It is my pleasure, by request, to present the topic “ Setting Our Minds on the Church of Christ and the Peace from Christ ”. In attempt to simplify this topic in my mind, let me restate the topic in this way: “Who Is Christ and Who Were We”. It seems fitting to state it this way as we shall see a study of Christ cannot be truly separate from the Church and the peace He brings represents a transformation from the former state of man. The guidelines of examination require the primary text to be Colossians 1:18-29. As the text is examined, the role of Christ, man, the role of the apostle Paul, and the role of the Word of God will be laid forth. Furthermore, the analysis requires the inclusion of the following three concepts: First – The work of Christ bringing to the saints the peace from Christ. Second – The Church of Christ, the only church in prophecy. Third – We all must obey God and serve Him through the church to be saved. With these objectives in mind, let us tackle Colossians 1:18-29.
THE ROLE OF CHRIST IN THE CHURCH
Colossians 1:18-19 as read in the American Standard Version – ASV – (Utilized throughout this article unless otherwise stated) states:
“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all the fulness dwell;”
From these verses, the Role of Christ is put forth. He is the head of the Church. And what is the Church? The Church of God was established on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. It consists of those who repented from the perverse things of the world and were baptized in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38-41, 47). Verse 38 presents the requirements for entry in the Church, the reason for entry is expressed in both verse 38 and 40, and the destination is presented in verse 47 – “The Lord added to the Church Daily” (KJV).
To be head of the Church establishes Christ as the one with authority. In fact, Jesus has all authority over heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18). He has preeminence! He is judge of the living and the dead (Acts 10:42). Jesus will reward those faithful to Him (Revelation 22:12) and eternally destroy those ignorant and disobedient toward Him (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). The authority of Christ to the Church is described as that of a husband to his bride in Ephesians 5. The bride is subject to her husband in all things and he loves her. He gives himself up for her, cherishes her, leads her by the Word of God such that He presents her as holy and blameless. How is Christ able to do this?
All fullness dwells in Christ. This fullness is mentioned further in Colossians 2:9 – For now understand it as the nature of God. Within the flesh, Jesus had the power to control the wind and seas (Mark 4:41), cure all illnesses (Luke 4:40), Raise the dead (widow’s son, Synagogue Ruler’s daughter, Lazarus), prophecy his own death and resurrection among many other things (Mark 9:31), command spirits (Matthew 8:16), and forgive sin (Matthew 9:2). He himself was without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) and he was the perfect definition of all aspects of the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). In Christ’s eternal Deity of which there is no beginning or end, Jesus had no lack. This is what qualified Christ in the role as head of the Church, Husband, Shepherd, Savior, Physician, and Leader. There is only one head to every body and only one body which is the Church (Ephesians 4:4).
THE ROLE OF MAN IN THE CHURCH
Moving on to Colossians 1:20-23 we see the following words presented:
“and through him to reconcile all things unto himself, having made peace through the blood of his cross; through him, I say, whether things upon the earth, or things in the heavens. And you, being in time past alienated and enemies in your mind in your evil works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish and unreproveable before him: if so be that ye continue in the faith, grounded and stedfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel which ye heard, which was preached in all creation under heaven; whereof I Paul was made a minister. ”
Though information is provided about the work of Christ as Savior, we want to examine the role of man in these verses. Reconciliation reaches its goal when compatibility exists. That reconciliation exists only through Jesus’ bloodshed on the cross. Who needed this reconciliation? Man did. What needed reconciliation? The relationship between man and God! Man by his own choosing rejected the righteousness of God. By accepting sin in our lives, we separated ourselves from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). We became incompatible with God. Christ brought the opportunity for compatibility between God in heaven and man upon the earth with His sacrifice. Thus, man is able once again to return to the spiritual image of God. Yet, this is a conditional state which highlights the role of man. A great “if” in the control of man.
To continue to be compatible with God through Christ, man must stay in Christ. Man can reject this role and choose to return to his sinful ways or choose the role presented by the Gospel. But man cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). He cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons (I Corinthians 10:21). Rather the role of man in Christ must be as stated by Paul in Ephesians 4:14-16:
“that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ; from whom all the body fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part, maketh the increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love.”
Paul spoke those words to the Ephesians expressing how man is to operate within the body which is the Church.
THE ROLE OF PAUL IN THE CHURCH
Moving to our Colossians text, verses 24-26, describe Paul’s role as related to the Church.
