Colossians 1:16(2)

Sermon preached on March 16, 2014 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

Marg had a wonderful father—one of the best men I ever met. He was nice to everyone. He once told one of his nieces that if she ever had any problem, to let him know and he would help her. I don't know if she ever took him up on it while he was alive but eventually Marg's father died. Sometime after he died that niece lost her cat. She put him out one day and he didn't come back. After looking for him for several days she decided to make a trip to Marg's father's grave and ask him for help in finding her cat. So that's what she did. She went to Uncle Nelson's grave and said a prayer to him there and asked him to help her to find her cat. When she went home her cat was on her front step.

Unbelievable. I'm glad she found her cat but the timing was very unfortunate because she thinks that Uncle Nelson helped her. But of course he didn't. The Bible doesn't tell us to pray to deceased people. It doesn't tell us that they help us. The Bible tells us to pray to God alone. When Jesus taught us to pray He told us to pray to God the Father. "Our Father, which art in heaven. 1 Timothy 2:5 says,

"For there is one God
and one mediator between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus…"

Some Roman Catholics pray to St. Christopher when they lose things. He's the patron saint of lost things. Linda was telling us last week that she knew someone who lost a contact lens while they were on the beach. Linda thought that her friend would never find it. But her friend said a prayer to St. Christopher and wouldn't you know it—she found her contact in the sand.

Coincidences like that can lead people astray. But the Bible doesn't tell us to pray to favorite uncles, or to the saints—but only to God alone. One of the problems with praying to someone other to God is that no matter how good our motive—it ultimately takes us away from God and focuses us one someone else. It takes glory that properly belongs to God and puts it elsewhere.

Our text shows us that in matters like that, our focus should be specifically on Jesus Christ. Last week we saw that everything was created 'in Him', in Christ. This morning we are going to focus on the second part of verse 16, the fact that

"all things were created by him…"

Again, this emphasizes the preeminence and the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ. Douglas J. Moo tells us that this final part of verse 16 describes Christ as, (Colossians, PNTC; p. 123, 124)

"the beginning and end of creation. Christ stands at the beginning of creation as the one through (dia) whom all things were created." "Christ stands at the 'beginning' of the universe as the one through whom it came into being, and he stands at its end as the goal of the universe."

So this is equivalent to Jesus saying that He is the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega.

Christ is the beginning since,

all things were created through Him.

It's very similar to what we are told in Hebrews 1:2. It says,

"in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,
whom he appointed heir of all things,
and through whom he made the universe."

We see the same principle in John 1:3. It says of Jesus, the Word,

"Through him all things were made;
without him nothing was made
that has been made."

And our text says that all things were created by Him, or 'through' Him. He is the agent through which it came into being.

This shows us His place in relation to creation.

With regard to creation He is over it. He has a place of all-embracing significance with respect to all that is in heaven and earth. He is Lord over creation.

All things were made through Him.

He has absolute supremacy over everything created.

To drive this home to us Paul lists certain things. He wrote,

"For in him all things were created:
things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or powers
or rulers or authorities; all things
were created by him and for him."

There are three groups here. The first, heaven and earth— this is a common Biblical figure of speech to refer to the entire universe. The second, visible and invisible, is perhaps a restatement of the first pair again in a chiastic arrangement (heaven = invisible; earth = visible). (Moo, Colossians, p. 121) By including the invisible Paul covers much more than the visible universe—all spiritual powers, forces and invisible things are included.

The third group, thrones, powers, rulers, authorities probably refer to spiritual beings. 'Thrones' is used of both earthly and spiritual rulers in Scripture. But because the three things that follow are used in Scripture to refer to spiritual beings—a lot of commentators think that all four of them refer to spiritual powers. We see this usage in Ephesians 3:10 where the reference is clearly to spiritual powers. Paul wrote about how grace was given to him,

"His intent was that now, through the church,
the manifold wisdom of God should be made known
to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,"

It is also clear here that Paul includes all spiritual beings—both good and bad angels. In Ephesians 6:12 some of these terms clearly refer to evil angelic powers. Paul writes,

"For our struggle is
not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the authorities,
against the powers of this dark world
and against the spiritual forces of evil
in the heavenly realms."

But obviously good angels are included as well. Paul asserts Christ's supremacy over the entire angelic realm.

The point is that everything is under Jesus and is to serve Him. No intermediary, no matter how exalted, should take us away from giving glory and honor to Jesus.

Everything must be focused on God through Christ. No intermediary is allowed to intrude. The angel who was showing John glorious things in the book of Revelation knew this. When the apostle John was so overawed that he fell down at the feet of the angel to worship him, the angel said, (Revelation 19:10)

"Do not do it!
I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers
who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!"

