Many cultic groups and leaders across Africa and the world are at pains to tell us that Jesus and the Bible are not sufficient for our ultimate salvation. They are not enough, they say. “You need to know the secret teaching, or listen to the ‘prophet of your time’.”
We Want Something Complicated!
“The problem with us sometimes, is we don’t want to be only trusting in Jesus, we want complicated things. We want people to come with an extra book and tell us keep these 10 laws, keep these 15 laws to be right with God. And we want people to bring us special revelation and make us eat grass and fall out of the sky or whatever!
We want people to bring us special revelation and make us eat grass
It’s true! We want things to be complicated! And yet Jesus says it is simple as that. You want to be right with God? You trust in Jesus. It is as simple as that.
And what do we do? We say “it can’t be that simple, surely! Surely God must send this Big Man to tell me something new. Surely I must fast 100 days so as I can hear God’s voice in a special way. It can’t be that simple!”
But Jesus is Enough
Well, Jesus says it is that simple. Because God was pleased – in the person of Jesus – to reveal himself fully. And to have Jesus as the only way to be reconciled him.”
The Colossian church was also being told that Jesus was not enough, that there was additional special revelation they needed to listen to to be saved. What does this equal? Jesus plus.
You want to be right with God? You trust in Jesus. It is as simple as that.
Listen to Nicolas Kyalangalilwa as he unpacks the importance of putting our full trust in Jesus, the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
Paul argues that Jesus is enough because there is no-one like Jesus. He cannot be compared to any human prophet or teacher. Because the truth is that Jesus alone is enough for us to be made right with God. Nic encourages us to consider other areas of our thinking and lives where we may be trusting more in men or ourselves to mediate on our behalf before God.
Text: Colossians 1:18-20
Date preached: 3 March 2019
Location: Le Phare Church, Bukhavu, DRC-Congo
Holy Father we thank you that you are God, and that you are good. Thank you that you brought us this evening together, and we do pray that you speak to us. There’s lots of noise in our hearts and our minds and our souls. We pray that you will quieten them.
Thank you for those that are here this evening – found time to make it. We pray for those who have given to your work here. We pray Lord that they will excel in every good work. We all long to hear your voice so that we may live for Christ and his glory. We ask all this in his name, amen.
So we’ve been studying the book of Colossians and we’re still in chapter 1. Don’t worry – we are moving – we are moving! By the end of today we will have done 20 verses – that’s a lot! Right? Under the theme being like Jesus. And tonight we are looking at this passage, 3 verses from Colossians 1:18-20 under the theme of the head of the church.
Let me tell you a bit about 1 or 2 people. In 1820, the year one thousand, eight hundred and twenty, a young man named Joseph Smith somewhere in America had a vision. And apparently in that vision he saw God the Father and God the Son come to him and say to him that the church was broken and he needed to reform the church. He needed to change the church.
Three years later, 1823, he had another vision – or revelation. This time he saw a prophet, an old prophet called Moroni or something. And the prophet gave him the place where old lost scriptures were. So he discovered those scriptures and translated them into English. And today they are known as the Book of Mormon.
So, for the Mormons, the Bible is good. Jesus is good. But unless you take seriously the writing of… well not the writing because he wouldn’t say it’s his own writing. He would say the translation of the revelation of Joseph Smith, then you would not have any good.
So the church is run by 12 Apostles and big prophets. If you asked them a very simple question “how does one get right with God?” They would say you get right with God by joining his church – which is the Mormon church. And you are part of the Mormon church if you follow what the Book of Mormon says – PLUS the Bible and Jesus.
Is this new? No! More recently in the 1950s a young man called William Marrion Branham (you probably know the story) started the movement of the spoken word. The Revelation of the Last time. And it’s good to read the Bible. It’s good to know Jesus. But if you have not heard the Prophet of your time (who is William Marrion Branham) then you will not make it to heaven.
We don’t just get good stuff like that from America – right? We also get them from Africa. We’ve got our own Kimbangu. And what is Simon Kimbangu is really the Holy Spirit in human form. So it’s good to know Jesus. It’s good to read your Bible. But you must follow the instruction of Simon Kimbangu. Because if you don’t then you will not make it to heaven.
