Preeminence

Colossians 1:18
And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

There is an alarming trend in many modern mainline Christian denominations: Jesus is no longer the head of the church. Instead, the preeminence of Jesus has been replaced by steering committees, doctrinal conferences, image consultants, media managers, and democratic conventions. In short, the church is being ruled by the body, rather than by the Head.

The change was gradual, starting hundreds of years ago as Christian theologians were influenced by humanist philosophies. Eventually, the strict moral code we find in the Bible was supplanted by “natural morality”–i.e. a moral code that supposedly emanates from human reason, from what we think is our conscience. Of course, centuries ago, that same reasoning abhored some behaviors that today we accept as commonplace, and so it is easy to see that such a “logical” morality is little more than the satisfaction of human whims and desires. We might as well sum up the whole of the secular humanist morality in one sentence: “If it feels good, do it.”

But that is not how God sees the world, and contrary to the humanist view, He did not lay down the Ten Commandments and the rest of the law to satisfy the whims of a few Hebrew elders who wanted tighter control over the people. The law has not changed in millennia, and Jesus Himself said that not one part of it would be done away with until the end of time. (Matthew 5:18) So what makes us think that we can just pick and choose what is right and wrong in that law? What makes us think that just because we live under the grace of the gospel, we can suddenly utterly ignore the very law that Jesus came to fulfill?

Many times in the history of the church–and again recently–there have been those who tried to reinterpret the Bible according to contemporary trends in society. It has run the gamut from justifying slavery and war to allowing sexual immorality and murder. And each time, the clergy who do this reinterpretation make the same claim: the men who wrote the Bible didn’t see the needs of the present day, and therefore the law is outdated. “They didn’t really mean that such-and-such was an abomination. Reason dictates that we should allow such behavior.” Oh? Then what DID the writers of the Bible mean? Or, more to the point, since all of Scripture is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17), what did the God Himself mean? And if “reason” is dictating what we believe, then what role does God play at all?

The mantra from reinterpreters these days is that Jesus just wants us to love one another–even if the expression of that love is something that God says in the Bible He abhors, that it is an abomination before Him. They take Jesus’ instruction to “love one another” and inflate that to fill the gaps in the glaring omissions of their theology. And they forget that while Jesus is the head of the church, Someone Else is the head of Jesus.


1 Corinthians 15:26-28
26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
27 For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted.
28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.

Yes, we are subject to Jesus Christ, but even He is subject to God the Father, who is “all in all.” Jesus sits at the right hand of God, He does NOT sit in the place of God. (Hebrews 12:2) That is why the law is immortal and immutable, because God’s place as head of the universe has not changed. When Jesus said that He was giving the disciples a “new commandment” to “love one another,” He did not say that this new commandment outweighed or replaced all the other commandments. (John 13:34) Quite the contrary, Jesus said that love of God and love of neighbor was the pinnacle of the law, the thing from which all the law and the prophets depend. (Matthew 22:40) No, the different commandment was that they love one another “as I have loved you.” How did Jesus love them?


John 13:14-17
14 “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15 “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
16 “Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.
17 “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

John 15:12-14
12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
13 “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
14 “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.”

Jesus set the example by laying aside His personal comfort and glory to be glorified instead by serving God the Father, by adhering to the spirit of the commandments without ever ignoring them or rewriting them to suit the mores of the day. Our Savior did not go to the Cross to break the tablets of the law and free us to do whatever we like. Rather, He died in agony to free us from the sinful side of our nature and enable us to be guided by the Holy Spirit. Jesus died so that God could remove our hearts of stone where we had written our own law of sin and death, and replace them with hearts of flesh that are full of the Spirit of life.


Ezekiel 11:19-21
19 “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh,
20 “that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.
21 “But as for those whose hearts follow the desire for their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord GOD.

The new heart we are given is God’s heart, a heart that finds its vitality in serving Him, just as Jesus found His life in serving the Father. But if we adhere to the dictates of our own hearts, then we will surely face judgment for that sin.

Make no mistake, placing committees and doctrinal revision conferences ahead of the Word of God is not just folly, it is SIN. Jesus didn’t use the Word of God to proof-text His own views, He used it to defeat Satan and His followers at their own game. Our Lord turned the tables on those who claimed the Bible justified their rulership of other men, and He showed Satan and the Pharisees and Saducees and Romans and even demons that God’s rulership has not changed.

Let us reflect, therefore, on the preeminence of Christ. If He truly is the head of our churches, then we must truly follow His example not only in love but in OBEDIENCE. We must remember that even Jesus the Son served the will of God the Father, and that today, when we allow the Holy Spirit to rule our lives, we, too, are serving God. The law has not been replaced but has instead been made easier for us, because what flesh was unable to do in fulfilling righteousness through the law, Jesus Christ has done through the Cross. (Romans 8:3-4) We have been given His righteousness and His Spirit. And if that Spirit is to rule our lives, then we must serve God through adherence to the law which He wrote with His own hand, doing just as Jesus did and allowing God the Father to be preeminent in all we say and do.

Holy Father God, You alone rule the universe. Though Satan for a time may reign on earth through the sinfulness of men, Your Son has already defeated him, and we will one day reign alongside Jesus in His coming glory. You are our “Abba” Father, but You are also our King, the true head of all that is, and we desire to serve You. We desire to love as Jesus loved and serve as He served, caring for friends and enemies alike and bearing the burden of the gospel even unto death. I ask You, Lord God, search my heart and tell me each day how I may serve You. Amen.

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About Glenn Pettit

I am a deacon at The Well of Iowa, and husband to a beautiful wife and the father of four lovely kids. Called to teach and to preach, I write fresh messages about the Bible every now and then.
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