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The Supremacy Declared: The Supremacy of the Gospel Part 2 (Col. 1:5-8)

Intro

It is good to be back here again. We do thank you for your prayers for our trip to Houston last week. Though we were physically there, our heart and minds were here.

Anyway, we are going right back into the book of Colossians 1. This is a book about the SUPREMACY OF JESUS CHRIST. Some false teachers have been attacking the church with their teaching. In doing so, they stripped Jesus of His deity.  JESUS CHRIST…FIRST PLACE….NUMBER 1…THERE IS NOBODY ELSE SHARING THAT PLACE, ON THAT SAME SHELF. NO, JESUS IS AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SHELF ALTOGETHER!

If Jesus Christ is supreme, His message will be supreme too. We looked last time at the supremacy of the gospel. Paul thanks the Lord for the Gospel coming to the Colossians. In this section, we saw there is nothing like the Gospel….in its simplicity—by faith and in its proof, which is love and hope, as they show the gospel at work. In our text today in verses 5-8 of chapter 1, we are going to see some other aspects of the gospel that makes it supreme.

a)     The gospel’s essence: truth (Col. 1:5b6b)

You probably have heard people say, “and that’s the gospel truth!” In verse 5, he says, “the word of the truth, which is the gospel.” The Gospel is THE truth.; which means, all other teaching that contradicts the gospel is counterfeit. All the false teaching they are hearing must be put to the test against the gospel. The gospel is the real deal! I want you to hear this: our society says everything is true. What you believe is true and what I believe is true….but listen, God’s Word says the gospel is the truth. May it be clear in your mind. The path of many paths seems right unto man, but the end thereof is death, where Satan the father of lies will be waiting for them. Jesus said,” I am the truth…” Notice he says, “the truth” again in verse 6. Illus: The man at my door.

b)     The gospel’s scope: personal and universal (Col. 1:.6a)

Paul is speaking in hyperbole, but he is noticing that unlike the false teachers teaching which was local, the gospel is spreading everywhere.  It is universal.The Word is seed and has life in it and wherever it was planted, it was growing. The Word of God is the only seed that can be planted anywhere in the world and bear fruit.[1]  Take a look in the mirror. The gospel has come to us! Even us! It has reached us. I come from a country where over 800 million people are right now bowing down to a piece of stone that has eyes that cannot see them, ears that cannot hear them and with mouths that cannot utter one word of comfort for them….but the gospel has come to me and my family! But the gospel is also reaching the whole world! Rev. 7:9

Illus: Church Growth

Since 1970, the church grew:

1.       127 million to 343 mill in Africa (2x)

2.       261 million to 470 mill in Latin America (2x)

3.       94 million to 301 mill in Asia (3x)

4.       70,000 people join a church somewhere in the world every day (WEF Religious Liberty Commission)

1st millennium – Eastern Church is the center of growth

1000-2000 – Western Church (Great Awakenings)

2000-current—Third World Church (Asia, Latin America, Asia)

The gospel is spreading! There are still a lot of work to do, especially since the N. America church growth…if you consider those who become born again and those who leave the church..it is zero or in the negative. There are also 2 billion people who have still never heard the gospel.

c)      The gospel’s power: reproduction (Col. 1:6b) “The two terms—‘producing fruit’ and ‘growing’—speak respectively of the inner working and the outward extension of the gospel. Nicholson, commenting on this, remarks that the gospel “is not like corn, which having borne fruit, dies, even to its roots, but like a tree, which bears fruit and at the same time continues to grow” (p. 35). The tense of both verbs is present, suggesting constant and continuing action. The external growth keeps pace with the reproductive energy. There is innate divine energy in the gospel.  That is exactly what happened with the early church: Acts 9:311 Thess. 1:6-9. They took care of the depth of their ministry and God took care of the breadth. Healthy things grow. We must grow inwardly and outwardly. I am not interested so much in the quantity of disciples but a quality of discipleship. It begins first with prayer.  Next week, Lord willing, we will be looking at the prayer of Paul and I have some ideas for real application for our church.

Illustration:

Who led Billy Graham to Christ and was it part of a chain of conversions going back to Dwight L. Moody?

Billy Graham was saved in 1934 during a series of revival meetings in Charlotte, North Carolina which were led by evangelist Mordecai Ham. You can find more information about Graham’s conversion in the second chapter of his autobiography, Just As I Am (HarperCollins, 1997).

It is also sometimes said that there were a chain of conversions leading to Billy Graham’s conversion. The most common version of the story is:

  • Sunday School teacher Edward Kimball helped lead Dwight L. Moody to Christ;
  • J. Wilbur Chapman was converted at a Dwight L. Moody evangelistic meeting;
  • Billy Sunday was converted at a Chapman meeting;
  • Mordecai Ham was converted at Billy Sunday meeting;
  • and Billy Graham was converted at a Ham meeting.

However, not all the links in this story are accurate

Dwight L. Moody did trace the beginning of his Christian life to his conversation with Edward Kimball. For more about Moody, see A Passion for Souls: The Life of Dwight L. Moody by Lyle Dorsett (Moody Press, 1997).

