This Week’s Sermon

Here is the video from this week’s On-Line Worship time.  Below it is the text of my sermon.  To see this and all previous weeks’ videos, go to “On-Line Worship” or click HERE.

~ September 24, 2023 (Contemporary Worship) ~
~ September 24, 2023 (Traditional Worship) ~

All the Fullness of God

Psalm 118, Colossians 1:9-3
September 24, 2023

In the past couple of weeks I’ve read and preached from two of my favorite passages in the whole Bible.  First, it was Ephesians 3.  “Now unto him who, by the power at work within us, is able to do far more abundantly than all we can ask or think…”  Then last week it was I Corinthians 1.   “…God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are.”

So, this week, I thought, “Why not?”  “Why not go with another of my favorite passages?!”  So today it’s Colossians 1.  And this one is another of the great passages where Paul is really on a roll!  It has been called greatest description in the whole Bible, of who Jesus was and is!

If you ever find yourself in a place where you aren’t sure, if you’re ever struggling with whether Jesus was just a man who was used by God, or if he were just a good ethical teacher, or if he was just a martyr who somehow rallied his followers to continue his cause; if you’re ever unsure of any of it, read this passage from Colossians.  Hear it again from one who definitely was sure of who Jesus was!

The heading of this paragraph in my Bible says, “The Supremacy of Christ.”  And this is what Paul says, “He (Jesus) is the visible image of the invisible God, the first born in all creation.”  “For in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, dominions, principalities, or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.”  That doesn’t sound like someone who was just a great ethical teacher to me!

He continues, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”  That doesn’t sound like someone who was just a man used by God!  “He is the head of the body, the Church.  He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent.”  “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.”  And there’s the title for this sermon.  “All the Fullness of God.”  Then the ending, “And God, through him, reconciled to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

Again, that is one of the greatest statements ever written about the person and work of Jesus Christ.  And it leaves no doubt about who he was and is and what he has done!

Paul wrote those words because he had heard of some false teaching going on in the church in Colossae, which was a city not too far from Ephesus.  Both were in Asia Minor, which was now modern day Turkey.  And remember, this was all so new to them.  People were just hearing about this man Jesus.  And in many cases, they weren’t sure what to think and believe.  And it was up to these Apostles – the guys who started many of these churches – to help them get along with each other, and to be sure they knew what to believe about this new faith.

Well, Paul had heard that the Colossians had been following some teachings that lessened the importance of Jesus.  And they had been following some practices that emphasized the ascetic principles of severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of personal indulgence, thinking they were right with God if they lived pure enough.  They were similar to the Stoic philosophers that Paul had encountered in Athens.  (You can go back and read about them in my sermon “The God We Know” from August 6th.)

These people were being taught that the whole “Jesus thing” was all well and good, but that it was the life that they led, the kinds of things they avoided, and the things they denied themselves, that were the most important principles of life.  And they were believing that those practices were what made them ok with God.

What does that sound like?  It sounds like what’s happening in our world!  Doesn’t it?  People in our world don’t want to give Jesus any kind of “supremacy.  They want to take away his power, and even downplay his atonement.  They want to believe that God is too nice to judge anybody, “so we don’t have to worry about that.”  They want to believe that the cross isn’t all that important.  We just have to live a good life.  And you know, for most of us, that’s not that tall an order.  We already do live pretty good lives.  It could be easy to fall into that way of thinking.  So why do we need to bother with all that atonement jazz?

That’s how a lot of people think.  We hear that all the time.  And that message is growing stronger all the time in our modern world!  It’s no wonder it tries to creep its’ way into our way of thinking.  It’s too easy these days to think, “I’m good enough.  And that’s good enough!”

Well, Paul would say no.  And I would agree with him.  And remember again, in all of this, that they had no New Testament.  They had no Gospels.  They had no books of Christian doctrine.  They only had the teaching of the Apostles and the letters they wrote.  So in a sense they did have a little bit of the New Testament in these letters.

But before they received this letter, before they received Paul’s teaching, they didn’t know any better.  They didn’t know that they were off track.  Their idea of faith seemed pretty good to them!  They thought “they were good enough, and that was good enough.”  Or they thought that if they could strive to be good enough, then that was good enough!  They didn’t know that they were losing some of the importance of Jesus in their faith.  They weren’t concerned about it.  And they may have been uncomfortable with the whole idea!

Can you imagine, then, what it was like when their worship leader stood up and read this letter to them for the first time?  Can you imagine what it was like to hear these words about Jesus?  “He is the visible image of the invisible God!  He was the first born in all creation.  For in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.”

Paul firmly believed, and boldly taught, that nobody is “good enough,” but that it is through this Jesus that we are made good enough!  In him, God was reconciling to himself all things – including us – through the blood of the cross.  That is what makes us “good enough!”

That’s where this hits home with us.  Jesus is who Paul says he is.  In him, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.  Because of that we are reconciled – and not by anything we have done, or any life we have led, but through what he has done through the cross.  And yes, we do live the life of faith the best we can, but not because doing our best makes us “good enough.”  We live the life of faith the best we can, because God has made us good enough.  And if you think about it, that makes the life of faith way more than simply “good enough.”  “Remember, “Through the power at work in us, God is able to do far more abundantly than we can ask or think.” (Ephesians 3)

And it’s even more than that.  Remember Paul’s prayer for the believers in Ephesians 3.  He prayed that they (and we) be rooted and grounded in love, and have the power to comprehend with all the saints (us!) what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that we may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

There are those words again.  “All the fullness of God.”  And in this case, it’s about us!  “In Jesus, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,” as he told the Colossians.  And because of that, we too may be filled with all the fullness of God,” as he told the Ephesians!  That’s way more than just “good enough!”

And it’s all because Jesus was not just a man used by God, not just a great teacher, not just an inspirational leader.  He is all these things Paul says about him here in Colossians, because in him “All the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.”


Eternal God, we thank you that you became one like us in Jesus Christ.  And we thank you that you give us the power to become like him.  Help us in our journey through this life to keep our eyes on him, the pioneer and perfector of our faith, that we may be filled with all of your fullness.  For we pray in his name, Amen.