Friends For The Finish: Colossians Series #8

November 21, 2023

We are going to learn that it takes many people, just average ordinary people, like you and me to get the work of the Lord done. The Bible says that we are laborers together with God. It’s wonderful to know that God will use average people to do unordinary, out-of-the-average kinds of things for the Lord.

Paul is one of the most famous personages in history. What we may not know is that there were a number of people who were associated with Paul in his work, who were vital and indispensable to the work of the Lord which God did through him. Paul had a way of showing his appreciation and gratitude to those who were associated with him in the work of the Lord. In many of his writings, at the conclusion, you will find he will give a list of names and will thank them and show his appreciation to them. Paul was a very warm-hearted man and a man who had genuine appreciation and gratitude for that vast host of people who were around him in the work of the Lord.

I encourage you to take the time to write down a list of people who have been a help to you. Write down the names of those people who have been an encouragement to you. When I think about the friends in my life and ministry, I am moved to tears because of the incredible people in my life. It takes many people to do the work of the Lord. We will need a lot of relationship currency in order to accomplish something long-lasting for the Lord.

The Apostle Paul reminds us by listing these names how very important every individual is in the work of the Lord.

These names are kind of like Bible cameos. They are Scripture snapshots. They are glimpses of grace. Every one of the names mentioned in these verses represents real people. These were actual people. They lived and they worked and they walked in the Bible daily. As you read down through this list of names, you will find a lot of activity going on. You will find many people who are doing a lot of different things. You will see all kinds of variety. You will find people doing different kinds of things and people who have different personalities.

God loves variety. God is not a dull God. Look at all the colors God has given to us in our world; all of the beautiful colors. If you question that, go to the zoo sometime and look at all the different animals and you will know that God loves variety. If that still doesn’t get the point, just look in the mirror and remember that God loves variety. So, we find variety in these names and in the people who are represented.

I want us to move down through these names and bring these glimpses of God’s grace before you and you may find someone here who is an example for you. Someone’s life in place of service here may give you an idea of how you can serve the Lord and do something for Him. I’ve grouped these names in several ways.

I. We Are To Be Respectable Messengers

In Colossians 4:7-9, we have two messengers mentioned. Look at these verses, at two messengers. We read, “All my state (affairs) shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord: Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts; With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.”

Two men who were used by God to bring a message to the believers at Colosse.

Look at Tychichus. He was indeed a man with a message. He is called a beloved brother by Paul, a faithful minister and a fellow servant in the Lord. This indicates to us that Tychichus was the right-hand man of Paul. He was his personal assistant and executive secretary. He was a man who could be counted on. Notice that he is a beloved brother and a faithful minister. In other words, he had a shepherd’s heart and a prophet’s ministry. He is called a faithful minister.

Notice that word, faithful. That is the key ingredient of all Christian service. There is the word you need to get in your heart to serve the Lord. The Bible says, “Moreover it is required in stewards (servants) that a man (or woman) be found faithful.” You may not be the most talented person in the world, but you can be faithful. You may not be able to sing like others, but you can be faithful, dependable, and trustworthy. When you say you are going to serve, let me encourage you to be faithful to that commitment.

We know in the Scripture that this man was an Asian Christian and that he followed the Apostle Paul. He went with him. But it seems that this man is the man who was kind of a postman. They didn’t have mail services like we do today. They didn’t have e-mail like we have today. So, evidently the letters to the Colossians and also the Ephesians’ letter, and the little postcard to Philemon were carried by Tychichus for the Apostle Paul to the churches. Here is a man who was rather insignificant in history, yet he is on a very significant errand. He is taking God’s Word. He is a postman for God’s Word. We can all live that way. We are living in a world that knows very little about the Bible. The Bible is still a best seller, but most people don’t know anything about it. They don’t know what God has to say in the Bible.

That’s why the Bible says in II Corinthians 3:3 that we are to be living epistles, read of all men. That simply means that we are living in a world where people don’t read the Bible, but your life and my life can be a living Bible in front of them, by the way we live and the things we share. We are to be a Tychichus.

