17 Sep 2023

Ministry Unto Maturity [Colossians 2:1-7]


There's a serious threat of false teachings causing the Colossians to trip up in their faith. Paul sees to it that they march on towards Christian maturity instead. 1. Paul's Profession. He declares his love, his longing and his labours for them. He reveals how he ceaselessly prays that their hearts to be strengthened, so that being knitted in love, they may arrive at a rich and full confidence and assurance that Jesus is enough. In Him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. They do not need to listen to the false teachers that human traditions and worldly philosophies are required for spiritual life. 2. Paul's Precaution. Paul warns them against leaving a door ajar for false teachings to creep in. There is no place for complacency, even if they have hitherto shown good order and firmness of faith in the gospel. 3. Paul's Prescription. Paul commands them to keep living their lives in Christ- rooted, built up and established in Him. They are to continue in the firmness of faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope in the gospel. As such, we learn that a mature Christian is. 1. Assured. 2. Aware. 3. Abiding. 4. Abounding (in thanksgiving) and an immature Christian will demonstrate the opposite. We also observe that the ministry unto maturity consists of. 1. Proclamation. 2. Prayer. 3. Protection. 4. Pronouncement



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As a church, we've been going through the book of Colossians. It's a simple letter, a small letter, a short letter in the New Testament, and we are now at Colossians chapter 2.

Just this week, I was meeting with one of our members of the church, and he was sharing, he was really excited, and said that when his newborn son was brought into this world, he had a gush of emotions, of joy and excitement, exhilaration, and I think that's totally understandable. But I'm also very sure that he would have continued joy to see how this baby boy will continue to grow and to mature and to be fully grown.

Because in the heart of every parent, our desire is not just to have a baby, though the baby is cute, but our desire is not just for this baby to remain a baby, but that he will grow and mature and be strong and be independent and be able to experience life to its fullest. We want our children to grow up and be useful and be wonderful contributions in this world. It would be so sad if you have a baby and after 20 years, the baby remains a baby. It would be such a tragedy because all the baby can do is to cry, and he is of no good to anybody.

That's the heart of every parent, and that's the heart, I think, of the Apostle Paul. We last stopped at chapter 1 and verse 28, and how Paul said that this is his goal, to present everyone mature in Christ. He doesn't just want spiritual infants, he wants spiritual maturity. That people who come to faith in Jesus Christ would be mature in Christ, fully grown, strong, independent, able to serve others and not just self-seeking behaviours.

And therefore, for this goal, the Apostle Paul says, I toil and I struggle. I put in great effort to help these people grow. That's my goal and that's my labour. So today, as we come to chapter 2 and verse 1, Paul says this is the same desire and goal for you.

So if chapter 1, verse 24 to verse 29 is about Paul's ministry in general, chapter 2, verses 1 onwards or verse 1 onwards, it will be about Paul's ministry in particular to the Colossians and to those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen him face to face in the region.

So we are looking at Paul's specific ministry for these people and I think continuing with what we learned last week, it is about Paul's ministry unto maturity, helping the Colossians, Laodiceans and the people there to grow and be mature in Christ.

So verses 1 to 7 is deceptively simple. It looks very straightforward. I would say this, last week after I preached, Sunday afternoon and evening, I went back and looked at the text and I didn't see a lot out of the text. I thought I may have to combine further materials in verse 8 onwards to make a full sermon so that it's, it's a sufficient meal, as it were.

But as I dug deeper, I realised there are many things I didn't understand on a superficial reading and found that actually there's a whole treasure of truths and complexities and technicalities that we would, I hope, share with you today that you may learn and benefit from.

So it is seemingly easy but actually not so. I would urge your attention, therefore, for the first half in particular because first half is very difficult, quite technical. Just take a look at your Bible now. I'm not showing you the verses but I, I'm doing something a little bit different. I'd like you to take a look at the verses before you.

