The Great Sustainer
“All things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:16-17).- Colossians 1:16-17
Sometimes it seems the Christian life is simply an ongoing discovery of the sufficiency of Christ. We come to faith by the work of the Holy Spirit and believe that Jesus alone can save us, thereby receiving eternal salvation (John 3:1–15), and yet we need to be reminded again and again that Jesus alone is also the key to life after conversion. If we are honest with ourselves, all of us have at least acted otherwise, though many of us have believed otherwise as well. Maybe, for a time, we lived like the Galatians, who thought that God would really love them only if they dotted every “i” and crossed every “t” of the Mosaic law. If so, we forgot that God loves us on account of the perfection of Jesus our substitute (Gal. 2:15–21; 3:10–14). Perhaps we once followed in the footsteps of Simon Magus, not in trying to purchase the Spirit but in focusing so much on the power of the Holy Spirit that we forgot the One who with His Father pours out the Spirit upon all believers (Acts 8:18–24; see John 14:15–31). It could even be that we acted like the false teachers in Colossae, turning to diets, superstitions, and other things for spiritual help, not because we denied verbally Jesus’ sufficiency but to make sure all our religious bases were covered (Col. 2:16–19).
Paul’s answer to all these errors is this — Christ alone is sufficient, and believers mature as we take hold of this truth in our beliefs and actions (1:24–29). The apostle’s revelation about our Savior’s identity in Colossians 1:16–17 reveals clearly the sufficiency of Christ. Jesus, we read, is the self-existent, eternal agent of God’s creative acts described in Genesis 1–2. Or, as John 1:1–18 puts it, Jesus is the Word — the Logos who is God and is with God. In Him all things were made, including the lesser principalities and powers whom the Colossian false teachers trusted (Col. 1:16; 2:18). Their hope in angels for spiritual advancement was misplaced because it meant turning from the Creator to creatures. Moreover, if Jesus’ identity with the Creator is not enough to convince readers of Christ’s sufficiency, the apostle also explains that the Son of God is the great Sustainer. “In him all things hold together” (1:17): Christ, no other being or impersonal force, keeps the universe in order. Without Him, the cosmos would be chaos, and if He has the power to hold everything together, how could anyone believe that he needs to turn anywhere else to find completion?
C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, “Let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His [Jesus] being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” The foolishness of humanity and false religion is seen in the willingness to accept Jesus as a good teacher, but nothing more. He is either the Lord, Creator, and Sustainer of all, or He is worthy of no more regard than we would give any other talented teacher.
Passages for Further Study