2008.07.20 God's People Minister - Proclaiming Christ Col 1 24-29
God’s People Minister: Proclaiming Christ
July 20, 2008
· Did anyone have a bird for a pet when you were growing up or even now you have a bird? My brother and I had a pet budgie bird when I was around 7 or 8 yrs old. My grandparents had many budgie birds and each time one would die they would get another. Most people name their pets and they called every one of their birds…”Joey”. So when it came time to name our pet budgie – can you guess what his name was…”Joey” As you probably know budgie birds can mimic or repeat words if you train them. My dad trained our Joey to say several phrases like, “Pretty Bird Joey” & “Joey’s a good bird” Joey did not grow in his knowledge of the English language, rather he was merely repeated what he heard, in fact he sounded exactly like my dad – you would have thought my dad was talking. Joey’s knowledge/words did not translate into action – he was only a mimic. He did not understand what he was saying.
· Likewise we do not want to be spiritual mimics or spiritual budgies. It is not enough for us to be able to merely repeat what the bible says or what others say. We need to take the Word of God and truly know it – beyond repeating it and then allow it to penetrate and affect every area of our lives to grow us and mature us for His glory. We need to be able to understand the Word of God and live it out
· This morning from Colossians we will look at how the Apostle Paul, as a faithful minister of the Lord Jesus Christ, is looking to train up true believers – not spiritual budgies or mimics, rather understanding disciples who truly believe and their belief is evidenced by their growth in Christ.
· Paul’s prayer for the Colossians…
· Paul then gives us one of the finest passages of Scripture on who Christ really is – do you remember the He Is…statements. Christ was under attack from the false teachers called the Gnostics and so Paul right away reinstated Christ were he belonged. He is fully God and fully man – he is supreme and preeminent over all things!!!
· Paul then shares what we need to do as we understand who Christ is…remember he said you once were alienated and now have been reconciled by Christ’s death and now you are holy, blameless and above reproach. So continue in the faith stable and steadfast – not being influenced by these false teachers but holding to the gospel that was preached to you – which has been proclaimed…of which I Paul am a minister.
· Paul calls himself at the end of v.23 a minister. This word minister can also be translated servant – not necessarily an official office – like I am called an ordained minister which is a title – Paul here is really calling himself a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, a servant of the gospel – not proclaiming a title.
· Paul also calls Epaphras a faithful minister & servant in verse 7 (Col 1). We who truly believe are also ministers or servants – all of us. So what Paul is about to say here in our text this morning regarding his ministry to the church does not just apply to Pastors or Elders – but rather to all who believe. We all have a responsibility to be faithful ministers to which God has called us – Paul prayed that the Colossians in CH1 that they would know God’s Will for their lives and then in His strength live it out – to be faithful ministers. As the body of Christ we all have a part to play to edify the rest of the body! If you truly believe in Christ – you are a minister! You are a servant of the gospel!
· (Read Col 1:24-25)
· God’s People Minister: Proclaiming Christ….Proclaiming so He may be Known
· There is a lot of information in those two verses…if we were to boil it down to its bare bones this is what Paul is trying to communicate – I rejoice in suffering to make the Word of God fully known!
· Rejoicing and suffering do not usually occur in the same sentence do they? But as a believer we are to rejoice always – no matter what the circumstance, James tells us that we should, “consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds”
· Paul as he writes this letter is imprisoned in Rome – for His faith in Christ and his Proclamation of Christ – he is suffering to make the Word of God known!
· Paul could rejoice b/c he considered himself a prisoner of Jesus Christ, not the Roman Empire (Philemon v.9)
· Paul warns Timothy in 2 Tim 3, "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted," (2 Timothy 3:12, ESV) If you truly live for Christ you will suffer – so let’s rejoice in Proclaiming Him regardless of the circumstances just as Paul has.
· Paul says in v.24, "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,"
· Is Paul saying that Christ lacks something – that Christ’s sacrifice was not good enough, that we like Paul somehow have to pitch in to fill in for what Christ could not…! By no means, Christ sacrifice was complete, in fact in v.20-23 Paul had just finished explaining that Christ alone the God man is sufficient to reconcile us unto God.
· What Paul is saying is that He is in the flesh continuing to suffer for Christ. "Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches." (2 Corinthians 11:24-28, ESV)
· Christ died to save His church – remember He Is… the head of the church, head of the body. But as the church is extended and built up there will continue to be suffering. Paul as one who is Proclaiming Christ is suffering for Christ – the affliction that Paul faces is filling up and sharing in the very suffering of Christ Himself. To suffer for Christ and His church is not a penalty; rather it is a privilege for it is sharing in the work of Christ.
