Presenting the Word of God
Presenting the Word of God
042-00620 LD 31.84; Colossians 1:24-29
I. Ü Love is the spark that kindles the fires of compassion. Compassion is the fire that flames the candle of service. Service is the candle that ignites the torch of hope. Hope is the torch that lights the beacon of faith. Faith is the beacon that reflects the power of God. God is the power that creates the miracle of love. – anonymous.
A. Ü We don’t have to go too far to find evidence that people need hope. They turn to drugs, drinking, working too much, and a multitude of other pursuits. We find people falling into depression, killing themselves and wanting to be euthanized. People need some hope.
1. Ü Hope motivates us to keep going and not give up. Without hope we don’t want to do anything.
2. Peanut’s cartoon: Lucy and Linus were sitting in front of the television set when Lucy said to Linus, "Go get me a glass of water." Linus looked surprised, "Why should I do anything for you? You never do anything for me." "On your 75th birthday," Lucy promised, "I’ll bake you a cake." Linus got up, headed to the kitchen and said, "Life is more pleasant when you have something to look forward to."
3. Ü Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all...As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength. -G.K. Chesterton, Signs of the Times, April 1993, p. 6.
B. My experience suggests that all of this is somehow true. People need hope and without hope there is little or nothing to look forward to.
1. Ü But I don’t think that just any hope will do.
2. I suspect that the hope people need the most is the hope that things will get better.
3. Ü Avery D. Miller said, “Hope is patiently waiting expectantly for the intangible to become reality.”
a) It could be as simple as the hope for a pay raise or a promotion.
b) It could be the hope of success on a test that wasn’t fully prepared for.
c) Ü It could be significantly more important like the hope for a cure for cancer.
d) Or the hope for a safe return of a missing child.
4. Ü Without hope, people become desperate. Without hope people lose any motivation to continue on into tomorrow.
C. I think that the ultimate hope may just be the hope of a better life in the life to come.
1. This may or may not have always been true, but I sense that the spiritual awakening in our world is a pull of the spirit toward a hope for ultimate life.
2. Ü Take for instance the television show the Ghostwhisperer. Week after week a woman who can see and hear the dead help souls find a peace to the life they have lived and thus usher them into the light of the other side. It implies that there is for most of us a second chance to make things right and to find an everlasting existence of peace.
3. Now that is hope – But what is it based on?
II. Ü The Basis for Hope.
A. William Hendricksen says that there are three common reasons people believe in such an everlasting hope.
1. Ü First is the experience of unsatisfied desire.
a) “We desire to see a perfect landscape. Yet when, standing on a hill, we think we see one, the descent into the valley with its rotting logs and decaying fruit, disillusions us. Nevertheless, the desire persists. This guarantees future realization.” William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, vol. 6, New Testament Commentary : Exposition of Colossians and Philemon, Accompanying biblical text is author's translation., New Testament Commentary, 86 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953-2001)
b) In other words, the fact that we have a longing for ultimate beauty or peace is proof that we shall find it.
2. Ü Second is what Hendricksen calls the unheeded voice of conscience.
a) We have a moral sense to do what is right.
b) That sense may be alive or deadened to different degrees, but it does exist.
c) No one ever fully obeys the voice calling them to do this or that but the fact that the voice is calling is evidence that there is a future state of perfection that shall be attained.
3. Ü Finally, there is the enduring character of the self.
a) I once existed as an embryo.
b) That stage ended but I did not. I was born a baby.
c) That stage ended but I did not. I became a man.
d) That stage shall end, but just like all the stages before, I shall not. I shall survive death.
B. Whether these are the only three, the main three, or just three of many, there is a flaw with each one of them.
1. Ü “A moment’s reflection is all that is necessary to show the weakness of this type of reasoning in any of its forms. Persistent yearning for the ideal in the realm of beauty, inner compulsion to obey the moral law coupled with the realization that in the here and now one can never obey it fully, and also the self’s leapfrogging of biological stages, these facts do not guarantee immortality, much less perfection in a future existence.” Hendricksen
2. There is no real foundation for such hope and therefore such hope is nothing more than wishful thinking.
3. Ü And wishful thinking is not hope.
C. But there is a basis of truth in each of these areas, a foundation that can provide us with true hope; that is, hope that is assurance and not wish; hope that is real and not false.
1. Paul says to the Colossians that Christ in you is the hope of glory.
a) Ü We long for beauty, grace, peace and perfection.
