Summary: Paul’s process of growing spiritually
August 3, 2008
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:3-14
Paul is one of my heroes. What a wonderful man of God he is. God used him to write most of the New Testament, although he started out as a religious zealot that was anti-Christ. He was so anti-Christian and anti-Christ that he had a hand in killing and jailing many of them.
But God looks at the heart. I think he saw within Paul a heart for God – but a misguided heart. I think Paul was sweep up by his zeal and emotion - even over his intellect and knowledge. He was swayed by the pressure of his peers in the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of the Jews. I think he must have ignored or dismissed the voice of the Holy Spirit as God tried to correct Him. So God had to get his attention on the road to Damascus. You know the story. So from anti-Christ, Paul became so committed; so in love with Jesus, that he gave his life in service and sacrifice and eventually became a martyr for the Master.
Paul is an interesting man. He was very passionate. He was very emotional. He understood the emotional aspect of Christianity. You can see his gentle understanding as he deals with immature emotionalism in the Corinthian Church and the ‘tongues issue”. He doesn’t discount it or dismiss it. But he lovingly shows a more excellent way.
To the simplistic legalistic Christian, whether it is to those who believe that salvation is obtained through meritorious works, or those who believe that the Christian has arrived simply by grace, he gently, with great compassion and understanding, guide them into the truth - which is salvation is by grace, through faith – expressed through acts of loving service. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Paul was a zealot. He was passionate, no doubt about it. But he was also brilliant and knowledgeable and educated by the best scholar in the land. God uses Paul’s logic and intellect to reveal His will in a way that all who seek can understand.
In our Scripture this morning, Paul, in a simple way, reveals a great intellectual process. It’s the process of growing in grace. It’s the process of becoming a man or woman of God. Let’s take a look at it.
First of all, it begins by hearing the Word of God. He says,
“the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth” Colossians 1:5
After hearing the Word of God – hope springs into being. Hope is germinated in the life-giving Word of God. To the Roman Church he wrote:
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4
Do you understand that it all begins with hearing the word of God? It may be by reading the Bible (as I did), or it may be by hearing the word through a preacher or evangelist (as Julie did), or it may be by hearing the Word over the radio or TV or from a friend, or neighbor or relative, as so many have. But our relationship with God begins by hearing His word spoken to us in a personal way.