The Book of Colossians #2

 

The Book of Colossians
Col. 1:5b-8.
 
It is sad, but true, that many people live their entire life and never really know what life is all about. They live 70 or so years, eat tons of food, wear large numbers of clothing, drive all kinds of cars, go to multitudes of places. They live and they die and never really know how works--what life is intended to be. 
      
I read a story a number of years ago about a man who lived all of his life at the foot of a mountain and he had never climbed to the top of the mountain to see. Toward the end of his life he was finally persuaded to make the climb. He climbed to the top and
got there just in time to see a gorgeous sunset. When he saw it he burst into tears and said,  Just think, I lived all of my life and I almost missed it. Some people live all of their lives and never really know what they are living for. 
 
They never understand the meaning of life. They don‘t know the purpose of life. They don‘t know why they are here. They don’t know where they came from. They don’t know where they’re going.
      
A lot of people have a gnawing feeling that there is more to life than they have found. The good news is that you and I know through the Lord Jesus Christ that there is more to life than just eating and sleeping and going to work and all of those things. 
 
You and I know there is an abundant life which is available for us in the Lord Jesus Christ. The book of Colossians sets forth for us what life is really all about. It shares with us how life really works.
      
In these opening verses we took a look at the characteristics of the Christian life. Grace and peace. That’s how the Christian life is characterized. 
 
Then we looked at the basics of the Christian life. Faith, hope and love. We live life in three dimensions. You
have a past, a present and a future. The Christian life lays sympathetic hands on these basics of life. The past is cared for by faith in Jesus Christ. Our present is cared for by love toward all the saints. Our future is dealt with by the hope which is laid up for us in
heaven. The characteristics, the basics of the Christian life.
      
Now we raise the question, what about the dynamics of it? How does it all come about? How is it that this good news that God has to share with the world gets to the people in the world who so desperately need to know about it. That’s where Gospel comes in. The basic facets of where the Gospel gets to people are revealed to us in these verses.
      
Look right in the middle of verse 5,  Whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel.     
That’s the first facet. That’s the first thing you have to understand. There is first of all –
 
I. A TRUTHFUL MESSAGE.
 
Notice that phrase, the word of the truth of the gospel. You know what the word, gospel, means. It means good news. You know what the essentials of the gospel are. We are left in no doubt about that whatsoever. If somebody should ask you what is the gospel, would you be able to explain it to them? 
 
Paul said it like this in I Corinthians 15:3: I delivered unto you first of
all that which I also received. How that Christ died for our sins according to the
scriptures, and that He was buried and he rose again the third day according to the scriptures and that he was seen. That’s the Gospel. That’s the good news. It is the Good news that Jesus died on that cross for our sins. He was buried to put away our sins forever. 
He rose again to conquer our sins. He lives day by day to give us victory over
our sins. That’s the gospel. That’s the good news. It is not a new gospel. It is an old gospel.
      
I think this is why Paul uses this particular phrase early on in this letter. There were some teachers coming to the Christians in Colosse and saying to them,  You need a new gospel.     We do not need a new Gospel. We have a truthful message.    
 
I heard an old, old story, how a Savior came from glory. It’s a story that has been told for 2,000 years. But it is a story that is just as current and up-to-date in the 20th Century as it was
when the facts of the gospel first came to pass.  The word of the truth of the gospel.  
      
There’s only one gospel. Not a new gospel, the same old gospel. The good news of the Lord Jesus Christ.
      
This truthful message is contained in your Bible. The Bible is the Word of the truth of the gospel. 
 
That means, then, that we have a factual message. We have a message which is a message of truth. What is truth? Truth is that which corresponds to reality. Truth corresponds to that which is actually is.
      
One of the things that is going on in our modern culture is that there is a shift in
the whole concept of what truth is. If our college kids take any philosophy at all they will find that there has been a shift and people are saying today that there is no such thing as one authoritative truth. 
 
