“And He is the Head of the body, the church, who is the Beginning, the First-born from the dead, that He may be pre-eminent in all things. ” Colossians 1:18
The next Methodism must be holy, because Christ is the head of the church, and He is holy. It’s pretty simple really, but gets lost way to often. The church is not holy because she is always right, or because we are there, she is holy because Christ is at the head. It’s really that simple. On the above verse, Wesley would comment, “From the whole he now descends to the most eminent part, the church. He is the head of the church – Universal; the supreme and only head both of influence and of government to the whole body of believers. Who is – The repetition of the expression Col 1:15 points out the entrance on a new paragraph. The beginning – Absolutely, the Eternal. The first begotten from the dead – From whose resurrection flows all the life, spiritual and eternal, of all his brethren. That in all things – Whether of nature or grace. He might have the pre – eminence” I’m sold.
The question then needs be asked, unfortunately, who is the Jesus that is spoken of here? If He is indeed the head of the church, then we must know who He is. The identity of Christ is one of the central questions of scripture after all. To accomplish this, let’s expand from one verse in Colossians, to the entire section that is here. The passage starts in verse 15 and continues through to verse 23. For the sake of space, you can find the passage here. Let’s begin with the first claim made here about Christ. He is the image of God. No one can fully represent the Father in a visible way other than the son, Jesus the Christ. That is to say that Christ is the exact image of God. As the first born of creation, we are to understand that He was present before all creation. We are not to understand that Christ was created as the Arians would say, but rather that He, as the Father, and the Spirit, are eternal and present before creation. Christ is also the author of creation, the reason for creation, and the thing that holds creation together. Those are some bold claims by the author of Colossians, yet they are scripture. This is the Christ who is the head of the church. This is the Christ who is holy.
We also have the Christ on the cross. Adam Clarke would say, commenting on verse 20, ” Peace between God and man; for man being in a sinful state, and there being no peace to the wicked, it required a reconciliation to be made to restore peace between heaven and earth; but peace could not be made without an atonement for sin, and the consequence shows that the blood of Christ shed on the cross was necessary to make this atonement. he enmity was on the part of the creature; though God is angry with the wicked every day, yet he is never unwilling to be reconciled. But man, whose carnal mind is enmity to God, is naturally averse from this reconciliation; it requires, therefore, the blood of the cross to atone for the sin, and the influence of the Spirit to reconcile the transgressor to him against whom he has offended! Much has been said on this very obscure clause; but, as it is my object not to write dissertations but notes, I shall not introduce the opinions of learned men, which have as much ingenuity as variety to recommend them. If the phrase be not a kind of collective phrase to signify all the world, or all mankind, as Dr. Hammond supposed the things in heaven may refer, according to some, to those persons who died under the Old Testament dispensation, and who could not have a title to glory but through the sacrificial death of Christ: and the apostle may have intended these merely to show that without this sacrifice no human beings could be saved, not only those who were then on the earth, and to whom in their successive generations the Gospel should be preached, but even those who had died before the incarnation; and, as those of them that were faithful were now in a state of blessedness, they could not have arrived there but through the blood of the cross, for the blood of calves and goats could not take away sin. After all, the apostle probably means the Jews and the Gentiles; the state of the former being always considered a sort of Divine or celestial state, while that of the latter was reputed to be merely earthly, without any mixture of spiritual or heavenly good. It is certain that a grand part of our Lord’s design, in his incarnation and death, was to reconcile the Jews and the Gentiles, and make them one fold under himself, the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls. That the enmity of the Jews was great against the Gentiles is well known, and that the Gentiles held them in supreme contempt is not less so. It was therefore an object worthy of the mercy of God to form a scheme that might reconcile these two grand divisions of mankind; and, as it was his purpose to reconcile and make them one, we learn from this circumstance, as well as from many others, that his design was to save the whole human race.” This too is the Christ who is the head of the church. This is Jesus who makes the church, and all of us, holy, because He is holy. If your church does not have this Christ as it’s head, then your church can not be holy.
It seems so simple, Jesus is the head of the church, but whose Jesus is He? Is He the Jesus of some who claim Him a good teacher and little else? Is He the Jesus of the arians or the adoptionists? Is He the Jesus of the gnostics or the antinomians? No, He is Jesus the Christ, described in scripture, revealed in both the old testament and the new, adn described here in Colassians. This is the head of the church. He is who makes the church holy. The next Methodism must be holy, or it will not be a part of the church at all.