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Jim Killebrew has 40 years of clinical psychological work for people with intellectual disabilities, and experience teaching, administration, consulting, writing with multiple publications. Dr. Killebrew has attended four Universities and received advanced degrees. Southern Illinois University; Ph.D., Educational Psychology; University of Illinois at Springfield, Counseling Education; M.A., Human Development Counseling; Northeastern Oklahoma State University, B.A., Psychology and Sociology. Dr. Killebrew attended Lincoln Christian Seminary (Now Lincoln Christian University). Writing contributions have been accepted and published in several journals: Hospital & Community Psychiatry, The Lookout, and Christian Standard (multiple articles). He may be reached at Killebrewjb@aol.com.

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Christ above all


 
Today's world is diverse.  The economical, political, social, cultural and religious world seem to be trying to merge together into a one-world system.  The problem is the diversity and ethnocentricity.  People groups tend to cluster, preferring to follow the trends of propinquity where personal relationships are stronger than integrated camaraderie.

The intent and motivation of mankind has come full circle.  Following the world-wide flood in the days of Noah (account of Noah in Genesis 7, 8 and 9), recorded in the Bible, the peoples of the earth were united in a one-world order.  They shared a common language and wanted to cluster together into a powerful force in unity.  The problem was that it interfered with the Will of God.  Genesis 11 gives us a glimpse of antiquity even before Greece and Rome:  "11:1 The whole earth had a common language and a common vocabulary. 11:2 When the people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. 11:3 Then they said to one another, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” (They had brick instead of stone and tar instead of mortar.) 11:4 Then they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens so that we may make a name for ourselves. Otherwise we will be scattered across the face of the entire earth.”

11:5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the people had started building. 11:6 And the Lord said, “If as one people all sharing a common language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be beyond them. 11:7 Come, let’s go down and confuse their language so they won’t be able to understand each other.”

11:8 So the Lord scattered them from there across the face of the entire earth, and they stopped building the city. 11:9 That is why its name was called Babel – because there the Lord confused the language of the entire world, and from there the Lord scattered them across the face of the entire earth."  (Genesis 11:1-9)

 Because the peoples of the world scattered they sought out those of like language and began to cluster as families, then villages, cities and regions sharing their like-characteristics.  The Bible summarizes the families of the Children of Noah and the regions which they inhabited.  Today, however, through economics and political forces the world is again trying to establish common ground into what we hear our politicians call a "New World Order."

The remnants, however, of the old world remain; especially in the religious order.  Major religions of the world flourish:  Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Muslimism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Atheistic beliefs, Theism, and Christianity.  From these major divisions of beliefs are thousands of splintered groups with their own ethnocentric variances of their systems.  The continuum of faith and allegiance in each of these groups range from a passive acquaintance with the rudiments of the system to complete submission to its core.  Of all the systems and world-view beliefs, the one that is pre-eminent above all others is the one with Christ at its center.

God's Creation

The Bible records that God created the universe and the planets.  "1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1)  The plural Hebrew word used for God, "Elohim" represents majesty and implies sovereignty and incomparability; He is the God over any other god.  Later God made that fact very clear to the people He had chosen to bear the lineage of Christ Who would ultimately pay the price for redemption of mankind.  He had declared in His First Commandment, "You shall have no other gods before me."  (Exodus 20:3)

We are reminded of the pre-eminence of Christ by one of His Disciples, John, as he recorded, "1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. 1:2 The Word was with God in the beginning. 1:3 All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. 1:4 In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. 1:5 And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.  1:14 Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory – the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father."  (John 1:1-5, 14)

Christ is the Creator; His relationship was with God, and was "fully God."  This passage declares that nothing that was created could be separated from Him since He was the Creator.  He was there in the beginning.  Nothing similar could be said about any other leader of any religious system.  It was God, through Christ that made the world and everything in it.  It is in Christ that we have life and none other.

Peter declares Christ

Jesus had been born as a light in this creation and His light "shines on in the darkness."  He lived His life as the ultimate sacrifice and paid the price on the cross with His shed blood.  It was there that we can become atoned and justified with our sins being blotted out because of God's Grace.  Peter, one of Jesus' Disciples, who later was an Apostle, recognized this and told us in his declaration to the people on the Day of Pentecost, fifty (50) days after Jesus ascended from Jerusalem into heaven.

