Colossians 1_24-29 The preaching of the Gospel - what does it entail
The preaching of the Gospel
What does it entail?
Morning Worship, Lord’s Day 21 January 2007, 9.00am
I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore. (Psalm 131:1-3)
The word of God in our midst
Call to worship
For this is what the Lord says— He who created the heavens, He is God; He who fashioned and made the earth, He founded it; He did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited— He says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:18)
Grace to you from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
Doxology Hymn: “We praise You, our Father” (Psalm Praise – 4 verses)
Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7)
Prayer of Confession of sin
Hymn No 527: “It passes knowledge”
Prayer of Adoration, Thanksgiving
Hymn: “Healing God, almighty Father”
(MP 226, Tune Hyfrydol 87.87.D – 4 verses)
Prayer for others
Tithes, offering and dedication
While stewards wait upon the offering, reaming seated we sing:
Hymn: “Lord, for the years”
(MP 428 – 5 verses)
Scripture Readings Psalm 119:129-136; Colossians 1:24-29
Sermon The preaching of the Gospel:
what does it entail?
My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ, today I have the privilege to once again proclaim the Gospel of our Lord to you. Our theme for this sermon is: The preaching of the Gospel: what does it entail?
Last Lord’s Day morning, as the Word of God came to us from the first few verses of Chapter 1, we looked at the effect of the Gospel, the demand of the Gospel and the content of the Gospel. Then, during evening worship, the message came to us from the next paragraph and the theme was the origin of the Gospel: we understood from the Bible that Jesus Christ, as the origin of all things and therefore also of the Gospel, is at the same time the main theme of the Gospel.
This morning we ask the question: “What does the preaching of the Gospel entail?” What do ministers do when they preach when they preach? Who are ministers and who gives them the right to preach?
; Who are ministers and who gives them the right to preach?
Let’s start with the last question: Who are ministers and who gives them the right to preach?
The Bible is clear about the fact that God calls to people to the ministry of the Word. ; God ordained certain tasks for certain people and He also equips and empowers them to fulfil their ministry. God specifically called Moses to be a mediator between Him and his people. God called the sons of Aaron to be the priests. God called specific people to be the prophets of his Word to the people, and He ordained that there would be elders who would lead the people.
There was a day in the history of Israel when some rebelled against Aaron and Moses. They were not happy with the idea that they had to submit to the authority of these men. Listen to what they said:
They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?” (Numbers 16:3)
God dealt with these rebels; they went alive into the ground through and earthquake and 250 others were swept away in fire.
This very same principle is continued into the New Testament. The Apostle Paul asks this question in Romans:
And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:15)
Here he quotes a verse from Isa 52:7. The feet of those who proclaimed the Word of God were those ; called by God to be His mouthpiece to the people. The backdrop of all the charges against the people in the time of Isaiah was exactly that they lent and ear to anyone who proclaimed himself a prophet. The Word of God is clear in many passages: Not anyone can go to the people as prophet, and no prophet may proclaim anything else that what God charged him to proclaim.
Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” declares the Lord. “They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 23:32)
In the case of the Apostle Paul he refers to ; himself as “a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the Gospel of God.” (Rom 1:1). So then, when in Colossians 1:24-25 he refers to his ministry in Jesus Christ for the sake of the Church, he clearly wants all to understand that he was doing God’s work. He actually puts it more specifically in verse 25:
I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— (Colossians 1:25)
God commissioned him. What did God commission him with? The task to present the Word of God. Only bits and pieces of the Word? No, in its fullness.
The Church through the ages understood this to be an ordination of God for his church until the return of Christ: God called prophets, then apostles, others to be evangelists, others to be pastors and others to be teachers.
It is in the understanding of this principle that not everyone waltzing into a church may present himself as a minister of the Lord. There is usually a very stringent process to determine the authenticity of the call of a person presenting himself for the ministry. After equipping and study, the church, through its courts then ordains a minister into the ministry of Word and Sacrament.
What does all of this mean? It at least means that the ministers, for as long as he is faithful to the Word and his calling before God is the mouthpiece of God to the people. The people understand it to be this way when they induct their ministers into the office and they pledge to follow the leadership of the minister – of course only for as long as it is based on the Word of God!
The implication is that when the minister proclaims the Word he is doing far more that just giving a talk. Too many ministers have gone down this path. Is it perhaps in reaction to some colleagues who might have all the right robes and apparel, but lack godliness, still preaching a gospel that I dead and unattractive? Or is it because they don’t want to offend the people in the pew by leaving the impression that they might elevate themselves above the rest of the congregation? They then don’t preach or proclaim the Word of God; they give a talk or just share a thought with the people. They avoid the pulpit like the plague out of ear that people might think they are different from them. They shun all forms of “official” dress, and don themselves in clobber to not really stand out as the minister. They deliver their talk without being acceptably dressed, in some cases with no socks on, shirts hanging out and no tie in sight. They are acceptable to the people with a user-friendly attitude, but, they forget one major point: they are God’s representative to the people. They command no respect, and their message becomes their opinion about a portion of the Word of God.
