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Part I


In the New Testament the Old Testament emphasis on the deity of the Messiah is fully confirmed (see above, The Last, Vast Vision of Ezekiel, pp. 55-63, esp. *1 on p. 63.)

Thus in Colossians 1:15 we have some interesting revelations, which deeply surround in majesty, the stark words of Philippians 2, that He, the Christ, is equal with God, but voluntarily entered a humbling condition for needful service for the satisfaction of sin and he release of His people.

Let us consider for example Colossians 1:15-19 in this regard.

He, Christ, is the image of the invisible God. Now images in the 10 commandments, are forbidden as objects of worship, but of this Christ, it is said that every knee shall bow to Him to acknowledge Him Lord, in the context of Isaiah 45 where that is the peculiar, specific prerogative of THE LORD, who will not give His glory to another (Isaiah 43:8-10). Indeed, it is in context that Christ's form, as God, is not something less than equality with God. This, John 10:30-33 exhibits, was the meaning taken by the Jews for His claim; just as John 8:58 shows it was the claim indeed made. They did not err in their assessment of that, but in their response to the One who made that claim.

What then should an image be, if it does not represent Him whom it images? And in Hebrews 1 we find He is the exact image. What then is an image to have in height and depth that IS an exact image, if it lacks, as image of God, what is specific and peculiar to deity! It is then no image at all, but an idol. Hence Christ is in visible form, what God in His own form is as invisible - Colossians 1:15. {For convenience some chapter and verse numbers hereunder, when the epistle is not cited,  are all from COLOSSIANS}.

It is THUS that He is as "firstborn of all creation".

This is for several reasons. First His IDENTITY as God means that relative to creation over which He is Lord, He acts as the inheritor, the one with inheritance rights and privileges. Secondly, it means that since He is the One who INVESTED creation, by taking the form of a man in due time, then He has SPECIAL involvement in it, and hence is firstborn as among it. That is how the term is relevant. In context, it comes because


This being first-born from the dead (d)*1 is not possible without first investing the creation, visiting it in a format which could conceivably suffer death, albeit vicariously.

This thrust is immediately confirmed in the context, Colossians 1:16, where the reason for His being the firstborn over all creation is explicit: FOR BY HIM ALL THINGS WERE CREATED.  In the immediate context, THIS is the instant thrust of reason. As the Creator of all things, on personal appearance AMID all things, He has, despite being thousands of years later than the creation, instant position over it all. It is not only as the firstborn to whom the inheritance comes; for it is a unique position. ONLY GOD has created all things (Isaiah 45:5-12, 16-18,22, 44:24-26, 43:10-11). Hence as in Colossians 1:16 as in 2:9, His overwhelming position as the firstborn over all creation is not only because it is His work (within the Trinity as in Col. 1:19), but because He did this AS GOD, and now comes to man, as liberal, free-giving Saviour.

He comes not only to His own in covenantal relationship, Israel, but beyond this to the entire world in His bounty (John 3:16-18),  with His mercy in His sovereign and sacrificial role. THIS sovereign chooses to serve as Saviour. He has it because it is His. Nothing COULD be  clearer, or more explicit. He has come as in 1:19ff., because of the equally overwhelming love of God, whom it pleases to reconcile again, in comprehensive outreach, ALL things to Himself, and that with the foundational provision of the blood of the Cross, sufficient for all, adapted to all, and a ransom for those who received it, these being many (Matthew 20:28, 26:28, Romans 8:32, Isaiah 53:3-6, John 1:12). In Isaiah it is those who have been healed through His stripes of the gullt and power of their crucial defect ... sin. It is these whose sin is laid on Him. If this is not done, they will die in their sins (as in John 8:24).

Thus not only do we find the perspective and point of this firstborn in Colossians 1:16, in sharp definition, but the case has even broader grounds as pointed out. Accordingly, we find more in Colossians1:19ff., where after the list of His eminences including being likewise the firstborn from the dead, we learn of this venture to earth, after the word "FOR", once again. THIS is one of the grounds of His being firstborn. Indeed, it proceeds to show Him as in fact, sole Saviour with precisely the same scope in tending reconciliation towards all creation, as in making it; for He is shown and is categorically above all that to which He as sovereign, Lord and Saviour directs His attention.

Thus this we find: Fully equipped as God, whether in the creation or the rising from the dead, He achieves through His work, a primacy not from history in its sequence, which had long flowed in both creation and in death, but in entering the one from beyond it, as its maker, and evacuating the other from within, as its victor.

For THIS firstborn, it cannot and does not therefore mean that He took His place as by nature part of what is in fact CREATION, since one major reason given for His being firstborn, other than His IDENTITY, is His action in CREATING ALL THINGS. Therefore He comes as its Creator, with infinite uniqueness, but in the staggering position of a servant to achieve salvation within it. As John 1:3 tells us, nothing that was made was made without Him. If it is a made thing, HE made it, as the Word of God. When therefore He came into it choosing to use the form so made for this purpose, and that for the achievement of salvation of many, His love reaching out to all, He is more than the prince choosing to serve as a mere private in the army. He is God choosing to serve though without sin, in the form of a man, to slave away to achieve salvation ready for any. He WORKED hard in the creation; He LABOURED lovingly in the salvation. There is no indolence about God.

As to Himself,  since ALL things were made by Him, He cannot be one of that category. As maker of a category you cannot be one of it before it is there. These are mutual exclusives.

It is not only that if He were a made thing, He would then have to have been there anyway to do the making as one of the ALL! This means that He could not then make ALL things, having preceded them in order to do the work. That is a flat contradiction. If He were to be a made thing, and He made all that is made, then quite simply, He has to put Himself there unmade, so that  He is there to do it. But how would He put Himself there if not in existence! In other words, past such ludicrous entanglements of contradiction, He the Eternal God, made the entire category of things made as it cause and origin, so that made things could even exist at His behest, author, sovereign and maker of ALL. Since many are blinded, it is good to supply salve from the word of God.

