Saturday, July 25, 2015

A potent Gospel - Colossians 1:3-8

"We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; just as you learned it from Epaphras...and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit." (Colossians 1:3-8)
Jesus tells us that people differ in how they receive and persist in the truth. Specifically, there are those who receive it quickly but also quickly fall away. "In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away." (Mark 4:16-17) However, the Colossians had both received the word and remained in the word despite trials, difficulties, and persecutions. They held on to the truth "because of the hope" they had in the truth. Hope is a powerful thing. If we see Christianity as mere religion or just our best efforts at enlightenment and self-improved then we will be easily swept away by difficult times. However, if we see in it the hope of righteousness and the hope of eternal life, then hope will cause us to remain steadfast even till the end.

When we preach the Gospel, our message must not be solely about sin, punishment, and the promise of absolution from sin. It must also contain the hope to which we are called. Peter says that we have been called to a "living hope" (1 Peter 1:3) through the Gospel. If we merely communicate a Gospel that is something that we must believe and do then people will be quick to discard it when times get tough. However, if we preach a Gospel that is hope both for this life  and the life to come, then it will strengthen and fortify them through their difficult times and delight them in their times of ease. Through the Gospel we find "everything pertaining to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3) and this should be at the heart of our preaching of the Gospel.

Paul further tells us something important about the Gospel; that it is fertile and growing throughout all the world. The Gospel is potent and has the power to produce fruit in all who hear and receive it. The results of the sowing of the Gospel have little to do with us. It is as in the parable of the farmer which Jesus told. "The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows — how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head." (Mark 4:26-28) Our job is not to convince people concerning the Gospel, nor are we responsible for the growth of fruit in someone's life because of the Gospel. Our job is to preach the Gospel and the hope of the Gospel and to let the word take root and bear fruit in the lives of those who have "hearing with faith." (Galatians 3:2)

Finally, Paul tells us that the Gospel does not singulrly produce the fruit of salvation but continues to produce fruit in the lives who hear and believe it. The Gospel is not something we hear, accept, and then go on our way. It is something that should become a regular part of our lives that our lives may continually bear fruit to God. There is never a time in our Christian walk where we no longer need the truth, hope, and power of the Gospel . We need its power, we need its truth, and we need its hope to change us and to raise us up in the things of God. In the end, the Gospel is meant to produce in us faith and love; faith towards God and love towards each other. These things will increase in our lives as we let the Gospel increase and bear fruit in our lives as well. May we today continue to fine new reasons to love the Gospel of God in our lives.

David Robison

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