The Absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ

“And He is before ALL THINGS, and by Him ALL THINGS consist. And he is the Head of the Body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in ALL THINGS He might have the pre­eminence.”

~ Colossians 1:17-18

“. . . According to His good pleasure which He has PURPOSED in Himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one ALL THINGS in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him.”

~ Ephesaians 1:9-10

“And [God] has put ALL THINGS under His [Christ’s] feet, and gave Him to be the Head over ALL THINGS to the church.”

~ Ephesians 1:22

Often when Christians come into a deeper understanding and experience of grace, they lose sight of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I’ve addressed this problem on the blog before in detail. However, I want to revisit it in light of God’s eternal purpose.

The eternal purpose of God is centered upon making the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ a visible reality. God’s goal is the establishment of the complete sovereignty and supremacy of His Son. His driving passion is to make His Son preeminent over all things. All of God’s activities are toward this end. Hence, the chief work of the Holy Spirit in this age is to establish the absolute Lordship of Christ in the universe.

Accordingly, the Holy Spirit will break down and devastate everything that opposes, obstructs, and hinders the Lord’s sovereign rule in the hearts of His people. He will stand against all that gets in the way of God’s ultimate intention of establishing the centrality and supremacy of His Son over all things. Strikingly, before Christ can be made preeminent over all things, He must first have the pre­­­eminence among His own people. Colossians 1:18 puts it this way, 

And He is the Head of the Body, the church . . . THAT in all things He might have the preeminence.

The great need today in the Body of Christ is to reinstate the Headship of Christ. Tragically, all sorts of things have replaced Christ’s Headship. Church boards, committee meetings, church leaders, church programs, man-made rules and regulations, etc. have often supplanted the Headship of Jesus Christ.

Whenever there is a decision before us regarding the Lord’s work or the Lord’s people, the salient question should not be, “What do we think should be done?” or “What can we agree upon as spiritual leaders?” It rather should be, “What does the Lord want in this situation?” With respect to the church, when two people make a decision independent of the Head, it constitutes conspiracy.

Christ alone has the right to rule His church—not any human or committee. It is His Body, not ours. We all belong to Him. He has purchased us with a costly price, and thus He alone possesses full rights over us.

When Christ has His full and rightful place as Head and absolute Lord over His people, then so many problems are resolved.

Consider the profound problems that the church in Corinth faced—carnality, divisions, envy, self-absorption, blasphemy, pride, immorality, strife, civil discord and rivalry. Chapters 1-11 paint a pitiful picture of the corruption in that assembly. What a tremendous burden to carry for Paul—the man who planted and cared for that church. But what was his answer to it all? What was the all-inclusive solution that he shared in 1 Corinthians? It was simply this . . .

For I determined not to know anything among you, except JESUS CHRIST, and Him crucified . . . For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is JESUS CHRIST. (1 Cor. 2:2; 3:11)

The answer was quite plain: That Jesus Christ be given His rightful place in the church. Can you see the force of that? When God’s people get a hold of the greatness of their Lord and put Him in His rightful place, all of their troubles are dealt with. When Christ is presented in power and life, our problems get resolved.

God’s aim in this hour is for us to make Christ’s Headship a practical reality in our lives and in our churches. Such a way, however, is costly. It is a hard thing to yield our rights over to the Lord, to wait on the Lord, and to put the absolute rulership, authority, and decision-making rights into the hands of the Holy Spirit.

It tests whether or not we are going to put our hands on things or whether we are going to yield all rights to Christ. We must understand, however, that if Jesus Christ will return to reign on this earth in His fullness, His people must first give Him the preeminence in their midst.

In God’s plan, all things begin with the church. James tells us that we are “the firstfruits of His creation.” That includes this business of Him reigning over all things.

