Is Now Our Reconciler.
I like the word order that is in the King James version, it’s different than all the other translations in that it puts the ‘peace through the blood of the cross’ before the term ‘reconcile’. Literally it follows the Greek structure saying, “And having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” You see the word ‘reconcile’ means, “to bring back a former state of harmony” which is really the essence of what this peace is. The blood of His cross reconciled us to the point of being in relationship with God like Adam was before the fall, except better. Where Adam once lived eternally in Innocence we now we will live eternally in Grace. By the precious blood of our Lord, blood both full of life and yet a sinless life, blood like that of no ordinary man, for this was no ordinary Savior, by this blood we are reconciled, brought back to a former state of harmony. From the mouth of a hostile witness, the very best witness there is, came these words from the centurion who stood at the cross as Jesus died, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” The centurion almost had it right, but he couldn’t yet see that this man IS the Son of God. Jesus can reconcile us because Jesus is alive, Jesus IS. This Jesus has reconciled us by the blood shed on the cross. It is He who has brought us back to a former state of harmony with God. The credentials of a Savior are met only in Jesus Christ, the Revealer of God, the Creator of the World, the Sustainer of all things, the great Resurrector, and our perfect Reconciler. This, this is Christ the King!