"2:14 But Peter stood up with the eleven, raised his voice, and addressed them: “You men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, know this and listen carefully to what I say. 2:15 In spite of what you think, these men are not drunk, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 2:16 But this is what was spoken about through the prophet Joel:

2:17And in the last days it will be, God says,

that I will pour out my Spirit on all people,

and your sons and your daughters will prophesy,

and your young men will see visions,

and your old men will dream dreams.

2:18 Even on my servants, both men and women,

I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

2:19 And I will perform wonders in the sky above

and miraculous signs on the earth below,

blood and fire and clouds of smoke.

2:20 The sun will be changed to darkness

and the moon to blood

before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes.

2:21 And then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

2:22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man clearly attested to you by God with powerful deeds, wonders, and miraculous signs that God performed among you through him, just as you yourselves know – 2:23 this man, who was handed over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you executed by nailing him to a cross at the hands of Gentiles. 2:24 But God raised him up, having released him from the pains of death, because it was not possible for him to be held in its power. 2:25 For David says about him,

I saw the Lord always in front of me,

for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken.

2:26 Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced;

my body also will live in hope,

2:27 because you will not leave my soul in Hades,

nor permit your Holy One to experience decay.

2:28 You have made known to me the paths of life;

you will make me full of joy with your presence.

2:29 “Brothers, I can speak confidently to you about our forefather David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 2:30 So then, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, 2:31 David by foreseeing this spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did his body experience decay. 2:32 This Jesus God raised up, and we are all witnesses of it. 2:33 So then, exalted to the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he has poured out what you both see and hear. 2:34 For David did not ascend into heaven, but he himself says,

The Lord said to my lord,

Sit at my right hand

2:35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’

2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know beyond a doubt that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.”

It was Jesus Whom Peter said, "God...made...Lord and Christ."  When the Spirit of God had empowered Peter the result was a sermon that rehearsed the history that all the people present that day would remember.  Peter spoke from the Prophet Joel (Chapter 2) about the Spirit of God being poured out on the people.  Psalms 16: 8-11 served as a quotation from the great King of Israel, David.  He offered proof that it was not David, but Jesus Who ascended into heaven.  In this sense Jesus was in greater authority that King David.  Therefore, since all the people present was familiar with the citations Peter used, they knew without a doubt that Jesus was the one that Peter declared as the God-made Christ.

Paul declares Christ Above All

The Apostle Paul had come from a background of persecuting the Christians.  As Saul, the emissary of the Sanhedrin, he had tried to squash what he considered to be simply a "movement" of these Disciples of Jesus to keep His teachings among the people.  Three thousand souls had been added to the Church on the Day of Pentecost alone.  (Acts 2:38)  They had repented of their sins and had been baptized into Jesus by being immersed in water.  But as time passed more and more were being added to the Church as Peter and the other Apostles continued to preach the Gospel of Christ.  So Paul had to do something to stop the spread of this new teaching.

Saul (later Paul) was present as a believer, Stephen was killed by stoning (Read Stephen's stand at the Council in Acts 7).  It was Saul who stood by watching the outer garments of those throwing the stones that ultimately killed Stephen (Acts 8:1).  Saul was in full agreement with the killing of Stephen, and continued to hunt down those who walked in "The Way" to destroy them because they named the name of Jesus.  In fact it was on that very day that a great persecution of Christians began; and Saul was leading the charge.  He gathered papers from the High Priest and the Council to seek out the Christians to be put in prison or destroyed.

It was on such a mission that Saul met Jesus.  "9:1 Meanwhile Saul, still breathing out threats to murder the Lord’s disciples, went to the high priest 9:2 and requested letters from him to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, either men or women, he could bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem." (Acts 9:1-2)  While traveling that road to Damascus to arrest as many Christians as he could, The Christ met him instead.

"9:3 As he was going along, approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 9:4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 9:5 So he said, “Who are you, Lord?” He replied, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting! 9:6 But stand up and enter the city and you will be told what you must do.” 9:7 (Now the men who were traveling with him stood there speechless, because they heard the voice but saw no one.) 9:8 So Saul got up from the ground, but although his eyes were open, he could see nothing. Leading him by the hand, his companions brought him into Damascus. 9:9 For three days he could not see, and he neither ate nor drank anything." (Acts 9:3-9)

Saul was converted on the road to Damascus when he met Jesus Who told him that He was the one Saul was persecuting.  Saul, whose name was changed to Paul, was appointed by Jesus, The Christ to be the Apostle to preach the Gospel of Jesus, The Christ to the Gentiles in the known world.  "9:15 But the Lord said to him, [Ananias] “Go, because this man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before Gentiles and kings and the people of Israel." (Acts 9:15)  In his converted life Paul became the champion of Christianity.  He carried the Gospel of Christ to the outer parts of the world at that time, established many congregations through his missionary efforts and encouraged many of those congregations, and others he had not planted, with letters of encouragement and theology.  Paul's letters, inspired by God, give us insights into how God is working with each of us as we submit ourselves to Him and follow him through His Spirit.  One of the points that Paul established through some of his letters was the Pre-eminence of Jesus, The Christ.

