Christ In You— The Hope Of Glory
Key verses 1:27
“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.”
Paul began his letter to the Colossian Christians with thanksgiving and prayer for these precious Christians who had been the fruit of Epaphras’ preaching and teaching. Even though he had not known these particular Christians, Paul had been very concerned about them. At the time there had been many heresies regarding the person and works of our Lord Jesus. So Paul instructed them in some essential doctrine to help them remain rooted in the true Gospel of our Lord Jesus. He taught them that Jesus is the living God who came to earth to redeem them from sin and to reconcile them to God. After teaching them the “supremacy” of Christ, Paul reveals his shepherd heart for them in a remarkable way. Basically he tells them how much he is suffering for their sake. He also illuminates them on the “mystery of God”.
Read verse 24. “Now I rejoice in what was suffered 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.” To begin with we are certain that there is nothing lacking in regard to the suffering of Christ. The suffering of our Lord Jesus in all its measure was enough to fulfill all the requirements of salvation. In other words, the suffering of Christ was complete providing everything we need for redemption, the forgiveness of our sins, and our reconciliation with our Father God. And anyone who puts his or her faith in Jesus receives God’s gracious mercy. When Paul talked about the filling up in his flesh what was lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions or suffering, he was not talking about a lapse in the efficacy of Jesus’ suffering. He was talking about his own suffering, and about the fact that Christian suffering did not end with Jesus but that it goes on in Jesus’ name for the sake of the church, Jesus’ church and his bride.
Paul was the one suffering now for the church. He was suffering for them as a shepherd is called to suffer on behalf of God’s people. Paul was struggling for them in prayer. He was deeply concerned for their spiritual well being. When he had heard that false teachers had gone out into the world and that false gospels might make their way into their midst, there were nights he could not sleep. Now he was earnestly writing them precious words of encouragement in order to diffuse the false teachings, and help them remain rooted and grounded in the Gospel of life— a gospel they had received and believed, and on which they had also taken a stand. Yet Paul’s suffering for them was no surprise to him and should not be for anyone. The moment in which Paul personally received the Gospel into his own heart, he knew that his life as a servant of God would require much suffering. God’s grace demanded it. The words: “This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.
I will show him how much he must suffer for my name” (Acts 9:15-16) were about Paul at the time of his conversion. From the start Paul knew that in serving Christ Jesus, suffering would be part of his life. For this reason Paul accepted his sufferings with joy.
Look at verse 24 again. “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you.” Regardless of how much he suffered, Paul regarded his suffering with joy. When he spoke these words to the Colossian Christians, his point was not to burden them about his suffering on their behalf, but to encourage them that he had loved them enough to suffer for them. Suffering for Christ, and for Christ’s cause— and suffering for the church of our Lord, and for those who would be the church of our Lord is not a burden but a joy. God often calls his people to suffer. Consider what Paul tells the Philippian Christians at one point. “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.” (Philippians 1:29) This is indeed remarkable. People hate to suffer. They are afraid of suffering. They consider any suffering a misfortune or a lapse in God’s blessing. But according to Paul, suffering was a joy. I know it sounds difficult to comprehend or to digest. But the truth is the truth. How can the work of God be done in the world without suffering! It can’t when most people avoid suffering as if suffering was a plague. But God’s work throughout history has been done and it has been done through the sacrifice of those who were willing to suffer for the glory of God. Jesus came to suffer. He offered up his life on the cross for our sins. After Jesus, came the apostles and the saints who did not shrink from suffering, but joined the Lord Jesus in serving the Gospel of life. And that meant that they offered themselves as those who would gladly suffer for the glory of God. We are born to this world so we are born hating to suffer. But when we are born again in Christ, we must be given to whatever it takes to bring the Gospel to a dying world— and that includes suffering.
