During this quarter at Southern Calvert Baptist Church in our Connect Groups, we are covering some of the epistles of the New Testament. Since January, we have been going back and forth between the Acts of the Apostles and various epistles. Last week, we finished Acts. Now we are returning to the epistles. This lesson will focus on Colossians 1. Our previous lesson was Philippians 1. The title of the lesson is “Preach the Gospel everywhere“.
I. Receive the Gospel
The first thing that we learn about the Gospel is that in order to benefit from all that it has to offer, I must receive it.
since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; [the Gospel] which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, (Colossians 1:4, 6-7)
Epaphras brought the Gospel to Colassae. He proclaimed the Gospel and the Colossians understood the Gospel and believed it. They accepted the fact that Jesus is God’s chosen Messiah who offers salvation to all who believe. They understood that God’s salvation is based on unmerited favor (grace). The question that often arises is, “what is the Gospel?” Paul answers that question in Colossians 1:13-22.
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities -all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach –
The Gospel is the message of God that points to Jesus Christ and the life changing power that He has for those who believe. If the central focus of the message is not Jesus Christ, this is not the message of God. If the message does not deal with the fact that faith in Christ transforms lives, then, it is not the Gospel. The Gospel transforms people. The Gospel rescues (saves) people from the power of sin and transfers them to the kingdom of God. The Gospel is all about God’s redemption of people. God paid a heavy price, the life of His Son, so that people could be transformed. The Gospel offers the forgiveness of sin for anyone who believes in Christ. The Gospel presents Jesus Christ as Creator God (Elohim). The Gospel points to the fact that not only did Jesus Christ die to pay the price of sin, He also rose from the dead. The Gospel presents Jesus Christ as being equal with God. The apostle Paul ends this section the same way that it began. The Gospel is the power of God for transformation. If you believe a “gospel” that does not transform lives, or, if you proclaim a “gospel” that does not transform lives, then you are neither living nor proclaiming the Gospel of God. Before hearing, understanding, and believing the message of the Gospel of Christ, the Colossians were alienated from God. They were separated from God because of their sin nature and its power over them. This is the state of every human being born on this earth. Because of our sin nature, we are hostile to God, the ways of God, and the things of God. This slavery to our sin nature causes us to engage in evil deeds (sin). When we encounter the Gospel of Christ, understand, and believe it, there is a transformation that takes place. We become holy. The word holy means to be set apart, to be different than those around you. God sets us apart by changing us. Our sin nature’s power over us is broken. We also become right with God and right with the people around us. We become beyond reproach. This is what Daniel, in the Old Testament, was like. He was not a perfect man but, he walked with God in obedience. In fact, some men decided to follow Daniel around for an extending period of time and find out what he was really like when no one was watching. After their private investigation, the worst thing that they could accuse Daniel of doing was praying too much. That is what God did to the believers in the Colossian church because they believed the message of the Gospel of Christ. They same can happen for you and for me. Have you received the Gospel? Has your life been transformed by the power of the Gospel of Christ? Are you living a life that is holy and blameless, beyond reproach?
II. Grow in the Gospel
In verses 9-12, the apostle Paul teaches the Colossians that they are to grow to maturity in the Gospel. The Gospel is not just for salvation. The Gospel is for daily living.
For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. (Colossians 1:9-12)
In order to grow to maturity in the Gospel, you need a spiritual mentor to invest his life in you. You need someone who prays for you constantly. What does growing to maturity in your faith look like practically? It begins with a spiritual mentor who encourages you to study the Word of God. This is the only way to grow in the knowledge of the will of God. God’s will is in His Word. Knowledge of the Word of God leads to wisdom. Wisdom simply means knowledge applied. In other words, putting the knowledge of the Word of God into practice equals wisdom. The apostle teaches the Colossians that wisdom will manifest itself in a lifestyle worthy of the Lord. The Gospel does not just change your life. The Gospel enables you to live a changed life every single day. Are you a student of the Word of God? Do you ask God for understanding of His Word so that you can apply knowledge and be a wise person? What are some of the things that are pleasing to the Lord? You are steadfast. This means that you have equilibrium. You are balanced. You do not fall into extremes one way or the other. You learn to develop patience as you interact with others. You develop an attitude of gratitude. Are these three characteristics part of your daily life? Are you a steadfast person? Are you a patient person? Are you a grateful person? Growing to maturity is not an easy process. Like in all things, there will be growing pains. There will also be persecution because of the Gospel which will produce suffering. How will you respond? Let’s examine how the apostle Paul responded.
III. Proclaim the Gospel
The apostle Paul’s response to persecution and suffering can be found in verses 24-29.
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. (Colossians 1:24-29)
Paul was suffering persecution even while writing this letter to the Colossians. The reason that he was suffering persecution is because he would not stop proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While being persecuted, he continued to proclaim the message of the Gospel. The Gospel had impacted Paul’s life in such a way that he had dedicated his life to serving others by proclaiming the Gospel and teaching others how to live out the Gospel. What does proclaiming the Gospel involve?
- Preaching the Gospel to those who have never heard the message of the Gospel
- Admonishing means to come along side someone and help them understand ideas so that they can put then into practice
- Teaching carries the idea of giving a person theory and practical assignments. Its the way that a patents raises a child.
This is the path to spiritual maturity. Give a person the chance to hear the Gospel by preaching it. Help that person understand the message of the Gospel and encourage him/her to accept the Gospel. Train that same person to walk in obedience to the Gospel. Are you one who proclaims the Gospel? Do you admonish others? Do you teach others how to grow in their faith? All of this is part of the process which Jesus calls “making disciples”. This is not an easy lifestyle. It will involve labor on your part. You will have to strive. But remember, it is the power of the Gospel in you that allows you to live this way. Christ is working in you and through you. There is one more principle about preaching the Gospel that we learn in the first three verses of chapter 2.
For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:1-3)
Share the message of the Gospel of Christ with those people closest to you. The people around you are in your sphere of influence. Colossae’s closest neighboring city was Laodicea. These cities were all on the Roman mail route which began in Ephesus. Who are the people within your sphere of influence whom need to be told the message of the Gospel of Christ? Are you ready to admonish that person? Are you ready to teach that person how to walk with God? May the Lord help us understand the true power of the Gospel, Christ in me and Christ in you!