The Ministry: Preaching, Warning, Teaching
The Content of the Preaching: The Indwelling Christ
1. Whom (ὁν [hon]). That is, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
a. It is not just Christ in the abstract or in a generic sense, but Christ in you the hope of glory is the content of his preaching. That’s the Christ we preach!
b. We don’t preach the Old Testament message of Christ: Messiah is coming to suffer and die; and Messiah is coming to reign forever…
c. Nor do we preach the message of Christ as presented in the gospel… as the King offering the kingdom (Repent; for the kingdom of God is at hand.)
d. We don’t preach a baby Christ in a manger. We don’t preach a dead Christ on a crucifix.
e. We don’t preach about a mortal Jesus as a carpenter who was tired and weary…
f. We no longer know Christ that way. (II Cor. 5:16-17)
g. We preach the risen, ascended, glorified Christ… who makes His abode IN US… and manifests His life THROUGH us! That’s the Christ we preach… the indwelling Christ… Christ in you… the hope of glory. I know no other Jesus!
2. Christ was the CONTENT of the apostolic message… and should be today too!
a. Acts 5:42 – they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ…
b. Acts 8:5 – Philip preached Christ in Samaria.
c. Acts 8:35 – Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
d. Acts 9:20- As soon as Paul was saved: And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
e. Acts 11:20 – when they came to the gentiles, they preached Jesus Christ… not the law or their traditions, but Christ and Him crucified.
f. I Cor. 2:1 – For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
g. Rom. 16:25 – Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery…
h. The content of their message was NOT: election; separation; prophecy; dispensationalism; eternal security.
• They would get to those great doctrines of the faith in time…
• But their message revolved around Christ.
• In fact, all those doctrines in the written Word relate to Christ… the Living Word.
• Eph. 3:8 – Paul was given the ministry of preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ. There is no end to learning of the riches in Christ… hence, no end to preaching and teaching of Him. All teaching is to revolve around Him. There is so much that could be taught… we will never even scratch the surface!
• Eph. 3:9 – Paul preached Christ so that believers might see (discern) how rich is the fellowship of the mystery… fellowship among the saints in the Body of Christ. The Body IS Christ! If you love Christ, you will love His Body. If you love fellowship with Christ, you will love fellowshipping with His Body.
• Preaching Christ… the unsearchable riches of Christ… results in believers learning to SEE how significant the fellowship of the Body… the mystery is to God. Today, you can’t separate Christ from His Body.
3. There was quite a contrast between the content of the preaching of the false teachers in Colosse and the content of Paul’s preaching and teaching.
a. The false teachers preached themselves. Paul preached Christ.
b. The false teachers preached their opinions. Paul preached the mind of Christ.
c. The false teachers preached their traditions. Paul preached Christ.
d. The false teachers preached philosophies. Paul preached Christ.
e. The false teachers preached their rules (touch not; taste not handle not). Paul preached Christ.
f. The false teachers preached a religious system. Paul preached a Person: Christ.
g. The false teachers preached a message designed to draw away disciples after themselves. (Acts 20:30) Paul pointed men to Christ and Him alone… and saw himself as nothing but an old clay pot to be used of the Lord at His will.
4. If a ministry is not Christ centered, it is not Spirit empowered… for the Spirit came to glorify Him. (John 16:14).
a. Paul preached Christ throughout this epistle!
b. Christ the object of our faith (1:4)
c. Christ the object of our service (1:7)
d. Christ the Redeemer (1:14)
e. Christ the image of the invisible God (1:15)
f. Christ the Creator (1:16)
g. Christ the One who holds all together (1:17)
h. Christ the Head of the Body (1:18)
i. Christ the Firstborn from the dead (1:18b)
j. Christ the One who is to have all preeminence (1:18c)
k. Christ in whom all fullness dwells (1:19)
l. Christ and His work on the cross (1:20)
m. Christ the reconciler of heaven and earth (1:20)
n. Christ the One before whom we will be presented (1:22)
o. Christ and His ongoing afflictions for the church (1:24)
p. Christ the subject of the revelation of the mystery (1:26)
q. Christ the Indwelling One (1:27)
r. Christ and His relationship to Gentiles (1:27)
s. Christ the object of our preaching (1:28)
t. And this is just chapter one!
u. “Whom we preach.” Paul meant it.