You see, I, I realise a lot of people listen to sermons with no Bible in their hands, huh, hah or the phones are, you, you, I, I understand the slides provide you with the verses. But this is a great time, if I can, challenge you a little. Look at Colossians 2, verses 1 to 3. No need to go all the way to 7, just verses 1 to 3.

And can you kind of make sense of what is Paul really talking about? Because he talks about the struggle so that their hearts are encouraged, being knitted in love, so that they may reach the, the riches of the full assurance of the knowledge, of the, of, of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wealth.

I mean, what is he talking about? So long, so complex. Is this a series of connected things and how are they related one with another? Well, I would say to you, I spend quite a bit of time just figuring out these words. Take a look, have a little appreciation of what it is, then I'll go right in.

1. Paul's Profession

So, this morning we're looking at this ministry unto maturity, and I think from the word go, I'd like us to say that, like us to see it is, first of all, Paul professing or sharing or communicating something with the Colossians, Paul's profession. I think what, what is he professing? He's professing his love, his concern for them, because he says, "for I want you to know" (Colossians 2:1). He's telling them what he spoke about in verses 24 to 29 is the general principles of his ministry, how he suffers, how he stewards, how he strives, and now he says, I want you to know I'm professing to you my equivalent love and labor and longing for you.

And he's talking to a group of people here in Laodicea, in Colossae, and for all who have not seen him face to face, it's a region, as we've seen in the map the last time, it's a, it's a tiny little area, not very far apart from one another, and it seems like in this region there is a false teaching or there are false teachers, charlatans, who have come in with wicked lies.

So he's writing to tell them how they can be prevented from falling into those false teachings. We see in verse 4, for example, he says, "I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments." There are people coming to deceive. And then he goes on to verse 8 saying, "see to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit according to human tradition."

So there are people who are coming to the Colossians, Laodiceans, to the region and say, you know what? What you know from Epaphras or what you know from the Apostle Paul is not quite enough. You've got to learn about philosophy from us. You've got to learn about some teachings which actually turn out to be empty deceit and you've got to learn from us some human tradition. Because what you know from Paul, what you know from Epaphras, "buay gao" (in Hokkien dialect, means not enough), you must hear from us and learn from us.

And we have further details, for example, in verse 18, these false teachers are insisting on asceticism, worship of angels and visions. So it is quite clear they are saying to the Colossians, the Laodiceans, the Gospel, the message about Jesus, what you hear from Paul is insufficient. So Paul says, therefore, I want to let you know I'm struggling for you. I'll explain the word struggle in a while, but I'm struggling for all of you who may be exposed to this false teaching. And the defense against that is that I struggle for you so that your hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ. That's quite a mouthful.

So far, we have seen that Paul is saying, I'm struggling for you. But what's the goal of that struggling? You may say the goal is that their hearts may be encouraged, but then he also goes on to say being knitted together in love to reach all the riches of full assurance. So it's quite clear in verse 2, the goal, the ultimate goal here is that they may reach all the riches of full assurance.

If I may put it another way, Paul struggles for the Colossians and for the Laodiceans and for the people in the region, so that they may be fully assured and confident and secure in the mystery of God, which is actually defined in chapter 1:26, chapter 1, verse 26 as the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So Paul is saying, I'm struggling for you so that you can be absolutely secure, you do not need more. The fullness of assurance that all that you need to know is found in the Gospel of God, which is Christ.

You don't need all those worship of angels and visions and asceticism and and human tradition. I want you, I'm struggling for you that you may be secure and confident the Gospel is enough. They are telling you Jesus is not enough, but I'm praying for you, I'm struggling for you that Jesus is enough. Because in Jesus, in Christ, is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

He's saying that the subjective assurance is based on the objective treasures. You can be assured and confident and secure the Gospel is enough, because indeed, in Jesus is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and so if the false teachers come and tell you, you need more knowledge from us, I tell you, you don't really need to. In Jesus is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

When I went to med school, medical school, in year one, I was shocked at the amount of things we have to study. I mean, it was like a culture shock. And I wanted to do well, so I didn't know how to go about it. So I kind of adopted an approach to read the notes that are handed down from our seniors. We call them senior's notes. And besides that, I said, maybe "buay gao", to do well, you need to add more.

