“Be in the Church” Cont’
Your special ability may seem small or large, but it is yours to use in God’s service. Ask God to use your unique gifts to contribute to the strength and health of the body or believers.
4:6 God is above all—this shows his overruling care (transcendence). He is through all, and in you all—this shows his active presence in the world and in the lives of believers (immanence). Any view of God that violates either his transcendence or his immanence does not paint a true picture of God.
“that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” (Eph 5:26,27)
Christ’s death sanctifies and cleanses the church. He cleanses us from the old ways of sin and sets us apart for his special sacred service (Hebrews10:29; 13:12). Christ cleansed the church by the “washing” of baptism. Through baptism we are prepared for entrance into the church just as ancient Near Eastern brides were prepared for marriage by a ceremonial bath. It is God’s Word that cleanses us (John17:17; Titus 3:5).
“And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. 24 I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church” (Col 1:18,24)
“firstborn from the dead.” Jesus Christ was the first to rise from the dead with a spiritual and immortal body (1Cor 15:20). On His resurrection day Jesus became head of the church. The NT church began on the day of Jesus’ resurrection when the disciples received the Holy Spirit (see article on The Regeneration of the Disciples). The fact that Christ is the “firstborn from the dead” implies the subsequent resurrection of all those for whom He died.
Col 1:18 Christ is the “firstborn from the dead.” Jesus was raised from death, and his resurrection proves his lordship over the material world. All who trust in Christ will also defeat death and rise again to live eternally with him (1Corinthians 15:20; 1Thessalonians 4:14). Because of Christ’s death on the cross, he has been exalted and elevated to the status that was rightfully his (see Philippians 2:5-11). Because Christ is spiritually supreme in the universe, surely we should give him first place in all our thoughts and activities.
Col 1:24 my sufferings for you. Paul sees Christ still suffering, not for our redemption, but in fellowship with His people as they carry the gospel to the lost (cf. Acts 9:4). Paul rejoices because he is allowed to share in the sufferings of Christ (Phil 3:10; cf. 2Cor 1:4-5; 4:7;11:23).
When Paul says, “I …. fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ,” he does not mean that Christ’s suffering was inadequate to save him, nor does he mean that there is a predetermined amount of suffering that must be paid by all believers. Paul could be saying that suffering is unavoidable in bringing the Good News of Christ to the world. It is called Christ’s suffering, because all Christians are related to Christ. When we suffer, Christ feels it with us. But this suffering can be endured joyfully because it changes lives and brings people into God’s kingdom (see 1 Peter 4:1,2, 12-19).