10 Sep 2023
False teachers have propagated lies in the church at ancient Colossae. Paul therefore urges the Colossians to stand firm in the faith. And he rejoices in the gospel ministry that has been entrusted to him. He knows that the gospel is powerful to help them mature in Christ, in order for them to withstand these lies. He shares how he sees and goes about the gospel ministry. 1. It requires sufferings. The messenger of the gospel must expect persecutions and sufferings. But he can also rejoice, for it is the life-giving message the world needs. It is a joy of love. 2. It requires stewarding. The gospel ministry is an entrustment from God to be stewarded. The goal is to make the word of God fully know, that they may see in focus the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nothing more, nothing less. 3. It requires striving. Paul describes the hard labour involved to present men and women mature in Christ. Overall, Paul gladly suffers, stewards and strives, for the gospel is the power to save, and to secure believers.
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We as a church are going through the book of Colossians and I'd like to once again reorientate you as to where we are in our study of this book.
Paul wrote this letter to the people of ancient Colossae, a people he has never met before, it was not a church he started. So I thought it was very wise for Paul to begin this letter with words of encouragement. He wants to encourage them to continue to persevere in their faith. And then the major bulk of this letter is in his edification words. He wants to build them up. He first warns them against the swirling false teachings around the church and then encourages them to seek living for things above. That would then take us finally to the endorsements in this letter where Paul lists the men and women that the Colossians should learn from and support and submit to.
So we began this some three weeks ago. We began by looking at the encouragements found in chapter 1 and Paul began by talking about the praise that he renders unto God. This is to recognize how God has worked in the Colossians' lives. This is to encourage them about God's faithfulness. And then Paul encourages them by telling them what he prays for them about. So in that prayer, he is encouraging the Colossians as to what God will continue to do for them as a result of prayer.
Last week, we looked at that poem that is seen in our sermon trailer just now. A poem, a hymn, a song about Jesus and about the supremacy of Jesus Christ. How He's supreme over all creation and He's supreme over the new creation. And that is to help the Colossians see, how great Jesus is, so that they can continue in the faith, remain stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the Gospel.
And now, we today in chapter 1, verse 23, all the way to chapter 2, verse 7, we're going to see how Paul speaks about the tremendous privilege he has as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because he is going to share how this Gospel is powerful and precious for them to grow and mature and be strong in Christ. So that at the end of the day, they will not shift from the hope of the Gospel.
So we know that's the main idea because in verse 23, this is where we last stopped. He talks about the greatness, the supremacy of Jesus in the poem and applies it in such a fashion that they will continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the Gospel.
And he now speaks about his ministry, the privilege as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And then if I may fast forward all the way to chapter 2 and verses 4 and 5, again the same idea, don't shift, don't stray, don't wander, don't let people delude you, be steadfast and have that firmness of your faith in Christ.
So it's quite easy to see therefore, that this segment on Paul's speech or sharing about his role as the minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he sees it as a privilege so that they may be able to know the Gospel, be rooted in the Gospel, be firm in the Gospel so that they will not shift from the Gospel.
So today we're going to look at Paul's perspective of the Gospel ministry, how he sees this as a privilege, how he sees the preciousness and the power of the Gospel to help them mature and be steadfast in their faith.
1. The Gospel Ministry Requires Suffering
I'd like us to see three things as usual from this text. Number one, how Paul shares with us and reveals to us that the Gospel ministry requires suffering. When I was younger, the only word or the only idea I have when I hear the word minister is prime minister. So when I think about the prime minister, I think about the most powerful man in Singapore. He holds the rights to major decisions for our country, he's probably quite a rich person, he's probably very well looked up to and so when I think about the word minister, I think about a life of adoration and power and wealth and control and affluence.
But when I read my Bible, I realize that the word minister should not be seen like that because ministers of the Gospel are expected to sacrifice, ministers of the Gospel are expected to suffer. Paul says, I am a Gospel minister, but I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake.
The apostle Paul is a man who has to go through many sufferings. We read about his sufferings, the catalogue of his sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11, that's a formidable list by any means. But even more so, as we have already explored, Paul right now, when he's writing this letter to the Colossians, is in prison. And so Paul says, I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake.
