Description / Transcription
I have just a brief word of meditation for you. I know that our time is short.
It is literally written on the walls in this building. You can see it. Don’t go out and look at it now, but I hope you’ve noticed it before in the main lobby as you walk in, reading like a banner over us as you walk into the sanctuary: “That in everything Christ might be preeminent.”
That has been a kind of unofficial theme verse for Christ Covenant. You only have to look around this room and you see all of the crosses, seven of them. You can see them there in the four doors in the back. You can see them on your bulletin every Sunday. A reminder to us that in everything Christ might be preeminent.
The word translated “preeminent” is a Greek word, “proteuon.” It means preeminent, supremacy, all surpassing. You could perhaps translate it as “first place.”
In everything, Christ doesn’t just get a spot on the podium, doesn’t just get a ribbon. He’s not just really important. He’s not tied with anyone or anything else. First place in everything, always, forever.
The passage comes from Colossians chapter 1: “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, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the Church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent. For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross.”
If ever there were a passage that piles up, phrase after phrase, sentence after sentence, to tell us why Christ deserves to be preeminent, it is this passage. He’s the image of the invisible God. He makes seen the God who cannot be seen.
Firstborn over all creation. That doesn’t mean that the Son of God was born, that He was a created being, but rather that the Son is the climax of the history of creation and that as He entered into this world as a human being, to be born of the Virgin Mary, He was a kind of starting point for a new creation.
All things were by Him, or in Him. That is, everything was made with reference to Christ. All things were made through Christ. He’s the divine agency by which God created all things. God spoke and it came into being.
And all things were made for Him. That means the exultation of Christ is the telos, that is, the end, the final and ultimate goal of the universe. If you ever read the newspaper, or look at the news on your phone and wonder what in the world is going on, here’s what’s going on: God is working all things for the exultation of His Son.
He is before all things and in Him all things hold together. That means He’s the Lord of creation, the Lord of redemption. He brings together in His person the work of the pre-incarnate Christ and the incarnate Christ and He gathers to Himself a people.
He is the head of the body, the Church. So as the head He gives us life and purpose. He is our authority. He gives us direction.
He’s the firstborn from the dead, meaning He has been granted all rule and authority.
He is the fullness of God. That is, all of the attributes and activities of God are perfectly displayed in Christ toward this purpose, that He might reconcile to Himself all things, a new heaven, a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
You can almost get lost in the wonder and the grandeur of this passage. We don’t have time to go any more detail, but simply think for a moment how in this one glorious paragraph, in this magnificent Christology, are tied together all of the great themes of systematic theology.
You know in systematic theology you have different loci or loci, if you are really pronouncing the Latin correctly, different themes, categories. Theology proper, that is, the doctrine of God and His works.
Well, here we see the character of God, the attributes of God, the being of God are manifested in the flesh in His Son, and in the doctrine of creation the Son is the agency. So all of these glorious truths of theology proper are found expressed in this Christology.
Think about anthropology, the doctrine of man. What does it mean to truly be human? What is the intention and the goal of being made in the image of God? Well, we see it with the Man, the God-man, Jesus Christ.
Soteriology, the doctrine of salvation. Here in Christ are consumed redemption, the cross, atonement, death and resurrection.
We could talk about ecclesiology, the doctrine of the Church. Well, in Christ He is the head, we are the body. We find our purpose in our life, in our sustaining grace in Him.
And the very last topic is eschatology, the doctrine of last things, and here, too, we see in Christ, He is the firstborn from the dead, He is the firstfruits of a new humanity, of our blessed resurrection, of the coming new heavens and the new earth.
All of the glorious theology of God’s Word can be found in this Christ, and in Him He must find preeminence.
And if Jesus, if Christ is preeminent, then it means I am not, you are not, no pastor is preeminent, no elder, deacon is preeminent, no gifted Bible study women’s leader is preeminent. If Christ is first place, it means politics is not preeminent. No mission or missionary. No line item in the budget. It means America, or whatever country you come from, is not first place. It means no ministry, no matter how big and how proud we are of Covenant Day School or Campus Outreach, they don’t get first place. This building certainly does not get first place. No book, no theologian, no session, no diaconate, no staff member. Only Christ is preeminent.
Notice He is preeminent not just in some things, everything. That means He is not just preeminent on Sundays. I hope that’s true for your life. Not just when we gather in this building does Christ get first place. Not just in the Church. Not simply when it is convenient. Not just when you’re young and desperate for help or when you’re old and looking to life after death. No. At every stage and every step.
Not only for those who know Jesus now but for everyone, whether you have bowed the knee to Christ or not, He is not up for election. It is not up for debate. In everything, Christ must be preeminent. Proteuon. First place.
There are sinners in this church, there are sinners behind this pulpit, and we have a history of many high moments, and we have a history of some low moments. Every church does. But I think it is true, by God’s grace, that it has been the history of Christ Covenant that in everything, certainly not in every heart at every time, not in this heart at all times, but over the sweep of 40 years, that Christ has been given first place. I think that has been our history.
I trust that is true of us now, in the present, from the songs that we sing, the ministries that we do, the missionaries we support, the preaching that comes from this pulpit, and I pray, and I hope you pray as well, that it will be true in the future. Whether the Lord grants Christ Covenant four more years, four more decades, or four more centuries, we pray that in everything Christ would be preeminent.
And if not, if that is not to be the preaching from this pulpit, if that is not to be the legacy and the heartbeat of this church and of her members, then may Christ remove from us this lampstand. It would be better for this church to fold up, close its doors, than to lose its first love, than to lose its anchoring in the infallible, inerrant Word of God, than to lose its passion for Christ and Him crucified.
So let us resolve as God gives us strength that just as it has been, gloriously so in the past, we pray that it will be now in the present, and will be in the future, as long as God gives us breath and as long as the Lord gives to this church ministry, that in everything Christ might be preeminent.
Let’s pray. Father in heaven, it is our prayer. We simply offer it before You. We want You to have first place. That’s what You deserve, nothing less. None of us deserve preeminence. In our saner moments, none of us want preeminence. We want Christ. He’s the One on the throne, He’s the One who died for our sins, He’s the One who rose again, He’s the One who’s coming again to judge the living and the dead. We would be fools if we did not put the One who sits on the throne in heaven to sit on the throne of our hearts, and to be in first place in this church. May it be so, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.