On Saturday 23 June the Open Bible Trust held its annual Scottish conference at Newton Mearns Baptist Church. The theme for the day was “The Exalted Christ” and aim of the conference was to explore the revelation in Scripture of the glorified Lord Jesus.
The conference consisted of five sessions, each led by different speakers. We started by going back to “the beginning,” considering the opening verses of John’s Gospel, which introduce Jesus as the Word – the logos, who was with God and who was God. Here we are confronted with one of the great paradoxes of the deity, that the one God has more than one person, living in relationship with each other from eternity past. God and the Word are the persons later described in the Gospel as the Father and the Son and in Jesus’ great prayer to His Father in John 17:5, He asks Him to “glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” John 1:3-4 reveals Him as the Creator of all things and the one who brings life and light to men. “In him was life,” says John – the perpetual self-sustaining life of God. The Lord Jesus was the power behind the original creation, bringing life to the world and, as John indicates in 6:40, He will be the power behind the new creation bringing resurrection and eternal life to those who believe in Him. What an opening!
From there we picked up the first four verses of the epistle to the Hebrews. Here there are echoes of John, with the Lord being introduced as God’s Son, “through whom he made the universe.” His deity is also strongly affirmed as He is described as “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (verse 3), which call to mind the Lord’s own words to Philip, that “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). However, Hebrews 1 goes further than John by declaring Christ to be not only the Creator of all things but the heir and the sustainer of all things (verses 2 and 3). His work is ongoing and Hebrews goes on to show the superiority of the Lord Jesus to angels (chapter 1), to Moses (chapter 3), to Joshua (chapter 4), to the Aaronic priesthood (chapter 7) and to the sacrifices of the Law (chapter 10). What a Saviour!
The third session examined Ephesians 1:20-23, emphasising His glorious position at the right hand of God, far above all powers and authorities and head over everything for the church, which is His body. This magnificent passage ends with the description of the Lord as “the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”
Ephesians 1 led us into the parallel passage in Colossians 1:15-20, which summed up much of what we had already considered. There we read of the Lord as the image of the invisible God (verse 15), Creator (verse 16) and sustainer of the universe (verse 17), the one in whom God was pleased to have His fullness dwell (verse 19) and the head of the body, the church (verse 18). But Colossians 1 also reveals Him as firstborn in two dimensions: first, in verse 15, He is the firstborn over the original creation – not in the sense of being the first to be created, but in the sense of being the origin and the heir. Secondly in verse 18 He is firstborn from among the dead. He is origin and heir of the New Creation also “so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (verse 18.) This also resonated with John’s message that Christ is the power behind both the old and the new creations.
The final session considered the wonderful passage in Philippians 2:5-11, which paints the Lord Jesus on a broad canvas, showing Him before His first advent “in very nature God” (verse 6), but who did not consider His position as equal with God something to be clutched onto at all costs, but, instead humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death on a cross. There is a stark contrast between Adam – who wanted to be like God, and the Lord Jesus – who was prepared to give up His rightful position of equality with God. The one brought a curse on us all and the other redeemed us from that curse, or as Paul says in Colossians 1:20, reconciled us to God, by making peace through His blood shed on the cross. No wonder God has exalted Him to the highest place and given Him the name that is above every name (Philippians 2:9). This is The Exalted Christ! At His name every knee will one day bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord (verse 11).
It was an exhilarating experience to spend time thinking about these wonderful passages and those who were there appreciated the opportunity. If you would be interested in hearing the five talks they are available on 3 CDs for £5. The CDs are available from The Open Bible Trust, Fordland Mount, Beckfords, Upper Basildon, Berks RG8 8LU or from www.obt.org.uk