Paul said that he rejoiced in suffering for them. He suffered for them because although he did not know them personally, he loved them in Christ Jesus, and was willing to go through anything if only it might keep them rooted in the Gospel of life. Love calls us as well to suffer together with the saints of all time in order to fulfill the will of God in bringing the Gospel to the world. When we truly love the Lord, and his Gospel, and when we are truly convinced that the Gospel alone is the way of salvation for all people, then suffering may not be that difficult to bear in the name of Christ Jesus. History is full of those who had gone through the road to suffering. And suffering need not be in scourges and physical pain. Paul suffered all such things in his life as a shepherd. But he confessed that his greatest suffering was in his shepherd’s concern for the flock of God. For them he labored night and day to teach them the words of God. Indeed the best suffering we can embrace in our day and time is to bring the word of God to his flock, to pray for them faithfully, and to shepherd them until Christ is fully formed in them.
Read verses 25-27. “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 saints. 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.” Paul never fails to remind us that he became a servant of the Gospel by God’s commission. In other words, he was personally called by God. Paul felt a sense of honor to have been called by God in such a personal way. At the same time, this also reminded him of who he was before he was called and commissioned by God. He had been a great sinner, and an enemy of God and of his Gospel. Before God intervened in his life, Paul persecuted the church of the Lord Jesus. He did atrocities in the name of a God he did not know. If God were to truly give him what he deserved, Paul knew in his deepest heart that he deserved not only to death but also eternal condemnation. But God did not give him what he deserved. Rather God showed him mercy, and appeared to him while he was on one of his campaigns to destroy Christians. God forgave all his sins in Christ Jesus and God called him to serve the very Gospel and Lord he had formerly persecuted. Paul never forgot such grace in his life. He had once been commissioned by the enemies of the Gospel to persecute Christians to death. Now he was a new man, commissioned by God to preach the Gospel to all people. He had a new purpose and a new mission.
What did God commission Paul to do? Look at verse 25. he was commissioned to present the word of God to the Gentiles, including the Colossians who had already received the Gospel through Paul’s student Epaphras. When Jesus commissioned his disciples upon his ascension he gave them these words: He said to them: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) Paul did not swerve from this sacred commission. From the start Jesus commissioned all Christians to teach the word of God to all people. This great commission was not only for the 12 disciples. It was meant for all Christians. When Paul received the Gospel through a personal revelation, it did not make him too special to do his own thing, or to go about teaching something else. He was commissioned like all the others to teach the word of God in its fullness. Like Paul, every Christian regardless of who he or she is, what his or her situation may be, is also commissioned in the same way— to present the word of God in its fullness. Sometimes we do not know what we are called to do as Christians. But we too must know that God’s word does not change. As Paul was commissioned to present the word of God to others, so also Christians are commissioned to do the same. Paul was first and foremost a Bible teacher. Of course, he was an evangelist and a preacher and more. But first and foremost he was a commissioned Bible teacher, and he was deeply proud of it. He cherished his calling as a Bible teacher, and served his calling with all his heart. Towards the end of his life, when he was a prisoner of Rome and on death row, he was allowed to spend the last days of his life in a rented apartment. While he waited for his execution, Paul taught the Bible to all who came to visit him. From his rented apartment, the Gospel of life went out to the whole world.
Read verses 25-27 again. . “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 saints. 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.” In this passage Paul mentions the “mystery” several times. He tells the Colossian Christians that he had been commissioned by God to teach them the word of God— particularly the mystery that has been hidden for ages and generations— but which had been disclosed at last. What then is this mystery that was once hidden but now revealed? Read verse 27. “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.” The mystery is this: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” What does it mean, “Christ in you, the hope of glory”? It means that only Christ is the sure hope any man or woman has for attaining glory. Once, all human beings were under curse, living in the power of sin. As such, no one could attain to the glory of God, for we had all been short of that glory. But Christ came, and gave his life for the sins of the world. And when a man or woman confess Christ as Lord, Christ begins to live in that heart. And that heart rises to glory.
What does it mean: “Christ in you, the hope of glory”? it means that we have no hope if Christ is not in us. People may think that there is hope in the world, but there isn’t. As long as man must someday die, leaving behind all that he or she had gathered up in this world, there is no hope. There is no hope for man as long as man lives and dies in his sins. Our sins rob us of all hope in this world. Our sins also rob us of any hope we have of salvation. People depend on a loving God to save all humanity regardless of what they had done. But they do not know the righteous requirements of God. They do not know that unless the sin problem is solved or dealt with, no one can ever hope to be saved from eternal condemnation. Men need hope. They need to hope in God and in attaining what they would eventually want, which is to rise above their own flesh and its desires and stand as glorious beings in the presence of God. But we have no hope— and certainly no hope of glory— if Christ is not in us.
