Summary: The Supremacy and Sufficiency of Christ, part 2 Gospel Fruit brings gospel gratitude. Be Thankful for Gospel Belie Be Thankful For Gospel Transformation
The Supremacy and Sufficiency of Christ, part 2
Praying for the Church: Gospel Gratitude
February 1, 2015
We are in our second week of a new series in the letter Paul wrote to the Colossian church, called “The Supremacy and Sufficiency of Christ.” Today we see Paul immediately moves to thanksgiving for the gospel in the Colossian church.
Big Idea – Gospel Fruit brings gospel gratitude.
Be Thankful for Gospel Work
Thanking God was Paul's natural response to the work God was doing in the Colossians lives through the gospel. He is not referring just to salvation, the gospel undergirds everything in the Christian life. He tells them he is thankful, in part, to assure them that the gospel is enough, contrary to what the false teachers were saying, something like, 'we are glad that you found Jesus, Jesus gets you in but does not take you all the way. If you want more, if you want fullness, to be really spiritual, and have the inside track, then listen to us.' Paul is countering that false teaching in this whole letter. Notice also that Paul says 'when we pray.' Paul and his ministry team heard the report about the Colossians from Epaphras and they prayed regularly together for the Colossians. How many issues would be resolved in our lives if we spent more time in prayer for the issues we face.
Be Thankful for Gospel Belief
Paul is thanking God for their faith, love, and hope. But he orders them in an unusual way. One would think that faith leads to love and hope but Paul says here that hope is leads to faith and love; hope is the fountain from which faith and love spring. Let's first look at four characteristics of faith and love outlined here. First, neither faith nor love can exist without the other. Faith cannot exist without love and love cannot exist without faith. Paul describes the relationship between the two this way, 'faith working through love.' Faith is the tap root and love is the fruit of faith. Faith without love is critical, mean spirited, self serving, and proud. Love without faith is flimsy, shaky, and yields to compromise. Second, faith and love are visible expressions of saving faith in Jesus Christ, Paul has heard about their faith and love. Faith and love are both visible and vocal in their expressions. Faith in Christ radically changes how we live, talk, and relate to others. Genuine faith energizes our verbal witness concerning it's glorious object, Jesus Christ. And Jesus said that the tangible expression of our love for one another demonstrates to the world we are his disciples. Third, faith is only as good as its object, their faith was in Christ Jesus. The object of our faith always determines it's quality and worth. Passionate devotion, sincerity, and conviction are useless unless they are rooted in and focused on the person and work of Jesus Christ! Fourth, love cannot be selective, they loved 'all the saints.' The Colossians did not pick and choose whom they would love like we so often do.
What gave life to their faith and love is 'the hope laid up for them in heaven.' This hope is not an attitude but is based upon an objective reality. It is directed toward the future, heaven, which gave them power in the present. The old adage, 'too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good' is wrong. And because it is laid up in heaven, it is safe and secure. So what is this hope? Paul describes it later in the letter as 'Christ in us the hope of glory.' Then Paul describes his desire to depart and be with Christ and he also says to be absent from the body is to be with Christ. So this hope centers on Christ, specifically, being in the presence of Christ. And it is this future hope that motivates and empowers love for all the saints. Risk taking love, self sacrificing love, turn off the TV and get up off the couch kind of love, stop playing with your smart phone kind of love that serves others.
Be Thankful For Gospel Transformation
This hope is found in the gospel. Paul says, “of this (hope) you have heard in the word of truth, the gospel which has come to you (bearing fruit and growing) as indeed in the whole world it (the gospel) is bearing fruit and growing – as it (the gospel) also does (bearing fruit and growing) among you since the day you heard it.” The gospel created a fountain of hope which sprung up in faith and love, described as growing and bearing fruit throughout all of Asian Minor. It brought transformation to those who heard and understood it. The gospel brings transformation because it not only saves us but also sanctifies us. The gospel kills the power of sin and heals broken hearts and broken bodies. It is worth noting that there is no mention of Paul's or Epaphras's ministry being fruitful, it is the gospel that is being fruitful and growing. It's not that they did not play any role in the work but at the end of the day it is God's word that is effective not man. This is why he gives thanks, giving credit to God as the great doer in God work.