- In what way did God comfort, challenge, or correct you today?
- What do you find wonderful or mysterious about Jesus being fully God and fully man?
- Which act inspires more awe in you: Jesus’ work to create all things or Jesus’ work to redeem all things? Why?
- Advent means arriving; the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event (Google dictionary). What can you do to help others celebrate the coming of Jesus this Christmas season?
- How can Jesus be both God and the image of God?
- If Jesus lacked any quality of deity or quantity of deity would he still be fully God?
- In Psalm 89:27, King David (the youngest son) is called the firstborn. God makes him the firstborn. What does this mean and how does this meaning help you understand that Jesus is the firstborn over all creation?
- What in Colossians 1:15-20 demonstrates the preeminence of Jesus?
- How does it change your outlook on your blessings and trials to know that all of these things happen because Jesus created, sustains, and is the goal of all things?
- Who is the head of Mambrino Baptist Church?
- Why does Jesus need to make peace by the blood of his cross?
- How can you more deeply enjoy the blessing of peace with God through faith in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection?
What Christ has done to you has a bearing on all you do.
When a big thing happens to us it shows up on us. A black eye or a neck brace is hard to hide. Wearing these things invites the question: What happened to you? A lingering smile or a new confidence in your step invite the question: What happened to you? Major events bring major change.
For me these major events have been getting engaged to my lovely bride and then being married to her. Pounding Aledo to win district in high school football was a big deal. Graduating from seminary, getting called to be your pastor, finding out Angela was pregnant, and then holding each of those children have all been major events that have changed me.
The biggest event, however, which has brought the greatest change has to be my own regeneration. When I was united to Christ through repentance and faith my now and my forever were radically changed. Receiving Christ Jesus as Lord is the game changer.
Working through Colossians has been a spiritual shot in the arm for me. Listening to God’s word has reminded me of the importance of spiritual maturity. I need to be more like Jesus and I need your help. You need to be more like Jesus and you need my help. We all have a role to play in the building up of the body. As your pastor I want to help you fulfill that role well. Therefore I must point us repeatedly to Christ. The Word of God must take priority. The Bible must be our authority and the gospel must be our fuel.
Colossians 2 is deeply theological and very practical. Colossians 2:10-15 explain what has happened to every believer in salvation. And the reason we need this explanation is because the way we were saved is the way we live as one who is saved. The way we received Christ is the way we walk in Christ.
So today we’re going to look at what happened to you when you were saved so that you can have a clear understanding of what it looks like to live out all the benefits of salvation. As we understand what Christ has done for us it leads us to maturity. Here is what happened to you.
Read Colossians 2:6-15
I. You were filled in Him (10)
The greatest joy in everyday life is finding out for yourself that Christ is sufficient. Jesus is like an overflowing fountain and no one can fathom his depths.
We should avoid hollow worldly philosophies because, verse 9, in Christ the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.
- What does that mean? You were empty
The best word to describe our emptiness is the word depravity. We as spiritual persons are busted. Every part of us from our physical bodies to our minds to our souls have been thoroughly ruined. There is no aspect of us which has life. Our bodies deteriorate from the start. Our minds are hooked on selfish evil and our souls are flat-lined.
In this state of emptiness, inability, and total depravity we all search desperately for meaning, power, and life. Like a person lost and dying in the dessert we rush from one worldly canteen to another only to find each one filled with sand.
You cannot be filled by another person. You cannot be filled by a career. You cannot be filled by religion or tradition. You cannot be filled by profit, prestige, power, or pleasure. Each one is nothing more than a mirage; the canteen looks full and satisfying but pour it in your mouth and all you get is sand.
The emptiness of humanity is why so many of us have given ourselves to career, family, social justice, marriage, and religion but have walked away empty and jaded. You can be filled only in Christ. He alone is the head of all rule and authority. He alone is the source of life. So,
- What happened
Verse 10, what happened? You were filled in him. When you were joined to him you were filled by him. When by faith you cried out to him for forgiveness and life you were given righteousness and eternal life. You were filled in him.
From the first moment of faith when you repented and believed every moment has been one of dependence upon Christ. All of life is lived in an awareness of my emptiness so that I might be filled in him. Christian, when you are aware of your inability you will pray without ceasing for Christ to make you able. The minute you think you’ve got it, you’ve lost it. If you think you stand take heed, be careful, you’re about to fall because you have stopped depending upon Christ.
True, you might make the pitch, complete the project, get the kids in bed, and avoid divorce. On your own you may be able to carve out a pathetic existence but there will be nothing of the fullness of Christ.
To be filled in Christ is to be made capable by Christ. To be filled in him is to depend upon him for life and godliness. The promise is that in him you will have life. So,
- How does it change my everyday life?
Being filled in him means because of Christ you have everything you need to live a godly life. God makes you sufficient for every responsibility God lays on you.
How can you be a joyful godly person in a sinful world? You have been filled in Christ. How can you be a joyful godly spouse when it feels like your other half is only dragging you down? You have been filled in Christ. How can you be a faithful employee and witness in a cut-throat immoral workplace? You have been filled in Christ. You can be light and salt. You can be joyful and full of life. You have been filled in Christ.
You must choose to act upon the fullness of Christ. Look to Christ, the one in whom the fullness of deity dwells and depend upon him for life and godliness.
What happened to you? You were filled in him. Next
II. You were brought in through Him (11-12)
Before Jesus was crucified he was questioned by the high priest. The soldiers dragged him before Annas and Caiaphas. John and Peter followed at a distance and tried to get into the court yard to see what happened next. The Gospel of John chapter 18 tells us since John was known by the high priest he was allowed in but since Peter was not known he was kept outside. John had to vouch for him and then Peter was brought in.
That’s a good picture of what happened to you when you were born again. You were brought in. So,
- What does that mean? You were outside
When the Apostle Paul was writing to the Colossians it appears there was a great deal of emphasis placed on being initiated into a religious group. If you were not initiated you were not in. For the Jews the initiation rite was physical circumcision. For others, like the Gnostics, the initiation rite was an ecstatic religious experience where the person was given some hidden piece of knowledge. It was similar to the American Indians who would go on a vision quest, fasting and smoking herbs in order to gain an ecstatic connection with the gods.
Those aren’t the temptations most of us face and the people we live and work with probably aren’t contemplating circumcision or planning for a vision quest. However, each one of us, in different ways and at different times become painfully aware that we do not belong. I’m not like them. I don’t have what they have. I don’t do what they do. I’m different. I’m an outsider.
Look at how it is put in verses 11&12
- What happened
You received a spiritual circumcision and baptism.
We know we’re talking about a spiritual circumcision because verse 11 says it was made without hands. The rest of verse 11 explains this spiritual circumcision like this, “by the putting off of the body of flesh, by the circumcision of Christ.”
The circumcision of Christ can be understood as a circumcision completed by Christ; he’s the one who circumcised you. Or the circumcision of Christ can be understood as the circumcision, the cutting, done to Christ. It’s Christ’s circumcision. I think the latter is the better option.
The power of sinful flesh has been broken through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When you join him in crucifixion you join him in his death, in his circumcision. This is what Paul is talking about in Galatians 2:20.
I have been crucified with Christ = I have been circumcised in him.
I no longer live = I put off the body of flesh / I was buried
Christ lives in me = God raised me / made me alive together with him
I live by faith in Christ = I have been filled in him
Your spiritual circumcision is a change of heart. This is not a new way of thinking but the implanting of a new life with new desires. To receive this circumcision is to be born again. It is having your depraved heart of stone replaced with a heart of flesh. You received a new desire with a new ability to live a godly life.
This is the only true initiation. Christ changing you. You give up on yourself and you trust yourself to Christ. You join him in baptism. The old sinful you is put to death and buried so that you can be born again in Christ Jesus.
Your baptism is those waters and your membership in this Church family are responses to your spiritual circumcision and spiritual baptism. Eating bread, drinking juice, getting wet, and having your name listed among the members means nothing without the reality of Christ’s life pulsing through you.
It is Christ who brings you in.
- How does it change my everyday life?
You are accepted. You belong. You do not need a man or a career to validate you. You cannot pay your way in. You see, maturing in your understanding of what it means to be made acceptable in Christ frees you from the opinions of others. If God has brought you in, if God gladly accepts you into his family, why are you worried about what other people think of you?
What happened to you? Christ has initiated you. In him who received circumcision and baptism. Christ has brought you in. Because you are filled in him you belong. And there’s more
III. You were made alive with Him (13-14)
You were flat-lined. You were dead. But they charged the paddles, fired life into you, and you came to life. You have life.
- What does that mean? You were dead
Look back at verse 13, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him.”
The Spirit is now connecting the two previous ideas of once being empty but now being filled and once being outside but not belonging.
You were dead in your trespasses. You were dead in your rebellion in your sinfulness. Desperately thirsty, you were running from one canteen to another, but getting only sand. Every attempt of man to fill himself up with anything other than Christ is like trying to resuscitate a dead man by shooting him in the head. Be careful that you are not taken captive by plausible arguments, empty deceit, which looks like it leads to life but leads only to death.
How do we find life? Admit that you are dead. Not half dead or mostly dead but completely dead.
- What happened
You were dead, incapable and outside, but (verse 13) God made you alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Catch this, if you miss this you will miss it all. You gain the life of Christ only through the forgiveness won on Christ’s cross. God makes you alive by forgiving you of your sin. You can have life only by being forgiven. That’s the point of verse 13. But God doesn’t wave his magic wand and forgive you. No, God is just. Payment must be made. Justice must be served and it is served on Christ.
Your record of wrong, your trespasses, your repetitive drinking from canteens filled with sand, are paid for by Christ. It was nailed to the cross. The legal demands weighed against you because of the sins committed by you are satisfied through the death of Christ. Jesus made peace by the blood of his cross (1:20).
The reason you can have abundant life now is because Jesus redeemed you from all your sins back then. Forgiveness of all your sins through Christ’s cross brings you to life.
- How does it change my everyday life?
It fills your life with repentance. Since sin is choosing those things that lead to death and since repentance is owning those sins and being forgiven of those sins I’m going to keep repenting.
The more you hunger for life the more you will repent. The mature Christian is always glad to repent because the mature Christian is hungry for more life.
What happened to you? By forgiving you of all your sins you have been brought to life. You joined him in his death and resurrection so that you can join him in life.
IV. You were made a conqueror (15)
Because Jesus laid the smack down through his death and resurrection you have nothing to fear. We are conquerors through Christ.
- What does that mean? You were defenseless
Your enemy, your accuser, has plenty of ammunition to find you guilty. On your own before the righteous judge you have no hope. We are all guilty. There is none righteous no not one.
When you stand before God, if you choose to stand on your own merits, you will be condemned. In the honesty of your own mind you know you have sinned, you are defenseless.
- What happened
Verse 15 says, “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”
The resurrection of Jesus Christ took away all our enemy’s power over us. The power of Satan rests in our fear of death and punishment. The power of Satan rests in guilt and shame. When Christ took our sins upon himself, paid for them completely, and rose victoriously from the grave he disarmed the rulers and authorities. They thought they were shaming him by stripping him naked and killing him on the cross. But the death and resurrection of Christ was actually the means of their own defeat. By killing Christ they destroyed themselves.
Jesus did not sweep even one of your sins under the rug. He willing took every sin and all your punishment. There is therefore now no condemnation f or those who are in Christ Jesus.
- How does it change my everyday life?
I don’t have to be afraid. I don’t have to be afraid of being found out and I don’t have to be afraid to die.
I don’t have to be afraid that my sin will be found out. It has already been found out! My sins were out-ed publicly on the cross. My sins were displayed on Christ. Christ knew. God the Father knew. My enemies knew. And they have all been paid for. It won’t hurt me if you find out.
When the phone tapping of the German prime minister was found out I guarantee you President Obama did not say, “Oh no, what’s Paul Duncan going to think about me?” He had been out-ed before those in highest authority. What does it matter if the little guy knows?
You have been out-ed before the highest authority and you have been forgiven. What does it matter if your church knows or if your coworkers know or if your neighbor knows? We must stop giving undue authority to the little guy. I’m forgiven. I can be open about my sin and struggles so I can get help. Our guilt and our pride which keeps our sins secret are robbing us of joy and life. Maturity and confession of sin go hand in hand. You don’t have to be afraid of what people think and you don’t have to be afraid of death.
