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Why Are You A Disciple-Maker?

Colossians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:02:32
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If you had to come up with three words that would characterize your day as a parent of children, what would those words be? Think about a typical day of raising kids. Now give me three words that encapsulate your day.
In Colossians 1:24-29 we find three words that encapsulate or perfectly describe what it was like for the Apostle Paul to be a disciple-maker. These words typify his experience of living for the spread and growth of the gospel.
Colossians 1:24 KJV 1900
24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you
Colossians 1:29 KJV 1900
29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.
Whereunto I also labour, striving
You want to know what Paul’s life was like in fulfilling his ministry of the gospel?
Sufferings, Labors, Striving
Sufferings / Misfortunes
2 Corinthians 1:8 KJV 1900
8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:
Labors- to exert oneself physically, mentally, or spiritually, work hard, toil, strive, struggle
1 Corinthians 4:10–12 KJV 1900
10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. 11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; 12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
Striving- ἀγωνίζομαι from which we get our English word agonize. It has the idea of fighting or struggling for something.
1 Timothy 4:10 KJV 1900
10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
Colossians 4:12 KJV 1900
12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
Illustration: NBA finals- most people do not enjoy watching the regular season of the NBA. Most of the games it is as if the players are just “going through the motions.” There is no heart, or struggle to the game. This is not the case when you get to the playoffs, and especially when you get to the finals. Every single player is fighting, they are struggling, they are agonizing with every drop of sweat they have in order to win a championship.
This was Paul’s experience in his ministry of the gospel. It involved intense misfortunes or sufferings, it involved extreme exertion or labors, and it involved agonizing or striving in order to be an effective disciple-maker. We could say it this way. Paul had a passion for making disciples!
Paul wanted these Colossian believers to understand his passion for being a disciple-maker.
Believers, I say to you, you must also develop a passion in you life for being a disciple-maker.
The question is why? Why would Paul choose to live a life characterized by sufferings, labours, and striving?
I believe Paul gives us two motivations that must drive us if we are to be passionate about being disciple-makers.

Motivation #1- The passion for being a disciple-maker comes from a willingness to bear our part in the sufferings of Christ

Colossians 1:24 KJV 1900
24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:

A. Paul’s attitude

24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you,
*24 Νῦν χαίρω ἐν τοῖς παθήμασιν* ⸆ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν
Now I am rejoicing in my sufferings for your sakes
In Col. 1.3-8 Paul thanked God for the genuineness of the Colossians faith as evidenced by their love.
In Col 1.9-11 Paul prayed for the Colossians that they might obtain Christlike Maturity.
In Col. 1:15-23 Paul turned to dust the idea that someone could grow spiritually apart from Jesus Christ. Jesus is supreme, he is preeminent. And Christ must come to have first place in believer’s lives.
Now in Col 1:24-29 Paul wants these Colossians believers to grasp his passion for the gospel- for being a disciple-maker. And in order to do that Paul describes for them his attitude in his ministry. Paul was continually rejoicing. His ministry toward the gospel was a joy for Paul. But noticed what he rejoiced in. Paul rejoice in sufferings / misfortunes as we have already talked about. Why is this Paul’s attitude? I don’t think it is because Paul enjoyed suffering, or pain, or heartaches. Why would Paul continually rejoice as he experiences suffering?
“If ever I have been disposed to repine at my lot, if ever I have felt my cross almost too heavy to bear, yet now-now, when I contemplate the lavish wealth of God’s mercy—now when I see all the glory of bearing a part in this magnificient work—my sorrow is turned to joy!” (Lightfoot)

B. Paul’s recognition

24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you,
*24 Νῦν χαίρω ἐν τοῖς παθήμασιν* ⸆ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν
Now I am rejoicing in my sufferings for your sakes
Paul recognized that his suffering in his ministry of the gospel was for the sake of the believers in the Colossian church.
How can that be? We know that Paul did not start the church in Colossae. We also know that the believers have never even seen Paul’s face.
Colossians 2:1 KJV 1900
1 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;
So if Paul had never even been to Colossae, and had never even seen these believer’s face to face how can it be possible for Paul’s suffering to be for their sakes?

