COLOSSIANS-SERIES NR 5 : The Mystery
Colossians 1 : 24-29
The life and experience of a reborn person in whom the Holy Spirit lives and works, is certainly strange. Look at the two words that the Apostle put together in the same sentence: REJOICE and SUFFER! Can you believe it?! “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you”. How can one rejoice in suffering? Well, it is exactly what the Spirit does. Remember: The Christian life is a supernatural life.
Paul was certainly not rejoicing about all the suffering as such. He was rejoicing because the suffering he endured: 1) was suffering in the service of the Lord and for the sake of the Lord, and 2) His suffering could advance the Gospel-message.
It is almost as though Jesus’ suffering did not end when He died on the cross, but throughout the centuries His children are still enduring suffering and hardship for the sake of His Name. It is as if His suffering is still continuing. Because when His child suffers, He also suffers. “Paul, Paul, why do you persecute Me?” (Acts 9:7)
2 Tim 3:12 > “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus WILL be persecuted”. Together with a believer’s deep devotion to the Lord and love for the Lord and the preaching of His Name and for His Word, the resistance of the unsaved world comes almost automatically. This resistance actually has its origin with the forces of evil in the air (Eph 6:12).
In a mysterious inexplicable way the Holy Spirit pours JOY into the heart of the child of the Lord when there is suffering to the glory of God. That is what the Apostle is saying here. It is nothing but a supernatural divine mystery!
Surely, it is so wonderful that the great Apostle did not regard himself as important. He was merely a servant, a slave at the disposal of the Master FOR THE SAKE OF the Lord’s church. That is all. He was not a big wig. He was a servant. In 2 Cor 12:11 he says: “I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles”, even though I am nothing”.
Paul had received a specific commission from the Lord. The apostles held an office which was unique. It could never again be repeated. There were never apostles again after the apostles, because they were the true and only eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life and resurrection. Even although they were servants, they had an authority that nobody would have after them. And their commission was to lay the foundation of the church (Eph 2:20). A foundation of true, correct, genuine TEACHING and example of behaviour and conduct.
In other words: In spite of the continuous suffering that he was suffering for the sake of Christ, the Apostle was passionate to do only two things over and over and over: To SERVE the church of Christ and to preach the unique MESSAGE to lay the foundation. And that was the way everyone knew that they were Christ’s true Apostles! It was clearly visible to those in whom the Spirit lived.
See in your mind’s eye the Apostle Paul: Always, like a white ant, busy doing only one thing over and over and over. Without getting tired and never-ceasing. With all wisdom, with all possible insight, with all possible strength, he instructed and taught people – over and over and again and again. All people. All who were prepared to listen. He exerted himself. He applied himself. Because he had only one viewpoint: To bring everyone to spiritual maturity in Christ.
Of course, ALL does not mean all people (all individuals), but all who have come to salvation, repentance, faith and a Spirit-filled new life in Christ somewhere along the line. THAT is the true church of Christ, the true body of Christ. THEY must be brought to spiritual maturity. THEY are the “all” he is talking about here. And it is for that purpose the Apostle is labouring.
But do not for one moment allow it to sound as if he laboured in his OWN energy. So wonderful that he puts it that it was the energy of CHRIST that worked THROUGH him! The power of the Lord is working so powerfully in/through him and THEREFORE he (Paul) could work too!
And did you know that it is still just as true of EVERY PERSON who is included in Christ?
If you are a child of God today, then it is a given fact that the Lord’s power is working through you. That is a fact – it just IS like that! And it is good news! And that you can work for Him in His own power. That is simply too wonderful for words.
THAT IS THE REASON why we can go ahead and continue while our human strength has long given in, why we can persevere through thick and thin in Christ Jesus. That is the reason why we have the unaccountable energy and perseverance and can rejoice in affliction and suffering which is humanly inexplicable. In these verses the Apostle is explaining to us what the mystery of it is. Hallelujah – to Him all the glory!
But now look carefully: Here is the highlight of this paragraph. WHAT exactly is the Message that the Apostles preached and conquered the entire world of that time with, and that make hearts and lives new?
Attend closely now:
Paul says: It is a message that had previously (that is in the OT period) been kept hidden. In other words: The fullness thereof was never understood and grasped. In the OT period this message was like a mystery. Meaning in the time BEFORE Jesus came to the world.
But no longer. NOW the mystery has been disclosed!
What does he mean by NOW? NOW that Jesus has died and was resurrected and the Holy Spirit has been poured out and the Apostles began to preach. NOW the Message is clear and plain for/in everyone who belongs to the Lord. Not to ALL people, but all who received the Holy Spirit in their lives.
It is not a message that is meant only for the nation Israel any longer, but for all the nations! This Message – that once was a mystery – is for every person – from whatever nation – who comes to faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour – is now a delight and a very great blessing.
And now: WHAT is the message?
The message is not a set of doctrines. It is not some dogma. It is a Person. It is Jesus!
And He is truly IN every person who is reborn from Him. And He, who is IN every child of the Lord, is their assurance that their future will be fantastic/glorious. They have such a definite hope for the future. The eternal future. Why? Because there is a living PERSON right inside of them!
That does nor mean PHYSICALLY inside of you – as your heart is on the inside of your chest. That is not the way in which Christ is dwelling in His people.
It does mean however, that He is a part of His child’s livelihood. Closer to you than your own breath. He lives in the essence of your existence. And you are included in His death and resurrection. His ascension. His death is your death. His life is your life.
It is simply a miracle that the Apostle could not stop talking about. It drove him and inflamed him until the day he died a martyr’s death for his Lord and Saviour.
And may it also be like that with all of us and for those who listen to this message.
Translated by Marthie Wilson