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THE CROSS AND THE AGES TO COME.
By G.Campbell Morgan.
"Through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross" (Col. 1 v20).
No consideration of these words can be satisfactory which does not recognize that they are part of a greater whole. The Colossian letter was written with the express purpose of correcting prevailing error. It is both interesting and instructive to note in passing that the erroneous teachers are not named, neither is the heresy stated. Paul was too wise to give gratuitous advertisement to the teaching or the teachers.
If there are differences of opinion concerning the errors which he wished to correct, we are certainly in no doubt concerning the truth which he set forth. The subject of the Colossian letter is pre-eminently that of the glories of the Christ in His relation to His Church. Its supreme word concerning Christ is, “For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him”. The supreme word concerning the Church is, “In Him you are made full”. The letter is the result of the conviction of the apostle that a true understanding of the fulness of Christ, in His Church, will correct all false philosophies.
This passage contains one of the most remarkable declarations of the New Testament concerning the greatness of the person of Christ and the greatness of His work. These are both dealt with in their relation to God, to creation and to the Church.
The greatness of His Person is set forth first in His relation to God, in the words, “The image of the invisible God”; secondly in His relation to creation in the words, “The firstborn over all creation .... in Him all things hold together”; thirdly in His relation to His Church, in the words, “He is the head of the body, the Church . . . the firstborn from among the dead”.
The teaching concerning the greatness of His work is inseparably connected with that concerning the greatness of His person. In regard to His work as revealer of God, “For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him”. In regard to His work with relation to that creation of which He is at once the source and sustenance, His mission is expressed in the words, “To reconcile to Himself all things”. Finally, His work concerning the Church, of which He is the Head, is expressed in the declaration, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death”.
The greatness of Christ’s person in relation to God is that He is “the image of the invisible God.” The greatness of His work in relation to God is seen in the fact that “God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him”. The greatness of His person in relation to creation is that He is “the firstborn over all creation . . . and in Him all things hold together”. The greatness of His work in relation to that creation is expressed in the words, "Through Him to reconcile to Himself all things. . . whether things on the earth or things in heaven”.
The greatness of His Person in relation to the Church is that “He is the head of the body, the Church.” The greatness of His work in relation to the Church is that of the reconciliation of individuals, in order that they may be built into the Church.
The fulness of the Person creates the fulness of the work. The immeasurable glory of the Christ as He is creates the immeasurable grace of the Christ as to what He is able to do in the centre and to the ultimate circumference of the universe of God.
The special message of these words is that God, through Christ, the image of God, the firstborn of creation, the Head of the Church, by the blood of His Cross, does reconcile not merely individual souls, but “all things . . . whether things on the earth or things in heavens”. This is a marvellous theme and is the ultimate meaning of the Cross.
‘In the Cross of Christ I glory, towering o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story gathers round its head sublime.’
If by that Cross all things in the heavens are to be reconciled and infinite peace is to follow, I dare trust it, notwithstanding all my sin and all my weakness. By the way of that Cross I am reconciled to God and through it I find rest, infinite, eternal, undying. At last my rest shall be rest with the whole creation, for the cosmic order will be restored through the mystery of God’s suffering as revealed in the Cross.
From: ‘The Bible and the Cross’.
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