They say now that everybody can have their own truth. Something can be truth for me, but it may not be truth for you. I have my truth. You have your truth, they say. If you want to believe it, then it is truth for you. 
 
They even say words mean whatever you want them to mean. They go to the Bible and say that the words of the Bible meant something in one day, but whatever you want them to mean,
they mean to you. That’s what you get when you run into people sometimes and you share with them what the Bible says about controversial subjects like abortion or homosexuality or some of those things. 
 
They say,  Well, that’s just your interpretation. That’s just what you think the Bible says.  
      
No, dear friend, the Bible is the Word of the truth of the Gospel. It corresponds to reality. It corresponds to the facts. It’s very important how you determine truth. 
 
Your Bible is true. But the Bible is also truth. Jesus said in John 14:6,  I am the truth.     John 17:17 Jesus said,  Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is true.     
It is true but Jesus didn’t put it that way. Jesus said,  Thy word is truth.     Truth is that by which everything else is determined to be true or false. God’s
Word is truth.
      
I read Billy Graham’s large biography,  Just as I Am.     He shared the story I had heard many times about how when he was a young evangelist, getting started out, he had a close friend who was also an evangelist who became influenced by some of the ideas of
unbelief. 
 
He was swayed by some of the attacks upon the authority and accuracy and
truthfulness of the Bible. His friend said to him,  Now, Billy, you have to accommodate to the times. You’ll never make it. You’ll never last if you don’t change. You just can’t hold on to that old view that the Bible is truth.
      
Billy Graham describes the experience he had. 
 
Wrestling with that decision he
knelt on his knees at a stump in a forest one day and committed himself to the truthfulness of the Bible. Since that time, as he stands to preach, over and over again he says,  The
Bible says.      The Bible says.  
      
When you hear the Bible there is the ring of truth because the Bible is truth. You can have confidence in the message. We have a truthful message. 
 
Not only is it a factual message, but it is also a universal message. 
 
Verse 6 says,  Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world.     Verse 23 says,  The gospel which you have heard and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven.     
 
He is saying that the word of the truth
of the Gospel that you and I have is a message that is universal in its application. 
 
The gospel of Jesus Christ met the needs of people 2,000 years ago. The gospel of Jesus Christ met the needs of the people in the 10th century. The gospel of Jesus Christ met the needs of people in the 16th century.
 
 The gospel of Jesus Christ met the needs of people in the 20th Century. It will meet the needs of people in the 21st Century. The gospel is universal in its truthfulness in all ages, in all cultures, in all nations, wherever it goes. Everybody needs the gospel.
      
It is the good news that Christ died and was buried to take care of the sin
problem. He arose again from the dead and He lives forever to take care of the death problem.
      
There’s the truthful message. That’s how the gospel starts. But notice it is not our word. Have you ever heard anybody say,  You got my word on it.     
 
 
Well, whether you believe it or not is according to how much confidence you have in the word of that individual. When we are talking about the gospel, this is the truth of God’s word. You
have God’s Word on it. So, here is the message that God loves this world so very much that He sent His Son the Lord Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. 
 
If we will receive Him as personal Savior, receive Jesus into our hearts and lives, we will be saved and have
a brand new life. Then, life will begin to make sense and work for us. That’s the first ingredient in gospel works. A truthful message.
 
II. A FAITHFUL MESSENGER.
      
How does God get this good news of the gospel to lost people who so desperately need it? Look at verse 7,  As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant...     
 
Aren’t you kids glad your parents didn’t name you Epaphras?   Sounds like some kind of tea to me. Evidently Epaphras was a man who was from Colosse. It seems that this man founded the church of Colosse and was the pastor of the church. He is mentioned in the last chapter. 
 
Colossians 4:12,13.  
 
Evidently he was the pastor. Putting
things together we can imagine that maybe on a business trip Epaphras was over in Ephesus. About this time Paul had spent several months in Ephesus preaching the gospel. 
 