I think in verse 9 when these Colossians Christians read the name Onesimus they all sat up straight. “With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you.” That sentence really got their attention. If there was one thing, they knew about Onesimus he certainly wasn’t a brother to them. The story of Onesimus is in the book of Philemon. The book of Philemon is all about this man Onesimus. Onesimus was a runaway slave. He had been owned by Philemon and had run away, had stolen some things and evidently had ended up in the same jail as Apostle Paul. Paul led him to faith in Christ. He was criminal, then he became a convict and now Paul says he’s a companion.

That just reminds us of the wonderful Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel can take an enemy and turn him into a friend. This good news about the Lord Jesus Christ can take a criminal and turn him into a Christian. Paul says to Philemon that he is going to send Onesimus back to him. and “if he owes you anything put it on my account.” That’s a beautiful picture of what Jesus did for us on the cross. All of our sin account was laid on Jesus Christ. All of us were like wayward, runaway slaves. Yet, when Jesus died on the cross, He paid our sin debt in full and now, you and I can be brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ. Onesimus was a man with a past, but Christ redeemed him.

If you have a past filled with many sins, let the life of Onesimus encourage you and remind you that it doesn’t matter what your past has been. It doesn’t matter what you have done. Jesus can forgive you, transform you, and make you brand new. He can make your life meaningful, beautiful, and sweet.

II. We Are To Be Redemptive Greeters

In verse 10 it says, “Aristarchus my fellow prisoner salute you.” In verse 12, “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, salutes you.” In verse 14 it says, “Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.” These were people who were with Paul who were known by the Colossian believers. They are giving a word of greeting.

In Colossians 4:11, he writes this about them: “These only are my fellow workers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.” “Comfort” is an interesting Greek word. We have a medicine that gets its name from this Greek word. Have you ever heard of paregoric? That may be something that we don’t use now, but when our kids were coming up there was a medicine called paregoric. If babies were crying at night and were experiencing colic, parents would give them some paregoric. I don’t know if it was much comfort to the children, but it sure was a comfort to the parents to give it to them! The word, comfort, is the word paregoric. It means a tonic or a relief. Paul is saying these people have been a tonic, a relief, an encouragement to me. Isn’t it wonderful to have Christians around you who are an encouragement.

In verse 10, he mentions Aristarchus. Aristarchus was with Paul on some significant occasions. He was with Paul when there was a riot in Ephesus. He was also with Paul when he was in the storm on the Mediterranean Sea in Acts 27. This man seems to have been one of those kinds of people who was always there when times got tough. He was always there where there were difficulties. He’s the kind of person Paul could count on. We need friends like this. We need a lot of people you can count on when the times get tough. When times get tough, the tough get going. We should strive to be the kind of people like Aristarchus.

We also need to mention in verse 10, “Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)” This is young John Mark. You remember the story about John Mark. In Acts 12:12, Paul is getting ready to go on one of his missionary journeys. “And when he had considered the thing he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying.” There is John Mark. His mother is named Mary.

In Acts 12:25, we read that Paul and Barnabas are getting ready to go on a missionary tour. “And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry and took with them John whose surname was Mark.” Here is Paul, Barnabas the son consolation, the son of encouragement, and they have picked a young man named John Mark to be one of their assistants and go with them on that missionary journey. My, what an honor it was for Mark to be chosen!

Then in Acts 13:13, we read, “Now, when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.” Mark has gone home to mother. We don’t know exactly what happened, but for some reason, John Mark faltered. For some reason, John Mark didn’t complete his term of service.

Next, in Acts 15:37, the story of John Mark continues. Some of us really need to learn the message of John Mark. They are getting ready to go on another missionary journey. “And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.” Yet, in verse 38 we read, “But Paul thought it not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work…”

Barnabas says, “Let’s take John Mark.” Paul says, “No, he left us. We aren’t going to take him with us.” In Acts 15:39, we read, “and the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; and Paul took Silas.” There was such a strong disagreement between these good men of God that it caused their missionary team to split up and they went in different directions.

Warren Wiersbe used to tell the story, that one time he was going through a Texas town, and when he got to the end of the town, he saw a sign in front of a church that said Harmony Baptist Church. He said he rode a little further through the town and saw another church that said New Harmony Baptist Church. Next, he said he got on out to the edge of town and saw another sign that said New Harmony Baptist Church #2. It is some comfort to know that even good men have their disagreements.

