Truths About the Gospel
Colossians 1:5-8
By Paul Robison

The story is told about an Irishman who had to catch a train.  This was before cars, so he flagged down a horse-drawn carriage, and told the driver: “Hurry, I'm about to be late.  Drive fast!”  The driver did just what he was told and took off like a thunderbolt.  The passenger sat back in his seat and began a quick nap.  A few minutes later, he awoke, looked out the window, and saw that he was going in the wrong direction.  He quickly called to the driver: “Do you know where you are going?”  And the driver replied: “No, your honor, I don't, but I'm driving very fast!”  Doesn't this story sound very much like people in our culture?  We're moving very fast, we're very busy, but people don't really know where they are going.  They even make silly remarks like: “I'm not worried about the destination; it's the journey that counts!”  Now why would they say something like that?  Maybe it's because they “want to keep their minds off the fact that they really don't know where they are going.  Their lives are spiritually aimless, empty, and uncertain.  But if they stay busy enough, they are able to forget their need for a direction, fulfillment, and significance” (Calkins).  Have you as a Christian perhaps felt this way?  Has the daily rush and routine taken your eyes off of heaven?  Have the earthly activities caused you to lose sight of the spiritual activities?  Are you living each day keeping your eternal destination in mind?  “Well, preacher, it's hard to keep my mind focused on what's really important.”  That's true.  So let's let the apostle Paul help us today as we continue our study in Colossians.  It's interesting in this letter that before Paul says much about the false teachers, he says something first about the Christians in Colosse, and he says something very important about how to make our lives meaningful.  Look at the later part of verse 5: “of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel.”  What's made a difference in our lives and given us a new direction?  It's the word of truth from the Gospel that was shared with us.  The truth about reality and the good news about Jesus helps us to navigate in this world in a different way than what our culture has taught us.  Let's examine some truths about the Gospel that Paul explains in his opening remarks to the brethren at Colosse.
First of all, the Gospel must be international or shared with all.  Verse 6 states: “... which has come to you, as it has also in all the world ...”  Paul shows here that this good news is for everybody.  Jesus had told His apostles before His ascension in Mark 16:15-16: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”  Now those are some of Jesus' last words, and they are very important words.  Jesus wanted all people in all parts of the world to know the good news about His life and His teachings.  Everybody should be given the chance to know about this good news which can keep them from being separated from God eternally.  And Paul says that Jesus' desire was being fulfilled as he and the early Christians were out spreading the gospel abroad.  The Gospel must be international or shared with all.  One commentator states: "The gospel of Christ is for everyone (inclusive) and not for a select few (exclusive) as the heretics are teaching (2:8-15)" (Patzia).  That's a good statement to remember because some modern day heretics tell us that God has already selected who will be saved and who will be lost.  If God has already chosen those who will be saved, how could Peter say these words: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.  But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34-35)?  If God has already elected those who will be lost, how could Peter also say, “The Lord is ... not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9)?  Another commentator correctly observes: “God is doing through the gospel what He always intended to do.  He is sowing good seed in the world, and preparing to reap a harvest of human lives recreated to reflect His glory” (Wright).  The Gospel must be international or shared with all.  “In the news a few years ago was the story of a woman who had been blind for over 50 years.  The doctors performed eye surgery on her in a hospital in Canada.  Afterwards, for the first time in her life, she saw forms and colors!  The amazing thing about her story is that 20 years of her blindness had been unnecessary.  She didn’t know that surgical techniques had been developed, and that an operation could have restored her vision at the age of 30.  The doctor said, 'She just figured there was nothing that could be done about her condition.'  Why did she assume that her situation was hopeless?  Because she had not heard” (Griffth).  Everybody needs to know the good news of eternal salvation so that they won't grope in spiritual blindness!  Brother Jimmy Lovell, the founder of World Bible School, often said that every person had right to hear the Gospel once before anybody else hears it twice.  When are we going to learn that taking the time to share this good news with others is an important event which will do more than anything else to slow us down and help us to keep our eternal destination in focus?  The Gospel must be international or shared with all.
