Christ in you the Hope of Glory
Col. 1:24 – 29
Mysteries are intriguing and if the look at the books, movies, television series, mysteries is one of the things people are interested. The Bible is full of mysteries. Sometimes questions that our finite minds will never be able to fathom and we just have to accept it by faith. Colossians 1: 24 according to my research maybe the most difficult verse to explain in this Epistle. But there is another verse that may be more difficult not only to understand but to accept.
I. Makes you rejoice even in the midst of suffering. (v. 24)
A. Paul suffered in preaching the gospel. He was rejected, physically abused, suffered hunger and thirst, thrown in jail, yet he viewed his suffering as a privilege and honor.
B. One of the dangers in serving the Lord is people. There will be gossipers, backbiters, bullies, and there will be people who will take advantage of you, despise you and look down at you. This comes not only from within the church but also from without, from unbelievers.
C. Some says that you need thick skin and a thick face to stay in the ministry. But people have different areas of sensitivity. No one is really immune to emotional pain that will be inflicted to God’s servants.
D. How then can Paul and faithful servants of the Lord continue and hold on? They live a spirit filled life. No one can stay in the ministry unless he or she lives the Spirit filled life. No matter what problem may come, they still can “rejoice” in suffering for the gospel. There is joy unspeakable in serving Christ and others which no money in the world can buy and no human applause or praise can match.
E. Sufferings develop character. It makes us grow in grace (2 Cor. 12:9, 10). Sufferings makes us mature faster.
According to the latest poll 97 % of pastors have been betrayed, falsely accused by their trusted friends, 70% of pastors suffers depression, 50% of pastor’s marriage ends in divorce, 1500 pastors quit each month, 80% of pastors feel discouraged, 94 % of pastor’s family feel the pressure of the ministry, 78% of pastors have no close friends, 10% will retire a pastor, 90% of pastors work 55-75 hours per week. Pray for your Pastor.
F. What then is the “fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ”? This does not mean that Paul has to endure the sufferings of Christ for the salvation of man (1 Tim. 2:5-6, Rev. 1:5). The suffering of Christ upon the cross was totally sufficient for salvation. (Jn. 19:30), and it’s once and for all (Heb. 10:10, 9:26). No human can ever have a share for that. The Roman Catholics belief that their sufferings can somehow alleviate the suffering of Christ in the cross is a very big mistake it is unscriptural!
G. The suffering here that Paul is telling is about suffering for righteousness sake, suffering for serving Christ. . When Paul was converted, he was told that he would suffer great things for Christ’s sake (Ac 9:16). These sufferings were appointed by God to Paul. (Col 1:25). These sufferings which Christ has assigned to him were called “afflictions of Christ” because it came from Christ. Like Paul, every Christian, is appointed to suffer for Christ’s sake (2 Ti. 3:11-12). The preaching of the Gospel and the uncompromised stand for God’s Word will always bring suffering in this present evil world. The unsaved are at enmity against God; they are at war with God spiritually. Are you willing to suffer also for Christ’s sake and for the sake of the church? Are you more concerned of what the world will think of you than the ministry or mission that God has given you?
H. Paul was faithful to the ministry God has given him (v. 25). In obeying the Lord’s command we only need to be faithful not popular or famous.
I. The fact is that the more suffering we have the more glory we will receive in the future (2 Cor. 4:17). Christians who suffer more to serve Him will be more blessed. We will never know the reason why we suffer until we get to heaven. The Church as a whole cannot arrive at perfection till it has gone through suffering.
II. Mystery hidden from ages (v. 26)
A. A biblical mystery is a sacred secret previously kept from man in the OT but revealed in the NT. I see two mysteries here:
1. The mystery of the body of Christ, the church, which would be composed of saved Jews and Gentiles (Col. 4:3, Rom. 16:25, Eph. 3:1-12, 6:19)
2. The mystery of the indwelling Christ (Col. 1:27, Gal. 2:20)
B. Why God did chose to hide these glorious truths from the OT prophets and saints? We will never know the reason now but we believe that God knows best, even when we do not know why He does as He does. The fact is God did not reveal it to wise men, philosophers, religious leaders, military generals, economists, instead he revealed it to his saints—to shepherds, fishermen, tax collectors, tent makers, to slaves, to the lowly even babes. (Lk. 10:21, 1 Cor. 1:26-29).
C. Christ now indwells both Gentiles and the Jews. They are in Christ and Christ is in them (Rom. 8:10, 2 Cor. 13:5).
D. The hope of glory is primarily the hope of glory in the life to come. (Rom. 8:18, 1 Cor. 15:42-43, Rev. 21:23). There is only one guarantee: Christ in you.
E. Christ in you not only guarantees heaven but also gives us the following as written by Wilbur Fields:
1. Glorious power to live a godly life
2. Glorious power to work victoriously
3. Glorious joy available
4. Glorious peace for your soul
5. Glorious comfort in troubles
6. Glorious victory over death
7. Glorious eternal life with God.
III. Preached as a warning (v. 28).
A. Christ was preached to the known world during the time of Paul
B. This preaching was not just to make converts or for salvation of sinners but also for admonitions or warnings because of heresy that is spreading. False teachings as well as false teachers must be exposed.
C. The goal of Paul’s preaching was that he might present every man believers or saved perfect in Christ. This is the goal of Jesus Christ also. (Col. 1:22)
D. Perfect is a term for maturity or completeness in growth. Paul wanted to present people under his charge to figuratively stand before God mature in their daily walk.
E. Paul describes his work for the Lord “striving”. He is struggling with difficulties and dangers. The fact is there are enemies to be fought and defeated.
F. Paul was able to strive against all difficulties because Christ helped him. Phil. 4:13. We too can expect help because it was promised by the Lord and He fulfils all His promises.
We can rejoice even in the midst of suffering. The mystery that has been hidden in ages is the truth that Christ will be in us. This has been preached by Paul and despite of all the opposition, he was able to do it because Christ Himself helped Him. Are you willing to strive also for the Lord? If you do you will be able to make it because Christ is in you, our hope in glory.
Preached: 03 March 2013