Summary: Three important words of the gospel are explored along with corresponding works


Charles Trentham has a chapter in his book on Colossians entitled, “The Three Greatest Words in the Gospel.” What three words do you suppose he means? Let’s guess. Clues: All three words have only one syllable, two of the three words are 4 letter words. The other word has 5 letters. (Listen for words, give more clues if needed.) These three words will be the focus of my message this morning.

Last week I began a series of messages on the book of Colossians. I did an overview the four-chapter book:

The Savior is Supreme (chapter 1) “Preeminent”

- He is the Head of Creation

- He is the Head of the Church

Your Salvation is Simple (chapter 2)

- Don’t Worry about Philosophies

- Don’t Worry about Principalities

- Don’t Worry about Perfectionism (legalism/ritualism)

You Are Saved to Serve (chapters 3-4)

- Serve God

- Serve One Another

Now, I want to begin a closer, almost verse-by-verse, study of Colossians. Today we’ll look together at chapter one, verses 1-8.

I. A GREETING OF GRACE – Sentence one (verses 1-2)

A. From an Apostle (1)

“Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God”

Why would Paul begin this way? He wrote the book of Philippians about the same time but back up a couple pages and see how he started there. To the church at Colossae Paul is asserting his apostleship. Why? Two reasons: He had not been there before and they didn’t know him as well, and they were having problems. False teachers had infiltrated their ranks and were leading them astray. They needed to hear an authoritative word.

B. To The Saints (2a)

“In Christ, in Colossae”

We have two geography’s. As believers we are “In Christ.” Look at verse 27 “Christ in you, the hope of glory”. Also, we have a local address. They were “In Colossae.” We are “In Lincoln Park.”

C. With Grace (2b)

Look at 4:6. Paul would have to speak firmly. He would warn them, even reprimand them but his words would be “with grace.”

II. THE GOSPEL OF GRACE – Sentence two (3-8)

A. The Words of the Gospel (3-5)

“Faith, love and hope” are the words of the gospel Paul uses here. He uses this triad in other places. In 1 Thessalonians 1:3 he writes about their “work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” In 1 Corinthians 13:13 he writes: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

1. Faith (4)

Our faith is anchored in the past but lives in the present. Look at 2:6. Here you see past tense and present tense. Was there a time in the past when you embraced Christ by faith? Have you turned from your sin and trusted Christ for forgiveness? Forsaking All I Trust Him (faith).

Ephesians 2:8-9

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

There have been people in our past who have helped us with our faith: a mom, dad, teacher, pastor, friend (Otis Grey).

Paul says we are to walk by faith today. How do we do that? Dwight L. Moody once said:

“I suppose that if all the times I have prayed for faith were put together, it would amount to months. I used to say, ‘What we want is faith; if we only have faith we can turn Chicago upside down, or rather right side up.’ I thought that some day faith would come down and strike me like lightning. But faith did not seem to come. One day I read in the tenth chapter of Romans, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” I had closed my Bible and prayed for faith. I now opened my Bible and began to study, and faith has been growing ever since.”

2. Love (4)

“Love for all the saints”. This is present tense and comes after faith in Jesus Christ. It is a supernatural love (see 1:8). Look at 2:2, “knit together in love.” Look at 3:14, “love, which is the bond of perfection.”

This is how it should be in the church. But I know how it can get. The poet got it right when he said:

To live above with saints we love,

Will certainly be glory.

To live below, with saints we know,

Well, that’s another story!

Church should be a house of love. Love is the tie that binds.

Illus.- Last week I attended a FAITH clinic in Auburn, AL. and stayed in the home of the Webb’s. I didn’t know them nor did they know me but there was an instant bond of friendship. Apart from our mutual interests of SEC sports, was a shared a common interest in Christian fellowship. We now look forward to having them up to our house next fall and I think we’ll be friends for life.

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