THE CHURCH NEEDS A PASTOR WHO WILL TIRELESSLY WORK FOR THE CHURCH
Colossians 1:24 - 2:7 deal with the needs of the church. If there was ever a time in the history of the local church when it needs help, it is today. Many have lost their desire to serve.
This morning our lesson aim is to stir everyone of us to work tirelessly in our service to the Lord through our local church.
One of the most basic needs of the church is to have a minister who arduously labors for the church. This is not just a word for the professional clergy. God has called every believer—each one of us—to be a minister. But for now, concentrate on the role of your 'Senior Pastor, or Preacher.' What does this role involve? Is your minister supposed to be responsible for everything—the administration, choir, visitation, new members, every committee meeting at every level, and on and on?
For a moment, leave behind any preconceived concept of a minister's role and investigate what God says in these Scriptures. For a lot of us, ministry will never be the same again.
1. The church needs a minister who will willingly suffer for the church (v.24).
"Who [Paul] now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church."
Paul adds several personal comments. He notes in the third person that he now rejoiced in his sufferings for them. Spiritual maturity clearly is in view.
Though he faced great adversity, nevertheless, he rejoiced therein because it was on behalf of young churches such as the one at Colossea. (Recall that he sat in Rome, under arrest, as he penned these words.) In a phrase difficult to understand, Paul continued to the effect: he was paying that which was lacking in the afflictions of Christ for them—the body of Christ. He was suffering so that they would not have to. He made clear in that regard that they as a local church were the body of Christ.
2. The church needs a minister who has been chosen by God to proclaim the Word of God (v.25).
"Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God."
Paul had been made a minister—“to fulfill the word of God.” Moreover, that ministry had been given to him by the dispensation of God on their behalf and for them. His fulfilling of the Word of God was ultimately for the benefit of young churches such as the one at Colossee.
3. The church needs a minister who will share the great mystery of God: "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (v.26-27).
"Even the mystery which hath been hid from the ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
The word "mystery" has the sense of that which had never been revealed. As will be described in verse 27, that mystery is how the Word and work of God would be to gentiles. That truth was not well understood in the Old Testament (though it was there). The significant element of Jewish believers in the early church had substantial difficulty with the notion of the gospel being for the gentile as well as Jew. Yet that truth was in the process of being made manifest to God’s people then and there.
Specifically, the mystery was how that God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Clearly implied is that there are great riches in His glory. The hope of that glory is rooted in Christ in us. He is our hope of glory. The word hope, in English has the sense of an expectation of something good. Glory refers not only to His personal radiance, but also figuratively to where He dwells (i.e., heaven). In the context at hand, that glory is also found spiritually in the church. The mystery to the Jewish mind was how that gentiles could be included in that glory.
4. The church needs a minister who will preach Christ, warning and teaching every man (v.28).
"Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."
The very object of Paul’s preaching was none other than Jesus Christ. He was the One whom they preached, “warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom.” The phrase is instructive. Paul sought to warn and teach every man. His witnessing was all inclusive. He witnessed to both small and great in whatever circumstance. Moreover, he sought to do so “in all wisdom.” A lesson remains for us to not only be universal in our witnessing, but to do so with all wisdom.
His ultimate goal was to “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” The word translated as perfect has the sense of ‘complete’ in the degree nothing is lacking. It thus is perfected. The greater scope of our witness is therefore at hand. Not only are we commissioned to win people to Christ, but then to go on and disciple them to the point they are complete in Christ Jesus. The greater thought is of ultimate spiritual maturity.
5. The church needs a minister who will labor and work: strive laboriously, depending upon Christ for energy (v.29).
"Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily."
Though God’s work indeed is a battle, His help is always at hand to empower us for the task.
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
1. Are you willing to suffer for the sake of the church? What kinds of things would cause you to avoid suffering?
2. What are some of the reasons this Scripture gives for suffering? How does trusting God help you to live out the truths of this Scripture?
3. What do these verses promise the Christian believer? As a minister or servant, what role do you have in this?
4. What is the goal of the minister according to these Scriptures? What kinds of things are you doing to get involved in this goal? What kinds of adjustments do you have to make?
5. What practical difference does having "Christ in you, the hope of glory" make in your occupation?
6. Why do some preachers refuse to step on people's toes? What sorts of things lead them to preach and teach this way? What can you do to encourage them to teach the Word of God?
7. Do you ever experience feelings of laziness in your spiritual walk? What kinds of things make you lazy? What must you do to overcome spiritual laziness?
8. What does this verse say about your spiritual condition apart from Christ?
Have a great day in your service for Christ!
Your Friend and HIS,