(1) “Fair are the meadows, Fairer still the woodlands, Robed in the blooming garb of spring: Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer, Who makes the woeful heart to sing.” Crusader Hymn
b) Ü We long for moral righteousness, holiness, and justice.
(1) Jesus challenged us all when he said, “Who of you convicts me of sin?” (John 8:46)
c) Ü We long for evidence that we can transcend death.
(1) According to Paul, there is more than sufficient evidence that Christ rose from the dead.
(2) 1 Corinthians 15:6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.
(3) 1 Corinthians 15:8 …and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
2. Ü Christ is our hope. Christ is the only hope that fills up our need for hope.
a) Therefore, Paul says it is his business to proclaim Christ so that Christ might dwell in the Colossians to the fullest extent.
b) Paul claims that God, by his choice and according to the way he governs gave Paul the task to reveal a mystery, previously hidden and that through this revelation, the members of the Colossian church may be filled up with Christ.
c) And, in fact, that is the mystery, that Christ is in Gentiles as well as Jews.
d) It is the good news that through faith, Gentiles may be saved, may abide with Christ who loves them as much as he loves the Jews, may live fully in the Kingdom of Christ’s love, and may truely expect to live eternally in Christ’s glory.
e) It is the Gospel.
III. Ü Proclaiming the Word of God.
A. Now notice what Paul does not claim.
1. Ü He does not claim to argue the facts of theology.
2. Ü He does not claim to make anyone believe.
3. Ü He does not claim to trick anyone into faith.
4. Ü He does not claim to prove what he proclaims.
B. Ü He simply says that he is called to present the word of God in all its fullness.
1. There are three primary words in the New Testament that we call preaching.
a) Ü The first means to tell the good news.
b) Ü The second means to proclaim like a herald.
c) Ü The third means to bear witness.
2. Here in Colossians, Paul does not use any of these three. What he says is that he is called to "fill up" the Colossians with the Word of God.
3. And the word of God is Christ in them.
C. Ü Sometimes we place too much emphasis on the charisma or skill of the preacher and we do not view the preaching of God’s word the same way God does.
1. I don’t know why God chose to use frail human beings to proclaim the Gospel.
2. I don’t know why he doesn’t make every preacher called great communicators.
3. I do know that He chose Paul, the chief of sinners; Peter, the man who often talked with his foot in his mouth; Stephen who only preached one sermon; James and John who had quibbled over who was going to be the greatest; Philip whose message is never recorded; and on and on.
4. I know that God chooses the foolish to confound the wise and the weak to put to shame the strong. I know that the greatest preachers never believe that they are really qualified to preach, and that many Christians would agree with them in this evaluation.
5. But Paul doesn’t care about any of that because he knows that he was called by God, that he suffered for Christ in order to preach, and that the power of preaching was not within him.
a) Ü Romans 1:15-16 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome. I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
b) Ü 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
IV. God has chosen to open the Kingdom by the preaching of the Gospel of Christ.
A. Ü According to the Catechism, he also chooses to close the Kingdom of Heaven by the preaching of the Gospel to those who do not hear and believe.
1. I am afraid that many times, I have my mind made up before I hear a word.
2. Milton Berle used to tell the story of four widows in a retirement home playing cards together. A distinguished elderly man came in carrying luggage. "What’s a good-looking man like you doing here?" one asks. "I’m moving in," he says. "Oh," says another. "Where are you from?" "I’ve been in the clink the last fifteen years." "The clink?" they ask. "Yeah, the clink, the slammer, the state penitentiary." "Oh," says one. "What did you do?" "I murdered my wife. I cut her up and buried her in the back yard." There was a pause, and then one of women said, "Oh, so you’re single!"
B. When we come to worship and we place the proclamation of the word at the very heart of our service, we might consider coming with only one expectation: What is God going to reveal today?
1. I say this to the preacher as well as the congregation, for the preacher is not the voice of God.
2. The preacher is the voice through which God speaks.
C. And remember, that all good preaching, all true preaching is preaching filled with Christ.
1. It is in Christ we are called to faith.
2. It is in Christ we discover our hope.
3. It is in Christ we experience love.
a) A pastor went to visit a young convert on her deathbed. He asked the girl in the valley of the shadow what was her hope for eternity. Putting her thin, wasted fingers on the Bible that lay beside her she said, "Christ here!" Then, placing her nearly transparent hand on her heart she said, "Christ here!" And then pointing upward, she said, "And Christ there!" -Leigh Richmond, in his "Dying Cottager"