What Is Gospel-Centered Discipleship?

  |   Mar 11, 2019

My name is JT. I know most of you, but if you don't know me, I serve on staff here. I oversee The Village Church Institute. I'm so excited to be here today preaching the Word of God, celebrating what Jesus has done in our hearts and lives as a community, as individuals.

You might know we've been in a great sermon series on the gospel of John over the last several months, where (I can't speak for you, but I can speak for my family and me) the Lord has moved powerfully, considering the ministry of Jesus, what he has done, who he was, and what he has accomplished. We're going to come back into John at some point, but the Lord has led our leadership team and Matt, in particular, to get some sermons out of his bones over the next several months so he can preach and teach what God has been doing in his life.

It's my joy to also have the opportunity today to tell you what God has been doing in my life. If you were to look at my prayer journal about what I'm asking God to do in my life as a pastor, as a dad, as a husband, just as a follower of Jesus, but also in the life of our church, that's what I'm going to be talking to you about over the next few weeks, just asking God to make true the burdens he's putting on our hearts and minds.

To do that, I want to take you to Colossians, chapter 1. This is one of my favorite chapters in all of Scripture. We'll be here for the next two weeks. Today, just verses 9-23. Today, I want to consider a really simple question, a question of…What is discipleship? What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? Next week, I want to talk to you about my passion to see discipleship happen in the context of the local church. The reason I'm so passionate about formation and discipleship is because I think it's one of the primary themes of the New Testament: to be disciples of Jesus.

What I want to invite you into, not just this week but over the next several weeks leading into the summer, is to pray with us and dream with us and consider with us what the Scriptures would say about the people of God, not just that God has built here but the people of God he is building here, the people of God he is shaping and forming us into, and ultimately, as we'll get into the sermon, ask him to do it, because no sermon, no worship set, no great strategy for discipleship is going to accomplish what we're going to ask God to do. He is going to have to be faithful and accomplish it in our midst.

So, these sermons are an invitation into praying with us, asking God to accomplish what he says he will do in the Scriptures. Here is the text we're going to be in: Colossians, chapter 1, verses 9-23. Let me give my main point away. Here's what I think discipleship is: Disciples are people who grow in a knowledge of God for the glory of Christ, never straying or shifting from the gospel.

Disciples are people…a community, individuals, you and me, but us as a collective whole, a family of brothers and sisters…who are growing in their knowledge of God for the sake of the glory of Christ, never straying or shifting from the gospel. That's what I think Colossian 1 is trying to teach us. In Colossians 1 we're getting insight into Paul's prayer life. He's praying for this church at Colossae. Hear what he says, beginning in verse 9:

"And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light."

I love this verse: "He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." We'll come back to the text in just a minute. There's so much I'd love to mine here, but the first thing I want you to see is how often Paul is praying for them to grow in their communion, to increase in their knowledge of Christ and of the gospel and of God. He prays, "May you be filled with all knowledge."

What I want to suggest to you is that growing in communion, growing in your relationship with Christ, growing in your knowledge of Christ is an essential characteristic for all disciples. Here's the point I want to try to make: I think in contemporary evangelical church culture we have some friction over cultural Christianity and biblical Christianity.

I know for sure that Paul has a theology that God is good to us. You believe that. Right? God is good, and God is good to us. But here's what I want to suggest to you for a second: not only is God good to us; I think what Paul is trying to say is that God is good for us. Do you see the difference? God is certainly good to us. He is good. He does good. He will relate well to us and do good to us, but more importantly, God is good for us. He is what we should want.

We don't just want God's gifts; we want God. If we go to God to get God's gifts, we won't get God's gifts and we won't get God, but if we go to God to get God we will get God and his gifts. Does that make sense? He's saying, "Go for God. Be in relationship with God. Increase and grow in your knowledge of God." He has this beautiful theology. God is good for us. It's this incredibly big picture of God's goodness.

Psalm 16:11 makes this perfectly well known. It says, "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." What is the psalmist saying? It is in God's presence that your pleasures will be fulfilled, where you will truly know who you are and who God is. God is good for us.

There are these colliding messages we receive. The message of cultural Christianity is simply that God is good to you, but the message of biblical Christianity is that God is good for you. The message of cultural Christianity is "Seek God's goods." The message of biblical Christianity is "Seek God's goodness." The message of cultural Christianity is "Operate in a transactional relationship with God like he's a vending machine. Put in a little money, hit a button, and out comes a non-nutritious snack." The message of biblical Christianity is "Go to God because he's the meal."