This is our only hope of glory— that Christ is or be in us. Jesus came for this purpose. Jesus suffered for this purpose, that we might not die in our sins— without hope and without glory. Jesus died for this purpose, that He himself might become for us our hope— our hope of glory. Christ Jesus died on the cross and rose again from the dead in order to redeem our sinful souls and to reconcile us to God when we were irreconcilable. He sacrificed himself in order to bring us to the glory we lost long ago in the Garden, and a glory we in ourselves do not have because of our sins. Because of our sins, we live in a base world, a world that is fallen. As such we have a distorted idea of what “hope” is and what “glory” truly is. Mostly man’s or woman’s glory in this world is more like man’s or woman’s shame than glory. Most people in the world glory in what they conquer— in money or in other people or in satisfying their sinful desires. They glory in what they drive and in what they wear and what they eat. But that is no glory. It is mostly the shame of humanity to glory in such things. To glory in the debased and the shameful— in the ordinary and the exotic— to glory in the thrills that fill people’s lives with supposed meaning when all they do is practically meaningless— this is not the glory that God had intended for his children when he created us. When God created us, he intended that we be like him, following his example, loving what is good, and serving what is right and holy. A man or woman were intended by God to rise above their physical life, to embrace the high and noble things in life, to explore the spiritual world and to walk with God in high glory not as equals but as precious children who love God and honor him as God.
When Jesus came to this world to set things right, he intended to restore that glory to man. But to do so he had to sacrifice himself. So that is what Jesus did. He sacrificed himself on the cross to deliver us from the shame and the guilt of sin. And he promised us, that when we put our faith in him, he will come and live in us and make his home with us. Jesus sacrificed all things in order to restore to us the hope that we truly need, the hope that we can once again live lives pleasing to God, doing what God intended us to do, serving his purpose, and that when we die, we would not perish but to have the hope of heaven burning in our hearts. When Jesus promised us this hope, it was not only a promise, it was a reality. When Christ lives in us, we have hope. We are changed from those who live a hopeless life in a hopeless world to those who life full of hope and glory. Truly, the only glory worth having is “Christ in us”. Paul deeply knew this truth. He was a man who murdered innocent people in the name of God. what he did was not only cruel but inhuman and shameful. He was not destined for glory as he had thought, but destined to face God’s judgment. But when Christ saved him and began to live in his heart, Paul changed into a man of love and sacrifice. His glory was no longer in the shameful things he did in his life, but his glory was in Christ Jesus, who loved him and blessed him. He said in Galatians 2:20. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” What glorious words these are! They are the words of a man who had seen and tasted the only true hope any man or woman could every have, Christ in him, the hope of glory.
For this reason Paul labored hard for the Lord, not to gain honor but to honor the one who did so much for him. For this he labored in love for these Colossian Christians whom he did not know but whom he loved with his whole heart. He considered them God’s precious people worthy to suffer for, worthy to love and to serve until Christ is formed in their hearts. Read verses 28-29. “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” Paul was a good shepherd even for those who were not his own converts. He considered them God’s people, and he loved them and served them as if they were the most precious people in the world. To him, they were the most precious because Christ had suffered and died for them. Paul could not bear to see them go astray because of wicked men’s wicked teachings. For this reasons he struggled so much for them. But he did not struggle for them with his own strength. His strength as a man failed as usual. Rather he struggled with God’s energy with God’s strength. He knew that his own strength as a man could not last. So he depended on God, in his suffering, and in his labor to serve the church. How great he was to teach us three crucial things. First, that he suffered gladly for Jesus and for God’s people. Second, that there is no hope of glory for men save one— Christ in us, the hope of glory. And third, that when we live the Christian life and labor for the Christ and his church, we cannot do so with our own strength, but we must struggle with God’s strength working in our hearts, until the Gospel is formed in his people’s lives and until their only hope is Christ in them.
Let us read our key verse, verse 27. “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.”