Summary: The gospel transmitted to us is the most significant message ever given to man. It’s ability to transform the lives of those who by faith accept it as true and live in its truth cannot be overstated.
The Significance of the Gospel
In his book "Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life", Pastor Charles Swindoll tells a story about the 19th Century agnostic Thomas Huxley. Some of you might recognize the name Thomas Huxley as a man who promoted Darwinism and Humanism in his attacks on Christianity in Europe in the mid 1800’s. Huxley was in Dublin, Ireland and was rushing to catch a train. He climbed aboard one of Dublin’s famous horse drawn taxis and said to the driver -"Hurry, I’m almost late ... drive fast". The driver did exactly what he was told. Off they went at a furious pace. Huxley sat back in his seat and closed his eyes assured that at this quick pace they would surely get to the train station on time.
But after a few minutes passed, Thomas Huxley sensed something was very wrong. Huxley opened his eyes, glanced out the window and realized that they were going in the opposite direction of the train station. Then he began to wonder, “Did I tell the driver where I wanted to go?” Thinking that perhaps he had not given the driver complete directions, Huxley called out to him, “Do you know where you are going?” To which the driver replied, “No, your honor, I do not. But I am driving very fast!”
This humorous story illustrates the sad plight of the majority of people in today’s society. They are “driving very fast,” but they do not know where they are going. People today seem busier than they have ever been. They are constantly rushing to work, school and family activities and other engagements while they text and Twitter away to all their Facebook friends downloading pictures and videos for all to see. Nobody has time to write a letter anymore. They send emails instead. Even the personal interaction of phone calls is being replaced by the more impersonal exchange of text messages.
Even though people today are constantly communicating with one another, they feel more isolated than connected. Even though people seem busier than they have ever been before, they also feel more empty and alone than any other generation. How is it that so many people feel so aimless and so empty when they seem so busy, so connected and in such a hurry all the time? Perhaps they have a lot in common with Thomas Huxley’s taxi driver. They are driving very fast just as society has told them to do. But they are living unfulfilled lives because they really do not know where they are going; in this life or in eternity.
I believe one reason so many people are so busy and live such rushed lives is because they want to keep their minds off the fact that they really do not know where they are going. Their lives are spiritually aimless, empty and uncertain. But if they stay busy enough they are able to forget their need for a fresh sense of direction, fulfillment and significance.
This is not a new problem. It is not a problem that is unique to this time in history. It was a problem even in the first century even though they did not have the internet or cell phones. Paul addressed this problem in his letter to the Colossians. During the time when Paul founded the church in Ephesus followers of Paul started a church in the nearby community of Colossae. It quickly grew into a strong and vibrant church. But when the town of Colossae began to fall on hard economic times and lose some of its prominence, even the Christian community was affected. The growing financial insecurity of the people caused them to wonder about the sufficiency of their faith as well. But in the first eight verses of the first chapter of Colossians, Paul reminds these distracted followers of Christ of the only true source of direction, fulfillment and significance available to any of us at any time; the gospel. Let’s look at how the Apostle Paul describes “The Significance of the Gospel.”
** Read Colossians 1:1-8 **
With affirming words, Paul reminded these troubled believers where they needed to turn for the direction, fulfillment and security they sought. Their hope was not going to come from a revitalized local economy. Their hope was going to continue to come from where it had always been, in the power of the gospel. This tremendous truth which had transformed their life when they first embraced it had the power to meet their needs in the less certain present situation as well. In this prayer of Paul’s gratitude for the faith of the Colossian church, the apostle helps us understand why the gospel and only the gospel has the power to give our lives the direction, fulfillment and significance we all seek no matter what other challenges we may face. Let us recognize this morning what Paul has to say about “The Significance of the Gospel.”