This is what we talked about last week in John 6. "I am the Bread of Life. Come to me so that you might be satisfied." John 7, where we were going to be: "Come to me, and out of you will flow rivers of living water." God is the meal. He is what we should want. He is what we should desire. Herman Bavinck says it perfectly this way (he's one of my favorite theologians): "God, and God alone, is [our] highest good."

That's what Paul is saying here: God, and God alone, is our highest good. Paul is praying for his disciples, for this church. He's not ceasing to pray that they would be filled with the knowledge of God. Why? Because God, and God alone, is our highest good. One of the areas where we can see where the church has bought into this idea that God is good to us but not good for us is what you're going to hear me talk about as often as I can: the scandal of biblical illiteracy.

I don't need to go over study after study. You've heard them before. Study after study will show us the church has never had more access to our sacred text with less knowledge of it. It's everywhere. It's on our phones. It's on our shelves. It's on our nightstands. The Bible is literally everywhere. You can access it virtually anywhere in the world, yet the church has never had less knowledge of it.

What I want to suggest to you is that doesn't mean we're academically illiterate; it means we're relationally illiterate. It means we are lacking in our communion with God. It's not that we would fail a Bible quiz; it means we're lacking in our communal relationship with the one God of the universe. How can we love the God we don't know? That's what I think Paul is getting after here.

Bible illiteracy is not a crisis of the intellect; it's actually a crisis of the heart. Bible illiteracy is not a crisis of our minds; it's a crisis of our hearts and our affections. I think one of the reasons we are afraid to pursue knowledge… Believe me; I get this. I genuinely get this. We're afraid to be like the Pharisees. Raise your hand if you want to be like the Pharisees. Good. Nobody raised their hand for that one. That means we're the wrong characters in the Bible.

What do you see? Every single time the Pharisees are addressed in Scripture, they're the bad guys in the text. They're the fools or the idiots, the ones Jesus is having to course-correct. What we've been told is that one of the reasons the Pharisees are coldhearted and distant from Jesus is because they knew their Bible so well they became disobedient or coldhearted, but I want to suggest to you that's a misunderstanding of the Pharisees. I think the exact opposite is true.

The Bible never condemns the Pharisees for knowing the Bible; it condemns them for not knowing the Bible well enough. A Pharisee is not someone who's zealous about knowledge; they're zealous about ignorance. That's exactly what Paul says in Romans, chapter 2, when he defines what a Pharisee is. Having been one himself, he knows exactly what a Pharisee is. He says they have "a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge." That's Romans 10:2.

Paul, a Pharisee himself, is telling us, "If you increase in your knowledge of God, if you increase in your relational communion with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, there is no greater knowledge to have." Why? He answers that question for us right after that in the text. He says it is because as you grow in your knowledge of God, then you will walk in a manner worthy of him, fully pleasing to him. And I love this: "…bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God…"

What Paul is trying to show us is there is this intensely practical relationship with our fellowship, our communion, our increasing knowledge of God and the daily Christian life, of bearing fruit, increasing in good work, and enduring all things with patience and joy. I want to give you guys an update, because I know that over the last several months, as I've had the opportunity to preach, I've been able to allow you into the story of what God has my family and me in over this past season.

For those of you who don't know, let me give you a brief update. My wife, almost a year ago now… It was Memorial Day weekend last year. We went in to the doctor to get a scan on her leg because we thought she had some kind of tendonitis. She had tightness in her leg. Her leg was painful and inflamed a little bit. So, we go in thinking they're going to prescribe some kind of anti-inflammatory medicine or they're going to prescribe… We don't really know what they're going to do, but we're not very worried about it. We're just thinking it's going to be a routine scan.

The doctor comes into the office. It's the last meeting on a Friday afternoon. He's trying to get out of his office quickly. He says to us, "This doesn't look good. You probably have a 50 percent chance of being alive five years from now, and if you are alive we'll likely have to take your leg, pelvis, and hip. We'll have to do chemo and radiation, because you have what's called a high-grade sarcoma." You can imagine how terrified we were.

I've never been lower in my life than in that hospital room, just utterly overwhelmed with darkness, despair, questions, frustrations, doubt, fear. Your world is shaken to the core. As many of you know… I don't want to sit in that for long, because that diagnosis… I don't know if God healed her or if the diagnosis was just wrong. Frankly, I don't care, because that's not what she had. She's healthy. As you guys know, she doesn't have cancer, but she did have a tumor in her leg that was incredibly painful.

