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Continuing The Work Of Christ

• Greg Boyd

For some Christians, the goal of salvation is escape from Hell. In Colossians, Paul talks about the glorious riches that are available to us in the here and now. And while being in Heaven is a great part of our relationship with God, it is not even close to the fullness that Jesus brings to our lives.

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For some Christians, the goal of salvation is escape from Hell. In Colossians, Paul talks about the glorious riches that are available to us in the here and now. And while being in Heaven is a great part of our relationship with God, it is not even close to the fullness that Jesus brings to our lives.

The perichoresis, or the mutually indwelling of the Father, Son and Spirit, is what guides us in our understanding of the fullness that Jesus brings to us. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit constantly yearn for each other. They constantly come together, embrace, and fulfill one another, but none of that involves a saving grace from sins. Rather, there is a rich beauty in the interaction of the Trinity in which we get to participate. This is the essence of the glorious riches that Paul is talking about, and we’re going to look at three aspects of this glory in this sermon.

The first richness is that our suffering participates in and fills up Jesus’ suffering. Now, suffering is not fun and does not feel good. It may not even seem like a richness that we would want. It is important to understand that not all suffering is like Jesus’ suffering. There is evil in this world that simply wants to destroy goodness in people’s lives. This is not the suffering that Paul is talking about.

Rather, he is talking about the things that we choose to do to follow Jesus that produces suffering in our lives. Perhaps we decide to not have as nice of a house, but in turn, we participate in the Kingdom work of helping the poor. Or we choose to forgive instead of harboring anger that the world teaches us to do. This type of suffering, where we suffer because we’ve chosen to follow Jesus, is a richness of our relationship because it allows us to join Jesus in his Kingdom work.

The second richness is that our joy participates in and fills up Jesus’ joy. Jesus prayed for us to be filled with his joy here on Earth. It is not some far off fairytale ending for the end of time. Every decision we make that brings God’s Kingdom into this world is a decision that will echo throughout eternity. We will see the impact of our decisions, sacrifices, and choices for all of eternity, and we will get to see how proud God is of our choices. When we share in the joy of Kingdom work, we also share in the glory of the Kingdom.

The third richness is sharing in the glory of God. God’s glory has often portrayed as something that isn’t shared and is for God alone. The trouble with that image is that it makes God look like he needs to be some macho god. We see glory as something that resembles doing everything ourselves. But God’s glory is not found in what he does by himself, but rather in the glory of sharing His work with us. “Sheer might” glory is not as good as “sacrificial love” glory. And we participate in that glory every time we choose others over ourselves, just as Jesus chose us.

We are not worthless creatures meant to cower before some all-mighty God who wants to crush us like a piece of clay. We were, instead, made in the image of God to be his representative and ambassador to the world. When we fulfill that role, we share in the glory, joy, and suffering of Jesus, and we gain the richness of a life that participates in the Trinity. It’s much more than fire insurance. It’s the hope of glory, and what a magnificent glory it is!

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Topics: Blessings, Discipleship, Sacrifice

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Focus Scripture:

  • Colossians 1:24-29

    Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness—the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
    We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

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8 thoughts on “Continuing The Work Of Christ

  1. Teresa says:

    amen. now to get it from the head to the heart and hands…

  2. Jill says:

    Well, I picked a bad week not to be at WH live. What a powerful, thought provoking, electrifying message.
    I’m curious, what’s the sinners prayer? Is it the Act of Contrition? I’ve heard you say that before and I’m not sure what it is.

  3. Brian says:

    Wow! Thanks!
    This series is really building steam, presenting a holistic sense of what the gospel is. It is helping us Protestant believers restore a sense of how our lives are to be formed by deep identification with Jesus.

    So much Protestant theology just makes salvation something that happens between the Father and the Son, with no one else left with a meaningful role to play. This is a more holistic gospel that makes our current lives part of salvation history, helps us encounter the living, ongoing work of Jesus and join in it. Thanks for helping to restore a sense of our lives as a vital part of the ongoing adventure of Trinitarian restoration of all things. Amen!

  4. Mike Gantt says:

    It would be even easier for people to focus on Christ for this life if they knew that everyone was going to heaven. Actually, this is what the Bible teaches, though hardly anyone seems to be saying so.

    I recognize that the very idea I’ve raised probably sound heretical to most who read it, but I assure you that I come from strong evangelical roots and it is my faith in the Bible – not a departure from it – that produces my conviction on this point.

    I’m not selling a book. I’m not seeking followers. I just freely provide the biblical case for all to see: http://bit.ly/ybYCmL

  5. Dr Anabella Hoppe says:

    My brother, a psychiatrist, toll me once that “…for me, if there is a heaven and I must go there against my will, it would be my eternal hell”. He is an agnostic but I think he got it.

  6. Jeslyn says:

    Wow, spoke to my heart,longing to hear more of this preaching!!

  7. Paul Eddy (Teaching Pastor) says:

    Hey Mike,

    Thanks for sharing your perspective on the “heaven” question. This question of whether everyone will be in heaven some day has been a debated topic since the times of the early church. While there certainly are passages in the New Testament that, read alone, can be understood in a universalist manner, there are also a number of other passages that have led the vast majority of the church throughout history to reject this interpretation. Beyond the question of the biblical text, there is also the issue that Dr. Hoppe raises above: For God to eventually force all people to reside with him in heaven would be a violation of the freedom of those who had, in fact, chosen against God — and this, in turn, would negate authentic, agape-love relationship. If you are interested in looking at a different perspective, our preaching pastor, Greg Boyd, has written on this topic in the last few chapters of his book, Satan and the Problem of Evil.

  8. Benjamin says:

    Greg: The theology of this message reminds my wife and I of a book, ‘Unconditional Parenting’ by Alfie Kohn, that might be of interest to you.

    Thank you so much for the work that you do!

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