Lesson 9 – The Vision of Christ in Colossians
CHRIST AS THE FOCUS OF GOD’S WILL AND ECONOMY, AS THE MYSTERY OF GOD, AND AS THE PORTION OF THE SAINTS
God has one will in the universe. Romans 12:2 speaks in the singular of “the will of God…, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect.” Some may say that the will of God is to go to a certain college or to get married. However, if our going to college is not for Christ, that is not the will of God. Likewise, if we marry without Christ, that also is not the will of God. Whatever we do in Christ, with Christ, and for Christ is the will of God, because God’s will is simply Christ and nothing else. God’s will is to make Christ everything to us. It is that we take Christ as everything, that we take Him as life to live by Him and give Him the first place, the preeminence, in all our life.
For something to be of the will of God, it must be in Christ, with Christ, and for Christ. Even if I minister here, yet not in Christ, with Christ, and for Christ, this ministry is not the will of God. God has only one will. There is no need to check something in another way; simply check whether or not that thing is in Christ, with Christ, and for Christ. There is no need to wait and analyze. If we can boldly say with full assurance that we are doing something in Christ, with Christ, and for Christ, then it is of the Lord.
I say again, God’s economy is to dispense Christ into us, and this very Christ is the portion of the saints. We have no other portion. If you ask me what I have, I will tell you that I have nothing, yet I have everything, because I have Christ as my portion. If we receive something other than Christ as our portion, we will be cheated. In the Old Testament, Solomon the wise king told us that all things under the sun are vanity (Eccl. 1:1-11), and in the New Testament, Paul counted all things as refuse, as dung (Phil. 3:8). Even a Ph.D. degree is dung, and all the tall, attractive buildings in the affluent part of this city are dung. God would cheat us if He gave us these things as our portion. These are not our God-given portion. The portion God gives us is the reality, that is Christ, the Son of God. All things are vanity of vanities; only Christ is real. He is grace and reality (John 1:17). Praise Him, He is our portion! I am satisfied because I have the unique, universal portion, the portion of the saints, which is Christ Himself. God’s intention is simply to give us this portion.
WHAT CHRIST IS TOWARD GOD
Who is this portion? Colossians first tells us that Christ our portion is the image, the expression, of the invisible God (1:15a). What God is, what God has, and what God has done and can do are all embodied in Christ and expressed in and through this Christ. Christ is the very expression of the very God. We may think that we need Christ only to be our Savior to save us from hell and take us to heaven. However, Christ being the image of the invisible God is much higher than this.
Within Christ as the image, the expression, of God dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (v. 19; 2:9). The fullness of God is in Him, and He is the very embodiment of God. Without Him, or outside of Him, we do not have God and we cannot find God.
WHAT CHRIST IS CONCERNING CREATION
Then concerning creation, Christ is the first item, the Firstborn of all creation (v. 15b). I do not have the human words to explain this. In a word, Christ is the Creator as well as the creature. He is the One who created, and He is also the One who was created.
All creation was made in Him, through Him, and unto Him (v. 16). In Him and through Him refer to the past, while unto Him refers to His inheritance in the future. What then of the present? At the present time, all things cohere in Him. He is the first of all the creatures, and all creatures were made through Him in the past, exist in Him in the present, and are unto Him in the future. How big is creation? Millions of solar systems comprise one galaxy, billions of galaxies form the universe, and no one has found what is at the center of it all. All this was created through Christ, has its existence in Christ, and is unto Christ. All the scientists realize that there is an unknown power in the universe. This power is Christ Himself. Praise Him!
WHAT CHRIST IS IN REDEMPTION
Redemption is in Christ, and Christ accomplished redemption (v. 14). In this redemption He dealt with our sins and the world, He abolished the ordinances, and He dusted off the evil forces (2:14-15). The whole universe is full of “dirt.” When Christ put on the flesh, He took all this dirt upon Himself. Then He put this flesh with its dirt onto the cross, and by the death of the cross, He dusted away, stripped off, all the dirt. In particular, He dusted away the principalities, powers, dominions, and evil powers in the air. His redemption includes all of this. Moreover, Christ accomplished redemption to reconcile, to bring back, not only us the believers but also all things in the heavens and on earth, all the things that were created through Him, subsist in Him, and are unto Him (1:20).
WHAT CHRIST IS IN THE NEW CREATION
In the new creation, Christ is the Head of the Body, the church, and the Firstborn from the dead. Christ is the Firstborn in two ways: the Firstborn of the old creation and the Firstborn of the new creation (vv. 15, 18).
WHAT CHRIST IS AS THE BODY OF ALL SHADOWS
All positive things in the universe are shadows; they are not the reality. A man is not the real husband, and his son is not the real son. No matter what kind of light someone is under, if he does not have Christ, he is still in darkness, because that light is not the real light and the sunshine is not the real sunshine. Our clothing is not the real clothing. Regardless of how good our clothing is, if we do not have Christ, we are naked. Christ is also the real food and drink. The reality of all things is Christ (2:16-17).
We should not enjoy the shadows too much. All the shadows simply signify the reality. My photograph is only a shadow of me; it is not the real me. The real me is a living person. The food we eat every day is only a “photograph” of the real food. We should not be cheated and fooled by the photographs. They simply signify Christ as the real One. We do not care for eating, drinking, a feast, a new moon, or the Sabbath. If we do not have Christ, we do not have a “new moon,” a new start. Christ is our morning. Whenever we meet Christ, touch Christ, and experience Christ, we have the sense that we have a new start. Moreover, Christ is the real feast for joy. If we do not have Christ, we do not have the real joy. Christ is also the real Sabbath; without Him we have no rest.
We cannot exhaust how much Christ is. Christ is everything to God, to creation, in redemption, in the new creation, and to all physical, material things, which are nothing but a shadow of this Christ. How much Christ is to us! Colossians tells us that He is our life today and our hope for the future. I am afraid that we do not realize Christ to such an extent.
THE EXPERIENCE OF CHRIST
Colossians speaks not only about who Christ is but also about the experience of Christ. Verse 6 of chapter two says, “As therefore you have received the Christ, Jesus the Lord, walk in Him.” The following verse says that we have been rooted in Him. We are like little plants, and Christ is the soil, the earth. Moreover, we are now being built up in Him. Only Christ is so important to us. He is everything to us; He is our life and our hope, we have been rooted in Him, and now we are built up in Him. Therefore, we have to live by Him and walk in Him. We should not be beguiled, distracted, or sidetracked by anything. Philosophy, empty deceit, the elements of the world, and the worship of angels can beguile, distract, and sidetrack us. We must pay our full attention to this Christ. Moreover, we need to realize that this Christ is the very life-giving Spirit who indwells our spirit. If Christ were not the Spirit, He could not be life to us, and if He were not in our spirit, we could not experience Him, enjoy Him, and take Him as our life. Now day by day we have to live by Him and walk in Him.We need to let the peace of Christ arbitrate in our hearts and the word of Christ dwell in us richly (3:15-16). The words that He speaks are spirit and are life (John 6:63).