Col 1:6-8 “Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.”
In verse five, Paul has spoken to the saints and faithful brethren about “the word of the truth of the gospel.” He then tells them this gospel “is come unto you.” The gospel was present with them in a very immediate sense. As it was then, so it is with us today: the gospel is present with saints and faithful brethren today by the same power and authority as it was in that day.
We need to recognize also that the gospel came to them. They did not suddenly decide they needed the good news of Jesus Christ and go seeking it: it came to them. Is it not still our experience that the gospel comes to us? The first time I heard the gospel was not the first time I went to church or heard a preacher. We can attend church and hear a man stand behind a pulpit and preach for years and still not have the gospel come to us.
I vividly remember the first time the gospel came to me, even though it has now been a little over fifty-two years. It was not when I first believed in God: even in my child’s heart I had understood for several years that there was a Power over all the earth. I prayed to Him for protection for me and for my family. Even in the first grade (I went to school before kindergarten was a thing), I can remember times when I would ask to be excused because I was burdened to find a place away from everyone else where I could pray for the safety of my father at work and my mother and sisters at home. The gospel had not come to me at that time, because I did not understand that I was a sinner or that I needed a Savior.
The fourth Sunday evening in May of 1966, my family went to church (more to appease my maternal grandparents than anything else). Although it was not the first time we had been to church, I heard (with the understanding of the heart) something I had not heard before: the gospel came to me. I was pricked in the heart that night, by the Holy Spirit, with the sure knowledge that I was a sinner with no way to save myself. But I also heard the wonderful, heartbreaking news of my Savior who had suffered so much to set me free.
True to Paul’s teaching to the Colossians, this good news brought forth fruit. I, my oldest sister, and both my parents were baptized the second Sunday in June, 1966. By His amazing grace, that good news is still producing fruit to this day. Both my father (who will soon be 89 years old) and I are still privileged to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. By His grace, our family knows that we live every day according to His mercy, and that He alone is worthy of honor and glory.
By the power of His Spirit, I have had the privilege over the past 52 years of seeing Him change lives by allowing the gospel to come to His children just as he allowed it to come to me. According to His purpose in grace, the gospel still comes to me and changes my life, renews my hope, and shows me more of Him. Through His mercy, I am still blessed to hear His servants declare that salvation is of the Lord, and He alone has saved us (Heb 1:3).
Through these same servants, I have learned of His children in other places who love in the Spirit. Like Paul, the words of these faithful witnesses have been a catalyst to bring me into fellowship with wonderful brothers and sisters over the years. Hearing how the gospel had come to them and God had blessed them to have love in the Spirit (bring forth fruit) caused me to desire to have fellowship and worship with them.
My precious brothers and sisters, Paul’s letter to the Colossians is not teaching history. It is the holy truth of God, and it still changes the lives of His believing children. He is still calling ministers to declare the gospel in word and deed. Today, as it was when Paul wrote these words, the gospel must come to us. Even when we believe there is a God, the truth of who He is and what He is doing in our lives comes to us by the good news of Jesus Christ. We are only able to hear and understand that news by the grace of Him, who unstops deaf ears, opens blind eyes, causes the lame to walk, and the mute to speak.
May we give thanks with humble hearts to Almighty God who causes His gospel to come to us and bring forth fruit!