This is not a surprise to anyone who has read the Bible because earlier on when Jesus said to Ananias that Paul is a chosen instrument of mine to carry My Name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel, Jesus also said that He will suffer for the sake of My Name. The ministry of the Gospel that God has called Paul to requires much sufferings. He will, he will suffer much for the Name of Jesus. As he carries the Gospel, as he preaches the Gospel, as he brings this message to many different cities and many different culture,s for the sake of the Name of Jesus, as he carries the Name of Jesus, he will have to suffer.
So when we come to Colossians and read this simple sentence, we are not surprised. Paul has to suffer for the Name of Jesus. Paul adds this rather interesting phrase, and in my flesh, I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions. Huh, if we're not careful, we can end up with the wrong conclusion. Some of you may say, oh, are you saying that what Jesus suffered on the cross is insufficient? There's some kind of a lack. So Paul had to also suffer in order for people to be saved.
I would categorically, clearly say to you, that's not what it is saying. Almost, I think I would say, every commentary, every commentator worth his thought, would immediately say this lack is not a lack of payment for sin. It is not a lack of sufficiency for the payment of salvation. After all, if you remember, Jesus, when He, went to the cross, one of the last few words He said was, it is finished, which means fully paid.
If you're fully paid for something, do you have to pay some more? You don't have to, unless you're stupid, huh or foolish, but this is, so this is clearly not what Jesus is lacking. It is not saying that His death on the cross is insufficient to save us from our sins. Maybe it's even clearer in some of the texts in the Bible, such as Hebrews 10:10, 10:12, 10:14, how Jesus suffered once for all, cao liau, no need some more. That's enough, that's sufficient. And then verse 12, for all time, a single sacrifice.
And notice, after He performs this single sacrifice with giving His life to save us from our sins, the Bible tells us He sat down at the right hand of God. You don't sit down if the work is not yet done. But His work for salvation, His work to save us from our sins is fully done. So He sits down at the right hand of God, and in verse 14, for by a single offering, He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
So I think this has to be very clear. When we look at this text, when Paul says, I'm filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions, he's not speaking about the need to suffer to pay for sins. He's not speaking about the lack of propitiation. The word propitiation means appeasement of God's anger. He doesn't need to suffer to appease God's anger. His suffering is not filling up the lack with regards to propitiation, but his suffering is to fill up the lack with regards to the propagation of the Gospel.
So Paul's suffering is not to secure salvation, Paul's suffering is to spread the message of salvation. It is a suffering that is required when we carry the Name of Jesus to people who do not love God, and people who hate the truth, and people who hate Christ.
You see, Jesus today is not here in physical form to carry the message of the Gospel to your father, to your mother, to your colleague, to your friend, or to a different people in a different country. Jesus has entrusted that responsibility to His people, to the church, first to the apostles and then to the rest of the church. And in that sense, we have to carry this message to people who oppose Christ and therefore suffer and fill up that lack that is needed in the propagation or the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
And Paul's understanding is that this suffering is needed for your sake and for the sake of the church. Because if we do not carry the message, if we do not want to suffer at all and do not give you the message, you will not hear and you will not be saved and you will not benefit.
And Paul's attitude to such sufferings is an amazing one, because when we face sufferings in life, what we generally will do is we either resign, we quit, we retreat, or we reject, or we resent. But Paul says, I don't do these things, I rejoice. I'm glad, I'm privileged to be able to suffer for the Name of Jesus and for your sake. That's how Paul sees the Gospel ministry, a tremendous privilege, even if he is to suffer.
When I was growing up, I liked, as I've often said, liked to watch Chinese martial arts, kung fu, wuxia shows. And there's always this enigma, this strange thing, this very puzzling phenomenon, that when someone wants to send a message to another person far away, and you know last time don't have WhatsApp, no email, no Facebook Messenger, how to send? They have this special technology in ancient China called fei ge chuan shu飞鸽传书. You know what that means? Fei ge chuan shu 飞鸽传书 means flying pigeons spread the, the book or the message.