Does God look at apparel? Does what one puts on make a difference? No, God looks at your heart, but the problem is that people can’t see your heart. What they see on the outside to them in most cases is a reflection of what they think is going on in the inside.
The proclamation of Christ Jesus
When the apostle then says acts as the commissioned minister of God, he assumes a few things as his prophetic calling. First of all, he understands that his task is defined by the Gospel of the Lord. He says in verse 28, “We proclaim Him.” ; The verb here is to tell with conviction, with the implication that the authority does not lie in the speaker himself who now endeavours to convince his hearers. Paul uses another word for what he does as a result of God’s calling. In 2Corinthians 5:20 he says he is Christ’s ambassador as though God were making His appeal through them. Because this is true, Paul implores the people on Christ’s behalf to be reconciled to God.
His message is ; about Christ and on behalf of Christ. He said to the Corinthians in his first letter to them: “I have resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1Cor 2:2)
Why is so important to preach Jesus Christ? Well, everything said in the lead-up to this point in the chapter of Colossians 1 underscores it. Listen: the Gospel is about Jesus Christ – full stop! He is our hope (1:5); He warrants the truth of the Gospel (1:6); He qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light (1:12); He rescued us from the dominion of darkness by conveying us into the kingdom of light (1:13); He redeemed us, and He forgave us our sins (1:14).
That’s not all this chapter says about Christ: He is the image of the invisible God (1:15); by Him all things were created and all things belong to Him (1:16); He is supreme over all rulers and powers (1:16); all things hold together in Him (1:17); He is the Head of his Church (1:18); all the fullness of God dwell in Him (1:19); we are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ (1:21-22).
All these things together are what Paul means when he says he proclaims Jesus Christ. His message is not only for people to have a mystic understanding of a source of energy that might make them feel better on bad days; Paul wants every man – this expression is repeated three times in verse 28 – to understand that Jesus Christ is the Saviour King of all kings; ; he wants then to develop a Biblical mindset different from what this world can offer.
; Admonishment in Christ
The word for admonish is to ; instruct by impressing an instruction on the mind of someone else. They desired effect is that those who hear would then change their behaviour. It is in many place in the bible plainly called repentance. Repentance is nothing less that a change in mindset which effect all of life that follows.
The work and life of almost all the prophets of God consisted of this ministry. God called his people to repentance, or a change of mind, be turning away from what is wrong and follow God. The people could turn around, and in many cases they did, and challenge the authority of the prophets, but the prophets had a divine right and duty.
It is still the same today. Paul writes about the Bible as the inspired Word of God and says:
“… the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
It is probably not the easiest task of any minister to rebuke and admonish the wayward in the Lord. ; But it is necessary, and it needs to be done in love for the sake of Christ. It is a form of discipline. When the minsters and elders exercise discipline they do so because God demands it, the ; purity of doctrine is preserved, the church is purified from disobedience, and the bride of Christ is prepared for her union with the Groom, Jesus Christ on the day of his return.
; Teaching about Christ
To teach is to tutor, to teach or give pastoral direction from the Word of God. This takes us back to that verse in 2Timothy: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. ; This is a process. It cannot be done by applying the minimum of standards in the minimum amount of time. Those who are instructed should be willing to give as much time and effort possible to be instructed so that a Biblical mindset can be developed. Remember what the Apostle said in the previous verses: “We ask that God would fill you with the knowledge of his will through spiritual wisdom and understanding.” We will see tonight why it is so important to be armed with knowledge in order to stand in the battle against the truth of the Gospel. ; It is a sad thing that the majority of Christians today can be classified as illiterate concerning the Word of God. Jesus commissioned his disciples to not only disciple the nations and to baptise them, but also to teach them. Most of the energy of the apostles went into this task. It is a sad state of affairs today that church people shy away from teaching. We lament the notion that doctrine is dead, but Gospel is alive. He who teaches the Gospel as Christ commanded is doing nothing less but to instil doctrine.
Equipment for service in Christ
The last aspect concerning the preaching of the Gospel is the equipment. It goes hand in hand with what is already said. But the implication is that those who hear the proclaimed Word concerning Jesus Christ, those who are admonished and taught will be equipped for service. The expression in Colossians 1:28 “to present everyone perfect in Christ” is to say that those under the pastoral care of the ministers of God should ; grow to spiritual maturity. Paul puts it like this in Ephesians 4:
“…to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12-13)
My dear brother and sister in the Lord, God’s plan for his church is to see it grow in its knowledge of who Jesus Christ is, to grow in its obedience be built up for service. God wants his Church united in Jesus Christ. The question is, “Where do we stand?”
Today I stand before you as Christ’s ambassador, imploring you to be reconciled to Christ. But I also implore you to grow in your knowledge and to grow in your service of Christ. In other words: grow up in Christ; take your place in the battle for the truth. And don’t shoot your ministers if they admonish with the Word of God; they are only doing what God commissioned them to do. Amen.
Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer
Hymn No 281: “Your words to me are life and health”
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)