Summary: Paul shares three things that will make a church strong.
• I want you to think about the Auburn Christian Church for a minute. When you think of our church, do you see it as a strong vibrant church, or do you see it as one that is on the week side just limping along?
• Now as you have pondered that question, by what criteria did you come to your conclusion? What did you base your thinking on? How do you know if the church is a strong church or a weak one? Is it only a numbers game? If the offerings and attendance are high, that must mean the church is strong?
• It is just numbers or are there some other things we can look at to determine if the church is strong or weak?
• SLIDE #1
• Today we are going to look at the strength of a church.
• As we read the book of Colossians, we see that Paul is very passionate about the church, the church is his love.
• In Colossians 2:1, he says that he has been through a great struggle on behalf of the church. The word struggle comes from the word that we know today as “agony”.
• He tells us in chapter 1 verse 29 that he labors hard for the church, to see it be strong.
• What is it that the leadership of this church is trying to establish? Why do I preach, teach, and counsel? Why do we have bible studies and Bible Fellowship classes? Why do the Elders take time out of their lives to lead this church?
• Today we are going to look at three areas of which, when they are strong, the church will be strong, then the numbers whether they be people or finances will follow.
• If we are weak in any of these areas, the church will not be a strong church.
• Today as we look at these three items, you need to ask yourself how you are doing in each of these areas, what are you doing to make sure ACC is a strong influential church in Auburn!
• Let us turn to Colossians 2:1-5 and read God’s Word together this morning.
• SLIDES 2-3-4
• READ COLOSSIANS 2:1-5 says:
• SLIDE #5
The first mark of a strong church is:
I. A STRONG HEART.
• A person is only as strong as their heart; a church is only as strong as its heart.
• In verse 2, we are told that Paul has been working hard to the point of agony so that the hearts of those in the church would be encouraged.
• SLIDE #6
• The word literally means to “come along side of.”
• Because a person can be called alongside for many purposes, the word has a wide range of meanings. They include to entreat, appeal to, summon, comfort, exhort, or encourage. In the present context, however, it could be translated “strengthen” because the Colossians were inundated by false teachers and needed strengthening rather than comfort.
• During this time in the church, the New Testament had not been compiled so the main source for the church for biblical truth was the Apostles. This is one of the reasons the false teachers were able to come in and get such a strong foothold.
• Paul wanted the people to know that what they had been taught was truth.
• When used figuratively in the Bible, the word heart is usually more general and refers broadly to the inner person, the center of life. It often equates specifically to the mind.
• The emotions respond to what goes on in the heart, to what the mind perceives. The way to control the emotions, then, is through the mind. When the mind is filled with biblical truth, the emotions respond properly.
• Figuratively the heart is where feelings and faith come from.
• SLIDE #7
• Proverbs 4:23 (NASB) 23Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.
• You have heard the statement, “don’t lose heart” or “your heart is not into it.” When our heart is weak, we will be weak. Many of you have known people with heart problems, they may look fine on the outside, but inside they are weakened to the point of not being able to do much physical activity.
• When we lose heart, we will not be strong for the Lord, we will be spiritually beaten and weak. We will be spiritually listless.
• Commentator William Barclay cites an example of “encourage” from classical Greek that parallels its usage here. There was a Greek regiment which had lost heart and was utterly dejected. The general sent a leader to talk to it to such purpose that courage was reborn and a body of dispirited men became fit again for heroic action. That is what [parakaleō] “encourage” means here. It is Paul’s prayer that the Church may be filled with that courage which can cope with any situation. (The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians [Louisville, Ky.: Westminster, 1975], p. 129)