Verse 28 in Colossians chapter 1 is often misunderstood on two aspects. Paul did not reach every man with the news of the gospel, nor can Paul be the one who can present people perfect. Neither can a pastor present one of his members perfect before the Lord. What Paul is saying that we too can enter into, is that every man he came in contact with he presented the gospel of Jesus Christ in a perfect manor. This perfect manor is accomplished by teaching only Jesus and Him crucified and not a mixture of the Law and grace together.
Colossians 1:28-29 “28 “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. 29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily”
Once again Paul has used a hyperbole in his statement that they have warned and taught every man about Christ Jesus. We are still reaching people today, but God’s word has gone out more than we realize. But what was Paul warning people about? As you read all of his writings he warned people about following any other religion or going back under man’s religion once set free through faith in Jesus’ perfect work on the cross. Interesting point in that the American Indians spoke of the “Great Spirit” that walks with man long before the Pilgrims brought the gospel over to the New Land we call America. We have to remember that the gospel has been available for over 2000 years even though the written word has not been available for the average man to read until recent history. Bottom line is with all the people that have heard of the gospel of Jesus Christ over the centuries, our work here on earth as Disciples of Christ is still greatly needed and is to be carried out by word of mouth through the power of the Holy Spirit!
There are two methods of preaching and both are needed. Paul mentions these in verse 28 as his method of presenting man perfect in Christ. Paul is not the one presenting them perfect, but he is the steward of the gospel on which those who believe will be made perfect in Christ by His blood and their belief. Warnings are sometimes considered rebukes or chastening. Rebukes which are corrections are not for the sinner as the word of God says that it is the goodness of God that draws people to repentance, Romans 2:4. Jesus Himself rebuked the religious leaders for their false teachings and warned His Disciples of the leaven of the Pharisees. 1 Timothy 5:20 is a verse that is often stood on for public rebuke of sinners and there is a place for this, but great wisdom is needed in this action and it should be used sparingly. We also read in 2 Timothy 1 that a time is coming when people will not hear sound doctrine because of their itching ears. I think that time is now when so many people are leaving churches in search for something else. The rebuke spoken of here is not for all Christians but those teaching something other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is drawing the people away from Christ. Teaching legalism mixed in with the gospel, even if from the Old Testament is leading people from the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is sad in that if people were taught the true word of God instead of man’s doctrines on how to live their lives they would know the difference between having their ears tickled versus the gospel of Jesus Christ. In my lifetime there seems to be an abundance of warnings and rebuking, but very little teaching of the true gospel.
Grace and truth go hand in hand. If all a person hears is grace it can cause people to lean toward licentiousness as Paul answers that question in Romans 6:1-2. If all they hear is warnings of sin, that will cause them to walk in legalism instead of grace; neither extreme lines up with the gospel of Jesus Christ. But the gospel is NOT a mixture of Law and grace as is mostly taught in churches today. Grace is the power of the blood of Jesus to overcome the bondage of sin that has been strengthened by the law (read Romans 7:13-8:1). Paul expresses this in verse 29, “To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.” It is Christ working in us led by the Holy Spirit that we find the proper balance between warnings and teaching. Bottom line, it is Jesus Christ and His grace that strengthened and motivated Paul. It is God’s grace toward us that Jesus died for and if we are to error in any direction, error on the side of grace; always!
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