Gracefully Truthful

Faith,Fear,Holy Spirit,Hope,Ignite,Joy

Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Colossians 1:3-8

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints 5 because of the hope reserved for you in heaven.

You have already heard about this hope in the word of truth, the gospel 6 that has come to you. It is bearing fruit and growing all over the world, just as it has among you since the day you heard it and came to truly appreciate God’s grace.

7 You learned this from Epaphras, our dearly loved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, 8 and he has told us about your love in the Spirit.

The Original Intent

1) What is the “hope reserved in heaven” awaiting the Colossians? (verses 4-5)

The Apostle Paul tells the church in Colossae, “We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints because of the hope reserved for you in heaven. You have already heard about this hope in the word of truth, the gospel”. (verses 4-5)

The hope reserved in heaven Paul referenced is the same hope all Christians have in Jesus and His salvation; we share this “Living Hope”. (1 Peter 1:3) Brian Bell suggests, “Hope is laid up (stored away, put away for one’s use) [referring] to a Royal Persian custom. Hellenistic rulers would lay up in store goods for faithful servants.”

Paul asserts that those who have trusted in the saving grace of Jesus (Ephesians 2:8) have the hope of eternal life in Heaven with God reserved for them (Titus 1:2). Paul is encouraged that the Colossians have embraced the Gospel message that Jesus came to save them and offer them eternal life (John 3:16) allowing their hope in the Good News to motivate them to love others.

Author Chuck Swindoll states, “The church at Colossae was under attack from false teachers who were denigrating the deity of Jesus; they were teaching that He was not actually God.” In this atmosphere of false teaching, Paul was pleased with the Colossians for adhering to the Truth they’d heard, and he wanted to admonish all believers to embrace the promise of eternal life with Jesus in Heaven.

Lehman Strauss argues that “Heaven is where Christ is, thus heaven is where our hope is . . . No man need ever fear about his future when his hope is laid up in heaven.” All those who trust in the saving work of Christ rejoice that we have this unshakeable hope in Heaven!

The Everyday Application

1) What is the “hope reserved in heaven” awaiting the Colossians? (verses 4-5)

As a young girl, I loved reading about the tradition of the hope chest. It was a cedar chest that young ladies in the 19th century used to store the quilts they made and any household goods they acquired, like dishes, silverware and candlesticks, for their eventual marriage. It was also used to store family mementoes and heirlooms. It was named “hope” because it held items representing the hopes and dreams the young woman cherished to start her own family one day.

While the Apostle Paul did not have a hope chest in mind when he wrote his letter to the church at Colossae, he did want them to remember the hope reserved in heaven for them. (Colossians 1:5)

The Good News of the Gospel message is this unshakeable, irrevocable Hope in the work of Christ on the cross (1 Peter 2:24) which guarantees eternal life for everyone who believes the message and trusts in Jesus. Faith is the door to such grand Hope!

This hope of life everlasting in Heaven with Jesus makes the present bearable (1 Peter 1:6) and the future awaited with joyful anticipation (Revelation 21:4). H.C.G. Moule asserts that God’s “hope is the certainty that, in spite of the world’s ways, God’s way of love has the last word.”

When sorrowful things happen in this world, Christians take heart that this world is not their ultimate home, guaranteed. (Hebrews 13:14)

The Original Intent

2) How does “hope in the Gospel” do the work of “bearing fruit and growing”? (verses 5-6)

In verses 5-6, Paul commends the Colossians because their hope in the Gospel “is bearing fruit and growing all over the world, just as it has among you since the day you heard it and came to truly appreciate God’s grace.” A.T. Robertson calls this claim of the spread of the Gospel “A legitimate hyperbole, for the gospel was spreading all over the Roman Empire.”

This undoubtedly pleased Paul, who never visited the Colossians and was writing to them from prison, unable to share the Gospel himself in person. Alistair I. Wilson asserts that Paul’s words suggest “an awareness of God’s purposes for the nations . . . They suggest that Paul models a Christian interest in the growth of the church worldwide as well as in any particular location.”

This hope in the Gospel that proclaims Jesus forgives sins (1 John 1:9), loves sinners (Romans 5:8) and gives sinners new life (Romans 6:4) spurred the Colossians to spread the Good News about Jesus’ life and death with others near and far. Believers were embracing the hope of the Gospel, spreading God’s love, and drawing others to Him because their new lives were anchored in Christ and His certain Hope.

