In January, we began a new preaching series through the book of Colossians. I love the letters Paul writes to the New Testament churches because though each of these churches face distinct and unique challenges, Paul determines to present Christ over and over again as our treasure and focus. This is especially the case in the book of Colossians. We are not certain on the source or precise issue among these Colossian believers, but what we do know is this: they need to see the glory and sufficiency of Christ to endure it.
One of our most recent sermons came from Colossians 1:24-29 where Paul explains some of the nature of his ministry to Christ’s church. This was sermon number 6 in the series at Grace Harbor and might have been my favorite to preach. I’ll explain why.
Grace Harbor is a little less than three years old. What we are already beginning to sense and witness here is a movement of the spirit of God among the hearts of our people to serve him with tenacity and passion. Some who are called to the ministry of preaching, others to the ministry of either going to the nations or being faithful senders, and others taking seriously the calling of God on all of us to live faithfully in the place he has us.
My encouragement to our people during this sermon is that this world does not need less people stepping wholeheartedly into this calling, but more! Our prayer from the early days is that this would happen, and we are seeing it. This encouragement also came with explaining the price that comes with faithful ministry to Christ. Here’s what we discovered from the text:
- Faithful ministry will involve suffering. There is really not a way around this. Sometimes we live with a preservation mentality as we serve the Lord, doing what we can to avoid pain and heartache. The early church counted it a high privilege to suffer for the name of Christ(Acts 5:41). All that is needed is an honest look of 2,000+ years of Gospel propagation to see that suffering and sacrifice is a key element to Gospel propagation. From the apostles in the early church, to the 21 Egyptian Christians beheaded on a beach in Libya five years ago this week, we are fundamentally “people of the cross.”
- Faithful Ministry will involve stewardship/shifted priorities. Our ministry is given to us by God in order that we would be good stewards for God. Our primary stewardship deals with the message we share that “Jesus is King!” This message we have been given to steward must be declared. In order for faithfulness here, a shifting of priorities is necessary. Do the priorities in our life prevent us from: being hospitable? sharing the Gospel? having conversations? studying the word for ourselves and experiencing its transformation? All of us will give an account to God for what he has entrusted to us.
- Faithful ministry will involve proclamation. If Jesus really is all that he says he is and all that Paul declares him to be in Colossians 1, we MUST proclaim him! Paul goes onto to share though where proclamation is often cultivated within the church: through warning and teaching. We call others to repent of their sin, as well as continually teach the truth of the Gospel. I shared with our people that it is not only a responsibility to turn from our sin, but a privilege! How gracious is God to free us from the weight of sin. Paul follows this up with a “how” and a “what”. We warn and teach with wisdom. If we understand knowledge as the obtaining of information, we should understand wisdom as how we apply what we have obtained. Paul goes on to help us apply the realities of the Gospel to topics such as race(3:11), forgiveness(3:13), anxiety(3:15), and everything(3:17). The “what” that this proaction necessary produces is “maturity in Christ.” The Gospel is for unbelievers and believers. We don’t outgrow Jesus but only grow deeper into him. This is wonderful news for us. The power of God does not lay stale, but transforms!
- Faithful ministry will involve power. Not power found in ourselves but in Christ. It is important for us to know that ministry is exhausting. Many guys my age(including myself at times) default to laziness and apathy in ministry. But it is a strenuous, laborious work. This chapter doesn’t end with Paul highlighting his own toil, but with the sufficiency of Christ. God is empowering and emboldening us for the work he has prepared for us.
Listen to audio from this sermon here.