To live is Christ and to die is gain. Why are we afraid of gain? Maybe it’s because we don’t believe Jesus will see us safely through death. Maybe we’re afraid to die because we know we don’t have Jesus’ life. If you don’t have Jesus’ life in you now you have every reason to be afraid to die. You don’t belong to him! But if he has given you his life, if you have been made alive, if you have been raised with Christ, then you will be welcomed into eternal life.
So, let me ask you, “What happened to you?”
You were filled in Him. You were circumcised in him. You were buried with him. You were raised with him. God made you alive together with him. You have been forgiven in him. Your enemies have been disarmed through him.
So what now? Put your faith in the powerful working of God. He raised Jesus Christ from the grave. You can change. You can be filled. You can be accepted. You can be forgiven, made alive, and empowered for life. All of this is yours in Christ Jesus.
Believe the gospel for salvation. If the Spirit has convicted you that you have no life in you it’s so that you will repent of your sins, put your faith in Jesus Christ, and be filled in him. Today is the day of salvation. If you hear his voice, if you fear because of your sins, if you are being drawn to forgiveness in Christ, then believe and you will be saved. Believe the gospel for salvation and
Believe the gospel for maturity. Having begun by the Spirit you cannot continue and grow in your own strength. Growth in Christlikeness is a spiritual pursuit. Every Christian needs biblical admonishment and teaching in order to be mature. An established or fortified faith comes through teaching.
Because of Christ be a man or woman of the word. Read it and memorize it. Because of Christ be a church man or a church woman. Reach out to others who will help mature you. Reach out to others so that you can help mature them.
If you want to know more about becoming a Christian or maturing as a Christian let’s talk. I’ll stand down front as we sing so we can talk. My number and email are in the bulletin so we can talk. It is a wonderful thing to know you have Jesus Christ. The full assurance of understanding is a blessing. Let’s celebrate that assurance and help one another grow in it.
True ministry is joyful, agonizing, and full of Christ
Last week we ended with the sobering call to continue in the faith. Those who remain in the faith will be presented by the Son to the Father holy, blameless, and above reproach. If you don’t remain in the faith then you will not be presented to God holy, blameless, and above reproach. Those who live life with Christ are welcomed into the joys of our Father but the one who abandons Christ will be cast out into the darkness of a forever hell.
One of our priorities as the church is to encourage one another to keep believing and obeying the gospel. We want nothing less than the obedience of faith (Romans 16:26). We take the command of Hebrews 12:15 seriously, ‘See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God.’ Your faith is a great concern to us and our faith must be a great concern to you. As your pastor, I am concerned about your faith.
The Apostle had a personal, at times uncomfortable and costly, love for his brothers and sisters. He understood he had been made a minister in order to help others remain steadfast in the gospel.
As Paul writes we can track his thinking. In Colossians 1:15-19 Paul teaches the truth concerning the magnificence of Jesus the beloved Son of God. In verses 20-22 Paul explains how we who were cut off from God can now be reconciled to God through the bloody cross of Christ. The power and reality of life in Christ produces the warning to remain steadfast in the gospel. Don’t forsake this glorious gospel! Only through the gospel can you have life.
All of this writing about the gospel caused the Apostle to think about what it means to be a minister of the gospel. If people must remain steadfast in the gospel then what is the minister’s role in helping others remain steadfast? What must a pastor be about if that pastor is going to be faithful? Let’s look at true ministry and let’s pray for even more faithfulness here among us.
Here is God’s Word. Read Colossians 1:21-2:3
I. True ministers are called by God
Ephesians 1:7-10 helps us understand God’s plan (read it).
God has a plan. God has a stewardship. God is not some distant ruler. He is overseeing the daily business of his creation. God’s plan, Ephesians 1:10, is the same word as God’s stewardship in Colossians 1:25. Here’s what I’m driving at
- God is in charge and gives his ministers a charge (25)
Paul opened this letter with the words, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God” (1:1). Now in verse 25 he writes, “I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you.”
Paul knew he had been made a minister by someone else for the good of someone else. He called himself a minister in verses 23 and 25. He was a servant, a diakonos. As such he was under the command of another and serving for the good of another. As Paul faithfully depended on Christ and fulfilled the ministry, God would be glorified and the church would be built up.
Every true minister understands his place as one under a commission. God has called and God will provide so that God’s purposes are fulfilled. It’s not about me or my plans it’s about God’s plan to unite all things in Christ. God’s charge on his ministers is plain: preach Christ.
- True ministers preach Christ (26-28a)
Paul defined his ministry when he wrote, “Him we proclaim.” To the Corinthians he wrote, “We preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor 1:23). Paul wrote many things and said many more. In this massive volume of warning and teaching there was one central unifying theme- the mystery of Christ in you. Paul never got over the wonder of how God could forgive such hostile and filthy sinners such as himself. He never moved beyond the glory and goodness of not just being reconciled to God but being reconciled to God by being joined to Christ.
One of the brightest displays of the glory and mercy of God is in the overwhelming inclusion of the Gentiles in the people of God. God did not choose one or two Gentiles for the sake of his reputation. No, the massive number of Gentiles brought into the people of God shows the riches of his loving kindness. That non-Jews are included is a gracious mystery.
For ages and generations God had been progressively revealing more details concerning the coming Messiah. The Jews were listening to God and they heard him promise a coming king who would deliver them. The details were not all there but the promise that this Christ would be amazing beyond all comprehension was crystal clear. A savior is coming!
Peter wrote, “Concerning this salvation the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and enquired carefully, enquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories” (1 Peter 1:10-11). For ages and generations the prophets had been looking for this suffering glorious Savior.
Who will the Messiah be? How will it all work out? It’s a mystery. Now the mystery has been revealed. God revealed it. God chose to make all the details known not by telling what will happen but by sending Christ and doing everything God had planned. God is working his redemption plan.
Verse 27, “God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
It is simply breathtaking that God would forgive us. God’s plan is marvelous and rich. It is unthinkable that God would give himself to us. Think on this mystery- Christ in you.
Believer, reconciled to God through Christ, Christ is in you. You have the hope of glory. You have the greatest treasure; the thing of greatest value. You have the power of God. On your own life is impossible but with God, now that you are in Christ, all things are possible. Right now you have the hope of all eternity. You have life. You have forgiveness. You have God. God’s plan is to glorify his beloved Son through your salvation.
God’s plan is fulfilled through preaching the word of God. The word of God is the promise of forgiveness and reconciliation through Christ coming to live in you. You shouldn’t have this love, this forgiveness, and this life. We shouldn’t have it. But we do! We have Christ and because we have Christ we will continue steadfast. It is not our works that cause us to continue in the faith. It is Christ in us that causes us to continue in the faith. Those who do not continue in the faith prove they never had Christ.
The implication of this fact is true ministers do not tolerate quick fixes and false messiahs. The wisdom of man is foolishness compared to this glorious life transforming, hope giving, relationship reconciling gospel. True ministers preach Christ. The God who is in charge has given this charge: preach Christ. Preach Christ for the saving of souls. Preach Christ so the church remains steadfast in the gospel.
Bring the word of God to fulfillment. That’s the charge God gives. It reads like this in verse 25, “to make the word of God fully known.” That’s a fair translation but it’s wrong if you take it to mean all a minister does is teach. Literally, verse 25 says, “to bring the word of God to fulfillment.
God’s plan to glorify his Son through the redemption of a people from every tribe, tongue, and nation did not stop when Jesus ascended back into heaven. No, God is still working his plan and that plan involves you and me. It is the minister’s job to proclaim Christ in such a way that people understand their role in God’s plan. A true minister wants nothing less than every person fulfilling their God given role with the power only God can supply. So yes we must teach the full council of God. But teaching is not enough. We teach for your obedience- so that you find your place. This is work
II. True ministers labor like Christ
Christ is the example for all true ministers so
- True ministers warn and teach like Christ
Jesus had used the positive and negative- this is what you are to do and this is what you should not do. If you follow Jesus you gain the good but if you disobey Jesus you receive only wrath (Jn 3:36). Since it was Christ who commissioned Paul to be a minister it is no surprise that Paul’s ministry mirrored that of Christ.
Look with me at verse 28, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. The true minister’s goal is your maturity. We can settle for nothing less than Christ-likeness. It is not enough that you have been saved and are reading your bible and praying. God’s charge for me is your maturity.
I will stand before God one day and give an account for how I have ministered God’s word to you. I want to be found faithful on that day therefore I must, and the other pastors here must, toil and work for your maturity.
This work is a work of the word. It’s two pronged- warning and teaching. True ministers graciously and patiently warn. This is a ministry of correction. When you are wandering into sin you should expect to be warned. When you begin to dabble with something that will erode your gospel-stability you should expect a minister of this church to admonish you- to correct you. This is not pride this is love. Gracious firm correction according to the word of God is what God has charged his ministers to do.
Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
Many have misused this passage to give a pastor or group of pastor’s absolute authority. The point is not to dictate someone’s life, what they wear and how they spend their money. Even where they vacation! The point is to remember that pastors are to care for souls and lead them out of sin. Follow their lead into life.
By the way, admonishment is a ministry of every member. As the word of Christ dwells in us (Colossians 3:16) we are to teach and admonish one another in all wisdom. Because we believe God and care for one another we will admonish one another. You will engage in the ministry of correction if you love the church. Pastors will lead out in this and also in teaching.
As we proclaim Christ we warn everyone and teach everyone. Teaching is the positive side of formative instruction. It is easy to forget that all people need to be taught. We all need the help of another who will teach us to obey all that Jesus commanded.
This whole “Christ in you” is a mystery. You need to be taught. You need to be taught the difference between good and evil. You need to be taught how to love. Paul told Timothy to take what Paul had told him and entrust it to other faithful men who will be able to teach others (2 Tim 2:2). In Titus 2 older women are told to teach younger women what is good- how to love their husbands and children, how to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive. This active teaching by ministers and by the mature keeps the people of God moving forward fulfilling the word of God. The absence of teaching by pastors and mature men and women causes the word of God to be reviled.
The people who live and work around you can open a bible and read what God expects of you. They can read God’s expectations of you. Do you know God’s expectations of you? Do you know how to obey those expectations? Do you see that Christ can be trusted to work in you to fulfill those expectations? Expect your pastors and the other mature men and women in the church to be teaching you.
A healthy church will be filled with members who joyfully embrace the teaching and correcting ministry of its ministers. We will joyfully embrace this ministry for the stability of our own souls. True ministers warn and teach like Christ and
- True ministers suffer
Concerning persecution Jesus said, “If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household” (Mt 10:25). If the world bad-mouthed, mocked, persecuted, and finally killed Jesus we should expect the same. “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12).
Look back at verse 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.”
While a true minister should expect suffering there is a distinction that should be made. Paul is talking about suffering, not because of sin or stupidity, but suffering because that minister is seeking to fulfill all that God’s word commands. When you seek to live a godly life and when you seek to warn and teach everyone you will be persecuted.
As an ambassador of Christ a true minister will take upon himself those persecutions meant for Christ. They are Christ’s afflictions. They are caused by Christ and his glorious gospel. For the sake of the church a true minister will suffer. There will be difficulties which arise which are caused by obeying God’s word.
Yet this suffering leads to rejoicing. Paul says something crazy to our modern ears, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings.” Why does he rejoice? Because he gets the pay off? No he rejoices in his sufferings because he sees how his sufferings benefit the church.
Listen to this explanation of joy in suffering from Philippians 1:12, “I want you to know brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”
Paul’s faithfulness to the word of God produced suffering; he was persecuted for obeying God. Christ made him faithful and kept him faithful in suffering and the church reaped the benefit. Paul’s faithfulness to the word of God encouraged stability in the people of God.
What is lacking in the afflictions of Christ is not some deficiency in the atonement. What is lacking in the afflictions of Christ is the continuing persecution of Christ by the world. Since the world cannot hit and slander and kill Christ, the world will hit, slander, and kill the body of Christ. The afflictions meant for Christ will fall on us. As we faithfully embrace suffering according to the will of God we will make the power of the gospel evident. Faithfulness in suffering will produce stability in others. A true minister understands that the goal in life is the maturing of the church not the gaining of comfort.
In order to protect the church and mature the church the true minister will take it on the chin. Your progress and joy in the faith are worth suffering for. Christ suffered for you and so will a true minister.