So for the various subjects, I would read up on other books. For those who are, well, I wouldn't say those books, but we, we had the different books, and the thicker, the better. Because the thicker means the more information, wah, more "gao lak" (Hokkien dialect mean better, powerful). So, so study the notes, study other books, and in the end, I don't think I did very well. Just too many things, too many views, too many perspectives.

So I changed strategy. In year two onwards, I said, enough, I'm not going to read other books anymore, I'm just going to mug the senior's notes. All I will study is the senior's notes, it is enough. I think I did better in year two than in year one, and so on and so forth.

That's what I think of, huh, you don't need other stuff. You just need the Gospel, you just need to know Christ. Don't need to go to the visions and worship of angels, like what they are saying, human traditions. Jesus is enough. And when you know securely that Jesus is enough, then you will not be so easily deceived with plausible arguments that false teachers are throwing at you.

So that is what verses 1 to 3 is about. Paul is struggling for them so that they are not so easily swayed to chase after more stuff, but to know that in Christ, all the wisdom and knowledge and understanding is already found in Him.

So, he goes on to say that this assurance is very related with maturity. Chapter 4, I'm jumping to chapter 4. You see, when you read the letter, it's useful to look at the whole letter and find clues. We are talking about ministry unto maturity, and maturity is very much related with assurance. As Paul would say, Epaphras is always struggling, so that they may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. A mature man understands that the will of God is fully found in the Lord Jesus Christ. You don't need anything else.

So, I want you to know how great a struggle. I said I will tell you what the struggle is, and so let's look at this. So we know that the goal of the struggle is the assurance that Jesus is enough. How does he struggle? The word struggle is the word agōn in the Greek, which refers to a place where Greek athletes meet. That's where they have the games. That's where there are contests, that's where they struggle. That's where they fight or have conflicts, one with another as a wrestling match would go. This word is a word that speaks of great energy and effort.

In fact, this same word, agōn, is what is translated in Hebrews 12:1, who for the race that is set before us. Race, that's the word agōn. So this is a word that describes great energy, effort, related to the agonizomai, which we looked at last week. So this is a word that refers to effort, but in what way does Paul use effort? Some of you may say, oh, he, he puts in a lot of effort in teaching and preaching. I agree with you, he does. That's what is said in chapter 1 and verse 28.

But it's rather strange if we say that Paul is having a great struggle for the Colossians when he has never met the Colossians, so how could he preach to them? Perhaps you say he taught Epaphras and Epaphras taught them. That's possible. That's maybe what he struggles in. Some of you may say he struggles in that he suffers for them. Maybe that's mentioned in chapter 1. Some of you say he struggles because he took a lot of pains to write this letter. That's maybe another struggle that he has. It takes a lot of effort to write a letter like this.

But most likely, I think this struggle refers to Paul's prayer, prayer life for the Colossians. And it is not just my suggestion because I think within the text or letter, it has some clues towards that goal. And so if we read in verse 9 of chapter 1, " And so from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you." Paul is in prison. How does he struggle for the Colossians in prison? He prays for them. He does not cease to pray for them. And this same word struggle is used in chapter 4 and again with regards to Epaphras and how Epaphras is struggling on your behalf in his prayers.

So we are clarifying now what Paul is saying when he says, I want you to know how great a struggle. I want you to know how much I'm praying for you. This is what I pray for you ceaselessly, just like my brother, just like my friend, just like my co-laborer, Epaphras is always struggling on your behalf in his prayers. For what? So that you may be encouraged. The word encouraged is the word parakaleō.

