1. The Glory Of The Gospel (Colossians 1:1-8)Related Media
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints—the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit” (Col. 1:1–8).
What makes the gospel glorious? Why should believers continually boast in the gospel?
In this text, Paul praises and glorifies God for his saving work among the Colossians. He says:
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus. The faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth (Col. 1:3-6).
He thanks God for their faith and love, which came in response to the gospel and then boasts in how the gospel not only came to them but was bearing fruit all over the world. Paul gloried in the gospel and its work.
Similarly, we should never lose our awe of the gospel. It translates people from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light (cf. Col. 1:12–14). It transforms the most hardened sinner into the most gracious saint.
Do we still glory in the gospel? Do we glory in that we received it? Do we glory in that others are receiving it?
Though foundational and crucial to salvation, this message easily becomes less than awe-inspiring. We easily lose our joy in the gospel and its benefits. David himself experienced this. He said, “Restore to me the joy of my salvation” (Ps. 51:12). Though Christians may experience this, it seems like the angels never do. Peter said angels continually desire to look into the things of the gospel (1 Peter 1:12).
Often Christians lose their joy and awe in the gospel. It becomes simply the ABC’s of the faith. It becomes something a believer needs to be saved and to share, but not something a believer continually marvels at and drinks deeply from. However, believers need to hear the gospel over and over again. The gospel should continually transform us and bring us joy. It’s been said, “We should preach the gospel daily to ourselves because we are prone to forget.”
When Paul wrote the letter of Colossians, the church had lost the glory of the gospel. They forgot the importance of the gospel, not only for salvation but also for their daily lives. Consequently, they were vulnerable to the deceptions of a Gnostic cult who entered the church. They attacked the very core of the gospel—Christ. They taught Christ was not sufficient for salvation, and that the Colossians needed more—they needed new spiritual knowledge for salvation.
This Gnostic heresy was very syncretic, meaning it included aspects of Judaism, Greek philosophy, mysticism, and asceticism (Col. 2:16–23). The Colossians were taught they needed a higher experience to achieve salvation and that Christ, and therefore the gospel, was not enough.
This experience has happened throughout church history. When the church and individual believers have lost the awe of angels concerning the gospel, it opens the door for the enemy to attack and defame the gospel. Obviously, the easiest way to be robbed or to lose something is to take it for granted or forget how important it is. This happens with marriages, relationships, and most certainly our faith. When we have forgotten how important these are, the enemy attacks, hoping to rob us of our treasure. The writer of Hebrews warns us of this with the gospel. In Hebrews 2:3, he says: “How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?”
Therefore, Paul sought to restore the glory and wonder of the gospel within this church. His teaching helped them guard the gospel, and it helps us guard the gospel as well. Have you lost the glory and wonder of the gospel?
Big Question: What makes the gospel so glorious? What made the apostle Paul give thanks and adoration for its work?
The Gospel Is Glorious Because It Is Received By Faith
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus” (Col. 1:3–4).
After greeting the Colossian church with grace and peace, Paul shared how he continually prayed and gave thanks for their salvation and the corresponding works of it. Epaphras, likely the concerned pastor, visited Paul to get counsel on how to address the teachings of this cult (v. 7). There he told Paul about the Colossians’ genuine faith in Christ Jesus.
This marks the first aspect of this glorious gospel. This gospel is glorious because it is received by faith in Christ Jesus. Where every other religion teaches the necessity of works for salvation, without any assurance of truly being saved, the gospel teaches salvation given by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8–9). This makes this message glorious.
However, faith is only as good as its object. Riding in a car or plane requires a certain amount of faith both in the driver and the mode of transportation. The gospel is glorious because it includes faith in Christ who is fully trustworthy.
Interpretation Question: What does it mean to have faith in Christ?
Faith means more than intellectual belief in the facts of the gospel: the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15:2–4). This faith is a gift from God that affects not only the mind but also the will of man.
1. Faith Includes Trust.
Faith can be translated as “trust.” Faith in Christ means to put all our trust in Christ alone as sufficient for salvation. Christ said this:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matt. 11:28–30).
