Friday, April 07, 2006

Paul's ministry. A sermon preached in College Chapel at Late Evening Office on 6th April 2006. Colossians 1:24 - 2:5

Through the spring, I’ve been going through Colossians with my youth group back in Dromore, and recently, I was struck by the passage we’re using tonight. I want to make a few quick observations on the passage, as we think tonight about mission, and especially about our own ministry, as we prepare for the work of the gospel.

First, we notice Paul ‘became a minister [of the church] according to the stewardship from God that was given to me… to make the word of God fully known’ (1:25). It wasn’t Paul’s idea to be a minister, but rather, it was God who called and commissioned him for the work. And similarly, when times of discouragement come for us, we do well to remember that we haven’t come into this work of our own accord, but that we have been called of God, and we are his stewards.

It seems that this also encouraged Paul, even in the times he suffered for the church, for Christ’s body (1:24) – not in regard to any redemptive sufferings, because nothing can add to those that Christ suffered for us on the cross, but rather, his pains in labouring for the gospel and facing opposition and persecution.

We then find the heart of the message that Paul was called to proclaim. The message, the mystery which had been hidden for generations but was now revealed to the saints was this: ‘the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory’ (1:27).

Christ is our message, in whom we trust, and who, by living in us, spurs us to the hope of glory, as we look forward to his glorious appearing, when we will be like him and be with him forever. In him, also, is ‘hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (2:3) – with the image of a mine being open, and all we have to do to obtain these treasures is to go and dig.

Finally, we find the purpose of Paul’s work. In verse 28, he says ‘him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.’ Paul wants to see this church in Colosse, as well as every Christian, to come to maturity, as they grow up in Christ. In verse 2 we find a bit more of how this will work in practice – ‘that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach the full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ.’ This is the situation looked forward to by one of our readings from earlier this week, in Jeremiah 31: ‘And no longer shall each one teach his neighbour and each his brother, saying “Know the Lord”, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord.’ (Jeremiah 31:34).

Let us all seek to do the work God has called us to, proclaiming Christ at the heart of our message, and indeed, the only message, and striving so that all may come to full maturity in Christ.

No comments:

Post a Comment