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Gospel Purpose

Colossians 2:2-3
My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (NIVUK)

To some people, the Apostle Paul's lifestyle made no sense.  His struggles and suffering seemed a waste (2 Corinthians 6:4-10): so, he set the record straight.  He was willing to sacrifice so much for the sake of Jesus, because Jesus had sacrificed everything for him and the church.  And Paul had been personally commissioned by Jesus to reveal the treasures of God which come through Jesus (Acts 9:15-16), and to suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:29).

Everything God wants to give us is found in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).  But for the unbeliever, the treasure store of God makes no sense at all.  It is a mystery to them.  But when Christ is proclaimed, and His character and salvation-mission is explained, those who are willing to trust Him find a real person who explains the mystery (Romans 16:25).  The apostolic task, and the ongoing task of the church in every age, is to reveal the full riches of Christ to those who would believe (Ephesians 3:8-9).   When people fully commit themselves to trusting the Lord Jesus, He will strengthen them in five ways: encouragement, unity, understanding, wisdom and knowledge.  
Firstly, encouragement: Christ strengthens the heart, enabling desires and decisions which please Him (Philippians 2:13) and keep trusting His promises despite opposition.  A church without that sort of encouragement will become a club where people increasingly distrust each other.  Secondly, unity in love: true love is always 'other centred'.  Those who love sacrificially, as Christ loves, will want to give to others and not insist on getting their own way (Philippians 2:1-4).  Without that mindset, unity is impossible.  Thirdly, understanding - this is the ability to see how everything fits together. Because Christ is the Creator, Sustainer, Saviour, Redeemer and much more ... He is the centre of everything (Colossians 1:15-20).  Without understanding that, believers and whole churches will invent other epicentres of belief and drift away from Him.  They will be unable to, fourthly, act with wisdom because they will not know how to relate with God and serve His purpose (1 Corinthians 2:1-8).  They will be unable to, fifthly, know what is right or wrong (Psalm 32:9).
Faith in Jesus Christ starts a transformation of mind and heart (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Nothing can make sense without Him, but in Him the mystery of God is unlocked.  Only then can we know how to relate in His church and glorify Him in His world.  That is why we have the apostolic explanation of the mystery of Christ in the Bible, so that every generation including ours may know how to relate with the God who made us, and with each other.  In the same way that Paul knew that his struggles for the churches were worthwhile, so every believer who sacrifices time, money, reputation and 'normal' pleasures for the sake of Christ and the gospel is glad.  The result is the beauty of changed lives, souls are saved and churches are built securely, as we proclaim and trust the apostolic explanation of Jesus Christ.  All that may seem too big for any of us: but start where you are ... live His life, tell His story and relate together in His love.

Dear Lord God. Thank You that You are no longer hidden, but in Christ we see Your character and loving purpose for humanity. Thank You for the faithfulness of the apostles who did not hold back from proclaiming Christ, despite the opposition and suffering they endured. Please forgive me when I fail to make Jesus and His gospel clear to people. Help me to value what the apostles have written about Jesus Christ so that I may trust Him more completely and enjoy the fullness of the riches to be found in Him. Help me to learn how to relate in love and work together with others wisely to Your praise and glory. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams