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SERMON-notes Col 1 24-29 MH Shoreline 07-02-06

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Sermon:     MH:Shoreline July 2, 2006      Mature in Jesus

Sermon Text:    Colossians 1:24-29

Steve Tompkins

Sermon Text: 

 

Colossians 1:24-29 (ESV)
24Now 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, 25of 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, 26the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27To 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. 28Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

Interesting text (read text)

Paul begins with theme of suffering,

then connects it with calling For Others (in particular our ability to reveal Jesus—Mystical—the riches of the glory of Jesus IN YOU),

Then Paul ends by connecting it all to growth in Spiritual Maturity!!

Lets remember that the great issue at Colossae is True Spiritual Maturity

--Connection w/ Head, Transforming Power, Gospel vs. Religion

Right up front – Bottom line

  • We will not fulfill God’s purposes in our lives and through our lives for others apart from suffering, afflictions, hardship, Trials, difficulties, Frustrations and Troubles.
  • HERE IN LEAST CHURCHED part of the nation, this means the effectiveness of our mission depends on learning the lessons of this text. 
  • Why?  Because the Strength, Power, Glory, Truth of Jesus is revealed through our weakness – brokenness – suffering and trials

  • Issue is Suffering – Its not as though Suffering Automatically produces good!!!
  • ISSUE IS HOW WE WALK THROUGH SUFFERING – OUR HEART – OUR RESPONSE
  • Can produce MATURITY AND FRUITFULLNESS, or Bitterness and anger, isolation and Victim Mentality
  • Depending on whether we focus on Self, Pain, Affliction OR on God, His Purposes, His Presence

Paul is writing from prison in Rome.

Colossians 1:24 (ESV)
24Now 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,

 – He actually REJOICES in his suffering!!! 

I don’t know if you have thought about that – or just read quickly.  But that is utterly and radically foreign to our culture – in every way!

I can’t imagine anyone I know making a statement like that, MYSELF INCLUDED

            I can hear the letter I would write!!!!!

In our culture we WORSHIP Comfort, Ease, Leisure and Convenience

            Darrin - We want Low Maintenance, Hassle-Free Designer Lives

Our culture (Historical first) – due to our technical advances – expects life to be good—American Dream, almost become an entitlement. 

What we call suffering is usually minor inconvenience!!!

What we call hardship is merely discomfort

            And

Real suffering we equate with Evil itself! 

Its hard to imagine anything that is more unquestioningly equated with evil in our culture than human suffering. 

ILLUSTRATION: Tim Quiring’s friend losing Hospital Chaplaincy privileges because he questioned the use of pain-killers.  Also, Nurse Dale Brock

This idolatry is so deeply ingrained in our culture that whole branches of Christianity have developed THEOLOGICAL systems which tell you that you should become a Christian because God’s will for you is SUCCESS AND PROSPERITY:

The mission of Christian Faith Center is to make successful Christians of all people. Our

commitment is to pastor the Northwest, teach the nation, and inspire the world.

The goal of every ministry provided by Christian Faith Center is to cause people to be

successful:

Spiritually

Intellectually

Emotionally

Physically

Financially

Socially

Honestly though, Success/Prosperity theology is really just a symptom of our deeply ingrained cultural attitude toward suffering – Very DIFFERENT FROM NT:

First, Jesus and NT writers said – Expect persecution, hatred, opposition from satan and powers of this age.  Expect suffering as NORMAL

John 15:18-21 (ESV)
18“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

1 Peter 4:12-14 (ESV)
12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

2 Timothy 3:12 (ESV)
12Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,



We KNOW THAT, BUT DON’T EXPERIENCE MUCH OF IT IN NA.

ILLUSTRATION: George Burch and Turkish and Iranian arrested in Turkey last week

We have lived with 350 years of cultural dominance as Christians in North America,

Second, suffering in general, various kinds of trials, hardships and afflictions are a consequence of living in a fallen world under God’s curse because of sin.  And are NORMAL AND INDEED EXPECTED.

John 16:33 (ESV)
33I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

θλῖψις = Tribulation, Persecution, Affliction, Trouble, Suffering, Trials, Sorrows, Distress, Difficulties, Aguish

Matthew 7:14 (ESV) – Same Greek Root
14For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Acts 14:22 (ESV)
22strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

REALITY IS: Try as we might to avoid it, we do experience suffering.  It comes into our lives – all of us.  To one degree or another.  At some time or another.  Some more and some less. 

·         Various means: Sickness, disease, accident, trauma, death, Crime, Abuse  RELATIONAL, Betrayal, Family problems, Marital difficulties, Loneliness

 

I DON’T WANT TO MINIMIZE THAT AT ALL.

Because we don’t see it as normal, We find ourselves asking:  Is there purpose/meaning in my suffering?

NT answer is YES.  Dozen’s of passages we could examine.

BUT I want to stick primarily to our text, but keeping in mind the full range of types of suffering the NT speaks about.  (Persecution and sinful fallen world, not our true home)

Colossians 1:24 (ESV)
24Now 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,

Paul hits on question of purpose here.  But what does it mean?

Not Vicarious atonement.  Word “thlipsis” never used for that – “pascho”

1. What is lacking in Christ’s afflictions?  Debated.  Not clear.

Fulfillment. 