And I could go on, and on, and on about prophets. About people who have found special revelation and unless you have heard their revelation, and unless you have believed their revelation, you will not make it to heaven! You will not be made right with God.
What we have here is close to what the Colossians had. And that is what Paul is speaking against. The Colossians also were in churches and had almost the same thing. Teachers who came and told them this. “What you heard about Jesus is good. But that is just step 1. For step 2 you need special revelation. you need to hear this special word. You need to have the special knowledge for you to be right with God. Jesus is not enough. You need to add onto Jesus something else.”
It’s a Jesus plus kind of phenomenon.
In this passage that we’ve read, Paul’s argument actually it starts from verse 15-23, Paul’s argument is very simple. Paul says Jesus is enough. And why is Jesus enough? Because there is no one like Jesus. Jesus is above everything else. So you can’t compare him to anything. You can’t compare him to created order, to spirits. You can’t compare him to anything in the church – prophet or reachers. He’s not comparable to any of them. Jesus alone is enough.
Why is Paul saying this to this church? My guess is simple. He wants them to trust in Jesus alone. He know’s there’s going to be people who tell them about all these other great teachers. All these other great prophets and great revelation. He says “don’t trust these people. Put your trust only in Jesus.”
Why? Well he tells them – and we will come back to that.
Jesus is All We Need
That’s what I wanna do tonight. I’ll do the same thing. I want to say me and you – we must keep our full trust in Jesus. Jesus is all we need to be right with God. We need nothing else.
Now, I think if you are here you are probably listening to this, or you are here this evening, it’s probably because you don’t think all the guys that I’ve named here can help you. You probably are going “ah yah. You are right. I don’t believe in that.” But let me say, don’t we have our own very form of this kind of mediation between us and God?
Why is it that when you are praying you run to the Mujakazi or to the Man of God – “pray for me! Because if you don’t pray God will not listen – because you are closer to God. You are my bridge to God.” Right?
So we also have that, isn’t it? We also trust men more than we trust Christ. We trust our own works, our own church, our own good action thinking that is what maybe is between us and God. But let me say tonight, whatever God will reveal to you – what ever the Spirit of God will show into your heart – you can turn back to God and he is more than happy to start with you where you are. Not only just to forgive you, but to take you to a place where you trust fully in Jesus, you’ve got to talk to Hi,. You’ve got to tell hi,.
Why is Jesus So Special?
Why is Jesus so special? Well Paul says Jesus is special because of 3 things.
Firstly because he is the head of the Church. He is the one who is on top of the Church. He is the one who controls the Church – there is no other. The second thing he says is because he is God! He is fully God. There is no other human who is fully God as Jesus is. And the third thing he says is because Jesus is the only way to be right with God. He is the only agent of reconciliation between men and God. The only. There is no two.
And in the end we will try and but all this thing together in terms of application.
1. Jesus is the Head of the Church
Jesus is the head of the Church. Colossians 1:18 look there: “And he” that is Jesus “is the head of the body, the Church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.”
Now that verse is almost self-explanatory. I almost feel like Paul thought if I just say he is the head of the body of the church people will not get it. So he kind of explains what he means by the head of the Church. He says there “he is the head of the body, the church.”
I mean the head is what runs the body. The head is what commands. The head is what directs. In your head – I hope – there’s brain in your head, right? So it gives direction to the body. And your brain is not somewhere else. So the head is a symbol of control and power. So if you say “this is the head of the organisation” what you mean by that is this is the man who is in charge of the organisation.
This verse needs to be read in contrast to verse 15. Look there. Colossians 1:15-16. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 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 for he is before all things.”
In other words “for he is before all things” is what you find at the end of verse 18. He is preeminent. He is before; he is above everything.
There is no spirit that is out there that is not under the control and headship of Jesus.
Jesus is not just the head of the created world. And remember verse 17 tells us, Jesus is the creator of the visible world and the invisible world. So there is no spirit that is out there that is not under the control and headship of Jesus. There is none. Whether good or bad. It’s all under his control.