The Ministry of the Word
A. Negative: Warning Every Man
1. Warning: to admonish, warn of dangers, exhort; advise on the consequences of wrong actions.
a. Theological Dictionary of New Testament: It seeks to correct the mind, to put right what is wrong, to improve the spiritual attitude.
b. It seeks to influence the mind and disposition by appropriate instruction, exhortation, warning and correction.
c. Eph. 6:4 – fathers are told to bring their children up in the “admonition of the Lord.” (noun form) A good father would warn his sons and daughters of dangers… IF he loved them!
2. Acts 20:31 – the minister should constantly warn the flock.
a. Vs. 29 – because life in the Body is dangerous. Wolves seek to destroy us. Hence, the warning.
b. Paul warned of many false teachers and of evil men… and he wasn’t afraid to name them either! Alexander the coppersmith; Hymenaeus and Philetus; Phygellus and Hermogenes.
c. Paul warned the flock about the wolves… and did so by name. The Neo evangelicals think of the fundamentalist as being unloving and unbiblical for pointing out doctrinal errors and naming names. Yet we are in good company: Paul, John, Jesus…
d. The flock needs to be warned because some of these evil men were undermining Paul’s ministry; they overthrew the faith of some; they loved to have the preeminence; they were introducing gangrene into the Body; they were like ravening wolves (consider how wolves treat sheep!).
e. It is important that we admonish one another… and warn one another of dangers from without… and from dangers from within our own heart… which is deceitful above all things… and from our flesh in which dwells no good thing.
3. Warning and admonition applies to the wolves… but also to other forms of error too.
a. If a believer is harboring a grudge in his heart and it is obvious… he needs to be lovingly admonished to repent!
b. If a believer has not been coming out to church… if he has been forsaking the assembling together of the saints… he needs to be reminded of Heb. 10:24-25.
c. If a believer has been gossiping… he needs to be rebuked… warned of the danger… and pointed to appropriate Scripture.
d. If a believer has been starting to read literature that contains error, he needs to have that loving, and gently pointed out.
e. If a believer is wearing immodest clothing… listening to ungodly music… going to questionable places… he needs to be warned… admonished…
f. If a believer turns inward and stops fellowshipping with the brethren… he needs to be reminded of appropriate Scripture.
g. If a believer is beginning to lose his first love… and is being lured away into the world… he needs an admonition… or even a rebuke…
4. It also matters HOW we admonish one another.
a. I Cor. 4:14 – Paul warned many flocks about potential dangers… as any father would warn his beloved son.
b. II Thess. 3:14–15? – admonish him as a brother.
c. I Thess. 2:11-12 – exhorting, comforting, and charging every one of you, as a father doth his children.
d. We are to admonish one another, but NOT with:
• A holier than thou attitude; self righteous…
• Not to put someone down… or embarrass them.
• Not in public… but in private…
• Not as a self appointed policeman in the affairs of others…
• Not in hypocrisy: not with a beam in our own eye…
• To a brother we have earned the right to admonish through friendliness… and concern.
• Waiting on the Lord for the right time, place, and circumstances…
• And only after much prayer… and in a spirit of love… humility… meekness considering thyself… for the good of the brother and the glory of God.
• Gal. 6:1 – be sure you are spiritual and approach that believer in the spirit of meekness… lest YOU be tempted and fall yourself!
5. The Bible indicates that the whole BODY ought to be involved in care for one another: expressed through admonition.
a. Admonishing one another ought to be an expression of Christ’s love for His Body… if we are filled with the Spirit.
b. Rom. 15:14 – believers should be able to admonish one another. The flock should also be able to admonish one another… not just the pastor.
c. This means we need to know the Word of God… and we need to have a mature relationship with Christ.
d. Col. 3:16 – let the word of Christ DWELL in your heart… teaching and admonishing one another!
e. The better you know the Word, the more benefit you will be to the Body… the better equipped you will be to teach and admonish one another.
