What’s Holding Your Life Together?

Jesus: Superglue for My Life

Colossians 1:17

FHU Chapel Sermon

October 20, 2020

One of the greatest movies of all time has to be the Lego Movie. All the little Lego guys running around singing “everything is awesome!” In the movie, there is, of course, a villain. This villain has a tube of Krazy glue or superglue that he uses to freeze the other Lego characters in whatever position he wants them to be. I’ve come to realize that there are a lot of villains out there trying to super glue us into uncomfortable positions. These villains are known as depression, addiction, apathy, secularism, and faithlessness. These villains trap us and freeze us in uncomfortable positions. But what if, instead of a villain, the perfect and loving God of Heaven was there to hold us together?

I have often felt like my life needed some super glue. Unpleasant experiences can become standard. Job said, “man who is born of woman is few of days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). But Job didn’t fall apart. He said, “I know my Redeemer lives.” What is holding your life together?

Most, I’m afraid, live with a fundamentally deistic worldview that believes God isn’t involved in the world. Deism, therefore, is a theological error that teaches that God’s involvement in the universe stopped in the opening pages of Genesis. According to deism, we are like terrified children abandoned in a dark alley with nothing but weak theology for an inadequate security blanket. But God has not abandoned his children. In Scripture, we learn of the Savior who is known as “Immanuel” or “God with us” and we learn from Colossians 1:17 that “in him, all things hold together.” Christ is the superglue that holds our lives together.

Jesus was “before all things” chronologically and at this very moment, it is through Jesus “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). Jesus is the eternal Word proceeding from the Father who holds the universe together, so God is glorified in his people. As Ben Witherington III wrote, “Christ is the glue, the one in whom all things cohere or are established. His present ongoing role is to sustain all things in their existence.”[1]

         But what exactly did the Holy Spirit mean we he inspired the words, “in him, all things consist?” The CSB is helpful in translating this word as “hold together.” The same word was used by Peter when he wrote in 2 Peter 3:5 that “By the word of God the heavens came into being long ago and the earth was brought about from water and through water.” Instead of being translated “hold together” as in Colossians 1:17, the same word was translated as “brought about” or “came into being.” Although he did not use the same word, Paul preached the same concept in Acts 17:28 when he said, it is “in him” that “we live and move and have our being.” Our word then, when applied to God’s work in and with creation, refers to God making the creation to exist. So, we can say “in Him, all things are made to exist.”  

         The ancients understood there to be someone, a divine figure, who held the universe together. Paul’s words are similar to Philo’s who, during the early part of the 1st century, wrote, “for the word of the living God being the bond of everything, as has been said before, holds all things together, and binds all the parts, and prevents them from being loosened or separated.”[2] J. G. Dunn summarized the concept when he wrote: “the thought of the universe as held together by divine agency is characteristic of wider Greek philosophic thought …, in Jewish thought, this is attributed particularly to the divine Logos: thus Sir. 43:26 maintains that “by his word all things hold together” (ἐν λόγῳ αὐτοῦ σύγκειται τὰ πάντα) and similarly in Philo (Quis rerum divinarum heres 23, 188; De fuga 112; De vita Mosis 2.133; Quaestiones in Exodum 2.118) and in Wis. 1:6–7 Wisdom, God, and Spirit are merged into each other with the description τὸ συνέχον τὰ πάντα (“that which holds all things together”).”[3]

This concept of a divine person who holds everything together is not just recorded in extra-biblical literature. The Apostles John, Peter, and Paul furthered the concept of a person who actively holds the universe together in the Scriptures. John wrote of the divine Logos who was “In the beginning with God” (Jn 1:1) and that “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being” (Jn 1:3 NASB 2020). Jesus, then, is the Creator God by whom presently “all things hold together” (Col 3:17). As we read in Hebrews 1:3, He is “sustaining all things by his powerful word.”

         Athanasius, in the fourth century, would preach this same idea. He wrote in his book Against the Heathen,

He [God] made all things by His own eternal Word, and gave substantive existence to Creation, and moreover did not leave it to be tossed in a tempest in the course of its own nature, lest it should run the risk of once more dropping out of existence; but, because He is good He guides and settles the whole Creation by His own Word, Who is Himself also God, that by the governance and providence and ordering action of the Word, Creation may have light, and be enabled to abide alway securely.[4]

In other words, God didn’t leave us. God the Son actively governs and provides for his creation. Jesus is the glue that holds everything together. “What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” If the same God who holds the universe together is your Savior, what is there to fear?  

Christ’s own crucifixion is a perfect example of God working everything together according to his predetermined counsel and foreknowledge even though it seemed like everything was falling apart. “Here is something marvelous,” Calvin wrote, “the Son of God descended from heaven in such a way that, without leaving heaven, he willed to be borne in the virgin’s womb, to go about the earth, and to hang upon the cross; yet he continuously filled the world even as he had done from the beginning!”[5] Even as the nails held his body to the cross, Jesus held the universe together (Heb. 1:3). God’s providential care is truly amazing.

         Geerhardus Vos defined providence as “The eternal work of God by which He causes the created universe, as far as its substance is concerned, to continue to exist. Concerning its power, He causes it to operate, and concerning its operations, to reach the goal intended by Him.”[6] Providence involves the “directing knowledge, commanding will, and fulfilling power.”[7] Therefore, God is “not only the momentary Creator…but also the constant provider, cherishing and sustaining his own work”[8]

The Spirit teaches that “God gives to us life, and breath and all things, and we live and move and have our being in him” (Acts 17:25, 28), and that “God works all things according to the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11), and finally that “by him, all things consist” (Col. 1:17). Francis Turretin summarized: “God created all things; therefore, he also takes care of all things. For if it was glorious for God to create them, it ought not to be unbecoming in him to take care of them. Nay, as he created, he is bound to conserve and govern them continually, since he never deserts his own work, but ought to be perpetually present with it that it may not sink back into nothingness.”[9]

In him “all things hold together” (Col 3:17). In him, we are being held together right now. Jesus is the superglue that holds us and our salvation together. With the words of Nehemiah 9:5-6, we can praise our God for his providential care every day. Let us pray:

Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise.  You, Lord, are the only God., You created the heavens, the highest heavens with all their stars, the earth, and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them, and all the stars of heaven worship you” Lord, may we too be blessed to trust and worship you. Amen.

[1] Ben Witherington III, The Letters to Philemon, the Colossians, and the Ephesians : A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Captivity Epistles (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2007), 134.

[2] Charles Duke Yonge with Philo of Alexandria, The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1995), 331.

[3] James D. G. Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: William B. Eerdmans Publishing; Paternoster Press, 1996), 93.

[4] Athanasius of Alexandria, “Against the Heathen,” in St. Athanasius: Select Works and Letters, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. Archibald T. Robertson, vol. 4, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1892), 26.

[5] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion & 2, II, xiii, 4 ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, vol. 1, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 481.

[6] Geerhardus Vos, Reformed Dogmatics, ed. Richard B. Gaffin Jr., trans. Richard B. Gaffin Jr., vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012–2016), 183.

[7] Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, ed. James T. Dennison Jr., trans. George Musgrave Giger, vol. 1 (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1992–1997), 489.

[8] Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 490.

[9] Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 498.

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