Philippians

Paul wrote to the Church in Philippi to encourage them, but in doing so he gave us a glimpse of Christ's Pre-eminence.  In the process of writing the letter, Paul launched into what some consider a song that was known to the people of the time, but the words witness to Christ's authority:  "2:5 You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had,

2:6 who though he existed in the form of God

did not regard equality with God

as something to be grasped,

2:7 but emptied himself

by taking on the form of a slave,

by looking like other men,

and by sharing in human nature.

2:8 He humbled himself,

by becoming obedient to the point of death

– even death on a cross!

2:9 As a result God exalted him

and gave him the name

that is above every name,

2:10 so that at the name of Jesus

every knee will bow

– in heaven and on earth and under the earth –

2:11 and every tongue confess

that Jesus Christ is Lord

to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:5-11)

Colossians

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Christians in Colossi to remind them of the supremacy of Christ:  "1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation,

1:16 for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him – all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers – all things were created through him and for him.

1:17 He himself is before all things and all things are held together in him.

1:18 He is the head of the body, the church, as well as the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead, so that he himself may become first in all things.

1:19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son

1:20 and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross – through him, whether things on earth or things in heaven." (Colossians 1:15-20)

Hebrews

Although some believe that Paul did not write the letter to the Hebrews, it still bears a lot of the characteristics of Paul's writings.  Whoever wrote it, however, attested to the beliefs that Paul had written in letters to the Churches.  Chapters 1-9 of the Book of Hebrews explains the superiority of Jesus over the angles in heaven.  He is greater than the great leader Moses; greater than the High Priest in Judaism, in fact He is our High Priest in the order of Melchizedek, a priest to whom even the great Abraham offered sacrifice.

Hebrews documents that it is the Blood of Jesus that saves us; it is His work on the cross that is the salvation of all who believe in Him.  His work on the cross was done only once, but it was done for all.  It has the power to save us from our sins, redeem us from death, give us eternal life, provide an atonement for us from unrighteousness, justify us in the sight of God through a legal declaration from God that declares us righteous in His sight through Christ and His work on the cross.  His Grace, through the sacrifice of Jesus His Son on the cross, sanctifies us to maturity in Christ and grows us through the work of the Holy Spirit and gives us the power to work for Him because of our love for Him as He does His work through us to point others to Christ.

Revelation

Finally, John reveals to us that the only one in heaven who is worthy enough to sit on the right hand of God is the Son, Jesus, The Christ.  This is a revelation from Jesus Christ as given to John who is a witness of the things he has seen.  "1:4 From John, to the seven churches that are in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from “he who is,” and who was, and who is still to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 1:5 and from Jesus Christ – the faithful witness, the firstborn from among the dead, the ruler over the kings of the earth. To the one who loves us and has set us free from our sins at the cost of his own blood 1:6 and has appointed us as a kingdom, as priests serving his God and Father – to him be the glory and the power forever and ever! Amen.

1:7 (Look! He is returning with the clouds,

and every eye will see him,

even those who pierced him,

and all the tribes on the earth will mourn because of him.

This will certainly come to pass! Amen.)

1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God – the one who is, and who was, and who is still to come – the All-Powerful!

Revelation chapter 5 declares that Jesus is the Worthy Lamb, the One Who was Slain, the one who gave His blood for the salvation of many.  It is He Who is worthy and will remain for all eternity.

Summary

As the world order of economics, political influence, military might, multi-cultural diversity, recession, depression, rising or collapsing of nations, value of money, the price of oil, global warming, or which Hollywood pop star has the cutest haircut or wins the most awards, the most important matter is your relationship with Jesus, The Christ.  In my life, as in all other lives, it will not matter when the last verse of my life is being sung how I voted, what car I drove, how many material goods I have, how many important people I know, how many offices I held, how many degrees I achieved, or anything else; it will only matter what my relationship with Jesus is and whether or not I have yielded my life to Him.

Unlike any of the other religions or leaders on earth, the only one who claims to be above it all and offers eternal life because of what He did on the cross by shedding His blood is Jesus.
Jim Killebrew
   



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