III. Embrace true ministry
This application cuts both ways. First, as a minister who desires to be a true minister I must embrace true ministry. My goal must be your Christ-likeness, your maturity. This means I must give myself to prayer and study so that I can strive to warn you and teach you according to God’s plan not according to your desires, my desires, or the world’s desires. I need you to pray for me- pray that I will be a true minister who is able to rejoice in suffering for the benefit of the body.
The second application of the truth, embrace true ministry, is for you. Embrace true ministry for your own good. God’s will for your life is your sanctification (1 Thess 4:3). God’s plan is to make you look more and more like Jesus everyday. In order to accomplish that God has given you righteousness in Christ, the Spirit’s daily leadership, His inspired word, and ministers who keep watch over your soul. Embrace the benefit of godly men who labor with God’s energy to present you mature in Christ.
I want to highlight two aspects of this ministry here. First, we put a member or family in the bulletin every week so the body will pray for and encourage that member. We systematically work through the church membership in alphabetical order wanting every member to be cared for by the body. Second, a group of men meets monthly. Each man is given two names, again working alphabetically through the church membership in order to contact that member. We want to care for you and bear your burdens according to Galatians 6:2. We do this because we want you to remain steadfast in the gospel. When you get that visit or that phone call know that minister is there to help you follow Christ. Embrace his ministry as he seeks to warn and teach you and together let’s grow in Christ-likeness.
We must keep believing the sin-removing righteousness-providing gospel of Jesus Christ.
Christianity is hard but Christianity with Christ is invigorating. There is eternal life and unending joy! So our greatest concern is that you walk with Jesus. We know if you attempt to go through the motions of Christianity without Christ it will crush you. But if you walk with Jesus depending upon him life will be hard, but he will give you life and abundant joy.
Christian, as you depend upon Christ and follow Christ you will be called to do the hard thing. At times, continuing with Christ will seem impossible, a contradiction, sometimes even a source of greater pain. But the eyes of the flesh are always blind to the joy of the Spirit. This is why we walk by faith and not by sight. This is why we walk together.
Today we are going to look at what it means to be transformed by Jesus Christ. We need this truth in order to cling more closely and depend more holistically on Jesus. When we understand what Jesus has done for us and what Jesus has given to us we will hold onto Jesus with gratitude. True faith fuels obedient joy.
My prayer is that you will see your sin in all of it’s horrible consequences and run to Jesus depending on him for life and godliness. We must believe in Jesus and we must keep believing the sin-removing righteousness-providing gospel of Jesus Christ.
Read Colossians 1:11-23
I. We are reconciled through Christ
If two people are reconciled it means their relationship had been broken. The pain, sin, animosity, and friction that were there have been removed. When two people are reconciled they don’t just love one another they like one another. Reconciliation implies the restoration of joy.
In order to better understand and appreciate what it means to be reconciled to God in Christ let’s look at why we were separated from God in the first place.
- We were under the domain of darkness (13)
Before Christ set us free we were ruled by the power of darkness. God explains it this way in Ephesians 2:1-3: And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
And we don’t become this way we were born this way. Our very nature was one of darkness so we gladly followed our terrible ruler from one degree of darkness deeper into another. Remember back to the days when the power of darkness, when dark ruinous desires, led you into pain. You were not innocent. You were born under the power of darkness, dead in sin.
Look now at verse 21, “And you…were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,”
- We were alienated and hostile in mind (21)
To be alienated is to be cutoff. It means we did not belong. We were not a part of the people of God because we were born outsiders. Ephesians 2:12 says, “remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”
To be cut off from God is to be cut off from hope. The lack of hope fueled hostility. Every difficulty brought greater anger against God. The growing sense of despair fueled a hunger for any relief so you did wicked deeds. We were all like this only choosing different poisons. Alienated from God and without hope we grew hostile in mind. The increased hostility produced increased wickedness. Further and further we ran from God but then God stepped in.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God (Eph 2:4-8)
- We are reconciled to God through Christ (22)
Reconciliation comes through Christ and is explained this way
1. Peace comes through the blood of his cross
Look back at verse 20, “God was pleased through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” Payment has been made. The payment of the blood of the very Son of God.
2. Reconciliation happens in his body of flesh
Connect Colossians 1:21 with Colossians 1:22 (read it)
We are reconciled in his body of flesh through his death. It is the God-man Jesus Christ who restores us to God. No one gets to the Father but through Him. It is the physical life of Christ, the real actual on this earth righteousness which makes us acceptable. It is the physical death, the real payment of death for sins which cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Our salvation is not a fairy tale, a myth, or an altered mental state. Our reconciliation was bought with a real body. Here is the good news
II. We are blameless in Christ
- The disqualified are qualified in Christ (12)
To be qualified means you were disqualified. When a runner jumps the gun or makes a false start he is disqualified. That runner is not allowed to compete.
Think about Moses that great leader chosen and gifted by God. Moses was disqualified. When God told him to speak to the rock Moses chose to hit the rock instead. Moses rebelled. Moses refused to listen. Moses disobeyed. Moses was disqualified. He was ruled unfit to enter the Promised Land. He died outside. Every sin, even what we consider small, is cause for disqualification. But we’re not talking about Moses.
We were disqualified; unfit to be one of God’s children. God gave each of us His good word, His will to be obeyed for his glory and our good but we refused. On a daily basis, in big and small ways, we rejected the reason we were made. God told us what to do and we refused. We cannot inherit eternal life.
But verse 12, but Jesus, let us give thanks to the Father because he has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. The unholy lovers of darkness are made holy citizens of the light. We are made adequate through the merits of another. We qualify for the kingdom because we are given the righteousness of the king. We are changed in Christ.
And there’s more- verses 13 and 14
- Slaves to sin are redeemed in Christ (13-14)
You were rescued from the power and dominion of darkness. We like to think of ourselves as disqualified against our wills. Like we were enslaved in darkness like a POW captured by his enemies. But we’ve already seen we were cut-off, alienated from God hostile to him and gladly doing evil.
We weren’t prisoners of war. We were glad slaves of sin. We were lovers of darkness refusing to be rescued. We fought our redeemer, we fought against freedom, and we even defended the tyrant who has captured us to do his will.
Do not forget the true condition your family and friends. Be amazed that God would love you so much that he would rescue you from your willful slavery to sin. And this great King and deliverer does not just set us free. No, he makes us beloved children. He puts us in his family. He adopts us as his own. He qualifies us making us members of the kingdom of his beloved Son.
God kicks down the door of our rebellious hearts. He rescues us from the power and dominion of sin and put us under the good, gracious, joyful, and benevolent rule of King Jesus. We were slaves to sin loving the darkness running hard after our own deaths but God delivered us. He bought us. He redeemed us and made us his own. Slaves are set free in Christ and
- The defiled are made perfect in Christ (22)
Look back with me at verses 21&22.
Jesus qualified you and rescued you and reconciled you. Praise God. And more than that he has brought you into his kingdom under his rule in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.
Here is faith in Christ. Here is union with Christ. Here is the imputation of righteousness. Here is free grace. We were not holy, we were defiled in mind and deed. But Christ has removed our sins and made us holy. Christ has cleansed us by the cross and set us apart for God’s good purposes.
We were worthy of blame and the record that stood against us was insurmountable. By taking our blame Christ has made us blameless. By being accused in our place Jesus has removed every accusation. You are not saved because you believe there is a God. You are not saved because you believe Jesus is God’s Son. You are saved because you believe Christ makes you holy, blameless, and above reproach. And he has done this through the cross. Our debt, our punishment, has been paid.
Christian, one day you will be presented to the Father by the Son. You will not be presented with your sin but with Christ’s perfect righteousness. Jesus lived and died in order to give you the righteous of God.
But there is a qualification, a stipulation. You must continue in the faith
III. We continue in the faith
If you abandon Jesus and turn loose of the gospel you will not be saved. People who regurgitate a prayer, walk the aisle, get baptized, and then have nothing to do with Christ, his gospel, or his church are not Christians. You give evidence of your reconciliation through Christ and your future perfect holiness in Christ by continuing in the faith. Read 21-23a.
What verse 23 is saying is if you don’t continue in the faith you don’t go to heaven. So what we are after as a church is stable continuing faith
- Stability in the faith comes from holding fast to the gospel
Christians continue in the faith. Christians are stable. Christians are steadfast. Christians cherish the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ therefore they do not shift from it. But what makes a Christian do all these things? Is it not the believer’s connection to God through the gospel? Out of your union with Christ comes the desire to abide in Christ. Out of your union with Christ comes stability. Because you are united to Christ you continue in the faith steadfast because the hope of the gospel is so rich.
It is the Father who shows us the glories of the gospel- the splendor of reconciliation, forgiveness, righteousness, joy, and life in Christ. He rescues us from sin and unites us to Christ through the gospel. How could a true believer break with the glorious gospel? How could a true believer be nonchalant about the gospel?
Hold fast to the gospel. Stand firm in the gospel. Believe the gospel. Do not shift from the hope of the gospel. It is reconciliation to God and union with Christ that will make you holy, blameless, above reproach, stable, and steadfast. This is why I always ask about the gospel. If a person cannot articulate the gospel how can we expect him to stand firm in it?
The evidence of God’s work in you is your dependence upon the gospel. Your dependence upon the gospel is displayed in your stability and steadfastness. You trust Christ and you follow Christ no matter what. Anything less is damnable.
So while the words “once saved always saved” are true as far as the words their application has gone haywire. If a person does not continue in the faith, dependent upon Jesus, that person will not be saved because that person was never saved. Instead of “once saved always saved” let’s be more biblical
- Once in the faith we will always continue in the faith
What must we do and what must we demand of every member of this church family?
IV. Depend upon God’s power
The Apostle Paul’s prayer was that each Christian individually and the church corporately would be strengthened with all power, according to God’s glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy (1:11).
A person does not continue in the faith apart from God’s power. Paul knew living a God-honoring life requires all power. Not power by the world’s standards of power but power according to God’s glorious might. To be faithful to God you will need endurance because the race is long. You will need patience because change is slow. And you will need joy because the work is costly and often discouraging.
Christian, child of God, where are you today? You are reconciled to God through Christ and made blameless in Christ in order to live a worthy life. A life of faith, a life that helps and blesses others requires supernatural strength. Depend upon God. And here’s how to do that
- Pray for God’s power
Admit your weakness and pray for his power. You are paralyzed and God is powerful so pray. Don’t wait to pray until you have proven you can’t do it by your own strength. Pray now because you know you will never do it by your own strength. You need his strength.
Wake in the morning and fight the pride that says, “I can do it myself.” Fight the pride by praying and asking for God’s strength. You are his reconciled redeemed child- pray for his help.
- Connect with the church (4:7-18)
God rescues people from darkness through the church. It is the church who is called to restore the broken and rescue people who are near to destruction. The church is a rescue operation and the church is a family that builds up one another. The church exists to help you continue in the faith. You exist to help the church continue in the faith. Your personal walk with Jesus is one of our greatest concerns. Our walk with Jesus is one of your greatest concerns.
Colossians 4:7-18 is just a sampling of the people connected to the Apostle Paul. Tychichus and Onesimus were beloved faithful brothers. Aristarchus was a fellow prisoner with Paul. Mark was a faithful asset now reconciled with Paul. Justus had been a comfort to Paul. Epaphras was a prayer warrior. And Luke the beloved physician was there too. Do you have friends like that? Are you a friend like that?
You see, Paul was not some lone ranger Christian roughing it on his own fighting the battle by himself. He continued in the gospel with help. Paul knew, for his own personal growth and comfort in the faith that he needed to be connected, known, and loved by the church.
So, God reconciled you, made you blameless, and put you in this body so that you could help others continue in the faith. God reconciled you, made you blameless, and put you in this body so that we can help you continue in the faith. Stop protecting yourself or holding back or keeping people out. Eternity is at stake.
Here’s my advice: grow up and open up. Grow up in Christ so you can restore your brothers and sisters caught in sin. Open up your home and seek to know, encourage, and love your family. Grow up and open up. Let’s pray.
Text: Colossians 1:13-20 7/20/08 a.m.
Thesis: In Christ, the preeminent One, we have redemption.
Intro: The next passage we will be memorizing together over the coming 6-7 weeks is all about the glorious nature of Christ and our perfect redemption in Him.
