Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
— Colossians 1:28
After reading a book on the subject of church leadership and the need for every organization to have a “purpose statement,” I realized that the purpose statement for our church and ministry was too long for anyone to remember it, and it was certainly too long to be able to repeat it to someone else. So I started praying for a short, concise way to state the purpose of our ministry.
After a lot of prayer, my heart kept going back to the simple statement the apostle Paul made in Colossians 1:28, a verse that has been the theme of our ministry since its earliest inception and remains the purpose of our ministry after decades of service. However, I had never thought of a way to present it to people as a purpose statement until I was challenged by that book. Colossians 1:28 speaks of Christ’s glorious presence in each of us and of our need to declare truth in various ways to others with the ultimate goal of presenting every person perfect in Christ. It says, “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”
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I can emphatically say that our ministry has always been, is, and will always be a preaching, warning, and teaching ministry — just as Paul described in Colossians 1:28. And like Paul, we have an audience of “every man.” The word “every” is the Greek word panta, an all-encompassing word that embraces all people with no exceptions. To the lost, we preach. To those who are saved, we warn and teach. But Paul said the ultimate goal is to present every man perfect in Christ. “Perfect” sounds very hard to attain, if not almost unreachable, so what was Paul really referring to when he spoke of presenting people “perfect” in Christ?
The word “perfect” in this verse is the Greek word telios. Paul used this word only five times in the New Testament — each time to describe full-grown adults (see 1 Corinthians 2:6; 14:20; Ephesians 4:13; Philippians 3:15; and Colossians 1:28). It describes how, as a person develops, he or she transitions from being youthful and immature to an individual who is full-grown and mature.
In addition, Paul used telios twice (see Romans 12:2; Colossians 4:12) to denote spiritually mature individuals who are living in accordance with the will of God. For this reason, the more recent translation of The Amplified Bible states, “…that we may present every person mature (full-grown, fully initiated, complete, and perfect) in Christ….” Thus, we see the word “perfect” that Paul referred to in Colossians 1:28 as one who is spiritually mature and endeavoring to live out his or her life in accordance to God’s perfect will.
In the context of discerning our ministry purpose, this verse gives very clear direction. It tells us that we are not called just to win masses to Christ and then leave them behind as spiritual infants. Rather, our God-given task is to help people walk out of immaturity while leading them onward into spiritual maturity. Bringing people up to this level of maturity is an undertaking so huge that Paul acknowledged it could only be done with the power of God. He said, “Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily” (Colossians 1:29).
The word “labour” in Colossians 1:29 is the Greek word kopos, which describes the most physically and mentally exhausting type of labor. By using this word, Paul reminded us of the extremely hard work that is required to help a person attain spiritual maturity. According to this, Paul worked very hard to bring people from spiritual infancy into spiritual adulthood. In fact, the next word he chose, the word “striving,” drives this point home. It comes from the Greek word agonidzo, from which we get the word agony.
The use of these two words “labour” (kopos) and “striving” (agonidzo) tells us that the task of helping individuals move from spiritual infancy to spiritual adulthood requires focus, effort, and hard work — and that it can often be as agonizing as raising a natural child to become a level-headed adult. And we’re not just spiritually raising one person, but many people at one time. This would be humanly impossible if it were not for “his working,” which, as Paul said, works in us mightily.
The word “working” here is the Greek word energeo, which, of course, is where we get the word for energy. Furthermore, the word “mightily” is the word dunamis, which Paul used to describe Christ’s divine ability that resides in each true believer. So Paul was acknowledging that it is only possible to present every man “perfect” in Christ because of His divine, supernatural energy that works mightily in us. We are insufficient in ourselves for such a task. We can only accomplish it because of the infusion of Christ’s mighty dunamis power that works in us. Hence, the task of helping someone grow from spiritual infancy into spiritual adulthood is a supernatural feat that can only be accomplished in cooperation with Christ’s mighty power that works in us and through us.
If you feel that you have failed to stick it out to the end with the individuals you’ve been called to help mature, take heart! Yield to the Holy Spirit’s presence in your heart, for you are only up to the task if the Holy Spirit’s power is working in you and through you. And should you be looking for a purpose statement for your church, your ministry, or your personal walk with God, consider Colossians 1:28: “…that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus….”
As believers, this should always be our purpose. We must not only win people to Jesus but also disciple them to maturity so they can live the balance of their lives as fully grown spiritual adults who live to do the will of God.
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I have long sought a purpose statement for my life. Today I align myself with the purpose that the apostle Paul wrote of in Colossians 1:28. I ask You to help me know with whom to share the Gospel, how to warn other believers who need to be warned, what ways I should teach believers, and how to let the power of the Holy Spirit flow through me. Shape me into an instrument to help bring other Christians to a place of spiritual maturity to do the will of God. I can do this consistently only if Your power is released consistently in me, so today I yield to the power of the Holy Spirit and commit myself to this great endeavor.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that God uses me to preach Christ to the lost, to warn and teach believers the truths of God’s Word, and to help bring others into spiritual adulthood where they are no longer tossed to and fro as young spiritual infants. God wants all believers to reach spiritual maturity — including me — and He desires to use me to help others attain it as well. Although this is a huge task, I yield to the power of the Holy Spirit in me according to Colossians 1:28, and the Spirit works with me and through me to fulfill this God-given purpose.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- What is the purpose statement for your life? Can you summarize it and easily repeat it to someone else? Do you know it well by memory, and are you able to write it down on a piece of paper?
- If you know the purpose of your life, what are you doing to fulfill it? Doing what God has asked you to do will require resolve, determination, and supernatural power. Is His power actively flowing through you? Is it time for you to have a new experience with the Holy Spirit so that you are refreshed for the task?
- Has God used you to help someone grow spiritually? Who is that person? Whom did God use in your life to help you grow spiritually? When you think of the time and effort these individuals spent to help you grow from spiritual infancy to spiritual adulthood, doesn’t it make you so thankful for them? Why not take the time to call or write these important people in your life and express your gratitude to them today?