6. In order to KNOW what is going on in the lives of the brethren… SO THAT we can care for one another… teach… exhort… rebuke… encourage… weep… rejoice… the church leadership here strongly encourages folks to come to prayer meeting… and on a regular basis.
a. That’s where we learn of the triumphs and trials that the brethren are experiencing.
b. Hence, we are ABLE to admonish one another… ABLE to encourage or rebuke… ABLE to pray intelligently…
c. Prayer meeting is about 1 hour… 1 hour 15 minutes per week. That is not going to upset your free time… or your family time.
d. In fact, it IS family time… take the whole family… and join in with your spiritual family!
e. Prayer meeting is one of the best ways to get to KNOW and stay in tune with the Body… and if you don’t know someone… or what’s going on in their lives… you can’t get involved in teaching and admonishing one another.
f. And what better way to admonish one another… than to back it up with corporate prayer!
B. Positive: Teaching Every Man
1. He taught positive truth…
a. It is good and necessary to expose error; to warn of danger; and to rebuke when necessary.
b. But it is even MORE important that God’s people are FED!
c. It is important to know which foods to avoid. But it is even more important to eat good food!
d. A good shepherd will warn the sheep about the wolves… but he will also lead them to green pastures and still waters!
e. A pastor needs to have a warning ministry… and to admonish and rebuke… but if that is all the sheep are getting, it is an unbalanced diet… and the sheep will starve.
f. Sheep need to be fed… and as believers, we grow hungry and need to feed on Christ… the Bread of Life; we grow thirsty and must satisfy that thirst with Christ… the Living Water.
2. The sheep need to be fed; edified; strengthened with might in the inner man; and to learn to feast on Christ for themselves.
a. Teaching God’s word accomplishes all this.
b. Teaching the Word also strengthens our faith.
c. Teaching the Word magnifies Christ…
d. Teaching the Word instructs us on HOW TO LIVE…
e. The Word is more important than our necessary food.
f. That’s why the ministry is to be characterized by Bible teaching and preaching… which revolves around the person of Christ.
C. Paul’s Was a Balanced Ministry
1. He included both the negative and the positive in his preaching.
2. He was not constantly warning and exposing error… without positively teaching and building up the saints!
3. His ministry was not all teaching… aimed at the head and leaving the heart untouched.
4. Nor was his ministry all admonition… aimed at the heart without any intellectual basis for the admonition.
a. Teaching deals with doctrine and is aimed primarily at the head… the intellect. (we are tripartite beings; intellect, emotion, and will.)
b. Exhortation/admonition deals with conduct and is primarily aimed at the heart.
c. All exhortation… a ministry that aims for the heart and bypasses the head is dangerous indeed. That is the methodology of the charismatic movement.
d. They use emotional appeals with very little doctrinal teaching… and if the speaker is dynamic, his emotional appeals CAN produce results: he can whip up a crowd into a frenzy and get a response… but it is merely superficial.
e. Doting over behavior without expounding the biblical basis… without sound teaching… bypassing the intellect and aiming exclusively for the emotions and the heart always results in superficiality.
5. Both teaching AND exhortations are needed by God’s people.
a. But before you can make a MEANINGFUL exhortation, it must be preceded by teaching… and teaching takes time.
b. New Tribes approach: they do not give the simple gospel message to the tribes. First they TEACH the whole Bible… then exhort them to be saved.
c. Contemporary Christian Music: Ron could just tell us that CCM is bad and conservative Christian music is good. Therefore, don’t listen to CCM. The approach he is taking is far better… he is teaching WHY CCM is bad… and what is right about conservative Christian music.
d. WINE: I read a booklet on wine (Booze is sin!) It took a simplistic approach to the subject—and made all kinds of harsh admonitions… but never said WHY! There was no real Biblical, doctrinal, teaching to back up the exhortation.
e. Unless the head understands the Biblical basis for an exhortation… it is merely one man telling another man what to do. It is making up a rule… legalistic living… like Judaism.
f. God treated the Jews as children; He treats us as full grown sons!
g. When a believer understands the teaching behind the exhortation… when he sees clearly that this exhortation IS in fact based on Bible truth… that it IS God’s will… then the exhortation is powerful… and the believer will respond out of conviction of heart before God… not mere cowering before a man.
