The Credentials of a Saviour
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 it’s 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 points various points goes inverted. I would hope that the person who straps you 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 Saviour, 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. They were being influenced by Jewish legalism, mysticism and Gnostic beliefs about the body not being important, just the spirit. So Paul speaks to them about redemption, we looked at that last week. He talked about this Redeemer 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 Redeemer, the only One who brings forgiveness of sin. 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 absolutely essential credentials for such a person? Turn with me 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. We remember that passage from Isaiah 55:8 where God says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” God is unknowable and yet Jesus not only knows God, He is God and is able to a great degree make Him known to us. 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 manifestation. The full presence of God is in Christ, He is the image of the invisible God referring to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. As such Jesus is called the firstborn, the one of authority over all creation. If there is to be credential that the Messiah ought to have it is that He be God so that He can make God known as no earthly man ever could. In this sense the first credential of the Savior is that He be the great Revealer of God.
II. He Not Only Ought Be the Savior of the World, He Ought To Have 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 that unlike all other materials 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? Did you know that the earth travels around the sun about eight times the speed of a bullet fired from a gun? The unseen aspects of creation are around us and even in us. Paul even makes reference to angels as being part of the invisible creation, the structure or their authority is mirrored in ours, thrones, dominions, powers and authorities. 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 the 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 ever known or observed, but God has and He delights in it, it was created for Him. Our Savior is the Creator.
III. He Not Only Ought Save the World, He Ought Also Be Able to Sustain It.
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 it should be He who can keep it together. What force has God used to hold things together, to keep planets in their orbits, to keep our bodies working? There’s a great speaker by the name of Louis Gigliano that speaks about what it means to see Jesus as the one who holds all things together. Have a look at this http://youtu.be/F0-NPPIeeRk . The Savior ought also to be the Sustainer.
IV. This Revealer, Creator, Sustainer Is Our Resurrecter.
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 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. 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 also 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. This Savior is our Resurrecter, sitting at the right hand of the Father in whom all the fullness of the God head dwells.
V. This Resurrecter, This Jesus 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. 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!” This Jesus has reconciled us, 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 Resurrecter, and our perfect Reconciler.