Christ Over All

Christ Over All

Whether it is in the first century or the present day, the church quickly departs from Christ and his Word and seeks to establish truth apart from divine revelation. But as Paul warns the Colossians, he warns us: divine revelation, centered in Christ, is the foundation of all knowledge. We do not have truth apart from God and his Word. Ultimately, apart from God creating the world and revealing himself in nature and Scripture, we would have no warrant for what we know. True objective knowledge requires a foundation in the triune God who is there and who speaks, which entails that we must evaluate everything we think and believe in light of Christ and Scripture.

In every era, the church needs sound biblical teaching and faithful theological instruction. Theology, rightly understood, is the lifeblood of the church and necessary for her life and health. Central to theology is the knowledge of our triune God as our Creator, Redeemer, and covenant Lord, and the application of God’s Word to our lives. For us, who are created and redeemed by God, there is no higher calling and greater privilege than to know the only true God in and through our Lord Jesus Christ (John 17:3).

Today, however, the evangelical church is largely in danger of theological drift. No doubt, since its beginning, the church has always faced the perennial threat of theological drift. This is why one of the tasks of faithful biblical teaching is to keep the church from being “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14). Theology’s task is to expound, apply, and defend the truth of Scripture so that the church continues to love and proclaim the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) and the unsearchable riches of Christ (Col. 1:28-29). The Christian life and Christian ministry are about knowing God in truth, believing and obeying God’s Word, and being vigilant for the truth of the gospel by “destroy[ing] arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and tak[ing] every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).

Yet today, the need for sound biblical and theological instruction is great. On every side, evangelicalism is experiencing a collective identity crisis. Why? There are many reasons, but certainly one of them is due to the waning conviction that theology is vital for the spiritual health of the church, and that biblical truth not only matters but is really true and thus authoritative for our lives. As David Wells has repeatedly warned the evangelical church for nearly three decades, we have traded biblical and theological faithfulness for pragmatic success.[1] The result? Disciplined biblical and theological thinking has taken a backseat to other cultural concerns, so much so that current evangelicalism in the West is a shell of what it used to be.

In fact, if we listen to the polls (e.g., Ligonier’s The State of Theology), we discover that in many of our churches basic biblical and theological knowledge is at an all-time low. Not surprisingly, we have also succumbed to many of the pressures of our culture by modifying our theological convictions to conform to the current “spirit of the age.” This explains why some evangelicals are now flirting with the latest cultural trends: critical race theories; redefinitions of male and female roles in the marriage, the church, and society; embrace of various LGBTQ concerns; an uncritical acceptance of secular-postmodern views of “social justice” in contrast to a biblical view of justice and its outworking in our lives and the larger society; and so on.

Similar to the churches in Revelation 2–3, we, sadly, are in danger of accommodating to the mindset of our day. For example, just as the church at Laodicea began to resemble her city: self-satisfied, content with the status quo, little dependence on God, so also some evangelicals are in danger of replicating the Laodiceans’ impoverished spiritual state (Rev. 3:14–22). Or, similar to the church at Ephesus (Rev. 3:1–7), for some of us who think we are standing faithfully for truth, unbeknownst to us, we have drifted from the Lord because we have lost our first love, namely our love for Christ. We have rightly taught and emphasized sound doctrine but we have done so in such a way that we have drifted away from the Lordship of Christ in our lives, and this observation now leads me to discuss the reason for the name of this website.

What’s in a Name?

Why the name “Christ over All?” Obviously, many reasons could be given, but the main reason is due to our conviction that what the church desperately needs today is to a rock solid commitment to the authority of Scripture in all that it teaches with specific focus on Christ’s lordship over all. In our view, the great need for the evangelical church is unashamedly to retain and in many ways return to what is most central: the glory of the triune God in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As we examine Scripture, we discover that its main message is about how God in his infinite wisdom, power, and grace has chosen to bring all of his purposes and plans to fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Repeatedly, Scripture reminds us that in Christ alone, all of God’s sovereign purposes find their fulfillment (Heb. 1:1–3) and that God’s eternal plan is to bring “all things,” “things in heaven and things on earth,” under Christ’s headship (Eph. 1:9–10), which has already begun in his first coming and which will be consummated in his return.

It is important to remember that to emphasize Christ’s centrality is not to diminish the persons and work of the Father and the Spirit. Instead, Scripture teaches that all the Father does centers in his Son and that the Spirit works to bear witness and bring glory to the Son. Thus, to be truly trinitarian is to be properly Christ-centered. As our Lord reminds us, “whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him” (John 5:23).

This glorious truth, however, is not merely to be confessed; it is to be lived out in every area of our lives. The church first exists to know and proclaim the glory of the triune God in the face of Christ, and a move away from this center will lead the church away from life and health. As such, we constantly need to be reminded about who is central, who is worthy, who is to be obeyed, and who is our only hope and salvation. The purpose of this website is to do this: to call the church back to know, proclaim, and live out Christ’s Lordship over every aspect of our lives.

Scripture teaches the truth about “Christ over All” in many places, but probably the most profound and succinct text is Colossians 1:15–20. Let me first explain how this text teaches the truth of Christ’s Lordship, before I make some application points from Colossians 2:6–10. By doing so, we can explain further what we are seeking to achieve by this website.

The Truth of Christ Over All (Col. 1:15–20)

This is one of the most profound Christological texts in the New Testament that unpacks Christ’s lordship. In the Patristic era, this text was used by the Arians to argue that Christ was the “firstborn,” i.e., the first created being and thus not God the Son. This interpretation continues today among Jehovah’s Witnesses, and sadly, numerous evangelicals are also confused on this point.[2] Against the Arians, however, the text unambiguously teaches the full deity of the Son, and thus Christ’s Lordship.

The text is divided into two main stanzas (vv. 15–17 and 18b–20) with a transitional stanza between the two (vv. 17–18a). In the first main and transitional stanzas, Jesus is presented as Lord because he is the eternal Son, the true image of God, the agent of creation, and the sustainer of the universe. In the second main stanza, Jesus is presented as the incarnate Son, who by his incarnation and cross-work is our only Redeemer. Jesus, then, is supreme over all because he is our Creator and Redeemer. Let’s look further at the text.

In the first of three steps, the Son’s full deity is taught in vv. 15-16 in three affirmations. (1) The Son is described as “the image of the invisible God,” which means that he possesses the very nature of God. The same thought is found in Hebrews 1:3a, where Christ is described as “the exact representation (charaktēr) of his being.” Although different expressions, they both teach that Christ is God the Son. The Son, from eternity, has perfectly reflected the Father, and now in his incarnation reveals the invisible God just as perfectly.

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