Not only was that hospital experience absolutely terrifying and painful, the rest of the summer was gut-wrenching. My wife was in chronic pain virtually every single day for the next four or five months. She's had two natural births, and she said if that pain is a 10, most days were about a 7 or 8. She was on the kind of pain medicine you don't want to be on, so we're getting scared about addiction. Just everything you would think about being on high doses of pain medicine, chronic pain.

Meanwhile, you have a dad trying to take care of two little babies, trying to do a good job at work, trying to care for his wife, and feeling…what? Absolutely powerless, at my wit's end every single day. I used to think one of the hardest things in life would be "How am I going to get through the day?" until I realized the hardest thing in life is "How am I going to get through the next five minutes?" That's where we were. We were at this place where it was like, "God, meet us here. We have nothing to hold on to or cling to."

The good news is now, almost a year later, the tumor is still in her leg, but it has shrunken. She is completely out of pain. Yes, praise the Lord. Her pain is a zero, and she's completely off all medicines without any problems. So, I want to tell you this. First, just to testify to God's faithfulness. He is faithful, and he meets his people in really dark and difficult places. He met us in the place where we needed him to meet us, and he was faithful.

All of us, as the text says, can endure with patience and joy, because he will be there for us when we most need him. I just want to testify to that, but I also want to testify to God's kindness and faithfulness to us through you. We literally did not cook a dinner for ourselves Monday through Friday for about four months with almost zero repeats and duplicates. You guys just crushed it and knocked it out of the park. It's just another testimony. What does God say he's going to do through his church? He says, "I will draw near to my people through my people."

The Village Church has been a testimony of that to us. We were in the middle of darkness, and God drew near to us supernaturally, certainly, but he also drew near to us communally as we were walking, as a family, through one of the greatest crises of our lives. Here is why I want to talk about that. First, I wanted to give an update, but I also want to tell you… Do you think I needed to hear a lecture about the providence of God while I was sitting in that hospital room?

Do you think I needed to read a blog post about God's providence? Do you think I needed to hear a sermon about God's kindness and goodness and providence? I didn't. As a matter of fact, in a weird way, that would probably be oddly cruel. What I needed to have happen was not to be taught about God's providence; I needed the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures, and the community of God to surround me, to remind me about what I already knew. I needed to hold on and cling to the promises of God that I have believed in the moment that I didn't want to believe them.

It's really hard to learn that lesson in the hospital room if you haven't already learned it. One of my friends and a former staff member here says it this way: we shout doctrine in the light so we can whisper it in the dark. Isn't that good? We shout the truths about God, the truths about the gospel, the truths about who he is in rooms like this, where the light is on, so we can say, "We know God is good," so when the lights are off and we're all alone we can still hold on and cling to the promises of God in the darkness.

We shout the truths of the gospel here so when we're in the room by ourselves in darkness, in pain, in suffering, and in despair we can cling on just with our fingertips to the goodness of God. Here's what I'm trying to say: we grow in our knowledge of God now so we can endure with patience and joy then. We grow now, we mature now, we develop the muscles of Christian discipleship now so we can endure with patience and faithfulness then. That's exactly what God did in our lives. Where we needed to cling to God's hope with patience and joy, that is what Christ produced in us.

So, my first prayer for The Village Church is that we would increase in our knowledge of God. Why? So we can bear much spiritual fruit, borne by the Holy Spirit, so we can endure with patience and joy with all God has for us. You see, none of us who will be up here preaching over the next few weeks, months, and years… We have hopes, we have dreams, we have prayers about asking what God is going to do, but the truth is none of us know exactly what God is going to do among us.

We don't know what the next month, the next year, the next 10 years, the next 20 years hold for The Village Church. So why are we praying these things? Because we're praying these things will be true. Why? So that not just us as individuals but us as a body, as a family of brothers and sisters, can do exactly what Paul prays here, that we would not endure with bitterness and frustration but with patience and joy.

So my prayer is that we wouldn't believe just that God is good to us but that he's good for us, that we would increase in our communion and our knowledge of him. So, the first point is disciples are people who grow in a knowledge of Christ for the glory of Christ. Look back at the text. Verse 15. I wish I could stay here forever. We can't, but I love this passage. Speaking of Jesus, the Son, it says:

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead…"

If you have a highlighter or a pen or you write in your Bible, underline this phrase. This is the point: "…that in everything [Christ] might be preeminent." In everything Christ would be supreme, unique, preeminent. "For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross."

