A Family of Faith from around the World

Growing Deeper in Christ 4

Growing Deeper in Christ 4

The Ministry of Sharing

Colossians 1:24-29

Three weeks ago we began this sermon series with the evidence of whether or not we have a relationship with Jesus Christ and we said that we must know who we believe in (Jesus Christ), we must know what we believe in (our faith in Jesus, our love for God, our hope of heaven, and the truth of the Gospel (Jesus is the Good News!) and we must experience the grace of God.

Two weeks ago we looked at Paul’s prayer for the believers at Colossae where he prayed that Christ followers would know God’s will, that we would walk worthy in our lives for Christ and that we would be thankful to God because He has qualified us as saints, given us an inheritance in His kingdom, redeemed us, Rescued us from darkness and forgiven us! Last week we read about Jesus Christ being supreme, unique and having no equal.  We learned that Jesus is God, Jesus is Creator and He is the head of His church.

Here Paul speaks about the ministry God called him to and what Christ followers will share as they live in this fallen world. First, Christ followers will…

  1. Share in Suffering (1:24)

Paul rejoiced in his suffering on behalf of the believers at Colossae—at the time of this writing Paul was under house arrest in Rome. Paul was not saying Christ’s afflictions were lacking for Christ’s suffering and death on the cross cannot be duplicated by anyone else “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18) but he was saying that following Christ will lead to suffering and this suffering is shared in the body of Christ.

On many occasions Paul suffered for his faith in Christ—he was beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, falsely accused by his own countrymen and by the heathen, he was in danger, he was hungry, naked etc… (2 Cor. 11).There is several truths about the Christian life that we must understand…

a). Suffering is a reality for Christians–“We should bear in mind that although Christ by means of the afflictions which he endured rendered complete satisfaction  to God, so that Paul is able to glory in nothing but the  cross (Galatians 6:14), the enemies of Christ were not satisfied! They hated Jesus with insatiable hatred, and wanted to add to his afflictions.  But since he is no longer physically present on earth, their arrows, which are meant especially for him, strike his followers.  It is in that sense that all true believers are in his stead supplying what, as the enemies see it, is lacking in the afflictions which Jesus endured.  Christ’s afflictions overflow toward us.”  (Hendrickson, New Testament Commentary, Exposition of Colossians and Philemon, p. 87).

There is a false teaching that is present today that suggests the Christian life to be free of problems, pains and pressures and they say things about how we should be prosperous etc…The prosperity Gospel teaches that suffering should not be a part of the Christian experience. “It is believed words can be used to manipulate the faith-force, and thus actually create what they believe Scripture promises (health and wealth)” (gotquestions.org). Most of the preachers, teachers and television evangelists of the Word of Faith Movement believe and teach this heresy. While it is true that Christians can live the abundant life and have seasons of joy it is also true that believers will suffer in one way or another and this life is full of problems, pains and pressures. Suffering is a gift from God with a big bow on top (John Piper). There are several ways the believer will suffer…

  • Suffering for righteousness sake—“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened” (1 Peter 3:14). Christians must not be afraid to make a stand for the right things and for the right causes. Those in the world don’t understand us at all. The world praises the famous athletes, actors and other celebrities while the Godly are often overlooked and ridiculed for their stand to live righteously and according to God’s Word.

  • Suffering through hatred–the unregenerate (unsaved, unbeliever) will hate Christ followers—“All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13). James spoke about this saying, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4).

  • Suffering by identification with Christ- “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus warned His disciples about this saying, “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also” (John 15:20).

  • Suffering through trials– (1 Peter 4:12-19). What can we learn from this passage? Trials and tests should never surprise the child of God. Suffering identifies us with Jesus and these momentary troubles and trials will soon be over and joy is coming our way when we go home to be with Jesus! Those insulted because of Jesus’ name are blessed and honored. The Christian’s suffering is not shameful like that of murders, thieves and criminals; it’s an honor to suffer for Christ! God’s people will be measured for their obedience. Suffering as a believer is part of God’s will and we must persevere by continuing to do good.

  • Many suffer for their faith—many are persecuted and rejected. Some are ostracized and criticized for their faith in Jesus. Some die for their faith in Christ. Just last week 18 worshippers were killed at Deeper Life Bible Church in Nigeria by Islamists. The pastor of that church Stephen Lambe is among the dead. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18).