There is no human being or mountain or sky created that is not under the control of Jesus. But he says, Jesus is also the head of the new creation, of the Church. Not just all of creation but even inside the Church there will not be a prophet who is bigger than Jesus; stronger than Jesus. There will not be a human being – a pastor or a bishop – who is stronger, more learned, or whatever than Jesus. This passage says “none.” The man who is in charge of the Church is Jesus and no other.
If Jesus is in charge, well… why would you then turn to somebody else to be the mediator between you and God, if Jesus is the head?
Let me stop here for just a minute. There is something very important there. If Jesus is the head of the body, the Church, there’s three ideas that I want to bring to our mind. Or implications.
It is Not Your Church
The first would mean that Jesus is in control of his church. Right? Man is not in control of the church. I am the Pastor of this church. But it is not my church. This is Jesus’ church. And we need to understand that. Whether you have a ministry – whether you lead a group or a small group, or a big church or a small church – it is not your church. It is the church of Jesus
I am the Pastor of this church. But it is not my church. This is Jesus’ church.
You are just what we call a steward. You don’t own it. It’s not yours – it’s not mine. Unfortunately many people don’t get this. And so when they are in charge of a church they think it’s their church. They do things the way they like, they plan the way they like, but it’s not your church. It’s God’s church. It’s Jesus’ church.
If it is Jesus’ church and he is in control, then me and you also need to pursue unity. Because it is the body – notice the term body. The body is made up of many members and each member must play it’s role.
Have you ever had your appendix removed? Some of you? It’s a small thing in your body. Tiny like this. But if it’s inflamed and infected, it pains eh? You are ready to pay a lot of money for the doctor to come and cut something small like this. What do I mean by that? I mean that each and every Christian has a job in the body of Jesus. If you don’t play your role, the body will not function properly. The body will not be effective.
The problem in the church is we envy other people’s role. Everybody wants to be the mouth. Everybody wants to be the hand. Nobody wants to be the appendix. Everybody wants to be the visible part – you come you preach, you sing, everybody sees you. Nobody want to be the guy in the background praying. But when you don’t have anybody sitting and praying for that church, you don’t have any spiritual oil! It doesn’t work!
You see if we are one body, each person must play it’s role. But that person will come from all backgrounds there will be a Luego, there will be a She there will be a Mubangubangu, there will be… you see? And so if you have a church of Bashee or Barega only it doesn’t work! Because you can’t have a body made up of hands only.
It’s not a body. You need eyes, you need ears, you need teeth… And God in his goodness, he made us different. But the idea was to bring us together in Christ – and to show the beauty of what he can do. So you won’t have travails or discrimination in the Church. You shouldn’t, if we are the true Church.
Lastly, the life of Jesus must run through the Church. Sometime we try and run the Church in our own power. With our own ideas. Without depending on Jesus. Without Jesus being at the centre of everything we do. Well my dear friend that’s a big mistake! It is his church. He must control and direct his church. And our attitude – and we read that in Luke 17 – is unworthy servant! We are sitting there and we are saying to the Lord of the Church “what would you want us to do?” And we do that through prayer – right? And continue reading his word. Hearing from him.
It surprises me sometimes when you talk to people and say it’s time to pray, very few people want to be part of the prayer. Well prayer is our sign of dependence. We are saying to God – “hey we are here. What do you want us to do?” Prayer is not just the time when you start writing what you need: “I need this Lord. I need this, give me this, give me this.” No! Prayer is a time when you are sitting there and you are saying “Lord Jesus we are your servants. Tell us – what would you want us to do?” “As your people, as your church, what do you want us to do?”
I close my bracket. We move on to our second point.
So Jesus is the head of the church. There is no other head of the church. Even if you are Bishop or an Arch Bishop or a Pope you are not the head of the church. The church belongs to Jesus, he is the head of the church. And because Jesus has a preeminent place in the church there is no one who is above him. Therefore we cannot use men as mediators between us and God. It won’t work.
2. Jesus is God
Jesus is God. Look there Colossians 1:19 “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” Now we have different versions where it says “God was pleased”. Two things that God was pleased to do. “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Jesus. And God was pleased, Colossians 1:20, to reconcile the world to him through Jesus.
