by Roger McCay
2 August 2020
Sermon Passage: Colossians 1:1-8
Link to Audio Version
We find that in life things go round and round in Cycles. In the family, for example, at least from a pastor’s point of view, we see children born; we baptize them; they join the church, becoming communing members; we officiate their weddings. Then they have children, who are then baptized, join the church, and are married. Then there is a solemn funeral or two for the older generation, as their descendants continue to be born, baptized, join the church, and so forth. It’s a glorious thing! Then, of course, the cycle of the seasons – Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, then Spring again. Cycles occur all through society and nature, and they even occur in the spiritual realm. For we see the gospel of Jesus Christ also has a cyclic form.
In Col. 1:1-8, the Apostle Paul refers to this cycle of the gospel as consisting of hope, faith, love, and bearing fruit, leading to hope, faith, love, and bearing fruit, and so on. There is a certain simplicity to this cycle of the gospel—a purity of form.
Yet, in our response to the gospel, do we maintain this simplicity? Unfortunately, we so often spoil the cycle, making it needlessly, vainly, complicated. It’s a common error to look towards to our own self-sufficiency: our works, rituals we participate in, and even some form of special knowledge we may acquire. We look towards such things to attempt to make ourselves “really” saved, or at least to feel that way. Yet, this misplaced confidence spoils the simplicity and purity of the gospel. For trusting in anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ for salvation is outside of the cycle of the gospel, and is something else entirely, something not Christian.
So, how do we avoid this error? Well, let’s look at what Paul has to say about it.
In v. 7 of Colossians 1, Paul mentions a gentleman named Epaphras. Epaphras is described as a fellow servant with Paul, and a faithful minister of Christ. We see by his actions that he was an evangelist. He was the man who brought the gospel message to Colossae, which led to the establishment of the church in that town. Due to Epaphras’ preaching, many of the Colossians heard and understood the message of the gospel, which lead to their hope in Jesus Christ.
And so, the cycle starts, a beginning that is really just a continuation: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” From hearing comes understanding. Jesus is our only hope.
The sin of the repentant believer in Jesus Christ no longer separates the believer from God. Jesus took the punishment for the sins of all who believe upon himself, on the cross. God’s wrath, which everyone deserves due to our sin, was satisfied with Jesus’ sacrifice. So, now, whoever believes in Jesus Christ, our risen Lord, is forgiven all of his or her sins—made holy—adopted as a child of God.
With such understanding, hope sprouts forth. Could this wonderful blessing be for me? And so it blooms into full faith in Jesus Christ. Yes, it is for me! I believe!
In this faith and hope, we follow the call of our Lord Jesus in denial of self, fully trusting and confident in his lead … to wherever he leads. We know that, at the end, even in death (because we are his people, saved by grace), we will find glory and resurrection when Christ comes bringing his Kingdom, receiving life eternal to be lived out in glorious paradise.
Verses 4-6 express this cycle. Take a look:
4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,
Can we ever be secure in our salvation if we base our hope on whether or not we have done enough good deeds, or if we base our hope in teachings outside of the gospel of truth revealed in the Bible? No, of course not! Gal. 1:8: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.”