by Wayne Barber
We have seen in our study in Colossians that in the face of error Paul preached Christ rather than attacking the error. Our assignment as a church is not to go around trying to refute false doctrine. Our assignment is to proclaim Christ. In doing this, our ministry is to equip the saints. Actually, this should be the passion of everyone who loves Christ and lives surrendered to Him.
Colosse, like America today, was overwhelmed with heresy. This heresy, known as Gnosticism, totally denied the deity and the sufficiency of Christ as the means of our salvation. It was filled with external works, emotional experiences, and intellectual arrogance. As we have tried to show, the same situation faces the church today.
Let's look again at our focus passage: "Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ" (Col. 1:25-28).
When Paul speaks of "this church," he is referring to the whole body of Christ, not a local church. Isn't it interesting that God cut the mold for each of us? Paul's mold included being burdened for the universal church (cf. v. 24: "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body [which is the church]…"). The word "rejoice" came from a word used to describe a little lamb skipping around. Even though it was painful, Paul really did rejoice. Where was Paul when he wrote this epistle? In prison.
Verse 24 concludes with an interesting phrase: "in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's afflictions." There is nothing lacking in what Christ suffered! Christ has visibly gone back to the Father, but His Spirit lives in His body, the church. We are still going to suffer as He suffered, and Paul was willing to take his turn. We ought to rejoice and follow our Lord's example, and Paul's.
This is what Paul is referring to in verse 25: "Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God." Paul was assigned by the "Administrator of the house" to fully carry out the Word of God. The word "stewardship" is oikonomía. It refers to the manager of a household. It is a word picture of Christ, who is the Head. Christ gives the assignments! He casts the mold into which we fit.
Verse 26 introduces the mystery: "that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been manifested to His saints." What is this mystery? "Christ in you, the hope of glory"! (v. 27).
Oh, how this message needs to be "fully carried out" by God's preachers in our churches today. It is God's eternal purpose that His people should know the wonder of this mystery. Gnosticism and all the other false teachings of this world cannot compare with the wonders of this mystery: Christ in you, the hope of Glory!
Paul is writing to a Gentile church and the first thing we must notice about this is the mystery of a Jewish person-Christ Jesus-dwelling in Gentile believers. But the full meaning that this powerful Truth brings to us all as believers is the message of Christ in you. This is what the church of Jesus Christ must proclaim. We must see that this message is preached, and that it is lived, and that it is never compromised.
In our next segment, we will explore this Truth that shows us how the message of "Christ in you, the hope of Glory" is the message that the church must hear in this age of deception.
Wayne Barber can be reached at
email@example.com or see www.toliveischrist.org.