Thus efforts to make the creator of all things, to be Himself one of these by nature is not just a fanciful flush of imagination, but a wilful distortion. Maker of all things He stands over all things, as the categorical Creator, hence outside the category of His creation, just as an author is emphatically outside the cover of, and contents within, his book. Let us review it a little.

Accordingly, as making  ALL, that entire category that is made, He is thereby excluded as its institutor, from a category subject to and derived from Himself. He could not have total coverage as creator of every made thing, of all things, if He were one of them, for then, being not yet made (by Himself), He would be a being non-existent, He has to be there to do the making of all things, hence excluded from His product, and prior to it both logically and temporally, indeed beyond the time He created amongst the rest (Romans 8:36). Therefore to be a made thing, He would have to create as not there.

"ALL THINGS" are those which He has created, the whole paraphernalia of that domain, not all things except Himself as one member of it! It states not that, but the opposite to such an exclusion. To say that is to add to and to contradict what He says: He says, ALL THINGS, and if one says NOT all things, then that is a flat contradiction. Again, He cannot be firstborn in one category as PART of it, if He is the author of the category AS SUCH. Far less could He be intended to be understood as PART of creation BECAUSE He invented it, which is what the text proceeds to state in verse 16. He is the firstborn, as stated, disrupting normal status, because He is beyond all status within the creation for the simple and stated reason: it is BECAUSE HE CREATED it! To depart from this statement of cause and effect, is not only contradiction, but it is to make absurdity yearn for a new dimension of logical dislocation!

Nor indeed could He be firstborn who is NOT ONE of the family from the parent, for that is precisely WHAT a firstborn is. That is the matter of the incarnation and virgin birth. He, Creator of all creation, and maker of all things that can be called 'made', is in this divinely constructed episode of vast significance for ALL, now brought to human existence AS BORN. We have been concentrating on the first, but now look at the 'born' part of it. He as God was born among men for a work, mission, being commissioned by His Father as in John 3:16 and Isaiah 48:15ff.. This transference of identity to flesh involves two necessities: first, that it be God who is so come. God being a trinity, as in Isaiah 48, is both God the sender and God the sent. Secondly, it involves that God for a true birth, instils into a womb, what enables the equivalent of what would be the father donation, from supernatural form, making a format for that womb. He does this in His own way, but it is done as explained in Luke 1:35. It is because Mary in this regard is to be overshadowed by the Most High that "THEREFORE" He is to be called the Son of God. THAT is the eminence and the pre-eminence, the lowliness and the self-humiliation, the glory and the goodness of our God.

What then ? In this case, the WHOLE of creation is what HE HIMSELF MADE, so that He is not in the concept of firstborn as if a brother by His being a creature. He is in fact a brother to His own people by change of format and entering in new form the created realm, all of which emanated through Him; and by then proceeding to die for the coverage of the sins of those who are His, and to rise again in the demonstration of His deity and His security over the disruption of death for His covered children (as in I Corinthians 15).

This provision was broad enough to secure His aim, while He was, as God and retaining His essential character despite this self-chosen lowliness in mission, and narrow enough to cover sin, He being so pure as to be and remain sinless, ( I Peter 2:22). THIS, all the sons of Adam are not! (Romans 3:23). In this, He ALSO is unique. HE in this also is decisively different, utterly divergent and above the category of the saved, AS the Saviour: Romans 8:3, John 8:42-47. Such is the brilliant and glorious uniqueness of God. Indeed, the Saviour does what the Father does IN THE SAME WAY (John 5:19-23) as the Father, a thing impossible for the non-infinite to perform. By how much? by an infinitude!

Thus the image of firstborn is here expressly the image of the invisible God (Hebrews 1:3), not the image of what is inherently the creation, as if merely being  "made in" the image of God, which is INFINITELY DIFFERENT. Something can assuredly be made IN that image, after that kind, AS created, and have certain points of contact. You can have a derivative in creation, by contrast to the One from whom it is derived, as man is. This can then be given an avenue for fellowship with His Maker. That is mankind. That creation at that level, produces an enabling for transition to the form of man,  on the part of God, and it also enables man to be brought back to the image of his first, unbefouled creation, as in Colossians 3:10, should He who first created all, so desire. This was indeed the case with mankind. Though a diminutive and derived wonder, it is yet a marvel of kindness, a flush of goodness and a brilliance of giving.

Here is to be achieved what is nothing less than the reconciliation as in Colossians 1:19. You take it or leave it; but like the creation itself, it is a gift from God. Just as the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), so FOR MAN, the work-free gift of God is life everlasting. All things cohere as truth does, one thing fortifying and calling for another, like a tissue. How glorious is the God of all truth and comfort, and His salvation! How reckless to heckle it, or seek to harass or defile it! Yet this is the gift of liberty IN the image of God, and without it, love would become meaningless. With it, it is so intensely meaningful as man so often finds in his own life; and more so, here, when it is a basis FOR life itself.

That is precisely what Philippians 2 tells us is the case -


on arrival,
(there being by the nature of the case, ONLY ONE of those - and He was THIS, statedly BECAUSE He created all things, the whole visible and invisible structure of what is not God - Colossians 1:15-16 cf. John 1:3).

He was thus manifest, relative to His Father, as

To be THE image of God, and at that the EXACT image (Hebrews 1:3), the expressive representation with precision, indeed as Colossians 2:9 tells, to possess "in bodily form the fulness of the Godhead" is a post so high as to govern the whole area of height, which is itself a creation (Romans 8:39).

