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Faith, Hope, Love and Truth

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Colossians Series #2

Faith, Love, Hope & Truth

By Bill Denton

Introduction

A.  Colossians 1:3-8

3We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; 5because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel 6which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; 7just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, 8and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit. NASB95

B.  We've just begun a sermon trip through the book of Colossians

1.  Last week we looked briefly at Paul's greeting to the church

a.  two words stand out:  grace and peace

b.  what powerful words they are

1) one speaks of the free gift of God, that which we do not deserve and

     can never earn; a gift that nothing to do with us at all other than the

     fact that we are the objects of God's loving favor

2)  the other speaks of the ultimate result of God's grace, a peace that

     passes all understanding, encompassing all that makes life worth living

     and points toward an eternity of things better than that anything this

     life could ever bring

2.  These are words that must get our attention because they are at the heart of the gospel

     of Jesus

a.  we are all in need of grace

b.  we all desperately desire peace

c.  Jesus is the one who embodies them both

C.  The focus today is Col 1:3-8

1.  You can read this as only an extension of Paul's greeting to the church at Colossae

a.  more kind words; a sort of "pat on the back"

b.  we could see it as Paul making a connection with the Colossian Christians

2.  It may certainly do some of that, but it is far more

a.  here we will learn about some things that were alive and well in these people

b.  these are good, positive things they needed to recognize about themselves

c.  I believe we can learn from them, what our walk with Jesus should be

I.  Faith

A.  I have a personal criticism of the preaching in our brotherhood

1.  I think we have minimized faith, and if we have not minimized it, we have

     misdirected it

a.  minimized because too often there isn't enough about Jesus, his sacrifice,

    his resurrection, his ascension, his coming again

b.  we sometimes fall prey to the idea of having faith in faith - in other words,

     we're short on the object of faith, and promote the idea that all we have to do

     is believe something

2.  At other times, we seem to have suggested that salvation is based on subscribing to

     a particular set of doctrines

a.  it isn't that doctrine is unimportant, but the list grows, shrinks, changes

     depending on who creates it - that's no way to deal with eternal things

b.  Illustration

George Whitefield, who was witnessing to a man. “What do you believe?” Whitefield asked. The man replied, “I believe what my church believes.”

“And what does your church believe?” asked the evangelist.

“What I believe,” replied the man.

Undaunted, Whitefield tried again and asked, “And what do you both believe?”

“Why, we both believe the same thing!” was the man’s evasive reply.

Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989, S. Col 1:4

3.  We have too many people who have been converted to the church, or to a catechism,

     or to a tradition, and too few who truly believe in, trust, and made a commitment to

     Jesus Christ

B.  This church at Colossae had some people who had it right

1.  Colossians 1:2

2To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. NASB95

2.  Colossians 1:3-4

3We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; NASB95

3.  Christianity is specifically based on faith in the person of Jesus Christ

a.  Jesus is the one we follow

b.  Jesus is the one we trust to have made a sacrifice that provides forgiveness

c.  Jesus is the one we are to become like, and to proclaim to the world

d.  put your faith in Jesus and it will take a lot of pressure off yourself!

II.  Love

A.  The word used is a form of ἀγάπη

1.  It is the deepest and highest form of love because it is not limited by human emotion

2.  It is a love of the mind and the will - a love that chooses to act

B.  It is only right that Paul commend this church for their love

1.  After all, put faith and love together and you've got something very much like the

     greatest commands that Jesus identified

a.  Matthew 22:37-40

37And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38“This is the great and foremost commandment. 39“The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40“On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” NASB95

b.  Mark 12:29-31

29Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31“The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” NASB95

C.  William Barclay pointed out that the two (faith and love) necessarily go together

1.  The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians, p. 105

These are the two sides of the Christian life.  The Christian must have faith; he must know what he believes.  But he must also have love for men; he must turn that belief into action.  It is not enough simply to have faith, for there can be an orthodoxy which knows no love.  It is not enough only to have love for men, for without real belief that love can become mere sentimentality.  The Christian has a double commitment - he is committed to Jesus Christ and he is committed to his fellow men.  Faith in Christ and love to men are the twin pillars of the Christian life.

2.  Here we face another failure of the modern church

a.  too often we have neglected one or the other of these twin pillars

b.  we have sometimes emphasized faith at the expense of others, and we have

     treated people with anger, rejection, hostility, and animosity instead of love

c.  at other times, we have exercised love at the expense of faith in biblically

     appropriate things

D.  It matters what you believe and it matters how you live it out - faith coupled with love are

     essential to being the church of God's intent

III.  Hope

A.  Illustration

Lightfoot says: “Faith rests on the past; love works in the present; hope looks to the future.”

