20 Aug 2023

Jesus, Lord Of All [Colossians 1:1-8]


Paul started his letter to the Colossians with thanksgiving unto God. He praised God for 4 things regarding the Colossians. 1. Their Manifestation.   The Colossians demonstrated faith and love. These are the evidences of life in Christ. There is a massive difference between someone who is only "in church (service)" versus being "in Christ". Faith and love are the marks of those who are truly in Christ. 2. Their Motivation. Their faith and love spring from hope. They were not motivated by peer pressure nor reciprocity. They were motivated by God's promise of reward. As such, they could sacrifice and serve, for they were secure and confident in the goodness of God set before them. 3. Their Message.   Their hope is not plucked out from thin air, but it is rooted in the gospel. The gospel is like a seed that germinates, grows and blossoms into the fruit of faith, love & hope. It is the power of God unto salvation and glorious life change! 4. Their Messenger.   The gospel was taught to them by Epaphras. He was no apostle. But he was faithful and servant-hearted. Thank God for faithful and servant-hearted gospel messengers today. Let us pray for more! May this teach us to praise God also for these spiritual realities in our own lives today. May we prove or work out (not work for!) our salvation. May we ponder the hope of the gospel. May we preach the gospel to one and all. And may you perceive and receive the gospel for yourself today. Jesus Lord Of All [Colossians 1:1-8] | RSS. com



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Very good morning to all of you. Welcome to Gospel Light and our first English worship service this Sunday morning.

If this is the first week you have joined us, you have chosen a wonderful time to do so because we are launching, embarking on a new series in the book of Colossians. For the past few months, we looked at the Old Testament book of Hosea and we now switch to the New Testament book of Colossians.

Colossians is a letter written by the apostle Paul to the people at Colossae in ancient Rome. Say, where is Colossae? Well, it's a city in the middle of the map that you see here. This is where the majority of biblical activity took place in the early church. Colossae, you may say, is right in the midst of it all. It's a small little city or town that has waned in influence by the time we read about it in the times of Paul. But this is where Paul wrote to.

Colossae is in this region or in this district of Phrygia, which is in the province of Asia in ancient Rome. Now when we look at the word 'Asia', we are very excited - we think Indonesia, Japan. Uh.. that..that's not quite the Asia; this is the province in those days of ancient Rome.

Now, Colossae is very near some popular or well-known churches or cities in churches. If you look at the circle here, you would see some familiar names. I know it may be a bit small on print but I'll read for you. You can see these church signs and you will read about Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea. Familiar names? They are familiar names if you have read Revelation Chapter 2 and Revelation Chapter 3, the seven churches in Revelation.

But today we're not looking at these seven churches, we're looking at the church at Colossae. So this is a letter written to the Colossians, the church in the city of Colossae.

Now this is an interesting letter in a sense, this is a letter written to a people that Paul has, as far as we know, never met before. Most of the letters Paul wrote are to people he has met before, people he has ministered to personally. But Colossians is a group of people he has probably not met. That's as far as we know from the records in the book of Acts. Paul's travels and activities are well chronicled in Acts and we don't read of him coming to Colossae.

And all the information we have about the Colossians are found in this letter, Colossians and Philemon, which we are going to read about also as we end the book on Colossians.

So how did this church at Colossae start if Paul, the apostle, didn't minister to them? Well, probably started in the city of Ephesus. You could see Ephesus is not very far from Colossae, estimated about a hundred miles away, somewhere between Singapore to Batu Pahat. Uh, not very far, just one or two hours' drive you may reach there. So about a hundred miles away is the city of Ephesus and Paul spent quite some time at Ephesus.

We read in Acts 19 that Paul 'continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord' [v10]. So he was preaching at Ephesus, right here in Acts 19, said to be two years. In Acts 20 we are told that Paul had been with the church for three years. So Paul spent a long time teaching and preaching from this base at Ephesus. And people from all over Asia heard about Paul's preaching, came to hear Paul's preaching. And people who heard the preaching of Paul also brought the message to all the regions of Asia.

So there was this one man, we read about him just now, his name is Epaphras. He probably heard from Paul when he was preaching at Ephesus and he brought this message home to his own people at Colossae. That's why we see in verse 7, 'you learned it from Epaphras' - you did not learn it directly from me, Paul says. You learned it from Epaphras who probably heard me at Ephesus.

Epaphras not only brought the message back to his hometown, he also brought it to surrounding cities around his hometown. So we read about how he has worked hard for you, the Colossians, and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis - surrounding areas. So God used this one man, Epaphras, to spread the message of the Gospel from Ephesus to the surrounding towns and cities.