It requires eternity, since this is basic to the deity, and sinlessness since the divine nature in its plenary wonder, and sin obscures; it means there was nothing made that was not made by Him, as John 1:3 declares. THAT MADE CATEGORY is as excluded from Him as the increate criterion is included.

It means no less that the FREELY SAVED category is as sure as His love, since this is the result of His work, in the recipe for it, and a prodigy offered to all (Romans 3:23ff., 8:29ff.). 

It requires God to be God. It is for deity to operate with the criteria and characteristics of deity, with exactitude! No man but God only can contain all that God is (John 16:15, Colossians 2:9), exactly represent all the criteria of His nature, glow with the intrinsic radiance which is definitive of  His own nature, exclusive to it, any more than a finite number can masquerade an infinite one! Had He not come in the form of man and with the cast of Saviour, He would have been unapproachable (I Timothy 6:16, John 1:1,14, 1:18, Titus 2:11-13). Now those who receive fromthis universal offer, through His grace become IRREPROACHABLE! His credits for their debits in glorious exchange (Romans 8:31-34). As man, God becomes approachable with facility; as saved, those who receive Him become irreproachable. What a double benefit is this...

Sublimity has no contestants for its place (Psalm 89:8, Isaiah 44-45), nor does truth allow it any (Isaiah 42:8, 43:10-11). The ONLY Saviour, who is the Redeemer of His people (Isaiah 44:6) is the One who REDEEMS (Isaiah 53:6-10), as broadly as the world; the Messiah is He. The FORM of the Godhead similarly, in which Christ was in the glory before the foundation of the world (John 17:3), involves ALL that is special to God (John 15:16), as the form of a man involves all the same for that creation. And what IS that which relates to  God? Especially it is being increate, omnipotent, from everlasting to everlasting, and so on. THIS is that Christ and no other: in that form He is what He is (John 8:58, Exodus 3:14), and, wholly righteous, unchanged in nature, He took and used our own. What used it was His own.

Now let us revert to His title, or the titular parade in truth, Colossians 1:18 prior to the "FOR" which tells us of His coming to earth in v.19. This is one of the "FOR" list, starting in v.16, and each shows the appropriateness and ground of His exaltation. HE is THE image of the INVISIBLE GOD, HE is THE FIRSTBORN over creation, THE FIRSTBORN from the dead, that in ALL things He might have the pre-eminence (1:18).

Why this pre-eminence? As already told, and as to come, in v.19, because

All THE fulness of God means all that is specific to God, unique, without exception or exemption: Creator, Maintainer, Majesty, Irresistibility ... Hence He is firstborn from the dead, having pre-eminence in all things, as before, being THE image of God, not merely one made after it, He is firstborn over all creation: further justified in the text by His having invented the creation, not only the visible but  invisible, it being His production and His place of rule. There is no domain, no crevice in eternity, no crevasse in time to which He cannot attain, over which He does not have sovereignty, to which His love cannot reach. Exclusion is on grounds undistortable,

THAT is the MAGNIFICENCE of the Messiah. But Paul is not finished. His journey to earth was no mere display. Quite the contrary: His Cross where He made peace was like a slow-acting electric chair. It took som,e  six hours to be effective on Him, that He might subdue it for many. The term is full of the most hideous connotation of crime, penalty and ferocity of justice roused, to overcome in total rejection the object of its wrath. THAT is where He WENT in satisfaction of His purpose, to bring RECONCILIATION TO ALL THINGS; a purpose however limited by the sanctity of love (I Corinthians 13), which does not force, while at the same time protecting from any error in PREDESTINATION. Through this, it is ensured that His purposes are all in the end perfectly fulfilled in the lavish wonders of God's mercy, reaching what may in exuberant love be reached, but never gulled. As Ephesians 1:4-5 tells us likewise, EVEN THERE, in predestination, it was executed IN CHRIST (cf. Matthew 22:1-14). What HE IS, is true of God always. Glory in this, for the Bible like lightning, exposes it in continual flashes, with the thunder of His majesty accompanying.

Here then is FURTHER MAGNFICENCE so that the magnitude of the wonder of the Messiah, the image of the invisible God, should not rest only in His eternity and creation of all that is made, but also in His expression of the love which He IS (I John 4:8-10) and with which He moves; the practicality (which after all, as Creator of things that move in this world, is HIS invention for it) and in the self-discipline*2 involved (cf. Hebrews 5, Luke 22:44-46).

That is the sweep of the Saviour, the all-engulfing totality of His splendour at work, freely providing all things from His splendour for all in their squalor, that of sin. To deny Him is to opt negatively for all that denies splendour and height and wonder, to embrace squalor and to earn the right to be condemned even in the face of such love as this (John 3:15-36, 15:21-24). "All things" are accordingly specified FOUR TIMES in Col. 2:15-16, the signature of superabundant power and grace. In the face of this, it is quite an achievement to enter hell; though the Class of Mankind is quite spectacular in managing it in many members (Matthew 7:13ff.).


Note: See also The Unsurpassable Pinnacle which is Christ, pp. 91-100 above, The Last Vast Vision of Ezekiel and references in *1 at that place; and The Everlasting Gospel, Item 17, with Item 13, at A Note that is Obligato, pp. 69ff. in Barbs, Arrows and Balms and SMR pp. 532-560.

... and THE LORD AT WHOM TO LOOK: Mark 1-2

Part II


One episode in the life of Christ presents in graphic historical colour, impactive and instantaneous force and intended directness one of the special features of deity in a way which, like someone in science challenged to PERFORM the experiment noted, was DEMONSTRATIVE in deed as incisive in word. The incident in view is that most dramatic one in Mark 2.