MacDonald, William ; Farstad, Arthur: Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995, S. Col 1:5

B.  Let me read this passage from some different translations because of an interesting point

1.  Colossians 1:4-5 4because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love

     you have for all the saints— 5the faith and love that spring from the hope that is

     stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of

     truth, the gospel NIV

2.  Colossians 1:4-5 4because we have heard about the faith you have in Christ Jesus and

     the love you have for all of God’s people. 5You have this faith and love because of

     your hope, and what you hope for is kept safe for you in heaven. You learned about

     this hope when you heard the message about the truth, the Good News NCV

3.  Colossians 1:4-5 4For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for

     all of God’s people, 5which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved

     for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth

     of the Good News. NLT

C.  Sometimes, we get it backwards thinking that we have faith and exercise love, in order to

     procure for ourselves a hope of blessings in eternity

1.  This isn't what Paul said about the Colossians; in fact, it's exactly the reverse

2.  Why go through all the bother of faith; why struggle to love both God and others

     when love itself causes stress, and asks us to act when others would say "this doesn't

     make any sense at all?"

3.  Barclay

The Christian hope is that God's way is the best way and that the only real peace, the only real joy, the only true and lasting reward are to be found in it.  Loyalty to Christ may bring trouble here - but that is not the last word.  The world may laugh contemptuously at the follow of the way of love - but the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of man.  The Christian hope is the confidence that it is better to stake one's life on God than to believe the world

D.  Thank God the church at Colossae knew this

1.  They had a hope in God, therefore it gave shape and substance to faith and love

2.  What a powerful lesson this is for us today

IV.  Truth

A.  Colossians 1:3-5

3We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; 5because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel NASB95

B.  What was the source of the faith, love and hope displayed in the church at Colossae - it was

     the word of truth, the gospel

1.  Truth has fallen on hard times - nobody really believes in it any more

a.  truth is relative - meaning you've got your truth and I've got mine, but nothing

    is objectively, universally true

b.  here is where the Bible parts company with modern philosophy of truth - the

     Bible presents God's word as exactly what we moderns resist

2.  Illustration

Spirituality is no longer true or good because it meets absolute standards of truth of goodness, but because it helps me get along.  I am the judge of its worth. If it helps me find a vacant parking place, I know I am on the right track.  It it leads me into the wilderness calling me to face dangers I would rather not deal with at all, then it is a form of spirituality I am unlikely to choose.

Robert Wuthnow, "Small Groups Forge New Notions of Community and the Sacred," The Christian Century 110 (Dec 8, 1993): 1239-40

C.  Here is a bold proclamation by Paul

1.  "Your faith and your love is based on your hope, and all of that is based on the truth

     you heard in the gospel of Jesus Christ" (my paraphrase, BD)

2.  That truth doesn't depend on what you think, or what I think - it is an objective truth

     based on what is real whether we think so or not

3.  The Colossians were way ahead of a lot of us today

a.  for some, Christian faith is OK, based on how enjoyable their experiences are

b.  for others, loving others is OK, but it depends on who those others are

c.  hope is OK, but it really needs to speak more to the now than eternity

4.  Listen - God has revealed the truth to us, through the message of His Son, Jesus

     Christ, and that truth reveals the eternal hope laid up for us in heaven; that hope

     produces an abiding faith in Jesus Christ, and an active love for one another - we

     know what God has done, we know who we are, we know what lies ahead, and we

     are not thrown off track by the whims of the world

Conclusion

A.  Through His word, God has spoken to us and said, "This is how it's going to be"

1.  It is a message about truth: not a truth for you as opposed to a truth for the next guy

2.  It is a message of truth that is universal - it is for all of us

B.  Don't miss the power potential of what Paul is saying to the Colossians because it is just as

     true for us today

C.  Ephesians 1:3-14

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ, God has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly world. 4That is, in Christ, he chose us before the world was made so that we would be his holy people—people without blame before him. 5Because of his love, God had already decided to make us his own children through Jesus Christ. That was what he wanted and what pleased him, 6and it brings praise to God because of his wonderful grace. God gave that grace to us freely, in Christ, the One he loves. 7In Christ we are set free by the blood of his death, and so we have forgiveness of sins. How rich is God’s grace, 8which he has given to us so fully and freely. God, with full wisdom and understanding, 9let us know his secret purpose. This was what God wanted, and he planned to do it through Christ. 10His goal was to carry out his plan, when the right time came, that all things in heaven and on earth would be joined together in Christ as the head. 11In Christ we were chosen to be God’s people, because from the very beginning God had decided this in keeping with his plan. And he is the One who makes everything agree with what he decides and wants. 12We are the first people who hoped in Christ, and we were chosen so that we would bring praise to God’s glory. 13So it is with you. When you heard the true teaching—the Good News about your salvation—you believed in Christ. And in Christ, God put his special mark of ownership on you by giving you the Holy Spirit that he had promised. 14That Holy Spirit is the guarantee that we will receive what God promised for his people until God gives full freedom to those who are his—to bring praise to God’s glory. NCV

D.  Invitation

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