I. Introduction Vs. 1-3
We give thanks– to be grateful, feel thankful, to give thanks.
QUESTION– What stirred Paul’s heart to thankful prayers, even though he was in jail?
ANSWER– The true signs of conversion & fruitfulness among the Colossians.
II. The Signs Of True Conversion Vs. 4-8
A. Faith In Christ Jesus V. 4a
1. Paul had heard the report of the Colossians’ observable faith in Jesus.
a. It produced a joyful prayer of thanks, in spite of his circumstances.
2. Verses 4b-8 describe what evident, observable faith in Jesus looks like.
B. Love For The Saints V. 4b
1. True conversion produces observable love for the saints, i.e., other Christians.
a. Saint- hagios-speaks of that which is set apart for God, and is considered holy
b. When a person believes the Gospel, they are forgiven, & set apart by God for God
c. Sainthood is not something a person accomplishes, or a church bestows, but is the result of a person’s faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross.
2. Saints love saints. It is part of the spiritual DNA of a Christian, a sign of the new birth.
a. It doesn’t mean we don’t struggle in loving the saints, but Christ’s life in us pushes us in that direction, & gives us a desire we never had previously to love the saints.
b. 1 John 3:14a We know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren.
C. The Hope Of Heaven V. 5a
1. Hope– joyful and confident expectation
2. Christians are described as those whose citizenship is in Heaven, and not on earth.
Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. God’s people described as stranger/pilgrims. See Hebrews 11:13-16 (Also, 1 Peter 2:11)
4. The hope of heaven is not a death wish, an escapist mentality, or the desire for a lazy existence in Heaven. The Hope of Heaven is to be where Jesus is, in all of His glory, and for us to be free of the inhibiting factors of the sinful flesh.
a. John 14:1-3 1“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
b. In the hearts of many Christians, there is an increasing lack of “at home-ness” in this life. A holy restlessness abides w/in the Christian whose hope is in Heaven.
5. The Christian was made for Heaven. Turn to 2 Corinthians 5:1-5
6. The Hope of heaven is a holy tension: b/c of loved ones on Earth, the difficulty of death, but still having the longing for Heaven.
7. Example– When returning from a long trip, the closer I get to home, the more my anticipation increases. A Christian’s desire for heaven grows as they get older.
8. Rachel Scott- murder victim @ Columbine, 1999. A young Believer ready for Heaven Diary entry, 1998– A year before her death Rachel wrote to a friend named Britney: “Eternity is not just looking to the future & our place with God in heaven, but it is looking at our Eternity if it were only moments away.” Near the end of the letter Rachel challenged Britney to be on the lookout for opportunities to share her faith, opportunities that Rachel believed would make themselves available very soon: “I just feel that there are going to be so many chances for you to witness to people, & they are coming up soon. Be ready for them, they are not far. Be ready.” Rachel had a sense that she wasn’t going to live a long life. On 21 May 1998 these were the words she wrote, the only words in her diary that day, “This will be my last year, Lord, I have gotten what I can. Thank you.”
D. Believing The Truth Of The Gospel V. 5b
1. The Gospel is a message that is communicated by written and spoken Word.
2. It unashamedly declares itself to be the truth.
3. It is declared so that it is heard. The hearer is asked & exhorted to believe the message.
E. Fruitful Living V. 6
1. as it has also in all the world- hyperbole; intentionally extravagant statement
a. Ex- Acts 17:6 “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.”
b. Also- Colossians 1:23; Romans 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:8
2. 6band is bringing forth fruit-
a. Fruit- the Gospel preaches Jesus, & when one accepts Jesus, transformation begins
b. Not mechanical or artificial. Not man’s efforts to create new personality/character
c. It is organic in that Christ is “planted” within; natural transformation takes place
d. Christian isn’t called to produce, but to surrender to God’s fruit developing work
e. Jesus’ plan for us is fruitfulness. John 15:16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain
f. Fruit of the Spirit- Galatians 5:22, 23 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control.
g. The fruit of good works-
h. The fruit of evangelism- Romans 1:13 Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you…that I might have some fruit among you… (context: evangelism)
i. The fruit of righteousness- Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
j. The fruit of praise- Hebrews 13:15 “…let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.
k. The fruit of holiness- Romans 6:22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
3. “…and knew the grace of God in truth” – to become thoroughly acquainted with
a. This is the key to how all these changes could happen. Experiencing God’s grace.
F. Having A Christian Witness V. 7, 8
1. Paul was in jail as he wrote this letter.
2. Epaphras had been able to tell Paul of the evident, observable faith of his fellows Colossians. Paul had never met these people, yet he rejoiced b/c of their lives.
3. They believed the Gospel, Christ had changed their lives, & it was evident & observable
4. Paul includes that they had “love in the Spirit”. A holy, righteous, self sacrificing love.