So they have this amazing, for those who are not Chinese, I'm sorry, but let me explain again. But you, you know like a, like a, like a general, he wants to spread a message to another friend somewhere off. They can't call each other up, so they write the message in a tiny little scroll, roll it up, and then tie it to the leg of the dove or the pigeon, ge 鸽 is pigeon, ge 鸽 is pigeon ah. I don't know why pigeon, but they tie it to the pigeon, and then they carry the pigeon. I don't know how, but they just throw the pigeon, and the pigeon somehow will know how to go to the friend, you know.
It's amazing, that's a, that's a technology even today I don't know how to uncover. But in ancient China, they have this amazing technology, GPS, mounted and straight homing to the exact person you're supposed to send to. And then the next movie scene, you'll see this guy, wah hup, catch this pigeon, and then somehow take out the scroll and read, and say, wah, I know this message is from who. This is an amazing technology in those days. Of course, I don't think it's real huh hah, but that's how Kung Fu shows are.
But what's real, I think, is that if they have a very important message to spread, and it's wartime and so on, they will send a general, a warrior, who would ride his horse and gallop across the lands, day and night, cutting across enemy lines, braving the danger, risking his life, so that he may bring this message to his hometown, to his home city, so that perhaps they will be ready for impending war.
This man, he will risk it all. He will willingly suffer attacks. Why? Because he knows he bears a very important message. He sees it as his responsibility, his privilege to be able to save his people. And that's what I think of when I think about the Gospel ministry. There is a people, there are people today, who are going to perish in sin if not for the Gospel message. The Apostle Paul sees himself as a minister, as a servant of this message. And even though he is to suffer much for the Name of Jesus, he has to suffer much for the sake of the church, he rejoices in it.
I was speaking to a new Christian this week. He was in a new job, he is in a new job, in a new office, and he says he is treated quite nicely by his colleagues. Until one day, he wanted to tell them about the Gospel and at the word, at the mention of the word, Jesus, one of his supervisors, his face, he said, the countenance changed. He said he looked like the devil. I'm not sure what that meant, but he said his countenance changed and he was very angry and proceeded to shame this new Christian.
This is a world that is generally not for Jesus. This is a world steeped in sin, this is a world in darkness. We must understand that and I'm not saying that out of pride because I came from this world. I am of this world, I, I hated Christians, I hated the Bible. I found it ridiculous. And we totally, if you're a Christian today, you totally can understand that, isn't it? That in our sinful nature, we will not want the truth. We will not want to be told we are sinful. We will not want to be told that we cannot save ourselves from our sins. We are, we take offense at the offense of the cross.
And so, if they hated Jesus, they will also hate God's people. And sufferings are part of what it takes for the Gospel ministry. The Gospel ministry is not a call to a lap of luxury. It's not calling you to be the prime minister by any means. But it's a life that requires sacrifice and pain. But God's people should know it is worth it. There's a joy in loving. There's a joy in knowing that this message is key to the rescue of the perishing. That's how Paul saw this. That's how Paul saw the privilege of his ministry.
2. The Gospel Ministry Requires Stewarding
Secondly, the Gospel ministry, according to Paul, requires stewarding. Requires a faithful management of it. Because he says, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you. The word stewardship is the word oikonomia, which means to manage or administrate, to have or have oversight.
So Paul is saying, I am entrusted with a duty and responsibility. And what is this duty and responsibility? Simply put, to make the Word of God fully known. As a Gospel minister, all you really need to do, in summary, your job description, is to make the Word of God fully known.
In other words, you don't have to be too creative. In other words, you don't have to be very novel. In other words, you do not need to come up with your own content. All you need to do is to unpack Scripture, to unfold the teachings of the Bible, to unleash God's Word amongst the people, to preach the Word. Don't be kekiang. Just tell it as it is.
And how do you know you are faithful to the stewardship in making the Word of God fully known? Well, the test, I think, is seen subsequently when Paul says, you would be able to centre on the Gospel. You would know the Gospel. So you help people see and understand and appreciate the Gospel, which is described as the mystery hidden but is now revealed.