This morning, someone was sharing that one of his family members overseas is having some struggles at work and in life. And so he and his wife have decided to fly all the way to that overseas land to be with this family member to encourage her. You know what that is? That's parakaleō. That's to call alongside, to be with you, to strengthen you, to comfort you. And so Paul is saying, I'm praying that God will come alongside you and strengthen you.

You know this phrase, "being knit together in love?" This is a bit chim. We don't say that a lot, but I'll just explain. This, in the Greek, being knit together in love is written in the participle sense. It's a participle. What is a participle? A participle is a action word that describes the word that comes before it.

So it is not saying, I want you to know how I struggle so that you're encouraged, so that you're knit, it's not so that. It is to describe what it means to be strengthened, what it means to be comforted. It's a participle, it's a verbal adjective. It's a word that describes, an action word that describes what is written before.

Maybe I detract a little ah, distract a little. You all know the Great Commission? What's the Great Commission? Where is it found? Matthew chapter 28. And what is the Great Commission? "Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you."

Let me ask you, what is the Great Commission then? Option one, go. Option two, make disciples. Option three, baptize. Option four, teach. Because these are the four words used, right? Go ye therefore, make or..., make disciples, baptizing them, teaching them. A, B, C, D. Which one? Or is it A, B, C, D all together? We call it E. All of the above, E is all of the above lah ah. How many of you say it's A? Can I see by a show of hands, A? A is go. Anyone say A? Anyone say, okay, one. How many of you say B, make disciples? How many of you say C? How many of you say D, D is to teach? One. How many of you say E, A, B, C, D, add together? Wah, "jing zui lang" (Hokkien dialect mean so many people) ah, all add together, you all take ah. So the great commission is A, B, C, D, E. Ah no, A, B, C, D. Go, make disciples, baptize, teach. That makes sense when you read it in the English, because all four words are there.

But actually in the Greek, TEHHH (Wrong answer Buzzer Effect). Why? Because in the Greek, there's something called an imperative and something called participles. The imperative is the central command. And the command in Matthew 28 is, make, ah not go. No one say A, not many people say A. The central command there is, make disciples. And the go, baptize, and teach are, participles. Participles means these are the action words that describe what it means or what it takes to make disciples.

How do you go and make the disciple? You've got to go, as you're going about your life, you've got to baptize, that implies that you've got to share with them the Gospel, and then you need to teach. So those three participles clarify and explain what it means to make disciples. So it's not four things, it's one thing. What is that one thing Jesus gave to the apostles and by inference to all of us? Make disciples.

So, this is a participle. It's not two things, but this one thing explains this thing. Alright, so that's a long detour. I have almost no time already. But I want you to see that Paul is praying for them, that they may be encouraged in their hearts so that they may arrive at this assurance. This assurance that I do not need more. I can be assured and confident and secure that in Jesus, in the Gospel, I have all the wisdom and knowledge and understanding I need. No need to add vinegar and add salt. It's what it is.

So the struggle is to lead him to, lead the Colossians to strengthening in their inner man, in their hearts, that they may be secure in the knowledge of Christ. So all that is Paul's profession, I want you to know. I want you to know what? I want you to know my love for you, that this is my concern for you. I want you to know my longing for you. My longing is that you'll be fully assured in the knowledge of Jesus, that He is enough. And I want you to know my labor for you, how I pray for you ceaselessly. That's what verse 1 to 3 is all about. First half done, you survived.

2. Paul's Precaution

The second half, a lot easier, alright? Paul, however, in this text goes on to say, I want you to be warned. He gives a precaution. You know, this week I read in the papers and I checked the original article in UK that some landlord realized that his apartment has been a, has welcomed some unwelcome guests. Forty pigeons flew into his apartment and pooped all over the apartment in every single room. It was so bad, I was told, that the pest busters or the, the, the pest people who had to come, had to come in PPE, personal protection equipment, fully gowned up with mask and everything. You know, because pigeons, they, they, their poop can contain parasites and can be quite deadly, so they came in full protection gear and they said this is at, this is the worst they've ever seen.

