“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” (Colossians 1:15-18 ESV)
There continues to be the insidious teaching that the incarnation, the cross, even eternal life is all about us. It says God did all this first and foremost because of our value, goodness, or worth in God’s sight. Of course, this appeals to us because it exalts us. It makes us feel important.
But this is like the rooster thinking the sun rises for him, so he can show off his crowing. Roosters naturally like doctrines that make them important. The problem is that it simply isn’t true. In fact, what does the next verse say about WHY God has done all this? Why has Christ created, sustained, incarnated, died, and accomplished this salvation? So that in everything he might be preeminent. (Colossians 1:18) He, not we. Christ, not us. It’s not all about us. It is all about him. It most certainly was about our sin and his love for us and him bearing our guilt in atoning for our sins. All of that is true and all marvelous and all wonderful. But these things accomplish a greater purpose. They were done for a more glorious reason. So that in everything he might be preeminent.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:3-14)
In this passage of Ephesians are listed the saving activities of God through Christ on our behalf. Yet what is repeated as the purpose? For the praise of his glorious grace. (Ephesians 1:6)
We have the incredible and eternal privilege of being the canvas upon which God the Father painted the glory of his Son. We bear his image. He is conforming us to Christ’s likeness. This is a wonderful privilege and for all eternity we will marvel that God chose to endow us with the likeness of his Son. But portraits aren’t about the canvas or the paint. They are valued because of whose image they bear. The greater the person, the greater the value of his likeness. Christ is the uniting purpose behind all that God has done, is doing, and will do on our behalf to save us, for the praise of his glorious grace.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
©2014 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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