Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Fellowship In The Gospel

The Gospel is a simple message but it is a deep message. It span the height and breadth of our human experience.

"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel," - Colossians 1:1-5 ESV

When the message reaches us it is miraculous. The Apostle Paul was not indifferent to any person who embraced the message. He knew just what it was like to be blinded by God and then have his sight restored. He was blinded in communion and then his vision was restored in fellowship but the Gospel was the center piece of it all.

It is all about Jesus. God reaches past our good or bad behavior because of Jesus. We believe in what Jesus has done and the favor God has for His Son falls on us.

"which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing - as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit." - Colossians 1:6-8 ESV

The message reached them through people. One person in particular is named. Even though the experience is individually unique it is not exclusive. The Gospel is bearing fruit all over the world. The message brings increase. When Jesus is lifted up and His work on the cross is revealed all men are drawn unto Him (see John 12:32).

"And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." - Colossians 1:9-14 ESV

Paul remembered what it was like to live in the zeal of religion thinking that what he knew was right. He knew what it was like to be blinded but finally see truth and then to have God restore his sight using a person who he would have had nothing to do with months before (see Acts 9:18).

This prayer is such a powerful specific prayer. In order to 'walk worthy' we must have Gospel oriented sight restored. The Bible and fellowship (or body life). The knowledge of His will, wisdom and understanding are all Gospel centered. Fellowship is the outward expression of doctrine. It is where doctrine comes to life.

Paul knew the value of truth and time with other people who had that same inheritance. He saw people veer off into error, emotionalism and isolation and the damage it did.

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them." - Hebrews 13:8-9 ESV

Sometimes I pray 'Lord bless this person.' and I'm convicted of the shallowness of my prayer. Do I just want them to be well, happy, safe and prosperous or is it deeper than that? My best times have been ones of illumination. My precious memories involve fellowship. My hallmark moments are the times when God was revealed in greater clarity.

Let's face it. It takes time to pray longer prayers for people. It takes investment for people to grow. It takes teaching for us to walk worthy. We need the light of truth to illuminate our way.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God." - John 3:16-21 ESV

Verse sixteen is so simple yet so profound. It is such a short sentence but it is so much larger than we are. We don't just learn it once and walk away. Knowledge, wisdom and understanding are hidden there. Might and power flow from there. Endurance and patience with joy are possible because of the unchanging nature of the message. This seed results in thanksgiving. It is seed that we sow side by side with other people.

"Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance... The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction." - Proverbs 1:5, 7 ESV

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another..." - 1 John 1:7a ESV


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