Colossians 1:24-29

Steve Viars September 24, 1994 Colossians 1:24-29

- remember, the theme for this book is "The preeminence of Christ"
   - key verses - Col. 1:17-18, 2:9-10

   - as a result, we're going through this study so that we might:
       1) grow in our understanding of what it means for our Savior to be
           preeminent
       2) how we can lifestyles that are more Christ-centered as a result
           of that great truth.

- last week, we studied verses 20-23 of chapter 1 and saw one great
   example of Christ's preeminence.
    - What was that example?  (Christ is preeminent because....He was
       able to reconcile us to the Father)

- Now we weren't able to get through the entire passage, but I would like
   to just mention that there are some very important implications of
   this truth in verses 22-23. - READ

- bottom line is -- the more we understand the preeminence of Christ, ...
    and what was required for us to be reconciled to God...
     - the more concerned we'll be about personal holiness.

- now, in these next verses--Paul is going to tell us how a growing
   understanding of the preeminence of Christ has affected Him--and how
   that was affecting the way he was handling this present imprisonment
   for Christ.

- let's stop for a moment and ask this question:  Why should the
   Colossians be concerned about that?
     - How could that information possibly benefit them?

     (before we answer those questions--why do you think we need to ask
       them?  because understanding how this material was intended to
       affect the Colossians will give us insight into how the Lord
       intended for it to affect us)

INPUT - Why should the Colossians be concerned about how the truth of the
        preeminence of Jesus Christ was affecting Paul--and the way he
        was handling the fact that he had been imprisoned for the Savior?

        1) Because they were to be imitators of Paul, as he was an
            imitator of Christ.

            - to the degree to which Paul was handling this situation in
               a way that was consistent with biblical truth--they were
               to model themselves after him.

            - having a flesh and blood model to watch, and pattern
               yourself after is a great benefit.

               - cf. Lori learning to ice skate (carefully watched the
                   other people skating for a couple of minutes--and then
                   took off-she did what she saw them doing)
                     - the fact that she had the ability//opportunity to
                       watch them do it was worth a dozen lectures on
                       "ice skating methods and procedures."
2) because they too, were in the ministry.

    - the Colossians would be very interested in how the truth of the
       preeminence of Christ was affecting the way Paul viewed his
       ministry because they realized that they, too, were in the
       ministry.
    - many of the facets of ministry that Paul talks about in these
       verses were ministry opportunities that the Colossians had as well
       as lay persons in the church.
         - so it was a great benefit to them to hear their beloved
            apostle, (even though they had never personally met) tie the
            truth of the preeminence of Christ to his daily ministry
            responsibilities.

- with those thoughts in mind, let's look at the verses - READ 1:24-29

- we're saying from these verses that a growing understanding of the
   preeminence of Christ leads to three things:

I. The Right View of Suffering

    - both Pastor Goode and I have talked about this subject a lot
       recently
         - he in his study of Paul in Acts 9, me in the study of the
            ministry in II Cor. 4.
    - so we're not going to spend as much time here as we might normally
       do, but there are a couple of truths Paul gives in verse 28 that
       we need to note.

    A. It's a cause of rejoicing

        - Paul says, "I rejoice in my sufferings for you."

        - INPUT - what other verse of Scripture are you reminded of when
            you read Col. 3:24?  (James 1:2 - My brethren, count it all
            joy...)

        - INPUT - how in the world is it possible for believers to have
            joy in the midst of terrible circumstances?

            (varied answers...be sure to hit--joy is internal/independent
              of circumstances
                - we have been given the joy of Christ
                - etc.)

        - let me ask you -- are you joyful in the ministry opportunities
            God has given you?
            - even when there is some level of suffering involved?

        - or are you like Elijah, who said, "It is enough now, O Lord,
            take my life." (I Kings 19:4)

        - or like Jonah--who responded to the ministry God placed before
           him with rebellion, bitterness, anger, and lack of faith.

        - John MacArthur said this about this passage, "A Christian who
           has lost the joy of the ministry does not have bad
           circumstances, but bad connection. You do not lose the joy of
           serving Christ unless your communion with Him breaks down."

- now, we need to take a minute and talk about this phrase, "and fill up
   that which is behind in of the afflictions of Christ"
- NASB - "filling up that which is lacking in Christ's afflictions."

- the reason we need to take a minute on this part of the passage is
   because some folks have tried to use this verse as a support of the
   doctrine of purgatory.
     - in other words, Christ's death, burial, and resurrection was not
        enough to deliver us to heaven--therefore we have to go somewhere
        for a period of time to "satisfy that which was lacking."

INPUT - how do we know that’s not what this verse can be teaching?

          1) contradicts the previous verses (we studied last week)

          2) contradicts the theme of the book

          3) contradicts many other passages of Scripture
               - cf. II Cor. 5:8

- if that’s the verse is not teaching--then what is it teaching?

    - the point is that Paul recognizes he is experiencing suffering that
       was intended for Christ.
    - Since Christ has ascended--those who hate Him often direct their
       hatred at Christians (the next best thing to being there).

    - Paul told the Corinthians "the sufferings of Christ are ours in
       abundance." (1:5)

- so the point is, Paul's right view of suffering included the
   realization that:

B. It's directed at our Savior.

    - because that’s true, Paul viewed it as a privilege to suffer for
       Christ.
    - he said in Galatians 6:17 - "I bear in my body the marks of the
       Lord Jesus."

