What Kind of a Gospel
Have You Heard?
When I look at Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians I have to ask myself: What kind of a Gospel have I heard? As the decades roll out, each one of us has been in so many places where the Gospel has been preached, taught, sung, and lived.
There are many Scripture passages that give us a description of our new spiritual state. As Christians, we need to be reminded of who we are in Christ and the magnitude of what Christ has done to make this a done deal.
Unfortunately, many Christians have gotten such poor teaching on their spiritual inheritance that they still live in the poverty of their salvation, rather than in its riches.
Understanding the Christian Gospel includes a solid grasp of the grace of God in all its wonder. It is recognizing the Supremacy of Christ and it is living in the power of this Gospel in everyday life.
The Gospel that the Colossians Heard
In the introduction to the letter to the Christians in Colosse, Paul reminds these Christians that the Gospel that they had heard had a couple of dynamic elements. They understood God’s grace in all its truth and that this Gospel was growing all over the world. Paul affirmed that Christ was fully adequate for their salvation.
We are informed that Paul’s fellow laborer, Epaphras, was the one who carried the Gospel message to those in Colosse. Epaphras is described as a colleague of Paul and the brothers with him. He was a dear fellow servant and faithful minister. He was sent to minister on their behalf to the church community in Colosse.
Paul and his co-laborers prayed earnestly for this community. Why? They prayed so that these saints would be: filled with God and with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding–in order that they might live a life ‘worthy’ of the Lord and please the Lord in every way.
Paul reminded them that just as they had received this good news by faith, they were to continue to live their lives ‘in Christ’ by faith (2:5, 6).
Paul admonished the Colossian believers to be aware that there was a potential that someone could take them captive. They were to be alert to what might be lurking. They needed to know how they could be taken captive. This could happen through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depended on human traditions and the basic principles of the world, rather than on Christ.
We read this admonition of Paul:
“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” Col. 2:8
What’s in the Package?
Paul brought a number of things to their immediate attention. What had the Colossians received in their Gospel package?
- The fullness of deity lived in bodily form.
Paul gave Christ’s qualifying characteristics:
Christ was the Head over every power and authority.
2. That Christians were those who believed in this Christ.
They were given fullness ‘in Christ.’
3. Christians were circumcised in the putting off of the sinful nature.
This is ancient speak meaning that this ancient Jewish ritual was not done by human hands. No, it was done by Christ!
This was done through a spiritual relationship, that is, believers in Christ were buried with Christ “in baptism” and were “raised with him” through their “faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.”
This was the kind of power that raised up this kind of Christ from the dead.
So here’s the thing, Paul was basically telling them: When you were spiritually dead in your sins and there was no spiritual circumcision in place, just lifelessness—God came to the rescue! God injected life into a spiritual corpse.
This action equalled: forgiveness of sins, yes, all of them!
The written code that was hanging over each of them was now cancelled. It was taken away. In fact, it was nailed to the cross!
Something amazing happened in that transaction:
Christ’s action disarmed the powers and authorities.
Christ made a public spectacle of them. Christ triumphed through his cross-work over all powers.
I am reminded of the song: “Beautiful Scandalous Night” that incorporates the songwriter’s amazement of this event. The refrain reminds the listener that it was a “beautiful scandalous night” that sins were atoned for. This event was all too amazing for words.
The heightened corporate benefit for the Christian men and women of Colosse was in grasping the magnitude of this spiritual transaction was that they, too, were victors, like Christ. Christians are those who have been born into God’s family and, therefore, are entitled to all of the benefits of this new status.
Paul exhorted these believers not to step away from their position in Christ and get entangled in the tactics that certain individuals could use to beguile them. Some were rigorously intent on bringing them back into the practices of Judaism in order to secure their merit before Yahweh. Paul exhorted them: Don’t get caught up in this waste of time!
The Body of Christ was held together by its design and was primed to grow as God had designed it. All this other falderal was just fruitless distraction and they were strongly urged to avoid it!
Though there seemed to be a promise in keeping the regulations, it was unfounded since these regulations lacked any value in “restraining sensual indulgence!” There was just no power in the keeping of them. There was just no strength to follow through. The real power was in the true Gospel.
Since You Died With Christ
Paul never tired of reminding believers in the early church that they had died with Christ. The work had already been done, so why sweat it!
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,
set your hearts on things above, where Christ is,
seated at the right hand of God.” Col. 3:1
The Apostle explained that since they had been raised with Christ that they were to set their hearts on things above, where every day, all day, Christ was and is seated at the right hand of God.
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Col. 3:2, 3
Their lives were both hidden and secure with Christ in God. Now that is pretty secure, if anyone asks me!
So back here on earth, while waiting for their appearing with Christ in glory, they were to take some meaningful spiritual action. They were to be vigilant, decisive, and methodical in making sure that they lived Kingdom principles.
With the help of the Holy Spirit within them, believers in Christ were to do the following:
1. Put to death whatever belonged to the earthly nature.
2. Put on new clothes.
They were to clothe themselves with: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
They were to:
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
They were to put on love:
“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
3. Allow the peace of Christ to rule in their hearts.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.”
4. Let the message of Christ dwell richly among them. This would be manifested by good teachings and joyful songs.
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
5. Be thankful.
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
The homes of Christians were to exemplify the work of Christ and the grace of God in their lives. The Greco-Roman Household Codes were a guideline in that society. Paul urged the Christians to live a much higher standard and gave specific instructions to help believers see how this could be worked out in their daily lives in practical and loving ways.
Compare The Gospel to the One the Romans Had
This was the same kind of Gospel that the Roman believers had heard. In the introduction to the Epistle to the Romans Paul outlined the kind of Gospel that they, too, had heard.
This was a Gospel that:
*Yahweh had promised beforehand through the prophets.
*Proclaimed that Jesus Christ, was the God-Man
-Christ was a descendant of King David
-Christ was declared with power to be
the Son of God
by his resurrection from the dead.
*Gentiles could be called to the obedience that comes from faith.
*People were loved by God, belonged to Jesus Christ, and were called to be saints.
*Paul was eager to preach to them about it.
*A righteousness from God had been revealed.
*A righteousness that was by faith, from first to last.
*Righteous followers would live this Gospel by faith.
*Paul was not ashamed of this kind of Gospel!
The Kind of Gospel That We Have Heard
Hopefully, after all is said and done, those of us today can say that the kind of Gospel that we have heard is the authentic one, like the one that the Colossians had heard.
The kind of Gospel that they had heard was the one that gave people life with energy because it had been birthed from Heaven. The Heavenly Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Precious Holy Spirit were involved in getting this Gospel from the heights of heaven down to earth where it would have the most benefit.
Paul wrote with joy and conviction as he penned the words to this early Christian community. He was excited for them to be fully grounded in all that came with their heavenly gift. He did not want them to waste any time in truly living and experiencing this gift of salvation to the fullest.
This is the kind of Gospel that I have heard and have believed.
What kind of a Gospel have you heard??
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For Further Reflection
Lyrics for the song: Beautiful Scandalous Night
by Bebo Norman
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© 2012 Barb Orlowski, D.Min.