The Gospel of Everything Dr. Jon Morrissette - 9/16/2018 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” This is the philosophy that’s always been lived out by the majority of human beings. Not that everyone agrees as to who/what we should put our faith in… but that most people believe there is a greater realm (reality) than what the eye can see. We aren’t just physical beings, we are spiritual people yearning for eternal things. Like the body craves water, the stomach food, the lungs oxygen, the eye light… our soul craves the eternal. Now, you can suppress that inner longing for eternal things. You can embrace the naturalist philosophy of our day (i.e. “that we should walk by sight, not by faith”). But soon enough, the soul protests. If you have the privilege to study philosophy, do it! Since the beginning of recorded history, great minds have been asking great questions, and demanding great answers, as to meaning of life, not just physical, but spiritual! Do you remember that Stephen Hawking movie, the Theory of Everything? Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest scientific minds of the 21st century. “Alexa, what is the theory of Everything? Siri. . .” “A theory of everything, final theory, ultimate theory, or master theory is a hypothetical single, all-encompassing, coherent theoretical framework of physics that fully explains and links together all physical aspects of the universe.” Now technically, a true Theory of Everything wouldn’t be limited to an understanding of physical things, but literally ALL things—whether visible/invisible, seen/unseen, physical/spiritual, temporary/eternal, finite/infinite. The closet thing we will find in the Bible to a “Theory of Everything” is Colossians 1:12-23… Though people certainly reject the Gospel… there isn’t a single all-encompassing, coherent, framework for making sense everything in life that comes even close to rivaling the Christian hope. There are at least five basic tenets to the Gospel Message. 21st century minds aren’t asking any questions that weren’t being asked back in the 1st Century. The Apostles were fully aware of the great questions and spoke to them! i.e. John 1 is just as masterful presentation of a “Theory of Everything” as is Colossians 1:12-23. Tenet #1: The Center of All Confession is a Good, Good Father. In Colossians 1:12-14 Paul speaks of, “12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. 13 He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. 14 In him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” One of the most striking aspects of life, is this continual longing for more. We’re never satisfied. Our hunger, thirst, lusts are never satisfied. We never have money enough, house enough, car enough, tools enough, clothes enough… enough kitchen utensils (how many ladles do we really need people! How many crockpots do we really need). Have you ever noticed that the “more” you get the “less” it satisfies? What if our “longing for more” isn’t fundamentally material, but spiritual? What if our “longing for more” is the soul hungering, thirsting, panting for God? What if all this time, our biggest mistake has been seeking satisfaction in “created things” rather than knowing our actual Creator who is forever praised? At the center of our Christian confession is that we have a good, good Father. In love, God has enabled us to share in an eternal inheritance. In love, God has rescued us from the despair of our darkness. In love, he has transferred us into the Kingdom of the Son he loves. Because of love, we can have redemption and total forgiveness. In love, God eternally satisfies our deepest longings/needs. God isn’t hostile. God isn’t enemy. “For God so loved the world, he sent forth his One and Only Son, that whoever would believe on him will have everlasting life…” The question is whether your knee will bow, and your tongue confess (gives thanks) to God’s glorious name? Tenet #2: The Center of All Heaven and Earth is God’s Cosmic Son, Jesus. Colossians 1:15-17, “15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.” Scientists, not just Stephen Hawking, have concluded that at the back of all things, is something cold, impersonal, indifferent to human existence, indifferent to life… that blind “forces” originated, sustain, and hold all things together. But what Paul suggests is that in the back of all things Cosmic [visible/invisible, heavenly/earthly, thrones, dominions, rulers, authorities, powers, forces] is a deeply relational, profoundly loving, PERSONAL God. A Father who doesn’t just exist unto Himself, but dwells in eternal relationship with His Son/Spirit. There is life in God, love, communication, language, personhood. “Everything” is created by Jesus, through Jesus, and for Jesus. Paul says in verse 15, the Son is the “firstborn over all creation.” This phrase doesn’t imply that Jesus was “born” or was somehow a “created being.” It implies just the opposite—that Jesus is of the same essence, the same Divine nature, as the Father. When a human father has a son, he has a human nature. When an animal has offspring, it has an animal nature. When a Divine Father has a Son, the Son has the same eternal, immortal, divine, good, holy, righteous, perfect, supreme… nature as the Father. As a firstborn Son, Jesus is the “image” of the Father—exact representation of his Being. But “Firstborn” implies far more. Jesus occupies a place of authority, power, and supremacy over all things! Everything is created by Jesus, through Jesus, and for Jesus. God doesn’t exist for us, we exist for him. We aren’t the center, Christ is the center. The universe doesn’t evolve around you or me, but rather Jesus. Furthermore, creation wasn’t set into motion… the universe isn’t held together… nor is life sustained by impersonal forces. A loving Father created all things—“in”, “through”, “by”, and “for” His Son. A loving Father sustains and holds all things together by his Son. Every authority, ruler, dominion, throne, quantum force, energy, law of nature derives its power from a loving God. A personal, loving God is the only sensible explanation for our otherwise improbable, cosmic existence. Tenet #3: The Center of All Humanity is God’s Incarnate Son, Jesus. Colossians 1:18-19, “He is also the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him” Exhibit A is the actual life of Jesus Christ on earth. The claim of Scripture is that cosmic, eternal Christ became man and dwelled among us. The modern mind recognizes how outrageous absurd, utterly audacious, even ridiculous it is for anyone to claim to be God. And all this would be the case except we have four gospel accounts of Jesus. We know what he said. We know the life he lived. We know about the signs, wonders, and miraculous works. Even the wind/waves obeyed him—which is what we’d expect if he were truly God. C.S. Lewis masterfully pointed out