Christ is the head of the Church and Christians belong to Him. In fact, this truth is at the very core of our church’s values and identity, shaping every aspect of our lives as followers of Jesus. In this article, we will delve deep into the concept of Christ’s deity, eternality, and sovereignty, exploring how nothing exists apart from Him, and how focusing on Him leads us to worship, joy, and freedom. Join us on this journey of discovery as we explore this profound and practical truth that shapes our daily lives as believers.
We begin by reading Colossians 1:15-20
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
You belong to someone
In the movie Toy Story there is a scene where Woody is trying to convince the other toys to stay in Andy’s house. He says: „Whose name is on you?” They look and see Andy’s name. Then he says: „You belong to Andy.”
Who you belong to matters—it forms your identity. We all belong to someone and Christians belong to Jesus.
Considering our church values, we begin with “Christ is our head.” Under that is the subtitle “we belong to Christ.” Jesus has purchased us to God and we are his special possession.
The subject of Christ headship is massive and breathtakingly deep. When studying, I very often found myself just pausing to soak in the wonderful truth of Christ’s headship. We will look at this subject from two angles: doctrinally and practically.
First in verse 15, we see a reference to his deity. He is the image of God. We are made in the image of God and He is the image of God. In Him, all the fullness of the godhead dwells bodily: the incarnation.
From deity, His eternality which follows (verse 17). He is before all things. And there is a reference to His sovereignty: He is the one who has made all things that all things have come through Him. They are for Him, and He has authority over every single thing in existence. Every single realm in existence: the seen and the unseen. The earthy and the heavenly. All things are through Him. And all things are for Him. He is the focus of everything!
A few summers ago, one of our elders, Martin Briel preached on this and he said “everything is for Jesus”. He went on this little catalog of it all. I remember one thing he said: “every sunset, every sunrise, it’s all for Jesus and in Him all things consist” or as we’re told in Hebrews that He upholds all things by the word of his power.
There’s not a single thing that is not inherently connected to Christ and relying on Christ.
Nothing happens apart from Jesus. Our Lord is majestic and he is marvelous.
The head of the church
In verse 18 we get to the idea that He is the head of the body. He is the head of the Church.
As I said before, the Church is the most significant thing on earth. That’s an undeniable, inescapable reality. Christ is the firstborn. Let’s understand what we mean when we say: “Jesus is the firstborn”.
The Greek word πρωτότοκος (prōtotokos) can have several meanings, but chief among them is the idea of order, as well as rank and preeminence. When it comes to order, Christ is before creation because he is eternal. Among all created things, He has the highest rank. Therefore, He has preeminence.
Not only that, but Christ is the firstborn from the dead. Paul is talking about His resurrection here. Jesus is the image of God, He is the firstborn from the dead. Paul is inviting us to understand His resurrection in terms of the future of God’s people in God’s world.
The promise of our resurrection is based on His resurrection. It is consistent in Him and it will be patterned after His. This is also true of the entire created order. The redeemed world will be patterned after the resurrection of Christ. Therefore, in His resurrection, He has ushered in an entirely new order that is free from sin and that is redeemed, resurrected, and pure in God’s eyes.
He’s bringing into order a whole new world, filled with a whole new redeemed people, and the end or the goal of this is that He would have the preeminence. Now, Jesus isn’t just part of the Christian system of life and the teaching—He is the entire thing!
He’s not part of your salvation, He is your salvation!
He’s not part of your life, He is your life!
He’s not part of the Church, He is the Church!
Do you understand what I’m saying? He’s not just a person in the orbit of what’s happening among Church life. It is all grounded in Him! It is all based on Him! Apart from Him it never could be.
There are the books of the Bible with great characters: Abraham, Moses, Paul, and then finally you get to Jesus, right? But he’s not just one of the good guys in the Bible. The Bible’s all about Him and He has given us the Bible.
This is essentially what we’re saying to today and how we understand ourselves as a Church.
It is all about Jesus—He is the focus, the center of it all. He is the one who fills all in all.
As a church we say, “Christ is our head and we belong to Christ.”
