In the last few verses of Chapter 1, Paul speaks of his burden for the church and gives a brief description of his calling as a minister of the gospel. My husband is a seminary student, so naturally this grabbed my attention. We have together been reading what Scripture teaches about the role and attributes of ministers (and their wives). There are lessons that we can glean from Paul’s ministry to the church on how ministers should conduct themselves, as well as what their emphasis ought to be.
Here are five of those things that I gathered from reading Colossians 1:24-29:
A minister of the gospel is called by God (v 25). Paul testifies that he was called by God and given the task of caring for the church. This is true of every true minister of the gospel. They are called by God and God alone. I understand that Paul’s calling was specific as was the call of every apostle; however it remains that a call to ministry comes from God alone.
A minister of the gospel is concerned with God’s message (v 25-26). Before He ascended, Jesus left a great work for the disciples to complete. Go, He told them and tell the whole world about God and what He has done. Our modern day ministers are on the same mission (we all are, though not all by trade). Ministers have been trained to share God’s message powerfully and when they have the platform they talk about God, not themselves. They share the message of the love of God and the fullness of the gospel, with the word at the center of their message.
This is such a critical distinction of true ministers, particularly in a sea of false teachers (as is the case today and was the case in Colossae). As believers, we must weigh those who claim to come in the name of the Lord. We must ask ourselves, “Is the person teaching according to God’s Word?”, “Is he seeking to make God’s message known to me, or is he obscuring God’s message?”, “Is the Bible a fundamental part of their teaching?”, “Do they encourage the reading of the Bible on my own?”. False teachers will claim that they come in the name of the Lord, but they most certainly will not teach or live according to the fullness of Scripture.
A minister of the gospel encourages your own walk with Christ (v 27). Christ’s work of redemption was sufficient. He is the only mediator between God and men. Because of this truth, a true minister will encourage you to have a relationship with Christ and to know Him personally. Their work is to bring you to Him, and anything short of that is fallacy.
A minister of the gospel warns and teaches (v 28). Those who God has called to teach and preach His message have one aim: presenting everyone mature in Christ back to Him on that fateful day of His return. This task is not done without warning, admonishing and teaching the people of God about what is right and wrong according to the Word of God. In our local bodies, teaching and exhortation must take place if Christians are to grow in maturity in Christ.
A minister of the gospel relies on God’s strength (v 29). This list may seem like a lot, and it is. I cannot fathom the weight of caring for soul after soul, and aiding Christians into maturity and godliness. My heart and prayers go out to every minister who has accepted God’s call to this great work. And to these laboring men, I pray this verse speaks greatly to you: God’s strength works in you as you labor. He gives the strength to do it, the wisdom and the yearning for it all.
It is God who strengthens these faithful servants to have small and great victories in the work of reaching souls.