C. Paul’s theology

Colossians 1:24 KJV 1900
24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:
καὶ ἀνταναπληρῶ τὰ ὑστερήματα τῶν θλίψεων τοῦ Χριστοῦ
and I am filling up the lack of what is needed of Christ’s afflictions
The second half of v.24 is a difficult passage of Scripture to understand. There are a myriad of various viewpoints of what Paul is talking about here.
One of the major sources of confusion is the word that Paul uses here, to “fill up.”
This is the only time this word is used in the NT and it is somewhat difficult to be certain of what Paul meant.
This is a compound Greek word. ἀνταναπληρόω- is a double compound, made up of two prepositions (anti and ana) plus the verb plēroō (“fill,” “fulfill”)
I believe this word takes on this sense- to take one’s turn in fulling up something, to fill up on one’s part, to supplement.
Translate= I am filling up in order to complete
What is Paul filling upon in order to complete?
KJV- “that which is behind.”
Behind- ὑστέρημα- the lack of what is needed or desirable, freq. in contrast to abundance
1 Corinthians 16:17 KJV 1900
17 I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied.
2 Corinthians 11:9 KJV 1900
9 And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.
So Paul is filling up in order to make complete “that which is lacking”
What is lacking that Paul need to fill up?
The text states it is- “the afflictions of Christ.”
In what sense are the afflictions of Christ lacking something?
First, let’s talking about what it does not mean.
“It is not that there is anything lacking “in” the atoning suffering of Christ.” (Moo)
“The sufferings of Christ may be considered from two different points of view… They have their sacrificial efficacy, and they have their ministerial utility.” (Lightfoot)
“The Passion of Christ was the one full perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. In this sense there could be no “lacking” of Christ’s sufferings.” (Lightfoot)
“The difference may even be suggested in the vocabulary that Paul uses, since he shifts from “sufferings” (Gk. pathēma) to “afflictions” (Gk. thlipsis), this latter word never being used in the New Testament for Christ’s redemptive sufferings.” (Moo)
Second, so what does Paul mean when he talks about what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ.
“It is not that there is anything lacking “in” the atoning suffering of Christ but that there is something lacking “in regard to” (TNIV) the tribulations that pertain to Christ as the Messiah as he is proclaimed in the world.” (Moo)
I like the way J.B. Lightfoot states it (1879).
“The point of the Apostle’s boast is that Christ the sinless Master should have left something for Paul the unworthy servant to suffer.”

take one’s turn in filling up someth. (for the reciprocal force of ἀντί cp. Xen., Hell. 2, 4, 11 and 12 ἐμπίπλημι … ἀντεμπίπλημι one group of soldiers fills a road, and a second group forms another line)