The word mystery, I hope you will see that the Bible does not use mystery as in a kind of mythical sense. But the word mystery refers to something that was previously hidden but now revealed. And he's talking about the Gospel here. He says, if I do this right, if I steward the Word of God and reveal it fully, then people would know the mystery, would know the marvelous glory of the Gospel that it is now given also to the Gentiles.
In other words, if we teach the Word of God accurately, faithfully, fully, then people would know that God's grace of salvation is not by race but by grace. Not just to the Jews but to the Gentiles because that salvation is accomplished through Christ in you, the hope of glory. So Paul says, my KPI, my major job description is to make the Word of God fully known. That people would see the Gospel and the grace of God in it.
The Gospel ministry requires suffering and the Gospel ministry requires stewarding. This is one of my joys. I don't have to read many, many things. I don't have to be an expert in many, many things. All I need to do and to give my life to is to study God's Word and to make it fully known. In fact, I would say this is the greatest joy I have, to know God's Word and to make it fully known.
Truth be told, I don't really enjoy the preaching part. It can be quite stressful sometimes. I enjoy the learning part, the studying part. And so after Sunday preaching, one of my delights and highlights is to go back at night and to look at the next passage that I will study for the next sermon next Sunday. I love that part because after I preach on Sunday, I have nothing else to say already. As in, I don't think I have anything else to add for next week. I mean, what else can I come up with?
But the joy is not that I need to come up with anything, but the joy is to just go to the Bible and say, Lord, what else is there for Your people to know next week? And just dig into the text, unfold it, unpack it. No need to add things. Don't modify things. Don't change things. Just let it speak for itself.
And if we do it accurately and if we do it right, then as a church, we would begin to see Jesus. And we were determined to know nothing except Jesus and Him crucified. That will be our focus, that will be our attention. And so I say to you, some of you are thinking about the Gospel ministry. Maybe you want to serve as a care group leader. Maybe you want to disciple men and women. Maybe you're thinking about full-time pastoral work in the future.
I say to you, this must be your KPI. This must be your job description you want to embrace. And that is simply to teach the Word of God fully. If you like to come up with your own ideas, if you like to teach your own opinions, don't be a preacher. Go be something else, but don't be a preacher, please. Because God has entrusted to Gospel ministers this stewardship, this oikonomia, to make the Word of God fully known.
3. The Gospel Ministry Requires Striving
Finally, I'd like us to see Paul saying that the Gospel ministry requires striving. If point number two is about what we are to do as Gospel ministers, then point number three is about how you are to do what God has called you to do. The striving talks about the tremendous effort involved in the ministry of the Gospel.
He says, for this I toil, struggling with all his energy that He powerfully works within me. So Paul uses two words, side by side, to, I suppose, communicate the intensity of effort that is needed. The word toil in the Greek refers to laboring with wearisome effort. Just a lot of work, a lot of effort, that's the idea. And then the word struggling in the Greek is the word agonizomai, which means to struggle, to contend, or to compete in a contest. So I think we can't miss his emphasis that this ministry requires diligence, is effortful.
But Paul is not proud in that, wah you see, I so, I so powerful, I so diligent. But he acknowledges that all this is only possible by, possible by God's enabling. With all his energy that He powerfully works within me. This is very reminiscent of what he said in 1 Corinthians 15, I worked harder than any of them, huh. Paul said he worked harder than all the apostles. But he was not lifted up in pride in that he understands, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. It is God's enabling.
But let's not detract or let's not be distracted from the reality that Gospel ministry does require effort. Effort to do what? Wash toilets? Take out the garbage? No, not necessarily, not that these are not things we should do, but he's clear that the energy is to be focused on the proclaiming and the warning and the teaching of God's people. It's in the Word. And the energy to teach the Bible, and to teach God's Word, is with this singular goal that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
So the goal of the Apostle Paul is not just for people to come to church. I don't even think that was very much high on his list of priorities. I think Paul's goal is more than that, that people who know Jesus would be mature in Christ, would be like Him, would be strong and fully grown and stable and steadfast.
