Colossians 1:24-29 ESV
“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, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them 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. 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.”
Ministers of the Gospel of Christ
We, as followers of Jesus Christ, are all to be ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. For we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a people for God’s own possession, that we should proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. And we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, and we are to make disciples of Christ of people of all nations, teaching them to obey our Lord’s commandments (New Covenant).
[1 Pet. 2:9; 1 Pet. 2:21; Matt. 5:13-16; Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Acts 26:18; Rom. 10:14-15; Jn. 4:31-38; Jn. 13:13-17; Jn. 14:12; 1 Jn. 2:6]
And when we are taking the gospel to the ends of the earth, and when we are making disciples of Christ of people throughout the world, and when we are teaching the truth of the gospel in its fulness, that Jesus Christ died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness (1 Peter 2:24), we will suffer for the sake of the gospel, and for the sake of the name of Jesus, and for the sake of righteousness.
But our suffering will also be for the sake of the body of Christ, his church. For part of making disciples of Christ of people is speaking words of exhortation, holy urging, and encouragement to the body of believers in Jesus Christ for their edification, and for their spiritual growth. And this involves utilizing the Spiritual gifts we have been given by the Spirit in the areas of ministry assigned to us by God within the body of Christ.
[Rom 12:1-8; 1 Co 12:1-31; Eph 4:1-16; Eph 5:17-21; Col 3:16; Heb 3:13]
Suffering for Righteousness’ Sake
So, what brings about this suffering? Mostly it has to do with opposition, which Jesus faced much of, and which we will face, too, if we are following in his footsteps, and if we are doing and saying the kinds of things that Jesus did and said. And much of that opposition may come from within the gatherings of what is called “church,” because so much of what is called “church” are really businesses of men being marketed to the world.
And since they are marketing these “churches” to the world, they have altered what it means to be the church, the body of Christ, to where “church” is now regarded as institutions of men, and businesses, and buildings, and church denominations, and corporations of the state (state churches). And they are run like businesses, and they are patterning their gatherings after what will attract the world to their gatherings.
Thus, they have also altered the gospel of Jesus Christ to make it more palatable to the world, and so many of them have completely removed God’s requirements for repentance, obedience, and submission to him as Lord as part of our faith which saves. And they are teaching that all we have to do is “believe” (not defined) in Jesus, our sins are forgiven, and now heaven is guaranteed us when we die regardless of how we live on this earth.
Thus, if you are teaching that by faith in Jesus Christ we die with Christ to sin and we are raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness, and that obedience to our Lord is required for salvation, for faith is obedience, then in today’s Christian culture here in America, you will be persecuted. You will be despised and rejected and opposed and ignored and shunned because you teach truth.
[Rom 5:3-5; Phil 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; Matt 5:10-12; Lu 21:12-19; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12; Jn 15:1-11]
For This I Toil
Sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with others and ministering to the body of Christ in the many ways taught to us in Scripture that we are to do, they take time and effort on our part. Now, the effort is not to be in our own flesh. We don’t work for the Lord in our own flesh, in our own strength and wisdom, according to our own way of thinking and reasoning. We must be led by the Spirit of God, operating in the power and wisdom of God who lives within us, and according to his plan and purpose.
We are the Lord’s servants, and thus we listen to his instructions to us, and we do what he says. And what he says isn’t just in his written word, for we have been given the Holy Spirit living within us to teach us all things and to counsel, encourage, urge, rebuke, and lead us in the way God has for us to go. But whatever we believe is coming from the Spirit of God must not contradict the Scriptures and the divine nature of God. For example, the fruit of the Spirit is self-control (one of the qualities), so the Spirit is not going to cause us to be out-of-control.
But the Holy Spirit may wake us in the middle of the night so that we will pray for someone or so that we will write something to someone or to post on the internet. So, sometimes when you can’t sleep, ask the Lord if there is something he has for you to do in that time. And since the gifts of the Spirit are of the Spirit, then they need to be operated in the Spirit. So if our gift is teaching, we should be teaching as led by the Spirit and not by our flesh.
The main thing about all of this is that none of this should be done in our flesh, of our own thinking and reasoning. But we should all be being led of the Spirit of God and we should be following the Lord wherever he leads us and to saying whatever he wants us to say to whom and when. This all comes down to us surrendering our lives to Jesus Christ and then following him in obedience to his will for our lives, and then he gets all the glory.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 8:51; Jn 14:15-24; Jn 15:10; Matt 7:21-23; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10,24; 1 Jn 5:2-3; 2 Jn 1:6; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:16; Heb 5:9; 1 Pet 1:1-2; Jas 1:21-25; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Php 2:12-13]
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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