Next, the Gospel must be heard and explained.  Notice the last part of verse 6: “and is bringing forth fruit, and it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth.”   A commentator affirms: "The Word of God is the only seed that can be planted anywhere in the world and bear fruit"  (Wiersbe).  Another declares: "The truth makes a difference; it transforms lives. ... true Christianity carries credentials which false teaching cannot equal" (Harrison).  People's lives are redeemed, ennobled, and enhanced by hearing the Gospel (Wright)!  The Gospel must be heard and explained. You know, when you share the Gospel with someone, you never know what kind of an impact their lives will have on others.  Whoever thought that when Jimmy Allen was converted, his life would eventually lead to the conversions of thousands?  Whoever thought that that boy who was converted in a country church would one day be the president of a Christian university?  Whoever thought that a boy who attended a brotherhood school and ended up rooming with another student from Africa would later become one of the most influential missionaries in Africa?  Jesus said that some seed would multiply 30, 60, and 100 fold.  Do we really believe that?  “Since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth.”  The Gospel must be heard in order to bring about transformation.  “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).  “God has ordained that the gospel be transmitted from person to person.  That which is divinely given must be humanly passed on.  Jesus Christ needs us to be the feet and lips that will bring His Gospel to [others who need to know it]” (Calkins).  The old hymn has it right: “If the name of Savior is precious to you, if His care has been constant and tender and true, if the light of His presence has brightened you way, O will you not tell of your gladness today? ... If the souls all around you are living in sin, if the Master has told you to bid them come in, if the sweet invitation they never have heard, O will you not tell them the cheer bringing word?  Will you not tell it today” (Pounds)?  Tell and explain what you can as often as you can.  The gospel must be heard and explained.
Next, the Gospel must be taught by a Christian.  Verse 7 states: “as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf ...”  One commentator says: "Perhaps it would have been exciting for Epaphras to stay with Paul in Ephesus where so many wonderful things were taking place.  But his first responsibility was to take the Gospel to his own home [town]" (Wiersbe).  Colosse wasn't very popular and was declining, but this did not stop Epaphras from sharing good news with his relatives and friends.  Look at chapter 4:13: “For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis.”  Here are three congregations that this brother was instrumental in teaching and helping.  Here is man who loved lost souls and wanted to teach them the truth about Jesus so that these people could be set free from their sins and their pagan upbringing.  The Gospel must be taught by a Christian.  Someone challenges us with these words:  “One would think that a force as powerful and transforming as the gospel would be spread far and wide in the most efficient way possible. Perhaps God would write the gospel in the sky [in large letters] or proclaim the gospel to every person on the planet in a dream to make sure everyone heard [about] its life-changing message. But that is not how God chose to spread the gospel message ... Instead, the gospel is ... uniquely transmitted, from person to person, from heart to heart as God’s Holy Spirit encourages [Christians] to share the gospel with others near and far” (Calkins).  Brethren, if we don't speak up and teach others around us, then they will be lost, and this congregation will disappear too, when the last saint in this congregation dies.  There was a book entitled: Teach Or Perish.  Now that's pretty blunt, but you know as well as I that it's exactly the truth.  Teach or perish!  “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4).  That passage shows us something very significant; here were ordinary Christians who were evangelizing.  Someone rightly notes: “They were scattered from their base in Jerusalem, and they went everywhere spreading the good news which had brought joy, release, and a new life to themselves.  This [was] the informal chattering to friends and [others], in homes ..., on walks, and around market stalls.  They went everywhere gossiping the gospel; they did it naturally, enthusiastically, [and convincingly, as] those not paid to say that sort of thing.  Consequently, they were taken seriously, and the movement spread ...” (Green).  If you're not gossiping the Gospel already, then think about starting!  The Gospel must be taught by a Christian.