Christ calls all those who are weary from seeking to earn their salvation and tells them that rest is found in him and him alone. Christ did everything to pay the penalty for our sins and to make us acceptable to God. As the perfectly righteous and the perfectly powerful God, he is the only one who could pay for the sins of the entire world. We must put our full trust in Christ for salvation. We cannot trust Christ plus baptism, Christ plus prayer, Christ plus joining the church, or some other religious experience. We must trust Christ only. Only he saves. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
2. Faith Includes Repentance.
Repentance means a change of mind that results in a change of action (cf. Luke 8:8–14; 2 Cor. 7:9–11). Often when the gospel message appears in the Scriptures, it includes repentance. Look at how Paul preached the gospel in Acts: “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21).
Paul said they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith and repentance are often described as two sides of the same coin. In order for a person to truly put faith in Christ, one must turn away from sin. He or she must turn away from idols to take Christ as Lord.
We saw this in the story of the rich man in Matthew 19:16–22. He said to Christ, “What good thing must I do to inherit eternal life?” Christ responded, “Sell all your riches to the poor and come and follow me.” Christ essentially tells the rich man that he already follows a god—his riches—and he needed to leave his god to take Christ as Lord. Repentance must occur for a person to follow Christ in the same way it is necessary for me to leave here to go there. True saving faith includes repentance.
3. Faith Includes Committing To Christ As Lord.
Faith can be translated “commit.” The word in classical Greek describes those in a contractual relationship.1 One must not simply believe that Christ is Lord, but a person must accept Christ as Lord of his or her life. Christ declared in Luke 14 that if anybody determined to come after him, he must hate mother and father, wife and children, brother and sister, and even one’s own life to be his disciple (Luke 14:23). One’s love towards these things must resemble hate compared to love for Christ. This describes Lordship. Christ becomes the leader of a person who truly believes. No longer does the will of family or one’s personal will, but God’s will, act as one’s guiding factor in life.
Those who have truly accepted Christ have put their faith totally in Christ—they trust him as sufficient for their salvation. It means they repented—turned from their life of sin—to follow Christ. It means they committed to Christ, declaring him Lord of their lives.
This is important to say because false faith flourishes in the church. James identifies a demonic faith (James 2:19) that believes in Christ but doesn’t change lives. Christ described this faith in Matthew 7:21–23 when he said there would be many in the last days that called him Lord but did not practice God’s will. Instead, they practice iniquity. To those he will say “depart from me, you workers of iniquity; I never knew you” (v. 23).
Does our faith include fully trusting Christ, repentance of our sin, and committing to Christ as Lord?
We must understand this not only to test our own faith, but also to lead others to Christ. Paul praises God for the Ephesians’ faith, because this faith comes from God and glorifies him (Eph. 2:8–9). How amazing that such faith comes only from God and, therefore, we must honor him for it.
Application Question: Why do you think the church allows so much false faith as described in Matthew 7:21–23? How can we make sure we practice genuine faith?
The Gospel Is Glorious Because It Results In Love
“Because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints” (Col. 1:4).
Paul also celebrated the love produced by the gospel and demonstrated in the lives of the Colossians. The Colossians began to love “all the saints.” This proof of the gospel’s supernatural nature serves as a continuing test of whether we have truly experienced the gospel. Listen to what John said about the effects of salvation: “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death” (1 John 3:14).
We know we have passed from death to life because we love the brothers in the church. Such behavior reflects our salvation, because when a person is truly born again the Holy Spirit pours the love of God into his heart (Rom. 5:5). This allows them to both love God and people, but especially people in the church. Christ taught this as well. Look at what he said to his disciples: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). Not only should we be able to tell if we are truly born again because of this love, but the world should be able to tell as well.
Remarkably, Paul not only talked about their love, but also about their love for “all the saints.” We saw this supernatural work happen to the church at Pentecost. After the Spirit of God was given, the rich began to sell all they had to give to the poor (Acts 2:45). They loved all the saints.
Application Question: What should this love practically look like in the church, and in what ways is God calling you to love all the saints?
1. This Love Should Result In Meeting With One Another.
This is part of the reason we attend church on Sunday, go to small groups, and have fellowship throughout the week. This is something you naturally want to do when you love someone—you want to meet with them. The gospel results in a supernatural love for believers that compels you to be around them. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
2. This Love Should Result In Caring For One Another.
To truly love means to listen to one another, to support one another in trial, and to go out of our way to encourage one another. This is a natural result of love. Listen to what John, the Apostle of Love, says: “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:17–18).
