************ Sermon on Belgic Confession Article 10B ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on November 3, 2019
Belgic Confession Article 10 & Article 1
"In Him is All the Fullness of God"
As I was writing tonight's message I was thinking about Shorty Vander Tuig and his funeral. When I first met with the family, I asked every person present to give me a word, a phrase, or a story which sums up Shorty. I received lots of wonderful answers. Which leads me to ask: What characteristic do you most admire in a person? What do you hope people will say about you when you die?
I The Image of the Invisible God
A Now, congregation, let me ask you to give me a word, a phrase, or a story that sums up Jesus. What would you say? Ask a random group of people, and you will get lots of different answers:
-a holy man
-the founder of the Christian faith
-a great teacher and healer
-the return of Moses, Elijah, or John the Baptist
B In our Bible reading from Colossians 1 Paul states more than one word or phrase that sums up Jesus. The phrases in front of us are so beautifully crafted that many scholars think they are borrowed from an early hymn of the church. So, how does Paul sum up Jesus?
image of the invisible GodOr, to use the language of Article 10 of the Belgic Confession of Faith, we would say:
firstborn over all creation
before all things
head of the body
the beginning and firstborn from the dead
God's fullness dwells in Him
[Jesus] is one in essence with the Father;To sum up both Paul and the Confession we would say Jesus is God. Jesus is God.
the exact image of the person of the Father
and the "reflection of his glory,"
being in all things like him ...
he is the true eternal God,
We looked at the deity of Jesus last time. But this article of the Christian faith is so important, so vitally important for us and for our salvation, I thought it best we look at the deity of Christ again.
C Who is Jesus? In our Scripture reading today Paul says, "He is the image of the invisible God" (Col 1:15). That word image does not simply mean Jesus is a picture of what God is like. Jesus actually is God and so reveals God. God is Spirit so we cannot see Him. But in Jesus the invisible God took on flesh. So Jesus could say, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" (Jn 14:9-10). I just love how the writer of Hebrews says this: "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being ..." (Heb 1:3). Jesus is the exact representation of Almighty God. If you want to know the heart of God all you have to do is get to know the heart of Jesus. If you want to know the love of God all you have to do is get to know the love of Jesus. If you want to know the will of God for all of His creation then all you have to do is get to know the will of Jesus for all of His creation. Jesus is God!
Who is Jesus? He is "the firstborn over all creation" (Col 1:15). Heretics like Arius and the JWs get all mixed up by the word "firstborn." "See," they say, "Jesus was born. There was a time when He was not." That isn't what Paul means. In that culture the firstborn son held the place of highest honor among his siblings and inherited the lordship over the household and estate. Jesus is that firstborn over all creation. His is power, the power of God, over all creation. Again, the message is that Jesus is God!
Who is Jesus? He is the Creator. "All things were created by him and for him" (Col 1:16). What things? "Things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities" (Col 1:16). Obviously, this means Christ existed before the creation He made. "He is before all things" (Col 1:17). It was through Him that God created the universe. He is God!
And, all things were created "for him" (Col 1:16). He not only is the maker of creation, He also is the goal of creation. You and I, the little baby and the aged grandparents, the Sequoias, the Pacific Ocean, the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, the San Joaquin Valley -- all of it has been made for Him and His glory. Why? Because He is God!
Who is Jesus? "In him all things hold together" (Col 1:17). Christ did not leave His creation to run on its own. He is not only the Creator but also the Sustainer. He upholds heaven and earth and all creatures. If He were to withdraw His hand for even a moment the universe would not only collapse but it would even disappear. It is He who made gravity and without His hand gravity would collapse. It is He who binds atoms together into molecules and without His hand the atoms would fly apart and disappear. He rules all things so nothing comes to us by chance. The message? He is God!
Who is Jesus? "He is the head of the body, the church" (Col 1:18). He rules things physical and things spiritual. He is God!
Who is Jesus? "He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead" (Col 1:18). There is that word "firstborn" again. But this time in a different sense. We know that God occasionally raised people from the dead. But Jesus is the beginning and firstborn because He was the first to rise in victory over death, never to die again. All who believe in Him share in the victory He gained through His death and resurrection. As Jesus said to His followers, "Because I live, you also will live" (Jn 14:19). How is this even possible? Because He is God!
Who is Jesus? "God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him" (Col 1:19).
I want to spend some time with you looking at how all the fullness of God dwells in Jesus. I want to do that by showing you how Jesus fully shares in the perfect attributes or characteristics or properties of God as they are listed in Article 1.
