JohnSWilson3 Blog


“…we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints…”
June 13, 2010, 10:49 pm
Filed under: N Letter to the Colossians

In the opening section of Paul’s letter to the Colossian Christians he describes his prayer for them the way he does because of what Epaphras has told Paul about how they are manifesting Jesus Christ in their midst: “because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints – the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you.”

The words are very similar to those Paul shared in describing the church in Thessalonica several years earlier. Paul was only in Thessalonica for a short period of time while Paul has never seen the Christians in Colosse but because of the Holy Spirit’s work in and through them they are manifesting Jesus in a wonderful way! Paul told the church in Thessalonica in his first letter: “We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” He said also in his second letter to the Thessalonians: “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing” and “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.”

Our faith in Christ Jesus, our growing love for Him is reflected or expressed in what we say and do. It does not happen in reverse. I cannot work my way to know Jesus or get to heaven, I cannot work my way to keep my salvation no matter the guilt or shame that others press upon me. I cannot be more loving and more faithful on my own or in me. I cannot be more obedient on my own. I love because He first loved me. I love because of my growing faith in and love for Jesus Christ, the One who has given me grace and peace! I love Him because of what He has done for me! In Jesus Christ I now have hope that is proclaimed in the good news, the gospel! As Paul says to the Roman church: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” And elsewhere: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” What good news! What grace that has been given me and you! “The word of truth, the gospel” is none other than Jesus who said He was the way, the truth, and the life! Faith and love spring from our hope in Jesus Christ, the One who “has come to you.”

When we spend time together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, when Jesus is Head of His body, then fruit will organically produce from the branches because of the life of the vine that flows through them. We do not meet in the name of a leader, we do not meet in the name of a sport, we do not meet in the name of an event or program or anything else except in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. While we we may meet together for various reasons we meet because we expect to be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith in the Lord! Can we do this when helping each other out in the backyard? at a sporting event, or something else? Absolutely! Our meeting together is so important because we truly do not get to know one another without spending time together. Our problem is that if we come from an organized Christianity or religious background we want to make our time together into a “service.” I do not see any services that Jesus had when He was with His disciples in the gospel accounts. I see Jesus bringing people out of the religious synagogues (who conducted services) and enjoying time together with His disciples on the road and in peoples homes over a meal. There was never a program or service in the thought of Jesus when ever He gathered with His disciples. We too easily drift into legalism and structure! Perhaps that was the reason for Paul writing this letter. Perhaps that’s what was happening in this organic church. Perhaps that’s one of the major problems of the church today.

When we live by the life of Jesus, fruit will be organically produced through the body of Christ. Paul says from his perspective that “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow (slave,) who is a faithful (servant) of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit” (1). After three church planting journeys Paul has been used by God to spread His good news, Jesus Christ to the major cities of the known world. From those major cities or centers of culture as the body of Christ lived by Jesus life, through the Holy Spirit, Jesus has been manifested through their lives to others. That is the fruit! The fruit that God is looking for is not more this or more that it is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, it is Jesus very life! It is “faith in Christ Jesus and the love you have for all the saints – the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you.” That’s what is to grow – Jesus life in us! How is Jesus’ life growing in you, in us? How much of His life are we seeing when we gather together? As this life grew in God’s people together they began to manifest His life to family and friends and workers and then there were some who were called to go and share Jesus’ life and plant churches in other places around the world!

We do not go on mission trips so that we can do a vacation bible school, a bible study, or do a service project whether short term or long term to try and become more like Jesus and feel better about ourselves, we go when we have more of Jesus life being manifested in and through us to give to others and can help others live by His life! Maybe that is why so many churches are anemic to this day, we have sacrificed quality over quantity, organization over organic. We have substituted a program for Jesus Christ in our mission work. We do not know how to live by the life of Jesus. How we need some more Epaphras’ today, true church planters who have lived by the life of Jesus in an organic way in the body of Christ and can truly proclaim the riches of Jesus Christ in all of His glory to others and help them live by His life! A true church planter has lived in organic church life long enough to have been broken by the Lord and rejoices in the weakness of being a slave and servant of Jesus Christ in all humility instead of the riches of this world, knowing that God’s grace is sufficient.

How is “your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints – the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you”? It will only be based on your “hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” What is our faith resting on? What is the reason for our love for others? Why are we meeting together?

(1) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 587.

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