3. This Love Should Result In Sacrifice.
Christ said, “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34). Christ died for the church, and therefore our love should be continually characterized by sacrifice—sacrifice of time, money, etc. “For God so love the world that he gave . . . “What has God called us to give as a result of this love?
This Love Should Result In Global Care For The Body.
Again, we should love “all the saints.” This includes praying for churches that are not our own. Paul said, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18). This love includes supporting missionaries and ministers around the world. This love should be global.
Application Question: In what ways have you experienced this supernatural love that comes from truly being saved? How is God calling you to grow in this love?
The Gospel Is Glorious Because It Brings Hope
“Because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints—the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven” (Col. 1:4–5).
Another aspect that makes this gospel glorious is the hope it brings. Hope is very similar to faith. It is essentially faith in something future. Hope, therefore, is very important because it encourages us, motivates us, and helps us persevere. A person that wants to be a doctor works hard at his grades because of his future hope. A person who works hard in the gym does it because of the hope of better health or a more fit body. We are motivated by hope.
This is part of the reason that people struggle with depression or suicide. They have lost hope, and therefore lack motivation to do anything, and sometimes even to live. But this is what makes the gospel so glorious. It is glorious because it is full of hope. In fact, Paul says that faith and love spring from a hope of what is stored in heaven.
This hope stored up in heaven motivates us to put our faith in Christ for salvation, and it motivates us to love others. It is a glorious aspect of the gospel. This gospel gives people hope.
Therefore, the enemy works hard to dim or even destroy the believer’s hope. A Christian with a lack of hope will also lack joy and purpose in life. In fact, a Christian without hope will be prone to compromise. He will compromise in his affection for the things of the world because he cannot see the beauty that awaits him in heaven. He will compromise his morals for temporary pleasure. Consider the story of Moses:
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward (Heb. 11:24–26).
Moses was a man of hope, and this hope sprung into faith and love for God and his people. He gave up the wealth of Egypt to suffer with the people of God. Why? It was because he looked ahead to his heavenly reward (v. 26). He saw the pleasures of wealth and sin as too small in comparison to the things of heaven.
This makes the gospel glorious, and it’s what made the Colossian Christians so praiseworthy to Paul. Because they had a hope, it motivated them to a deeper faith and a deeper love. In the same way, many Christians have given up career, wealth, and prospects. They left home, family, and nation because of this hope. Their future hope sprung into faith and love.
The great missionary Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” It is not foolish at all; in fact it is wise. Let this gospel increase our hope in heavenly things so we may live wise lives instead of foolish ones. The writer of Hebrews said, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain” (Heb. 6:19).
This hope is like an anchor that keeps us from being swept to and fro with the wind and waves of this world. It makes us firm and secure because God’s promises are trustworthy. This hope stabilized the Colossians in their trials and motivated them to faith and love. Paul said, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love” (1 Cor. 13:13).
Are you still hoping in God? Have you lost motivation? Have you lost strength and encouragement? Are you lacking in faith and love? Maybe you need to set your hope, not on the passing pleasures of this world, but on the heavenly promises of God—the gospel. We need to hear this gospel again and again so it may increase our hope.
Interpretation Question: What exactly is this hope stored up in heaven that should motivate us to faith and love?
1. This Hope Includes Eternal Life.
Look at what Paul said to Titus about this hope.
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness—a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time (Titus 1:1–2).
Believers should have the hope of eternal life. This is not simply living forever; everybody will live forever in one of two places. This primarily includes eternally dwelling with God and knowing him. That is our hope in heaven. Listen to what Christ said in John 17:3: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
This is our hope. One day we will dwell with God and enjoy his presence forever.
2. This Hope Includes The Resurrection Of The Dead.
Paul talks about one of the believer’s hopes being the resurrection of the dead. Look at what he says: “And I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked” (Acts 24:15).
This hope encourages us not only with our eventual death, but also with the death of our loved ones. Paul encouraged the Thessalonian church to mourn over the loss of their loved ones, but not to mourn as the world mourns, but to mourn in hope (1 Thess. 4:13–14). We mourn in hope because our loved ones who know Christ are in heaven, and we will one day see them again. We mourn in hope because at Christ’s coming for his church they will experience the resurrection and so will we.