So there are two groups of soldiers, and one group takes their turn filling up the road, while the other group forms up an additional life of defense.
Christ has already endured sufferings for our sake. Paul has already made this point to the Colossians.
Colossians 1:20–22 KJV 1900
20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
Christ has already suffering on our behalf, by shedding His blood, in the body of his flesh through death, in order to reconcile us to God. In this kind of suffering there is nothing lacking. Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient to wash away all of our sins. He alone made it possible for us, who were God’s enemies, to have peace. When Christ gave His life on the cross of Calvary, before He gave up His spirit, He cried out, “It is finished.” There is nothing lacking in this kind of suffering.
But, that does not mean that Christ did not leave behind for us as believers, sufferings / tribulations to endure for the sake of His body, that is the church.
2 Corinthians 1:5 KJV 1900
5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
Here Paul says the sufferings of Christ abounded / overflowed to us.
There is a sense in which it is quite legitimate to speak of Christ’s afflictions as incomplete, a sense in which they may be, and indeed must be, supplemented.
From the point of view that Christ’s sufferings have ministerial utility it is a simple matter of fact that the afflictions of every saint and martyr do supplement the afflictions of Christ. The Church is built up by repeated acts of self-denial in successive individuals and successive generations. They continue the work which Christ began. They bear their part in the sufferings of Christ.
Christ is the cornerstone, the foundation of the church. His sufferings provide the means of our salvation. But, Christ left for us a commission. We call it the great commission. We are to go into all the world and make disciples. In order for Paul to do that- and he was called specifically to go to the Gentiles and make disciples- in order for Paul to start church, see people saved, disciple them unto Christ-like maturity- there were sufferings that he must endure. He must face tribulations in order to be a disciple-maker. Paul says to these Colossian believers, I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake? Why? Because Paul was taking his turn filling up what was lacking of the sufferings of Christ. Christ had left behind somethings for Paul to suffer. If Christ had remained on this earth, He would have had to suffer these things in order to make disciples. Paul is filling up, he is supplementing the sufferings of Christ- and he is doing so willingly. The idea is, “Christ you have suffered so much for me- it is my privileged, my honor to suffer for you. I will take my turn in filling up / supplementing you sufferings- for the sake of YOUR body- the church. This is Paul’s motivation. This is not a set of rules and regulations for him to follow, it is not his duty. Paul is a disciple-maker because of his relationship to Christ. Christ has already suffered for him, how could Paul do anything less in return?
2 Corinthians 1:3–7 KJV 1900
3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. 6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7 And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.
2 Corinthians 4:8–12 KJV 1900
8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
2 Corinthians 4:15 KJV 1900
15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
Paul says, I rejoice in my sufferings because they are for your sake Colossians- in this way, “I am filling up in order to complete” what is lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of HIS body, that is the church.
This being so, Paul does not mean to say that his own sufferings filled up all of that which was lacking, but only they went towards filling them up. The lacking of Christ’s suffering will never be fully supplemented, until the struggle of the Church with sin and unbelief is brought to a close.
Illustration: Tim Smith- filling up what is lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions. He is willing to bear the tribulations of Christ that are necessary in order to make disciples in Central Asia. If the gospel is going to reach Muslim men and women and if churches are going to be planted and if those people are to grow unto Christlike maturity- it is necessary for Tim to take his turn in filling up / in supplementing the afflictions of Christ. But he does so willingly, and even with joy because he realizes all that Christ has done for Him, all that Christ has suffered in securing his salvation, and he gladly endures the sufferings left for him by Christ. In a very real sense those sufferings are for the sake of the believers in Central Asia, but they are also effective for you believer. Are you not encouraged, challenges, blessed to be a part of that ministry as you hear of the work that is going on there?
What is your motivation for being a disciple-maker? Why are you a disciple-maker?
This question assumes that you are one. That you have a desire to be one, that you are looking to turn every conversation toward the gospel of Christ. That you are passionate about replicating yourself / what you have been taught in the lives of others. Why would you do this?
Why would you make yourself uncomfortable in order to ask you coworker if they know that if they died today whether they would go to heaven or hell? Why would you take time out of your busy schedule to have a bible study with someone? Why would you willingly suffer persecution by our world in order to follow Christ? Why would you believer suffer, labor, and strive for the sake of the gospel?
Some might answer, “because it is my duty.”
We sing the song, “Rescue the perishing, duty demands it.”
I don’t think that is the right motivation. I don’t think Paul would answer this way.
Colossians 2:20–21 KJV 1900
20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not;
In other words, following a list of rules and regulations is not proper motivation- it will not produce spiritual growth and Christlike maturity.
What is Paul’s answer? I suffer, labor, and strive to be a disciple-maker, because I understand all that Christ has suffered for me, and out of love for Him, I willingly bear my part in the sufferings of Christ.
Folks, why are you a disciple-maker?

Motivation# 2- The passion for being a disciple-maker comes from an awe that God has chosen you to be a servant of the mystery of the gospel

Colossians 1:25 KJV 1900
25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;

A. Paul’s Function

25 Whereof I am made a minister,
25 ἧς ἐγενόμην ἐγὼ διάκονος
Of which I myself became a servant/minister
Paul calls himself a διάκονος, we get our English word deacon from this term. Paul is not labeling himself as a deacon in terms of its role in a church. Rather, Paul is saying I am a servant or a minister of the mystery of the gospel. That is lit. what διάκονος means.
according to the dispensation of God
κατὰ τὴν οἰκονομίαν τοῦ θεοῦ
according to the stewardship of God
Paul is a servant with reference to the dispensation/οἰκονομίαν (economy) of God. That is Paul is a servant of the gospel with reference to this current economy or dispensation of God- that is the dispensation of Grace- where God functions through the church bringing together both Jew and Gentile by means of the blood of Christ.
which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι εἰς ὑμᾶς
that was given to me for you
πληρῶσαι τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ,*
to bring to completion[1] the word of God,
Paul states that this privilege was given to him by God. And what was Paul’s function? To fulfill the word of God.
Fulfill- πληρόω- same root word as in v. 24. To fill, or fulfill- to bring to completion that which was already begun.
Colossians 4:12 KJV 1900
12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
Paul states, I am awed that God chose me, and I have the privilege of being God’s servant in this dispensation of God’s plan- to bring to completion the word of God.
What does Paul mean by this- fulfilling or bring to completion the word of God?