I love this passage for a number of reasons. We could stay here forever, but we won't. One of the reasons I love this passage… If you haven't studied Colossians before, this is actually an early-church song. Paul takes this song that the Colossians would have been familiar with, that they sing, and he puts it in his letter to them. How often do we sing things we need to be true? That's what Paul is reminding them of.

"These are the things you sing. These are the things that are true. Remind your hearts of the truth through the things you're singing." He's putting a song in here to remind them of the beauty and the glory of Jesus. One of the things that was going on at the church at Colossae was this. You see, Colossae was a really healthy church in a number of different ways. They had decent doctrine. They had a love of God. Their membership was growing. They had good preaching.

If you were to look at the church at Colossae from the outside looking in, you would think, "That's a healthy, gospel-centered, Christ-centered church where God is saving people." The word of God is going forward. They're living ethically. There's a small heretical thing they're dealing with, but it's not massive. It's a fairly healthy church. It would be a church you'd probably want to be a part of. So why does Paul include something like this?

Because the disciples in this church were beginning to grow bored with Jesus, and they didn't even know it. I want you to think about that for a second. They were beginning to grow bored with Jesus without even knowing it. They would have never said out loud, "Yeah, we've kind of grown bored with Jesus. We're ready for the next phase of spirituality. We love Jesus and we want Jesus, but we're kind of ready to move on to this next phase."

Boredom and apathy are really hard to diagnose. Boredom and apathy in our hearts and minds are hard to recognize until we're too far down that path. Paul is saying, "Snap out of your boredom, snap out of your apathy, and remember the awe you first had for Jesus." The Colossian church wanted a kind of spirituality that wasn't Christ alone but was Christ and. They wanted a spirituality that would allow them not to renounce Jesus, to keep Jesus, but to add things to Jesus.

Look at verse 16. "For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him." There were two factions in the church at Colossae. One faction wanted to worship Jesus, wanted to follow Jesus, wanted to be disciples of Jesus, but they also wanted to interact with the physical powers of the world.

So, what would this have looked like for them, and maybe what would it look like for us today? It would be… How do we take Jesus into the political realm? How do we take Jesus into sports? How do we get Jesus into fitness? Have you seen that shirt "Jesus and tacos"? That shirt exists, and I kind of want it. There's another shirt that says "Jesus and coffee." Jesus and essential oils. Jesus and the Enneagram. (I'm an Enneagram One, by the way, if anyone is counting. If you don't know what the Enneagram is, that's fine.)

So, they love Jesus and all of these other things that are good, they're meant to love, but what are they doing? They're elevating these things to the level of Jesus and saying, "We want Jesus and…" There's another faction of the church that's doing the exact opposite with invisible things. Look back. It says he is the creator of all things, visible and invisible. There was another group that wanted Jesus and the spiritual powers of the world.

What does this look like? It's Jesus and angels, Jesus and demons, Jesus and the spiritual realm, Jesus and principalities, Jesus and powers. What is true about both groups is they're elevating created things to the level of the Creator. They're taking these good things, both physical and spiritual, and saying, "We want Jesus and these things." Paul is not saying these are bad things; he's saying Jesus created all of those things, so don't put them on the same level as Jesus.

His point is that he is the Creator of both, and to elevate anything that has been created, physical or spiritual, to the level of Jesus is to remove glory from Jesus, so stop doing it. You see, here's what's tough. They have a domesticated view of Jesus, and they don't even know it. What is true is you actually don't elevate things to the level of Jesus. What do you end up doing? You end up having a lower view of Jesus. That's what's going on at the Colossae church, and they don't even know it.

Here's what I want you to see: Satan is hell-bent on doing anything to get our eyes off Jesus. Sometimes we think the things Satan is going to have us do is he wants us to outright denounce Jesus. Would Satan enjoy that? Yeah, I think he would enjoy right now if we outright denied the gospel and denied Jesus. But do you know what I think he'll settle for and what actually might be far more powerful? It's not outright denouncing Jesus; it's just growing apathetic or bored with Jesus.