Think about this young man John Mark. He started off pretty good, but now he has messed up. You may be like that today. You may have been saved some time ago and you were doing good and then you messed up. You faltered and you failed. You may be so discouraged and downhearted. Let me encourage you with John Mark.

There were evidently three men who helped this young man John Mark recover from his failure. One of them was obviously Barnabas, that son of encouragement. Isn’t it wonderful that we have people like Barnabas who are tender-hearted, kind, forgiving, and willing to give people a second chance? I think Paul actually helped him as we will see later on. The strong commitment that Paul talks about must have helped John Mark realize that you need strong commitment in your heart. I believe Paul was helpful to him.

I also believe Simon Peter was helpful to John Mark. When you read, I Peter 5:13 you discover that John Mark was the spiritual son of Simon Peter. Simon Peter led John Mark to Jesus. I can almost imagine in my mind that when John Mark blew it he went to his spiritual father, Simon Peter, and told him with many tears. I can almost hear Simon Peter as he says, “I’m sorry you failed like that, but let me just tell you, my story. I was the leader of the Apostles, and I loved Jesus with all my heart. I boasted that if everybody else forsook Him, I would never forsake Him. But John Mark, the night our Lord was tried wrongly I stood by the enemy’s fire and I denied I even knew the name of the Lord. John Mark, everybody fails. I want you to know that the Lord Jesus looked at me that evening with a look of love and when He was raised again from the dead he said, ‘go tell Simon Peter I’ll meet him in Galilee.’ And He gave me a second chance. And John Mark, the Lord will give you a second chance too.

Aren’t you glad we have a God of a second chance, a third chance, a fourth chance? Aren’t you glad when we blow it it’s not over? We can go to the God of a second chance.

Do you know what happened to John Mark? He wrote the second Gospel. Don’t give up. There’s hope for you. There’s opportunity for you. You can still serve Jesus. You can still be effective for the Lord. If you learn from the past, your best years are ahead of you!

How do we know he was effective? In Timothy 4:11, we read, “Take Mark and bring him with thee for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” This is Paul writing. Isn’t that glorious? Isn’t that wonderful! Paul says to bring that young man, he has proven himself. This is why Paul says in Colossians 4:10, “if he comes to you, receive him.”

It’s hard for backsliders sometimes to come back. They wonder what kind of reception they are going to get. When a backslider comes back to church don’t give them a cold shoulder, give them a warm hug. Tell them how glad you are to see them. John Mark blew it, but he recovered and went forward to impact his generation.

In Colossians 4:11, we read, “And Jesus who is called Justus, who are of the circumcision.” All we know is his name–Jesus Justus. Oh, what a name! In those days it was not uncommon for people to be named Jesus. In fact, in certain cultures in our world, it is very common for people to be named Jesus. Think about the significance. This man carried the name of Jesus. Jesus took a common name, and He exalted it. The Bible says, wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue should confess to the glory of the Father that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Have you ever thought about it? You and I bear that name. We are Christians. Do you know how the name Christian came into existence? It means a follower of Christ. A Christ-one. We bear the name of Jesus. May it be said of us as it was the early disciples, “They took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus. Do people see Jesus in us?

In Colossians 4:12, we read of “Epaphras, Who is one of you.” He was from Colossi. “A servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.”

He may have been the pastor of the Colossian church, separated from them at this particular time. The text states, that he labored fervently for them in prayers. The word, “laboring,” is where we get our word agony. It’s an athletic term. It’s the picture of intense athletic activity.

It says in verse 13 that he labors with great zeal, that is, intense desire. What’s he doing? He’s not playing a game. This man Epaphras is exercising himself intensely in prayer. Think about the picture here. If we prayed as intensely as we played some game, no telling what God would do. I encourage you to increase your prayers so God will use you in unparalleled ways.

In verse 12, we read that Epaphras is praying that we will stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. The word, “complete” is the same word used in chapter 2:10. “And you are complete in him.” You are complete in Jesus Christ. Now, he says Epaphras prays that you will be complete in all the will of God. He is saying that you might be experimentally what you are positionally. He wants you to be everything God saved you to be. What a wonderful man is Epaphras!

