The Transforming Power of the Gospel

This morning I had the privilege of preaching Colossians 1:3-8, in which Paul gives thanks to God for the transforming power of the gospel in the lives of the Colossians believers. In verses 4-5, Paul says that he and Timothy had “heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel…” I’ve been reading the Bible since I could read, so almost 30 years. I’ve read Colossians many times, and yet in preparation for this sermon I saw something in these two verses that I had never seen before in God’s word (how rich it is!): a Christian’s faith and love arise out of a Christian’s hope. Or to put it another way, when you realize that your hope in heaven is secure (“laid up/stored up/reserved”), then you are filled with quiet trust in God’s providence and a prodigal love for the church. The gospel transforms us from fearful and loveless into faith-filled and loving by revealing to us more and more the depths of our hope in Christ in the heavenlies. For more on this idea, listen to my sermon (which you should be able to find on our Grace Presbyterian website soon).

This passage has another line of thought in terms of how the gospel transforms. It was in my sermon manuscript, but in the moment of preaching it didn’t seem to fit, so I include it here for you as I had it in my manuscript:

“There’s another aspect to this transformation in this passage. Notice that in verse 2 Paul calls God “our Father.” And in verse 3, he calls God “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I don’t have time to show you this in detail, but the Bible is clear that the sonship of the Lord Jesus Christ is unique, it’s natural. And yet God is called our Father just as He is Christ’s Father. To be sure, our sonship is derivative, we have an adopted sonship in Christ. But whereas before conversion we were not children of God, God has caused us to be born again unto a new sonship, into a new family, with Him as our new Father and Christ as our elder brother. Because we are children of God we are joint-heirs in Christ. To change the image, it’s as if you married Bill Gates’ son or daughter and you became a sharer in his estate. We have been loved with an everlasting, perfect fatherly love; we have been made heirs of an incredible kingdom (cf. 1:12-13), and thus we are able to share the love with which we have been loved.

It’s the gospel of Jesus Christ and our hope of glory in Him, and nothing else – that transforms us! As you meditate upon your future hope, as you realize the fact that you are an adopted son of God, your faith and your love grow, your affections are stirred up to trust God through thick and thin, through the valleys of the shadow of death, through the fearful and anxious times that we all go through.

If we think that our future is still uncertain, if we think that the verdict is still out, if we wonder what God thinks of us, what God’s assessment of us is, if we don’t understand the nature of our relationship to Him, then we will continually struggle with a faithlessness and lovelessness. We’ll always be a little bit suspicious of God, or afraid of Him; we’ll look at other people as competitors, as those who want to do us harm, who make us look bad, who show us up. But if we understand that all of our filthiness has been forgiven in Christ, that He is our righteousness, that we await the hope of vindication and righteousness on the last day, that we have been adopted and justified and are being sanctified, then we will be able to rest in whatever God’s providence might be; we’ll be able to serve our neighbors; we’ll be able to endure suffering with patience.”

May the Lord transform us by rooting us deeper and deeper into our glorious hope and our sonship in Christ.

SDG,
Ezra

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