· Not all will suffer physically like Paul – but are you willing to rejoice in suffering as you make the Word known.
Paul continues in v.26 & 27…(read v.26 & v.27)
· The mystery is that the Messiah that was prophesized to come - was for the Jew and Gentile alike – for those who truly believe in Him.
· Paul is writing primarily to a Gentile converted church of believers…
· Did you notice the way in which Christ is made known to the Gentiles, to the unbelievers, to the unconverted – see the Jews never thought that the unclean Gentiles would ever be made clean, especially by their God – but God had other plans…Did you notice how Christ is made known to the unbelievers…to those who you think the gospel would never reach…young people maybe your fellow students at school (parties, sex, drugs, alcohol)…to those in the believers in workplace – do you know how the gospel will reach your coworkers who use Christ’s name in vain, who make fun of you b/c of your faith…to us who have unsaved family – do you know how the gospel will reach them who have cut you off b/c of Christ, who have rejected you b/c of your faith. Christ is made known to all of these people through you, through Christ in you!!!
· God chose to make known the riches of His glory – b/c of Christ in you.
o Are you a minister or a misleader
o Are you an ambassador or an atheist
o Are you a proclaimer or a poser
· God chose to make known….there is a difference between knowledge and being known. The proclaimer proclaims about what he knows, whereas the poser just pretends to know – The poser may have knowledge of Christ but does not truly know Christ
· Read 1 John 3:5-10a
· Maybe this is you and maybe this is someone in your family – that has knowledge of the Bible but does not Know Christ. In fact, these people can tell you about the Bible and they may be able to tell you the gospel, they may sound like they know Christ but there hearts are far from him. God’s seed does not abide in them. These people are like the budgie bird who can repeat the things that they have been taught, but it doesn’t go any further than that. They continue the practice of sinning. They merely mimic spiritual sounding words, but there is no true understanding. If the truth of what they are repeating hasn’t made it into their heart, then it is only head knowledge.
· D.A. Carson, in his book How Long O’ Lord – Reflections on Suffering & Evil says, “to find comfort in them (Christian beliefs/what we gain from the Bible) we must learn how to use them. Christian beliefs are not to be stacked in the warehouse of the mind; they are to be handled and applied to the challenges of life and discipleship. Otherwise they are incapable of bringing comfort and stability, godliness and courage, humility and joy, holiness and faith.”
· True proclaimers of Christ do not allow knowledge to be remain in the warehouse of the mind, rather they learn to apply and use the Scripture to comfort them when they suffer, to increase their faith when they are tried. Paul says that he desires to make the Word of God fully known – not just to have knowledge of the Word – but to make the Word fully known – to practice righteousness - that means transferring it from the head only – to the head and heart. May we hide the Word in our hearts that we might not sin against God. Not all repeating is bad, when we memorize Scripture and understand that Scripture that is a good thing. (Scripture verses on recipe cards that I memorize) We ourselves need to know the Scriptures and make them fully known!
Paul continues in v.28 (read v.28)
· God’s People Minister Proclaiming…so that all would be mature.
· As a police officer I issued a lot of tickets, but I also issued a lot of warnings. Everyone likes a warning from the police…instead of a ticket. The warning is the preferred option. It was funny, I took Pastor Kevin out one time…speeding incident….I didn’t tell the lady this when I issued her the warning but, I couldn’t have given her a ticket anyway – I didn’t have a ticket book with me…remember I was a crime guy, working out of the detectives office – she went away very thankful for the warning!
· People are not as welcoming of warnings in regard to their spiritual walk. Call it a warning, reprove or rebuke whatever the term they are usually not welcomed.
· Maybe you have been blessed by having someone warn you in the past. Have you ever had someone warned about your finances, to avoid going into debt, to avoid making more purchases on your credit card or maybe you’ve been warned regarding relationships – maybe young people your parents have warned you about who you hang around with, who you allow to influence you, who you should date and in those dating relationships maybe you’ve been warned regarding fornication or sex before marriage and the dangers of a physical rel’ship with someone other than your spouse & consequences of those actions. For others maybe it’s a coworker of the opposite sex that you have been warned by a friend to watch it, it is starting to cross the line. Maybe you’ve been warned regarding the movies you watch or the music that you listen to or illegal downloading or copying of movies & music.
