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The Ministry of the Gospel

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A look at the ministry of the gospel.

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Every believer has a mission from God. That mission in some way involves sharing the gospel with other people. After taking time to make sure that the Colossians understood the basics of the good news, Paul shifts his focus to his own ministry to them and others in the region. Paul was a missionary and we too are called to be missionaries. Everything that we study about tonight that Paul was doing, we should be doing as well in the context of the calling that God gives us.
Read text. Pray.

1. Paul’s suffering because of his calling (v.24)

How many of us would say that we rejoice in our sufferings? You have to really have convictions to suffer for something. In fact, I have actually heard some people say that one the reasons we are having such a hard time with the opioid epidemic in this country is because people do not want to have any pain at all.
Well, it’s one thing to suffer in pain, but what we are talking about here is suffering under persecution. Paul experienced many hardships in his calling as an apostle. Paul was the man who was persecuting Christians. In the Book of Acts, we learn that Paul had somehow obtained a copy of a church membership role and was going from house to house persecuting Christians. He was the one who held the cloaks of those who stoned Stephen. This was a place of authority, which meant that Saul was in charge.
Fast forward to Paul’s conversion and Jesus said that He would show Paul how much he would suffer for the gospel, and that he did! Paul lists them in .
2 Corinthians 11:23–28 ESV
Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.
That’s quite the resume of suffering! Now, not everyone of us will suffer in this same way. Some of us may be blessed to suffer very little in this life. However, if we are not receiving any pushback for our faith in Christ and our efforts to share with the lost, we probably are not very actively sharing our faith.
You might think it odd that Paul would say that he is filling up what was lacking in Christ’s sufferings. Was there something lacking in Christ? Of course not! And Jesus suffered far beyond what any of us could ever imagine to suffer. So what does Paul mean?
Paul is meaning that he is hated and suffers because he represents Christ and the world still seeks to cause Christ to suffer. We as believers do not personally offend others, most of the time, but it is our representation of Jesus that offends them. Since we are his, we are persecuted for our faith.

2. Paul’s stewardship of his calling (v.35)

Next, Paul turns to his calling. Paul saw his calling as a stewardship. We use the word steward often in describing financial matters. A steward was actually a slave in a Roman house that was responsible for taking care of all of the household responsibilities and obligations in the place of the master of that house.
Paul sees his mission as a steward to the household of God. He is planting churches that are going to be gospel mission centers. Paul’s mission was to make the Word of God fully known. We will talk more about this next.
Do you know what your calling is? Have you ever considered what God’s mission for you is. I mentioned earlier that all of us have a mission to spread the gospel. But have you considered that your work and family are part of God’s mission for you? You have children to train them up to become believers in Christ and launch them into the world (). You also work for money to take care of your needs. The income you receive pays your bills and also is given to the church and other mission opportunities to spread the gospel. However, that is not the extent of it.
God has placed you in a particular work environment with the exact people around you that need to hear the hope of the gospel. You get to tell them the good news and live it out.
But what if you are retired? You can still share the gospel, and perhaps even more so! You don’t have to work so you may have more time. You can share Christ sitting in the doctor’s office. You can share Christ with caretakers. You can love on others that need a visit that perhaps are not well or are in a nursing home or homebound. There are many different ways to be on mission and share the gospel. You just have to think about it and consider what God’s calling and stewardship is for you.

3. Paul’s mission to complete his calling (v.25-29)

Paul now outlays what his mission is and how he is going to accomplish that specifically.

A. Preach Christ (v.28)

First, Paul commits to preach Christ. That is the hope of the gospel that he has already said we are not to drift from in v. 23. Paul says that he is preaching the mystery of Christ. This is not a secret knowledge that others didn’t know. This was the gospel mission that had been given all along in the Old Testament, but was not fully understood until now. There are several mysteries that John MacArthur notes are in the Bible.
The mystery of God incarnate, or God coming in the flesh (, , )
The mystery of Israel’s unbelief ()
Lawlessness ()
The unity of the Jew and Gentile in the church ()
The rapture of the church ()
So it is nothing new for there to be new insights given later in the New Testament that were not fully understood in the Old Testament. Here, Paul is specifically referring to the mystery of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. The gospel was not just for the Jews, but was also for the whole world.

B. Warn (v.28)

C. Warn (v.28)

Paul’s mission also included warning people of the wrath of God and judgment to come. People don’t like to hear this anymore. But this is critical to our understanding our salvation. For believers, there is also a warning that we need to hear. We as believers will be held accountable as stewards of what God has given us to use for His mission.

C. Teach (v.28)

Teaching involves preaching and teaching the Bible. It is discipleship. It is digging into the Bible to learn more and teaching others what we learn. Now, you may not think this one applies to you because you aren’t a teacher. Well, we are called to make disciples and that involves pouring our lives into other people.
While we do this, we need to understand that our calling is not to just read a favorite Christian author together. We are called to teach the Word of God. Notice that Paul is teaching the whole counsel of Scripture. If you say, well, I don’t teach anyone, then you need to make sure that are finding someone to pour your life into. It may be a child, a grandchild, or a friend. Whoever, it is, we need to be making disciples!

D. Present Mature Believers (v.28)

The last thing Paul says is his goal is to present believers mature before Christ. You know none of us are born mature. We have to grow physically and mentally to maturity. However, we also have to grow spiritually! Now consider how the modern church tends to function.
The church is entertainment driven and seeks to woo people in by offering a smorgasbord of programs and activities to keep you interested in the church. They do this to keep you coming and keep you giving. However, is this what the church is supposed to be about? We aren’t about catering to people, we are about presenting people mature in Christ. We are about sending people out to be the church, not marketing the church to believers so that they won’t go down the street to another church!

4. Paul’s empowerment to complete his calling (v.29)

Now, this sounds like a difficult mission to accomplish. We are called to suffer for Christ. We are called to preach the gospel in hard places. We are called to make disciples. Can we really succeed? Not on our own! But we are not on our own!
Paul talks about the strength he has to toil and struggle. The word used to describe Paul’s struggles is the same word we get our word agonize from. It is a word used to describe competing in an athletic event.
How is it that we can do this? It is by the power of God in us in the Person of the Holy Spirit.
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