Colossians & Philemonby Mike Raiter
Paul is thankful to God that His powerful Word of Truth has borne the fruit of faith and love in the lives of the Christians in Colossae. And not just in their lives, but also “the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world” (v. 6). Do those words ring a bell? Where have you heard the words “be fruitful and increase” before? It was God’s first command to humanity in Genesis 1:28. In the beginning, how did God bring men and women to life? We find the answer in Genesis 1:28, “God said to them” (NKJV). And God’s almighty Word, carrying His authority and power, made it possible for humans to reproduce and fill the earth. Today, God is re-creating men and women in the image of His Son by the same powerful Word.
So, how do we grow the church? Yes, we should research, plan, and strategise. But, fundamentally, faith, love, and hope spring to life in people’s hearts by God’s Word of Truth. Therefore, like Paul and Epaphras (v. 7), we must speak this gospel.
This gospel begins to bear fruit in people’s lives once they have “heard it and truly understood God’s grace” (v. 6). But, of course, you can listen to the gospel and never really hear the gospel. Many times I have heard people say they went to a church for many years and never heard the gospel. Maybe the gospel was not preached there. But such a statement may be more a comment on their spiritual condition than on the spiritual condition of the church. You can “hear” the message but never truly comprehend the grace of God. It is only by God’s grace that we understand that not only have all sinned, but I have sinned; that God did not just love the world, God loved me. That God’s amazing grace saved a wretch like me.
How did this life-changing Word come to these people? Through the mouth of an ordinary man, Epaphras, who was beloved by his fellow workers, faithful to Christ, and a servant to the church (v. 7). May we all be worthy of such a threefold commendation.
When did you truly comprehend the grace of God? How can you pray for others who may have heard but never understood?
Who was your Epaphras who brought to you the Word of life? Who have you been an Epaphras to?