Thanksgiving, faith, love and hope

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 God’s people—the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ your behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

The Colossian church, was as we have seen a community built on faith, love and hope arising out of the gospel. We majored on faith and love yesterday and today following a word about hope we explore the result of these three gospel characteristics and the effect that living them out had on the world around them.

The past 12 months have been hard for everyone and you are probably tired of being reminded of  this. But while God’s people have not been exempt from this hardship we have had something that the world has not had, namely gospel hope shining through the problems. Paul describes this hope as ‘stored up for us in heaven’ which we have heard about in the ‘true message of the gospel’. The church in Colosse lived this out. It was not a theoretical matter but the way they lived every day and it bore fruit.

Their life of faith love and hope arising out of the gospel impacted and bore fruit ‘throughout the whole world’ which we must surely take to mean that area in which they lived and worked and visited and it bore that fruit because they lived the gospel.

It is a wonderful picture. Epaphras taught them the gospel. They heard it and ‘truly understood God’s grace’ and they passed it on to others. Paul describes Epaphras as ‘our beloved fellow worker’ and the exciting thing about his ministry is that it was self-perpetuating. He shared and taught the gospel to the Colossian church and the members of the church passed it on to others. It was that multiplication that ultimately brought you and me to know and understand the gospel and we should thank God for those who taught us and nurtured us in faith, love and hope. And also thank God for our fellow believers as Paul did when he prayed for the Colossians.

Finally for today let us be sure that the forward movement of the gospel does not falter or even stop because we fail to pass it on. That after all is our chief end and purpose, for as others believe the gospel our great God is glorified.

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