“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church; whereof I was made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which was given me to you-ward, to fulfil the word of God, even the mystery which hath been hid for ages and generations: but now hath it been manifested to his saints,”
Paul was an apostle of Jesus, but like all men, he needed to be reconciled to God through Christ (Acts 22:16). He needed to be a Christian. This passage certainly establishes that God made Paul a minister of the Word and that Paul shared that Word. However, at its core is the reiteration of the role of man and Paul establishes in this he was not exempt. This passage states he was “filling up what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of the… church”. This does not in any way mean Christ was lacking in the affliction which he went through during his life in the flesh, including his ministry, trials, and crucifixion. Rather, Paul declares, as a Christian, he serves God with his best effort and endures the Christian destiny to aid the Church. What affliction must all Christians meet? We will be persecuted (Romans 12:14), hated (Matthew 10:22), and suffer (Romans 8:16-18). Christians will suffer in the name of Christ such that they will even cry from death to be avenged (Revelation 6:10). Was Paul put in a role that caused him to suffer more than most Christians? Yes. However, each Christian is called to pick up his own Cross in service of Christ (Luke 9:23) and for the love of others (2 Corinthians 8:8-9). Paul stated in I Corinthians 11:1, “Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ”. Paul’s role here, as stated in Colossians, provides further example for us.
THE ROLE OF THE WORD IN THE CHURCH
The Final portion of the Colossians text to be examined is verses 27-29:
“to whom God was pleased to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ; whereunto I labor also, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”
“[The Word of God] is suitable for doctrine, evidence, correction, and teaching that the man of God might be perfect, equipped for every Good work” (2 Timothy 3:16). In both Colossians and 2 Timothy the reference to the word “perfect” means complete. The Word of God provides the knowledge of Christ and thus all that is necessary for life and Godliness (2 Peter 1:1-3). When the perfect Word of God came, man was enabled to put away childish things (I Corinthians 13:10-11) and become a fullgrown man not carried away with every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:13-16).
Christ dwelling in us, in unity with us through the Word of God, making us compatible with God, gives us hope! The hope of Glory! The hope that heaven is real and we will be there with Him forevermore! God sent his son that we might have everlasting life (John 3:16)! Everlasting life has to be somewhere! Jesus dwells in heaven at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33). He has prepared a place where He dwells and He wants us there!
John 14:2-3 – “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and will receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
The Word of God provides this hope!
As we have finished our exegesis of our main text, let us thrust our attention upon our three thesis statements. First we turn to: “The work of Christ bringing to the saints the peace from Christ”. The work of Christ as we have studied it, can be identified as “Reconciliation”. Jesus made the incompatible man, compatible. Jesus provides every man the opportunity to shed the filth of their sins and be reunited with God. This thesis has been clearly born out in our text.
Now our second thesis: “The Church of Christ – The only church in prophecy.” Verse 18 of our text called Jesus the head of the body, the church. Ephesians 4 said there was one body. Acts 2:47 said the Lord added to the Church. In Matthew 16:15-18 the scriptures read:
“[Jesus] saith unto them, But who say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Jesus declared He would build his church – singular. If He planned on doing this, when did He do it? He declared Peter will have the keys to the kingdom. Paul declares it is the foolishness of preaching that saves (I Corinthians 1:21). Thus, the keys are the preaching. In Acts 2 where we first see people added to the Church, we see Peter preaching Jesus and salvation from sin through Him for the first time. That freedom from sin is called justification. Men were made as if they were innocent. Jesus could only do this because all fullness dwelt in Him.
As Peter Spoke on the day of Pentecost he identified that day of salvation as prophesied by the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28-32). Isaiah 2:1-4 and Micah 4:1-3 both point to a time when the Word of God would go from Jerusalem to all men. On that day when men submitted themselves to the authority of Christ, as Head of the Church, they found salvation in an eternal kingdom started in Jerusalem. Daniel prophesied the eternal kingdom set up on the time of the Romans in Daniel 2:31-35, 44. The eternal kingdom was headed by the one spoken of in Daniel 7:13-14. The individual appearing as a son of man ascended to heaven and none has done that except Jesus (John 3:13). The Old Testament scriptures point toward Jesus. Jesus declared one Church and He stated: “I am the Truth, the Way, and the Life, no man cometh to the Father but through me.” (John 14:6) Christ’s Church is the only Church in prophecy and Colossians sums that up by declaring Him as its Head.
The final thesis statement is “We must obey God and serve Him through the Church to be saved”. This has thoroughly been confirmed in our Colossians text. When Christ by reconciliation (verse 20), brought us to God through justification (verse 22), he made our state of salvation contingent upon sanctification (verse 23). That is: He set us apart from the filth of the world as “holy and without blemish” and as long as we continue setting ourselves apart in the role of filling up the affliction of the body of Christ, as Paul, we have the hope of Glory.
Who is Christ and who were we? Christ is the head of the Church, our Savior who we are exhorted to serve without wavering. We were sinners, unclean, impure, and far from God. Faced with an eternity of that horrible condition, Christ came and made us compatible with God once again by reconciliation through justification resulting in sanctification. Christ brings us peace and for that we should be eternally faithful.