Friday 17th December (2) Witnessing to God’s Love 13
He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in who we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is 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. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
The New Testament consistently affirms the theme of this passage, that is, the supremacy of Jesus Christ in both his person and his ministry. In short, according to the Scriptures, Christ is both Lord over all creation and the agent of all salvation.
These outstanding claims regarding the status and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth raises for some a major problem, often described as the scandal of particularity. The concern is that Christians should not present Jesus as absolutely supreme for, it is argued, we must surely allow that other religions also offer authentic paths to salvation. Only those with closed minds, they say, would fail to concede this.
We should, however, recognise that Christ’s status and service are directly related. As we find in our passage, it is because of Jesus being who he is that he is able to accomplish what he does. It is because all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell in him that all reconciliation is brought about through him. To confess that God is triune (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is, in effect, to affirm that Jesus is the agent of all salvation.
There are those who while professing their own faith in the Trinity, would nevertheless hold this to be a ‘personal’ view. They maintain that other people also have their ‘personal’ religious opinions and that it would be inappropriate to try and persuade them to take on a Christian understanding. This theory has far reaching consequences for the gospel. It makes a clear distinction between ‘personal’ and ‘public’ truths. Our religious beliefs are held to be personal or private facts. It means that the Trinitarian nature of God is true in my mind but not in external reality.
The Christians of the New Testament clearly lived with a quite different understanding of truth and the communication of it. Their personal religious experience led them out on a mission to convince the world.
Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others…(2 Cor 5:11)
It is only as the Church recognises the message of the gospel as ‘public’ truth for the good of the whole world that both gospel and Church can flourish under God’s gracious hand.
You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, For you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; You have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God,
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength And honour and glory and blessing! To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb Be praise and honour and glory and power For ever and ever! Hallelujah!