II God's Attributes in Jesus
A In Article 1 we confess God is eternal. He is without beginning or end. God is self-existent. He wasn't made, He wasn't created; He has always existed and will always exist. To Moses, God said, "I AM WHO I AM." God is the great I AM who is the source of all there is.
Who is Jesus? "God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him." This means that Jesus, like God, is eternal:
(Jn 1:1-2) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was with God in the beginning.And, Jesus, like God, is the source of all that has been made:
(Jn 1:3) Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
(Col 1:16) For by 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.
B God is completely wise. He is omniscient. He knows all things. He can see within the heart and discern a man's real motives and innermost thoughts. This means He knows all things about me. He knows everything there is to know about me. This also means He is the source of all truth, all wisdom, all knowledge.
Who is Jesus? "God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him." This means that Jesus, like God, is completely wise:
(1 Cor 1:30) Christ Jesus, ... has become for us wisdom from God ...We see an instance of this with the call of Nathanael. Philip, all excited, told Nathanael about Jesus and brought him to the Lord.
(Jn 1:47-48) When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false." (48) "How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you."Like God, Jesus know all things. Like God, Jesus looks deep within the hearts of men (Mt 9:4).
C God is almighty. He is omnipotent. He rules His creation; His creation does not rule Him. He reveals His might in Creation:
-He spoke and creation came into being
-He created everything out of nothing
-He created such a vast creation
-He cares for His creation
We also see God's might in miracles:
-the resurrection of Lazarus
-the provision of Israel while in the wilderness
-the feeding of the 5000
God displays His might in redemption:
-the child of the promise to an aged Abraham and Sarah
-the virgin birth
-the resurrection from the grave
And, we see God's power in the consummation of all things at the end of times:
-a new heaven and new earth
God is almighty. He can do anything, anything He wants to do.
Who is Jesus? "God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him." This means that Jesus, like God, is almighty, omnipotent:
(Matt 28:18) Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me."
D God is unchangeable. He is immutable. God does not change. God does not grow. God does not improve with age. God is the Lord everlasting. He is eternally the same. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. There is a consistency to the nature of God. There is a consistency to the nature of God, and the Law of God, and what He calls sin. Because God is unchangeable we can be sure about both salvation and judgment.
Who is Jesus? "God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him." This means that Jesus, like God, is unchangeable. According to the book of Hebrews, "the Son ... has been made perfect forever" (Heb 7:28).
E God is just. This means He judges rightly and fairly; He never makes mistakes in His judgment; people always get exactly what they deserve. This means He is holy; He is different from all else in Creation and has no moral blemish or stain of sin. This means He is righteous; He always acts rightly. God is the standard for perfection, the norm for ethics, the measure for goodness.
Who is Jesus? "God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him." This means that Jesus, like God, is just:
(Heb 4:15) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.
(Rev 19:11) I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.
F God is good and the overflowing source of all good. This means He provides us all our needs: He gives us life, He gives us food, He gives us Himself. Because God is unchangeable, because He is immutable, He is always good towards us. And, because God is almighty, He is always able to satisfy our needs so we need not doubt God will provide whatever we need for body and soul.
Who is Jesus? "God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him." This means that Jesus, like God, is good and the overflowing source of all good:
(Jn 10:11) "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
G God is infinite. He is immense. He is omnipresent. We cannot put God in a box, we can not confine Him, we can not make Him smaller than He really is, we cannot control Him. And, we can not try to hide from God. God is fully present, and He is fully present everywhere. God is always with us and never leaves us or forsakes us.
Who is Jesus? "God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him." This means that Jesus, like God, is infinite:
(Col 2:9) For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form ...
H God is incomprehensible. There is much about God that is mysterious. As we trace His footsteps in this world, we see only the fringes of His ways and touch but the hem of His garment. We can try to describe Him; yet, in the final analysis, He is indescribable. We can try to speak of Him; yet, in the final analysis, He is unspeakable. We can try to understand Him; yet, in the final analysis, He is beyond our human understanding. God is so much more than we know or can possibly imagine.
Who is Jesus? "God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him." This means that Jesus, like God, is incomprehensible. Who can understand, for instance, someone Who is at the same time completely God and completely man? Who can understand the second person of the Trinity taking on our flesh and living for a while among us, while still remaining one with the eternal Godhead?
Who is Jesus? He is God! So, let me end again with the final words of Article 10:
he is the true eternal God,
whom we invoke,
worship, and serve.
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