24–25). Filling Up What Is Lacking in Christ's Afflictions, John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. Please make sure all fields are filled out. initiative, where we’re encouraging Christians and churches to read together through God’s Word in a year. This week we reached verses 23 and 24 of chapter 1. Christ cannot personally offer himself to people today. I think it can be stretched to mean—though I don't think it is really a stretch—to say that we ought to love people in a way that takes risks. This verse was used to support the Roman Catholic doctrine of a treasury of merits both before and after the Protestant Reformation (we might call this the Salvific view). When I have lots to say and can’t pack it all into one text, I have several introductions. But it’s not. God's answer to this lack is to call the people of Christ (people like Paul) to present the afflictions of Christ to the world—to carry them from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Our sufferings are therefore part of the gift he makes to us, weird as that sounds. We often worry about what to say to the suffering, but often the most effective ministry in the moment is to sit, weep, and listen well. This interpretation, based on some alleged parallels in Jewish literature, claims that the church needs to fulfill a certain quota of sufferings prior to the return of Jesus. In a special episode, Pastor John explains the theory’s goals, assumptions, and root problem. The world’s redemption is not complete. I think what we see in Colossians 1:24 is the living out of Jesus' words in Mark 8:35, "Whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's shall save it." Christ has prepared a love offering for the world by suffering and dying for sinners. Fifteen years ago, I had an opportunity to hear J. Oswald Sanders speak. It seems so far away. Most of us define the benefits of Christianity with how it makes our life better now: “Your best life now.”.

This may be as simple as relational discomfort or the awkwardness of trying to share your faith; it may be as extreme as risking your life or moving your family to a place where few have heard the name of Jesus. While current Roman Catholic scholars no longer advocate this view, hundreds of theologians over the centuries have attempted to make sense of the verse in other ways. The suffering love of Christ for sinners is seen in the suffering love of his people for sinners. Here’s my answer in summary: What’s missing is the in-person presentation of Christ’s sufferings to the people for whom he died.

Then in verse 29 Paul tells the church in Philippi to honor Epaphroditus when he comes back, and he gives his reason in verse 30 which has words very similar to Colossians 1:24. Because his life was a life of consciously embraced suffering. Verse 27 says he was sick to the point of death, but God spared him. Jesus is superior to every kind of rule, authority, and dominion that you will find in any culture, any nation, among any people, anywhere in the world. filling up that which is lacking in the afflictions of Christ."

It’s just as far away as a commitment. But one of the most difficult verses in the book is Colossians 1:24: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.”. There is a strong confirmation of this in the use of similar words in Philippians 2:30. 15:8, 16, 19). The kind of love in which people will see the atoning work of Christ is the lifestyle of believers who are willing to take risks and make sacrifices in order to bless and do good to others. The martyrs of 30 years from now are made today, in services like this, on days like today. I have been teaching through the book of Colossians over the past 5 weeks. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He said, “Holiness, silence, and sacrifice are beautiful in themselves. How do the doctrines of grace affect us personally and publicly? We did a missions emphasis one evening. What does Paul mean when he says he is "filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions"? Over the past decade, a new consensus has been emerging that spells out the meaning specifically in terms of mission—a more helpful and contextually strong interpretation of the passage, in my judgment.

Now he calls us to choose suffering. When we look at the context, Paul goes on to say, “I have become [the church’s] servant, according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known” (Col. 1:25). When he awoke, people were hovering over him, and the whole town was gathered around to hear him speak. Answer: by carrying the gospel message all the way to the heart of the Roman Empire. The Calvary road is not a joyless road. We know that Christ’s death was the fully sufficient payment for our sin, so what did Paul mean when he said that something in Christ’s afflictions was “still lacking”? (Epistle to the Philippians and to Philemon, ICC, p. 78).

What does he mean when he talks about a “lack”? They must be carried by ministers of the gospel. Answer: In Colossians 1:24 Paul writes, “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.”. God really means for the body of Christ, the church, to experience some of the suffering he experienced so that when we offer the Christ of the cross to people, they see the Christ of the cross in us. Christ chose suffering, it didn't just happen to him. And so they fill up what is lacking, namely, the personal presentation of the sufferings of Christ in their own bodies. In his travels with this supply Epaphroditus almost loses his life. Like John 21:19 when Jesus showed Peter by what death he would glorify God. The lack is the gap of sufferings between the present reach of the gospel and the suffering necessary to establish a gospel presence among all the Gentiles, paralleling Jesus’s own mission to bring the gospel to the Jewish people (see the same language of “minister” and “filling/fulfilling” in Rom. After a long day of many miles and much discouragement, he came to a certain village and tried to speak the gospel but was driven out of town and rejected. He lives in Greenville, South Carolina, with his wife, Laurel, and daughters, Lane, Kately, and Harper.


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