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Suffering For The Sake Of The Gospel

Colossians 1:24
Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. (NIV)

This verse has often been misunderstood. Some think it means that Christ's work on the cross was insufficient to achieve salvation. Not so. The sacrificial work of the Lord Jesus Christ was complete, perfect and sufficient to pay for all the sin of the world (Hebrews 10:12-14). So, what does this verse mean?
Clearly the Apostle Paul had suffered much in proclaiming the gospel (2 Corinthians 11:23-28), but none of his sufferings added anything to the finished work of Jesus Christ. So what did Paul mean by saying there was something 'lacking' in what Christ did? As the redemptive purpose of the cross was complete in itself, the only thing that was lacking was people knowing about it. That is why Paul suffered so much. His suffering came because he proclaimed Christ crucified, preached the gospel and urged people to repent and submit to Jesus. However, if he had not done that, people would never have known, they could not be saved and the church could not grow (Romans 10:13-15).
Sharing the gospel continues to be a hazardous task, simply because those who are in rebellion against Christ hate to be reminded of the truth that they are fighting against God. So their easiest solution is to try to get rid of the messengers of the gospel. That is why Paul was repeatedly attacked. However, the gospel is such a wonderful message, and salvation is such a wonderful deliverance, that God's people still want to tell others so that they may also be saved and be a part of the eternal church of Jesus Christ. So, if you encounter opposition, hostility or other persecution for the sake of the gospel you should be encouraged. It means that the gospel message is starting to be heard and that people are reacting. Although it may seem that everybody is against you, some people are actively and eagerly listening to find out how they may be saved. Then all the suffering will be worthwhile for you and for Christ.

Heavenly Father. I am very grateful for the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ for me. Thank You that His death alone has brought me to salvation. I also thank You for those people who have taught me the gospel, enabling me to come to faith in the Lord Jesus who laid down His life for me. Thank You too for the sufferings of men and women through the ages who did not hold back from proclaiming Christ, even though they may have suffered and, in some cases, lost their lives: but the church grew because people heard and believed the gospel. Forgive me when I have kept silent because I have been afraid. Help me to follow Your lead and learn how to speak boldly about my Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Saviour of all those who hear and believe the gospel. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams