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Firstborn Among Many Brethren

Romans 8: 29c

Paul's language leaps all hurdles at a single stride in order to guide our thought
straight from the choice of God to the glorious destiny of those who are in Christ:
"For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed
to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren
."

Our focus is "that He might be the firstborn among many brethren."
Here is a reason for those whom God foreknew for being conformed to the image of His Son.
The reason is that He might have many brethren.

Next to the glory of God, the object of His incarnation
once the salvation of a multitude which no man can number.
To Him many shall come, not a few, but many shall come to Him
from the East and West, from the North and South,
and shall live and reign with Him for ever and ever.

So, He who is the firstborn is not alone in the Father's house
of many mansions; He has many brethren who are members of the divine household.
This is the last echo of the theme of sonship in this chapter,
and it sets Christ as the firstborn in the midst of all who are now welcome
in the Father's presence as His brethren.

This specifies the final aim of the conformity of which Paul has just spoken.
You might ask: "What can be more final than the complete conformity
of the sons of God to the image of Christ
?"
It is this question that brings to our attention the significance of this concluding clause.
This is a final end that is more ultimate than the glorification of the people of God;
it is that which is concerned with the preeminence of Christ.

The term, firstborn, carries with it the idea of priority and preeminence.
The word, firstborn, signifies what surpasses anything else of the same kind.
As "the firstborn of the poor," Isaiah 14:13, that is to say, the most miserable of all.
And the firstborn of death, Job 18:13, signifying
a very terrible death surpassing in grief and violence.

The term, firstborn, is also applied to those who were most beloved,
as Ephraim is called the firstborn of the Lord, Jeremiah 31: 9, that is, His "dear son."

In all of these respects the term, "firstborn," belongs to Jesus Christ
as to the superiority of His nature, and of His office, and of His glory.

He is truly the firstborn, since He alone is the only begotten, the eternal Son of the Father.
In this respect He is the Son of God by nature,
while we, as His brethren, are sons of God by grace.
"Man was created, not born, in God's image."

He is our King, our Head, our Lord, our Priest, our Prophet,
our Surety, our Advocate with the Father.
He is our Saviour.

We are all His subjects, and He leads and governs us by His Spirit,
and He has made atonement for our sins by His death.
We are His disciples, and He has called us from darkness into His marvelous light.

He is "the Firstborn," that is to say, the first, the most excellent,
the pre-eminent, the Governor, the Lord of hosts, the King of glory.

The word, firstborn, is found in four other verses with a similar reference to Christ
(Colossians 1:15, 18; Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 1: 5),
and it marks His kinship with us while it also preserves
His own unique preeminence.

In Colossians 1: 15, we read, "He is the firstborn of all creation."
That is to say, He is pre-eminent in time and history.
"He, who is the image of God, the invisible One,
the firstborn of all creation,... all has been created through Him
and for Him, and He is before all things (whatsoever),
and all things have their permanence in connection with Him
."

We live in a Christ-centered universe.
The word, "universe," does not occur in the New Testament,
but this is the meaning of "all things" employed by Paul here in Colossians 1.

"All the laws and purposes which guide the creation and government
of the universe reside in Him, the eternal Word, as their meeting-point
."
He is Lord over all of God's creation.

And we read in Colossians 1: 18 that He is also "the firstborn from the dead."
He is pre-eminent in might and majesty.
He is Lord of death and life.

The meaning is that Christ is the first to come from the dead
in true resurrection life (i.e., never to die again). Compare 1 Corinthians 15: 20.

And because He was the first to be born from the dead,
He possessed in Himself the new and higher life which we,
as His children, by virtue of our union with Him, now share.
His being firstborn from the dead is that which establishes
His place as the beginning, the origin, of the church's life.

Colossians 1: 18 is understood by some to be a kind of summary
of all that Paul has affirmed from the 15th verse to this point:
"that in all things He (Christ) might have the preeminence."

C. F. D. Moule takes the whole phrase to mean:
"that He might be alone supreme among all -- sole head of all things."

Christ is entirely unique.
"There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name
under heaven given among men by which we must be saved
."
(Acts 4:12)

"None other Lamb, none other Name,
None other hope in heaven or earth or sea,
None other hiding-place from guilt and shame,
None beside Thee.

Lord, Thou art Life tho' I be dead,
Love's Fire Thou art, however cold I be:
Nor heaven have I, nor place I lay my head,
Nor home, but Thee
."

And we read in Hebrews 1: 6, when He brings the firstborn
into the world, He says, "Let all God's angels worship Him."

The Firstborn covers all the ages, all creation from its beginning
to its end in time, all time and before there was time as we know it,
from eternity to eternity -- and this for the Incarnate One,
the Son of man, through whom the ages were wrought,
who bears all that exists, who wrought the redemptive cleansing,
and who shall judge all things at His coming.

All God's angels must and shall worship Him.
He shall return in glory, and all God's angels shall worship Him,
and before Him every knee must bow. (Philippians 2:10)
"God hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven and things in earth,
and things under the earth
."

And in Revelation 1: 5: "And from Jesus Christ the faithful witness,
the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth
...
verse 6... and to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever."

He is Lord of all!
"And every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father
." (Philippians 2: 11)
If the minds of people everywhere could grasp this colossal fact
in only a fraction of its glory, there would be shouting in the streets,
in the capitols of every nation and in every ghetto.

Jesus is Lord!
This changes the meaning of the past, the present, and the future.
This changes the meaning of current events, dissolves the reasons
for our greatest concerns, and causes hope to burn brightly in every heart.

Jesus is Lord!
Let the nation believe it and it will find a new soul.
Let the church find it true and there will be kindled a new fire.
Let the individual discovery it and he will have a new life.

When Emerson was asked why he did not include Jesus
among his list of outstanding, representative men of history,
he replied that "the glistening garments of glory that Jesus wore
caused him to believe that it took too much strength
of constitution to compare Him with other men."

He cannot be compared with other men.
He is Lord!

All will one day call Him Lord.
Every knee will bow and every tongue will boldly declare that He is Lord.
It will be seen and heard in heaven.
Noah, Moses, Abraham, Joshua, David, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel,
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul and all will join in the heavenly chorus:
"Jesus is Lord!"

It will be seen and heard in heaven.
All the rulers of the earth, all the wealthy of the world,
all the potentates and princes will call Him, "Lord."

It will be seen and heard under the earth.
Satan and all the hordes of hell will cry, "Jesus is Lord!"
All the evil and unbelieving will shout with hell's sad choir,
"Jesus is Lord!"

Say it in times of joy, "Jesus Christ is Lord!"
Say it in times of sadness, "Jesus Christ is Lord!"
These times are but for a moment.
Joy comes in the morning.
Trouble is temporary.
He is Lord forever.
Let it ring in times of distress, "Jesus is Lord!"

Say it in times of bereavement, "Jesus is Lord!"
When death invades our homes, is there any more glorious fact that this?
Our hearts are hurting and our grief is heavy, but "Jesus is Lord!"

Say it in times of great losses, "Jesus is Lord!"
Say it in times of failure, "Jesus is Lord!"
Say it in times of success, "Jesus is Lord!"

When we hear the applause of men, and when they would praise us --
refuse such accolades and give the glory and praise to Jesus.
The Lord our God is one God.
He will not share his glory with another.
Jesus is Lord!

Say it in times of decision, "Jesus is Lord!"
Your decision is not really yours to make because your life is not yours.
It is His life. You have been bought with a price.
He is the Way; walk in Him.
He is the Truth; believe Him.
He is the Life; let Him live His life through you.

Say it in times of loneliness: "Jesus is Lord!"
Do you feel that all your friends and family have forsaken you?
You may be lonely, but you need not be alone.
"Our Lord is near us all the time."
"He will never leave me or forsake me
."

Say it in times of confusion: "Jesus is Lord!"
Maybe you have lost your way.
Maybe you have no idea what is right or what is wrong.
You don't understand things.
You don't feel any thing.
Still yet, you can shout, "Jesus is Lord!"

Say it in times of misunderstandings, "Jesus is Lord!"
When misunderstandings prevail and tempers flare,
and communication is lost and gloom fills your soul.
When battle lines are drawn and there seems to be no hope,
and panic sets in, you can say: "Jesus is Lord!"

Say it when you think the challenge is to great, "Jesus is Lord!"
Is the responsibility too much?
Is the demand more than you can deal with?
Is there no light at the end of the tunnel?
Is there too much to risk?
Is the challenge too challenging?
Say it: "Jesus is Lord!"

Say it when death comes near to you, "Jesus is Lord!"
The doctor says that your time is short.
Your heart misses a beat, your blood slows, your body cools,
and your chest rattles, and death comes near.
Remember the promise of Jesus:
"And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."
(John 11:26)

Say it with Paul, "O death, where is thy sting?
O grave, where is thy victory?
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ
."
(1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

Jesus is Lord!

Say it when the last trumpet sounds, "Jesus is Lord!"
"All hail the power of Jesus' name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all
!"

"For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.
For whether we live, we live unto the Lord;
and whether we die, we die unto the Lord:
whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.

For to this end Christ both died and rose, and revived,
that He might be Lord both of the dead and living
."
(Rom. 14:7-9)

Jesus is Lord!

"Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors;
and the King of glory shall come in.

Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory."

(Psalm 24: 7-8, 10)

Jesus is Lord!

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at hleewhite@aol.com