Here the creative power of the wisdom of God is seen indeed in personal format,

It came like a flood of rising waters, night by night reaching to overflow the riverbanks in cumulative rains. In Mark 1:21 His speech "astonished" the people, because "He taught them a one having authority, and not as the scribes" embalmed in their "here a little, there a little" sports and pastimes (Isaiah 29:11-13). To add to this, a man with an unclean spirit had cried out,

"Let us alone! What have we do with You ... Did You come to destroy us?
I know who You are - the Holy One of God!"

(1:24). Christ was not merely recognised by this evil thing, but identified, though not, it is notable to observe, as Saviour, the Christ - just as in Philippi (Acts 16) the were proclaiming the "way of salvation" - so the evil spirit attested, not Christ as Saviour.

The spirits recognise and obey, the word is uncovered like a scene from which the obscuring mist is removed, evil is removable at His will. Already they were saying,

"What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obeyed Him" -1:27.

Small wonder His fame spread throughout all the regions (1:28).

Public and private, His work was the same. Now Peter's wife's mother has fever: He removes it and she arises to serve them. News spread, people collected - the universal specialist was on scene, at no charge. So

"all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed" were brought to the door.
"He healed many who were sick with various disease ...
and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him"

the world beyond was in His power.

He arises for sweet communion with His Father (John 8:29), all looking for Him. But His evangelical purpose takes precedence over healing (1:38).

In Mark 1:40-45, we read again of the matter of Christ's WILL being involved, not His power, in healing the leper. Here was personality as the top, and the ultimate actions of regeneration of human flesh at once, occurred by personal divine action, like mini-testimonies to the draftsmanship and might of the creation (cf. II Corinthians 4:6).

As if THAT were not enough, now a leper wants healing. Not HAVE YOU THE POWER, but ARE YOU WILLING? is already the relevant question. "I WILL!" says the Lord, "BE CLEAN!".  The leper is healed, and in the interests of presenting the word before the work, salvation before regeneration of flesh, He charges him NOT to tell others, but to be quiet. He did not want to swamped in the secondary things.

Now He is found in a house, so that the door is crowded and people with a paralytic have to take the stretcher onto the roof in order to gain access by opening it up from above. Jesus is not so impressed with the disease as with the faith of the transport officers (2:5), and going to the heart of the matter, as becomes the LORD (Jeremiah 17:9), who ALONE knows the heart, He straightaway declared, "Son, your sins are forgiven you!" Now when Billy Graham reportedly said that of President Clinton, or such words, it was at once recognised as gross presumption. Was Graham sinned against, did he know the heart of the man, or could he proclaim what ONLY GOD could know? Granted the Gospel assures it, but it is the prerogative of God to forgive sins, since only He knows faith infallibly, because statedly, ONLY HE knows the heart!

To forgive sins you have to be God or presumptuous. Certainly, you could bind and loose things, where the application of the word is clear, as in cases covered by the word of God; and you could clear a doctrine as Biblical; but when the heart is concerned, only God can declare infallibly - indeed, as Paul puts it in difficult circumstances,

"The Lord knows those who are His,
and let everyone who names the name of Christ, depart from iniquity!"
(II Timothy 2:19).

But THIS MAN FORGAVE SINS. No question of this, uttering a principle - IF you believe Me and so on. Not at all - He simply, unconditionally forgave. To Him therefore it was clear there was repentance (Luke 13:13-3), by a power which the deity shares with none: again, statedly. If ever there was a blatant action, this was it - if He were not God. If ever there were a natural and proper action, this measures up to it at the best, since He was God. Was He actually... the LORD?

This question pulsed in their hearts, for they were not ignorant of the prophecies and promises, to the point that the expectation of the Messiah was great! "To THIS man will look," says the LORD,
" even to him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word" - Isaiah 66:2 (italics added). The Lord could indeed look, since He was there, in visible expression and form in that house, talking to them.

"Against You, You only have I sinned and done this iniquity in Your sight!" exclaims a repentant and poor David , that you may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge!" (Psalm 51:4). Here then was GOD judging! Was not God always telling them in the Old Testament that He put away their sin, or that they would be penalised because of obstructive and chronic, unrepentant baseness of conduct and hardened hearts! Was THIS MAN to pre-empt the Almighty, and declare to someone whom He had just met, that his sins were forgiven!

The thing seemed preposterous! They protested, challenging Him: "Who can forgive sins but God only!"

Christ did not dispute their finding. He did not tell them that they had misinterpreted things. Quite the contrary, He took them up on it, He accepted the challenge, He put it to the test: no question of apologising for any appearance of blasphemy, only an answer of asserting that HIS was this power on earth, using the term "Son of Man", man famous in Daniel 7 where it is used of the One to assume all power of all dominions for ever, in divine splendour.

"THAT YOU MAY KNOW...", these were His words. Ignorance was their lot, knowledge His. They protested on a premiss not dismissed, He contested on a power appropriate even to THIS ascription, that He could do the work which was that of GOD ONLY. Indeed, He made it most pointed: Was this a mere matter of words, and fatuous claims? Was He some charlatan? Could He do the works of God, and then claim the pardoning power of God over someone whom He did not even (apparently) know!

YES HE COULD, and what is more, would show that His was the power to back it, at the level of the ascription. Here as God Almighty, attributing pardon or not, on earth, IN the PERSON of the Saviour. WHICH IS EASIER? He asked, to say THIS, or to do THAT, when the THAT is the release a paralytic from his crippling immobility, and God-like instantly to confer mobility back on the masses of broken parts which had lost their strength, mobility and directability!

"THAT YOU MAY KNOW THAT THE SON OF MAN HAS POWER ON EARTH TO FORGIVE SINS ... " He cried, and TOLD the man, just as He had TOLD the evil spirits, what he was to do. This time: ARISE, TAKE UP YOUR BED AND WALK!

