Summary: Our lives, individually and corporately, can display the power of the gospel.
Text: Colossians 1:1-14
Title: The Power of the Gospel
Most of the time, when we’re speaking or writing, we tend to put the most important information at the front end then move on from there. At the beginning of this letter, Paul and his partner Timothy give a warm greeting in the first verses, then go on to talk about the gospel message. That message, of course, is that Jesus came in the flesh, lived a sinless life, died a torturous death in our place, and then rose from the dead three days later. When we acknowledge that all this is true, and we ask Jesus personally to forgive our sins, we move from death to life, or darkness to light.
In this opening passage, Paul commended the Colossians because their lives displayed the power of the gospel among them and through them. Not only did they trust Christ initially to be saved, but they continued to live out the message and share it with each other.
What was true then can still be true today. Our lives, individually and corporately, can display the power of the gospel. This might lead someone to ask, “How can our lives display the power of the gospel?” In the passage before us, we see results of the power of the gospel.
[Read text, Colossians 1:1-14, English Standard Version. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise stated, are from the ESV.]
Once again, our lives, individually and corporately, can display the power of the gospel. The first result of the power of the gospel’s power in our life is this:
1. THE GOSPEL GIVES US HOPE (3-5).
Take a look at verse 5 and notice the phrase “…because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.” Paul is saying that the faith and love they show each other comes from the hope they have of one day being with Jesus in glory. But what exactly is hope? We use that word a lot. Someone invested in stocks says, “I hope the market turns around.” A student who didn’t study for a test might say to a friend on the School bus, “I hope we have a substitute today who forgets to give the test.”
You see, our use of the word hope is usually based on uncertainty. Suppose an engaged couple says, “We have an outdoor wedding planned for Saturday, we hope it doesn’t rain.” In saying this, they are saying that the possibility of rain is there, but their preference is for no rain.
But when the New Testament uses the word hope, it is based on certainty. It’s stating an absolute fact, but that fact hasn’t occurred just yet. Let’s go back to that engaged couple. Suppose it’s Friday night, and one of them “I hope tomorrow is going to be Saturday,” we’d think that a little strange. Of course tomorrow’s going to be Saturday! It might rain, it might not. It could be cold, it could be hot. But no matter what, the day after Friday is Saturday, and nothing can change that. When Paul uses the word hope, he is doing something like that. He is stating a certainty that has not yet occurred.
Not only does he mention the hope, but then he says it’s “laid up.” That word in the Greek means something that is put away for future use. Most of us are probably saving for retirement in one way or another. I happen to have an account with our denomination’s Guidestone agency. When I attended the Southern Baptist Convention last month, I spent a little time with one of their staffers who told me that I’m on track to a fairly comfortable retirement because I’ve been socking it away over the years. That money is put away, I can’t get to it now, but it will be there when I need it.
Now here’s the difference between heaven and banks: heaven will never be robbed, and its value never fluctuates. Now in the bank of heaven there are all sorts of riches and blessings that we can only imagine. The point is, they are there in our name, and we will have full access to them in the next life.
When I come to retire, most of the money I take out of my account will be money that I put in. But when I get to heaven, I won’t be collecting on what I did as much as what God did. The hope we have isn’t based on what we’ve done, but what God’s done.
Let’s look at a couple other times that Paul used the word hope in connection with the future. In Romans 4:18, speaking of Abraham, the Bible says, “In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, ‘So shall your offspring be.’”