Maybe one a business trip Epaphras was there and heard Paul preach and was converted. He returned to the city of Colosse and shared with them the message. He brought this gospel message that had changed his life and shared it with these people in Colosse. 
 
 
That’s why in verse 7 he says,  You have learned this of Epaphras, who is a dear fellow servant and is for you a faithful minister.
 
Whether that be exactly how it happened or not, the point I want you to get is this. Epaphras was the link that God used between the gospel message and the lost people in Colosse who needed that message. He was the messenger. God uses messengers. God uses people to get the gospel to those who need to hear it. 
 
God has chosen to make it so that lost people hear the good news of the gospel from other people who were lost and are now saved. God uses people. 
                    
That’s why God sends missionaries to countries where people have never heard. They take the word of the truth of the gospel into a pagan tribe and those people hear about Jesus and they are saved. 
 
A lost person walks into this building tonight. A man stands up in this pulpit with a book in his hand -- that’s the word of the truth of the gospel. He begins to share it and you hear the gospel and you can be saved. 
 
You are sitting home one night, settling in for the evening, and the doorbell
rings. Two men from the Trinity Baptist Church are at the door. They come and sit down and they begin to share with you out of a booklet or a Bible, the word of the truth of the gospel. You hear about Jesus and you are saved. 
 
What a wonderful thing! What a wonderful method God has! What a privilege it is for you and me to be a
link between God and a lost soul
 
What a grave responsibility it is to be a link between the Lord and a lost soul. 
Epaphras was called a faithful minister. He was faithful. Are we faithful? Are you faithful?
      
I read an article recently about how many folks an average person would come in contact with in a week’s time. Think for a moment how many people you would come in contact with tomorrow. I don’t mean in a huge crowd like a classroom necessarily, but
individually, one on one, people that you come in contact with. Five? Six? 
 
Think about it for a moment. Multiply that by six days. That would be 30. Multiply 30 by how many of us are here in this service. Multiply that 30 by the average attendance of our church and that’s how many people you and I will come in contact with this week. 
 
The question is how many of those people need to hear the word of the truth of the gospel? Will we be faithful? Can God count on us? Will you and I let God use us to tell someone else about Jesus? It’s part of the plan. It’s how God gets the good news of the gospel to lost people. 
 
There is a truthful message.    The word of the truth of the gospel.     A faithful messenger. Epaphras or you or me.
 
III. A WONDERFUL MIRACLE.
      
When a faithful messenger gets the gospel to a lost person a wonderful miracle can occur. 
 
Look at verse 6.  
 
There it is. A wonderful miracle. They had experienced that miracle. There
had been a day when they came to know the grace of God. They experienced the grace of
God.
      
Grace is something that can be experienced. It is something that happens in your heart. There is a day when you learn, you know, the grace of God. When you are saved by grace. Have you had your day? Have you had that miracle day? 
Has there been that day that you asked God to forgive you of your sins and come into your heart? That’s a miracle day. You are a miracle if you’ve been saved.
        
Since the day you heard it and knew the grace of God in truth and it brings forth fruit in you.     
 
There’s a sense in which the gospel comes to you. That’s your salvation
day. Then there’s that sense in which the gospel starts working in you to bring forth fruit. 
 
You are saved and the seed of salvation comes into your life. Then, you can begin to bear fruit. God begins to work in you. Salvation comes to you. The seed is planted. 
 
Then, salvation starts working in you and the result is the fruit of a Christian life.
      
 
You take a kernel of corn. In that one little seed there is everything necessary to produce other grains of corn. It’s all right there in one little seed. Everything. All the necessary cells, all the DNA is all right there in that little seed. 
 
When the seed of salvation is planted in your heart everything necessary for you to live the way God wants you to live
and be what God wants you to be is all right there. 
 
That’s why Paul says in this book of
Colossians that in Jesus Christ is all the fullness of God and you are complete in Him. What a wonderful miracle when God can come into your heart and save you.
      
 
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