Another thing that makes this resurrection encouraging is the fact that our new bodies will be free of sin. One day I will not struggle with lust anymore; I will not struggle with depression; I will not struggle with pride; I will not struggle with physical pain from aging. This old body will be discarded, and I will receive a new glorious body. This gives us great hope.
3. This Hope Includes Our Inheritance With Christ.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you (1 Peter 1:3–4).
Peter sought to encourage saints who were suffering and had possibly even lost their earthly inheritance due to persecution. He encouraged them with the inheritance God has for them in heaven. Paul actually calls us co–heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17). Everything belonging to Christ is ours, which includes the heavens and one day the earth (Matt. 5:5). The gospel is glorious because it comes with such great hope.
Are you still hoping in the gospel and its glorious promises? Hope will lead us to greater faith in God and deeper love toward others. Those with great hopes often do the greatest good. Let the hope of the gospel lead us to great works for Christ.
Application Question: How can we as Christians increase our hope so that it encourages us toward both faith and love?
The Gospel Is Glorious Because It Is The Truth
“And that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel” (Col. 1:4b).
Another aspect of this glorious gospel is its truth. When Paul called the gospel the “word of truth,” he implied that there were many false ways, with the gospel of Christ being the only true way. In John 18:37b, Jesus said to Pilate, “For this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
Christ said he came into the world to testify to the truth. Pilate replies in the next verse, “What is truth?” (v. 38). This shows the dilemma of the world and why Christ had to come. In Pilate’s day, as in our day, a problem with truth exists. Everybody claims to know the truth—the truth to heaven, the truth to parenting, the truth to education, the truth to happiness, etc. Various voices are proclaiming truth, and they commonly contradict one another.
Moreover, the greatest battle for truth is in the question of eternity. What is the way to eternal life? Certainly, many counterfeits exist. Christ said,
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it (Matt. 7:13–14).
When he describes the broad road, he doesn’t seem to be talking about those who care nothing for God. He seems to be talking about those who are actually seeking God and eternal life. Many people are led astray and few find the road that leads to life. This interpretation is supported by his subsequent address of the many false prophets, those who were self–deceived about salvation, and then those who listened to his Word but didn’t build their lives on its promises. All those on the broad path are headed to destruction at the judgment (Matt. 7:15–27).
This is the problem with the world: many ways claim to be the truth. Some say there is no God. Some declare that Allah is God, or Buddha is God, or that there are many gods. All these ways profess to be truth. Today, we may have an even greater attack on the truth. We have pluralism and relativism declaring all ways are truth or that “What is true for you is true for you, and what is true for me is true for me.” However, this doesn’t make any sense. If Islam is right, Christianity is wrong. If Christianity is right, Buddhism is wrong. They all can’t be true.
If I say my daughter is my biological child and you say she is yours, the fact that you said it doesn’t make it true. Relativism doesn’t make any sense. It is a fallacy. Christ came into the world to testify to the truth. This truth is that there is one God and that Christ is his Son. The truth is that no other way to God exists but through Christ alone (John 14:6).
This gospel is glorious because it is true. Broad is the way to destruction. “There is a way that seems right to man but the end is death” (Prov. 14:12). If you found the narrow road of the gospel, this is something to glory in. By God’s grace you found the truth (Eph. 2:8–10).
Application Question: What is so dangerous about the attacks of pluralism and relativism in our day as an alternative to the gospel? How would you respond to these attacks? How do you know the gospel is truth?
The Gospel Is Glorious Because It Is Universal And Personal
“And that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing” (Col. 1:5b–6).
Another aspect of this glorious gospel is the fact that it is universal. Paul says, “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing.” Many religions, especially in ancient times, were localized. The gods of the people were the gods of the mountains, the gods of the sea, or the gods of the trees. However, Christianity was not a localized religion. It was not localized to a region or to a certain people.
When Paul spoke to the Athenians about God, he called him the Lord of heaven and earth, which essentially means everything. Look at what he says:
The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring’ (Acts 17:24–28).