THIS is what He told him. It was not enough to heal; quite inadequate to heal instantaneously, amidst multiplied other miracles of healing, but He would put to the test the claimed power as triumph or tragedy. The man would be better or not.

THAT YOU MAY KNOW ... He acted at once, did it in these 100% or nothing circumstances, and then, like Elijah of old, He added to it (Elijah had water abundantly poured first on what had to be burnt by fire from heaven, running into the trenches). TAKE UP YOUR BED! Now that was asking a lot of a paralytic, but NOT if the Creator was at work. Nor was this sufficient: HAVING TAKEN UP THE BED, WALK! These were the directions! It would never have been "necessary" or "expedient"- to use the High Priest's word, to murder Jesus, the Christ if He had been able to fail, but He was not able. God is not able to cease to be God, He being always the same, and knowing the end from the beginning (II Timothy 2:13; see Barbs, Arrows and Balms, Appendix III , and SMR pp. 25ff.).

This glorious incapacity is the resultant expression of His power, and of His integrity, for
His will is to be what He is, and He is omnipotent (cf. Item 6 above).

If ANY ONE such act in which Jesus the Christ directed events, whether the wind and the storm on the sea, or any case of healing, explicit like this one, or any word of His, challenged by the mightily educated cultural pundits of His day: if ANY ONE had EVER failed, His prodigious claims would have been negated at once. None failed, so murder was the only EXPEDIENT ROUTE, for as they claimed, if things went on like that, ALL THE WORLD would follow Him. That is, He would represent a power base which these could not meet with any authority or power.

Single-handed, He beat, without such earthly education as theirs, all their leaders at any of their areas of expertise, met all tests of power of mind, memory or matter, all questions of sickness or even death, with never a waver or blenching. It was not that it did not cost ("I find virtue has gone out from Me!" He once exclaimed - Luke 8:46 - when someone, touching Him in faith, was at once healed of a chronic blood disease). It was that He could not, and hence did not fail. God? He does not fail, and that is precisely why His word is always right, down to the most minute detail, at all times and in all matters. Having tested it for a time nearly half a century, this is my finding, and I have been in the presence of some of the most pungent doubters you could wish, exceedingly educated ones to boot!

CHRIST THEN TOLD THE MAN, HE ROSE AND DID IT, SO THAT NONE COULD SAY ANYTHING. The test was extreme, the result clear, and the environment multitudinous. The man could do ALL God had said (Isaiah 29,35 e.g.), and there was no limit to His authority, to its realms of spirit and body and meteorology. Nothing was exempt. Not only so, but His power and touch, His truth and justice, His grace and kindness, His healing and righteousness, His calling the lost and His reaching their need categorically, dealing without fail in truth catastrophically with His enemies, right through to His pre-announced murder: all were what the word of God had predicted, including the death date, for many generations; and at that, His death mode coincided with the prescription.

Not only, then, did

the power and the wonder which belongs to God only, with

Indeed, even

as prescribed to be done, 2000 years ago,

That time is clinically near (SMR Ch.8, cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5).


Not merely would any ONE of these elements, if at all missing, falsify the claim of God, they would strongly counter-indicate that the Bible was the word of God. Not merely is this so, but if even ONE of the elements in any POINT or OCCURRENCE, any ONE of the words of Christ as the Messiah fell to the ground, were shown false, any ONE of His works went astray, was reduced to nothing by incompetence or the "unknown", then both He and the word of God would be reduced to nothing.

For that He MUST come was predicted, the long overview of the history of the Jews was predicted down to the present (SMR Chs. 8-9) in great and overwhelming detail, and THAT it would be so predicted, this too was predicted (Amos 3:7). Remove these elements in their sequence, or have a Messiah who was a greatly successful fraud dominating history for a couple of thousand years at this level, and God would have FAILED in His prediction that prediction was going to cover the case.

The Messiah, His time of coming, His mission, His ways, His nature, His power, His healing, His death, its manner, the result to the Jews, their forthcoming history, the Gentiles, the forthcoming Gospel in express form and detail, predicted, performed in power with precision of content unchanged, the past covenantal actions of God to the Jews and this efflorescence on the one hand and tragedy for them in unbelief on the other, all this is the environment, past, then present and now to that time, far distant in the future.

IN this, He is set like a jewel sparkling with incandescent light in the midst of a dazzling ocean of realities, indeed outshining even that, being the jewel of great beauty in which all things find their light of life. It is however a jewel of sharp edges, which like diamond can cut now, as they cut them (Matthew 23) into the fatty and degenerate tissues of those who oppose Him, while enlightening with supreme beauty those who find Him. SUCH is that magnificent and glorious Christ, the eternal Word of God (I John 1:1, 8:58), the eternal life incarnated as man, God manifest in the flesh, once only and once for always (Hebrews 1:1-3, 9:12-28, 10:10-14, Micah 3:1-5, Ephesians 1:10, Revelation 22:3-5, 5:112-13, Daniel 7:14 with Matthew 26:63-64, 24:30).

God has not let Himself without a witness incomparable,

God makes the claim, indeed, that SUCH PREDICTIONS would be incomparable, and does so with great force (Isaiah Chs. 34, 41,43 esp. vv. 7ff., 48 for example ring with them), issuing challenge even to all, to consider the competition and to follow the truth of the God. It is He alone who presents it to pass all test, great things and small, lest a refractory people should pretend it was not obvious from the facts themselves continually of all His past acts, including the irrevocable and irreducible testimony of creation itself (Isaiah 48:5; SMR 1-2, A Spiritual Potpourri 1-9, That Magnificent Rock Ch.1, Romans 11:19ff.). No challenge can be mounted, no performance contributed from any other source. He is one, and so are His works, whether in word written, or in the word incarnate (cf. Ephesians 1:10)!

