I’m following an online group that is reading through different books of the Bible this year. For the month of May, we are focused on Colossians, a letter Paul wrote while he was in prison, and that was to be circulated to several local churches. This morning, as I read the first chapter, the following questions came to mind.
What kind of gospel have you heard?
What is your definition of the gospel?
What do you believe to be true about salvation, about Christ?
It would make sense to define the gospel of Jesus according to the book written about Him (and by Him), but that doesn’t seem to be the case in our culture. God’s grace is often misunderstood and maligned to fit our own version of the gospel.
This was true in Paul’s day too, given his topic in his letter to the Colossians. I love the confidence and assurance we find in the first few verses. He intentionally refers to the gospel as the “word of truth” (Colossians 1:5) and reminds the believers that this is the gospel that has the power to give them faith in Christ Jesus, love for the saints, and the hope of heaven, and bears fruit that pleases God.
What is this word of truth? If you keep reading chapter one you see what Paul is so passionate about. The gospel hinges on who Jesus really is. It is by Him, through Him, and in Him. If we’ve accepted a version of the gospel that makes Jesus less than who God has proclaimed Him to be, we’ve been deceived by a false gospel…a gospel of lies, not truth.
Here are just three things to remember when you contemplate the gospel in which you’ve staked your eternal destiny.
The gospel is by Jesus.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things and in Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17)
The gospel begins with Jesus as Creator. Nothing came into existence except through the will and power of the Creator. To be Creator is to be the Most High God, and all that is created exists for one purpose – to serve and glorify the source of life, Jesus. Jesus is the perfect image of the invisible God, appearing in human flesh so we could understand and believe in God. He is called firstborn, not as One who was created, but that He is pre-eminent over all creation. Jesus is Creator, and thereby He holds the rights and authority to offer the salvation which He Himself purchased for those He created.
The gospel is through Jesus.
For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth, or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:19-20)
Jesus did what was necessary for us to get to God – He reconciled us to God through His death, burial, and resurrection. His blood paid the high cost of our sin: death. Jesus is the door to salvation (John 10). He is the way to God, and no one comes to God except through Him (John 14:6). Salvation is only through Jesus. God spoke through prophets to show us His power and omniscience. He spoke through the Law to reveal His holiness and show us that we could never become righteous through good works. His final message to mankind was through Jesus, and any gospel that rejects Jesus is no gospel at all. (Hebrews 1:1-3).
The gospel is in Jesus.
Paul describes this graphically and literally. He “rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13). We are made complete (perfectly reconciled and holy) in Christ (Colossians 1:28). The mystery of the gospel is that we are in Christ, thus acceptable to God, and Christ is in us, His Spirit giving us the eternal, abundant life Jesus offers through the cross. The word of truth tells us we are made righteous only in “the Truth” – Jesus Himself (John 14:6, 17:17).
In this short post, we are just barely scratching the surface of the theological truths presented. I hope it makes you consider carefully who Jesus is because coming to the truth about Him is essential to salvation. No other gods will do. No other way will lead us home to heaven. Don’t buy a deceptive gospel because it makes you feel better about yourself, or because in your human logic you can’t see it. Salvation comes by faith that bows the will and heart to Jesus, God’s precious gift to us. Jesus alone.