2018-9-09 Christ in You, the Hope of Glory

Cornerstone EPC                                                                              Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                          September 9, 2018

“Christ in You, the Hope of Glory”
Colossians 1:24-29

We return this Lord’s Day morning, after lengthy hiatus, to our sermon series through Colossians.  Let’s review the ground covered in previous installments.  The Lord, through Paul, extends to us grace and peace from Himself (1:1-2).  Then we gain much blessing for our souls in Paul’s Spirit-led thanksgiving for believers and for their saving embrace of the Gospel (1:3-8).  We also gain blessing in Paul’s prayer for believers: for their spiritual understanding, wise walking, and power from on high (1:9-14).  Then we receive great doctrine concerning Jesus in what some scholars call the Great Christology (1:15-23)—doctrine which will prove most helpful against the Colossian heresy (addressed in 2:6-23).  Now, after a one-line break in the Greek New Testament.  Paul tells the Colossian Christian households of His ministry to the Church—and, in this recitation, we learn timely lessons.  Today, we look at Christ in you—and in me—the hope of glory.  Let us attend the reading of God’s Word.

(HERE READ THE TEXT)

Christ in you—and in me—the hope of glory.  He is the mystery (cf. Colossians 2:2) concealed for ages past, then revealed at just the right time in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.  We infer rightly from our text today that Jew and Gentile (that is, non-Jew) have equal access to the Father via faith in His Son—a notion explicit in places such as Romans 1:16.  Christ in us, then, whether of Jewish background or not, is the hope of glory.  By hope, we mean a humble, confident expectation of good things from our good God.  By glory, we mean the weighty, brilliant presence of God that we experience both in part now in this life (that is, abundant life, cf. John 10:10) and much more to the full in the life to come (that is, eternal life, cf. John 3:16).  I know that some, wanting many ways to God, grouse about Jesus’ declaration that there is but one way to the Father, namely, Himself (cf. John 14:6)—but, praise God there is one way.  After all, He could have left us zero ways—and He would be no less just or holy if He left us without means of rescue from eternal perdition in hell.  Happily beyond speech, He interposed His dear Son for our sakes.

Proclaiming this glorious good news—Jesus in us, the hope of glory—involves a few things.  First, it involves warning (Greek noutheteo [nouqetew]).[1]  The message about Christ warns us concerning correct belief and behavior (especially behavior, in my view), admonishes us when we err, and advises us of potential danger should we follow an erroneous course.  Second, the proclamation of Christ in us, the hope of glory, involves teaching.  Teaching implies cognitive impartation and understanding of Scriptural truth, and, done well, it embraces the whole counsel of God—from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21.  Never forget that the Word of God written (the Bible) testifies everywhere without fail to the Word of God living (the Lord Jesus Christ).

Third, the proclamation of the Good News about Jesus involves ministerial pains.  Doubtless few relish such a thought, but Paul, led by the Holy Spirit, makes clear that suffering, trouble, labor, and agony (or struggle) is endemic to the Christian ministry.  These pains, incurred to the glory of God, are for the sake of Christ’s Body, the Church—namely, to present her members mature and complete in Christ (cf. James 1:4).

Every Christian incurs these pains in God’s good providence—not just full-time vocational Christian workers.  Every believer is a minister to every other believer; this is a necessary corollary to the Reformation doctrine of the priesthood of all believers.  In short, these ministerial pains are a necessary part of our fellowship with one another and with Christ.  Yet I assure you, on the authority of God’s Word, these pains are worth it for Christ in folks, the hope of glory.

Let’s make a thing clear here before going further.  Christ’s physical body no longer suffers, for His physical pains accomplish our salvation, and there remains no more need for Him to suffer thus.  Christ’s mystical Body, the Church, does suffer, however.  He has appointed a precise amount of this suffering to be borne by His church.  When we who wear Christ’s Name bear our share, less remains for other Christians.  As if this weren’t enough encouragement, know for a surety that when suffering touches Christ’s Church, or any member therein, it touches Christ Himself.  Hence, any who revile or strike us who are in Christ, merely for being in Christ, do the same unto Christ.  He is with us in our ministerial pains for His sake—and, as appropriate, He will avenge the malice inflicted upon His Bride, the Church, in due time.

Christ in us is our sole hope of glory—and that hope is unshakably sure.  You and I may build our lives by God’s leadership upon this sure foundation.  Moreover, Christ in us brings His glory to bear upon the everyday.  The most mundane, or trivial, or invisible task performed by the Christian, in Christ’s Name, will be shone upon by God’s glory and will radiate that glory visibly unto those with eyes to see.  Let us, then, spend and be spent, in order that others enter into this glorious hope—and that others, previously entered, may find themselves further strengthened and otherwise confirmed in it.

AMEN.

[1] For the following insights about the Greek word rendered warning in the English Standard Version of the Bible, I am indebted to Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, eds., Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1989).

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