Make no mistake about it. “Holding fast to the Headship of Christ” (as Colossians puts it) is not something that we are to practice as a last resort. Too often the mentality among Christians is, “I will do whatever I can, using my own cleverness, gifts, and abilities, and only rely upon the Lord when I cannot do any more.” This is foolish thinking at best. Our human ideas and philosophies cannot fulfill one fragment of God’s work.

A great deal of our ecclesiastical traditions and programs are nothing more than wood, hay, and stubble. The church is a spiritual organism. Only that which comes out of God’s indwelling life can accomplish His purpose.

Under the Old Covenant, Moses commanded that no oil be poured upon flesh. So too, the Spirit of God cannot anoint that which comes out of our human fleshly ideas. Recall the words of the Lord Jesus, “Without me, you can do nothing.”

All of this will meet nodding heads with most Christians. But is it a reality? Is Jesus Christ truly the Head of your church, or is someone else? Does the structure of your church allow for Jesus Christ to lead and direct His people through His Body or does it prevent that from happening? And how about our lives?

God desires to sum up all things in His Son. That which originates from fallen humanity’s ideas, traditions, and systems will not last. Only that which comes out of Christ can find God’s highest blessing. Even now, the Lord is awaiting a people to give Him that place of preeminence among themselves. So that one day Christ will indeed be “the Head over all things to the church,” nothing excluded.

Update: The Blog Manager has alerted me that someone made a comment on this post that contained false accusations and assumptions. The person who made these accusations doesn’t know me personally and has misrepresented me and my friends for over a year. He claims that I’ve not been part of any organic church, which is a complete falsehood. Those who know me well or who have read my books, this blog, or have heard my audios are well aware that I’ve been part of numerous organic expressions of the church dating back to 1988. Those experiences are the basis of my books on the ekklesia, as I’m someone who doesn’t particularly like arm-chair philosophy. In the opening of Reimagining Church and Finding Organic Church, I pointed out that the ideas in those books were hammered out on the anvil of experience of living in the trenches in organic church life for over 20 years . . . the good, the bad, and the ugly. As I’ve stated numerous times on this blog, in the present season of ministry that I am in right now, I’m focusing all of my attention ministry-wise on developing relationships with non-Christians and helping the poor. My present focus is not on church or organic church planting. You can see my FAQ page for details on this as well as Blessed Are the Undesirable. The FAQ page also discusses my history in living in organic church life.

Related:

Rethinking the Gospel

Legalism, License, Lordship, and Liberty

A Jesus Manifesto for the 21st Century

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Comments

  1. mark keathley says

    Thanks for thinking, brother. As Maj. Thomas said, “all of life can be an extension of Him.” Even … and especially church life! To live “in Him” is to simply “take and say thank you.” Take whatever comes your way (good or bad) and say “thank you – for what you are going to do with this. I can’t wait to see you at work – in me.” As church or group leaders, we must convey and then portray this active attitude of expectation and wonder for whatever HE is doing “now”. If we don’t expect his activity and demonstrate his divine life in and thru us to those around us, we are only “leading” others to a new form of religion – our religion. His new wineskin type of life is ever changing and dynamic. We should be like a child with a fun and spontaneous dad, wondering what in the world is he going to bring to us next. I can’t wait to experience it! Bring it on Daddy!

  2. Dona Leah says

    I love this forthright challenge: Is Jesus Christ truly the Head of your church, or is someone else? Does the structure of your church allow for Jesus Christ to lead and direct His people through His Body or does it prevent that from happening?

    Many years ago when I was part of a group that had started to get weird and I (and many others) was trying to figure out if the Lord wanted me to stay or go, it would have been very helpful if someone had encouraged me to ask this question. Eventually somebody did challenge me to ask another great question that helped me to make that decision: what or whom does the fellowship pursue? If it isn’t Christ Himself then it’s time to go.

  3. Ancil Ray Renner says

    Thanks for this post Frank. A much needed emphasis in our day. I so appreciate your focus on Jesus Himself and not just some doctrine about Him. May the Lord bless you to continue His good work!