Now let me stop on that word – God was pleased. God was pleased, God willed. God shows, God decided that that’s the only way he wanted to do things. That’s what that word means. God says you know what? I wanna put all my fullness in Jesus. Why not in Nicholas? Because I want to. God says I want it in Jesus – not in Nicholas. Not in Barnabas. I want it in Jesus.
The Fullness of God Dwells in Jesus
And so me and you need to understand my dear friend as verse 19 says “all the fullness of God” dwells in the man Jesus. You look at Jesus, and you see everything there is to be seen about God. Jesus has everything that is in God.
Reminds us of verse 15 isn’t it? Right? “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” You look at Jesus, you see what you don’t see. You see God, whom you can’t see with your eyes.
I know many people have issues – but that’s what the passage says. Everything – the fullness of God. Everything that makes God is seen in Jesus.
In Hebrews 1 it talks of Jesus being the… well let’s go there maybe it’s good for you to read that as well. Hebrews 1 Right let me read. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” He is the exact imprint of his nature.
now I know most of you have been to school so you can sign. But if you can’t sign, if you don’t know how to sing your name or write your name, and you have to write a contract to somebody, what do they do? They take some ink, they take your finger and they put it in the ink and then they stamp it on the piece of paper.
On that piece of paper what do you have? You have an exact imprint of your finger. Right? You still have your finger. But on that paper it looks exactly like a finger. Similar with pictures right? We all like to take pictures. And we put them on Facebook, selfies. If you took a picture now and you stood here, what would your picture look like? Exactly like you. I hope! Exactly like you. And that’s what you have here.
Jesus has all the attributes of God. Jesus has all the character of God. Everything you can see in God you will find in Jesus. So then Paul says “what other human being is like that? For him to play the mediator between you and God?” And the answer is supposed to be none. No other! There is no other human being who has the fullness of God, to tell you about God.
That’s why in Hebrews he says in this final day God has spoken to us through his son. I want you to notice as well that what Paul is saying here is that if you want to know God, you don’t go 500 miles up north to a mountain. You don’t go into the lake, deep, 200 metres. No. You go to Jesus.
Jesus is the Only Way to God
That’s why Jesus says “I’m the way. I’m the only way.” There is no way you can get to know God outside of Jesus. God has decided that if you human being wants to know who I am, then turn your eyes onto Jesus. It’s exclusive. There’s no other human being on planet earth who will tell you “I will show you who God is.” Apart from Jesus. And that’s what God decided. That’s what God willed. That’s what God was pleased to do.
3. Jesus Reconciles Us to God
Third thing. Jesus is the agent of reconciliation. The only agent of reconciliation with God. Colossians 1:20. “and God was pleased through him (Jesus) to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” There’s two things there that we need to notice. The first is reconcile, the second is through the blood of his cross.
Reconciliation means that you have a broken relationship. You don’t reconcile people who are fine. You only reconcile people who have a broken relationship. And the Bible is very clear, you read in many passages, Romans 5, 2 Corinthians 5, Ephesians 2, that at some point we as human beings had rejected God. And so we were not neutral.
You know people think we are neutral. Do you like God? “I don’t know.” Are you a friend with God? “I don’t know.” No, no. The Bible doesn’t say that. The Bible says we were enemies and rebels with God. So if they say do you like God? Before you come to know Jesus you don’t say “I don’t know.” Your whole body says “I’m against God!” “I’m opposing God, I’m rebelling against God!” Even if you are a nice person.
And if they turn to God and say do you like that person? God also is not saying “I’m neutral.” No! I want to jive that person, I want to punish them! Because they have rebelled against my authority.” So there was tension. There was enmity between man and God. And God decided to have Jesus as the only bridge between him and man. As the only one who could bring this relationship back to normal – to a place of peace. And that’s what he says. Making peace.
So God says “Ah yes. It’s fine. I want to make peace with men. But I’m only going to make peace with men through Jesus. No other way.” And how did he make peace? He tells us “through the blood of his cross.” Through the sacrificial substitutionary death of Jesus.
