Colossians 1:5 – “Of this you have heard before in the word of truth, the Gospel.”
C.S. Lewis once said, “if the Gospel is false it is of no importance at all, if however it is true it is of the greatest importance.” Paul would certainly agree with that statement and he would add since the Gospel is true, it is of the greatest importance, and it truly transforms you. It transforms you into a person who is faithful to God in the midst of a faithless culture. The Gospel gives you a reason and a calling to stay away from sin, the Gospel causes you to hunger for the truth of God’s word, and the Gospel gives you hope in the midst of hopelessness.
The Gospel is of course most wondrously displayed through the cross of Calvary, a place where God’s grace and justice meet. Grace because He chose to give us a way to be delivered from the wrath that was to come and justice because God punished our sins when Jesus was on the cross. It is the Gospel then that gives us “grace and peace from God the Father”, as Paul says in Colossians 1:2 and it is that grace and that peace that truly leads us into transformation.
Through the grace and peace of God we are radically transformed. When Paul writes to the church at Colossae he tells them that he thanks God for them. Why? Because they are transformed through the Gospel and are living lives that don’t come naturally to them.
What kind of life comes naturally to us? A life of sin because we are born sinners. Naturally we trust in ourselves and look our only for ourselves. Naturally we are selfish people who love only those who love us. Naturally we are people who live with fear and anxiety because we are worried about ourselves. That is how people naturally are, and it certainly was how the Colossian believers naturally were.
Yet when Paul writes to them he says I am thankful for you. When I pray for you I am thankful for you, thankful that you have been transformed by the grace of God. Thankful that you have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Thankful for the “faith that you have in Jesus” (v.4). Thankful for the “love you have for all the saints (v. 4)”. Thankful for the “hope that you have laid up in heaven.” What Paul is saying is I’m thankful for you and the dramatic transformation that has taken place in your lives. You are no longer what you once were through the grace of God.
John Newton the writer of “Amazing Grace” says, “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.” In other words I am thankful that the grace of God, His marvelous matchless grace has transformed me.
That same grace had changed the believers in Colossae as well. They were at one time people who only trusted in themselves, now they trusted in Jesus Christ and in His blood. At one time they were people who looked out only for themselves, as our society says today “they looked out for number 1”, now they loved others and put them first. Not only that but now instead of living in hopelessness and having the “chicken little” mentality, they were filled up with hope, because of who God is, what God is doing, and the promises of God. It was a radical transformation. A transformation made possible through the grace of God in the “word of truth, the Gospel (v. 5)”.
They are now people of faith. People who have a real, strong, living, vibrant, active, growing faith. A faith that motivates you to love other people. A faith that springs up and grows out of the hope that you have. What was the hope that the people at Colossae had? That their sins were forgiven (past), that Jesus was with them (present), and that one day they would have a place in heaven and their faith would be made sight (future). The Gospel is so big, so rich that it touches and transforms every area of our lives, including our past, our present and our future.