    - the point of all of this is--the more a person has been impacted by
        the preeminence of Jesus Christ, the more able they are to handle
        whatever suffering comes along with ministering for Him.

- now, I know a lot of us look at that and say—that’s a tall order...
    - that’s not the way I always respond to the difficulties that come in
       seeking to live for God.
    - the next verse adds an idea that’s helps us understand how Paul
       could handle suffering this way:

- read 25

II. The Right View of Self

    - a critical issue in whether you and I are going to be able to
       handle whatever difficulties come with ministry in whether we have
       a biblical view of self.

    - INPUT - how does Paul describe himself in verse 25?

    A. A servant
        - Paul never viewed himself as a prisoner of Rome
        - over and over he referred to Himself as a prisoner of Christ, a
            bond slave of Christ, a servant of Jesus Christ...
- that view of self became a critical component to the way he responded
    to difficulties.
- slaves have no rights--slaves have no expectations--slaves simply carry
    out the will of their master.

- there's no question that if you and I had a better handle on that--we'd
    be a lot better prepared to handle ministerial challenges.

- for example--let's think about the ministry opportunities the Lord
     gives you in your home.

     - think about the times you get frustrated in the home
     - think about the things that make you stomp around
     - think about what makes you fuss, or fume, or seethe

     - Now let me ask you this, how are you viewing yourself during those
        times?
         - is it as "a minister of Jesus Christ"

- what about ministry opportunities here?
   - does that ever become frustrating?
   - does anything ever happen that gets your blood boiling.

      "we just cleaned that up at our last work day and then such and
        such a group came and messed it up—that’s it--I'm never serving
        in that way again."

        - how are you viewing yourself?
        - is it as a minister of Jesus Christ?

- do you realize that the Lord may have a great ministry opportunity in
    store by allowing you to have that insensitive spouse?
- by having that demanding boss?
- by having those challenging kids in clubs?

    - we're the servants ... of Jesus Christ.
    - do we recognize that He has the right to bring anything into our
        life that He wants to?

    - that’s surely part of what it means to be impacted by the
       preeminence of Christ.
       - he must increase, but I must decrease
       - I want to be filled by more and more of my agenda, and less and
           less of mine.

- a second part of Paul's "view of self" is that he remembers he's a:

B. Steward

    - we're getting ready for stewardship month in November.
    - if you're new to the church, let me just tell you that we all love
        Stewardship month around here.

    - the word "dispensation" in the KJV is the same word as
        "stewardship" in the NASB.

    - Paul's point is - he realizes God has trusted Him with something
      that is very, very precious.

    - he's not about to let some difficulty or frustration get in the way
      of what God wants to accomplish with what he has entrusted to him.

- Paul, like any good servant of Christ, longs to hear the words "Well
    done, thou good and faithful servant."
      - you were a good steward of what I entrusted to you.

- so Paul had the right view of suffering because he had the right view
   of self.

- we can summarize the rest of these verses by seeing that Paul also had:

III. The Right View of Ministry

    A. What we're proclaiming

        - from the end of verse 25 through verse 27, Paul's talking about
           what it was that was entrusted to Him.
        - it was a great mystery--which hadn't been revealed to the OT
           saints
             - the mystery is beautifully described at the end of verse
                27 as "Christ in you, the hope of glory."

             - the fact that Jew and Gentile could be redeemed and
                brought Christ's body the church, and that Christ through
                the Spirit would actually take up residence inside a
                person's body
                  - and that a man or woman could have a personal,
                    intimate, relationship with the very God of heaven
                    through trusting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord was
                    a mystery that had been revealed to the church, and
                    to its ministers like Paul.

    - Paul says, I realize that God has trusted me with a message that I
      can't help but proclaim.

- let's think for a minute about that idea of being entrusted with a
    message.
    - all of us have had occasions where we had to trust someone to give
       a message to someone else.

- INPUT - what's important to you in those situations?
    1) that they remember to tell it
    2) that they don't get it confused

    - we've all seen the comic strip - Family Circus
       - one of the common themes in that cartoon is that how children
          often get sidetracked when their parents give them messages.

       - they get caught up in all sorts of other interests
       - often times the message is lost, or late, or garbled.

       - I wonder how true that picture might be of you or me.
       - Paul says--I am focused in on the ministry of proclaiming the
           mystery that has been entrusted to the church
              - Christ in you--the hope of glory

    B. How we're proclaiming

        - verse 28 contains a couple of very important words

        1) warning  - admonishing//confronting  (nouthtew)

            - that’s what Christian ministry is all about.

- Paul was willing to confront men and women with biblical truth

    - cf. Acts 20

    - remember, since we know "what’s coming" in the book of Colossians,
       we know that the Colossians are about to be confronted themselves
       about some things.

    - why is it important for them to hear that part of the ministry is
       to confront with biblical truth, and what would their proper
       response to that be?

       - a) if we need to be confronted, we want to be.

       - b) if we need to confront, we will - Rom. 15:14

    2) Paul also talks about teaching

        - this matter of "Christ in you--the hope of glory", included
           more than just trusting Christ as savior.
        - there was all sorts of teaching that needed to be done...
            - and Paul wanted to be faithful in doing it, and the
              Colossians wanted to be faithful in hearing and applying
it.

    C. Why they were teaching

        - Paul ends this section with a very clear statement about the
            goal of ministry
              - "that we may present every man perfect in Jesus Christ."

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

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