PREEMINENCE | His Story - Our Practice

Back to Sermon Archive

PREEMINENCE | His Story - Our Practice

Who is First? – Who or what do you make “First” in your life? What is “first” in your family, in our communities, and culture? There are a lot of good things competing to be our highest priority. Media and entertainment seek to captivate our attention. Political and social causes demand our allegiance. Family, work, exercise, and community consume our activity. Relationships, Food, art, music, and sports stir our affections. Not all we prioritized is profitable. In our pain, we seek comfort or numbness that can lead to consuming addictions. When hurt by others or experiencing shame we can practice isolation. In our longing, we can pursue lust, greed, or gluttony. Who or what we place, or practice, as first impacts our perspective on how we see an interact with the world. With so much taking our time, filling our thoughts, and clouding our vision, we can easily get disoriented and distracted from who we are called and intend to be. Clear perspective and consistent practices come from being properly oriented around who and what should be prioritized as “First”. Who should be first? If there is a God, one who created us and the world, one who knows us, one who has a purpose for us, one who is wise, powerful, loving, and “good”, then who we are, how we see ourselves and the world should be from the perspective of God being “first”. The Bible tells us about the God who is “first” and His name in Jesus. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. All things were created through him and for him 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. For in him all the fullness of and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. - Colossians 1:15-20 In this letter to a church in Colossi, the Apostle Paul describes Jesus’ role in the world, the church, and our lives. He uses the word Preeminent. Preeminent, in the original Greek, means to “hold first place, have the highest rank, possess the greatest dignity, or being chief”. The word is only used once in the entire New Testament and is exclusively ascribed to Jesus Christ as one who, in “everything”, is to be preeminent. Simply put, Jesus is, and is to be, “first” in literally all things. These verses help give us a robust understanding of the implications of Jesus being “first”. Jesus is the visible image of the unseen God. To see Jesus is to see God. Jesus is the “Firstborn”, meaning chief heir or ruler, of all creation. Jesus is the Creator God. He made all things, and all things are for Him. Jesus is the Sustainer. Everything is over seen held together by Him. Jesus is Head of God’s people. The Church is a body led and loved by Him. Jesus is Preeminent in everything. Jesus is First, He will not be second. Jesus is the Fullness of God. We know God when we know Jesus. Jesus is our Sacrifice. He suffers for us to reconcile us back to God. Jesus is our Peace. We have wholeness when Jesus is first in our lives. Jesus as preeminent defines His Story and determines Our Practice. His Story Who is the author of your story and every other story? We make bad authors because we are flawed characters. We write stories about us that are too small... because they start and end with us as “first”. When Jesus is first, we see a better author who has written a bigger story. His Story is the storyline of the Bible. In its simplest form the Bible can be understood through the four words: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration. CREATION | GOOD – In the Beginning God. God has made everything both seen and unseen and made them “Good”. Everything is made for God’s glory. God is the source of all life and joy. Humanity is God’s crowning achievement because we reflect the Creator’s image. Humanity is called to partner with God to creatively cultivate the world for an increase of flourishing. God and humanity are in perfect communion. FALL | BAD - Humanity rebels against the Creator by rejecting God’s good command in exchange for our own self-rule and separation from God. This rejection of God is sin, infecting every person and part of God’s good creation. We placed ourselves as first thinking it would lead to greater life, instead the consequences of our sin are death, suffering, disease, conflict, injustice, pain, toil, and separation between God and humanity. REDEMPTION | NEW - The Good God promises, and sends, a Redeemer to His people, Jesus Christ. In Jesus being truly God (God the Son) and truly man (born of a woman) He reconciles fallen humans to the perfect Creator by living a perfect (sinless) life, dying as a substitute for sinners on the cross, and resurrecting from death providing hope for this life and eternal life for those who believe in Him. Jesus ascends to heaven and sends the Holy Spirit to build His kingdom in the heart of His people. This redemption satisfies God’s just wrath and reconciles the estranged relationship between God and His people, adopted into His forever family. We are given a new identity and purpose where Jesus is first. RESTORATION | PERFECT - Jesus Christ who first came in humility, will return in glory to restore all His creation to God’s original intention, ushering in a new heavens and new earth. Sin, death, disease, and tears will be no more as all things are made perfect and joy will be fully realized as God and His people again, and forever, dwell in perfect communion. Jesus rules as king of this ever-increasing