The book of Colossians is an amazing book, and every Christian should have a crystal clear understanding of what the foundation of the gospel is, namely that it is about receiving Jesus Christ, the Son of God for the forgiveness of our sins. There is no other gospel and the book of Colossians helps to build this crucial foundation of the gospel for all of life. There are two themes throughout this book that are apparent in my mind. I think my pastor has said it well regarding the first,
- “The sufficiency of Christ for all of life.” (1:9-12, 1:19, 1:28, 2:6-7, 3:17).
- Jesus Christ is Lord of all (1:15-20, 2:9-10, 3:1).
These two points are blanketing this entire book in more places than those references. There are more themes no doubt, but for a basic foundational knowledge, those two are sufficient in my mind. Now, let’s move to the first few verses:
If someone was going to explain to you how a tree functions, they would probably start by explaining the way the root system works. They would start by explaining the way the foundation works and move up from there to describing how the fruit is produced. In the first few verses here we see that Paul does something like that by sharing with the Colossians 1) The roots of the gospel and 2) The fruits of the gospel.
The Roots of The Gospel
1) Faith in Jesus Christ: In the beginning verses of Colossians, Paul shows his thankfulness for the foundational truth of Christianity: That the Colossians have faith in Christ Jesus. Faith in Christ and all that he is for the Christian (his promises) are the roots of what every Christian must cling to in order to be a strong Christian, established in the faith. These truths are rich and nourishing for the soul of the Christian. So often we think we must move past our roots of Jesus Christ and his glorious life, death, and resurrection. We should no doubt look further into the doctrines of our faith, but we never move further without holding onto our foundation. We think somehow we can exhaust the glories of dwelling on the words of our Savior, “It is finished.” and the words of the angels, “He has risen.” I encourage you today to dwell on your Savior’s life, death, and resurrection until your heart burns within you as the hearts of those on the road of Emmaus did.
Being grounded in our faith in Christ and his promises are essential because later in the book, we will see that false teachers try to add more roots to Christian doctrine by adding certain teachings to Christianity, trying to deceive Christians into thinking that there are necessary “human traditions” or “philosophies” (2:8) that must be added to what we believe in before we can become Christians. What false teaching does is it takes our hands off of the roots of Jesus’ work on our behalf, and puts them onto the roots of man’s work on his own behalf.
2) Our Hope in Heaven: In verse 5, Paul means to say, “the hope laid up for you in heaven” is not referring to a large mansion. The hope is that Jesus Christ has risen from the grave and is seated at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. Faith in Christ Jesus is rooted in the fact that he is risen and is exalted at the Father’s right hand. Because that is true, the gospel is true, which leads to the reality that faith in Christ Jesus is real faith because it’s faith in a real Savior. Remember, faith is the assurance in what you do not see (see Heb. 11:1).
Paul moves forward then in verse 5 by helping us to see that if Jesus wasn’t really with the Father, then he couldn’t have risen from the dead, and if he didn’t rise from the dead, then it was all a lie. But in fact he did rise from the dead. He says, “Of this (referring to the hope of heaven) you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel.” So what is the hope Paul speaks of that is in the gospel? The hope is that Jesus Christ is risen & reigning. Jesus Christ is Lord of all.
The Fruit of The Gospel
1) Love for the Saints: In verse 4, Paul begins to help the Colossians see that if they have genuine faith in Christ Jesus, then love for the saints will be the product of that faith. I’ve heard it said like this before, “You are saved by faith alone but that faith never comes alone, it always produces works.” The fact that the Colossians are showing love for the saints helps Paul to see that their faith is genuine. Love for God’s people is the telltale sign that you really are a Christian. Nearly the entire book of 1 John is about that fact. One example is when John says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 Jn 4:8).
Have you believed in Jesus Christ? Do you have love for other Christians and act upon that love by demonstrating it? Do you want to be Christ-like to others and demonstrate 1 Corinthians 13? Then you should have great confidence that you are saved.
Summary: Faith, hope, and love are at the root of the tree of what Christianity is all about. Faith in Christ Jesus is the starting point and that is a possible reality because Jesus is our hope in heaven, and true faith in this true Savior produces fruit: true love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.