Next, the Gospel must emphasize truth, grace, and transformation through Jesus.  Verse 5 affirms that the Gospel contains the word of truth.  Verse 6 affirms that the Gospel had brought forth fruit in the lives of the brethren in Colosse, and they “knew the grace of God in truth.”  Jesus told Philip that He was truth personified (John 14:6).  Jesus told Pilate: “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37).  Our greatest weapon against error is the truth of God's Word, and it is in our possession.  When we share the truth, what can happen?  The answer is found in 2 Timothy 2:26 where it says that people can come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil!  We need to help others know the truth that there's more to living than just being caught up in the rat- race.  The Gospel must emphasize truth, grace, and transformation through Jesus.  "The reason the Gospel is good news is because of grace: God is willing and able to save all who [obey] Jesus Christ (Wiersbe)."  “When the Colossians heard the Gospel, they realized God was willing to give them as a gift something they could never earn for themselves: forgiveness of sin, salvation [from sin's slavery, and eternal life].  Dennis the Menace was shown walking away from the Wilson’s house with his friend Joey.  Both boys had their hands full of cookies.  Joey then asked, 'I wonder what we did to deserve this?'  Dennis delivered an answer packed with truth.  He said, 'Look Joey, Mrs. Wilson gives us cookies not because we’re nice, but because she’s nice.'  That’s a perfect picture of grace, isn’t it?  Jesus wasn’t crucified, buried, and resurrected because of who we are.  He was crucified, buried, and resurrected because of Who He is” (Huie).  “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ ...” (Titus 2:11-13).  God's grace motivates us to live on a higher plane.  The Gospel must emphasize truth, grace, and transformation through Jesus.  In Jesus, there is a new beginning.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).  When we teach others the truth of the Gospel, we help them to tap into a tremendous power source for their lives!  They don't have to live all their lives feeling defeated; they can claim the victory that is in Christ!  They can know His joy and have the assurance that God is for them, and no outside force can separate them from His love!  Are we convinced that the New Testament teaches us the very best way to live, to have the abundant life that Jesus promised?  If we do, then let's slow down and share with others how they can enjoy this abundant life too.  They can learn that Jesus offers us blessings both in this life and in the new existence called heaven.  The Gospel must emphasize truth, grace, and transformation through Jesus.
Next, the Gospel must be seen in service, faithfulness, and holy love.  Notice again verses 7-8: “As you also learned through Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.”  Paul calls Epaphras a fellow servant.  While Paul was preaching and working in the city of Ephesus, Epaphras was sharing the Gospel and helping others to be Jesus' disciples in his area.  Jesus was the greatest Servant of all ages.  He said that His marching orders were these: to preach the Gospel to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to help the blind to see, to free those who were oppressed (Luke 4:18).  How well are we doing what He did?  A brother challenges us: “Think how your family would change if such constant reminders of willingness, forgiveness, rest, and service were spoken in your home [imitating Jesus' words].  How would your job change is anyone consistently asked: 'What do you want me to do for you?'  How would [Bible classes] be different if each teacher's motto was: 'I did not come to be served, but to serve' ... Heaven is calling you to open your mouth [and extend your hands] and let the mind of Christ and heart of God flow through you like a mighty river ...” (McLaughlin).  The Gospel must be seen in service, faithfulness, and holy love.  Jesus is a faithful High Priest (Hebrew 2:17), and if we will pattern our lives after His, we can be faithful too, and we will receive the crown of life (Revelation 2:10)!   The Gospel must be seen in service, faithfulness, and holy love.  Epaphras told Paul about the love in the Spirit or the holy affection of the members in Colosse.  Isn't it wonderful that Christians can love each other with a holy love?  The Spirit's affection is not based on the flesh; it can actually run deeper than family ties.  It can cross all national, racial, and cultural barriers.  You can tells others and show others this holy love.  Why not be an Epaphras to those around you?   The Gospel must be seen in service, faithfulness, and holy love.   
“Officer Peter O’Hanlon was patrolling on night duty in northern England some years ago when he heard a quivering sob.  Turning in the direction that it came from, he saw in the shadows a little boy sitting on a doorstep.  With tears rolling down his cheeks, the child whimpered, 'I’m lost. Take me home.'  The policeman began naming street after street, trying to help him remember where he lived.  When that failed, he repeated the names of the shops in the area, but all without success.  Then he remembered that in the center of the city was a well-known church with a large white cross towering high above the surrounding landscape.  He pointed to it and said, 'Do you live anywhere near that?' The boy’s face immediately brightened. 'Yes, take me to the cross.  I can find my way home from there” (Griffith)!  How many times have you spoken about Jesus to someone during this past week?  If you haven't, maybe you're getting too busy with earthly matters.  When you share the Gospel, you are doing the most important thing to keep your life going in the right direction!  If you need to become Jesus' disciple or if you need to confess that you need help to keep a proper focus, exalt Jesus now.