So I say to you, we as a church must be very clear about why we do what we do. Our goal in Gospel Light must not be just increasing attendances on Sunday services. Now, I'm not complaining. We are thankful because every single one who comes is a precious soul in God's sight. And we are thankful that people are coming, and I think in our church, we don't offer a lot of razzle-dazzle paraphernalia, we really just keep it to the essentials.
We really keep it to the core, and that is to present God's Word in such a way that you may know who Jesus is, that perhaps God will grant you repentance and faith in Him. That's what we do. And we present to you the Word of God and the Gospel in such a way that you may grow in Him. That's what we do.
So I'm not against more people coming to church on Sunday morning, it's a good thing. And can I do a PSA, a public service announcement? Uh, not quite what the sermon is, but as you can see, we are seeing more people join us in the recent months, and I think it is time for us to plan for a third service. So I'd like to PSA public service announcement now, and say that we are planning for a third service in January 2024.
Now this may mean, and this will mean, actually some changes to our schedulings. Because we're not thinking of three services on Saturday and Sunday, it's just all going to be on Sunday, and we're trying to squeeze it all between 8 plus to 1 plus, three services. So that would mean some changes to your schedules, routines, some of your classes for your kids, whatever. But I hope you see the reason why. I hope you're excited that we can, in a little way, just a little bit of adjustments, welcome more people perhaps to worship services.
But even though we make adjustments for that, I want you to be very clear, our goal is not increasing attendances in worship services. It cannot be that. It is a poor substitute for what God wants. What God wants is for His people to grow and to mature in Christ.
Similarly, our goal is not simply run professional services. Now again, I'm not saying run lousy services. Aircon turn off, switch off the light, save electricity, get anyone to preach and don't need to prepare sermon, also can say, just fill the time and chin cai lah since it's not our goal. No, no, I'm not saying we chin cai. We want to do well here. But that's not the end all and be all. We want to do well here, but the higher goal is to present everyone mature in Christ. That's my goal. That's our goal, that's the apostles' goal.
Can you imagine what it would be like if on a week to week, month to month, year to year basis we are all growing to be more like Jesus? If we can achieve that, we die happy. I die happy, really. But if we have, wah, so many, so many thousand people come to church, wah, we have a lot of lights and sound effects, but God's people remain the same year to year. I die guilty. I don't dare to meet with my Lord because we just put on a good show, but we miss the mark totally.
So how do we help people grow in Christ? Well, I think the obvious implication in the text is when Gospel ministers fully reveal the Word of God and point people to the Gospel of Jesus. The more that is done, the more that is faithful and loyal, done in the power of the Spirit, and the more God's people's hearts are open and willing, the more you will be like Jesus. That's the exciting reality. The more you come into the Scriptural teaching, the more you'll be changed.
But let me do another PSA here. This morning's sermon not quite, I, I know lah, uh, I have still some time, so I can do a PSA. Public service announcement. In 2024, we're going to run three services on Sunday. That's what you already know. The second thing I'd like you to know is our strategy or plan to help people mature in Christ. And I'm really serious about this, or I'm really more excited about this than actually three services.
How are we going to help people grow? How are we going to help you mature in Christ? I'm a foodie, I love food. Food excites me. So let me give you an example of food. Uh, this is a stack of marvelous looking pancakes, right? Just beautiful golden brown with butter and a drizzle of that luscious honey. You slice into it, whoa, fluffy pancakes.
You see a stack of pancakes here. And I think this communicates the strategy I want to share with you, in helping everyone mature in Christ. We are taking a stack approach or a layering or tiered approach. And it is this. The first stack of pancakes, the first layer, the first tier is what every church will do, I think. Virtually every church.
Every church conducts worship services. Every church may have their small groups, we call it CG, care group, cell group, whatever you want to call it. And every church will have some kind of Bible study. These are wonderful things. These are things I hope will continue in our church because they meet needs. It's helpful that God's people come on Sunday mornings to worship the Lord together and to hear the teaching and preaching of God's Word, to have truth applied to our hearts and to see how the Word of God should be handled and understood and taught. I think that's useful.
I think it's very useful for us to be in care groups, because right here, if all you have in Christianity is to sit here on Sunday morning and watch this guy preach, you have very little interactions one with another, you have very little scope to understand how truth is to be applied in one's life. You have very little opportunity to do the one anothers of the Bible. You have very little opportunity to be encouraging one another in Scripture.