Colossians 1:13-20 lays out for us the fact that God intends to meet every physical and spiritual need we have in Jesus Christ.
Our creator is our redeemer. The sovereign of all creation is the ruler of the church. The perfect God-man brings us redemption, forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace. These blessing are ours with God, each other, and all of creation.
Forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace are ours through the righteous blood of Christ shed on the cross.
We are His and He is glorious; creation and the cross prove it.
Read Colossians 1:13-20
I) All of the benefits of salvation are found in Christ
To begin to grasp the benefits of salvation let me start with this
a) Our deliverance is a personal matter to God
i) Verse 13 makes it clear that it is God the Father who delivers us from the domain of darkness.
ii) This word deliver is not what the UPS man does; delivering an unknown package from an unknown sender to an unknown recipient just to make a buck.
iii) Our deliverance is the product of God’s unstoppable love for us. You and I are saved because God personally called us out of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son.
iv) We were in the domain of darkness. That means we were under the power and influence of Satan.
v) And we weren’t prisoners of war in Satan’s camp. Before salvation we were willing members in Satan’s army.
vi) This doesn’t mean that we were demon possessed it means we were trapped in the prison of our own sinful desires.
vii) Apart from the redeeming grace of Jesus every decision leads to more darkness. Apart from the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit every plan leads to more pain.
viii) Apart from the love of the Father we would still be there under the terrible sway of sin.
ix) But we have been delivered from that to the kingdom of his beloved Son. No longer are we slaves to sin but now due to Christ we are dearly loved sons.
x) What happens is God penetrates enemy territory, shows us the tragedy of our sin and the glorious forgiveness that is ours in Jesus Christ.
xi) By trusting in Christ we are joined to Christ and given all his righteousness and rights as a son.
xii) Colossians 1:12 says that God the Father qualifies us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
xiii) That means we add nothing and cannot add anything to our salvation. Our good works are not the ground of salvation or even the icing on the salvation cake.
xiv) Driven by His great love for us and the redeeming work of Christ for us God the Father makes us acceptable for entrance into the kingdom.
xv) We cannot earn nor do we deserve salvation. We are Christians because God, in an amazing act of grace, makes us righteous in Christ Jesus.
xvi) So what does that mean for us? You cannot clean yourself up and then come to God. Only God can clean you up and God wants to clean up His own.
xvii) It is foolishness and a false gospel to believe you can some how make yourself right with God.
xviii) Jesus lived a perfect life, died an atoning death, rose victorious from the grave, and is seated at the right hand of God on His glorious seat of honor.
xix) Only because of this Jesus do we have, verse 14, redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
xx) Because we have been qualified by God, because we have been made completely righteous by God, because we have been removed from the tyranny of our sinful desires, and because we are now members of the kingdom of God’s dearly loved Son we have redemption the forgiveness of sins.
xxi) When God sees you His believing child He sees the faith, love, obedience, and holy desires of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
xxii) We think God sees our weak faith, wavering love, faltering obedience, and less than perfect desires and because of those things casts us out.
xxiii) But thanks be to God that’s not the gospel. God does not see those things provoking Him to punishment or wrath.
xxiv) God sees us as completely qualified, delivered from sin, transferred under the ownership of Christ, redeemed, reconciled, and at perfect peace with Him.
xxv) It is true that God will discipline us for missing His best. But He disciplines us because He loves His believing children never because He’s angry with us.
xxvi) All of God’s holy wrath and just anger have been swallowed up for the believer on the cross of Jesus Christ.
xxvii) Never attempt to quiet your guilty conscience by comparing yourself to others who you think are bigger sinners than you. Never make yourself feel better by reminding yourself of the good you have done.
xxviii) Always quiet your guilty conscience with God’s truth that you have been purchased by Jesus Christ.
xxix) I am qualified, I am delivered, I am transferred to Christ, I am redeemed, I am forgiven, and I am loved.
xxx) When the Spirit inspired Paul to write that truth the outcome was a little time of praise and worship.
xxxi) Verses 15-20 are the expression of the majesty and preeminence of Christ over creation and the church.
II) This creating Christ is worthy of all our praise
a) Because Christ is preeminent over all creation
i) To be preeminent means you have first place. When you think of all creation what or who gets the blue ribbon?
ii) Let me tell you from our passage why Jesus gets the blue ribbon.
b) Jesus is the image of the invisible God
i) Everything the Father is the Son is. The Son is by His nature identical to the Father. Jesus said in John 14:9, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”
ii) Hebrews 1:3 says, “[Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.
iii) I want you to notice the difference in Jesus being the image of God and humanity being made in the image of God.
iv) Humanity is a copy of the image of God. In the same way that a photocopy is lesser than the real thing when it comes off the copy machine so also are all of us lesser than the real image of God even in our Garden of Eden perfection. We are not God.
v) But Jesus was not made in the image of God. Jesus was never made. The truth is that Jesus is the image of God.
vi) From eternity past God the Son has been everything visibly that the God the Father is invisibly.
vii) What does that mean for us? The gospel tells us that God no longer sees you as a lesser copy or a sin defiled copy. No God sees us as kingdom members covered completely by His beloved Son. When God sees us God sees Christ.
viii) Jesus is the image of God and
c) Jesus is the firstborn of all creation
i) Let’s be clear that Jesus is not the first created being.
ii) This is proven by verse 16 which tells us that it was by Jesus that all things were created.
iii) If anything created exists it’s because God the Son created it.
iv) And the Son could not have created himself. The Son has always existed as the perfect image of the Father.
v) The point is that the Son was the means by which the Father created everything. In this creating capacity the Son is said to be the firstborn of all creation.
vi) That means God the Son is before all created things as far as time is concerned and God the Son is before all things as far as value is concerned.
vii) You and I will find nothing in creation that can compare to the value of Jesus Christ.
viii) You and I will find nothing in creation that can compare to the satisfying power of the Son’s redemption and plan for our lives.
d) In fact, nothing is better than Jesus in the spiritual world or the physical world.
i) Nothing is better than Jesus in heaven or on earth.
ii) Read verse 16
iii) The angels and the magnificent heavenly creatures owe their existence to God the Son and are subject to Him.
iv) Satan and the demons owe their existence to God the Son and are subject to Him.
v) Every rock, every tree, every over priced barrel of oil owes it’s existence to God the Son.
vi) You owe your existence to God the Son.
vii) Knowing that, we live based on faith; we understand that every thing was created through Jesus.
viii) And we can live based on a right understanding of this life; we were created for Jesus.
ix) The Son does not exist for us. We exist for Him. And when God qualifies us and transfers us it frees us to live the joy filled life we were created to live. (2 Corinthians 5:14&15)
e) Colossians 1:17 says, “and he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
i) Jesus is the blue ribbon; greater than everyone and everything. And Jesus holds everything together.
ii) Now to quote the rest of Hebrews 1:3, “he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”
iii) The entire universe stays in constant and perfect orbit because Jesus holds it together.
iv) The Milky Way galaxy contains our solar system and a plant perfect for human life because Jesus said it should be that way.
v) You and I do not fly off the face of this earth because Jesus exists and gave us gravity.
vi) Your heart beats according to an electrical rhythm that is set by Jesus the perfect conductor.
vii) Our next breath happens only because the infinite power of the Son of God gives us that blessing.
viii) The gift of God for the redeemed is realizing the truth of Christ’s providential hand and worshiping Christ rightly because of this truth.
ix) Do not worship rocks, stars, or rock stars worship God.
x) This God in three persons is the blessed Trinity worthy of worship and sacrifice if only because of their work to create and sustain all creation. But there’s more.
III) This redeeming Christ is worthy of all praise
a) Jesus is the head of the body, the church
i) In the same way that the Son of God is the source of life for all creation He is also the source of life for the church.
ii) Through the Son the Father called the universe into existence from nothing.
iii) Through the Son the Father called the church to life from the spiritually dead. And the Father set the Son as the head of this living body.
iv) It is as the church’s perfect head that Jesus gives spiritual life to all that make up his body. And as the church’s perfect head Jesus gives leadership to all that make up his body.
v) I like the way Mark Driscoll puts it when he reminds us that Jesus is the senior pastor of every church.
vi) Mambrino Baptist Church owes its hundred year and more existence only to Jesus Christ.
vii) When I go on vacation The Pastor is still here. When you and I die The Pastor will still be here.
viii) I am not your source of life and I am not the glue that holds everything together. Those roles belong to and are fulfilled perfectly in Jesus.
b) And Jesus is forming a new humanity
i) Verse 18 says, “He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.”
ii) Jesus is the start of something wholly and holy different than fallen sinful humanity.
iii) Jesus is the conqueror who through his death and resurrection forms a new and eternal kingdom.
iv) As the firstborn from the dead Jesus is given all preeminence.
v) Jesus is rightfully preeminent over all things because he is the creator of all things.
vi) And Jesus is in fact preeminent over all things because he’s the only person whose body is not still in the grave.
vii) He is fully and perfectly God by his nature and Jesus is full and perfect man by taking on flesh, living a righteous life, dying an atoning death, and rising victorious over sin and death.
c) This Jesus could not be held in the grave because he is God
i) Verse 19 says, “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.”
ii) In this dying and rising man there was no part of God’s deity missing. This must be true because God cannot be stopped by sin or death.
iii) So it pleased the Father that the Son would take on flesh, come live for us, come die for us, and rise from the grave for us.
iv) I hope you are encouraged by the fact that it pleases the Father that the Son would come and redeem you.
v) Do you realize that your forgiveness through Jesus Christ pleases God? God wants you to be made righteous in His Son.
vi) No matter how much we may tell ourselves that God does not want me to be purified it still does not change the fact that at the Father’s good pleasure Jesus came for you.
d) In fact, God’s entire plan of salvation, especially the cross, pleases the Father.
i) Verse 20 says, and it was pleasing to God “through [Jesus] to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
ii) Knowing the preeminence that will come to Christ and knowing the redemption that will come to us God the Father chose to save us through the death of His beloved Son.
iii) There could be reconciliation no other way. We are utterly dependent on God. From salvation’s plan to salvation’s fulfillment to salvation’s application we need God.
iv) Please, I beg you to notice that it is only through Jesus that we are reconciled. And it is only through Jesus that we remain reconciled and enjoy God’s blessings.
v) As willing members of the domain of darkness we were at war with God but it pleased God to bring us into a state of peace with God through Jesus.
vi) Jesus, the means of creation and the reason creation exists died for you to make you righteous.
vii) Jesus’ heart, the heart of the One whose existence gives your heart it’s rhythm, stopped beating so that your cold dead heart could be given new life.
viii) Hebrews 9:22 says, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
ix) All believers are right now perfectly forgiven and righteous because of Jesus’ blood shed on the cross.
x) An infinite sacrifice has been paid for you. Eternal forgiveness has been secured for you.
xi) All this has been done according to the Father’s good pleasure and for the purpose of showing the preeminence of Christ over all things in creation and in the church.
IV) My question for you is if you know the joy of redemption and the perfect forgiveness of sin?
a) The biblical truth this morning is that it pleased the Father to send Jesus to live and die in your place so that you would be reconciled to Him.
b) No matter your sin and no matter your guilt your salvation is the Father’s desire and it is sure in Jesus Christ.
c) According to His strength and righteousness we tell God we are sorry for living contrary to His perfect word.
d) The big word is repent. We repent of our sins and place our trust in Jesus Christ. We trust that his death paid our penalty for sin.
e) We trust that Jesus fulfilled God’s requirements of a righteous life for us and in Jesus we are given eternal life.
f) We trust that Jesus will strengthen us and come back for us. Repent, believe, and be saved.
Text: 1 Timothy 1:12-17 10/14/07 AM
Thesis: Christ came to save sinners
Intro: Have you ever been lost or lost your child? In an instant you go from calm and maybe even tranquility to full-bore panic.
Very little changes physically from before you realized you where lost to realizing you where lost. Maybe you drove 50 feet, took another step, or looked down for your child.
You were lost or your child was gone even before you realized it. What changed is coming face to face with the problem.
You were fine, you thought everything was okay, you were enjoying the peace and quiet and then you got nailed.
I’m lost. Abigail is gone. Jimmy isn’t here. Then you become frantic looking for a cure. You start to scream for help. You look for anything familiar. You scramble for your phone.