J. Wilbur Chapman was not converted at one of Moody’s meetings. However, while a student at Lake Forest College in the late 1870s, he attended a Moody meeting in Chicago and after the service received personal counseling from Moody that helped him to receive certainty of his (Chapman’s) salvation. Later Chapman became a friend and co-worker of Moody’s. For more on Chapman, see J. Wilbur Chapman: A Biography by Ford C. Ottman (Doubleday, 1920).

Billy Sunday worked for Chapman for a brief time as an assistant, helping to organize his evangelistic meetings, but Sunday himself was converted at a street corner meeting held by the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago. For more about Billy Sunday, see Billy Sunday and the Redemption of Urban America by Lyle Dorsett (W. B. Eerdmans, 1991).

Mordecai Ham was not converted at a Billy Sunday meeting, However, Sunday had held an evangelistic campaign in Charlotte in 1924 and a men’s prayer and fellowship group, originally known as the Billy Sunday Layman’s Evangelistic Club and later renamed as Charlotte Businessmen’s Club (CBMC), grew out of those meetings. (More information on this group can be found in the Vernon Patterson papers, Collection 5.) This group was later instrumental in inviting Ham to Charlotte for his 1934 meetings. For more about Ham, see 50 Years on the Battlefront with Christ: A Biography of Mordecai F. Ham by Edward E. Ham (Old Kentucky Home Revivalist, 1950).

Grady Wilson was a friend of and fellow evangelist with Graham. He went forward at the same 1934 meeting to make a deeper commitment to Christ. He tells the story of these meetings in his autobiography, Count It All Joy(Broadman, 1984) in a chapter entitled “Sunday, Ham, Billy and Me.”

The gospel has reproductive power!

d)     The gospel’s message: grace(Col. 1:6c)

Again the gospel is supreme because it is a message of grace. The false teachers have resurrected a tree of good works and we can find Paul cutting it down again and again. Grace is undeserved favor in the face of deserved wrath (Michael Easley). All other religions is man’s way to get to God, but the gospel is God coming to man. No mantra to chant, no thousand mile journey  to some holy city, no secret formula, no special race, no amount of education, no particular economic status, no amount of beauty necessary….it is grace! Just as you are, with all your baggage, all your brokenness, come to the Savior, come to the cross and cast yourself there and He will accept you, just as you are. No need to clean yourself up, for Jesus catches His fish and then he cleans them. Amen! It is a message of grace….don’t you forget how He showed grace to you!

e)     The gospel’s delivery: an ordinary messenger  (Col. 1:7-8)

Lastly, the gospel came to them by an ordinary messenger. Epaphras…who?  Exactly! An   ordinary guy who heard an extraordinary message from another ordinary guy. That’s you and me. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. How will they hear if no one speaks? Remember during Paul’s ministry in Ephesus, Epaphras from Colossae got saved. He then brought the gospel to his town. Not only did he evangelize, Paul says the people “learned” about the gospel, a word indicating that Epaphras discipled this group…giving them systematic instruction. He also influenced churches in Hierapolis and Laodicea. “The word disciple is found more than 260 times in the Gospels and Acts, and the verb translated, “to learn as a disciple” is found 25 times in the New Testament. [2] In those days, discipleship was not simply sitting and listening to a teacher. They watched their teachers’ lives by following them wherever they went. “Perhaps our modern-day medical students or trade apprentices come close to illustrating the meaning of discipleship.[3]”  Paul is placing his stamp of approval for Epaphras (short for Epaphroditus). Look what he calls him—faithful minister, our beloved fellow servant!  Look, he was nobody “important”—just a guy saved by grace. Do you know what evangelism is? it is one beggar trying to show other beggars where to find bread! And because the gospel has divine innate energy, the burden is on the Lord to save and us to share and proclaim. Illus: during our South African mission trip, 5 year old Max, the missionary’s kid, who would get up during our kid’s ministry times and share the gospel. They called him Max the evangelist. I was humbled by him.

Hey, we need to pray for a holy boldness to be faithful in proclaiming the gospel. No need for seminary education or special speaking skills, just a faithful servant. When was the last time you have shared the gospel? Have you ever shared the gospel with anyone? Remember your job is not to save, but to share. God does the saving and he uses ordinary folk.

Application:

1.      Be a more global Christian. Use Operation World. Operationworld.org because the gospel is reaching the whole world! You can sponsor a child and pray for him/her. You can subscribe to Voice of the Martyrs and join in the suffering of fellow believers all around the world! Because the gospel is reaching the world!

2.      Let us partner together for the growth of our ministry. Are there people on your heart you thought about inviting to our church or even sharing the gospel with, but have not? You are quenching the Spirit! It not a matter of ability but availa bility. It is not a matter of being extraordinary, but ordinary faithfulness.

 

 
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[1]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, “An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire ‘BE’ series”–Jkt., Col 1:5 (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996, c1989).

[2]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, “An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire ‘BE’ series”–Jkt., Col 1:7 (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996, c1989).

[3]Ibid.

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