It was indeed

This historical coverage, then, likewise itself was predicted, that it would be in place and operative to cover His people (Deuteronomy 29-33, esp. 30:1, Amos 3:7): and

which we have now reviewed,

Moses to MESSIAH was no short step, and history had followed without bleating all that God had said, at all times and from times of vast antiquity.

The Messiah then came in a setting of word and deed from the Almighty, and when He came, this outdistanced all that had gone before, was its culmination, and presented majesty and humility, spirituality and power so great that there scarcely is room to list and describe all the pretenders who misuse His name, from Rome (SMR pp. 1042-1088H) to the Moslem (SMR Index), from the Jehovah's Witness () to the Mormon, from Christian Science to New Age 'Churches', from 'Holy Laughter' exponents (A Question of Gifts) who may even laugh while the Bible is read, from fake faith healers who mingle with the true (SMR Ch.4) , to assailants of the word of God (SMR Ch.9), like those who assailed the Son of God who yet would teach ministers, to the whole false structure of the World Council of Churches (SMR Index) which mingles 'faiths' as if they were ingredients for some flummery. His imitators are legion and their power is not similar, nor their credentials in the word, except in this, that they too were predicted that they would come, and come in almost overwhelming numbers (SMR Chapters 8-10).

THAT then is the Messiah, murdered in spiritual sleaze and political necessity, because He could not be refuted or met by any test or challenge of power, even death being subject to His cry as in the case of the Widow of Nain, and of course, that AWFUL case (from the Chief Priests' and Pharisees' point of view- John 11:48), LAZARUS. What can you do with Someone who raises a person, at a voice command after assured prayer, without doubt as to the result which as always, without doubt was as stated - someone whose body ought by that time to be STINKING! With such a person, who could compete!

Here was the exact case that so many take on earth without realising it: rejecting Christ NOW, they have no recourse. The TRUTH REQUIRES HIM, and therefore subterfuge, as we have found often enough, and folly alone remain.

On the other side, His pardoning power has not changed, nor has His power to change lives as He wills. The ground of pardon is spelt out with a basic beauty and simplicity, a felicity and an invitation as clear now as ever, since the days of Isaiah in Ch.55, as with David in Psalms 32,51, as through the apostle John (I John 1) who points to the same pardoning one in the same way.

If a man does not there seek pardon, he will never find it. If however anyone does by faith, poor and of a contrite spirit, so seek the Lord by faith in the Son of Man, who is the Son of God who became flesh, the Christ, then assuredly, now as then, it will be found. "His resting place" - as the Gentiles were predicted to find in the word of God (Isaiah 11:10), is indeed "glorious"! What "worked' then, works now, for it is God who works. It is His name which is involved, and which Christ, the Lord, bears (John 8:58, Revelation 19), whose of eternity, it is (Philippians 2, John 8:58, Isaiah Chs. 44:6, 45, 48, Revelation 2:8).

In this field, at all times, over all centuries since He came, and indeed before that blessed time when it was done in the name of the Lord, as accurately revealed in the Old Testament before the Christ arrived, but while He was predicted: it is the same. The Gospel is one and it is everlasting (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17). God pardons, and

WHO IS A GOD LIKE YOU ... as Micah 7 has it,



If God is for you, you need fear none other; and if God is against you, no one on earth or in heaven is of the slightest use. HERE GOD has the door, and that door is open to all (John 10:9), and the results of entering are alike pardon now, and for ever (Romans 8:1-11,28ff., 5:1-11).



The "first-born from the dead" has a beautiful reality to it.

It means as shown in I Cor. 15, that He has broken death's power as its victor, authentic pioneer in directing or subduing it as befits His power as deity, though expressed in human form. So in creation, this first-born, this creator and quasher of entire realms in which He chooses in His own time to participate, similarly burst into that realm, initiated in action the power to create it and bring it from the merely imagined. He made it happen, because maestro: through Him the thing called creation ... happened.

Participant in due course to redeem (Daniel 9: 24ff., Galatians 4:4), He appears therefore as first-born. Thus humbling Himself, He gains a name which is above every name, for it is one thing to BE the deity; it is yet another to LEAVE that form and to demonstrate at the level of one's creation, what it MEANS for God to show Himself, to be declared as man to man, and to redeem man: thus making in this thing also, the invisible to be ... visible. This is one ground of John 14:9-11, where both personally and in works, He demonstrates what is unique to deity.

But while it is true there was the greatest self-humbling this world has ever seen, by courtesy of its Creator accepting IN IT such a role, there is also the greatest exaltation this world has ever seen or will see or can see; for it was this DESPISED and REJECTED and MURDERED Christ Jesus the Lord who was brought UP FROM THE DEAD, not with human instrumentality, but direct from His Father. It was He whom He continually pleased (John 8:29) and who delighted in Him (Isaiah 42:1 and at His baptism - Matthew 3:16-17, and transfiguration - Matthew 17. It is also made manifest, as in the answer to His public prayer - John 11:42, preceding the raising of Lazarus, and subsequently in the voice from heaven as He publicly faced the approach of death - John 12:28-32).

Nor is this all. It is not merely from what He came, but TO WHAT HE WENT.

Firstly, He went from the grave. Anyone so much as touching a dead body would be defiled for a week or so (Numbers 19:11-20 and see SMR p. 476), with all the sacrificial procedures prescribed before this defilement could be removed. Even to touch such an unclean person had penalties. The Jews were specialists in avoiding contamination by death, and this was reinforced by their acute sense of the significance of sin leading to death.