It's because the tenants that were inhabiting this place had just evacuated or left this place, vacated this apartment some four weeks ago, and they inadvertently left a patio door open. Just one door and all the pigeons came in and this landlord has to pay $26,000 to clean up this mess.

That's what I thought about, or that's what reminded me about this text. Don't leave the door open, huh , because the false teachers will come in and poop all over your soul, and it'll be costly to you, it'll be smelly to you, so be very careful. Don't let the door open to false teachings. Paul says, I say this in order, what, what, what? Say what? Verse 1 to 3. I say this, I want you to know, how I pray for you, how I long for you, so that you are fully assured, so that you will not be easily led astray by plausible arguments.

Now, the ESV translates this as plausible arguments, almost making it sound like logical arguments. Actually, that's not what it is. The Greek, I think, is better translated into enticing speech or enticing words. Be careful, I let you know that I'm praying for you so that you will not be easily seduced into deceptive speeches and words.

The good thing, however, is that the Colossians thus far seem to be doing quite well, because Paul says, "for though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit" (Colossians 2:5), this is not some holographical projection. This is just saying Paul is very much thinking and laboring and praying for them. And he says, "rejoicing to see your good order" (Colossians 2:5). Again, this seeing is not, I think, physical, but as he hears the report from Epaphras, I'm glad that you are living in "good order and firmness" (Colossians 2:5). The word good order is about the position. It is, it is the word thési, it refers to the place or the position. And firmness, I'm sure you know, it refers to the resoluteness.

So Paul is saying, I'm so glad that even though there are false teachings swirling in the Lycus Valley, in, in Colossae and in Laodicea and in the regions there, you guys are still standing in the right place. And you guys are resolutely standing in the right place. So he speaks about the position and the permanence of their faith, or the rightness and the resoluteness of their faith in Christ.

This actually is what Paul was talking about in Colossians 1. He tells them, this is his goal, that they may continue in the faith, stable, steadfast, not shifting. So you could see that Paul is very consistent in his writing. Chapter 1, verse 23 about this stability of faith continues to chapter 2, verse 5 about the stability of the faith. He's very concerned that they will not be shifting from their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And so should we.

Paul leaves no room for complacency when it comes to false teaching. He's telling them, don't stray. Because these dangers are very real. If you're not careful, you open just one little door, the pigeons come in and poop in your life. You know, I've been in the, in the ministry for some time, years now. And, and I think a lot of people appear strong and resolute in their faith for quite some time. But I've also seen some, unfortunately, because of some incidents, some maybe even relational issues, they decide to leave, they, they explore other teachings. And I'm sad to say, as far as I'm, from my perspective, they have fallen prey to false teachings. Not a few who have left our church.

And maybe there may be even some in our church who right now has opened doors to false teachings in their lives. Paul warns against that. He professes his love, his labour and longing for them, and then he warns them. I, I say all this so that no one may delude you. I think we, if that was a big issue in those days, I think it's an even bigger issue in our day. There are more sophisticated false teachings, many more kinds of false teachings in our world today. And we cannot afford to let our guard down. And the mature man in Christ does not let his guard down. He doesn't say to himself, I'm so strong in the faith, I'm never going to fall prey to false teachings. Nope, he doesn't see things in a complacent light.

3. Paul's Prescription

And finally, we see Paul's prescription for them. I want you to know my love, my labour, my longing. I want to warn you about false teachings, and this is what I want you to do. He says, "therefore, as you receive Christ Jesus" (Colossians 2:6), the word therefore connects with verse 5. Seeing your good order, seeing your firmness in the faith. Guys, I'm so glad for where you are now, but please carry on, please continue. "Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him" (Colossians 2:6). Continue in that firmness and resoluteness of faith in Him.

Uh, this is very interesting because this walk to you looks very ordinary, but to the Greek reader, he would realize this, this walk is the first time, the first time a command is issued in Colossians. A command is what we call an imperative in the Greek. Remember imperative and participles? Hah? Imperative is a command, and this is the first command in Colossians.

