by Frank A. Viola
And He is before ALL THINGS, and by Him ALL THINGS consist. And he is the Head of the Body, the Church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in ALL THINGS He might have the preeminence (Col. 1:17,18).
...According to His good pleasure which He hath PURPOSED in Himself: that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one [sum up] ALL THINGS in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him (Eph. 1:9,10).
And [God] hath put ALL THINGS under His [Christ's] feet, and gave Him to be the Head over ALL THINGS to the Church (Eph. 1:22).
The eternal purpose of God is centered upon the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ. The Divine focal point is the establishment of the complete sovereignty and supremacy of God's Son whereby He is given the preeminence over all things. All of God's activities and movings are toward this end. Hence, the chief work of the Holy Spirit in this dispensation is to establish the absolute Lordship of Christ in the universe.
Accordingly, the Holy Spirit will break down and devastate everything that opposes, obstructs, and hinders the Lord's sovereign rule in the hearts of His people. In a word, God's ultimate intention is to establish the centrality and supremacy of His Son over all things, nothing excluded. However, before Christ can be made preeminent over all things, He must first have the preeminence among His own people--the Church. Colossians 1:18 puts it this way,
And He is the Head of the Body, the Church...THAT in all things he might have the preeminence.
This finds many of us out, does it not? The great need today among the Lord's people, then, is for them to recover the place of the absolute Lordship of Christ; it is to reinstate the Headship of Christ in His Church. Tragically, however, all sorts of things have replaced Christ's Headship. Our boards, committee meetings, councils, and ecclesiastical systems--our books, seminars, and conventions--our clever ideas, schemes, building projects, and enterprises--have all too often substituted the Headship of Christ.
Whenever there is a decision before us regarding the Lord's work or the Lord's people, the salient question should not be, "what do we think should be done," or "what can we agree upon as spiritual leaders," but rather "what does the Lord want in this situation?" In effect, for two people to make a decision independent of the Head constitutes spiritual conspiracy!
Christ alone has the right to rule His Church--not us. It is His Body, not ours. We all belong to Him; He has purchased us with a costly price, and hence, He alone possesses full rights over us. Let us, then, submit to His Headship in a practical way.
Although the question of Christ's Headship is a weighty one, few of us realize that therein lies the answer to all of our spiritual problems. When Christ has His full and rightful place as Head and absolute Lord over His people, then all of our problems are resolved.
Consider the multifaceted problems that the Church in Corinth faced--carnality, division, envy, spiritual stagnation, self-absorption, blasphemy, pride, immorality, civil discord and rivalry, etc. Chapters 1-11 paint a pitiful picture of the corruption in that assembly. What a tremendous burden to carry for the apostle Paul. But what was his answer to it all? What was the all-inclusive solution that he shared with them in his epistle? It was simply this,
For I determined not to know any thing among you, except JESUS CHRIST, and him crucified...For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is JESUS CHRIST (1 Cor. 2:2, 3:11).
The answer was quite plain and simple: that Jesus Christ be given His rightful place in the assembly! Can you see the force of that? Dear brethren, when we truly apprehend the greatness of our Lord and put Him in His rightful position of absolute centrality and supremacy, all of our troubles are dealt with. Oh, what a simple, yet profound answer.
God's aim in this hour, then, is for us to make Christ's Headship a practical reality in our assemblies as well as in our personal lives. Such a way, however, is truly costly. It is a hard thing to yield our rights over to the Lord, to wait on the Lord, and to put the absolute rulership, authority, and decision-making rights into the hands of the Holy Spirit. It tests whether or not we are going to put our hands on things or whether we are going to yield all rights to Christ. We must understand, however, that if Christ will return to reign on this earth, we must first give Him that place in our own hearts.
In God's economy, all things begin with the Church; James tells us that we are the firstfruits of His creation. It is hypocritical to pray "thy kingdom come" if we ourselves haven't made Christ the absolute King over our own lives. Therefore, may we all give Christ the centrality and the supremacy in our hearts, corporately as well as individually, so that He might have the preeminence over all things.
Make no mistake about it, holding fast to the Headship of Christ is not something that we are to practice as a last resort. Too often the mentality among Christians is this: "I will do hatever I can using my own cleverness, gifts, and abilities, and only rely upon the Lord when I cannot do anymore." Brethren, do you see the folly in such thinking? Oh, how we need to see that we in our own strength cannot fulfill one fragment of God's work!
Our clever ideas, natural gifting, and self-motivation are all but wood, hay, and stubble; hence, they will never realize the purpose of God. How we need to see that the Church is a spiritual organism, and that only that which comes out of God's indwelling life can accomplish His purpose. Under the Old Covenant, Moses commanded that no oil be poured upon flesh. So too, the Spirit cannot anoint what comes out of self and not from Christ. How we need to come to grips with the words of the Lord Jesus, "Without me, you can do nothing."
In conclusion, God desires to sum up all things in His Son. All that originates out of ourselves will not last; only that which comes out of Christ can find God's highest blessing. Even now, the Lord is awaiting His people to give Him that place of preeminence among themselves. Let us, then, in reality, make Christ "the Head over all things to the Church," nothing excluded. May God be merciful to us.
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