The Faith of the Colossians
This letter is from Paul, chosen by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.
2 It is written to God's holy people in the city of Colosse, who are faithful brothers and sisters in Christ.
May God our Father give you grace and peace.
3 We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 for we have heard that you trust in Christ Jesus and that you love all of God's people. 5 You do this because you are looking forward to the joys of heaven — as you have been ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News. 6 This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is changing lives everywhere, just as it changed yours that very first day you heard and understood the truth about God's great kindness to sinners.
7 Epaphras, our much loved co-worker, was the one who brought you the Good News. He is Christ's faithful servant, and he is helping us in your place. 8 He is the one who told us about the great love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you. NLT
This is one of at least thirteen letters ascribed to the apostle Paul. He is writing to a church in Asia that he himself has never been to. He is writing for a particular purpose. He is writing to counteract a group that would later become known as the gnostics. These claimed a super knowledge for themselves far beyond others and even beyond that of Jesus. They claimed that Jesus was either only man or only a spirit but could not be both. Some believed that the spirit of Christ came upon Jesus when He was baptized and left Him before the crucifixion. It is primarily to offset these false teachings that Paul writes this letter.
It is a very appropriate letter for Christianity today. The reason is that Christ has been diminished even in Christianity so that the Jesus of the Bible is hardly the Jesus of today. If people worship a different Jesus than the one in the Bible, it could be that they are talking about different people.
We will not spend much time on the introductory information concerning Paul or Colosse but will instead begin with Paul’s fairly standard greeting of thanksgiving. ( See Romans, 1 Corinthians, Philippians, 1 Timothy)
We have titled this section the faith of the Colossians. He also discusses their love and their hope but their faith takes primary place in this passage.
I. Their faith was the cause of Paul’s prayer for them. We always pray for you, and
A. Prayer was always an important part of the message and life of Paul.
1. In every one of his epistles we see him in earnest prayer for the readers.
2. He even gives specific things for which he is praying concerning them.
B. We often pray mostly for ourselves.
C. Secondly we pray for our loved ones or those who are in some serious condition.
D. But Paul here illustrates that we should pray for all believers in our acquaintance.
II. Their faith was the cause of Paul’s thanksgiving. we give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 for we have heard that you trust in Christ Jesus
A. Paul in the passage following mentions the big three, faith hope and love.
1. Each of these is important and is necessary to the Christian experience.
2. But faith of necessity must come first.
a. It comes, as we see later through the word of the truth of the Gospel. NKJV
B. What ever Paul was thankful for he was thankful to God for their faith.
1. Faith is what takes hold of the Word of God.
2. It believes not in the face of overwhelming evidence but on the whisper of a promise.
3. It lays hold of the credibility of God.
III. Their love for all God’s people also was a part of this. and that you love all of God's people.
A. Paul has much to say about love and the believer.
B. For the Christian love is always a result of the change that God makes in us through the new birth.
1. It cannot be manufactured artificially.
2. All the love that the world knows is based on what we get in return for our investment.
3. The love that God gives is a decision not based on what we get out of it.
IV. Their faith had caused them to look forward to heaven. 5 You do this because you are looking forward to the joys of heaven
A. Everyone longs for life to not end and may dream of some type of continued existence beyond the grave.
B. But for the Christian, the hope of heaven is based on the promises of the One in Whom we have put our trust.
1. It is not a simple hope like I hope to get a new car.
2. It is a hope based on a promise.
3. A hope that we long for its fulfilment.
C. Christians not only look for heaven they long for it. you are looking forward to the joys of heaven
1. There is something in a Christian that tells them that this world is not our home.
2. We are looking for a better city that God has built and in which God’s will is done every day.
V. Their faith came about as a result of the Gospel, the good news. as you have been ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.
A. It was of universal understanding in Paul’s day that faith came in connection with divine truth, the word of God.
1. Rom 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. KJV
2. Eph 1:13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, NKJV
3. 1 Thess 2:13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. NKJV
B. Sometimes the message is referred to as the Gospel or good news as it is here.
1. Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, NKJV
2. 1 Cor 1:17-19 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel , not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. 18 Christ the Power and Wisdom of God 19 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. NKJV
C. It is powerful
1. Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. NKJV
2. 1 Cor 1:19 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. NKJV
D. The Gospel is defined in several places as the message of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, all according to the Scriptures.
1. 1 Cor 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, NKJV
E. But what is this faith.
1. It is an acceptance of the message of the New Testament concerning Jesus Christ.
a. Mark 1:15 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." NKJV
b. 1 Cor. 15:2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain.
2. It is a trusting in this message for our soul’s salvation, leaning only on this and nothing else.
a. Heb 4:2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. NKJV
3. It is a submitting to Jesus Christ as our Lord in true repentance for sins and a turning to Jesus Christ for salvation from our sins.
a. Eph 1:13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, NKJV
b. 2 Cor 9:13 they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, NKJV
VI. This Faith producing, life changing Gospel has gone global. 6 This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is changing lives everywhere, just as it changed yours that very first day you heard and understood the truth about God's great kindness to sinners.
A. The message is global.
1. There is no place that it does not work.
2. There are no cultures with it does not apply.
3. There are no peoples who do not need it.
B. It changes lives.
1. Where ever the message goes, it changes lives.
2. That is the proof of its work.
3. Jesus said by their fruits you will know them.
C. We know that it has changed our lives.
1. That makes us official fruit inspectors.
2. We know what type of fruit God produces and what to look for as a sign of the power of the Gospel message.
VII. Epaphras was human agent in this life changing work. 7 Epaphras, our much loved co-worker, was the one who brought you the Good News. He is Christ's faithful servant, and he is helping us in your place. 8 He is the one who told us about the great love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.
A. Isn’t it amazing that with all the resources that God has at His disposal that He has chosen to use imperfect people like Epaphras to do His great work.
B. But this is not just a job for super saints.
1. You too can be a faithful servant of Jesus Christ.
C. Notice that all these blessings that the Colossians possess have been given them by the Holy Spirit.
Their faith was not simply faith, it was faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. When people talk about Jesus but do not believe in His atoning work on the cross, I wonder if we both have the same Jesus.
If you have never given your life to Jesus; If you have never repented of your sins; If you are still living your life for you, then stop. Give your life to Jesus. Repent and believe the Gospel.