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, 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 1:1-8 (ESV)
R.C. Lucas writes:
It is important to perceive how Paul equates the ‘word of truth’ with ‘the gospel.’ It is sometimes said that we should preach ‘good news’ (i.e. gospel) rather than doctrine. But such a distinction is foreign to Paul. The good news he received and preached was essentially doctrinal in that it consisted of a body of truth (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Of course that does not mean that Christian teaching is doctrinaire (i.e. theoretical and unpractical). But to divorce the gospel from its historic roots is perilous.
We may then find ourselves proclaiming a living Jesus who enters into lives now to meet present needs, without teaching of the dying Jesus who entered the world once to bear our sins. Nor can there be commitment to the living Christ without commitment to the facts of the third day (1 Cor. 15:17). Jesus asked His friends, ‘Do you believe this?’ as well as, ‘Do you believe in Me.’
This leads on to the next point in Paul’s reassurance where he is able to tell the Colossians that the gospel they had heard was the very same gospel that all the other churches in the whole world were hearing and receiving. The force of this is greater than might, at first, appear. The Christian gospel has, from the start, been a ‘catholic’ faith, that is to say, universal in its appeal and scope, whereas it is of the essence of all esoteric versions of the truth they possess only local and temporary appeal. Variations of the historic faith claiming to offer a more complete gospel prove attractive to certain temptations and types, they rise and fall at certain times, yet never show themselves to possess a universal validity.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 39
Q. 39. What is the duty which God requireth of man?
A. The duty which God requireth of man is obedience to his revealed will.