We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 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. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. Colossians 1:3-8.
The very nature of the gospel is to produce life (v. 3-8). One of the things that struck me the other day is responding to the gospel is not just adding another cultural responsibility or religious activity to our schedules. The gospel transfers us from death to life. We do not just add another resource to our repertoire of self-help tools so we can be successful in other areas of life. The gospel transfers us from one mode of existence into another: one defined as being the kingdom of His beloved Son. We have a whole new perspective on life, not just a portion of it. The gospel pushes into a whole new way to live all of life not just help prop up a small part of life. We have to embrace new beliefs, values, and priorities. These in turn, need to transform our behaviors, habits, and character.
The nature of a gospel centered church bears fruit by reproducing other gospel-centered churches. The gospel is about producing life. The Bible often describes the gospel (God’s Word) as “seed” sown in the ground. Seed produces life and its whole purpose is to produce life. Paul described the gospel was being spread through the world and bearing fruit and increasing. If the gospel is spreading, it will create new believes who become new, gospel-centered communities. We can keep on gathering believers into one convenient place or we can keep on planting new communities of faith. Either way the very nature of the gospel is about producing and growing new life. It is not about managing life as much as reproducing life. Even if a church does not feel they can plant new churches, almost every church who support missionaries, implicitly acknowledge they need to be involved in spreading the gospel. That being said, one of the challenges for many churches is spreading the gospel in their own backyard.
The catalyst for a gospel-centered church is gospel centered leaders (vs. 7). One could make the argument that a church that does not actively spread the gospel, ceases to be the church. People may believe in the gospel because they have received it in their own life. But there are all kinds of “reasons” (first world reasons) that keep people and churches from communicating the gospel to a lost world. Much of this begins and rests on leadership – people who have the responsibility to care for the flock but not at the expense of the spread of the gospel.
The fruit of gospel-centered people are a people on mission (vs. 6-7). People who understand the gospel also know that people must personally respond to the gospel by faith in Christ Jesus (1:4). The gospel came to Colossae through individuals who understood the eternal significance of the gospel to deal with the deepest crisis of humanity – our sin and separation from God. While there are many ways we creatively communicate the gospel, the primary vehicle God uses is people who have personally received the gospel themselves. We have a saying here at Oak Grove Church – our evangelism strategy is people not a program.
In the grace of the gospel,