Remember, nothing physically changed you just finally realized what was already true. Do you know that feeling?
What about the feeling of being found? What about being reunited with your child? What about making it out safely?
Oh the relief. Oh the joy; from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs in a moments time.
This is the Apostle Paul’s testimony from 1st Timothy 1:12-17. This is every Christian’s testimony. This is the powerful gospel of the glorious Christ.
Read 1 Timothy 1:12-17
I) Thank the Lord
a) Thank the Giver of strength
i) This is exactly what Paul does in 1 Timothy 1:12, he expresses his gratitude to Jesus who personally equipped Paul for the ministry.
ii) Verse 11 tells us that Paul was entrusted with the gospel and verse 12 tells us that he was strengthened in order to fulfill his calling.
iii) I am encouraging you and myself to worship at the end of a difficult day instead of complaining.
iv) Through a right understanding of God’s good gifts in Christ Jesus turn your pains into praise.
v) God it was difficult to do what was right. I was hard to handle that person as a Christian should but You gave me strength.
vi) If you messed up turn the situation into confession. God I messed up but I know Christ gives me strength to make this right and do what’s right next time.
vii) Work at it; be intentional about it; find ways to be thankful and find ways to express thanks to Christ.
viii) Here’s the reason Paul expressed thanks to the one who gave him strength, “because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent.”
ix) This is an initially confusing statement. It appears that Paul is saying that Jesus entrusted him with the gospel because Paul was faithful as a blasphemer, persecutor, and bitter opponent.
x) It would be the equivalent to saying, “because you were so good at destroying the church I’ll use you to build the church.”
xi) Even worse it seems to imply that Paul was called to service because he was the worst of sinners.
xii) But this interpretation is wrong because it immediately forgets verse 12. It is Christ who gives the power we need to be faithful.
xiii) Recal to mind what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:25. There he wrote, “I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.”
xiv) Faithful and trustworthy are the English translation of the same word in the original.
xv) So explicitly in 1 Cor 7.25 Paul states that he is faithful or trustworthy because of the Lord’s mercy.
xvi) Every person will be faithful in their appointed ministry not because we are something special in and of ourselves.
xvii) Every one of us will be faithful because of Jesus Christ working his strength in us and showering his mercy upon us.
xviii) And it doesn’t matter what your background is. We know that but someone always throws up the defense of “yeah but you don’t know me or what I’ve done.”
xix) Okay look at what Paul did. Let’s start with the one we’re less familiar with: insolent. Some translation use injurious, violent, or aggressor.
xx) The NKJV gives a good explanation in it’s footnote this word. It means “violently aggressive”
xxi) We’ve been praying for Hazel Rose’s nephew Timothy who was brutally beaten. What happened to him is a sickening definition of what insolent means.
xxii) Paul was ticked off in a rage about the church so he persecuted the church forcing people to renounce faith in Christ and killing others who would not.
xxiii) He did all this because he was a blasphemer. He didn’t believe in the deity of Christ. He did not believe Jesus is the eternal Son of God.
xxiv) Paul didn’t believe Jesus was the messiah sent to rescue the lawless and disobedient, the ungodly and sinners, the unholy and profane.
xxv) In his disobedience Paul did not seek or see the need of mercy of grace.
xxvi) He didn’t need to be forgiven of anything. He hadn’t done anything wrong. In his own mind, conscience, and faith Paul was just or righteous.
xxvii) He didn’t need Jesus.
xxviii) If your child is in this state of mind outside of the faith or if your spouse or parent is in this state of mind outside of the faith then take heart.
xxix) Paul was once like this and he was changed.
b) Thank the Giver of mercy
i) In the end of verse 13 Paul wrote, “But I received mercy because I acted ignorantly and in unbelief”
ii) This is one of if not the hardest thing for every one of us to admit in this room.
iii) I was wrong. I thought I was right. I was ready to die for what I thought was right but I was wrong.
iv) I was a fool. I was believing the wrong things.
v) Here is the blessed Christian freedom of admitting we are wrong. It is so hard but so Christ-honoring and freeing to admit our sins to God and to others.
vi) How was Paul able to admit this? How will you and I be able to admit this? I thank Christ who has given me strength.
vii) There is mercy for us. This is a withholding of just desserts. This is a staying of God’s hand because God knows what God is up to and God is faithful.
viii) God knows we are ignorant. Remember this does not save us or keep us out of hell. This mercy holds back what we deserve.
ix) That’s why we go on to verse 14 (read it)
c) Thank the Giver of overflowing grace
i) In the original verse 14 starts with the word ‘overflowed’. It means super abundance.
ii) It appears that Paul made up a word to describe the amount of grace he had been given.
iii) He used the words hyper and fill. We say there are active kids and there are hyperactive kids.
iv) We should thank Jesus because his grace is hyperactive towards us. The grace of our Lord is bursting forth like a busted fire hydrant.
v) Our hands cannot contain all of it; grace is just flowing everywhere.
vi) Who is this grace hyperactive toward? Ignorant, unbelieving, blaspheming, and ticked-off persecutors of Jesus.
vii) Is there grace for you to forgive you and change you? You betcha
viii) Take a moment to thank Jesus for his overflowing superabundant all-sin-removing grace
d) Thank the Giver of faith and love
i) Grace does not come alone. “And the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”
ii) Mercy was given because Paul was an idiot. Grace was given to forgive and change Paul. But there’s more.
iii) Faith and love are there in superabundance.
iv) The redeemed person, the changed person, is a person who has faith and loves because that person is in Christ.
v) The old unbelieving persecutor is gone and he is replaced with the believing self-sacrificing Christian.
vi) What a monumental change! Jesus shows up on the road to Damascus and knocks Paul off his high horse.
vii) Literally, Paul is cut down to size. This is what the law does; it shuts the mouth.
viii) But the shut mouth becomes a changed mouth full of thanksgiving because there is a pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith where all there was before was unbelieving ignorance.
ix) We should be able to look at every Christian and say, “he believes and he loves. She trusts Jesus and she loves people.”
x) We do this and we say this about other people precisely because the Christian is joined to Christ and that causes some crazy things to happen.
xi) We must thank Jesus the giver of faith and love.
II) Trust the Lord
Read verse 15
a) Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners
i) This statement is true and we must embrace it completely.
ii) The person who knows she is lost frantically looking for the way out will find it in Christ.
iii) Christ is the way, he is the truth, and he is the life
iv) Stake eternity on Christ. He is full of mercy and grace.
v) What he came to do he did. Now by faith we must grab onto all that he freely gives.
vi) He came into the world to save sinners.
vii) He came to seek and to save the lost (Lk:19:10).
viii) He came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many (Mk 10:45).
ix) Removing the stain of your sin is the reason for Christmas. Taking your punishment so you could be restored to God is the reason for the cross.
x) Our calling is not to live up to the law our calling is to trust in Christ and accept his grace, his live, and his righteousness.
xi) Do not work; trust. Christ has done the work to save you. Christ has paid the price to redeem.
xii) But some will still say, “you don’t know me”
b) Paul’s life is the example of the Lord’s perfect patience
i) Jesus Christ came to save sinners and the Apostle Paul is the foremost of sinners.
ii) This statement by Paul is not some weak attempt at humility it’s the truth.
iii) The worst of sinners is not some guy on death row or one of us in this room. It was Paul.
iv) But he received mercy. On the road to Damascus Paul should have died.
v) As we’re reading through 1st Kings in our bible reading we see over and over the swift judgment of God.
vi) Read 16
vii) God in his gracious wisdom knew people would struggle with being forgiven so he made Paul an example.
viii) Paul is exhibit A to prove the perfect patience of Christ.
ix) For those who struggle with Christ’s love for sinners we are told to look at the Apostle Paul.
x) Jesus is full of perfect patience.
xi) Matthew 12:21, “a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; 21and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”
xii) Do not presume on his grace and patience. Don’t use them as an excuse to stay in your sin.
xiii) The right use of grace and patience is as a balm for your soul. The bruised reed and the smoldering wick frustrated because of remaining sin or continuing struggles must look to Jesus.
xiv) Jesus is perfectly patient with his own. Those who believe in Christ for eternal life have the life of the Apostle Paul as reason to hope.
xv) He was full of ignorance and unbelief doing all manner of ridiculous things against the name of Christ yet he was shown grace and received mercy.
xvi) Go to Jesus and he will give you the same. He came into this world to do the same thing in your life that He did in the Apostle Paul’s.
xvii) Believe in Him. Turn from the law. Confess your sins and you will find grace, mercy, and peace.
xviii) As Paul thought about the work of Christ for him he burst into worship. When he remembered where he had been and saw where Christ had placed him it wasn’t time to be proud it was time to praise.
III) Give God honor and glory (read 17)
This is solid praise and worship. Give Him honor. Give Him his rightful place in every aspect of your life.
We honor women by opening doors for them; standing when they enter.
We honor the flag and soldiers. We recognize their worth.
Do the same for God and so much more. Give Him glory.
Show the world the splendor of our gracious God.
Speak about the work and worth of God. Serve selflessly in His holy name.
Tell people about the perfect patience of God. Magnify Him so all people see God for who He is: the strong savior of sinners.
It is every Christian’s duty to find hope in Christ and tell others where to find hope. We are beggars whose calling is to tell other beggars where to find food. Worship Him.
a) God is the King of ages
i) He is never ending and his reign knows no end. This is a worship fueled statement referring to the person of God and the scope of his rule.
ii) No king is like Him. Kings rise and fall. Empires dominate one day and are destroyed the next.
iii) Not so with our God. He is eternally king. There is no age over which He does not exercise his sovereign rule.
iv) Every ruler in this age, good or bad, spiritual or physical is there because God gives permission.
v) Do not worship some weak puny insignificant god. Worship the true God who is the only sovereign; strong enough to dispose the mightiest nation and gentle enough to restore the most broken of sinners.
b) Worship God because He is immortal
i) God doesn’t wear out, get tired, or go to sleep. God doesn’t get back aches or cavities.
ii) It’s not just that God could never and will never die. This is the worship filled truth that God can be trusted because He has been and always will be here.
iii) His eye that is on His children will never close. His loving gaze on His people will never be broken.
iv) He will never blink or be distracted. Death holds no authority over God so death holds no authority over His people. Worship the God who is immortal.
c) Worship God because He is invisible
i) How can we worship what we cannot see? If we’re going to worship God we must understand fundamentally that God is different than we are.
ii) The problem is not with God the problem is with our eyes. He is different than we are.
iii) He is wholly different and he is holy different.
iv) He dwells in unapproachable light. He is spirit. He is infinite. No eye can see Him because He is that magnificent.
v) God is bigger and better than we are. Worship Him
d) He is the only God
i) Go no where else. Look no where else. Your journey to find forgiveness, grace, mercy, and peace has led you here so you can learn of Christ.
ii) The restlessness of your soul is for a reason. The guilt your feel over your past is for a purpose.
iii) God is using all of your life to lead you to Himself.
iv) He is the only God. He is the only cure. He is our only hope. He is the only thing big enough to save and the only thing gentle enough to restore.
v) Last week if you began to understand that you are lost. If you felt the weight of the law pressing upon your heart do not push that away.
vi) Instead, push your way to Christ. Worship God by trusting Him to forgive, save, and sustain.
vii) The darkness of the valley of sin and death is far surpassed by the majesty of Christ.
viii) Do not stay where you are; go to Jesus.
ix) Pray to him, cry out to Him, and He will save you.
Fulfill the Ministry
Text: Colossians 4:14-18 9/2/07 PM
Thesis: We must watch self and doctrine to be fruitful in ministry
Intro: This morning as we finish our sermon series in the book of Colossians I want to encourage you to fulfill the ministry you have been given in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The church in Colossae is given the command to tell Archippus to pay attention to the Lord’s ministry so that it will be completed.
That command is so important I want us to work through the final 5 verses of Colossians using the command to fulfill the ministry.
We’re going to do this because I want you to run the race well. I don’t want you to stand before God one day and your ministry be labeled ‘disqualified’, ‘unfit’, ‘unacceptable’.
God’s will is for you to fulfill the ministry. Christ died on the cross and defeated death so that you will fulfill the ministry.
Christian, you have been given the Holy Spirit who will guide you and strengthen you as you seek to fulfill the ministry.
Let’s not waste time, let’s submit ourselves to the authority of Scripture, and there learn how to be useful.
