The Making Of A Miracle: Colossians Series #16
Colossians is the blueprint that tells us how we can put our lives together. It also gives us God’s plan for getting this good news to lost people.
It is tragic, but true, that most 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, and travel to a multitude of places. They live and they die and never really know how what their life could have been and what they truly missed over the years.
There was 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 the view. 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 the view, he burst into tears and said, “Just think, I lived all of my life and I almost missed it.”
I had a friend who lived on Long Island, New York and had never been downtown, to the heart of New York City. He had never seen the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, or the Twin Towers. He was only 45 minutes away via train. I persuaded him to get on the train with me and go to New York City.
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 life’s real purpose. They don’t know why they are here. They don’t know where they came from. They don’t know where they’re going.
Every person on this planet has a hole in their heart, that nothing can satisfy apart from Jesus Christ. Many people have a gnawing feeling in them telling them that there is more to life than what 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. We know there is an abundant life that is available for us in the Lord Jesus Christ. The book of Colossians sets forth for us what life is truly all about.
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.
We now raise the question: what are the dynamics of it? We don’t just need the mechanics, but the dynamics. How does it all come about? How is it that this good news, God has to share with the world gets to the people, who so desperately need to know about it? The basic facets of where the Gospel gets to people are revealed to us in Colossians 1:5b-8.
I. WE Have A TRUTHFUL MESSAGE For All People
We read in the middle of Colossians 1:5, “Whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel.” That’s the first facet of how the gospel works.
Notice the phrase, “the word of the truth of the gospel.” The word, “gospel,” 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?
In I Corinthians 15:3, we find the essence of the gospel. We read, “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 is the gospel, 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. 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. Some teachers were coming to the Christians in Colossi and saying to them, “You need a new gospel.” We do not need a new gospel. We have a truthful message. 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 21st Century, as it was when the facts of the gospel first came to pass.
This gospel is so truthful, so essential that the apostle Paul puts it this way in Galatians 1:8. “But though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” There’s only one gospel. Not a new gospel, the same old gospel.
Our Truthful Message Is A Factual Message
This truthful message is contained in our Bible. The Bible is the Word of the truth of the gospel. In other words, we have a factual message. We have a message which is a message of truth. What is truth? We have a truth that corresponds to reality.
One of the things that is going on in our modern culture is that there is a shift in the whole concept of what is truth. If our college students take any philosophy classes, 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 now say 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.
Nevertheless, the Bible is the Word of the truth of the Gospel. It corresponds to reality. It’s very important how you determine truth—for instance, a pilot who is training for his instrument rating. One of the first things he does is to learn how to determine truth. A pilot must learn to do that. Say he’s in a snowstorm. His vision is blinded. He gets a distinct feeling that he’s upside down. His feelings tell him he’s upside down, his instruments tell him he’s right side up. Which will he believe? Will he go by how he feels about it or will he go by the instruments? It’s a life-and-death decision. It is crucial how we determine truth. Do you go by how you feel about it? What you want it to be? Or do you go by the instruments? Do you go by the word of the truth of the Gospel?
Your Bible is called 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.
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.
Our Truthful Message Is A Universal Message
Not only is it a factual message, but it is also a universal message. In Colossians 1:6, we read, “Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world.” In verse 23, we read, “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, in the 16th century, and now 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. When you think about it and you boil them down, people have only two problems: sin and death. What am I going to do about sin? How am I going to cope with the death of my loved ones and face my own death?”
That’s the only two problems people have. Those two problems are as old as the Garden of Eden. You have a sin problem. What will you do with your sins? You have a death problem. How will you cope with death? “The wages of sin is death.” They are joined together. They belong to one another. That’s the good news of 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. When we are talking about the gospel, this is the truth of God’s word. You have God’s Word on it. The message is 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 our personal Savior, we will be saved and have a brand-new life. Then, only then, will life make sense to us.
