Christ, the Sphere, Agent and Goal of Creation

Is Christ sufficient for our lives as believers right now?  Having embraced the Gospel, is our Head sufficient in the midst of this ongoing warfare between Spirit and flesh?  Or, shall we turn to other supplemental things to help us in the way of holiness, to cope with this reality that we live everyday called life?  Do you here the cry of legalism – come back to me, come back to the law, to rules, to asceticism, to the worship of angels?  No?  Are you not inclined to diet, to live by a moral code, to deny yourself good desires, to depend upon your preacher for spiritual food?  And if you persist in them, do you not find yourself riddled with guilt or feeling less spiritual, less “saved” when you have broken them?  And do we not set these alongside Christ so that we feel more holy, even more biblical?  

The Colossian church dealt with these sorts of questions.  They were being taught that Christ was good, but not the fullness.  It was Christ plus something else for spiritual victory.  Christ was not sufficient, and as they embraced such philosophical views and the worldly remedies that were offered to them in His place, they were driven back to the law and away from the Gospel.  It is for this reason that Paul offers Colossians 1:13-20.

John Calvin, in his Colossian commentary wrote,  “(Paul) enters upon a full delineation of Christ.  For this was the only remedy for fortifying the Colossians against all the snares, by which the false Apostles endeavored to entrap them – to understand accurately what Christ was. . . .There is nothing Satan so much endeavors to accomplish as to bring on mists with the view of obscuring Christ, because he knows, that by this means the way is opened up for every kind of falsehood.  This is the only means of retaining as well as restoring pure doctrine – to place Christ before the view such as he is with all his blessings, that his excellence may be truly perceived,” (145-146).

Briefly, I would speak to Colossians 1:16 – “For in him all things were created – things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities, all things were created through him and for him.”  The following is an excerpt from recent thoughts:

The Eternal Son, who is the image of the invisible God, preeminent over the creation, is also the sphere, agent and goal of creation.  To these three thoughts – sphere (“in Him”), agent (“through Him”), and goal (“for Him”) do we now turn our attention as they are set forth in 1:16.

“For in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth.”  Christ is the sphere of creation, or more profoundly, it was the desire of the Father to create all things subsisting in Him.  So it is in God’s decree to redeem also, “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4).  Let it be noted that some commentators see an allusion to Genesis 1:1 in these words. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1).  This text, rather than saying “In the beginning,” says, “In Him,” and thus equates “the beginning” of Genesis 1:1 to “Him,” that is, to Christ in Colossians 1:16 (now go back and read Genesis 1:1!)  To this point, Bruce mentions that Christ is “the beginning” in this verse “in” which God created the heavens and the earth, and he defends this still further by the evidence of Colossians 1:18 wherein Christ is called “the beginning.”  He is preeminent over all things as Creator. 

Paul appears to take a step of application and qualification at this point to underscore the folly of the teaching of the false teachers.  For if Christ is Creator, then anything else is infinitely less than He, and equally less worthy of veneration.  Thus, the apostle, in elaboration of “all things” writes, “in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities.”  Davenant records that under the heading “heaven and on earth”, “the whole fabric of nature is comprised.”  Hereupon, “visible and invisible” is a chiastic elaboration upon “heaven and on earth,” such that whatever is imaginable in all the universe, indeed in all the heavens, seen and unseen, was created in Christ.  But with specific application does he still further point out all thrones, dominions, rulers and authorities.  For these false teachers were seeking to bind the Colossians again to things visible and invisible, food, drink, festivals, asceticism, and to the worship of the angelic realm (Col 2:18).  Without any further explanation, it matters not whether the angel be the highest of the good, Michael or Gabriel, or the lowest of the bad, Satan himself, Christ as Creator, the Eternal Son is infinitely above all spiritual powers.  He is their Sovereign Lord and the One who by His cross disarmed and triumphed over these evil authorities, whereby the folly of the false teachings is exposed.  

“All things were created through him.”  Christ is the agent of creation.  There is not anything made that was not made without reference to Him.  To be the agent of creation is to be the mediator of it.  Thus, just as Christ has a mediatorial role in redemption, so He had and continues to have in relationship to the creation as well.  Hebrews 1:2 affirms that it was through Christ that God created the world.  John 1:3 agrees that, “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”  Everything was made in relationship to Christ.  Nothing was made apart from Him, nothing exists outside of His sovereignty, nothing in all creation escapes His mediation, and thus He is uniquely qualified to direct the universe according to God’s redemptive plan consummated in Himself.  

“All things were created . . . for him.”  Christ is the goal of creation.  As the creation subsists in Him, is directed by Him, so it is sovereignly led to climax in Him.  Thus we say that His cross is the centerpiece of redemptive history.  Now we need to notice the binding of these which is this: the end for which the Son created the world was the Son.  This notion causes both creation and redemption to collide, indeed, at this point they coalesce.  For Christ is Creator and, as we shall see by that, uniquely qualified to be Redeemer.  It is no problem that we should place such an emphasis on the Son, for we are not taking away from the Father, but rather giving the Son His rightful place of enthronement.  Moreover, it is plain that in this regard, the Godhead is in agreement (Eph 1:10).

With this Christ, and these excellencies in view, excellencies which poured forth in the efficacy of His blood (Colossians 1:20), an efficacy that set us free from the enslavement of sin, the law, asceticism and man-made religion, all of which have the appearance of wisdom but are of no value in overcoming the indulgence of the flesh (Colossians 2:19), why would we turn from Christ to these creaturely things for salvation or holiness? The mystery of godliness my friends is the Incarnate Christ, His manifestation of the fullness of God to us, His being the tabernacling presence of God amongst us, and His authority to grant, to give, to pour out His Spirit in new and fresh ways for the purpose of our being conformed to His image. Christ is more than sufficient; He is God. Cling to Him!

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