A Labor to Present Every Man Perfect in Christ Jesus - Page 2 of 2 (series: Lessons on Colossians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Paul emphasizes “everyone”; “teaching everyone in all wisdom.” To the Corinthians Paul said, “Christ is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” Christ is perfect{28.1] wisdom. He urged the unbeliever to accept free and full salvation . . . “by grace, through faith.” He begged the Christian to present his all to God, and to look to God for comfort, strength and abundant fruit-bearing. He preached the Gospel with great wisdom. Paul was trying to drive home to the Colossians the glorious truth that Christ died for everyone, loves everyone, and longs to save everyone. Every man had a place in Paul’s prayers. He did not pray limited prayers for a limited group. He prayed for everyone.

The motive for Paul’s preaching and for his prayers is stated in the last of verse 28: “so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.”
Certainly everyone he had attempted to instruct was not saved; but that did not keep him from having a deep desire to see everyone saved. He refused to be content with anything less.

Verse 28 notes
[28.1} The word “perfect” means mature or complete, not flawless. It was a favorite word with the Gnostic teachers. It described the disciple who was no longer a novice, but who had matured and was fully instructed in the secrets of the religion. Paul used it to mean “complete, mature in Christ.” This is the goal of all preaching, warning, and teaching. Paul wanted to see each believer mature spiritually. To mature, we must grow daily in our faith.

28.2} “Gnosticism” (The Greek means "having knowledge"), is a modern name for a variety of ancient religious ideas and systems, originating in Jewish-Christian communities in the first and second century AD. This sect believed that the material world is created by a command of the highest God, which placed the divine spark within the human body. This divine spark could be liberated by gnosis. Some of their core teachings include the following:
1. All matter is evil, and the non-material, spirit-realm is good.
2. There is an unknowable God, who gave rise to many lesser spirit beings called Aeons.
3. One evil, lower spirit being is the creator who made the universe.
4. Gnosticism does not deal with "sin", only ignorance.
5. To achieve salvation, one needs to get in touch with secret knowledge.

28.3} “Exhort” means to give urgent advice, recommendations, or warnings.

(1:29) To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

“To this end I strenuously contend.” What a picture of prayer! So much of our praying is calm and comfortable, and yet Paul exerted his spiritual muscles the way a Greek runner would exert himself in the Olympic Games. This does not mean that our prayers are more effective if we exert all kinds of fleshly energy. Nor does it mean that we must “wrestle with God” and wear Him out before He will meet our needs. Paul was a tireless worker for Christ; he labored in both the word and doctrine, by preaching Christ, warning sinners of the danger they were in, teaching them the way of salvation, and their duty; with this in view, that, in the great day of the Lord, he might bring a large number of them, and set them before Christ as the hallmark of his ministry, as instances of the grace of Christ, and as being perfect in Him.

Paul described a spiritual striving{2
: it was God’s power at work in his life. True prayer is directed to the Father (Matthew 6:9), through the Son (in His name, John 14:13-14), in the power of the Holy Spirit (Jude 20). When the Spirit is at work in our lives, then we can pray mightily in the will of God.

The ministry was not a sideline with Paul; it was not something he did lightly, a frivolous work to pass away the time. The ministry made a demand upon every faculty of the Apostle and upon every moment of his time. To Timothy, his son in the Gospel, he said, “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:10). Paul plays his full part in this work of ministry. “Labor” means toiling almost to the point of exhaustion. “Striving” means agonizing, putting in great effort as in an athletic contest (see 1 Corinthians 9:24-27). So the fact that he is empowered does not mean that no effort is required of him. But while the effort is his, the power is not. That is given to him by Another. It results from the working of God which works in him “in power” (dunamis), dynamic power (compare Ephesians 3:20; Philippians 2:13). And without that effective power all activity would be in vain.

Paul had many enemies with which to contend (Philippians 1:29, 30; 1 Timothy 6:5; 2 Thessalonians 3:2). I believe they caused him to spend many hours in agonizing prayer—prayer that produced many tears.

In the last part of the verse, Paul confesses that his striving for the souls of men is according to “all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” Paul was a dedicated servant—soul, spirit and body. He labored not only under divine instruction and divine energy, but he labored just as far as divine energy enabled him to labor. Hear him as he says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them―yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

Paul received his message by divine revelation. He delivered that message by divine power. He said, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). His singular motive was to present every man perfect in Christ, through the preaching of Christ, and he knew that this would be accomplished only through the power of Christ. He knew human power and influence could not change the hearts of men.

A minister may learn the methods and the genius of building a great organization and drawing great crowds; but without grace, holiness and spiritual support, any ministry is vain. “OUR SUFFICIENCY IS OF GOD” (2 Corinthians 3:5, 6).

“With all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” Paul is giving us his very personal testimony: “This is what I’m laboring, striving{29.1
to do, according to His working, which worketh in me mightily.” Oh, this should be the desire of everyone today who is working for Christ—that He would work in us mightily to do two things: to get out the Gospel that man might be saved and then to build them up in the faith. These are the two things the church should be doing today.

[29.1} “Striving” means “to agonize.”

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