Blood means somebody had to pay. Somebody had to take my place and your place for our enmity and our rebellion against God. And that was not me. That’s why it’s called substitutionary. Jesus took my place. And in his place I receive the righteousness, the approval, and the love of God.
Do you remember when Jesus died on the cross one of the final words he says was “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” why have you abandoned me? And do you know why Jesus said that? Because at that very moment God was abandoning Jesus; God was rejecting Jesus. Because he was carrying your sin and my sin. And guess who was being accepted? Me and you.
You see he was abandoned and rejected so as me and you can be accepted as God’s children. He took my place and your place. And God says “I accept that sacrifice. I am pleased with that sacrifice. I am pleased with that reconciliation.”
So there is no other way you could be right with God. There is no other way. That’s what Paul says in the book of Acts. There is no other way that people can be saved apart from the name of Jesus. What does he mean? There’s no other way you can be right with God out side of Jesus. No way!
Why? Because that’s the way God chose. There’s no other way. God chose that way and only that way.
You know this morning I was sharing with people… I call it the complexity of simplicity. Sometimes when things are very simple we don’t understand them. Because we like things that are complex and complicated.
The Simple Story of Namaan
There’s a man called Namaan – Namaan was a great general in the army old time. And Namaan had grown up on the ladder, the social ladder. He was a successful man, a successful career as an army man. But unfortunately he had one problem, his bad skin. One little girl says to him “you know what? I know where you can get clean with that. You go to Israel they have this prophet and that prophet can pray for you and things will be nice.”
He goes to Israel, the prophet doesn’t even want to see him. And the prophet says “you know what? Go and wash in that river there and you’ll be clean.” Namaan says “I’m a general. I’ve fought wars. Tell me go fight. Tell me go and kill 100 people – I’ll go and kill 100 people. Tell me go up that mountain – I’ll go up it. How can you tell me to wash in this dirty river? It can’t be this simple!”
Namaan found out that it was that simple. He went into the water, came out clean body. They say in the Bible “as a baby.” It was that simple. Get into dirty water and out.
We Want More
The problem with us sometimes, is we don’t wan to be only trusting in Jesus, we want complicated things. We want people to come with an extra book and tell us keep these 10 laws, keep these 15 laws to be right with God. We want people to bring us special revelation and make us eat grass and fall out of the sky or whatever!
We want things to be complicated! And yet Jesus says it is simple as that. You want to be right with God? You trust in Jesus. It is as simple as that.
And what do we do? We say “it can’t be that simple, surely! Surely God must send this Big Man to tell me something new. Surely I must fast 100 days so as I can hear God’s voice in a special way. It can’t be that simple!” Well Jesus says it is that simple. Because God was pleased – in the person of Jesus – to reveal himself fully. And to have Jesus as the only way to be reconciled him.
It is that simple.
But let me and you not fall into the danger. Let me and you not look for complicated things. Some prophets who come from I don’t know where and start telling us I don’t know what. We have it all in Jesus. It is simple. The problem is, will you keep your trust fully in Jesus to be the only one between you and God?
Let’s bow our heads.
God has chosen Jesus as the only possible means to be reconciled with him. God has chosen Jesus as the only way you can come to know him – because Jesus is full of God. This puts Jesus in the place of choice in the plan of God.
This puts Jesus in the place where you cannot avoid him or run away from him. You have to pass through Jesus, and only through Jesus – nothing more, nothing less.
It is possible that in your life and in my life we have put other people or other things as intermediate between us and God. What are those things? And will you change them. Because either Jesus is the only way to God, or he is not.
He cannot have something else added onto him. And I hope you have not added anything over him.
There’s a prayer I am going to suggest to you. You don’t have to make the prayer but if the Lord leads you you can pray this prayer. You don’t have to say it aloud. You can say it in the quietness of your heart. I will say the words and you can repeat them after me quietly in your heart. Don’t say it loud.
Lord Jesus, forgive me for I have put other people and things between me and God and have forgotten that you are the only way for me to be right with God. You are all I need to be in the right relationship with God. Help me today to trust you. Help me to let go everything and all people that I’ve set between me and God.
And help me from now onwards to live a life where my trust is only in you, and in you alone. Amen.