Jesus, the firstborn over all creation

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” published by the MBC’s High Street Press (visit highstreet.press).

In the last column, we explored John 1:1-3 in our quest to understand Jesus’ role as the creator of all things. Now, let’s consider two additional passages.

Colossians 1:15-17 – “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.”

Those who seek to reduce Jesus to a created being argue that Paul refers to Jesus as the image of the invisible God, not God Himself. But this fails to recognize that Jesus and the Father are distinct divine persons. Further, no mere creature can serve as the true image of the invisible God. 

Humans are created to be image bearers of God, reflecting His character and attributes, but we are not divine. Only Jesus, who shares the eternal glory of the Father, can truly reveal Him in human flesh (John 17:5). 

Then, some contend that Jesus, as the “firstborn over all creation,” is the first of God’s created beings. Jehovah’s Witnesses are the primary promoters of this view today. 

But while the Greek prototokos (firstborn) can refer to the first person born into a family, it often signifies a position of supremacy. For example, Jesus is the “firstborn among many brothers and sisters,” the model of all saints bound for glory (Rom. 8:29). 

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Afterlife: Now on Audible

The Missouri Baptist Convention’s publishing imprint, High Street Press, has just released an audio version of its popular printed resource, What Everyone Should Know About the Afterlife

Published in 2017 in print and ebook editions, Afterlife is now available through Audible, the premiere audio-book platform, which may be accessed at Audible.com

The book explores key words and phrases used in Scripture to describe life beyond the grave, with an emphasis on how to know one’s eternal destiny.

In 13 short lessons, the book addresses what the Bible says about death, judgment, heaven, hell, and more. Each chapter concludes with probing questions, making this an ideal resource for personal or group study.

What Everyone Should Know About the Afterlife features lessons on:

  • Ten biblical truths about the afterlife
  • Hades and the afterlife
  • Gehenna and the afterlife
  • Your future resurrection
  • Everyone’s day of reckoning
  • Is heaven our final home?
  • Should you believe in ghosts?
  • Where are you spending eternity?
  • And other topics related to the afterlife

The book continues to be available in print and e-book formats at Amazon.com and other retailers.

 

 

 

The Son as Creator

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” published by the MBC’s High Street Press (visit highstreet.press).

In the last column, we explored God the Father as creator. Now, let’s consider the first of several passages that reveal the Son as creator.

John 1:3 – “All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created.”

After establishing that Jesus is both eternal and divine, as well as a distinct person from the Father (vv. 1-2), John declares that the Son created “all things.” This simple statement sets Christianity apart from Gnosticism, a religious movement that severely threatened the infant church, particularly in the second and third centuries.

While diverse, Gnosticism generally held to two overarching beliefs. First, salvation is obtained primarily through special knowledge obtained in secret rituals. In fact, the term gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis, meaning “knowledge.” This secretly obtained knowledge enables a person to escape the corruption of the world, particularly as it resides in the physical body.

Second, Gnostics embraced dualism. That is, they believed the material world is inherently evil, while the spiritual realm is intrinsically good. So, salvation is achieved by escaping the body – freeing the “good” spirit from the “evil” flesh. This may be one reason the Greeks on Mars Hill berated Paul for preaching the resurrection of the body (Acts 17:32). After all, if the body is evil, who wants a resurrected one?

In any case, Gnostics faced the challenge of explaining who created the world. If God is pure spirit, and if matter is corrupt, how can the two be reconciled? Gnostics devised their own creation story.
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Should you believe in ghosts?

This is the 10th in a series of articles on the afterlife and the unseen realm.

Ghosts are everywhere. They star in major motion pictures from “The Shining” to “Scary Movie 2.” Some ghosts are friendly (Casper) and some are frightening (Bloody Mary).

Popular television shows like “Ghost Adventures” use the latest technologies to “prove” that spirits of the dead are all around us – and want to make their presence known.

But is this true? The short answer is no. As Christians, we must gauge all truth claims by the Bible, the ultimate and unchanging measure of reality.

Ghost stories in the Gospels

Some people argue that the apostles believed in ghosts and even thought Jesus was one when He walked toward their boat on the Sea of Galilee (Matt. 14:22-33).

Later, after Christ’s resurrection, the apostles once again mistook Jesus for a ghost. He assured them that “a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have” (Luke 24:39).

Don’t the beliefs of the apostles and the words of Jesus prove that ghosts are all around us?

Let’s be clear on two points. First, scripture teaches that all humans possess both physical and non-physical properties – the body and the soul/spirit, the second of which survives physical death.

Second, nowhere does the Bible support the notion that spirits of the dead (“phantasma” or “pneuma” in the Greek) are free to return to the physical realm prior to their future resurrection.

In other words, the departed are just that – departed.

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The Trinity and creation

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” published by the MBC’s High Street Press (visit highstreet.press).

The Bible begins with a simple yet profound statement: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). As Moses tells the story of creation, he does not seek to prove the existence of God. The Israelites have experienced God’s presence and power first-hand. 

This includes Moses’ encounter with Yahweh at the burning bush; the Lord’s miraculous victory over the false gods of Egypt; His thunderous giving of the law at Mt. Sinai; His visible presence in the pillar of cloud and fire; and His parting of the Jordan River to make way for a dramatic entrance into the Promised Land. 

As we continue through Scripture, we see that other human authors presuppose God’s existence as the eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere-present creator. In fact, the apostle Paul simply tells us the creation speaks for itself concerning the existence of God. 

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