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Let the Gospel Bear Its Fruit

Colossians: Christ at the Center  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Paul's opening prayer for the Colossian Christians encourages us to let the gospel in to our lives and to let it come out of our lives.


Are your roots in Christ deeper now than they were 5 years ago?
Is the gospel bering fruit in your life?


Paul is writing this letter to the Christians in Colossae in the early AD 60s. According to Colossians 4:10, he was in prison when writing it, and he was also writing it with Timothy (Col. 1:1). Timothy may have been like a secretary writing down Paul's words because the first person singular is used throughout (I...).
One of the most prominent themes in Colossians is the preeminence of Christ, the centrality of Christ in all things. Paul addresses the Colossian christians using different tones, sometimes praising them for their faith and other times chiding them for not keeping Christ at the center.


How do we keep Christ at the center of our lives? Paul begins his letter addressing this topic to a large degree. He tells the people that he is praying for them and that he is thankful for their reputation as Christians. He specifically recognizes that their faith is growing and their commitment to the gospel is increasing. Basically, he commends them because what was started in them by faith is continuing in them. In other words, Christ is staying at the center of their lives.
As we study this passage, I am encouraging us to let the gospel bear its fruit. I want you to see 2 things: the gospel goes in & the gospel goes out. These two basic premises should be true in our lives. Having Christ at the center means keeping the gospel central to our lives. What has been taught must be practiced. Let it bear its fruit.
Let's learn from the Colossians how the gospel can bear fruit in our lives. Let it in and let it out.

The Gospel Goes In

The Colossian Christians had a reputation-- Paul heard of their faith and love. But where did this faith and love come from? It came from the gospel message.
At the end of v.5 and beginning of v.6 is a phrase "the gospel, which has come to you..." This phrase is like the crux on which this passage rests. Paul hears of their faith and love, and they have this (v.5) because of the hope they have laid up in heaven. They heard about all of that in the word of truth, the gospel, which came to them...
The gospel goes in. And there are 2 things Paul notes with how this gospel goes in that we need to note for our own lives:

The gospel helps us understand the grace of God.

The grace of God is one of the most important things we need to get in to ourselves. Understanding the grace of God is vital because it shows us how much we need a Savior and it helps us realize how limited we are--that we can do nothing to help our depraved condition.
Grace is a word used all the time, but let's understand it:

χάρις cháris; gen. cháritos, fem. noun from chaírō (5463), to rejoice. Grace, particularly that which causes joy, pleasure, gratification, favor, acceptance, for a kindness granted or desired, a benefit, thanks, gratitude. A favor done without expectation of return; the absolutely free expression of the loving kindness of God to men finding its only motive in the bounty and benevolence of the Giver; unearned and unmerited favor. Cháris stands in direct antithesis to érga (2041), works, the two being mutually exclusive. God’s grace affects man’s sinfulness and not only forgives the repentant sinner, but brings joy and thankfulness to him.

Have you ever realized the connection between grace and joy? The gospel saves us: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:8, ESV)
If God wasn't gracious, then we couldn't be saved! God poured out his unconditional favor upon us when we didn't deserve it.
I've often heard that grace is getting something you do not deserve; mercy is not getting something you do deserve.
In order to be saved, we have to first realize that we are in a hopeless condition because of sin. We don't deserve heaven; we don't deserve joy; we don't deserve life; but God gave it. He is gracious.
We need to let the gospel in because it helps us understand the grace of God. When we understand that we are completely dependent upon God to receive this salvation, then we will know that we must completely depend on God to continue in this salvation.