One of the greatest schemes of the Enemy against your life, against my life, against The Village Church and the church universal is for us to grow bored with our awe of Jesus Christ. That's what Paul is facing here, saying, "You sing these things. Don't you believe them?" He beautifully puts the gospel on the front end of this description of Jesus and on the back end. He transfers us from the domain of darkness, and later we're going to read that we, who were once enemies from God, have been brought near to God through the gospel.

What Paul is doing here is brilliant. He's saying, "Do you love Jesus just because of what he has done for you or because of who he is?" Paul is trying to show us that once we know more about who Jesus is, what he has done becomes more meaningful. The gospel is so beautiful not simply because of what was accomplished on the cross but because of the one who accomplished it on the cross. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. In all things he is preeminent.

The gospel is good news not just because of what was accomplished but because of the one who did accomplish it for us. So, true discipleship isn't more than Jesus but more of Jesus. A "Christ and" spirituality is a Christ-less spirituality. We gain nothing by adding anything to Jesus, but we lose everything when we add anything.

So, how do you diagnose if you've grown bored or cold or are lacking awe with Jesus? I'd just have you consider for a minute…What does your communion look like with him? Does your communion look like you are satisfied in Christ alone through faith alone by grace alone or does it look like you're adding really good things and sprinkling them in on top of your communion with Jesus?

Are you satisfied to be in relationship with the Creator of the universe alone or have you grown bored because the relationship is sterile and tired, where you're having to spice up your relationship with Christ? What Paul is saying here is that Jesus needs nothing added to him, because in everything he is preeminent.

So, my second prayer is that we would be a place, a people marked and set aside for the glory of Christ, and every single sermon, every single song, every single Home Group, every single men's Bible study or women's Bible study, every single small interaction in the foyer, in the hallway, in the offices, or in the neighborhoods, as we go from the neighbors to the nations, would be this: Christ gets all glory, that there is not one of us who's seeking glory but he is the preeminent one, he is the one who is the Creator who receives all glory.

Finally, disciples are people who grow in the knowledge of God for the glory of Christ as they stand firm on the gospel. Look back at Colossians. Verse 21 says:

"And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister."

Church, let's never get tired of reminding ourselves of the gospel. Look back at verses 21 and 22. You… Remember when you were alienated? Think about that. Remember those days? You were alienated. You were hostile toward God. You were pursuing evil and wickedness. What kinds of people does God reconcile to himself? Precisely those kinds of people who are busted up, who are broken, who are alienated, who are hostile toward God.

We were God's enemies, but God, being rich in mercy, reconciles us through the death of Christ in order to present us holy and blameless. The gospel is not just justification, that we've been made right with God, but also sanctification, that he is making us holy and blameless. So if you're a Christian this morning, I just want you to be reminded of the good news, the news of grace, that God has accomplished on your behalf what you could have never done for yourself.

When you were alienated and hostile, you didn't get to bring yourself home and make yourself a friend, but God did it for you on your behalf. Grace is God doing for us that which we could never have accomplished ourselves. We were in the domain of darkness, and he transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

If you're a Christian this morning, I want you to be reminded of how much Jesus loves you. You don't have to graduate from the gospel and move on to something else. We simply grow deeper into the gospel, like a tree firmly planted and rooted. We're not being uprooted and being moved to something else. Rather, we go deeper into what we already believe to be true. We who were once alienated and hostile are now being reconciled.

If you're a skeptic, first of all, I want to say I'm so grateful that you're here. The fact that you would be at a place like this with us… I want you to know we are ready to listen to you, not just have answers for you. We want to hear your questions. We want to hear what's going on in your life. We want to hear the things you're walking through, whether it's shame or doubt or guilt or frustration or anger with God. Those questions are welcome here.

I also want you to see something else. You are described in this text also. If you have been alienated from God and are aware of your alienation from God, you, too, through no work of your own, can be reconciled to God through the death of Christ, and you, too, can be made holy and blameless and above reproach. If you want to consider Christ's love to you, I want you to know that whether it's shame or guilt or wickedness or doubt or sin holding you back from the cross of Christ, it's simply the blood of Jesus that's meant to reconcile you to God, and there's nothing left for you to do.

Look at verse 23. This should be kind of a gut check. Paul says, "…if indeed you continue in the faith…" Paul seems to have some concern that churches might not hold on to the gospel. Will they stay steady and stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope? He's saying to them, "If you want to grow in your knowledge of God, if you want to continue as disciples and have Christ receive all the glory, don't go anywhere, but stand firm on the one truth of the gospel you already know."