6. Read Paul’s epistles. This was ever his pattern. The first section was doctrinal/didactic (teaching) while the final section was practical (admonition).
a. First he teaches, then he admonishes.
b. First he methodically builds his case and presents his arguments. Then he makes exhortations BASED upon the argument he made.
c. Ex: In Col., Paul spends 2 chapters developing the theme of our position in Christ… in His death, resurrection, and ascension. THEN he makes the application: If ye then be risen with Christ—SEEK those things which are above!
d. Without making the case first, the exhortation is quite hollow… lacking power…
e. Without making the case from Scripture, it is just one man’s opinion.
f. Without making the case, it is quite hollow; empty; it comes without divine authority; no biblical basis; no substance.
g. And if the person who hears that admonition—even if he complies and takes your advice, it is NOT a heart felt conviction from God. It is rather following the opinions of men… peer pressure… following the crowd. And that will NOT do when the hour of testing comes.
h. But WITH the teaching… the exhortation is seen to be our REASONABLE service! It is reasonable because we understand the hows and whys of it all!
i. Thus, Paul’s method was ever the same: first comes a lengthy teaching section; then comes the various and sundry exhortations BASED upon truth.
j. Thus, the exhortation comes… not as Paul’s opinion, but it comes with Divine authority… for the case has been made from Scripture.
k. Thus, we always see Paul using BOTH: teaching AND warning… positive instruction; and negative warnings.
7. However, there is a tendency to go to one extreme or the other.
a. Some fundamentalists have warning ministries and their flocks are warned about error 52 Sundays a year…
• And as a result, the flock is never fed… never built up and encouraged…
• While they are discerning and would never fall for New evangelicalism… or any of the cults… they are starving for Christ! They know more about the cults than they know about Christ!
• They know what’s wrong with all the false religious systems, but they don’t know how to LIVE the Christian life.
b. Most neo-evangelicals have positive upbeat ministries… where the flock is constantly told about God’s love… care… concern…
• That flock is upbeat and encouraged… but the sheep lack discernment…
• The shepherd hasn’t warned them about wolves…
• The shepherd was too much of a milk toast to say anything negative… too afraid of offending… afraid to expose error.
• As a result, the flock is ignorant of spiritual dangers… and liable to be torn to shreds by a smooth talking false teacher.
c. Both of those scenarios are unbalanced and spiritually unhealthy.
d. It is NOT to be an either/or situation, but BOTH. The sheep need to hear the blessings AND the cursing. They need to be encouraged AND warned.
e. Paul was the right kind of minister. He “fulfilled the Word of God” (vs. 25c) = he FULLY preached the Word… the WHOLE counsel of God…
f. Paul fully preached the Word because he both warned every man and taught every man… and because he preached Christ… risen, ascended, glorified… and us IN Him, and He in us!
g. And how can we be sure that we are fully preaching the Word? How can we know if we are getting God’s emphasis? How can we be sure that we are getting the WHOLE counsel of God? When the pastor teaches line-by-line… precept upon precept… verse by verse… chapter by chapter… book by book… Old and New Testaments.
D. Every Man
1. Every man refers to every BELIEVER.
2. Every man refers to every believer without distinction: Jew, Gentile, male, female, rich, poor, bond, free… there is no difference in Christ.
3. Paul repeats this for a purpose. (repeated 3 times)
a. The Gnostics taught that they possessed a special knowledge that was only for the initiated few… for the spiritually elite.
b. Paul bends over backwards to contrast Christianity from their teachings. Christ is for EVERY believer… not an elite club. There are no elite spiritual clubs in the Body of Christ. (I’m of Paul; Peter; Christ.)