B. Paul’s Focus

Colossians 1:26 KJV 1900
26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
V. 26-27 is an explanation of what it means that Paul fulfills the word of God.
The word of God Paul equates with:
the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
What is the biblical idea of a mystery? This is not a Sherlock Holmes mystery, the biblical idea is something that is revealed in the NT that was previously unknown in the OT.
Paul, states I bring to completion the word of God, in that I am part of the mystery of the word of God.
What is the mystery?
Colossians 1:27 KJV 1900
27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
This mystery, the riches of the glory of this mystery, is Christ in you, the hope of glory- and specifically it is Christ among the Gentiles.
There are hints in the OT that God would include the Gentiles in His plan of salvation, but no where will you find the specific details of how God would do that.
Ephesians 2:13–16 KJV 1900
13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
Jew and Gentile together in one new body- the church. And all of this is possible because of the blood of Christ. This has been the grand plan of God throughout the ages. And Paul is saying, I am awed, I am privileged to be a part of this grand marvelous plan of God. I am servant of the mystery of the gospel. I get to be part of fulfilling God’s Word, of bringing to completion God’s plan. What did that specifically look like in the life of Paul?
Colossians 1:28 KJV 1900
28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
V. 28 you could bottle and market as the very essence of being a disciple-maker. This is what Paul actually did to bring to completion the word of God, this is how Paul took part in the grand mystery of the gospel of God.
Whom we preach- I proclaim Christ (giving the gospel)
Warning every man- admonishing everyone
and Teaching every man in all wisdom- (disciple people- replicate in them what you have been taught yourself, admonish them and teach them what it means to be in Christ)
Notice Paul’s purpose or his goal-
that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
ἵνα παραστήσωμεν πάντα ἄνθρωπον τέλειον ἐν Χριστῷ⸆·*
that we might present everyone mature in Christ
This was Paul’s heart, this is what it meant for Paul to be a servant, chosen by God, to be a part of they mystery of the gospel- he proclaimed Christ, He admonished and taught people- in order that he might present them mature in Christ.
“To present”-
Colossians 1:22 KJV 1900
22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
Christ, through His blood, presents you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in the sight of God.
Paul says, I am awed that God has allowed me the chance to suffer, labor, and strive in people’s lives so that I can be a part of the mystery of the gospel, the grand plan of God in the gospel, and that means I can present / I can have a small part to make them to be mature believers to Christ one day.

C. Paul’s Faithfulness

Colossians 1:29 KJV 1900
29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.
29 εἰς ὃ καὶ κοπιῶ ἀγωνιζόμενος
And unto this I am working hard, constantly striving
κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν αὐτοῦ
in accordance with His energy
τὴν ἐνεργουμένην ἐν ἐμοὶ
that He works in me
ἐν δυνάμει.
in power.
Paul says this is my motivation, this is why I am a disciple-maker. This is why I continually work hard and constantly strive- not according to my own strength, but with God’s energy, that he energizes me in His power.
Folks, the passion for being a disciple-maker comes from an awe that God has chosen you to be a servant of the mystery of the gospel.
Illustration: Being part of the Madrigal choir. I didn’t realize how special it was to be a part of a group like that until I it was over. I remember singing in a church in either Michigan or Ohio, and it was like the octagon church, and the acoustics were really crazy- echoing all over the places- not the best for carrying on a conversation or preaching for that matter, but to sing in the auditorium with 50 other voices- to be a part of the majestic sound of Jesus Paid it All was awesome.
Folks, you have the privilege to be a servant, chosen by God, to bring to completion the grand plan of God, they mystery of the gospel, being a disciple-maker, proclaiming Christ, admonishing and teaching believers, to have a small part in presenting them mature in Christ. That is awesome. That ought to be our motivation for being disciple-makers.
Are you a disciple-maker?
Why are you a disciple-maker? And what is going to motivate you to be the kind of disciple-maker that God wants you to be?
What is going to give you a passion for making disciples?
The passion for being a disciple-maker comes from a willingness to bear our part in the sufferings of Christ
The passion for being a disciple-maker comes from an awe that God has chosen you to be a servant of the mystery of the gospel
With this proper motivation I urge you, Faith Baptist church, to suffer, labor, and strive for the sake of the gospel.
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