Read Colossians 4:14-18
I) Fulfill the ministry by using what God has given you
a) The lesson of Luke
i) Luke is the beloved physician. He is not the educated seminary student like the Apostle Paul.
ii) Luke is not the faithful pastor/evangelist like Epaphras.
iii) Luke is a faithful doctor. You see, Luke wasn’t trying to be something he wasn’t. Luke wasn’t trying to fill shoes he was never intended to wear.
iv) He was called to be a doctor. He was trained to be a doctor. So Luke used his calling and his training to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ.
v) Some of you have been trained to drive a truck. Some of you have been trained to manage an office. Some of you have been trained to build, to plant, to invest money, to raise children, to guard things, to remodel things, and we could go on and on.
vi) God has called you to do what you are doing and God has trained you to do what you are doing so that He could use you where you are.
vii) Stop moping around thinking, “I don’t have anything to offer.” That’s a lie.
viii) 1 Corinthians 12:7 makes it clear that every believer has been given a gift by the Holy Spirit to be used for the common good of the church.
ix) “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
x) It’s time to stop wishing you had some gift. It’s time to start using the gift you’ve been given.
xi) What we need to be on guard against is using our gifts inappropriately. Don’t use your gift in the wrong way.
xii) Every sin is taking what is good and using it the wrong way. Luke could have stayed at home and been many things namely wealthy and important in his city.
xiii) But instead we find him out doing medical missions. He used the gifts and training God had given him to advance the gospel.
xiv) So stop trying to be something you aren’t. Embrace God’s calling and be used by God.
xv) Where Luke went right Demas went wrong.
II) Fulfill the ministry by not loving the world
a) The lesson of Demas
i) Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:10, “Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica”
ii) Loving the things of the world isn’t just a struggle Demas had. It’s safe to say loving what this world offers is a struggle we all have.
iii) 1 John 2:15-17 speaks to all of us here and to Demas back then,
iv) “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
v) Luke lived the life that said, “God I’m going to use what you have given me to advance the name of Jesus Christ and His gospel as much as I can.”
vi) Demas lived the life that said, “God I’m going to use what you have given me to advance my name and grow my pile of stuff as much as I can.”
vii) What does your life say?
viii) Demas found the call to faithfulness to be too restrictive. Demas found more joy in immorality, anger, greed, drunkenness, and other deeds of the flesh than he did in Christ.
ix) Christ promised to give eternal life, the world promised to give stuff, and Demas chose the stuff.
x) If you are going to fulfill the ministry you have received in the Lord you must be on guard against the temptations of the world.
xi) You know your weakness. You know what tempts you about the world. Does anyone else?
xii) Who is praying for you? Does anyone here know what lures you out into the world and is anyone here wrestling for you in prayer so that you would stand up against those lies?
xiii) If we’re not doing that for each other than we are failing as the church.
xiv) Don’t go at ministry alone. Don’t battle temptation alone. God will always provide the way of escape and often that way of escape is the accountability and prayers of a faithful brother or sister in Christ.
xv) Don’t follow the world. All that stuff one day is going to be gone. Only what is done for Christ will remain.
xvi) If we are going to work for Christ then we must
III) Fulfill the ministry by knowing Scripture
a) The church and the letter to the Laodiceans
i) Acts 2:42 gives us the simple model of what every church is supposed to be about;
ii) “And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
iii) The church in Nymphas’ house would have been no different. We should be no different.
iv) The church in her house would have studied the Apostles’ teaching. They would have encouraged one another to fulfill the ministry.
v) They would have shared meals together and they would have prayed together.
vi) When’s the last time you invited some of the church into your home for a meal, time of Scripture reading, and prayer?
vii) When you do be sure what you are studying is God’s word. It’s okay to read books just be sure those books are based on God’s word and be sure you know what God’s word is.
viii) As I was studying this verse that refers to the letter from Laodicea several authors wrote that there has been much ink spilt over this letter.
ix) And there will be much more spilt in the years ahead I’m sure. What I want us to grasp this morning is that not everything written by the Apostles was Scripture.
x) Those letters may have carried the Apostles’ authority but not the inspiration of the Holy Spirit which makes it God’s word.
xi) You see the church does not decide what is and is not Scripture. If we found Paul’s letter to the Laodiceans today we would not add it to the canon.
xii) No doubt some would try but we would not.
xiii) The Holy Spirit decides what Scripture is; not the church and not bible translators and not archeologists and not you and not me.
xiv) This letter to the Laodiceans circulated but was not preserved because the same Spirit who inspired is the same Spirit who preserves.
xv) The letter to the Laodiceans, though written by the Apostle Paul, was not deemed necessary to equip the man of God.
xvi) These 66 books, no more no less, inspired in the originals and translated faithfully are the word of God.
xvii) We must know them and we must know what is not them. We must study them and memorize them and order our lives according to this magnificent book.
xviii) Do the work of ministry by doing the work of knowing Scripture.
IV) Fulfill the ministry by giving it your undivided attention
Read verse 17
a) The lesson of Archippus
i) The Holy Spirit has given each of us a gift to be used in ministry. If we aren’t diligent we won’t be used.
ii) That’s why the church is required to tell Archippus to take heed or watch.
iii) Do you understand that one of the purposes of the church is to encourage the weak and rebuke those who are wrong?
iv) Archippus was on the verge of either messing up or giving up so the church needed to tell him to look carefully at what he’s supposed to be doing.
v) The Spirit wanted the church to point fingers and name names because the Spirit wanted the church to be fruitful. This is church discipline.
vi) We don’t know exactly what Archippus’ ministry consisted of what we do know is that it was service rendered to the church.
vii) The church would suffer if Archippus failed so the church was called in to warn Archippus.
viii) We are no different than Archippus. From time to time we all need to hear those words, “watch the ministry that Christ has given so that you will complete it.”
ix) Be diligent, be careful, give your best to the ministry Christ has given you. Don’t give the left-overs.
x) Paul said to Timothy, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers (1 Tim 4:16).
xi) What we do and why we do it must be grounded in Scripture. We must ground ourselves in God’s word because salvation is on the line.
xii) This bible is our manual for life. This bible is our manual for the church. We must do what it says for by doing so we will save both ourselves and our hearers.
xiii) This is why I want to do everything according to Scripture. We’re not talking about strategies for winning tick tack toe.
xiv) We’re talking about ordering our lives and this church so that we can advance the kingdom of Jesus Christ; so we can be used by God to save souls.
xv) Pay attention to what is going on. Take heed to what this person is doing and what that person is doing.
xvi) In Epaphras’ absence it is possible that Archippus is filling the role of pastor; like an interim of today.
xvii) As pastor it’s crucial to be ever watchful. Wolves are always on the outskirts. Sheep are prone to wander off. Watch, take heed, and pay attention.
xviii) Archippus had been given a ministry in the Lord. It was given to him AND he received it. The Lord called Archippus and Archippus answered the call.
xix) What has the Lord called you to? What is your ministry? Are you making a difference for Christ in someone’s life?
xx) But it’s not enough just to answer the call. We must work to fulfill the call.
xxi) We’re not going to let go and let God and ministry just happen. If we are going to continually step up and do what is required we must be always vigilant.
xxii) The slogan of the 142nd fighter wing, the fightin’ redhawks, is Semper Vigilans, always vigilant.
xxiii) Here is their mission: To provide superior mission-ready units to sustain combat aerospace superiority and peacetime tasking, any time, any place in service to our nation, state, and community. Paramount to our mission is maintaining the highest readiness.
xxiv) Always ready, always vigilant. It’s time to shut off the TV or computer and get ready for ministry by getting into Scripture and getting Scripture into us.
xxv) If it doesn’t square with Scripture I don’t want to hear it. If it contradicts Scripture I don’t want to hear it.
xxvi) Can you imagine standing before God, giving an account of your life, and when He opens up the bible, points to a passage, and asks why you didn’t obey you tell him, “I had a better idea.” Or, “I didn’t think it was possible.”
xxvii) I want to be always ready. I want to fulfill the ministry the Lord has given me. I want to be faithful.
xxviii) I don’t want to enter eternity with a mouth full of excuses. I want to enter eternity with treasure that will last.
xxix) I want people to be saved because of my ministry. I want the saints to be faithful and fruitful because of my ministry.
xxx) And this is not a solo mission.
V) Fulfill the ministry by being honest about your weaknesses
a) The lesson of the Apostle Paul
i) He wanted them to remember his situation but not so he could have their sympathy. Paul never wanted anyone’s sympathy. He never was ashamed of his chains.
ii) Paul wanted their prayers. He wanted them to pray that the gospel would continue to advance in spite of the chains.
iii) He wanted Archippus to stand strong and not wimp out in the face of difficulty.
iv) Can you imagine the excuse Archippus could offer about how hard it is when Paul just reminded him of the chains Paul has endured?
v) God wants you to stand strong and not wimp out in the face of difficulty.
vi) If the Spirit can give the Apostle Paul joy in prison and fruitfulness in prison then the Spirit can give you joy and fruitfulness in your ministry.
vii) Pray constantly for faithfulness and strength. Ask your church family, your friends, and your neighbor to pray for you to be faithful and find strength.
viii) Are you struggling trying to find a way to reach your neighbor and talk about spiritual things? The next time they ask you how things are going simply ask them to pray for the ministry you are involved in.
ix) Be specific and don’t whine.
x) Guys, God is going to do great things in this church; Things some of us have never seen things some of us haven’t seen in a long time.
xi) But we’ve got to watch ourselves and our doctrine.
xii) Are you using the gifts and training God has given? Are you too focused on this world?
xiii) Are you grounded in Scripture? Are you giving ministry your undivided attention? Are you praying?
xiv) God is going to do amazing things here at Mambrino Baptist Church but all of us need to exercise our gifts. We all need to turn our backs on greed, immorality, selfishness, and pride.
xv) We all need to return to the commands and call of God through Scripture. No more excuses.
xvi) We must be always vigilant focused on the ministry God has given us so that we’ll keep on doing what must be done.
xvii) We must all be in prayer for one another. We must pray and we must work.
xviii) And God will do great things through and for His glorious Son, Jesus Christ.
xix) God will use us to display the strength and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Text: Colossians 4:12&13 9/2/07 AM
Intro: In 1 Corinthians 11:2 the Apostle Paul expressed his divine or godly jealousy for the church. Through his preaching and teaching the Apostle had been used by God to join the church to Christ.
The way a father feels jealousy for his daughter and longs to see her realize what is best is the way the Apostle longed to give the church what is best. It’s the way the Apostle longed to show the church the glories of Jesus Christ.
I thank God that over the past three years He has shaped and strengthened my desires so that I want the same things for you.
It is a work of grace in my life that I love you and want to see you stand firm in the glorious truth of Jesus Christ.
God is molding this church to be a powerful tool in His infinitely powerful hand. I am greatly encouraged by our future.
But I am also sober minded about our future. For us to continue on the path of recovering what it means in doctrine and practice to be a New Testament church it will take a great deal of prayer and a great deal of work.
And this is no impossible feat. It has happened before. By God’s grace it will happen again.
In Colossians 4:11&12 the Holy Spirit turns our attention again to Epaphras. We were introduced to Epaphras in Colossians 1.
Epaphras was faithful in prayer and he was faithful to discharge his work on behalf of the church of Jesus Christ.
I pray that God will raise up from among us this morning an army of men and women who will show us and the world what it means to pray and work hard for the Kingdom of God.