As we were thinking about these things, did you notice something happening in your heart? Did it begin to spring a little? I bet it did, right?
You can’t hear these truths about Jesus and not have your heart touched. Whenever we focus on His person it inevitably is going to lead us to worship, joy, life, and liberty.
What This Means Doctrinally
Let us consider what this means doctrinally. What does this mean doctrinally, that Christ is our head?
The Greek word translated head is the greek word κεφαλῇ (kephalē). It’s a very important word in theology and has several meanings.
Christ is our source of life.
First of all, there’s the idea of source—like the head of the river. Jesus is the source of the Church—it comes from Him. Another idea of source is authority. Jesus has authority in His Church. We read in Ephesians 5 that He is the head and the church submits to Him. I believe that both of these ideas come into play here when we say Christ is our head. He is our source, and He has authority over us.
When you think about Him being the source, we are saying that He gives life to the Church. He is the life of the Church. Ephesians 1:22 says that “he put all things under his feet and gave him to be head over all things to the Church.” This says, the Church, which is his body. The fullness of him who fills all in all. Christ is the source of our life. This different than viewing Jesus just as a helpful teacher.
Jesus himself said John 14 “I am the way I am the truth and I am the life. ” Whereas John says: “in him was life and the life was the light of man.” Jesus is our source of life. I suppose we could stop and just think about the word “life.” What does that mean?
First, life only comes from God. Particularly, spiritual life, true life, only comes from God. Paul says to the Church in Ephesus, look you were dead in your sins do you remember that? You lived under the influence in the authority of Satan. But God who is rich in mercy has saved us and made us alive together with Christ.
When we say Christ is our head, we are affirming He is the source of our life. We’re nothing without Him. As the head of the body, He provides life to the entire system. There are several other passages such as Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 that talk about as Christ is the head of the body. He provides the different ministries and gifts that the body has and needs.
Therefore, we’re also affirming the fact that we are a community. As a body, we are united and connected to each other. In our mission statement there are three important things: community, discipleship and mission.
Christ leads the Church.
Because Christ is our head, we are connected and we are united. As we focus on this, we experience that sense of unity and that sense of community even more. It’s easy to get into our little circles, and think “well I’m this part of the Church” and “they’re that part of the Church,” but as we focus on Christ we come together.
We are deeply and spiritually connected. He is the head. Not long ago, the youth and the teens took over the entire service that Sunday. Helmut used an illustration of a snowboarder. He said, “where the head was looking the body goes.” The head determines the direction that the body goes, it’s inevitable. This is why you pull the horse by the head. And so, Jesus is the one who determines the direction of the Church.
Christ has all authority in the Church.
He is the one who makes the decisions in the Church. He is the one who keeps the Church together. He has all authority in the Church, because we belong to Him.
That’s what Paul means in Ephesians 5. When he talks about the relationship between husbands and wives, he connects it to the reality of the Church. He says Christ is the head of the Church, and therefore, the Church is to submit to Him. It belongs to Him. We are His special possession. In another verse it says that He has purchased us by His blood. He bought us. Therefore, we say Christ is our head and we belong to Him.
We don’t belong to anybody else other than Jesus. We don’t belong to a network of churches—not in the truest sense. We might affiliate or do ministry with them. But we belong to Jesus. The Church does not belong a denomination. The Church does not belong to a man. The Church does not belong to a group of people. The Church does not belong to some council that that makes decisions for everybody. The Church belongs to Christ.
If you get that wrong, then you’re going to get a whole lot of other stuff wrong too. It’s an anomaly to think that there could be a Church that’s not Christ-centered. That’s not the way that it’s designed because the Church belongs to Jesus.
How this applies practically
Jesus has all authority
Jesus is the source of our life and He has all authority in his Church. As a people, as a Church, we want to always be looking at Christ and acknowledging that Jesus is the one who has all authority. He is the chief shepherd. He is the Lord. He is the life of the Church.
We highlight ministries that find themselves connected these particular values. This impacts the idea of leadership on the local level of the Church. Who’s the true leader of the Church? Clearly, it’s Christ. Yet He does install and delegate leadership on a local level.