that Jesus can only be one of three things: Either he is he Lord, is he Liar, is he Lunatic?” Others have since added a fourth possibility… maybe Jesus is “Legend?” Those questions didn’t start “after” Jesus died, they were asked throughout his whole life. They were asked before his birth: will the Christ, Messiah appear? They were asked after he was crucified. Who is Jesus? There has always only been one answer to the question of whether Jesus is Lord, Liar, Lunatic, or Legend… and it boils down to this… Jesus is Lord if/only if, He is the firstborn from among the dead… Jesus is Lord only if he died, was buried, was raised, ascended to the right hand of God. In ancient Greek culture, there was Philosopher named Empedocles(z). He somehow worked miracles—though many of his miracles were more like science tricks. He claimed to control the wind. He claimed to have restored the life of a woman who seemed dead for 30 days. As his grand finale, he decided to die by leaping into the fiery crater of Etna, to once and for all prove that he was a god! A poet wrote a song about him: “Great Empedocles(z), that ardent soul… Leapt into Etna, and was roasted whole.” In contrast, Jesus was raised from the grave the 3rd day. Jesus staked his whole life on the resurrection. “Destroy this temple/body,” he declared, “and God will raise it up three days later.” In death, Jesus became the firstborn from among the dead. In resurrection he demonstrated his authority, supremacy, power over death. There is no other explanation for the well-documented explosive growth of Christianity than Jesus’ actual resurrection. Had Jesus stayed in that grave he would have been the greatest joke of a human since Empedocles. Except Jesus didn’t ever become a joke as we well know. Read the four gospel accounts of Jesus life in the Bible. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. Ask yourself, is there anything Jesus said, anything he did, anything at all that contradicts what you’d expect of God to be were he to come in the flesh? Jesus is the fullness of God dwelling in human form, the exact image. This Jesus is the “head of the Church.” The most honorable part of any “body” is the head. But as you know, a body has less honorable parts, and the less honorable parts (the shameful part) we “cover up.” The most honorable part of the Church is Christ Jesus the head. The rest of Christ’s body, thought, has to be clothed by Christ’s righteousness. Our question shouldn’t be ‘What of the church isn’t godly…’ Are you kidding? Where should we begin? Our question is, ‘What about Jesus isn’t godly?’ We are continually being transformed, by God’s Spirit, into the image of God. Christ is perfect image. He is the fullness of God. The story of the Church isn’t here is a perfect people, but, here are folks being filled to the measure of Christ Jesus.” Tenet #4: The Center of All History is God’s Crucified Son, Jesus. Colossians 1:20-22, “. . . 20 and through him to reconcile everything to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. 21 Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds expressed in your evil actions. 22 But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through his death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before him…” The purpose of our life doesn’t come down to what you or I can make of our life. It comes down to what God can make of your life. The story of history… including American history… Biblical history… is that man starts off with infinite promise. Yet in hostility rebels against God, destroying all semblance of peace. Despair abounds. Cruelty abounds. Fear abounds. Men become faithless, loveless, hopeless. A little bad yeast works through the whole doe until the whole batch is corrupted. We know how the story of godless man plays out. But in Christ we become new stories. Though alienated/hostile/evil… God makes peace with us. The Father reconciles us to Himself by Jesus’ physical body, through death… Why? Because God is a good, good Father… because God is love! And to what end? That He might present you holy, faultless, and blameless in His presence! The whole flow of history is fundamentally relational. Man moving away from God in rebellion. God moving toward you in love, sending his Son into the world. God reconciling those who couldn’t reconcile themselves. God taking our death, so that we might have life. God presenting us holy, faultless, and blameless fully clothed in Christ. God enabling you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. God rescuing you from the dominion of darkness and transferring you into the kingdom of the Son he loves. God offering you redemption, the complete forgiveness of sins. Cross is crux of history. Friends look at what the “Gospel Truth of Everything” boils down to… Tenet #5: The Center of You and Me is to be God’s Glorified Son, Jesus. The whole secret of life comes down to Colossians 1:23: “23 if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become a servant of it.” The key to life ultimately comes down to what you make of God: Will you walk by faith, or by sight? Will you bow before the God of the Universe? Will you bow before Jesus, the Cosmic Son, center of Heaven/Earth? Will you bow before Jesus, the Incarnate Son, center of all humanity? Will you bow before the cross, before Jesus, the Crucified Son, the center of all history? Will you bow before Jesus, the head of his Church, who clothes his less than honorable body with His robe of righteousness? Will you bow before this Jesus who offers you complete redemption the forgiveness of sin? Philippians 2:5-11, “Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. 7 Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, 8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross. 9 For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth—11 and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Scripture Verses Colossians 1:15-23 Study Questions Read Colossians 1:15-23. What titles and descriptions of Christ do you find in this passage? List as many as possible.What does it mean that Jesus is the "image" of God? (See also Genesis 1:26-27, Romans 1:22-23; 8:29; & Colossians 3:10.) What are some unique ways Jesus displays the character and activity of the invisible God according to this passage? (See also Hebrews 1:1-3 and John 1:18).What is redemption? Why is it needed? How was it made possible? Who will enjoy it? (See also Romans 8:20-25.) When will it be finally accomplished?How would you explain the "if" statement in verse 23 in your own words? What is at stake by our continued growth in the faith? How can we "remain grounded and steadfast" in the faith?How does Paul establish that Jesus is both God and human in this passage? What happens if you deny one or the other?Why is it important that we know all these things about Christ? How do we keep them in mind daily?