II. We Are To Be A Trustworthy Messenger For All People
How does God get this good news of the gospel to lost people who so desperately need it?
In Colossians 1:7, we read, “As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellow servant…” Evidently, Epaphras was a man who was from Colossi. It seems that this man founded the church of Colossi and was the pastor of the church. In Colossians 4:12-13, Paul writes, “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he has a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.”
When we put the story 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 on a business trip Epaphras was there and heard Paul preach and was converted. He returned to the city of Colossi and shared with them the message. He brought this gospel message that had changed his life and shared it with these people in Colossi.
Whether that be exactly how it happened or not, the point I want you to understand is that Epaphras was the link that God used between the gospel message and the lost people in Colossi who needed that message. He was the messenger. God uses people to get the gospel to those who need to hear it. God doesn’t use angels.
In Acts 8, we are told about the deacon Phillip. We learn, “The angel of the Lord said to Phillip, Arise and go down into Gaza, which is desert.” There was a man down there, riding in a chariot, reading the Scriptures. When Phillip got there, he was able to lead that Eunuch to Jesus. Why didn’t the angel go? God has done a wonderful thing. 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. Angels have never known what it was to be sinners. Angels have never known the joy of salvation. I can tell lost people about Jesus and how He saves because of what He has done in my heart and my life.
Do you see the process? God sends missionaries to countries where people have never heard because saved people are the link to seeing the lost hear the gospel. They take the word of the truth of the gospel into a pagan tribe and those people hear about Jesus and they are saved. 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 you faithful?
How many people do you come in contact with daily? 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, with people that you come in contact with. Five? Six? Multiply that by six days. That would be 30. 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. It is hard for us to conceive what God would do if we would just be faithful each week and tell the story of Jesus. A lot of people have the idea that a church is supposed to erect a building, and put a sign over the front door: “Come on in, you lucky sinners, and get saved.” It doesn’t work that way. They are not interested in the church. But if you and I will be obedient to the great commission and go and tell them about Jesus and how He can help them make life work, they will be interested. There are countless numbers of people who are ready for somebody to tell them how to be saved.
There is a truthful message, and Paul calls it, “The word of the truth of the gospel.” There is a faithful messenger. The Lord has His, Epaphras in Colossi and today He has you and me.
III. We Are To Be About A Tremendous Miracle For All People
When a faithful messenger gets the gospel to a lost person, a wonderful miracle can occur.
We read in Colossians 1:6, “Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth.”
They had experienced the miracle of salvation. There had been a day when they came to know and experience 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 know, the grace of God. We know the grace of God when we are saved. 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? 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 and me. That is your salvation day. Then there’s that sense in which the gospel starts working in you to bring forth fruit. On the heels of salvation, the gospel begins to bring forth sanctification. After we are saved, the seed of salvation comes into our lives. Then, we can begin to bear fruit. Salvation comes to us. The seed is planted in us. Then, salvation starts working in us and the result is the fruit of a Christian life.
Think about a kernel of corn. In that one little seed, there is everything necessary to produce other grains of corn. All the necessary cells and 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. Paul makes it clear in the book of Colossians that in Jesus Christ is all the fullness of God and you are complete in Him. Don’t let anybody come along and say, “It’s good to be saved, but you need something else.” You have it all in Jesus Christ. Everything is provided for you. What a wonderful miracle when God can come into our hearts and save us.
Even though the Gospel story is factual and universal, at some point it has become personal to you and me. Isaiah said, “Ye shall be gathered one by one.” It has to be personal to you. Have you had your miracle day? Are you helping others to have their miracle day by sharing the gospel with them?
More than anything else in this world, we need Jesus as our Savior. I do not think things come about by happenstance. I think they come about by providence.
If you have never received Christ as your Savior, on this day God has arranged the circumstances of your life so you would be reading this chapter in this book today. If you know Christ or have been saved, then ask the Lord to use you to help others experience the grace of God and know the mighty miracle of salvation.