Paul declared this was the one God who made every nation of men and set the times and places they would live (v. 26). That is why this gospel was to go everywhere, because it is the good news of God calling his estranged children back. He is calling everyone to repent and turn to him. And though Paul was at this time in Rome, the gospel was going throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa; it was going throughout the known world.
The gospel is universal. Jesus in fact declared that before his second coming the gospel would be taught to all the nations of the earth. Listen to what he said: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14).
But even more than being universal, this gospel is personal. This gospel, which is for all nations, came to the Colossians, and it also came to us. Look at what Paul said: “And that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you” (Col. 1:5b–6).
This is why Paul was so excited and why he was thanking God. The gospel had come to the Colossians and they had accepted it. Jesus said when one sinner repents all of heaven rejoices (Luke 15:7). Heaven celebrates over the acceptance, and we should be excited as well.
Do we still get excited when others hear and accept this gospel? Or have we become apathetic to the greatest work happening within the world? Paul was excited and he praised God. This gospel is glorious because it is both universal and personal.
Application Question: How did you come to hear and receive the gospel? In what ways did you see God’s hand preparing and leading you to himself?
The Gospel Is Glorious Because It Is Dynamic
“And that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing” (Col. 1:5b–6).
Next, Paul praised God because the gospel was bearing fruit and growing all around the world. The gospel is glorious because it is dynamic. It is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing between the bone and marrow. It is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). This gospel is powerful because it is alive.
Christ described this gospel, and the Word of God in general, as a seed planted into the ground in the parable of the sower (Matt. 13:18–23). In that parable, when the seed fell on good ground it bore fruit of thirty, sixty, and one-hundred fold (v. 23). The gospel, like a regular seed sown into the ground, has the ability to produce life. It is powerful and effective.
One might say, “Well, why doesn’t it always bear fruit?” The reason is not because the seed is defective; it is because of the status of the human heart. Man’s heart is dead (Eph. 2:1) while the Word of God is alive. Man’s heart must be prepared to receive the gospel.
When a believer truly has an understanding of the power in the gospel, it will encourage him to share it. Listen to what Paul said about the gospel: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Rom. 1:16).
He was not ashamed of the gospel because it was the power of God, the dynamite of God, for the salvation of everyone who believes. We should not be afraid or hesitant in sharing the gospel; the gospel needs no apologetic. It is powerful in itself.
Interpretation Question: What does Paul mean by the gospel bearing fruit and increasing?
What does it mean for the gospel to be bearing fruit and increasing? This probably refers to it bearing fruit in the lives of believers, conforming them into the image of God (Gal. 5:22–23). But it also increased as others came to know Christ. This is how the early church was described in Acts 2:46–47:
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
The fruit-bearing manifested in their meeting together daily, fellowshipping, having joy, praising God, and blessing people. But the increase was seen in others accepting Christ daily.
Is the gospel still bearing fruit and increasing in your life? Is it changing you, giving you more peace, more joy, more perseverance in trials? Is it challenging you to be a witness as you bless and lead others to Christ?
Application Question: In what ways is the gospel bearing fruit and increasing in your life and in your church? What things are hardening the ground of your heart, keeping the gospel from being as effective as it should be?
The Gospel Is Glorious Because It Is A Gift Of Grace
“All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth” (Col. 1:6b).
Another aspect of the gospel is the fact that it is a gift of God. Paul characterized it as “God’s grace in all its truth.” As mentioned earlier, salvation is a work of God’s grace, a gift to all who will receive it. It cannot be earned; it cannot be paid for; it can only be received. Listen to what Paul said in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This is another aspect making the gospel so glorious. This gospel, which is a dynamic, life and eternity-altering gift, comes from God’s grace. The word “grace” simply means “unmerited favor.”
To understand how much of a grace it is, one must first understand the condition of man after sin. Listen to how Paul describes the state of man in Romans 3:10–11: “As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.’”
Man is so affected by sin that he is incapable apart from grace to understand the gospel or seek after God. Romans 8:7 says, “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”
The natural mind is hostile to God and cannot submit to his laws. Then the question remains, “How then can a person accept this gospel and be saved if he cannot understand it, cannot submit to it, and cannot seek God?” It is only because of God’s grace. Listen to what Ephesians 2:8–9 says: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Scripture declares that even our faith in response to the gospel is a gift of God. Yes, we must respond. Yes, we must believe and repent. And when man doesn’t do these things, Scripture declares it is man’s fault (cf. Heb. 2:3). Scripture clearly teaches human responsibility and God’s sovereignty together. When a person responds to the gospel, it is a sovereign work of God’s grace. God must give grace for a person to be saved because of human inability. Sin has so affected man that he is incapable of responding apart from grace.
