The Fruit of the Gospel

by | Feb 18, 2021 | Colossians, Featured

Colossians 1:5b-8, “because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 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, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant.[a] He is a faithful minister of Christ on your[b] behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.”

Heresies differ from one another in the precise errors that they teach, but they are always grounded in the same kind of assumptions basic to all false teaching. For instance, Islam’s insistence that Jesus is only a prophet and Mormonism’s contention that He is a man who has achieved the exalted status of godhood are plainly different in content. Yet both of these falsehoods are based on the assumption that Jesus is not who the New Testament says He is — the only God, who became incarnate to redeem sinners (John 8:58; 2 Peter 1:1).

Another basic assumption in which all heresies are rooted is the belief that because the Bible is an insufficient revelation, we need more from God to know Him and His plans truly. Sometimes this “extra” revelation exists in written form, like the Qur’an of Islam. On other occasions, it is a secret knowledge known only to a select group of elites. The teachings that plagued the Colossians when Paul wrote to them resemble this kind of elitism, which is why the apostle takes care to assert in Colossians 1:5b–8 that the true gospel had come to Colossae in the past, before the arrival of the false teachers, and that Epaphras, the man who brought it to the city, was a faithful servant of the truth as it has been revealed in Christ Jesus.

We know little about Epaphras except that he was a co-laborer of Paul’s who was willing to suffer with the apostle in prison if need be (Philem. 23). He was likely from the region in which Colossae was located, but even if he was not, he had a fruitful evangelistic mission there and in nearby cities like Laodicea. That Epaphras’ presentation of the gospel was true, Paul indicates, is seen not only in the fact that there is a self-evident truth to the content of the gospel (the gospel is called the “word of truth” in Col. 1:5b), but also to the transformative effects of its preaching among the Colossians and the whole world (vv. 6–8). Paul’s point seems to be that God’s chosen recognize the gospel’s veracity as it is preached accurately and effects change among its hearers. As the New Testament scholar Douglas J. Moo explains, “The gospel is authenticated not by its truth only nor by its power in people’s lives only but by both working in tandem” (The Letters to the Colossians and to Philemon, p. 89). May the truth of the gospel continue to transform us.

Coram Deo

If there is no change from smug self-righteousness to humble, selfless repentance in those who profess the gospel, then the church should consider whether it is in fact preaching the gospel and its application to all of life. Of course, the Spirit sometimes works longer than we might like to bring change through the gospel, so a lack of apparent transformation does not automatically mean the gospel is being compromised.

The Fruit of the Gospel, Copyright (2021), Ligonier Ministries.

Related Posts

A Mystery Now Revealed

A Mystery Now Revealed

Colossians 1:25-26, “of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.” Mystery religions that promised...

Filling Up Christ’s Afflictions

Filling Up Christ’s Afflictions

Colossians 1:24, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,” Questions about the sufficiency of Christ due to false teaching that emphasized...

Why The Bible Is Called The Holy Bible

Why The Bible Is Called The Holy Bible

On today’s episode, a listener writes in and asks me, “Why is the Bible called the Holy Bible? What you’ll hear in this episode Holiness and the Word of God. The Nature of Scripture. When Scripture Speaks God Speaks. Scripture Testifies Christ. Subscribing, sharing,...

Persevering in Gospel Hope

Persevering in Gospel Hope

Colossians 1:23, “if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation[a] under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.” Perseverance of the saints is the...

Book Recommendation: Yours, Till Heaven

Book Recommendation: Yours, Till Heaven

During my time at seminary, I had the great privilege of studying Charles Haddon Spurgeon's evangelistic ministry. As I began to develop a biographical sketch of Charles Spurgeon’s life and ministry, I was struck by the wonderful marriage that Charles had with...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share83
Buffer
Reddit
Tweet
Email