Proclaiming Christ As Lord: Colossians 1:15-20 -- By: Larry R. Helyer

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 017:3 (Fall 2013)
Article: Proclaiming Christ As Lord: Colossians 1:15-20
Author: Larry R. Helyer


Proclaiming Christ As Lord: Colossians 1:15-20

Larry R. Helyer

Larry R. Helyer earned a Ph. D. in New Testament from Fuller Theological Seminary. He pastored North Baptist Church in Portland Oregon (1969-1973) and Faith Baptist Church in Sun Valley, California (1974-1979) before teaching Biblical Studies at Taylor University (1979-2008).

He has written numerous articles and reviews and has authored Exploring Jewish Literature of the Second Temple Period: A Guide for New Testament Students (InterVarsity, 2002), Yesterday, Today and Forever: The Continuing Relevance of the Old Testament (Sheffield, 2004), The Witness of Jesus, Paul and John: An Exploration in Biblical Theology (InterVarsity, 2008), The Book of Revelation for Dummies (Wiley, 2008), and The Life and Witness of Peter (InterVarsity, 2012).

Preach on great texts!” This advice to aspiring preachers has been severely compromised by our current obsession with “preaching where people itch.” A sermonic diet of pop psychology, peppered with bible verses taken out of context, presupposes that first and foremost Jesus functions as a spiritual guru, someone “totally about” our existential angst. The result may well be, at least in North America, the most narcissistic generation of Christians ever to wend its way to heavenly Mount Zion. I want to plead for a return to sermons that elevate the level of theological discourse and awaken one’s listeners to the necessity of ultimate truths. In short, pastors must rediscover the importance of preaching biblical theology. Such a menu serves as the most effective and enduring way to enable believers to be “mature in Christ” (Col 1:28) and “established in the faith” (Col 2:7). In so doing, it also provides reliable guidance for the pressing issues of postmodernity and beyond. Spirituality can never rise higher than its theological foundations.

I cannot think of a greater text on which to preach than Colossians 1:15-20. It is an awe-inspiring, mind-boggling portrait of the Lord Jesus Christ. In high definition, the cosmic Christ confronts us in all his glory and majesty. When this reality grips us, we bow before him and proclaim the quintessential Christological affirmation, “Jesus is Lord” (Rom 10:9)! The Lordship of Christ is the key to Christian discipleship, the unerring reference point for charting a course in the midst of a bewildering and uncertain world. To this end, I offer some suggestions concerning how this text may serve as the basis for an edifying and inspiring sermon.

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