So some people say, oh, actually, this is where the letter really begins. Chapter 1 all the way to verse 5 of chapter 2 is about what God is doing, what Paul is thinking. But now, Colossians, what am I supposed to do? They will ask. This is what you do, Paul says. I command you to walk in Him.

What do you mean by walk in Him? Oh, this is where we become very creative. People say walk in Jesus means I need to do this, do that, do this, do that. Actually, Paul just has one idea here. I want you to walk in Him in this one sense, to be rooted and built up and established.

Now, these three words or three concepts are all, I guess, let me ask you whether you can get it, are all, guess the word I'm going to ask you to say, are all participles, very good?!Well done! This is not a sermon, this is almost like a Greek class, but you've got to know this, because otherwise we may think that Paul is saying, I want you to walk and be rooted and be built up and be established.

No, he's not saying four things, he's saying one thing. And that one thing is to walk in Christ. What do you mean by walk in Christ? It means you are rooted and built up and established. Stay firm in Christ. That's the whole idea. These three concepts explain what is walking. Now you say, Paul, you're mixing metaphors leh. How can I walk and still be rooted? You want me to walk or you want me to be rooted? Huh, hah, just to solve that, I think the word walk is not literally telling you to be on a locomotive, uh, as if you cannot sit or squat, but the word walk is a general word that refers to how you live your life.

So he's saying, I want you to live in such a way that you are anchored, firm, stable, steadfast, not shifting. That's what Paul is saying, that's all. And just a little note,the word received. Most Christians understand the word received to be, oh, the day I received Jesus in my life. In other words, they look at this word received as if it's a conversion word, salvation word. But actually, the word received is not exactly the way we understand it today.

So we kind of understand a concept and then we project it into the Bible as it was written then. We call this, OK, I better don't throw another word. But it's, it's reading into what it used to, what Paul was writing. When Paul wrote received, the word received in the Greek refers to how people, it's a special word, and it refers to how people receive traditions, teachings that have been passed down.

So Paul is saying, as you have learned about Jesus from Epaphras and from others, just as you, as you have learned and been taught, so continue to live in Him lah. Don't go and listen to other things lah. If you could write in Singlish, it would be like that lah. So as you have learned about Jesus, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up. And we know this is the right understanding as he repeats this just as you were taught, just as you had received these traditions. And if you do this, then you will not be so easily falling prey to human traditions. That's what Paul is saying.

And final note, and I'll end soon, and it is that they should be a people, therefore, abounding in thanksgiving. Abounding in thanksgiving is not an imperative, it's also a participle. But the idea is this, if you are rooted and built up, if you are continuing to live your life anchored in Jesus, you will be someone abounding in thanksgiving.

It may be that false teachings have allowed, have created some kind of arguments and so on in the region, but I think the point is, if you are walking in Jesus, you will be a person abounding in thanksgiving, as Paul would have said, this is what I pray for you about, that you will also be giving thanks. So there's a lot of symmetry in what Paul is writing in chapters 1 and 2.

I wrap up. This is a passage about ministry unto maturity. That is given to us in verse 28. My goal for you is to be presenting you mature in Christ, not falling prey to false teachings to trip you up. And so let's look at what maturity looks like. What is a mature man? Now, I don't think this list is by any means exhaustive, but it is still instructional for us, instructive for us. What does it look like? What does a mature man look like?

I say, number one, he's assured in the sufficiency of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for all wisdom and knowledge. He doesn't say that I need to go and explore another religion to find out a, a better way to seek God and to know God. He doesn't say to himself, oh, I need some fresh vision and dream. I'm not saying that God cannot give extra Biblical revelation today, but it means that the mature man does not hanker or crave or hunger after these things as if he doesn't have enough in the Gospel. A mature man is assured in the sufficiency of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for all wisdom and understanding.

