by David C. Grabbe
CGG Weekly, May 16, 2014
"Sovereignty characterizes the whole being of God. He is sovereign in all his attributes."
In Parts One and Two, we saw that our Savior Jesus Christ has astounding power and creative ability, so much so that, as the apostle Paul writes in Hebrews 1:3, He is "upholding all things by the word of His power" (emphasis ours throughout). He was not only intimately involved in the creation of all things in the universe, including ourselves, but He now also sustains all the natural laws and functions of His marvelous creation. This is in addition to the fact that "He is the head of the body, the church" (Colossians 1:18), in charge of all the activities of those whom God has called.
In Colossians 2:9-10, Paul again mentions Christ's headship: "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the [divine nature] bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power." Christ is the head over every ruler and authority. He is far above every angel, every demon, and every man who has authority. It can also mean He is the overseer of every ability, privilege, capacity, liberty, and strength. In other words, every sentient thing in the universe that has the capacity to do anything at all is subject to Christ.
A few verses later, Paul mentions Christ's headship yet again:
Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. (Colossians 2:18-19)
This third time that Paul highlights Christ as the Head spells out that it is from Him that the Body—the church—grows with the increase that God gives. The New King James Version uses the word "increase," but the word is better understood as "growth." It is referring to growth in faith, character, understanding, and the image of the Father and the Son, rather than in numeric increase. In other words, the church grows spiritually by what the Head does.
We undoubtedly have a mental concept of the Creator of the universe—of His power, His forethought, His attention to detail, and so forth. However, in order to grow spiritually and to understand at least some of what is taking place in our lives, it is crucial that we do not separate our image of Him as Creator from His role as the Head of the church. He is the same Being, and His exercise of power in His spiritual creation is no less than what He does in the physical creation. In fact, His spiritual creation will result in something far greater than what He has made of matter.
In other words, the One who sent forth His Spirit to create the universe and breathe life into the physical world, also breathed on His disciples and endowed them with spiritual life (John 20:22). He laid the foundation of the church, and thus the church age, all the way back with the very first prophet, and continuing up through the apostles (Ephesians 2:20). He has set limits on the activities of the raging sea of humanity, and He regulates how and when those waves rush against His church.
He knows not only how the heavenly bodies influence the earth, but also how every aspect of our lives and interactions with other people affects both those others and our own spiritual development. He knows how a word, a smile, a gift, or a thoughtful gesture will foster growth when the time and circumstances are right—or will cause offense or division when the time and circumstances are wrong.
We are amazed at the physics involved in solar, lunar, and planetary motion, but that is child's play compared to the forces at work in human relationships. The human part of His creation is animate and rational—it moves and makes choices, and those choices increase the number of variables exponentially. Yet, just as He knows when every doe will give birth, He also knows where we have come from, what makes us tick, and why we may respond to something with indifference, while someone else responds with joy, rage, or fear—and vice versa. He knows how to work in the worst of circumstances (in our view) to produce growth.
He also manages the entropy in our lives, ensuring that things do not break down too much or too fast. Even as things break down on one level, on another level the spiritual creation is being built up. He is sustaining and guiding our spiritual growth into His image—we are part of the "all things" He is sustaining and advancing by the word of His power.
Ephesians 2:10 declares that we are His workmanship. He is the Potter and we are the clay (Isaiah 64:8). He must be the one doing the creating. None of us has seen the schematic for the finished spiritual product. We cannot make ourselves into His image. Not only do we lack the ability, but we also lack even the complete vision of what to work toward!
Nevertheless, as long as we remain in Him, and keep responding to Him in faith, obeying Him, and trusting Him with our lives, our spiritual growth will continue (see John 15:4-5). And if we ask Him, along the way He will give us glimpses of the spiritual creation that is taking place, both in our own lives and in the lives of others.