Reflection on Colossians 1:25–29
Those who attend worship on a regular basis might do so for a number of different reasons. In each congregation, the order of the service might be slightly different from another church. However, in whatever church you attend, the central and most important part of the service is the preaching of the Word of God.
The Priority of Preaching
As a pastor, I have many different tasks and responsibilities. It all begins, for the pastor, in prayer before the Lord. As it comes to worship, the focus is upon preaching. In Colossians 1:28 Paul tells the church “Him we proclaim.” In Col. 1:25 we see the priority of preaching where we hear, “to make the word of God fully known.” The minister of the Word has as his ultimate priority to make the Word of God fully known. He should paint the whole canvas, use all the colors on the palette. Some ministers just paint the corner of the canvas with bland colors. He is to preach the whole counsel of God’s word . . . . to paint the whole picture using the whole of the scripture, OT as well as the new and tie it together with the very subject of the art of preaching, Jesus Christ.
The priority of preaching is so extremely and vitally important to the growth of the congregation. The minister must prepare for it, meditate upon it, and grow in it. I Cor. 1 explains so beautifully the importance of the pulpit. In I Cor. 1:20, 26–28, 31 we see that our boast is in Jesus Christ. In John 12, some came to Philip seeking Christ and said to Philip, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” The preacher is called to give the people what they should be coming to receive: Jesus.
The Content of Preaching
Colossians 1:26 calls the content of preaching “the mystery.” The mystery is that which was hidden, but God has now revealed. It is none other than Jesus Christ. It is Christ, but in particular we see in verse 27, the riches of his glory. Mention is made of gentiles in this connection as well. The gospel is that it is not merely for the Jews, but for all of the elect, from every nation, tribe, and people. The mystery of the gospel is not small, but big. As people pursue wealth and riches in this world, they strive in vain. The greatest riches are found in Christ.
The preacher proclaims the mystery of “Christ in you.” The gospel we preach involves telling people that the rightful king to sit upon the throne over our lives is Jesus Christ. But, this king is not in a kingdom far away and on a throne in some castle. By faith, we possess union with Christ, Christ in us, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. If that isn’t mysterious, I don’t know what is. Our identity is changed. “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives through me.”
A third aspect of the content of preaching the mystery is to preach the hope of glory. The minister is called to explain the word of God. Charles Spurgeon said that he should then make a beeline for the cross. But, the minister is also called to take and apply the word of God to the lives and situations of God’s people. He is to help God’s people see the depth of the Christian life, to live above the day to day of farms and schools, offices and kitchens. We live in, but not of the world and our citizenship (Phil. 3) is in heaven. We have one foot in this world, but the other foot in the next. This is the hope of glory. In this twisted and messed up world, one that seeks for power, prosperity, and peace, they will never receive peace outside of Christ. The minister must point the elderly saint to the hope of glory, remind the young person, that it will not be the end of the world and to meditate upon the hope of glory.
Christian preaching must also be Christ-centered preaching. He is the mystery of God. The minister must proclaim Christ in his beauty, majesty and glory. He is the way, the truth, and the life, he is our life, light, identity, motivation, peace, counselor, lord and king, shepherd, vine, resurrection, etc. The minister must never tire of confronting the congregation with the living Jesus Christ. Confront them with his blood and sacrifice each week. He must confront them with their need and sin and Christ’s righteousness and forgiveness.
God could have chosen any number of ways to call his people into a saving relationship with him. He could have directly worked in people’s lives without using means. He could have angels, his sinless creatures, bring the message of life to those who have fallen into sin. Instead, he chose to use the “foolishness of the world” (I Cor. 1). It is the preached word that God uses to bring people to faith. We also know from the scriptures, that God does this, not because of, but in spite of the human bringer of the word.
So, how could any minister think that he is sufficient for these things? The fact is, no minister in himself is sufficient for these things. The comfort of the preacher who stands in the pulpit each week is that Christ has promised to build his church (Matt. 16:18). God will call in his people. God will leave the 99 sheep to find the one sheep that is lost.
For the listener in the pew, they have the tremendous privilege of hearing God’s word explained and applied to their lives. They are confronted with their sin and the Saviour each week. Why would we need that each week? Because we know the frailty of our faith, the fickleness of our hope, and the failure of our love.
Through the preaching the lost are called into the fold of God and those who are found are strengthened in their faith. The importance of preaching is found in the fact that this is how God has determined to build his church. Pray that God will continue to raise up faithful preachers of the gospel.