Archive for November 25, 2010

Nov 25

Sermon Follow-Up: “The Guts and Glory of Ministry”

2010 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Sermon Follow-Up

In Sunday’s message, “The Guts and Glory of Ministry,” Ryan preached from Colossians 1:24-2:5 to show us God’s purpose in the ministry of the apostle Paul, who rejoiced in his sufferings “for the sake of [Christ’s] body.” Paul had a decidedly word-centered ministry focused on the proclamation of the gospel of Christ, and suffering was always a means to more of the same. He was busy planting churches and spreading the gospel, but this section of Colossians shows us just how tirelessly Paul labored to strengthen the church in the gospel. Paul toiled and struggled in order to “make the word of God more fully known” to God’s people, to “present everyone mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:25, 28-29).

Paul’s commitment to strengthen the people of God reminds us that the church’s growth in maturity and number are not separate concerns with separate means. The gospel is extended into the world as the church is strengthened in the gospel by the word.

To make this point, Ryan quoted John Piper from his sermon, “The Role of the Pastor in World Missions,” who expressed well the mingling of these aims:

What then should a pastor do to promote a passion among his people to see God glorified by the in-gathering of his sheep from the thousands of unreached people groups around the world?

My answer: above everything else, be the kind of person and the kind of preacher whose theme and passion is the majesty of God. No church will be able to rise to the magnificence of the missionary cause of Christ if they do not feel the magnificence of Christ himself. There will be no big world vision without a big God. There will be no passion to draw others, near or far, into the joy of our worship where there is no passionate joy in worship.

The most important thing I think pastors can do to arouse and sustain a passion for world evangelization is week in and week out to help their people see the crags and peaks and icy cliffs and snowcapped heights of God’s majestic character.

I mean that we should labor in our preaching to clear the mists and fog away from the sharp contours of the character of God. We should let him be seen in his majesty and sovereignty.

…the majestic character of God needs to be seen week in and week out not in the context of casualness and triviality and Sunday morning slapstick, but in the context of exaltation and awe and solemnity and earnestness and intensity.

How will our people ever come to feel in their bones the awful magnitude of what is at stake in the eternal destiny of the unevangelized, if our homiletical maxim is to start with a joke and keep the people entertained with anecdotes along the way. How will the people ever come to know and feel the crags and peaks and snowcapped heights of God’s glory if our preaching and worship services are more like picnics in the valley than thunder on the ice face of Mt. Everest?

It’s Thanksgiving day, and there are many things for which to be thankful. As the people of God, our greatest cause for thanksgiving is this very vision of God in Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).  That’s why Paul could give this imperative following immediately after Sunday’s text: “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6).

So, let us abound in thanksgiving for the gospel of Jesus Christ, and for the ministry of those whom God uses to teach us each week, who toil and struggle for our maturity in Christ, who make the word of God more fully knowing in and through the body at Desert Springs Church.