So care groups are important and Bible study groups are also important because some of you have a good appetite, a healthy appetite and you say, Sunday morning, not enough. I want more, I want to know more of the Bible. I just want to know what the Bible has to say. Bible studies, purely set up to study the Bible, wonderful. So these are great things.
But at the same time, I think we as a church also realize there are some other things that are needed too. For example, we need to go deeper into one another's lives and deal with sin issues. You say, don't we deal with sin issues in these platforms? Yes, we do, but we talk about it in generalities. We don't quite go deep into individual lives. We don't provide one another with suitable or adequate accountability. We don't ask tough questions. Even in a CG, it's hard, in a care group, it's hard to ask tough questions because your wife is there, your husband is there, your brother is there. It's so hard to talk about these things.
So we recognize there's another layer where there is deeper communion, accountability, modeling, and we call this life-on-life missional discipleship. This is where a group of maximum six people, only guys or only ladies, would journey together on a weekly basis, asking one another spiritual, deep, probing questions, looking at Scripture, and endeavoring to follow Jesus well, not just in our heads, but in our lives. And to be missional in our lives.
This is a process that was started some 10 over years ago. Perimeter Church, some of you may already know or are familiar, they flew all the way from the States to here to help us, launch this simple discipling process. I say simple because it started really small. That's how it should start. Just a few groups, a handful of people.
Today in our ninth year, this is our, each cycle is three years, and now in our end of the third cycle, in our ninth year, from that small beginning of a handful, we have 200 over people in discipleship. And our goal is that as the Lord gives us good, mature, and equipped disciple-makers, can disciple even more. But it's simply following Jesus' strategy.
Jesus, He preached, He taught to thousands of people, but in a very unique way, gave His life to 12, poured His life into them. Life on life with the disciples. So that when He leaves, they successfully carried on the Gospel ministry. And that's what we need in the church. That we will not just have people sitting in the pews, but people who are able and happy and willing to disciple others in the kingdom.
So we thank God for this second tier, and the, but we also recognize we need even more grounding. We need even more growing in Scripture in how to handle the Bible with regards to the more, if I may say, complex theological realities. And so, we have our leaders, people serving in care groups, Bible study groups, our youth groups, varsity groups, Sunday school ministry teachers. We recognize that as they serve, they also want to know the Bible better for themselves. They want to be able to handle the Scriptures. And some of them are already in such Layer 1 or Layer 2 avenues, and so we recognize the need for Layer 3.
And Layer 3 is what we will call in the new year, Shepherd's Training. This is to equip people in the Word ministry, people with people, serving people, to be more grounded in theological realities.
So let me just share with you what it looks like. This is what it looks like. Please don't look at it because it's super complex, so I'll block it out for you. Because I know you can't resist the temptation to eer kaypoh-kaypoh here, kaypoh-kaypoh there. So just big picture, Shepherd's Training will be an effort that is a unified one with the shepherds and pastors involved, and we want to give ourselves to training and equipping our people well.
It will be over two years, 2024, 2025, and it will be run on a monthly basis. So very simple, nothing complex. Once a month, on a Saturday, this will be the last Saturday of each month, we will meet from 2 to 5 p.m., just a clear time where we can interact one with another in doctrines and skills and requirements in ministry, just as a sweetener. This 2 to 5 p.m. will be with food and drinks and it will be casual, sit down.
And I want to assure you that this session will not be didactic in that it's just one guy preaching all the time. Because we want this to be interactive, we want this to be helpful, we want this to be a lot of questions, answers, working together, because we don't just want to dump truth down to people, we want them to really grasp and understand and handle and apply these truths. And I think the best way is through interactive learning.
If it's just giving information, we can just send you the notes and you can study for yourself. But there is something to learning today that requires interaction. So some of the topics we will be looking at, for example, in the first year will be a range from Bible survey to the canon of Scripture. You say what's canon of Scripture, it's how the Bible is formed, how do we decide or how do we know that the Bible is from Genesis to Revelation.
