by John F. Klem
Some of the very big questions of life relate to ultimate reality—specifically, How did this world come into existence, and why am I here at this moment? A Christian worldview is deeply rooted in God as creator and sustainer of everything that exists. The Advent season offers us the opportunity to see some of the colorful dimensions of this pillar in our Christian worldview. Consider, if you would, the New Testament passage of Colossians 1:15–17:
“[Christ] 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.”
In the Colossians 1 context, Paul argues that the Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest eternal person in both creation and redemption. This unit in the chapter has the literary form of a hymn about Christ. Stanza one (1:15–17) celebrates the relationship of Christ to creation, whereas stanza two (1:18–20) exalts the relationship of Christ to redemption. In keeping with our goal to see some of the beautiful dimensions of the creation pillar in our Christian worldview, let’s briefly unpack the jewels of verses 15–17.
Stanza one opens with the affirmation that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. We sing of Him as the eternal Son of God, Who made the invisible God visible to us (1 Tim. 1:17; Heb. 1:3; John 1:18). He is not a lesser person or some murky image of a greater being. When Jesus took on flesh and blood in the incarnation, He bore the image of the earthly Adam and the image of the heavenly God. Although we are created in the image of God, we do not fully manifest Him as does Jesus.
We also sing of Jesus as the firstborn of creation. This declaration has not been without controversy. As early as AD 324, Arius, an elder in Alexandria, believed that Jesus was not really eternal but a created being. The Council of Nicaea condemned his belief in light of the many Scriptures teaching the eternality of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:1–5; 8:58, 59; 17:5; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2, 3). Although the term firstborn can mean beget first, it is also used consistently to express a special relationship with the Father. As well, it is a term that expresses rank, place, and privilege. The parallelism of Psalm 89:27 functions in this way. When speaking of David, the writer documents, “I will make him my firstborn, the highest kings of the earth.” In Colossians, Paul places the “firstborn” statement between statements of Christ’s nature and work. Christ is the preeminent one in creation because of Who He is and what He has done.
The Colossians hymn directs us next to sing of Christ as the creator of everything. The declaration of Christ as the divine cause of all that exists distinguishes and beautifully colors our worldview (Gen. 1:1; John 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Heb. 1:2). The specific language of verse 16 places Christ over all the earthly power structures. In addition, the mighty prepositions by, through, and for present Christ as the powerful creator, the effective agent of creation, and the goal of creation.
Our final verse of the hymn (1:17) celebrates Him as the one having priority in time and position. Most amazing is the assertion that Jesus, the creator, is also the one holding all His creation together.
Maybe at this moment you are having a “yeah, but” moment. Are you thinking, “Nice hymn, interesting contribution to our Christian worldview, but what about all the problems, all the sin, and evil in this creation?” We are blessed to have the printed work and help of many godly scholars to guide our thoughts in response to our “yeah, but” question. Consider this response I was blessed to gather from an apologist. When asked a similar question, he responded out of the depths of his study on this matter and said that the one thing he knew is that the Creator of the universe personally addressed the problem of sin and death in the Incarnation and resurrection. When my wife and I heard this, we turned to each with tears of joy on our cheeks. O come, let us adore Him!
John F. Klem is director of Regular Baptist Press.
Regular Baptist Press is committed to providing educational resources that point people of all ages to Christ not just at Christmas, but throughout the year. RBP offers a wide range of curriculum, VBS programs, Bible studies, books, and training seminars that are Biblically sound, cover the entirety of Scripture, and designed for spiritual growth.
- Read the entire series of Advent meditations.