And so that's how the church started at Colossae. Now I know church is not about the building but I need a symbol, so please pardon me.

The church started at Colossae and now Paul writes a letter to the people at Colossae. Now, when Paul wrote this letter, he was not in a palace nor in East Coast Park having a good time, but he was in prison. So this is one of the prison epistles, letters that he wrote while he was in jail.

We know that he's in jail when he wrote this letter because the book itself furnishes that evidence. That I.. Paul says 'I am in prison' [4:3], 'Aristarchus is my fellow prisoner' [4:10] and he says 'remember my chains' [4:18]. It is likely that Epaphras, who is that messenger to Colossae, came to visit Paul in prison, stayed with him, and communicated with Paul the problems that are brewing in the church at Colossae.

Therefore Paul would write about the danger of false teaching that is invading the Colossians. And that's why Paul also went on to encourage the church with regards to their walk in Christ.

You may ask, then what is this whole letter about? In a nutshell, I'm a simple man and I want to give you a very simple outline to the book of Colossians. There are many outlines out there in the world, in commentaries and you can look at them. Some can be very elaborate, very complicated but I just want to share something very simple that I remember and hopefully you can remember.

Colossians - A Simple Outline
Colossians is really simply about three parts. The first part is Paul's encouragements for the people at Colossae, for the church at Colossae. He encourages them in four different ways.

He speaks first about what he thanks God for amongst the Colossians. So he.. he encourages them because he sees beautiful marks. He sees beautiful characteristics amongst the Colossians. So he begins with a praise to God. He begins with thanksgiving to God in Chapter 1.

And then he encourages the Colossians by praying for them, by revealing to the Colossians what he prays for them about.

And then he encourages them with a wonderful song, or hymn, or poem that we saw in that video clip. Verse 15 to 20 of Chapter 1 is about this great poem about the Supremacy of Jesus Christ.

And then from verse 21 onwards, Paul would speak about the wonderful privilege he has - to be an apostle and a servant to the Colossians.

So what is Chapter 1 to Chapter 2 verse 5 all about? It's about encouragements. It's about a praise, a prayer, a poem and a privilege.

Then in Chapter 2 verses 5, all the way to Chapter 4 verse 5 - that's the main bulk of this letter, Paul seeks to build up the Colossians. So I would call this major part - the edification of the church.

He builds up the church in two ways. Number one: he warns them about the false teachings. So that's elaborately dealt with in Chapter 2. He warns them about the dangers there. And then in Chapters 3 and 4, he talks about what it means to seek the things above and not things below. What it means to pursue Christ and to be faithful and loyal to Christ. What does it mean to live life in Christ?

And then in Chapter 4 verse 6 - that's the tail end of the book, we read about the various people that Paul is, are is thankful for. The people that I think he's saying you should listen to and obey and follow. These are the people he would endorse, the endorsements of the apostle Paul for the ministers and co-labourers at Colossae.

So in a nutshell, that's what Colossians is about. Encouraging book, an edifying book and a book that tells us about the people Paul himself supports.

Jesus Lord of All
There's one unique distinctive about this book of Colossians and it is really all about the Supremacy of Jesus Christ. Jesus is Lord of all.

And please do not copy, there are too many verses here to copy but you can see the Supremacy of Christ expressed in these various verses. How He is 'the image of the invisible God' [1:15], the sovereign Creator of the universe [1:15-16], 'He is before all things' [1:17-18], so on and so forth. It is a book that is just filled with references to the greatness and majesty of Jesus. It bleeds through the entire book.

And because Jesus is Lord of all, then He must be central in the Christian life. So we are to walk in Him, be rooted in Him, built up in Him, brought to perfection in Him. We'll look at these verses in Chapters 2 and 3.

So, the series in Colossians, I think, should overall be aptly summarized as to how He is the Lord of all - the Supremacy of Christ.

So that's a 10-minute overview for this book, that we are going to spend maybe the next three to four months in. I hope you'll be ready to understand more and more about Jesus, His person and work in our lives.

Today, we're just going to dive right into eight verses. I read these verses for you once again.

[1]Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, [2]To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. [3]We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, [4]since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, [5]because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the Gospel, [6]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, [7]just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf [8]and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

That's a reminder for us to pray, so let's pray.

Father, thank You for the book of Colossians. We pray that as we look into this book, You will bless us, that we may again have hearts that are soft and ready to receive the seed. We pray that the seed of God's Word will beautifully blossom in our lives. May You be glorified and praised when our lives change by the power of Your Spirit. Thank You, we ask this in Jesus' Name, Amen.

So let's look at verse 1: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God and Timothy our brother. As is customary, Paul begins with an establishment of his authority - who he is. He says that he's an apostle of Christ Jesus. The word 'apostle' means someone sent. He's a missionary, he's a sent one, he's a messenger sent of God.

