What are some of the greatest qualities of the pastor or better yet the church? Is it.......
• Sound doctrine
• A firm boldness for the Gospel
• A desire to walk in Holiness
• Sunday school for all ages
• The worship team
• The pastor’s ability to speak clearly
All these things mentioned above are very important [vital] elements to a good pastor and a solid biblical church. But as John MacArthur says “perhaps the most necessary ingredient in the life of the any minister of Jesus Christ is love for the church. No one can truly serve God in the church without that motivation.” The greatest quality for the church and mostly for pastors comes down to this one question! Do I love my church? And you can ask yourself that question right now!
• It’s not a case of...... I like this church.
• It’s not a case of...... I like coming here on occasion.
• It’s not a case of...... there is really nowhere else to go.
The question is...... Do I truly love this church and the people inside it? Ravi Zacharias said “...Love... is a commitment that will be tested in the most vulnerable areas of spirituality, a commitment that will force you to make some very difficult choices. It is a commitment that demands that you deal with your lust, your greed, your pride, your power, your desire to control, your temper, your patience, and every area of temptation that the Bible clearly talks about. It demands the quality of commitment that Jesus demonstrates in His relationship to us.” Jesus loved the church so much.......He what?............Died for her. Paul wrote these words! Even though Paul is addressing this to the husbands in the context Christ’s love for the church is clearly demonstrated as an example for the church. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,” Eph 5:25. BUT! Jesus wasn’t the only one passionate for the church. The apostle Paul was equally passionate for the church. Think about for a moment! Wherever Paul went he was always faced with obstacles from those who oppose the Gospel
• He faced riots in Ephesus
• Beatings in Philippi
• Stoned in Lystra
• Shipwrecked at sea
• Danger was everywhere
Paul wrote these words to the church in Corinth “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure,..........” 2 Cor 1:8. He also said wrote in 2 Co 11:24-28 “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.” Paul’s passion was for the church [the body that makes up the church] You and me! On numerous occasions Paul displayed this love through his letters to the church. To the church at Corinth he said “you are our letter, written in our hearts...” 2 Cor 6:11. To the church at Philippi he said “I have you in my heart” Phil 1:7........Can you say that about this church? Paul loved the church because he loved God and his passion for the church was to have a strong biblical foundation as a body of believers.
To be passionately in love with Christ is to be passionately in love with the church. Why do I say that? Look at the opening remarks to this chapter (v1) Paul didn’t just care about certain individuals in the church! Despite knowing Epaphras, Philemon and the newly converted Onesimus. Paul has never met a great majority of the people in the church of Colosse, but he had a passion for their maturity and foundation to grow. Just as it is a loving parent’s passion to see their children grow to maturity! Which can be a struggle at times, but you do it any way because you love your children. It was Paul’s struggle...which literally means “agony” for Paul to see the church mature and to have a proper biblical foundation. His struggles [anguish] for the church were for them to have........
1. A STRONG HEART (V2A)
“their hearts may be encouraged” which means to call along side, comfort, exhort, to strengthen. Paul wanted to strengthen the church because of the false teaching that was being spread throughout Rome and into the surrounding cities and villages. He wasn’t talking about just their emotions....he was speaking on a broader scope of the inner person....the center of your being! Again the heart is the active will of your life [your mind] which will control your emotions! John MacArthur said this in his commentary......“The emotions respond to what goes on in the heart, to what the mind perceives. The way to control the emotions then is through the mind. When the mind is filled with biblical truth, the emotions respond properly.” That’s why the bible says.....Prov 4:23 “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” and in Prov 23:19 “Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way.” Believers are to guard their hearts from the flesh. The only way to do that is a strong biblical foundation! Remember! The lack of study and time spent in the word will dictate how you live and react to situations or problems in your life. This is only capable as we commune or fellowship in obedience to the Spirit [the Helper]
2. A UNITED LOVE (V2B)
“knit together” means to unite, or bring together. This means”compacted in love” love will draw them together. Vernon McGee said “a church is not united by gifts or even by what we term today as spirituality. The bond that unites believers is love. It is the cement that holds us together; it is the Elmer’s glue of the church.” This is what a church family does and we are responsible to one another to keep this biblical foundation knit together. A fervent love for the church is a necessary balance to a strong mind! Paul wrote these words.......“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Cor 13:1-3. Believers share a common life....all come to Christ in the same way......we all possess the same eternal life.....and we are all placed into the body of Christ by the same Spirit. As the bible says “all one in Christ Jesus.”