  • We have hope in persecution—“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). The Gospel message goes forth and it always has its critics but suffering will always be a part of the Christian experience on this side of heaven but we must not view it as strange but as necessary. Suffering gives Christ-followers a small taste of what Jesus suffered on our behalf. “We do but slightly taste that cup of afflictions of which Christ first drank deeply” (Matthew Henry). We must be willing to press forward knowing that God is with us. Are we willing to suffer in these ways?  The Christian must learn to share in suffering. Secondly, Christ followers…

 

  1. Share as servants and stewards (1:25-27)

Paul considered himself to be a minister and steward of the Gospel to the Gentiles.

a). Minister (diakanos) means one who executes the commands of another, a servant.

Stewardship (dispensation)—Paul was given the responsibility to manage the affairs of the household of faith. Today, ministers must continue to serve…

  • The church—to benefit others and build them up so that they in-turn would serve

  • Jesus Christ—to bring glory and honor to His name!

  • The Gospel—to preach fully the Word of God warning and teaching.

b). Our responsibility as believers must be to minister by…

  • Serving one another

  • Serving the Lord Jesus

  • Sharing the Gospel with others!

It is clear that all believers are to be ministers, “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).

c). We must make known the mystery

For generations there was a hidden truth and the truth is “God had designed to grant the Gentiles the same privileges with the Jews, and make them his people who were not his people. That this is what St. Paul means by the mystery” (Clarke’s Commentary). The mystery has been made known to those in the past and to all of us who’ve experienced a relationship with Jesus Christ by faith (His saints) and we must make it known to others.  Jesus unites both Jew and Gentile into His church. This gives us hope!

d). We must make known our hope! (1:27)

Christ in you the hope of glory”—God has gloriously revealed His rich salvation plan in and through Jesus Christ who was the substitute sacrifice for our sins and this brings us great hope! The moment we place our trust in Jesus by faith the Holy Spirit regenerates us and places us in the body of Christ, His church. What a wonderful thing to know that because of Jesus both Jew and Gentile can be a part of God’s family. Paul put it this way; “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Romans 1:16).“Salvation is not getting man out of earth and into Heaven; it is getting God out of Heaven and into man” (Adrian Rogers).

Finally, Christ-followers will…

  1. Share in one another’s spiritual growth (1:28-29)

Paul’s aim in ministry was to grow spiritually mature Christians at Colossae and beyond.

a). Paul’s proclamation was Christ-centered (We proclaim him)

The need for us to know what we believe is great—false teaching seeks to lure people away from the church and it appears in many subtle ways. Believers must guard against teachings that detract from the divinity of Christ. Paul was concerned more about the maturation of believers and it begins with…

Christ-centered preaching—“we proclaim Him” (28) We don’t preach humanistic philosophy or the latest book but we preach Christ and Him crucified. “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). When the Word is preached there must be 2 purposes; 

  • Admonishing—we warn and exhort one another

  • Teaching—to build and encourage one another

Ministers are to preach the gospel is such a way that sinners are warned that God’s wrath is real so that they will turn to Jesus by faith and repent of their sins. If you hear a preacher proclaim a gospel without Christ and a warm, feel good message that never talks about man’s sin problem then you’re listening to the wrong preaching because it’s not the Christ-centered Gospel that’s centered around Jesus’ horrific death on the cross. I’m afraid too many pulpits preach another gospel which cares more about a human-centered philosophy rather than a Christ-centered theology. Today we must understand that in our audience there are 2 kinds of people: Those who have Jesus and those who don’t have Jesus. This message of the Gospel is to warn sinners and encourage saints.

Ministers are to teach those who have Jesus in order to build and encourage them in their walk with Jesus (with all wisdom) and to grow them within the body of Christ (Church) so that they realize the abundant life that is available in Christ. When we teach well it brings men, women, boys and girls to completion in Christ. This must be our goal in teaching the Word of God to others.

b). Paul proclamation had a goal

  • Paul labored diligently towards the goal—here, “striving” means to agonize

  • Paul labored not in his own power but in Christ’s power (striving according to His power)

  • Paul understood that Christ’s power was mightily at work.

  • Our goal—must be to get the Gospel out so that others might be saved and build and encourage the saved in their walk with Jesus!

Lessons for application

  1. Share in suffering—suffering is a reality for believers and grows our faith. We become more like our Lord.

  2. Share as servants and stewards—serve one another, serve the Lord, share the Gospel

  3. Share in one another’s spiritual growth—admonish (warn) others so that they may be saved and teach those who become saved so that they become complete in Christ!

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