Those converts would also reach more people with the story of God’s immense love and sacrifice (1 John 4:10), causing the Gospel to grow and bear fruit.

The Everyday Application

2) How does “hope in the Gospel” do the work of “bearing fruit and growing”? (verses 5-6)

When our kids were school-aged, my husband wanted them to experience farm life like as he had growing up, so he opened a pick-it-yourself strawberry patch on his family’s land. The kids and I helped with planting and tending the rows of berries; soon, we had beautiful, red strawberries ready for harvest.

We did not advertise, but news of our patch spread through the community and every day the sticks that marked where the berries had been picked moved further down each row. Soon, I was fielding messages and emails from friends, asking for hours of operation or imploring us to bring a box or two to church for them. News of the Joneses delicious berry patch spread like wildfire, and we had a busy few weeks keeping up with visitors and orders!

I think about our berry adventure when I read what Paul wrote to the Colossians about their hope in the Gospel bearing fruit and growing. (Colossians 1:5-6) They didn’t have any way to share with others outside of the  testimony of their tongues and their daily lives; still, the Good News of Jesus spread beyond their circle, setting the world ablaze!

According to Alistair I. Wilson, “The language Paul uses suggests organic growth: the gospel is itself the lifegiving agent of change, which is another way of saying that God acts in the gospel. As Paul says elsewhere, the gospel is the ‘power of God.’” (Romans 1:16, 1 Corinthians 1:18)

Paul knew that if people shared the Gospel, the power of its message, fueled by the Spirit of the Living God, would take root in people’s lives and impact those who witnessed their transformation. When we tell others what God has done for us, we ensure our Hope in the Gospel continues to grow and bear fruit just as it did for the first Christians!

The Original Intent

3) What does it mean to have “love in the Spirit”? (verse 8)

Paul told the Colossian Church that he’d heard from their elder, Epaphras, of their “love in the spirit”. (Colossians 1:8) Paul is referencing the way the Colossians allow God’s Holy Spirit to love others through them.

Love in the Spiritallows the Colossians to live in unity with one another (John 17:23) and function as the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), serving and ministering together in His name. All of which are just impossible to accomplish on human strength and ability.

John Piper asserts that “the love that the Colossians have for Paul and for all the saints is not a love that is natural to the human heart. It happens ‘in the Spirit.’ It is, as Galatians 5:22 says, a ‘fruit of the Spirit.’” Love that comes from the Holy Spirit is not changeable and is not dependent upon another’s actions. It’s completely unlike love anchored in human ability that doesn’t rely solely on God’s Spirit.

The love that comes from the Spirit of God energizes believers to give sacrificially and uphold one another in all situations. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

It is this love, empowered by the Spirit, which attracts other people to believers. It’s this love of the Holy Spirit residing in Christians that identifies them to others as God’s people because we reflect His glorious love! (John 13:35)

When we aren’t showing love, we aren’t showing Christ, and we aren’t allowing the Holy Spirit to empower us. May we daily choose to let the love of the Spirit flow from our actions and our speech, exemplifying the love of God!

The Everyday Application

3) What does it mean to have “love in the Spirit”? (verse 8)

Since I work with young children, I deal with a variety of play equipment, much of which is inflatable. We use beach balls, playground balls, balloons, kiddie pools, and various inflatable characters in our lessons and games. After years of watching me struggle to use bicycle pumps, balloon pumps and good old-fashioned lung capacity, my friends in the church office ordered me an electric air pump.

What used to be a time-consuming, back-breaking, lung-busting chore became a quick task only requiring me to flip a switch! I couldn’t believe I hadn’t ordered one sooner to make my job easier. To me, the difference between the two methods is similar to trying to do things on my own versus letting the Holy Spirit empower me.

Everything is invariably easier when I allow the Holy Spirit to work through me rather than muscling through life on my own. In the church at Colossae, the believers were actively allowing the love of the Holy Spirit to work through them (verse 8) Once they embraced the Gospel and let the love of God change them from the inside out (1 Corinthians 16:14), God’s love overflowed from them and onto others (1 Thessalonians 3:12).

This divine love wasn’t something they were manufacturing or struggling to maintain; it was the work of the indwelling Spirit of God! The next time I struggle with something the Lord has called me to do, I hope I remember those days before I got the electric pump, struggling in my own strength. I hope it reminds me to allow God’s Spirit to work through me.

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