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Mar 9

Session 4 Recap: Tripp, “The Essential Ministry of the Body of Christ”

2013 | by John Hunt | Category: Clarus 13

Editor’s Note: John Hunt is the Senior Pastor at Covenant of Grace Church in Albuquerque, NM. He is a member of the Albuquerque Chapter of The Gospel Coalition. This post is a summary of Paul Tripp’s message from Saturday morning at Clarus, March 9, “The Essential Ministry of the Body of Christ,” from Colossians 3:12-16. 

•••••

“If your eyes ever see or ears ever hear the sin, weakness, and failure of the person next to you, it’s never an accident; it’s never an obstacle; and it’s never a hassle. Never, never, never … never. It is always an act God’s grace.”

If you do see the failures of others in relationships as obstacles or hassles, it is because you fail to see relationships as God sees them. Why are you angry with that person whose sin you have just experienced? Is it because he broke God’s law? More likely, it was because he broke your law. God has put that person in your life—and you in theirs—as an act of grace and as agents of transformation.

From Colossians 3:12-14, Dr. Tripp drew out the truth that, “Your relationships do not belong to you. They are not to be shrunk down to your agenda.” Rather, because God owns that relationship, His agenda is all that matters. We are not merely recipients of His Kingdom, but we are instruments of His Kingdom. Therefore, “Put on Christ. Give others the same grace you have been given.” But you can only give this grace when you see your own deep need for grace. Our problem is not that we are too weak, but rather that we delusionally think we are too strong. We think that we can “fix” people. But we are not people-mechanics. We are ambassadors. For if we could fix people with threats or good advice, Jesus wouldn’t have needed to come and the cross would be unnecessary.

In Colossians 3:15-16, Paul offers some concrete applications for these profound truths. First, he says to let the peace of Christ rule your hearts. You do not need to look to creation for purpose, well-being, fulfillment, or any other need that you already have in Christ. The reason we often fail to live as ambassadors is because we look to other people to do for us that which only God is able to do. The peace of Christ means that Christ has met all my needs. Therefore, I do not need other people to meet my spiritual needs. When I am secure in this identity, I am now able to move outward and focus on others.

Second, let the Word of Christ dwell in you. The Word of Christ is the gospel. Study it; apply it; look through it as your lens for life. The gospel is not merely about forgiveness and going to heaven. Its focus is no just an entrance and an exit. The gospel is also about right now. This “now-ism” of the gospel is the present consideration of every part of life from the perspective of the gospel. “The gospel is the window of everything in life.”

Third, the apostle commends us to teach and admonish one another. This focus is on every-member ministry. We teach others to see life through the gospel lens through which we are now seeing. We admonish by holding the mirror of the gospel up so that we can see what God wants all of us to see. In this way, all become instruments in the Redeemer’s hands. We live in a broken world of broken relationships, but only the gospel of grace brings healing and restoration. We must commit to one another, seeing our relationships as a means through which God is giving grace and ushering transformation.