What does it mean to believe in Jesus? What would you say characterizes the lives of His followers? Several times, the Apostle Paul refers to a set of three things that signify to him, the reality of someone’s relationship to Christ. These things are Faith, Love and Hope. We see it at the beginning of the letter to the Colossians as we read;
Colossians 1:3-5 We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; 5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel,
This is not a random statement, but a pattern that shows up in Philippians, Galatians, 1 Thessalonians, 1 Corinthians and throughout the New Testament. We are told again and again in our day, “Only Believe!” and indeed, we are saved by faith alone. However it has been said that, “The faith that saves is never alone.” It is always accompanied by good works. Good works or Love, is not something to be added to faith, but the necessary fruit of it! I like what G. Campbell Morgan said about love and the Christian.
“Here is the supreme mystery and the supreme miracle, not only of the [Gospel] as it is declared, but of the experience of all such as share its mystery and become themselves like God in that they too, love those who are unlike Him and unlike themselves. Mark the persons involved: God, infinite in holiness and purity and uprightness, and sinners such as are kin to Him in nature (through creation and bearing His image) and utterly unlike Him and opposed to Him in character.
To be loved by God in such a way as to understand that He loved you in spite of you and not because you are so wonderful; that He loves you because of His goodness and not yours; that your situation is to be hopelessly separated from and that it is only by His grace that you can be right with Him, has to change you, knowing that love makes you love others who are not lovable either. Is this present in your life?
Then Paul adds to this, Hope. An unending, unyielding confidence that God will complete what He has started. (And when some wacko makes a false prediction that fails it doesn’t shake your faith.) The Gospel is not just the reason for faith but foundation of hope. We do not only look back at what God has done for us in Christ, but we confidently look forward to its consummation when He returns to restore all things to their intended purity and purpose. Even in the midst of great trials, our hope characterizes us as Christians.
And so, Paul was able to look to the testimony of Epaphras concerning the Believers at Colosse and say with confidence that he knew they were real followers of Christ because of these things that were present in their lives. What would Paul say about you based on these three things?
Audio of the sermon is available by clicking on the link below.