We live in a day and age where people are telling you the Bible is not enough. You got to go to some mountain, you got to go to some valley and try to catch a vision from God. You got to hear from Him as if He's going to speak into your ears all the time, no. I'm not saying God cannot in His sovereign will reveal things to you, but I'm saying we have the sufficient Word of God. The Gospel is found therein. Christ is given to us therein. And a mature man has that deep security, confidence and assurance.

It's different from knowledge. There are people who know a lot, but they may not be assured, that's the difference. And so Paul prays for them that their hearts may really be strengthened and that they will be confident and secure.

A second aspect of maturity is that they are very aware of, if I may use another word that starts with A, they're very alert as to the deceptive, seducing, enticing false teachings that may be around us. He is not complacent, he's fully aware and alert, sober and vigilant.

A third thing about a mature man is that he keeps abiding in Jesus. Isn't it this is, isn't this is the whole point of this text that we read, that Paul is very concerned that they would remain anchored, rooted, built up, established, firm, stable, steadfast. So many words to communicate this is what a mature man looks like. He's not tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine, borrowing the words in Ephesians.

And then finally, a mature man is abounding in thanksgiving. You know what's an immature Christian? Reverse all that and you'll find one. He doesn't believe in the sufficiency of Scripture, he's always going for this and that, trying to have some paranormal experience, mystical experience. An immature Christian is someone who is oblivious to the fact that there are plenty of false teachings in this world.

An immature Christian is someone who sometimes feel like remaining in Jesus and sometimes feel like looking to something else as his source of salvation. An immature Christian is someone who is always complaining and griping all the time. There you have it.

What is ministry, huh? What is ministry unto maturity? Looking at Paul's life, it involves the proclamation of God's truth, making the Word of God fully known in verse 28 of chapter 1, teaching and warning. That's what we have to do, if we want people to be mature in Christ. So that as they see the Word of God unfolded, they are tremendously assured, indeed the Word of God that reveals Jesus, gives us all the wisdom and knowledge we need.

The ministry must involve prayer. I think this is what Paul is doing even in the prison, ceaselessly struggling on his knees together with Epaphras for their spiritual well-being.

I think true ministry is protecting people from false teachings, being willing to speak about it and to point out false teachings in our day and age. And not saying, oh, we got to be loving and don't talk about other people's problems. No, we got to warn the sheep of false teachers and wolves.

And then finally Paul professes, I want you to know, I do all these things because I love you. This is how Paul ministers and this is what Paul is aiming for. It's a neat little text. I hope today to encourage your hearts to pursue maturity. I hope that in our church we would be faithfully doing the right ministry and I hope today you learn a little bit of Greek from a, from a Greek amateur here as well. But whatever it is, I hope this encourages you to read your Bible more accurately, faithfully and meaningfully. Let's bow for a word of prayer.

Father, we thank You so much for Your Word and I suppose it reveals to us how often we have just skimmed the surface of the Scriptures and never really dug deep and bother to explore the wells of life in the words of Scripture. I pray today, though it's a little bit technical and difficult at times, I pray this may not actually hinder but inspire and encourage Your people to, to enjoy the process of really digging into the Word of God.

Beyond that, we pray this day that Your Spirit will strengthen Your people here, that our hearts may be strengthened, that being knitted together in love, we might be secure and confident and deeply assured that all we need is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I pray then that Your people will be vigilant against false teaching and in our lifetime, whether we go through easy times or tough times, we would continue to live in Him, rooted, built up, established and be a people full of thanksgiving. This is, I believe, Your will and this is what we pray for.

Lord, make us mature, grow us. We pray for a church that would glorify You with this kind of life. Thank You. We pray for our friends who are gathered here today. I'm sure this must have been quite a ride, quite complex, but may they also see the simplicity of the Gospel, the simplicity of the message of the Bible, and that is the plan of salvation is all found in Jesus. How He came and died and rose again to wash our sins and to bring us to a right relationship with You, O God. Grant to them repentance and faith. We pray all this in Jesus' Name, Amen.


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