Nothing is to stand between our prayers, our worship, our service and God. Jesus also told us about this in regard to our good works in Matthew 5:16. He said,

"let your light shine before men,
that they may see your good deeds
and praise your Father in heaven."

Even when our works are great, we dare not intrude between other people and their praise of God.

The context of Colossians shows us this as well. Later in the book of Colossians we learn there a heresy had infected the church at Colossae. From Colossians 2:18 it is clear that part of it involved the worship of angels. We're not told much about this heresy, but F. F. Bruce tells us that the heresy could have involved the belief that angels, or other lords, (Colossians, p. 167)

"controlled the lines of communication between God and man, all revelation from God to man and all prayer and worship from man to God could only reach its goal through their mediation and by their permission."

Bruce speculates that these heretics believed that on His way to earth Christ relinquished successive portions of His power to these lords, as He passed through their spheres on His way to earth and that His death proved that He was inferior to them. Douglas J. Moo writes, (Colossians and to Philemon, PNTC; p.123)

"The existence of spiritual beings of various sorts and their critical impact on the affairs of human beings were fundamental components of the ancient worldview. This belief was apparently an important catalyst for the Colossian false teaching, and Paul's emphasis here on Christ's supremacy to these powers reminds the Colossians that they are utterly unable to rival Christ in any way."

Christ is pre-eminent. He is over everything. Everything, angels, archangels, principalities and powers—they are all under Him. It's in Christ that the fullness of the Godhead dwells. (verse 19) In Colossians 2 Paul makes it clear that angels are not mediators between God and man—that God's people have direct contact with Him, with Jesus. He stresses that we are 'in Him' and that we have direct access to Jesus, the Head of the church. This is clear from 2:18-19.

"Do not let anyone who delights in false humility
and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize.
Such a person goes into great detail
about what he has seen,
and his unspiritual mind puffs him up
with idle notions.
He has lost connection with the Head,
from whom the whole body,
supported and held together
by its ligaments and sinews,
grows as God causes it to grow."

Christians have a direct connection with the Great Head of the church, Jesus Christ. They need no mediator between them and Christ. Indeed there cannot be. Jesus is the only mediator between God and man.

Christ is preeminent. He is absolute Lord over all creation, including angels and other spiritual beings. Even evil powers are subject to God. They try to usurp glory and praise that properly belongs to God. We must not allow it. Christ is preeminent over creation. We must be focused on Him and His glory.

Now what does all this mean for us?

First, if you're not a Christian, this means that

you owe your existence to Jesus and you should be serving Him.

In Isaiah 1:2–3 we read,

"Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the LORD has spoken:
'I reared children and brought them up,
but they have rebelled against me.
The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner's manger,
but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.'"

That's what you're doing right now. According to that anyone who doesn't serve God who made them doesn't have the sense of a donkey. Think about that. If you're not serving Christ that's what you're like.

Repent of your sin. Repent of your disobedience. Go to Jesus and find life. Serve your great Creator. Give Him glory, honor and praise.

Go to Jesus for salvation.

He's the only One that can save you. He is both God and man. As God, as the One through whom all things were created—He has the power to save you from Satan and the spiritual forces of evil.

Salvation is through Jesus. We are not saved by our good works, by our efforts to do good, by our sincerity or anything else. We are saved by Jesus and His work. He died on the cross for our sins, as our substitute. We were dead in trespasses and sins. We were lost, unable to save ourselves. Jesus, the King of Glory, came to this earth just over 2000 years ago and took our nature upon Himself. He was sinless. So He took our sins upon Himself and paid the price for the by dying, for the wages of sin is death. He then rose from the dead. It is through Him that we have the forgiveness of sin, a place in God's family and eternal life.

Salvation is 'through Him'. He did it all. He is the Lord of salvation. We have to believe, we have to have faith, but even faith is a gift of God. Salvation is through Him. He is the Lord of the church.

In the same way, since creation was through Him, He is the Lord of creation. This means that He has the power to save you. The One who is the Mediator of life to all creatures is the One who offers you salvation. He's the only One who has power to save you. Only in Him is life. Go to Him today.

Secondly, for Christians,

you should have great confidence in the power and ability of our Savior Jesus.

Jesus is absolutely preeminent. He is over everything. Everything else is under Him. Herman Ridderbos writes, (Paul, An Outline of His Theology, p. 389)

"outside or above God nothing or no one has existence or power."

This means that

your faith in God and His promises ought to be unbounded.

The Children's Catechism states,

"God can do all His holy will."

His power in creation is not limited. He can do what He promises. He will do what He promises. Trust Him to do that.

When Abraham was 99 years old He was told that he was going to have a son through Sarah who was 89 at the time. Sarah was well past child bearing age. Abraham and Sarah's bodies were as good as dead. But Abraham believed what God said. As we read in Romans 4:18–21

"Against all hope,
Abraham in hope believed and
so became the father of many nations,
just as it had been said to him,
So shall your offspring be.
Without weakening in his faith,
he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—
since he was about a hundred years old—
and that Sarah's womb was also dead.
Yet he did not waver through unbelief
regarding the promise of God,
but was strengthened in his faith
and gave glory to God,
being fully persuaded that God had
power to do what he had promised."

Later, when God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, he believed that God could raise Isaac from the dead. We read, (Hebrews 11:17–19)

"By faith Abraham, when God tested him,
offered Isaac as a sacrifice.
He who had received the promises
was about to sacrifice his one and only son,
even though God had said to him,
'It is through Isaac that your offspring
will be reckoned.'
Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead,
and figuratively speaking,
he did receive Isaac back from death."

What seems impossible to us is possible to our Creator.

In Psalm 105 we are told that God sent someone to Egypt to prepare salvation for His people. Who did He send? Joseph? How did He send Him? Aren't these words of Psalm 105:17–22 incredible?

"and he sent a man before them—
Joseph, sold as a slave.
They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons,
till what he foretold came to pass,
till the word of the Lord proved him true.
The king sent and released him,
the ruler of peoples set him free.
He made him master of his household,
ruler over all he possessed,
to instruct his princes as he pleased
and teach his elders wisdom."

When the Israelites were hemmed in by the Red Sea—Moses had faith in God. He told the Israelites to just be still. Many of the Israelites were terrified. They said to Moses, (Exodus 14:11–12)

"Was it because there were no graves
in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?
What have you done to us
by bringing us out of Egypt?
Didn't we say to you in Egypt,
'Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians'?
It would have been better for us
to serve the Egyptians than
to die in the desert!"

Moses had faith. He said to them, (Exodus 14:13–14)

"Do not be afraid.
Stand firm and you will see the deliverance
the LORD will bring you today.
The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.
The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."

Christians—the One who is your Savior, the One who leads you and keeps you, the One who is leading you—He is the One through whom all of creation was made. Who can thwart His will? No One.

Is anything too hard for Him? Isn't that what the Lord asked Abraham when Sarah doubted when she heard that she was going to have a baby. Christians. Trust Him. Have great faith in Him.

He created us. He redeemed us. He came and died for your sins. He gave you faith. He gave you salvation as a free gift. He controls all things. He's not going to abandon you. Trust Him.

Thirdly, knowledge of the preeminence of Christ in creation is

the basis for Christian comfort and hope as well.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, can keep us. Romans 8:35–39 says,

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution
or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written: 'For your sake we face death
all day long; we are considered
as sheep to be slaughtered.'
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors
through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Jesus is Lord over creation. What confidence this should give you.

The fourth thing we see from this is that

everything and everyone should be worshipping God.

Creation, understood properly, compels worship. We see this in Psalm 148. (1–5, 7-13)

"Praise the LORD from the heavens,
praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels,
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.
Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for he commanded and they were created.
Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and
all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,
kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,
young men and maidens, old men and children.
Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens."

All creation should be praising God. In Scripture there are great connections between creation and worship. (John Frame, p. 186)) God's work of creating the world in six days was the pattern for Adam and was followed by a day of rest, a day of worship. According to Isaiah 66:1 God made the heavens and earth to be His temple. (God compared the created world to Israel's temple.) In Lystra and Athens the apostle Paul told people that since the true God had created all things they should not worship idols. (Acts 14:15; 17:24-25) Creation is a cause for worship. Nehemiah 9:6

"You alone are the Lord.
You made the heavens, even the highest heavens,
and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it,
the seas and all that is in them.
You give life to everything, and the
multitudes of heaven worship you."

We see this same connection in Romans 11:36. Paul wrote,

"For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen."

This means that we should have a great evangelistic viewpoint that should control all our interactions with unbelievers. We are to be good witnesses to them so that they will serve Jesus.

Lastly, for Christians, I ask you,

how devoted are you to Jesus?

You were made by Jesus. Is your life dedicated to Him and His glory? Is He first in your life? Are you serious about glorifying Him? Is He everything to you?

If you can't answer with a resounding 'yes' to those questions—you need to change. You were made for Jesus. Serve Him. Serve Him well.