Nor was it an option for anyone to move Him - with the exception of the reality, that He Himself 'stole' His own body, which was not real theft, since it was in fact His own! The Roman dignity and power were involved. One cause of the Gentile participation in Christ's death, with the famous washing of hands by Pilate, both clearly Him of guilt and condemning to suffer as if guilty, was perfectly clear. It was fear of Caesar in view of the politico-religious lobby of the priests, with formal approach facilitated by the workings of their body, the Sanhedrin, given much status in government of this sensitive nation by Rome.

Rome had no desire for any 'trouble' by any resurrection or activities of any kind producing, for so famous and powerful a person, any new hope or thrust. It was crucially involved. So too for the priest lobby, it was imperative that this man who raised the dead and in so doing made Himself humanly unstoppable (John 11:48-53, cf. Mark 15:36, Matthew 27:64), with "all the world" going after Him, should have no hope of resurrection or anything which could be in the least construed as such.

The two most powerful bodies in the political arena were at one in this. The GROUND for the death was quite equally the ground for ENSURING that this magnificent and amazing person, for whom death was not the end, should be kept as dead in the public eye as in the physical fact. What can raise the dead has inherent problems, the more so in a nation used to miracles from Moses and Elijah on. After all, their obvious reaction is also explicit, "What do we do? For this man does many miracles!" (John 8:47).

The most powerful motives, enough to have moved them AND PILATE to murder (judicial to be sure, but nonetheless incredibly obvious murder) were lodged with the most powerful instrumentalities in the land to PREVENT THE RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ from the dead. Satan himself had the highest conceivable motive, likewise, for if Christ did NOT rise, and after 3 days as He so often insisted, He was a fraud; and not only this, the Bible was nonsense. God was mute, and the prince of this world could and would be able to proceed to be 'king', which he rather likes, to put it in typically British understatement!!

Here was no chance of mere random access, in this epochal pageantry of power, grace, love, performance, demolition of pretence and prophetic fulfilment, desperate men, motivation and ambition. The ladies moreover had well marked His tomb, scarcely surprising in the least, as they had an important and traditional office to perform with spices, and had the need to know as a high imperative (Luke 23:55-56). A public shrine would not be moved by private entrepreneurs, where a thousand hearts lay, and multiple preparations were being made for a "proper" embalming; where notable officials peace lay in its continuance and where soldiers lives lay in its safeguarding.

To remove the Roman soldiery was the only conceivable method. Bribery was not enough where certain death was the normal result and utterly assured in so public a matter as this, except of course, as in this case, there were collusion. IF to prevent resurrection fame were imperative, before it happened, how much more after it! Small wonder the silly story was invented (Matthew 28:11ff.) that the disciples managed to move the boulder, the body and leave unmoved the guards because they slept! IF they slept, they COULD not know. IF they did not sleep, then the death penalty for corruption was sure. NEITHER happened, hence the body rose. It is as simple as that. The motivation and power of those concerned merely underlines this.

We have to face it, there is no explanation but this, that God  - who in Christ travailed and prevailed in healing bodies and raising the dead, so that all Jerusalem KNEW these things, so that IN TURN when Pentecost came and the great charge of Peter came and thereafter as the church rocketed, NOTHING could be denied of the account of the Lord's passion - had exalted Christ in this way (cf. SMR pp. 1143-1148, 1156).



The exaltation that has resulted is, moreover, not just this, that He was raised from the dead without so much as human instrumentality - a sure indication of the power and presence of the Creator Himself, whose penalty, after all, death is, and a mightily powerful one! - but it went further. His new powers and His departure after 40 days of itineration amongst the disciples was as dramatic as His coming and His other miracles.

He has been exalted and given a name which is above every name (there are no exceptions, such as Popes whom even God must obey and who are "God Almighty on earth" as shown to be claimed, and exposed - SMR Ch.10, pp. 1066 and 912-917). Such indeed (Philippians 2) is His exaltation, and the power of the Spirit, sent both from Him and from the Father (John 15:26) has for some 2000 years shown this, despite the painful mimicries and mockeries of Mecca, Rome and the sects. No name inflames like this one, to deny it or to seize it mischievously! No work is like this one.

For a detailed examination of this matter see both Ch.6, SMR and esp. pp. 931-940.

Meanwhile, death has been broken! We DO have someone come back to tell us, and this is no simple someone, but the Lord Himself whose other works elegantly, superabundantly, prophetically and perfectly attest the rational and realistic preparations of an event for which the universe has no equal - unless let us be suffered to repeat, the incarnation be it, and His works when in the flesh: which is really part of the same testimony.

An excellent and deservedly exceedingly popular treatment of the resurrection is that of Professor Sir Norman Anderson, who was Professor of Oriental Laws and Director of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in the University of London: "The Evidence for the Resurrection". With intense legal skill, he approaches the matter from the viewpoint of his own field of expertise in devastating manner.

(See also: Wake Up World! Your Creator is Coming Ch. 5, Spiritual Refreshings for the Digital Millenium Ch. 5, SMR Ch. 6.)


This self-discipline is relevant to His people also.

It is well to mention this here, as part of His magnificence is His power in discipling His people, so that to follow Him voluntarily, taking up the cross and denying oneself becomes a part of His walk.

It is well also to advert to this, since in our passage in Colossians 1, we see further aspects of great import after verse 21. Thus, the 'wicked works' of times past, mentioned in verse 21, are those of people now RECONCILED, that is, brought into a state of friendship through the atonement, and in the presence of the transforming wonder of the Lord Jesus Christ, Christ in you the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27, soon to be mentioned by Paul).