  4. Mike Brady says

    I have enjoyed and have been blessed reading articles on your blog. They are refreshing and gives me much to ponder. I really enjoyed the article on Legalists and Libertines. Having a Baptist background and experiencing legalism, I know the fear factor involved in the hearts of legalist, and now experiencing the freedom of Christ, I see the other side of “the horse”. Thanks for sharing about these “gospels” and my prayer is that we can be light to both groups

  5. rob wilden says

    Funny how we within the body who aspire to the work of the Kingdom continually need to be reminded who the Head of the Kingdom is, ’cause we are quite good at beheading the body and doing the work FOR him (without him?). And to think, all this time His desire, by the Spirit, has been to do the work of the kingdom in us and through us??!
    Thanks for the reminder. Good stuff!

  6. says

    I enjoyed this post.

    Keeping faith in Jesus as Lord of all and Lord of us, is often difficult.

    We are inveterate un-trusters at heart. So the battle is enjoined.

    But we are ‘cat theologians’ (not ‘monkey theologians’).

    Cats hang onto their young. Move then about at will. Keep them in their firm grasp.

    Monkey babies have to hold onto to mom for dear life and exert a lot of effort in doing so.

  7. says

    Great post Frank, I love your stuff, I do have a question. How is it then if we do feel we hear from the Lord how is it to be expressed to the community? Abraham heard from God and told his family to pack their bags, Moses was the voice of God to the nation of Israel. The book of Acts… I guess while I agree 100 percent that we need to hear from Jesus only, this is a much debated issue on who is really hearing what and from whom. I hope you know that this is just an honest question and not written with any other intention than that.

  8. says

    Frank, you have courageously identified the core issue – Jesus’ headship in the church. I am convinced He is already pre-eminent, but our traditions have made His word of no effect since we cling to them instead of Him. For decades I have given myself to churches and programs. Now I am working on giving myself to Jesus. The result may look like other works, or it may look totally different. So far, He is blessing my business, family, and speaking ministry. I am deliberately trying to not copy others and watching to see what happens. It is an adventure.
    Keep up the good work. I am refreshed by your writing! The Body of Christ, visible and invisible, needs fresh vision and clear teaching.
    With gratitude,
    Don Wood

  9. says

    Frank, I feel a little odd responding unlike all the others in the comments who have given you a hearty amen. But I am troubled by your position. It leaves little in the way of people dealing with real suffering. I don’t have the time right now to unpack that and I likely will not to get back to it, so for now will leave it at that.

    • Rachel says

      Michael. I don’t get your comment. I read Frank’s brief post twice and it’s right on, but it’s about one narrow subject. Have you read his other posts? Many of them deal with Christians who are suffering and give them comfort and hope. I’ve been helped by them myself. Read the one called “Blessed Are the Undesirable” in the Archives. That’s one of my favorites.

      Rachel

  10. Greg Dressel says

    Thanks again Frank. Don’t stop pointing us to the One who holds all things together. May the Holy Spirit keep His remnant focused on this Magnificent King. When we see Him as He is we find fear, insecurity, hopelessness, greed, impurity falling away. We become Holy only in Him by being mesmerized and in love with Him. Simple things like He walked this earth 33 years and never sinned in His heart blows my mind. He knows how difficult it is, He did it. He takes us to Abba-Father. We have become His own people set apart for good works and the demonstration of His Glory with these gifts. Who could be like our God???

  11. Angela says

    Funny how someone who has never met you can know what your experience of the church is, right?

    I’ve been around the block a few times and can now usually recognize who is speaking from real experience of these sacred things.

    Keep up the good word!