You're not called in the spiritual life to move on to the next spiritual truth but to stay in the one most important spiritual truth, the good news of the gospel, that God through Jesus came to save sinners. Isn't that kind of counterintuitive? I'm not sure what your job is or what your vocation is or whether you're a dad or a mom or a husband or wife. Sometimes progress that is not spiritual looks like moving on to the next thing, the next competency, the next area of growth you're trying to pursue. The exact opposite is true for discipleship.

In discipleship, the most growth comes not when you go anywhere but when you stay on the one thing that matters: the gospel. That's what Paul is saying here: stay stable, steadfast in the truth of the gospel. So, discipleship is not a growth toward something else but it's a growth downward into the good news, like a tree's roots that are sinking not just inches deep but perhaps miles deep; that the network of gospel-centered roots at The Village Church wouldn't be something that could even be uprooted if we tried but we would be stable and steadfast.

So what's discipleship? Disciples are people who are growing in a knowledge of God for the glory of Christ as they stand firm on the gospel. Here's how I want us to end. I just want to tell you, as one of your pastors and leaders, this is the kind of church I want to be. Not because I want to be a pastor of this kind of church, but I want to raise my family at this kind of church.

I just had a scare with death last year with my wife, and I thought to myself, "This is the kind of church I want to be a part of." Why? Because I want Thomas and Bailey, my little 4-year-old and 2-year-old, to grow up here. I want them to hear the good news of the gospel. I want the church to be steady and stable and steadfast on the good news of Christ. I want Christ to receive all glory and nobody else. This is the kind of church I can bleed for and bleed with. This is the kind of family I want to be a part of.

Part of our hope during this season we, as a church, are in of praying and considering the kinds of people God is creating us to be isn't just us telling you what we want but us inviting you in to pray with us. Is this what you want? Do you want to be a part of this kind of a church that is bearing spiritual fruit? Why? Because we realize that God and God alone is our highest good, that whatever lies ahead, whether it's spiritual riches or spiritual challenges, whatever it might be, we will endure with patience and joy. Why? Because God and God alone is our highest good.

Do you want to be the kind of church where nobody on staff…no pastor, no elder, no servant, no deacon…gets any glory but Christ receives all the glory, that we wouldn't grow bored with our awe of Jesus but we would be struck by the magnificence of the one who created us? Do you want to be the kind of church, the kind of people, a family of brothers and sisters who aren't moving to the next spiritual fad but are stable and steadfast, unshifting on the hope of the gospel that they preached in Colossae that they're preaching today all over the world and that we're preaching today here in Flower Mound?

That's the kind of church we want to be, and that's the kind of church I want to be a part of. That's the family I want to see God create here. So, I don't have any application points for you other than to ask…Will you pray with us? Will you ask God to do this among us? Because do you know what won't accomplish this? Some strategy. How does this get accomplished? The Spirit of God moving miraculously, supernaturally, powerfully, and sometimes in ways we can't even see among us, building our hearts up in the good news of the gospel.

All I have for you this morning is to ask if you will pray with us that this is the kind of people we will be, not just as individuals but corporately, as the family of God, because that's what I'm asking God for. I just want to invite you in. It's not just this sermon. I'll be preaching next week, and Trevor is going to preach about his heart for the nations, and Matt has this sermon series built out for us.

These are the things that, again, if you were to look into our prayer journals, this is what we're asking. So, will you ask with us that God would accomplish not just our prayers but what Paul says, "This is the prayer I will never cease praying. God, will you do this?" That's what our hope is. Will you join me in prayer?

Father, what a gift this morning to open your Word and put our trust and hope in Christ alone, that he would accomplish these things in our midst. We believe that even at this moment he is sitting at your right hand, receiving all honor and glory and praise in the heavens. The angels are crying out, and we cry out alongside them that Christ alone is preeminent. Father, we don't know what you have for us at The Village Church over the next week, let alone months and years and decades ahead, but we ask these simple things:

Would you, by the power of your Holy Spirit, increase our spiritual hunger for a knowledge of you? Would you give us not your things but would you give us yourself? Would you not give us glory but would you give Christ all the glory? Would you root us stable and steadfast and firm, not on the next spiritual fad but on the hope of the gospel, that Jesus came to save sinners? We cannot do this, Father, so we ask that in your mercy and in your love for us you would do it. We ask it in the powerful and matchless name of Jesus, amen.

Scripture Colossians 1:9-23