Summary: If "Christ in You" is the hope of glory, we need to realize the tremendous responsibility that is ours to represent and proclaim Christ in the world.
Living as the Hope of Glory
One of the most frequently used words among Christians is the word “church”. Just think about how many times TODAY you have used this word. And yet, even though we use this word a great deal, I wonder sometimes whether what we mean when we say the word “church” is the same thing our Lord was thinking about when He established His church.
What is the church? All of us know the church is more than a building, even though that is the most common mental picture that comes to mind when we hear the word church. We would also all agree that the church is more about the people that identify themselves as part of the church than the physical place itself. But for the true significance of the church, we must go beyond that distinction as well because the church, as established by the Lord Jesus Christ, is to be much more than a human organization. The church was established by our Lord to be a growing human organism focused on a particular task. But what is that task? What is it that the church is to do and to be?
Church members and leaders have been wrestling with that question for centuries. Even in the first century there was disagreement about what it meant to be a church. That is part of the reason Paul was led to write this letter to the Colossian Christians, to help them refocus their efforts and understanding about what the church was established to be.
Even though the Colossian church was founded through the preaching of the gospel, there were some within the church that were trying to lead it a different way. Some were trying to redefine the church to be more of an exclusive club made up of individuals who possessed certain knowledge or agreed to carry out certain religious rituals or uphold certain religious traditions. But Paul saw this as heresy. Paul believed this was false teaching that was leading the Colossian church to become something different than our Lord intended the church to be.
That is why at the end of chapter one Paul goes into a detailed explanation of what the church is supposed to be.
** Read Colossians 1:25-29 **
In this passage, Paul uses his own calling to define what the church’s calling is to be a well. In v25 Paul identifies the preaching of the word of God as a primary task of the church, not the accumulation of special knowledge. In vv26-27 Paul takes on the false teachers by using their own teachings against them. Paul agreed that the church is involved in revealing a great mystery to as many people as possible. But the mystery Paul was committed to revealing was much different than the one the false teachers were committed to. Paul was committed to revealing the mystery of the gospel that he describes in the last part of v27 as “Christ in you, the hope of glory”. Then, in the two verses that follow, Paul fleshes out what it means to live in the world as “the hope of glory.” Paul told the Colossian Christians that their church was to focus on proclaiming this hope of glory that is the gospel message.
If we are to live as “the hope of glory” to the glory and honor of God, we must do the same. Our primary task as a church and as individual believers must be the proclamation of the gospel. As we focus on vv 28 & 29 of our text, I trust we will all gain a better understanding of what it means to live as the hope of glory.
TRANS: As we begin looking at v28, we immediately discover a truth that will make some of you a little nervous as Paul answers the question:
I. Who Proclaims?
EXP: Look at the first phrase in v28. Paul makes it very clear that the proclamation of the gospel is not a task that is exclusively his. It is a task that is shared by every member of the church. Who proclaims? We all do, at least we are all supposed to. “We” is a first person plural pronoun that encompasses everyone. Paul uses this word to define who is to proclaim the gospel right up front so every person who read this letter would understand that proclaiming the gospel is a task that is supposed to involve every believer, not just a few specially called out individuals like Paul.
EXP: Sometimes I believe we misrepresent the Apostle Paul as “Superevangelist” single-handedly evangelizing the entire known world for the Lord. But Paul’s success was not limited to how many people he could lead to the Lord. The explosive growth of the gospel can be largely credited to what Paul was able to inspire and encourage others to do in faithfully proclaiming the gospel message. The church in Colossae is a good example. Paul did not establish this church. In Col 1:7 we learn the church was founded by Epaphras, an early disciple of Paul. While Paul was busy establishing the church in Ephesus, Epaphras was led by Paul to start the Colossian church as well as another in nearby Laodecia. Paul understood the superior power of multiplication over addition when it comes to proclaiming the gospel.