  12. Skip Rigney says

    Amen to the vision you paint here, Frank. But also a small wet blanket in terms of living it out in the real world. By all means, “Whenever there is a decision before us regarding the Lord’s work or the Lord’s people, the salient question should not be, “What do we think should be done?” or “What can we agree upon as spiritual leaders?” It rather should be, “What does the Lord want in this situation?” Yes! But, HOW do we discern what the Lord wants in this situation? By asking Him, and then being sensitive to what we discern (to varying degrees of fidelity) to be the leadings of the Holy Spirit both inwardly and as we observe and listen to our brothers and sisters. But the reality is that there is a lot of room for self-deception, dull hearing, and mistaken directions as we try to walk by the Spirit. This is simply the way it is in this world where the risen Lord has “left us,” ascending into the heavenlies, and sent us the Holy Spirit. And it’s why we look forward to the time when the Lord Jesus will return bringing a new heaven and a new earth where we will finally hear and see clearly, and the will of His Father will finally be done on earth as it is in heaven. But, as of right now – even when we ask, “What does the Lord want in this situation?” we very likely will still only get the answer partially right at best.

    • says

      No person or church can claim immaculate perception. However, it’s possible to lay hold of the Lord’s mind together, as I’ve seen it happen countless times. I discuss a little how in the first chapter of “Revise Us Again.”

  13. Harold Thompson says

    Dear Brother Frank: I just want to say thank you for this article on the Headship of Christ.
    I am in a city that is totally given over to idolitry and some see it in one place and just go to another just like it thinking they are free from one man RULE, and that’s just what is going on. For about a year now we have been meeting in homes, and yet some etill want to go back to the traditional place, as there is more people and music to entertain them.I wonder if you might continue with what we see in Rev.2-3 cocerning Nicolaitanism, or to control the people. We were told by one set of controlers,(pastor and his wife) that we make all the decision around here, meaning the group meeting together. In my cast, I won’t refer to a man as pastor so in so, as it is a gift not a elevated position, but a shepherd to lead, guide, go after when they go astray, not a place to make yourself above the Lord. Here I am making a blog, but I am passionate about having the Lord Jesus Christ the head and we as fellow workers with Him. Now I realize that there are those who we are to be subject too, like Elders who watch for our souls, and the Spiritual gifts that each of us have, so that we are also subject to each other. Now preach that and see the dust fly as people leave, they don’t want for the most part to do anything, therefore will never find their gifts to use in the body. They will say, that’s the pastors job, that’s what we have hired him for. IPeter 5:1-7 discribes the responsibility of Elders, or ministers, or those in oversight. Thank you for listening, I wish others would, it after all will give glory to God the Father and His son Jesus Christ. Love in Christ harold

  14. says

    Frank,

    I could write much in response to your article, but I will summarize with a single word: AMEN!

    But, in response to your update, I simply want to encourage you–and testify to all those reading–that what you speak is true! Having met you in-person, my wife and I walked away from your encouragement, truth, and instruction about shared your experiences in organic church life the most practical and holistic we have ever heard. Not only that, but it was testified to by the many in attendance who have had the privilege of sharing in that daily life with you around the nation. I can think of no others in the public sphere who so consistently and clearly proclaims and admonishes others into exactly what you have communicated once again here–that Jesus Christ is to be Head of all. Your life demonstrates the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ in all things, and for that, as your brother, I thank you.

    Blessings to you, brother!

  15. Miguel says

    Frank thanks for including the link to the FAQ i never read it before and are great “news” to know that part of your bio.

  16. Christopher says

    Regarding your update here, I’m reminded of a post in Revival or Riots, ‘When waves of criticism come, I take out my surf board’. take a surf when people hurl criticisms. Many of us are blessed by your blog. Keep up the good work.

  17. Nancy says

    Frank, your words represent many who are hungry for the Church to embrace the reality of the Lordship of Christ as you have described it. Thank you for putting into words how my longing heart feels.

    Your encouragement and work is greatly needed.

  18. Femi Mafe says

    Your write-up is just on point and the update too, I would see as just an attempt to make readers aware of comments some scornful people are making. I believe you are on notice to realize that even though many preach these same truths, they find it impossible to practicalize.

