Working through the Body
Colossians 1:7 -
As ye also learned from Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;
We learnt about Paul's spiritual life and how he too had to struggle in his relationships and how he overcame it. How he too accepted the growth of his own disciple Timothy to whom he wrote his last letter (his first documented letter was to the Church of Galatia in AD 49 and last to Timothy in AD 67).
In today's message the Lord is telling us about another aspect of Church administration through Paul, to lean this from his relation with those who were still not spiritually fully grown like Timothy or Philemon did, in this aspect it is Epaphras.
Epaphras was a disciple of Paul and key founder of the Church of Colosse. He was the person who pursued against the erring teachings that existed in that Church and build them in the Christian faith. But all was not well for him here there were some who did not agree with the teachings of Epaphras.
We see through his letter Paul puts himself behind Epaphras supporting him and his teachings to the people of Colosse. Paul reconfirms to them on various main topics that are very important to Christian Church building.
1) Knowing the incomparable Christ
2) Our place in Christ
3) Putting on the New Self
4) Relationship in the family
5) Relationship between fellow workers
We see Paul did not get too deep in the theological beliefs and doctrine of faith to the people of Colosse.
Firstly we need to understand Epaphras was still a student for Paul and was growing thus was not as knowledgeable as Paul in his doctrines (understanding). But one thing Paul knew was the basic foundation which he built in Epaphras was strong, so he trusted the Lord to work in Epaphras through that foundation. Thus he gave Epaphras a free hand in building the Church of Colosse, but he did keep an eye on it by regular monitoring its growth and issues faced by it.
In the Churches today leaders look for puppets as disciples, those who speak what they want and if that person speaks a word different, they state that person has wrong doctrines and remove that person from the fold. Now that person mostly starts his own Church or ministry and continues to do the same as what was done to him and this is what has bought us to this state which we see in Churches today.
I was speaking to a new convert in Christ who does get involved in evangelism. He told me all people create their own doctrines from scriptures and justify it, he was so confused with them that this brethren does not bother to study and confirm them himself, he goes with the main stream thinking, what the well-known preachers preach.
This attitude may be good to those new in Christ but if one observes closely this attitude of follow mainstream thinking has also caused lots of doctrines which came from the Catholic Church to still exist in the Believer Churches with no one daring to question it or bring it down. It has also caused people to not have a firm foundation of faith for many of the understandings the Church holds are not Biblical but drawn from traditions.
Paul did not push Epaphras aside and put himself ahead to the people of Colosse. He did not take up topics with them which he knew would cause confusion due to the difference in his level of understanding and that of Epaphras's level of understanding. He backed Epaphras and gave him time to grow and help the people of Colosse grow. The same he did with Titus with regards to the Church of Crete where the situation was more serious. We see Paul did not give this same comfort level to all Churches; he did according to the seriousness of issues existing in the various Churches. We see spiritually weakest Church was the Church of Corinth, in the just growing was the Church of Crete and Colosse, among the moderate growth was the Churches of Philippi and Rome, then came the Church of Galatia and Church of Ephesus and among the stronger churches was the Church of Thessalonica and on the top was the Church of Berea. One can see this through the topics which Paul addressed in his letters to the various Churches. With the Church of Berea, Paul was so comfortable that he did not have the need to write a letter for the people there for they were strongly rooted in the importance of scriptures and how to study scriptures.
The Lord causes the life of Paul and his writings to be part of the Bible so that we learn from this Servant of the Lord who did a good job in building the Church. He was instrument to start almost a 1000 Churches world wild, directly or indirectly during his short ministry of about 30-40 years. He started when he about thirty years of age in Jerusalem and this journey was not very easy for him. Many a times he was persecuted and faced great pain for the work he did. The same Lord who caused earthquakes, broke iron chains, saved him through dangerous hurricane, poisonous snake among other things allowed him to go through persecutions, he understood through all this the Lord had done well in his life. When he slept he slept with pride not in the great work he did but pride in running the race successfully and passing the baton to the many he built in the Lord.
[ Prayer Starter ]
Lord, we thank You for our brethren Paul and what You did in him and through him. We thank You for his testimony that is part of the Holy Bible (Holy books) so that we can learn from his life. We pray Lord that the Church leaders learn from the life of Paul not according to traditions but according to the testimony documented in the Bible. That they do not go by the text but use wisdom and understand the spirit of the text...
This prayer we make in Jesus' Name, Amen.
[ Reference ]
2 Corinthians 11:22-30
22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.
23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths often.
24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes less one.
25 Three times was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by my own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
28 Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is led into sin, and I am not incensed?
30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern my infirmities.
2 Timothy 4:8 - Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money;
8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober minded, just, holy, temperate;
9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convict those who contradict.
10 For there are many rebellious and vain talkers and deceivers, especially they of the circumcision:
11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.
12 One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.
13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;
14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
19 I Paul have written it with my own hand, I will repay it: although I do not say to thee that thou owest to me even thy own self besides.
20 Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my heart in the Lord.
21 Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote to thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say.
2 Timothy 4:6-8
6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing.
10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
2 Peter 3:15-18
15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given to him hath written to you;
16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.
17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.
18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
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