The gospel goes in with the help of faitful teachers

The Colossian people heard the gospel and were encouraged in it by a faithful minister there-- Epaphras. We don't know too much about Epaphras.
He ministered to the church in Colossae, perhaps starting it.
He prays for the Colossian people (Col. 4:12) to stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God-- so we know he was devoted to them.
He is mentioned by Paul in Philemon 23 as being a prisoner with Paul then. Something happened to where Epaphras was imprisoned, though we don't know the situation. But he must have been a faithful servant of God and leader of God's people to ultimately be thrown in prison
Paul says three things about Epaphras:
He was a beloved servant of God. His work to the Colossian people was out of service to God. He must have felt the calling of God toward this work and that's why he loved those people and ministered to them.
He was a faithful minister. So he was a servant and a minister. He realized who sent Him and to what He sent him.
He communicated with Paul, giving updates on the church at Colossae (v.8).
We need to recognize people like Epaphras. The gospel got in to people in that city largely because of Epaphras' work. He was a faithful minister; teacher of Scripture.
People will be faithful to gospel living with the encouragement of faithful teachers in their lives.
Let me stress 2 applications:
You need good teachers in your life.
You need to be a good teacher in someone's life.
Maybe through a church class.
Through personal relationships--mentoring
Parents to their children.
Employers to their employees.
Transition: The gospel went into the church at Colossae. They understood the grace of God and had at least one good teacher who served them well. But the gospel wasn't just to go in, but it also came out.

The Gospel Goes Out

Paul noted that the people there had faith, love, and hope. Do you recognize anything here? This is a common triad in Paul's writing. Faith, hope, love.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13, ESV)
The Colossians did not keep it inside of them. Their learning wasn't just to increase their knowledge. It increased their faith and motivated them to love others. It kept their eyes set on hope.
We can have confidence in our salvation because it is rooted in the faithfulness of Christ. And we can have the greatest hope in this!
if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13, ESV)
› Illustration
During World War II, a pharmacist’s mate, Wheeler B. Lipes, Jr., performed a lifesaving appendectomy on Seaman Darrell Dean Rector aboard the submarine, Sea Dragon. Maneuvering behind enemy lines in the Pacific, the closest thing to a doctor on board was pharmacist’s mate Lipes, a lab technician by training, who had witnessed an appendectomy.
Facing certain death if not operated upon, Rector agreed to Lipes correcting the situation. Without surgical instruments, Lipes used a knife blade for a scalpel, a tea strainer to administer ether, and spoons from the galley to keep the incision open during surgery. The crude tools were sterilized with alcohol from a torpedo.
Surgery was performed in the officer’s quarters on September 11, 1942, the first appendectomy aboard a submerged submarine. Rector resumed his responsibilities in thirteen days.
How much hope do you think Rector had?
We have an even stronger hope in Christ because we don’t have to worry about whether he’s going to pull through or not. We know that He is faithful because that’s His very nature.
If we keep Christ at the center, we’ll find more peace in our lives because He’s faithful to carry out His purposes. We can trust them.
And this faith and hope spread. And we see that this was true in the Colossians just as it was around the world because the gospel bears fruit and increases.
It works in you and me and as it comes out of us, it works in others.
Is the gospel bearing fruit in your life?
Matthew 7:15–20 (ESV)
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
The gospel bears fruit. And you recognize people by their fruits.
Girdling is the traditional method of killing trees without felling them. Girdling severs the bark, cambium, and sometimes the sapwood in a ring extending entirely around the trunk of the tree. If this ring is wide enough and deep enough, it will keep the cambium layer from growing back together.
When the phloem layer is completely cut, the tree can no longer transport carbohydrates produced in the needles or leaves to the roots. The roots die when the carbohydrates in them have been exhausted, a process that may take several years.
Sometimes this is done purposely by forestry workers, but it also can be done by small rodents and is a detriment to tree owners.
Spiritually, we can become "girdled". The attacks of Satan and the philosophies of this world can slowly eat away at the bark around the outside and no longer allow the roots to be sustained. Just like tree girdling, this spiritual process can sometimes be slow and happen over time.
Paul's every intention with the church at Colossae was that the roots stay strong! He is encouraging them to continue on in their faith and not be distracted by the philosophies of the world. He wants them to bear fruit for the Lord and not be girdled!
I've joked with some that I would preach a sermon one day titled "Don't Let Satan Eat Your Girdle", so I ask you: is your girdle getting chewed up?
Is the gospel bearing its fruit in your life, or are you storing it all up inside and not letting it out?
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