Colossians & Philemonby Mike Raiter
How does someone become a Christian? Who brought you to faith—God or your parents; God or your Christian friend; God or an evangelist? Of course, the answer is both. God brought His gospel to you and your friend brought the gospel to you. In Colossians 1:21–23, we saw Paul’s first answer to this question. He said we are reconciled to God because of what Christ has done. This is both the first and foundational reason for our believing. Now Paul describes how God’s saving work was made known to those who were once aliens and enemies.
Paul begins describing his ministry by saying that he fills up what is lacking in Christ’s sufferings (v. 24). Is he suggesting that Christ’s sufferings were inadequate—that Jesus’ death on the cross only paid for some of our sins but not all? Is he saying that he believes his ministry, which is also marked by suffering, somehow atones for the rest of our sins? Of course not!
What was lacking in the process of people coming to faith was someone to bring the good news of salvation to those who needed to hear it. That is what Paul has done. That is what Paul has completed. Paul suffered as an evangelist, but it was all worth it because through his suffering, the gospel came to those who needed it.
Paul frequently calls this gospel a “mystery” (v. 26), not because it is cryptic or confusing, but because it is the revelation of all that God promised in the Old Testament. It was “hidden” in all that God did and spoke, but now its reality has been revealed in all that Jesus has done. At the centre of this gospel is Jesus Christ—the hope of glory. All of our longings for a glorious future are centred on Jesus.
Bringing the gospel to people is a costly business. Choose ministry, and you have chosen suffering. But, oh what riches in the end! Proclaiming this glorious, hopeful gospel of Christ is something worth suffering and dying for.
Who brought the good news of Jesus to you? Can you think of what it might have cost them to do this?
What are the “glorious riches of this mystery” (v. 27) that have now been revealed to you and me?