kingdom where His will is finally and fully done in earth as it is in heaven where Jesus is preeminent. It is in His Story where we find ourselves between the Redemption of Jesus at the cross, His resurrection and the Restoration of Jesus at His return. Creation is enjoyed in the natural and cultivated beauty of our word. The fall is still experienced as EVERYONE can agree that no one is perfect without sin and the world is clearly broken as war, injustice, and conflict are close at hand. Yet good news of Redemption purchased has given freedom to generations of believing Christ followers who have actively worked to cultivate the ways and values of God’s gracious kingdom all while fueled by the promise of future Restoration. It is through the lens of this simple, yet grand, unifying narrative of the Bible (and the world) that we can return to the various episodes and instructions of the Bible, as well as the experiences and emotions of our individual lives, and see them as part His Story where Jesus is First! Our Practice Jesus’ story saves individuals who respond by becoming part of His people the Church. Because Jesus is the Head of the Church, He should be Preeminent in our Practices. While not exhaustive, there are four essential ways of being, practices, marks of discipleship the church embodies and emphasizes with the hope of seeing Jesus be first in our hearts, finances, lives, church, community and beyond. At Mercy Fellowship we believe disciples of Jesus who see and respond to Jesus as first will be known individually and communally as people who: Gather – Because Jesus is preeminent, we gather around the person and work of Jesus for Jesus. Jesus First means participating with His people. Give – Because Jesus is preeminent, He is first in our finances. We give to the purposes of Jesus because He first gave Himself for us. Grow – Because Jesus is preeminent, we pursue growth in Him for Him. He is faithful for us and has called us to be fruitful. Go on Mission – Because Jesus is preeminent, His agenda is our first priority. His mission is our purpose. He lives so we live our lives for Him. Sermon Series Our goals for this series are the same for every series. We want the target of our affections, hope, and worship moved from the things of this world to the Creator of this world who reveals Himself through the scripture and most clearly in the person and work of His Son Jesus Christ. Additionally, as disciples of Jesus who are called to go into the world to make more disciples, we do seek to faithfully engage with a world opposed to the God of the Bible. We are to be disciples who are both “in the world” but not “of the world.” We will keep Jesus first. Our world tells us that joy, meaning, and purpose will all be found putting ourselves first, divorced from the Creator. It sells us a lie that simply “more” of nearly anything will fill us when it ultimately serves to expose our deep emptiness apart from God. We are told that we, who are the greatest hinderance to our flourishing, will somehow be the ones who will overcome ourselves by the sheer force of our own will. It is a contradiction that cannot be resolved by us alone. We cannot be saved, changed, or earn life for ourselves. When we have Jesus first we are rooted in the unearned grace of God through faith and are, Saved by Jesus’ Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’ Mission. Specifically, we hope this series helps those who know Jesus grow as disciples in three ways: 1. Shaped by Gospel Truth – We are people of the book. We study the Gospel Truth of Jesus in our place. What does God’s word to us in the Bible tell us about God, our world, and ourselves? How does knowing and seeing who God is lead us to deeper desire for Him? 2. Formed in Gospel Community – We are all made as individuals, but we are also made to be in communion with God and with His people. This means keeping Jesus first will be lived out in the context of an enduring community created by and held together by the Gospel. How does the Gospel change us as individuals and as a people? 3. Propelled to Gospel Living – Being a disciple of Jesus is never less than knowing, affirming, and believing Gospel Truth of the Living Hope we have in the Risen Jesus. However, it is always more than simple, intellectual assent; it changes our lives. How does knowing what Jesus has done for us lead us to a new life of holiness and mission for Him? Also, as with every sermon series we preach, PREEMINENCE is explicitly evangelistic. Our hope is those who do not know the glorious treasure of Jesus would hear and understand the Gospel. That many would reflect on their own lives, see their sin and brokenness, acknowledge where they have put themselves first, their need to put Jesus first and be made new, and then respond to the offer of life with God in Christ. We pray we will be Urgent Ambassadors! God saves people, in part, to proclaim His salvation to others as we are built into the people and temple of God. All of us have sinned, so everyone needs to hear the Good News that for our sake God made sinless Jesus take our sin and gave us His righteousness so we can have great and lasting satisfaction and wholeness in this life and the life to come when we Trust Jesus!

January 8, 2023

PREEMINENCE | Week 1 | Preeminent Story | Genesis-Revelation

Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: PREEMINENCE | His Story - Our Practice Topic: Gospel Passage: Genesis 1–2, Matthew 1–4, Revelation 21–22