This naturally leads to the doctrine of election. Before time, God chose some to receive this grace and be saved and passed over others (Eph. 1:4). This angers some, and they quickly declare God’s injustice. However, justice would save no one, for we all deserve death and eternal separation from God.
God is both just and gracious. In his justice he has condemned the world because the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). But in his mercy, he selected a remnant, all to the praise of his glorious grace.
It is the doctrine of election that ultimately shows us what true grace is—unmerited favor—and it also leaves man with no room for boasting. It calls for all to give glory and honor to God who distributes grace as he wills.
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. (Eph. 1:4–6)
Application Question: What are your thoughts about this electing grace that allows us to respond to the gospel? How can human responsibility and God’s sovereignty work together?
The Gospel Is Glorious Because Believers Are Responsible For Sharing It
“You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit” (Col. 1:7–8).
The final glorious aspect of the gospel is the believer’s responsibility to share it. Paul reminds the Colossians of how they heard the gospel from Epaphras, who was a faithful minister of Christ. Epaphras probably was converted during Paul’s early ministry and eventually founded the church in Colosse. Later, Epaphras left Colosse to share with Paul the good news of the work of the gospel in the Colossians’ lives, but also to share his concerns about the false teaching spreading in the church.
As Paul thanked God for this work in the Colossians, no doubt he praised God for his fellow minister who faithfully shared the gospel with this church.
In the same way, God has committed this gospel into the hands of sinful but redeemed men. Look at what Paul says both about himself and all Christians in 2 Corinthians 5:18–20:
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
One of the wonders of the gospel is that God has committed the sharing of this message to his saints. He has given us the ministry and the message of reconciliation. To reconcile means “to renew a friendship.” We are calling people back into relationship with God. We are called to allow Christ to speak through us as his ambassadors.
This is a glory of the gospel. Paul talks about this further in 1 Corinthians 3:9 where God calls us “co–workers” with God. In 1 Corinthians 4:1, Christians are called “stewards of the mysteries of God.” God has given us the Word of God and the gospel, and one day we will be held accountable as his stewards.
Did we faithfully share the gospel with those around us? Did we seek to participate in world evangelism through our prayers, our giving, and ultimately our lives? Yes, this is a glorious aspect of the gospel.
Not only did we hear this gospel and it saved and changed us, but we also get to participate in its proclamation to the world. It is the greatest thing you can participate in for the rest of your life. It’s greater than any position you could accept at a company, greater than any cure to an illness one could create. This gospel is sown into people’s hearts and it makes them a new creation. It translates them from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. This is something to praise God about. This is something that makes this gospel amazing.
Listen to what Paul says about the believer’s blessing and responsibility in sharing the gospel.
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Rom. 10:14–15).
Do you have beautiful feet that share the gospel?
Application Question: Share the last time you shared the gospel and its results. What are your primary hindrances to sharing this glorious gospel?
Do you still stand in awe of this gospel? Do you still praise God for its works? Whatever a person is truly excited about, they share. Are you still participating in the privilege of spreading the gospel to all the nations? Jesus said we either gather or we scatter (Matt. 12:30). There is no in between.
Paul the apostle was still praising God for the work of this gospel in the lives of this church, his faithful disciple Epaphras, and throughout the world. We should still glory in this gospel as well.
What makes this gospel glorious?
- The gospel is glorious because it is received through faith in Christ.
- The gospel is glorious because it results in love.
- The gospel is glorious because it brings hope.
- The gospel is glorious because it is the truth.
- The gospel is glorious because it is universal and personal.
- The gospel is glorious because it is dynamic.
- The gospel is glorious because it is a gift of grace.
- The gospel is glorious because Christians are responsible for sharing it.
Application Question: Is the gospel still glorious to you? How do we keep an awe of the gospel?
Copyright © 2015 Gregory Brown
1 G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964), 6:175.
Related Topics: Christian Life