Revelation 6:10-11 (ESV)
10They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

Sovereign God – in control

Amount of martyrs, Sin, Suffering, Prayer, Bowls of Wrath

TIPPING POINTS IN HISTORY – always controlled by God

2. How can Christ be afflicted?

Acts 9:4 (ESV)
4And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

Matt 25  Jesus hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick, prison

SO, based on this verse alone: 

  1. Jesus sovereignly redeems my suffering according to his purposes.  No suffering (with the right attitude) is wasted in this life.
  2. Jesus is intimately present in and connected to ALL my suffering and hardship.  Whether or not it arises out of persecution.

ALL PEOPLE WILL SUFFER – (No exemption clause for Christians) ONLY CHRISTIANS REALIZE THIS PURPOSE/MEANING

- nothing can separate (NEVER EVER THE WRATH OF GOD)

- God is utterly present

- all things work for good in his hands

Choice:  You can suffer apart from Jesus—no meaning, or suffer IN Jesus--redeemed

What can God possibly do with my suffering and hardships?

In NT there is WIDE RANGE of ways God will redeem and purpose our suffering, but notice where Paul goes in this text:

Colossians 1:24 (ESV)
24Now 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,

Paul pulls us up OUT OF OURSELVES.

NATASHA example.

I suggest that God CAN redeem all of our suffering in this way (may take time, no easy answer in some cases)

I bet we all know the classic examples of the Recovered alcoholic, or Woman w/ abortion history, or Victim of sexual abuse or rape

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (ESV)
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

Paul goes on:

Colossians 1:25 (ESV) for the sake of his body, that is, the church,
25of which I became a minister (SERVANT) according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known,

Paul connects his suffering/afflictions with Calling to serve the Church – mission of the gospel.

My individual calling is not the same as yours etc. 

Corporately we share stewardship of the Gospel and the Mission of Jesus

MH Church membership:  All own the mission of the gospel in Seattle area

            Want your life to count for the Kingdom?  Stand up and be counted, etc.

word of God fully known = JESUS

PAUL SAYS

Colossians 1:25-27 (ESV)
25of 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, 26the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27To 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.

It is ALL JESUS

Word of God and all Revelation up to this point in history – ALL JESUS, but it was hidden.

The purpose of the Word of God (Bible)  is to REVEAL JESUS fr. Beginning to end.

John 5:39 (ESV)
39You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,

John 12:40-41  Isaiah saw Jesus in Isaiah 6

Luke 24:27 (ESV)
27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Paul calls it a MYSTERY because it is something that was there ALL ALONG but purposely HIDDEN BY GOD until Jesus should live, die and rise from death.

Paul says: The riches of the Glory of this mystery is Christ in You – the hope of glory.

 

Here is where we see the CONNECTION between suffering, calling, and God using us—redeeming our suffering—in the lives of others . . . IE. WHAT IS GOD’S INTENDED RESULT

The God of the universe – in a man, the man Jesus (All the Fullness of God pleased . . . )

But the God of the Universe, via the Spirit, Father, Son and Spirit dwelling IN US, in union WITH US, identifying Himself with us AS HIS BODY

--even in the midst of (what can seem like meaningless and purposeless) suffering, pain, and afflictions of this life, and redeeming it for his purposes of making himself known

            Making HIMSELF KNOWN!

Doing it all through us, 

Using us for his glory!

All the while we have SURE AND CERTAIN HOPE OF GLORY and redemption of these sorry bodies through resurrection and eternal life with him

Wow

Does that not change your perspective on suffering???

HIS PRESENCE IN US – IN THE MIDST OF SUFFERING

Think about that for a minute:

If you are like me:  Focus on pain and difficulty, eyes on self, God seems absent!

But NO – The very place of God’s apparent absence is his Presenct

Suffering reveals not his absence but his presence

            CROSS

Paul calls this Riches of His Glory

2 Corinthians 4:5-18 (ESV)
5For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12So death is at work in us, but life in you. 13Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. 16So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

The VERY PLACE of suffering and Hardship is God’s PRESENCE REVEALED!!!

–        True Wealth – Treasure Hidden in a Field – Pearl of Great Price

·         Colossians 1:27 (ESV)
27To 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.

Colossians 1:28 (ESV)
28Him (JESUS) we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

  1. Content: Jesus

  1. What we do in Principle (many methods): Warning and teaching

Colossians 3:5-6 (ESV)
5Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6On account of these the wrath of God is coming.

Acts 17:30-31 (ESV)
30The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

  1. Goal/Purpose: Everyone mature in Christ – includes you, and people around you.

Colossians 1:29 (ESV)
29For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

Note the MIX of Victory, and yet not victory (prison)

Power and Energy (ALL FROM GOD) – yet tinged by STRUGGLE AND TOIL

  • There is PROFOUND connection between meaning/ purpose in all our suffering, afflictions, hardships etc,
  • and our calling to make the Glory of Jesus KNOWN (in us - treasure in earthen vessels),
  • and our CORPORATE and individual GROWTH IN MATURITY, in order that increasingly he is made know more and more clearly,

I don’t know what you are going through --

 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (ESV)
8Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

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