Posted on Fri, Mar 29, 2019
Elias R. Reyes, Ruling Elder
He [Jesus] is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. Colossians 1:28, 29
The difference between “admonishing” and “teaching” is that admonishing has in view things that are wrong and call for warning… teaching has to do with the impartation of positive truth. Paul made it his business to instruct people, as well as to exhort them. Admonishment, exhortation and warning are of little use where there is no sound instruction and a careful fostering of the Truth of the Gospel. Paul not only preached Christ, but he also “taught Christ,” for in Christ are “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). It was not necessary to introduce a new teaching, for all that a believer needs to know (and needs) is found in Christ. In 2 Peter the apostle wrote: “For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue). By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:3, 4 AMPC).
Paul does not proclaim politics, philosophy, a system of theology, or a theory of knowledge. He didn't preach himself, his opinions, even lots of entertaining stories or illustrations. He preached Jesus. He proclaimed a Person because Christianity is Christ. We too are called to testify of our risen Lord (Acts 1:8, “my witnesses”). Writing to the Corinthians Paul reminded them of the main message of the Christ declaring "we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." (1Cor 1:23, 24).
According to the text Paul said: “To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” Why was this important to Paul? Something had to beat in Paul’s heart to drive him to proclaim the Gospel so strenuously with all the energy Christ so powerfully worked in him to the people he encountered everywhere he went. The text gives us the answer… “so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.” (Col. 1:28b).
Nothing has impressed me more in recent years than this: if I were only more intimately and sensitively familiar with God's Word; if I had read and studied it more, weighed its meaning and applied its truth to my own life more—how much more useful my service in the kingdom of God would have been! In witnessing, my words would have been more faithful; in counseling, I would have been better able to reach into people's deepest and most hidden needs with the help of the Holy Spirit; in personal holiness, I would have been more conformed to the image of my Savior Jesus Christ. I would have seen more of the answer to His prayer for me: "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth" (Jn. 17:17).
Spiritual maturity was the end-result of the Apostle Paul’s ministry. It lay at the nerve center of New Testament Christianity. What about us? Is bringing others to maturity our great goal? Do we long to present them mature in Christ? Do we labor for that, struggling with all the energy of God that works powerfully in us (Col. 1:28, 29)? That will be true only if maturity is one of the goals of our own Christian lives. That is where we need to start. And, if we have not started, or, having started have fallen by the way, there is no time like the present for us to pay attention to the exhortation of God's Word: "Let us—go on to maturity" (Heb. 6:1)
The only thing that counts, according to Paul, is being like Jesus (maturity). Are you growing more and more like Him? Then you are maturing as a Christian. But then and only then.
Elias R. Reyes Ruling Elder; Oasis of Hope Ministries
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