You could say that as the pastor along with the elders, we have the responsibility of leadership in the Church. But it’s not a supreme authority, is it? It’s not like one day I could say, “well I’m the boss here and the Bible says this, but we’re going to do that.” It wouldn’t work.
Paul says the Holy Spirit is the one who appoints the leadership of a local Church. It’s God himself doing it. It’s a stewardship with a delegated authority. It’s not an inherent authority. The authority in the Church is delegated to a shared authority. It’s not an ultimate authority.
Therefore, everybody in the Church, including the leadership, is called to submit to Christ. We do this while submitting ourselves to the authority of the Scriptures. This is where the authority is in the Church: in seeking to be led by the Holy Spirit, under the authority of scripture. That’s what we want to do.
As a Church we affirm that the authority of the Church ultimately doesn’t rely on any person or group, but in Christ. This impacts the way the leaders of this Church lead. We say let’s all come together, look to Jesus, hear from Him, and follow Him. That’s the goal.
We want to look to Him. We want to listen to Him. We want to follow Him. We want to worship Him. The point of these values is not saying that we have some good ideas for the Church and we’re trying to be hip. Rather, that by the teaching of scripture what should we focus on? And by the leading of the spirit how do we do it as a Church?
Jesus is our focus
This means that Jesus is our focus. What you focus on is ultimately what controls you.
We live in a day of man worship. Actors, political figures, influencers—even within the Church. We live in a day of celebrity pastors. But just as no Church belongs to a man, there’s no person that belongs to any human leader. We belong in Christ and we want Him to be our focus.
When we worship together, we want to be Christ focused. When we preach the scriptures, we want to be Christ focused. When we pray together, we want to be Christ-focused. When we do life and fellowship with each other, we want to be Christ focused.
What does it look like for us as a Church? Our focus is to be centered on Jesus all the time. Our worship should be centered on Jesus all the time. We must be trusting Jesus. We must be obeying Jesus. We must be being led by Christ.We ought to be finding ourselves ravishingly in love with Him.
The life and ministry that is done here, must be done by Him, through His people, for the glory of His name. When we pray before Church, we’re constantly saying. “Lord, minister to your Church because I have nothing to give. Jesus, speak to your flock, because I have nothing to say. And as You fill the Church with life, let the Church minister to each other. But it’s ultimately You doing it. Because You’re the Head!”
Jesus didn’t say, “with a mission statement you can do everything.” But He did say “apart from me you can do nothing.” We take this seriously, it has to be Jesus. This is what we are affirming: that apart from Jesus we can do nothing because He is our Head. That is why we have it first and foremost in our values: Christ is our Head, and we can never never get away from that.
We are emphasizing that this is a place where the name of Jesus is going to be great and no other name. This is a place where Christ is exalted and no other name. This is a place where Christ is Lord and no other name. That this is a place where His love is strong. This is a place where the Word of Christ will be preached. This is a place where His honor and His worth will be recognized and celebrated. He is the center of it all. He is the focus of it all. He is the reason of it all. And we love Him because He first loved us.
When you understand the love of Christ has come to you in such a free way, you can’t help but to love Jesus. The response is to worship Him!
Calvary Chapel Heidelberg is a place where we will serve Him because He is worthy. This is a place where we will serve Him because He is our Lord. This is a place where we will trust Him because He is faithful and true. This is a place where we will follow Him because He is our King, and our Shepherd. This is a place where we will trust in Him for our life because He is our Savior, and our Sufficiency. In other words: it’s all about Him.
It always has been, and will always be about Him because that’s how God designed it. Unless you follow the design, it will not function right. Unless we follow God’s design, the Church isn’t going to function right.
He has designed it that Christ is the Chief Shepherd. He is the Lord, and is to be the focus at all times. He is the head and we belong to Christ. This sets the tone for everything that happens,
As a community that is growing together in the knowledge and love of Christ as we seek to follow him and make him known.
Sermon by Keith Fortenberry
26. September 2021