Read Colossians 1:3-8 & 4:10-18
I) You must see yourself as a servant
a) Epaphras, one of the church, was a servant of Christ Jesus
i) “A servant of Jesus Christ is one who has been bought with a price and is therefore owned by his Master
ii) A servant is completely dependent on the master, to whom he owes undivided allegiance.
iii) A servant ministers with gladness of heart, in newness of spirit, and in the enjoyment of perfect freedom, receiving from him a glorious reward” (Hendrickson, 191).
iv) Almighty God has purchased us, not so that we can go out and do whatever we want to do.
v) And God has not purchased us with the blood of His Son because he wants to form his own slave labor chain gang.
vi) We were slaves to sin, under the domain of darkness.
vii) We were not in this state against our desires but because we were born at enmity with God.
viii) We did not want to belong to God.
ix) We were lovers of the things of the flesh.
x) True soul satisfying joy is not found by getting your own way and having Jesus there to forgive you.
xi) True soul satisfying joy is being recreated into a person who does God’s will; born again unto joy.
xii) This joy is found in obedience to God.
xiii) Jesus Christ died to make you a joy-filled servant of God. God bought you and made you his own because only those who are purchased by Christ and belong to God taste true joy.
xiv) A servant, slave, or bondservant of God is not some piece of property belonging to a ruthless task master.
xv) A servant of God is a beloved son who has been refitted to taste the deep joy of godly obedience.
xvi) A Christian servant is a person who wants to do the will of another. Knowing he has been purchased, a servant works to accomplish the desires of another.
xvii) Have you been refitted by God so that you want to do what God wants you to do?
xviii) Are you doing what God wants you to do?
xix) Jesus Christ died to make you what God intended for you to be- a man or woman or guy or girl who finds joy in knowing and obeying God.
xx) If that’s not what you are becoming than it is fair to say that you are becoming something that may be morally upright doing the right thing with a clean nose but not a Christian.
xxi) Epaphras was a servant of Christ Jesus. Epaphras was a Christian; are you?
xxii) Epaphras was working for the kingdom boldly proclaiming the gospel; are you?
xxiii) You must be a Christian and you must see the role of a servant as your role in the church.
xxiv) I’m not asking if you’re pulling your weight around here because you feel like you have too.
xxv) I’m asking if you are pulling more than your weight because the Spirit empowers you and joy in Christ drives you to want more for God.
xxvi) Do you want to know where to start?
II) You must wrestle for the church through prayer
a) We must see the Christian life as a war and prayer as a weapon
i) Read verse 12
ii) Epaphras was always laboring fervently in prayer. He was always struggling in prayer.
iii) He was laboring earnestly, he was wrestling in prayer.
iv) When’s the last time you prayed against false teaching and sin with the tenacity of a crazy juiced up wrestler?
v) When’s the last time you prayed for your wife desiring her spiritual maturity and joy the way a Greco-roman wrestler sought the crown of olive leaves?
vi) When’s the last time you prayed for your child that she would be mature in God’s will, not giving up but wrestling through the night like Jacob with the angel of God? Here is a specific prayer request:
b) Pray that the church would stand mature in the will of God
i) Maturity is not something that just happens to us. We may naturally progress in our physical maturity but our spiritual, mental, and emotional maturity can lag far behind.
ii) You’ve seen it in people 20, 30, 40, and even older who continue to act like children. They are prone to throw fits, they are self-centered, and they can only be counted on to do what they want to do.
iii) Physically they appear mature; simply by living this has happened but they have not grown up.
iv) Often this happens in the church. We think by simply living in the church we will mature spiritually.
v) Unfortunately this is not the case. There are so many people in our churches who have been there 20, 30, 40, and more years who by their outward appearances look mature but are inwardly like little children.
vi) They are prone to throw fits, they are self-centered, and they can only be counted on to do what they want to do.
vii) Epaphras had seen this. You have seen this. That is precisely why he and we must pray that the church would stand mature.
viii) We must pray constantly that God would continually raise up a body of grownups.
ix) When we talk about being grownups, complete, mature or perfect in the will of God what are we looking for?
x) Parents, what are you trying to make your children into?
xi) Sunday School teachers what are you trying to make the people God has provided into?
xii) Pastor, what are you working toward?
xiii) Again, let me remind you that in Colossians when we are talking about the will of God we are not talking about God’s will concerning which pair of shoes you wear, who you marry, where you work, or what home you buy.
xiv) Here, we are talking about understanding God’s will concerning the big picture of salvation through Jesus Christ reconciling all things to God through the cross.
xv) When we pray that someone would be mature or complete in the will of God we are praying that he would understand, be devoted to, and work toward the salvation of souls through faith in Christ Jesus.
xvi) We are to stand firm against false teaching by standing on the true teaching of God.
xvii) Epaphras was praying the church would stand up as a mature body for what is right.
xviii) Namely, salvation by grace to be preached to everyone.
xix) We pray for maturity and we
c) Pray that the church would be fully assured in all the will of God
i) Again, this is not fully assured that we chose the right color of paint for the den or the right size tires for the pick up truck.
ii) This is a prayer that the church would be fully convinced concerning God’s great work of salvation so that they would stand firm for God’s great work of salvation.
iii) Full assurance of God’s will is displayed by speaking about and sharing God’s will.
iv) You and I do not witness precisely because we are not fully assured of the gospel’s power to save.
v) It’s not because we are scared or don’t have opportunities but because we don’t believe.
vi) Remember, there were false teachers infiltrating the Colossian church demanding asceticism, angel worship, visions, and all manner of things OTHER THAN holding fast to Jesus Christ.
vii) We are to pray for each other that we would understand and love the preeminence of Christ and the power of the gospel.
viii) We are to pray for each other that we would be fully convinced concerning his deity, his death for sins, and his bodily resurrection from the grave.
ix) We are to be convinced that these things are true and these things are for our salvation.
x) We must pray for this because we are tempted to not believe it. Maybe it’s not true, maybe the church made it all up over the years.
xi) Maybe it’s not enough. Maybe I’m too bad. Maybe God doesn’t love me like he loves other people.
xii) Maybe the Muslims or Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons or Buddhists or Christian Scientists really have the truth.
xiii) Colossians 1:28&29, “him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”
xiv) You must pray hard for the church and
III) You must work hard for the church
Read verse 13
a) Epaphras gave himself for the church
i) He knew that this life is not about me and Jesus. Epaphras knew that this life is not about my family and Jesus.
ii) Epaphras knew that this life is about working hard, being concerned, and being full of zeal for the work of the church.
iii) He did what Aristarchus, Mark, and Justus did: work hard for the kingdom of God.
iv) The Apostle Paul saw Epaphras’ zeal and work ethic for the church. Epaphras sacrificed for the church.
v) This service is always ultimately for Christ but it always involves a specific concern for the church.
vi) Not the physical property but the people who make up the church.
vii) Epaphras prayed hard and this led him to teach the gospel to all the church.
viii) Colossians 1:7 tells us that the people in Colossae learned the gospel from Epaphras.
ix) Apparently Epaphras was some kind of circuit preacher working hard for the church in Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis.
x) When you think of your commitment to Mambrino Baptist Church do you think of hard work?
xi) When you think of your involvement in spreading the gospel to the farthest reaches of Granbury and Glen Rose do you think of great zeal?
xii) When is the last time you worked to provide an opportunity to share the gospel?
xiii) For some reason we’ve adopted this mindset that sharing the gospel is only cold-call stop a stranger and tell them about Jesus.
xiv) Evangelism is that but that is a small portion. What healthy evangelism looks like is a church working together in a community to provide opportunities to share the gospel.
xv) It’s the church working together to impact it’s community with the life changing gospel by getting out there and seeking to change lives.
xvi) It’s Christian workers sharing the gospel with their co-workers. It’s Christians sharing the gospel with their neighbors and working hard to do it.
xvii) What’s sad is how hard we work for everything but the church.
xviii) We’ll work hard to get that dream job. We’ll work hard, we’ll scrimp and save to make the down payment on that house or car we’ve always wanted.
xix) We’ll work hard to buy a pet or a new pair of shoes. We’ll work hard to look important or feel important.
xx) But we won’t lift a finger to do the work of the kingdom.
xxi) Why? Because we are immature instead of mature.
xxii) We are sitting idly instead of standing by ready to work. Why?
xxiii) Because we haven’t seen the glories of Jesus.
xxiv) We do not serve and we do not pray because we do not know Jesus Christ.
xxv) It’s not because we are too busy or too young or too old it’s because we do not know Jesus Christ.
xxvi) You do not know the splendor of the glorious savior of all men; Jesus Christ.
xxvii) That’s the bad news; because of your sins displayed in your selfish desires you are going to hell.
xxviii) The good news is that the Holy Spirit is here working on you changing your heart so that you will believe in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross for you.
xxix) The Holy Spirit is convicting some of you right now concerning your commitment to God and to the things of God.
xxx) The Spirit is here right now pointing those things out to you so that you will deal with them and find joy.
xxxi) If you don’t know how then come and talk to me as we sing or slip me a note on your way out.
xxxii) The most important thing you need to do is pray. You need to cry out to God that he would forgive you and change you into a person who loves to serve Him.
xxxiii) You need to wrestle with God desiring nothing else but to stand fully assured in his perfect work of salvation.
xxxiv) Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.
xxxv) Reach out and cling to Jesus who is the anchor for your soul, the forgiveness of your sins, and the hope of all eternity.
xxxvi) Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. Run to Jesus.
My wife says that I am terrible “movie-picker-outer”. It’s not that the movies that I choose are full of violence or nudity or anything of that sort, it is just that some of my favorites movies tend to lack a few key elements; such as plot, direction, good actors, and so on and so forth. So I was greatly dismayed this week as I did some research on one of the films that I loved as a child.
In 1981 there was a remake of the 1952 classic The Legend of The Lone Ranger. This movie held a great place in my heart. I was 9 years old when I saw it for the first time and one particular scene stuck fast in my mind. But since it had been so long since I saw the film, I decided to go on line to get my facts straight. What I discovered was less than encouraging.
In 1981, the year in which The Legend of The Lone Ranger was released, the movie received two awards. First, it received Worst Actor, for the man who played The Lone Ranger and secondly, it received Worst Film of The Year. This is not the movie I remembered as a nine year old. To me the film was magnificent, one scene in particular.
At one point in the movie Tonto has been captured by the “bad guys” (on false charges I’m sure) and is slated to be hung on the gallows at noon. The day of his trial comes and his best friend, his sidekick, Kemosabe – is no where to be found. Tonto is taken in hand-cuffs to the gallows- still no Lone Ranger. The noose is put around his neck – still no Lone Ranger. And right before the lever is pulled to drop the floor out from under him one gunshot rings out loud as a cannon blast – the silver bullet snaps the rope above Tonto’s head- The William Tell Overture starts -The Lone Ranger and Silver come flying into town as fast as lightening – Tonto leaps from the gallows onto the back of Silver and the two heroes go blazing into the distance! And all the bad guys are standing there, jaws dropped open – saying “Who was that masked man?”
And this is exactly the picture the Apostle Paul paints for us in the book of Colossians. As he writes to the church at Colossae he explains that all of mankind is in the same hopeless situation, with death imminent, as they had been for thousands of years. Until one weekend in A.D 30, when the Son of God who has come from heaven dies on a cross one Friday afternoon and then early that Sunday morning – POW!- all of heaven and earth shake as sin and death are ripped from the clutches of a defeated and humiliated devil.
GOD: BRINGING LIFE OUT OF DEATH (13)
I) Our Condition Apart From God: Dead
a) “And you were dead“, tied back to verse 12; the spiritual described as physical
b) “dead in your transgressions“
i) Sin: actions, your choices
c) “dead in the uncircumcision of your flesh“
i) Sin: nature; bondage to it
ii) “everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34)
(1) Application: How we view people who are apart from Christ
(a) They are not just disinterested, or unaware- but spiritually dead
II) Our Condition In Christ: Alive
a) “He [God] made you alive” [now, spiritually]
b) “made you alive together with Him [Christ]” [looks to the future, physically]
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ
· Notice the importance of “together“: [attachment, dwelling – bus]
o LORD’S SUPPER
· (Colossians 3:3) “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
SIN AND SATAN: OUR TWO GREAT ENEMIES (13d-14)
I) Sin: Our Record Wiped Clean
a) “having forgiven us all our transgressions” and “having cancelled out the certificate of debt“
i) And noticed that our sins/ transgressions are described in these two ways:
(1) “forgiven us“
(2) “canceled out” or (KJV) “blotted out”, erased, removed
ii) It is very important to recognize the word “all“
(1) Application: The devil reminds you of certain sins; unwarranted guilt
· Important: Our sins have not been simply swept under the rug, God would not be just if that was the case.
· Notice the legal terms that are used.
b) Transgressions are described as: “the certificate of debt”
i) [record, or (KJV)”handwriting of ordinances“]
(a) The picture is a written record of our sins [list]
(1) “consisting of decrees against us” [every sin is due a penalty]
(2) “which was hostile to us“
(a) Looming over us as we await death, we live in fear
c) “He has taken it away, having nailed it to the cross” [there is the justice]
i) Our forgiveness came at the expense of the cross.
ii) Our record of debt has been washed clean with the blood of Christ
II) Satan: Disarmed and Humiliated
a) Disarmed: “when He [God] had disarmed the rulers and authorities“
i) Who are the rulers and authorities?
