A Necessary Magnitude

A Necessary Magnitude
by Tullian Tchividjian

The magnitude of Christ Jesus is something we desperately need to understand better.

We need it because seeing him for all that he is will ultimately be the only way we can overcome our temptations to idolatry.  In Desiring God, John Piper writes, “I know of no other way to triumph over sin long-term than…to gain a distaste for it because of a superior satisfaction in God.” And nothing can give us that “superior satisfaction in God” better than a clearer focus on Jesus and his greatness.  When we are captured and captivated by who Jesus is, we’ll be empowered and equipped to resist the constant temptations to settle for anything less.

And let me emphasize here that this more intense gaze at Christ is not just some intellectual effort but a matter of the heart’s fascination, something thrilling and glad.  Ultimately, it takes this kind of joy to defeat idolatry and sin.  As the eighteenth-century Puritan Matthew Henry wrote, “The joy of the lord will arm us against the assaults of our spiritual enemies and put our mouths out of taste for those pleasures with which the tempter baits his hooks.”

The Colossians passage where the magnitude of Christ comes through most powerfully is in verses 15-20 in chapter 1.  Scholars say these lines may well have been originally a hymn to Christ.  Paul breaks out here in songful praise, showing just how immense Jesus is, how mighty to save.  One commentator observes that Paul seems to be in a state of controlled ecstasy here, awestruck by our Savior’s vastness.

Even in a passage so brief, notice how often Paul keeps bringing up the allness, the everythingness that’s connected with Jesus Christ:

He is…the firstborn of all creation.  For by him all things were created…all things were created through him and for him.  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together… . He is the beginning…that in everything he might be preeminent.  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things.  (Col. 1:15-20)

Paul is making giant declarations about the unqualified totality of Christ’s preeminence.  He wants his readers to be swept away by the sheer size of Christ, to savor his infinite supremacy and beauty and brilliance and power and trustworthiness.

The fact is, Jesus owns the concept of “everything.” Paul wants us to be radically impressed by all that Jesus is –and to sense the truth that anything else in our lives must seem remarkably minor by comparison.  God wants us to be awestruck by Christ’s greatness, then strangely liberated by a fresh realization of our own smallness.

Excerpted from “Jesus+ Nothing= Everything©2011 by Tullian Tchividjian. Published by Crossway. Watch Pastor Tchividjian this Thursday on LIFE Today.

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Scripture Matthew 7:13-29

The Narrow and Wide Gates

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

True and False Prophets

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them.Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

True and False Disciples

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

The Wise and Foolish Builders

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

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