Such works were ONCE the lot, the type, the milieu of those now redeemed, whether most manifest at the physical, mental or spiritual level, in indifference, arrogance or simple blindness. (One can see how perilous a surgeon would be if he were blind, and all life has delicate mutual involvements,  to which the scalpel is not at all foreign, not least with the tongue - see James 3.) But Christ having redeemed them "in the body of His flesh through death", a practical, disciplined devotion and dedication in love to His triumphant but humiliating task, they have "put on the new man, who is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him" - Colossians 3:10.

What however of the perhaps almost innumerable frauds, whether spiritual brothers of Judas, or of Demas who forsook Paul, having loved this present world, as the apostle says, or false teachers (see Item 24, Barbs, Arrows and Balms) and others who misuse the word of God (II Corinthians 4, 11) ? What of those who by no means, abiding in the sacrificial cover of Christ, merely use the name or the form or the appearance or have "hope" not faith, since without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6)? What of these? The bogus will wilt (cf. Matthew 13:21 - here the seed does not take root, being merely a contributor of 'experience').

Verse 23 of Colossians 1 proceeds to make the point clear. While of course those who are the Lord's, having His seed within them (I John 3:9), and being kept by the power of God (I Peter 1), and being the objects of promise (John 10:9, 27-28) and appointment (I Thessalonians 5:9-10), will in fact as good trees, bear good fruit; and while they may endure chastening - indeed will (Hebrews 12:7-8) - they are His children and His seed remains in them (I John 3:9). As to these assuredly they will be conformed to His likeness by the working of His Spirit (II Corinthians 3:18): but what of the Judas tribe, the Demas crowd (II Timothy 4:10) and their kind!

Paul proceeds in Col. 1:23 to sound a warning. We should heed it. It is addressed to the Christian Church at Colossae (Colossians 1:2) , and churches can change in their composition, their membership, their preachers: and this, at times reasonably quickly - be it tiny parish or large and imposing denomination, defiling its historic roots, or declining revival. The church as one whole is faithful and treated as such; but if a particular group finds transgressors who "take it over", or fails over time, then it is a mere form, a figure as in a bankbook, to which no balance corresponds, a fictitious appearance. Hence, Paul warns this church of his desire


Here perhaps is the proleptic as in the prophets of old who would see the future as if present.

Our present point however is this: SIN must be faced.

It may enter in 3 readily categorised ways.

1) There is the sin which is obvious, where one perhaps inadvertently strays over the speed limit, is irritable or whatever. Anyone can see it. It is not obscure, it is an example of the imperfection which still is ours, not wilfully, but actually. Romans 3:23 tells us of its universality among the children of Adam (cf. Romans 5), while I John 1 tells us that if we think it is not ours, we merely deceive ourselves.

2) Then there is the sin which is less obvious, and perhaps hidden even from ourselves. In this category are things which are still relatively simple, but which we make have lacked the perception to notice, being too pre-occupied or unobservant. This is the sort of which the Psalmist speaks in Ps. 139, when he asks the Lord his beautiful request:

"Search me, O God, and know my heart;

Try me and see if there be any evil way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting" - verses 23-24.

Unearthed, we may find a lack of adequate zeal, or too small a growth in Biblical knowledge, in spiritual compassion or willingness to sacrifice something, small or great, which we take too much for granted, or which may have changed and require cleansing or dismissal.

3) Then there is the GAP of GODLINESS. This means that there may be aspirations in our hearts to be like Christ, more tender-hearted, kinder, more discerning of need and of the gracious yet effective way to meet it, more saltiness or whatever the aspect may be, or the many aspects. We see that compared with the settled and beautiful character and nature of our Lord we have a huge way to travel, though we are speeding on the highway of holiness.

Yearning for this wonder of the Lord - seen in Psalm 27:4ff. is the other side of the glory of the Lord that He should condescend not only to die to redeem, and rise to justify, but to work in our hearts, interceding (Hebrews 7:25) and moulding (II Cor. 3:18), strengthening (Ephesians 3:16) and answering (Ephesians 3:20-21), visiting (Revelation 3:20). Daniel fasted and found (Daniel 9-10), sought and found (Daniel 2:24ff.), David thirsted (Psalm 42:1) and waited patiently upon the Lord (Psalm 40:1); and all were refreshed, strengthened, stimulated, stirred, illuminated (cf. Ephesians 1:17ff.). Salvation is followed by transformation in the living presence of the living God, through Jesus Christ whose heart is sufficiently shown in His life and works, and is active still in the hearts, minds and lives of believers in Him (John 16:20ff., 14:19).

Paul in Col.1:24-29 proceeds to express his confidence in their growth, in terms of the Gospel, the word of God and the power of Christ as he labours: "We preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may pre sent every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labour, striving according to His working which works in me mightily."

Nevertheless the end of it, like the beginning, is planned. Thus he declares in Colossians 3:1-3:
"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is , sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, for you died ,and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory." This unconditional and certain consequence of Christ's salvation, indeed integral resultant, is not hidden, any more than is Christ hidden.

It is part of the magnificence of the Messiah that

the residual inclinations which like mussels on the bottom of an active ship may aspire higher:

It is He who having engineering salvation (Psalm 40, Hebrews 1-5), also provides its power; having shown compassion to come, also shows it in His spiritual presence which is as personal as His earthly one, by His Spirit who comes from the same Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today, forever, as from the Father Himself (John 15:26).

It is because He is multitudinously magnificent that these things are so, and because He is God the sent (Isaiah 28:16, 45, I John 4, John 3:16), who came in the flesh and has returned to the bosom of His Father, that He is, in the first place, magnificent. There are no gods in heaven but one: GOD ALMIGHTY, and in heaven Christ as God, the word, always was, and always will be.

The question is, Who will join Him? The answer? Those who believe Him, receive Him, for to them He "gave the power to become the children of God, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13).