We have hermeneutics, what it means is the principles of Bible interpretation, and you have other things I will not go into deep discussion there. But this is year one, this is year two, you have a range. I think different things, we cut across doctrines to skills, to general knowledge, to philosophy. And this will be what we want to cover. And that's all I want you to see, alright?
Now we hope this would be helpful for the entire church, but we can't do it for the entire church because we want to start small, we want to grow in it. And so we have decided in the new year just to open this up for leaders who are serving in the Word-based ministries, whether you're a CG leader, DG leader, Bible study group leader, Sunday school teacher, youth group leader. We are opening this up first to our leaders and to potential leaders that these leaders support and endorse.
So please don't misconstrue this as elitist, it's just that we have resource limitations for group discussions and so on, and so we decided in the new year just to focus on that. But the goal is that eventually more and more people would say, I want to put effort in growing and I want to be a part of this process.
Now finally, I know the picture I showed, the pancake has five layers, but mine only four ah. The final layer I want to add on is that of internship. Because there may be those today, maybe you're a young man, young lady, or you're an older man, midlife crisis, or God has spoken to you and you are re-examining your life. And you're seriously thinking about serving God in a pastoral or full-time way.
But you're not sure what it means, you're not sure what it takes. And you, you know, it's not like any other jobs in the world where you can kind of find out, but the pastoral ministry, it's helpful if you have an inside look at, at what it is. So we thought it would be good for us to have a simple internship process. Uh, previously, you would know Luzerne and Haniel and so on. And right now, Rayner is in, in our latest intern, he's the lowest in the food chain. Uh, hope not too long for too long. But that's what we hope to do for people who want to be exposed and maybe equipped further for pastoral ministry.
So you ask, why is this stacked like that? Your pancakes all the same size one, why your pancake shrink? Are you saying this is more important or which one is more important? What, what's this shape like? Well, it's not that any one of them is superior to another, but it communicates the length of time, that's all. Worship, CG, Bible study, they are lifelong. All of God's people can benefit from these ministries in a lifelong way to grow.
LOL is three years. Shepherd's training is two years. Internship is one year. Question, do I have to do them sequentially? No, you don't have to. You can do all in the same time if you want. And actually, I don't think it's even that intense even if you do it all together. Or you can pick and choose. But this is the stack approach and all that is to help people really know the Bible fully for themselves and to focus on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so that we can present everyone mature in Christ. PSA over.
So let me come back. Paul, in this text, is saying that the Gospel ministry requires striving, it requires effort. And he is glad to toil and to strive. Why? He understands the Gospel is precious and powerful to establish people mature in Christ. He says the Gospel ministry requires stewarding. He's glad to do it. He doesn't want to do anything else but to make the Word of God fully known, to determine to know nothing among you except Jesus and Him crucified.
And because of the preciousness and the power of the Gospel, he even gladly suffers. Because he sees all that as a tremendous privilege. To help people know God's Word, know the Gospel, that they may be strong and mature and not shift from the hope of the Gospel. That they may continue stable, steadfast in the faith. And we'll look more at that next week.
But till then, I pray today you would have an appreciation of the preciousness, the power of the Gospel in God's Word. And maybe God is spurring you today to think about how you can serve, think about how you can grow, and think about how you can persevere in your faith. Let's bow for a word of prayer together.
So Father, we thank You this morning for Your Word and we pray that Gospeliters today may pause and see where we are in our lives. Is our goal financial success, earthly fame, creature comforts, security of our children? Or is it that we may be more like Jesus? I pray that we would put our money where our mouth is literally, that we will have the right priorities in life, that we would put every effort to know Your Son and to grow in Him.
I pray for our church to be singular and focused. That we will not be distracted to a thousand and one things that the world may want us to do, but we will be focused in making the Word of God fully known and teaching and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We pray, dear Lord, that You will also be with our friends and families, members who are here today. They need to know Jesus, they need to be saved, and today, once again, we are glad that we can preach and then we can pray that the Gospel may be received into their hearts. Thank You that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes. Grant repentance and faith. Thank You. We pray all this in Jesus' Name, amen.
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