    There is a case of a pastor in Nigeria, who decided to judge about half a dozen of his church members by dousing them with petrol and setting them alight. He was prosecuted and found guilty of murder as one of the victims died soon after. What knocks me off now is that the followers of this pastor are threateming fire and brimstone if the court judgement is executed. I thought they should have realized the error of their leader and be asking for mercy from God and forgiveness from the victims instead. This is an extreme case, but vistiges of such are common in most churches. In most congregations, people never believe that their church leaders could ever be wrong!!!

    These people would want to make us all believe that it is rebellion to opine differently from what the pastor preaches or practices, which in such cases, are watered down fabrications to keep people looking up to human leaders. How else would they be able to build their personal ‘spiritual and temporal’ empires without the help of followers who are subordinate to them more than to the Lord Jesus Christ … I call them ‘worshippers of man made gods’.

  19. GaCorner says

    I agree that a deep understanding and experience of grace can seem to eclipse the Lordship of Christ, but it will always lead to the Lordship of Christ. The real danger is that we try hard to make Jesus our Lord rather than receiving his gifts as children of the King. When we realize how much we are loved, we will desire for Him to be Lord…we will be caught up in His agenda of living loved and loving others. This requires faith and focus. Otherwise, we will strive in our flesh. The competing desires and distractions will fade as we experience the “expulsive power (grace) of a new affection (God’s incomparable love)”. If we focus on making Jesus Lord and throwing aside distractions, we won’t get there because the focus and burden is on US and what WE do. And even if we “succeed”, that will only bring glory to us, not Him! We won’t know what the Lord really wants if we aren’t motivated by His love for others.

  20. says

    I guess believers in the West who are constantly bombarded with a ‘gospel’ focussing on the individual, ‘personal salvation’ (ticket to heaven), financial ‘prosperity’ etc begin to believe that THEY are at the centre of the universe. It is so refreshing to hear an emphasis by Frank and others on the fact that its ultimately about God’s purpose in Christ, in which we are called to share. So let us be faithful to this biblical gospel, and proclaim/incarnate it in the power and love of Jesus. I live and minister in South Africa, and have travelled fairly extensively in Africa – large parts of our continent have been polluted by afore-mentioned ‘gospel.’ But, praise God, many are returning to the authentic gospel (2 Cor. 15) and to more biblical and organic forms of church!

  21. kalil says

    Frank, from your experience with working with churches, Christians and people in general have you noticed a common reason why Jesus is not central and supreme in their lives?

    • says

      Often, they haven’t been presented with an unveiling of Christ that eclipses the other things they are chasing after. When we get a clear glimpse of Him, it draws everything out of us.

      • Fred says

        I have to admit that putting Jesus’ mind in church members is not an easy task. It is not the should part but the how part that bothers most people, I think. It could be more possible for Bible scholars and church preachers to know God and speak in the name of the Holy Spirit, but for a church attender who has to make a living by working outside of the church, how can he guess what’s on Jesus’ mind?

  22. Tony Shuman says

    You’re right Frank. But how to get back to that is the question that has to be answered. The “Church” is so fragmented, it is irrelevant in the world today.

  23. says

    Thank you Frank. The centrality and supremacy of Christ seems to form into a burden, and further into a vision – one that can and should dominate & define all things in life. “the lamp of the soul is the eye…if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light”.

    Seems to me (as you here describe) that “distraction-ism” is the mother sin of the Body of Christ. We have prostituted ourselves on a million lesser loves and become bored with Jesus, the one who occupies the center of the universe!

    Holy Spirit, come! Revive us unto our chief love and passion!

  24. Richard V Martin says

    I’m wondering why there isn’t a ‘button’ somewhere on these posts that allow for printing them… without all the ‘clutter’ that alson appears in the posts. There may be one, I just haven’t seen it.

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