(1) Satan and his demons
(a) John 12:31 – Jesus calls him “the ruler of this world”
(b) 2 Corinthians 4:4 – Paul refers to him as “the god of this age”
(c) Ephesians 2:2 – Paul calls him “the prince of the power of the air”
· Satan has power, but it is limited, for the Christian it is more limited because he has been disarmed!
ii) How did God disarm them? 2 Ways
(1) He took their power away!
14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
· Romans 6:23 “the wages of sin is death“
(2) He gave His people truth: God’s Word
(a) Because Satan’s only power now is the lies he can tell.
(b) Application: Keep God’s Word in front of you, or you will forget it
b) Humiliation: “He [God] made a public display of them [rulers and authorities]“
i) “having triumphed over them through Him [Christ]“
(1) Qriambeusa” – thriambeusas; [Kings returning from war]
· (Acts 1:3) He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.
· (1 Cor 15: 3-8) 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.
I) For the believer, the devil has been disarmed and is left with lies as His only weapon. We need to constantly keep God’s Word before us, so that we do not fall away from the truth and believe a lie.
II) We need to remember that those who are in Christ will enjoy Him together; that is, His church will always have the communion that it does today and one day we will share it with Christ.
III) Those apart from Christ are in the utmost of spiritual peril and our prayers for them need to be prayed with equal fervor.
Learning to be the Church from the Church, part 2
Text: Colossians 4:10&11 8/26/07 AM
Thesis: Every member must pursue endurance, grace, and comfort.
Intro: Turn with me in your bibles to the book of Colossians chapter 4. We have three additional lessons today to learn about the church. We have the lesson of endurance, the lesson of grace, and the lesson of comfort. Let’s learn how to be the church
Read Colossians 4:7-11
I) Aristarchus, a lesson in endurance
a) This fellowship began with sharing the gospel
Acts 20 verse 4 tells us that Aristarchus was from Thessalonica. Acts 17 gives us the brief account of the Apostle Paul’s activities in Thessalonica. From the Old Testament the Apostle explained to those of the synagogue that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead.
But not only did the Apostle explain this to them but he proved the suffering and resurrection of Christ were necessary. This explanation of Christ’s suffering and resurrection is necessary because they explain and prove the payment and defeat of my sin and yours.
So, it’s fair to say if you have not explained the death and resurrection of Christ you have not shared the gospel. Aristarchus heard the gospel, possibly from the Apostle Paul, and he was persuaded; he believed in Jesus the Messiah sent to die for sinners and made alive for righteousness. Aristarchus was changed. Aristarchus was born again, made new, and given a heart of flesh.
Thus began the fellowship between Aristarchus and the Apostle Paul. It was a bond based upon the internal change the gospel had wrought on Paul and Aristarchus.
And this internal change caused some very significant external events.
b) This fellowship endured trials
There was a riot in Ephesus. Aristarchus didn’t get his Jesus fix and then go on with his life; Jesus changed his life. So, Aristarchus begins to travel with the Apostle Paul evangelizing, serving, and worshiping with him. When they arrive at Ephesus they give themselves for two years to the work of spreading the gospel. This was no short-term mission trip. But then trouble comes, Demetrius, a leading businessman/silversmith notices a trend. If people stop worshipping idols and turn to Jesus then they will stop buying silver idols and he’ll be out of work. Demetrius stirs up the whole town. There is a riot and this what happens in Acts 19:29, “So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s companions in travel.”
By God’s grace the crowd is calmed down and after the uproar ceased the missionary team sets out for Jerusalem. Aristarchus and Tychicus, if you remember from last week, were a part of this team. Aristarchus gets roughed up on Ephesus because he’s with Paul. They travel to Jerusalem together and there the Apostle Paul gets arrested. Then there are the trials, death threats, several years spent in prison at Caesarea, a boat ride, ship wreck, and finally Paul arrives as a prisoner in Rome.
If you and I are going to work for the kingdom we must expect trials. Satan is not going to give up with out a fight. When you are faced with trials don’t get frustrated instead rejoice. God will make you more like Christ as you go through those trials. They endured trials.
Their fellowship endured the imprisonment. This is where we find ourselves in Col 4:10. Literally, Aristarchus is Paul’s ‘fellow prisoner of war’. The Apostle Paul used a war term because he understood that the battle between the domain of darkness and the kingdom of God’s beloved Son was war. There had been betrayal, beatings, conversions, miracles, imprisonments, murders, and all manner of struggles and victories.
Paul saw himself as a fellow soldier working alongside Aristarchus for the kingdom of God. They weren’t battling with swords and suicide bombs. They were battling with the gospel and self-denying sacrificial service.
We must return to this mindset today. We are at war not against flesh and blood but against the principalities and powers of this present evil age. Satan knows it’s a battle, Christ died to equip us for battle, but we’re not in the battle.
We’re good at fighting but we fight every battle but the battle for the kingdom of God. There is little to no unity among us precisely because we aren’t fighting the right battle. There was great unity among Paul and Aristarchus precisely because they were fighting the right battle.
Do we see this Christian life as war? Where are you fighting in this community? Where are you going to battle? This is a call to arms. This is a call to unity. Deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Jesus into battle. And there on the battle field you will find your family. You will find the need to endure. The battle will not be won over night.
AWANA doesn’t make mature Christians in a quick bake oven but by endurance it fights the good fight. Sunday School doesn’t give you everything you need to know in kindergarten. You’ve got to commit to fighting for the gospel, sharpening your skills, and growing together as a group over the long haul.
You cannot endure by yourself. You and I need fellow soldiers. We need to link up with people and work with people captivated by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We need endurance; we need what Aristarchus had.
II) Mark, a lesson in grace
a) This fellowship began with desertion
As in the case of Aristarchus the relationship between the Apostle Paul and Mark began in the book of Acts. In Jerusalem, John Mark joined up with his cousin Barnabas and the Apostle Paul. Together they returned to Antioch. It was there in Antioch, while the church was worshipping and fasting, that the Holy Spirit told them to set apart Barnabas and Paul for missionary work. Thus began the first missionary journey of Paul which included Barnabas and John Mark (Acts 13).
It’s was on this first journey in the city of Perga that John Mark abandoned his team. When the going got tough John Mark went home. After some time and at the beginning of the 2nd missionary journey of Paul, he and Barnabas decide to return to the cities and check up on the church. Barnabas wants to take John Mark and the Apostle Paul says, ‘no way!’ Acts 15:39 tells us that there arose a sharp disagreement between these two men and they part ways. Barnabas and Mark head to Cyprus. Paul and Silas head to Syria.
Knowing that the mission work was war, apparently Paul did not want to take a 2nd chance on a quitter. Maybe Mark quit because of the intense persecution. Maybe he quit because it was hard work. Maybe he quit because it wasn’t as glorious as he thought or he got his feelings hurt over something. We have all kinds of reasons for quitting ministry. What’s amazing is that the Holy Spirit has all kinds of ways of restoring us to ministry.
b) This fellowship was restored by grace
In Colossians 4:10 the church is given instructions to welcome John Mark if he comes. In 2nd Timothy 4:11 Paul wrote, “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.” The one whom Paul had rejected early on became a very useful part of the gospel ministry. There is a substantial change between the sharp disagreement of Acts 15 and the statement of affirmation in 2 Timothy 4.
William Hendriksen points to three possible avenues from Scripture that the Holy Spirit used to mature young Mark (188). First, there was the influence of Barnabas who was the very “son of encouragement.”
If you are down on yourself, frustrated, and disappointed with your past the person you want to have around is the ‘son of encouragement.’ I’m sure John Mark would have been tempted to stay at home with his momma. But Barnabas went after him. When the next opportunity came up for mission work Barnabas went right back to John Mark. Learn the lesson here that we need to listen to others and not give up. We also need to learn the lesson here to not give up on people. God is full of grace towards us and we must rely on Christ to make us full of grace towards others. Don’t give up and find someone to encourage.
The first avenue the Spirit used to restore this relationship was the encouragement of Barnabas.
2nd, the Spirit used the sharp rebuke of the Apostle Paul. Proverbs 17:10 says, A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool. Proverbs 28:23 tells us, Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue. Do you think that John Mark ever told himself that he didn’t want to be a quitter? Do you think that the disagreement between Barnabas and Paul taught John Mark a lesson? We must never go around looking for ways to discourage. Instead, we must look constantly for ways to help each other in this battle. If someone is doing something foolish a rebuke is necessary. The Holy Spirit uses rebukes.
3rd, the influence of the Apostle Peter would have been great on John Mark because Peter was himself guilty of disloyalty and cowardice. In 1 Peter 5:13 the Apostle Peter calls Mark his son. I am sure that there would have been times when Mark talked to his spiritual father about desertion. The lessons Peter learned from the very mouth of Christ would have been soothing to Mark’s convicted soul.
Don’t be afraid to share what you have learned from your mistakes and sins. Never glory in your sins or glamorize them. But if God can use them to prevent the same in another person or to restore someone who has done the same thing then for the glory of the Lord share what you know. Unfortunately we must learn to be gracious with each other; being gracious doesn’t come naturally. The basis for giving grace to each other must be the sure fact that God has given us grace. If you are having trouble being gracious the cure is to meditate on God’s grace. Memorize Ephesians 2:1-10 and think about God’s grace constantly.
If this church is going to move forward we must be committed to the long haul with endurance, we must be committed to offering each other grace, and we must learn the lesson of
III) Justus, a lesson in giving comfort
Read verse 11
a) This fellowship began at birth
Justus, Mark, and Aristarchus made up the Jewish cohort who stuck by the Apostle Paul. Their backgrounds were the same having grown up in Jewish homes, going to synagogue, and memorizing the law. But it wasn’t the fact that they were from the same place and had the same upbringing that kept them together. There were others out there whom Paul had crossed paths with; there were others of the circumcision that Paul had met along the way.
But these three were the only ones who stuck it out
b) This fellowship was characterized by working together
These men gave their lives so that they could work for the kingdom of God. They sacrificed so that others, no matter their backgrounds, could hear the saving message of Jesus Christ. If by faith you have died with Christ then your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Col 4:3&4). The kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God over His creation. The Christian experiences it right now because of what Christ has purchased for us. The Christian experiences it right now because we are in Christ. We are right now a part of the kingdom.
They proclaimed and lived the message that Jesus saves and God rules over all. They worked to make this known by the words they spoke and the lives they lived.
We must work to show the world the glories of the kingdom of God. We must show the world that it is better to be a redeemed soldier in God’s army than it is to be an army of me making my own decisions. These men worked together for the kingdom. What are you working for? Again, are you working alone?
c) Lastly, this fellowship brought the Apostle comfort
No wife, no children, no permanent home, always starting new churches, always on the run, always under attack. I’m sure the Apostle Paul welcomed the comfort these men provided him. Wuest in his word study says these men were a “solace, relief, alleviation, consolation, encouragement.” They were a medicine for Paul.
When ministry gets sacrificial, and it gets that way quickly, what is often needed is comfort. These Jews knew first hand what it was to be rejected by their kinsmen as traitors. Perhaps friends they had gone to school and synagogue with were now their deepest enemies. Hopes they had, Saul had been an up and coming star among the Jews, hopes like these were all gone. Because of Christ Paul had traded the best seat in the synagogue for chains in prison. These men encouraged Paul; they comforted him.
Let me close with this question- who are you encouraging in this church as they seek to advance the kingdom of God?
Satan and sin make ministry hard enough. We don’t need the church, our brothers and sisters, adding fuel to the opposition.
When’s the last time you wrote a note of encouragement to your Sunday School teacher? When’s the last time you wrote a thank you note to someone for a visit, a gift, or a special word of comfort? All of these things are good: endurance, grace, and comfort. But all of these things are impossible without Jesus Christ. In order to persevere in ministry, in order to go from a quitter to a finisher, in order to be a comfort instead of a discouragement we all need Jesus Christ. We need him to cleanse our sins. We need Him to satisfy our desires. We need Him to decide our plans. Let’s cry out to Christ who alone will make us useful. Let’s hope in Christ who alone will make us fruitful.
Let’s have faith and move forward.