Dear CSOPC brothers and sisters,
- Angel Tree gifts are due this Sunday.
- Officer training THIS SUNDAY following worship.
- Thank Offering will be collected this Sunday. Please note ‘Thank Offering’ in the memo line for a check.
- Ladies Christmas Party this Friday night at 7:00 at the VanTubergen’s home. Their address is 8803 Catawissa, Houston, 77095.
- This week’s devotion (attached) is a reflection from Colossians 1 on discipleship in the church.
From the Pastor’s Desk
Colossians 1:28, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”
God’s great aim in the hearts and lives of his people is that they would reflect the image of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 8:28-29). The divine project is one of shaping and refining the people of God more into the image of God. In other words, God is in the business of making disciples. How does such disciple-making happen? First and foremost God calls sinners and sovereignly regenerates hearts – he powerfully raises those dead in sin to life in Christ. His sheep hear His voice and they follow him. They are united to him by faith (John 15:1-5). Simply put, salvation is a sovereign work of the grace of God Almighty. That being said, the Bibles teaches that God uses means to accomplish his great purposes. That is to say, Christian growth and the Christian life does not happen in a vacuum, but God has ordained certain means through which he grows his people. In Colossians 1:24-29, the Apostle Paul gives us a glimpse into his heart – his heart for ministry and his heart for the church. Moreover, in these verses we are a given a clear blueprint for discipleship – we are given insight into the means the Lord uses to do his great shaping and molding work. There are three things to note in these verses.
First, where does discipleship happen? Discipleship happens in the church. The context for Paul’s words in vv. 24-29 is the local church. Not only is the letter itself written to the local church (1:2), but also Paul refers to his sufferings ‘for the sake of [Christ’s] body, that is, the church’ (v. 24). Of course, this is consistent with the teaching of Christ; notably Jesus’ instruction in the so-called Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20). Col 1:24-29 could be seen as a personal reflection or commentary on the Great Commission. The ‘making disciples’ of Matt 28:19 happens by means of the ‘going’ and the ‘baptizing’ and the ‘teaching’ of the church. One cannot and will not grow as a disciple outside of and apart from the body of Christ, the church.
Second, how the does Lord grow his disciples? Through his word (see Matt 28:20; again, disciples are made through ‘teaching’ all that Christ commanded). Paul was called as a minister to ‘make the word of God fully known’ (v. 25). And in a gloriously clear and simple exclamation, Paul states, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom” (v. 28). The word is effectual because it is not just any word, rather it is the word of and about Christ. In the written word we meet and are confronted with the living word. Yes, the word of God in general is powerful and effective, but God uses the preaching of his word in a special way to accomplish his ends. Thus Paul references the ‘proclamation’ of Christ (also see 1 Thess 1:5; 2:13). And picking up from the previous point, one will not grow as a disciple outside of the church because it is in the church where one submits to and is confronted by the proclamation of the life-giving word of God!
Third, what is the goal of ministry and discipleship in the church? Christian maturity. Paul writes, “Him we proclaim … that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (v. 28). The Lord does not leave us where we are. He is at work, using the chisel of his word, cutting away all that does not reflect the image of his Son (2 Tim 3:16-17; Acts 20:32). We are works in progress. But there is progress indeed by God’s grace! Children mature … so also ‘babes in Christ’ mature. But such babes – indeed all believers – only mature as we are nourished in the church on the word. Brothers and sisters, may we long to be nourished on the word of God – and may we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.