4. EVERY man is to be instructed in the Scriptures.
a. Not every believer will grasp truth to the same degree, but truth is for every believer.
b. And every believer can apply truth to the best of his capacity…
5. This also implies that every single person in the local church is important to God. NONE are to be overlooked. ALL are to be instructed and admonished. NONE are to be considered “too far gone” or “hopeless.”
6. This implies also that every believer should be concerned about the spiritual well-being of every other believer in the assembly.
a. Every member in the Body is important to God… and will be to Spirit filled believers.
b. If Christ dwells in your heart by faith, then the love of Christ will dwell in your heart as well.
c. If the love of Christ is in you, then you will be a yielded vessel that He can use to demonstrate HIS love THROUGH you… and TO other believers in the local church.
d. The love of Christ is demonstrated through us when we admonish one another… warn… remind of truth… counsel…
e. Ps. 141:5 – “let the righteous smite me.” Yes even pointing out sin in a believer’s life can be an expression of love… because it is for his good.
7. The pastor isn’t able to admonish, counsel, and minister to EVERY man in the Body.
a. It is not God’s design for that to be so.
b. God’s plan is for EVERY member in the Body to be taught and thus ABLE to admonish one another.
E. In All Wisdom
1. Both the teaching and the warning/admonition are to be conducted in the sphere of Divine wisdom… practical wisdom… discernment.
a. Col. 1:9 – filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom.
b. That’s the way to teach and admonish… filled (controlled) by HIS will and HIS knowledge (not our opinions)…
c. Eph. 1:17 = PRAY for wisdom and discernment, and God gives it.
2. He taught in all wisdom… hence, he not only preached Christ, he taught Christ… for all wisdom resides in Him (Col. 2:3).
3. He charged them to walk in wisdom too. (Col. 4:5)
4. Be careful when a believer admonishes you.
a. While he may be well meaning in his motives… he may also be dead wrong in his assessment.
b. He may have good intentions, but his counsel may be flawed… unbiblical… his own personal conviction rather than Scripture… and sometimes it may simply be “off the wall.”
c. Remember Acts 17:11 – the Bereans listened to the admonition… and searched the Scriptures daily whether these things were so.
d. Sometimes believers give terrible advice!
e. Please don’t assume that because someone from Salem Bible Church counseled you in a certain way that it must be the official teaching of the church. It may be that believer’s opinion… and the church leadership may completely disagree!
f. If someone gives you counsel… if a believer tries to admonish you… (1) don’t resist, but listen carefully; (2) be gracious and assume he is out for your best interest; (3) prayerfully consider what he says and compare it to Scripture; (4) if you are still not sure, get a second opinion from a mature, Spirit filled believer; (5) if it is of the Lord, then respond in a proper manner; (6) if it is not of the Lord, then thank him, but don’t take his advice.
5. Be careful in admonishing a brother in the Lord.
a. Consider Matthew Henry’s wise counsel in this area: We must choose the fittest seasons, and use the likeliest means, and accommodate ourselves to the different circumstances and capacities of those we have to do with, and teach them as they are able to bear.”
b. Paul endeavored to manifest wisdom in the MANNER in which he taught and admonished the brethren.
• As a nurse cherisheth her children—as opposed to a bull in a china closet.
• Don’t approach a brother as an irrational zealot… but the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient?. ?In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves.
6. When Spirit filled and Spirit led teaching and admonition is conducted in the sphere of God-given wisdom… it is always fruitful.
a. Whether the brother responds in faith and obedience to the teaching or admonition is not all-important.
b. Christ is magnified when His love for the brethren is demonstrated through our yielded hearts, minds, and tongues, showing concern for members of the Body.
c. Of course, the goal is that the brother or sister WOULD respond to the admonition… take it to heart… receive the Word… and allow God to transform his/her mind and heart.
d. How healthy and strong the Body would be if we all put these important principles into practice right here…
e. The saints would mature… be edified… the Body strengthened… and Christ magnified… for it is all HIM working in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. To Him be the glory.