· There are numerous areas that we could be warned in, but we usually do not receive a spiritual or biblical warning very well. We receive the warning from the police with great joy b/c we know that we have avoided the consequence – the fine. But in our spiritual walk we don’t often see the immediate consequences of our actions so we receive warnings with suspicion – are they judging me, do they think they are more spiritual than me…
· The warning at a traffic stop is designed to prevent punishment in the future (to educate); likewise the spiritual warning is also designed to prevent one from consequences.
· So who can warn? Paul in this passage outlines that we all can…all ministers can.
o Not just pastors, elders, deacons, ministry stewards, not just those who have been a believer for 20 yrs or more – all of us can!
o Proverbs 15:5, 12, 30-33
· We sometimes miss the warning or the message b/c of the messenger. Someone had something truthful to say to you, but you discounted it b/c of the way in which it was delivered, as opposed to recognizing the truth of the warning despite the delivery. Somehow in your conscience you are able to dismiss the warning b/c they lacked grace, they were abrupt, they were too forward for your liking and therefore you discounted what they had to say – even though what they had to say was accurate.
· We can’t control how someone chooses to warn us, but we can control how we choose to respond to the warning.
· Find the truth in the warning regardless of the manner in which it was delivered!
· In fact, when we go to warn someone, we best humble ourselves before Almighty God who has chosen to forgive us our sins, so that when we go to point out the potential sin in someone else’s life…we go in humility and with much grace and mercy.
· Proverbs 16:24 says, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Warnings are meant to be wonderful.
· Can you think of a time when you learned from someone loving you enough to warn you…so that you didn’t have to experience the consequences, but you heeded the advice and just trusted God’s word to guide you!
· People love being warned by the police, we ought to love being warned by other believers!
· Paul says that we are to teach everyone also. Teaching sounds much more positive than warning doesn’t it. Almost everyone would sooner teach than warn. We are all teachers – if you are a parent you are a teacher, if you are a sibling then you are a teacher, if you are a friend, then you are a teacher b/c you are influencing someone else either toward Christlikeness or away from it, by your behaviour and words.
· Teaching is the responsibility of every believer, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom..." (Colossians 3:16, ESV) Teaching is also the responsibility of an overseer – He must be able to teach
· Teaching everyone with all wisdom – wisdom is understanding biblical principles that translate into holy living – your conduct is affected by your understanding of Scripture
· The goal of warning everyone and teaching everyone is to present everyone mature in Christ.
Lastly, Paul says in v.29 (read v.29)
· God’s People Minister: Proclaiming…in His strength.
· Our strength to minister effectively comes from Christ. Paul prayed for the Colossians that they would be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might! That same power is the power that raised Christ from the dead – it is available to us who believe – for His glory.
· The strength we need to make his Word known and the strength we need to present everyone mature in Christ – comes from Christ – He Is…our strength.
· Remember my pet bird Joey…he never actually knew the English language he merely repeated it…He sounded like he knew the English language but if he was tested he would have failed miserably….likewise some of you may sound like you know Christ, but you are merely being a mimic – there has been no transformation, there has been no surrendering of one’s life, there has been no denying oneself – oh there may have been a prayer that was prayed years and years ago – but you are not seeing the fruit of that prayer, you are not seeing that God’s seed was planted in you – It’s not the prayer that saves – it is recognizing that left to your own attempts to correct your sinful life you will fail terribly and the only way to victory is ultimately through surrender, surrendering your life to Christ – asking him to take residence in your heart, mind, soul – transforming you with the promised Holy Spirit – being born again – all that means is by faith in Jesus you accept his grace that is bestowed to you and you are born into or begin a new life in Jesus – it is the spiritual birth in Christ! You can surrender to God right where you are, right now, by recognizing that you are a sinner – that your sin separates you from God and that Christ paid the penalty for your sin through his death and now you repent and turn from your sinful ways, you surrender your will for His will in your life and you ask God to forgive you and he will. As you put your belief and faith in Christ – you will be transformed and God’s seed will be implanted in you, the Holy Spirit will come to you and reside in you – this decision to surrender to Christ will result in a changed life, you can’t just tack on Jesus – you will be new and transformed! You will still be the same person, but your desire will be greater to serve God than to practice sinfulness, you will display the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. You will desire the Word – to know it and then to make it known. You will desire to grow and mature in your walk with Christ – those are the marks of a true believer, a true minister.
· God’s People Minister by Proclaiming Christ – that he may be Known, Proclaiming Christ that all would be mature & Proclaiming Christ in His strength!
· May you go this week and Proclaim Christ!!!