3. ESTABLISHED UNDERSTANDING (V2-V5)
He uses the word “full assurance” in understanding God’s covenant promise to the believer found in the foundations of scripture. It literally means “to be under full sail” What does a sail do? It moves a boat along the water....the Christian is to continue moving along spiritually, moving along for God. John MacArthur had this to say in his commentary. “Paul desires that the Colossians also experience all the wealth that comes from full assurance. Without that assurance, believers cannot enjoy all the blessing that are theirs in Christ. For example, no one can look forward with hope to the blessings of Heaven who doubts whether he is going there.” “understanding” refers to applying biblical principles to your everyday life. This is exclusive property of Christian’s..... because the natural man does not accept the things of God. 1Cor 2:12-16 “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. "For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.” Attain to His riches found in His word and you will be established because they are yours in Christ Jesus.
4. WALKING IN CHRIST (V6-7A)
“walk” also refers to daily conduct. In the context of this passage we are to continue believing in Christ no matter what some else might say! Not allowing your understanding to be deluded or swayed away from the truth found in Scripture. (v4). “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,”1 Tim 4:1. “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises [masquerades] himself as an angel of light.” 2Cor 11:13-15. We are to be careful and walking daily in Christ. In broader terms walking with Christ means living in union with Him....It means maintaining a lifestyle patterned after His. Meaning....
• If Christ forgives.....we’re to forgive.
• If Christ hates sin.....we’re to hate sin
• If Christ served.....we’re to serve one another
• If Christ loves holiness......we’re to love holiness
• If Christ loves truth......we’re to love the truth
• If Christ hates what is false.....we’re to hate what is false
• If Christ loved the church.....we’re to love the church
Like a tree firmly planted with deep roots in rich soil....we have been rooted in Christ so we are to walk in Christ at all times! No buts or excuses. (v7a) Christ is our source of spiritual nourishment and growth.When we are walking in Christ the result is we are being established in the faith. A healthy Christian lifestyle truly depends on this biblical foundation “walking in Christ” As Paul said “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ.......” Rom 16:25
5. OVERFLOWING WITH GRATITUDE (V7B)
“overflowing” or as some versions say “abundance” which means: to be abundantly furnished with, to have in abundance, to superabound. This can only happens when we are firmly rooted.......being built up.......and established in the faith since before the foundations of the earth.....It’s that overflowing or better yet that overwhelming feeling of gratitude to God for saving a wretch like me. It’s a life that is extremely thankful for His sustaining grace and love found in His gospel. You’re simply blown away by the abundance of His overflowing grace and love. It’s that overflowing love you have the Hebrew penned in his letter.....“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Heb 13:15
Is your love for Christ and the church overflowing with thankfulness and praise this morning? As Kent Hughes said “thankfulness is a good test our spiritual state. A thankless spirit betrays a life which no longer focusing on the greatness of Christ. Thankful heart herald spiritual health ” A Christian life that is firmly planted in the ground by the Word of God is a life that Paul.....myself [all pastors]....and most of all God’s desire for the church.
When we have a proper foundation our lives are transformed because its scripture that is changing us and not the other way around. Where we say “the scripture need to adapt to my behaviour or lifestyle.” It’s the other way around! We need to conform to the Scriptures.The word of God radically changes a life that’s why we are here.
The word of God radically gives us the passion and the love for Christ and His blessed church [the saved ones]The church He died for so that we could praise His name with thanksgiving. So I go back to my original question!
Do I [you] love this church and people inside it?