In Colossians 4:14, Paul mentions Luke, the beloved physician. Luke was evidently the personal physician of Paul. He is also the author of two books of the Bible: the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. There is a tradition that Luke was not only a physician but was also an artist. He certainly has painted some beautiful portraits of Jesus in his Gospel. He was a professional man.

I think Paul and Luke must have been such good companions because they had a great deal in common.

Both were highly educated. Both had a great deal of culture. Now, they are committed together in one fellowship in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul not only had a ministry to the down and out, Paul had a ministry to the up and out. Professional people need Jesus. Doctors need Jesus. Business people need Jesus. There’s not an air conditioning in hell for rich folks. Rich people without Jesus go to hell just like anybody else. I want you to know that professional people, without Jesus, die and go to hell just like pimps and prostitutes.

Everybody needs Jesus. We should lay our professions at the feet of Jesus. Luke took his profession and laid it at the feet of Jesus. He gave his skill; he gave his training to the Lord Jesus Christ. Did you know that he was with Paul all the way? You come to II Timothy 4, the last letter Paul wrote, and he says in that letter, “Only Luke is with me.” He stayed with him all the way.

In verse 14, we read, “Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.” There’s a story in that name. He’s mentioned three times in the Bible. He’s mentioned in the book of Philemon verse 24 where he is there as a fellow laborer. Here he is just called Demas. In II Timothy 4:10, we read, “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world and has departed unto Thessalonica.” Isn’t that a tragedy? He has forsaken Paul and Luke.

Demas had to make a decision. Would you rather have a jail cell with Paul, or would you rather have one of these fine houses in Rome? He decided for the world and left.

Is there a Demas in your life, who is trying to get you to walk away from Christ and His followers? Is he trying to get you to desert the cause of Christ for this present world? A job? A salary? Some material thing? Is the devil trying to get you to swap Jesus for something else that is passing away?

III. We Should Represent The Others

In Colossians 4:15, we read, “Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.” Their names aren’t mentioned except Nymphas. Paul mentions his name and the church in his house. Would you serve Jesus if you never got your name anywhere? Would you follow Jesus Christ if you never got any recognition? Paul does not mention their names and yet they are faithful. They are part of the church. They are servants of the Lord.

Your name is not in this list. My name is not in here. But there’s another list. You may not have your name in here, but there’s another list up there, it’s called the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Many years ago, when I lived in Springfield, Missouri, I became good friends with the late Dr. James Reimer. Dr. Riemer pastored Second Baptist Church. Even though I came from an Assemblies of God tradition, I often attended Second Baptist, when I was not traveling and ministering in a Church somewhere. When I look back over my life, I have been building bridges instead of fences for decades.

During a sermon presentation, Pastor Reimer shared a story about a lady, who had volunteered in a Vacation Bible School at the church in the summer. After VBS had concluded, the church had a banquet, giving the Lord praise for the number of young people who had come to Christ and to express appreciation to all those who had volunteered to make it successful.

After the appreciation banquet, this Christian lady made an office appointment to see Dr. Reimer. During the meeting, she said, “I am not loved and not appreciated in this church.”

Pastor Reimer inquired, “Why do you say this? We love you and are grateful for you.”

With that, she said, “Look at this banquet program that was passed out a few days ago. My name is not recorded among the other volunteers. I believe it was done on purpose.”

Pastor Reimer tried to convince her that this was an honest accident and apologize to her. Yet, she chose to leave the church and move her membership to another church.

With this in mind, we have to ask the tough question. Why did she really serve in VBS? Did she serve with the hope children would come to Christ or was the service actually to be seen by others?

Regardless, of whether or not, we receive recognition in this life our Lord knows all we do to advance the Kingdom of God and to fulfill the Great Commission. We don’t who the others were in the Colossian church, but Paul says they were faithful. We are to remain faithful in broad daylight and at midnight. When we reflect on the friends of the Apostle Paul, he knew the importance of surrounding himself with incredible people, who were faithful even to the end.

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