And we can't help but be reminded of how God revealed to Ananias, when Paul met with Jesus on the road to Damascus, that he, Paul, will be a chosen instrument of..of God to bear the message to the Gentiles, to the kings and to the brothers in Israel. And how Paul would suffer many things for the Name of Jesus.

So Paul says, "I am an apostle, someone sent of Christ, to carry the apostolic teaching, the message of the Gospel, to one and all." And he says, "This letter that I'm writing to you is co-authored with Timothy." And he says, "To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae."

The word 'saints' means sacred or set apart. It has the same root word as the word 'holy'. So this refers to the position of the Christian. It refers to the identity of the Christian, that he's someone in God's eyes who is set apart from the world, someone who is sacred, someone who belongs to God. So if the first word refers to the position, the second description refers to their practice, that they are a people faithful in Christ. They are faithful brothers. They are people who believe and people who are loyal, people who are obedient in Christ.

So Paul says, I'm writing to the Christians, the followers of Jesus Christ. They are saints, they are set apart, they are holy, not because they earned that but because of God's grace, as we will soon learn. And that they are people who are faithful, loyal to Jesus.

And then we read this interesting description 'in Christ at Colossae'. Now this is not unique, because this is also found 'saints in Christ at Philippi' in the book of Philippians. But it is nonetheless very interesting because when we read it in our English, it seems to be 'in Christ at Colossae'. But if you read it in the Greek, it's the same preposition 'en', which is 'in Christ in Colossae'. So it's a very interesting way to look at this phrase, that Paul sees the Colossians as people in Christ and in Colossae at the very same time.

In Christ speaks about their spiritual identity. In Colossae speaks about their physical locality. In Christ speaks of who they really are. In Colossae speaks about where they are living. So it's an interesting consideration, isn't it? Because if you are a Christian today, let me say this about you - you are in Christ and you are in Singapore.

You are in Christ and you are in this building here at 39 Punggol Field Walk. Or you are in Christ and in your, you are in your job; you are in Christ or in your school; you are in Christ and you are in your neighbourhood. You are in Christ and you may be in hospital. You are in Christ and you may be in prison. You are in Christ and you may be in pain.

But the ultimate reality of who you are is not defined by your circumstance, it's not defined by your predicament but it's defined by your identity with Jesus Christ. That's your ultimate identity and reality.

So Paul writes to the Colossians; they are people who are in Christ. I think that what in Christ means is that they have life from Christ. They have life with Christ. And they have a life that is lived for Christ.

And for such, Paul says 'Grace to you and peace from God'. Grace refers to the undeserved favour of God. God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Peace refers to that serenity, that end of hostility between God and man. And because you are in Christ, God's grace is upon you, God's peace is upon you.

He goes on now to say, "We always thank God when we pray for you." So he starts with praise. He praises God, he thanks God for several things that he observes or knows about the Colossians. He has not been to Colossae but he knows the Colossians from what he has heard from perhaps a servant like Epaphras. So he praises God specifically for four things that we're going to read in the text that follows.

1. Manifestation
First of all, Paul praises God or thanks God for the manifestation of the life in Christ amongst the Colossians. He says, "We praise God whenever we pray for you. We thank God whenever we pray for you because we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints. We see these beautiful marks of the new life, of the Christian life in you." Two things specifically - faith and love.

The word 'faith' is interesting; earlier on we say 'the faithful brothers', right? That's an adjective. That's the Greek word 'pistos'. Now we see the noun 'pistis' - faith.

Faith probably refers to their allegiance to truth, to the Gospel, to the apostolic teaching. How they are willing not to sway from it but to believe it and to obey it in their lives, how they would be willing even to suffer and be persecuted for their faith. That's probably what Paul meant when he says, "We heard of your faith - how you're loyal to the truth, how you hold on to it, how you obey it, how you defend it and how you're willing even to suffer for it."

And then Paul also says, "We heard of your love - how you cared for others, how you served others, how you sacrificed for others, how you are willing to forgive one another." So these are the two marks of life in Christ.

'In Church' vs 'In Christ'
I'd like to tell you today that there is a big difference between being 'in church' and being 'in Christ'. Many people think that all that matters is that I have to be 'in church'. Every Sunday come to church, in the church service and God will be quite happy with me. That makes me Christian.

No! Hukh, the Bible doesn't tell you that coming to a church service makes you a Christian. We often say that coming to church doesn't make you a Christian, just like going to McDonald's doesn't make you a hamburger.

It is not about being in church; the key thing is about being 'in Christ'. And when you are 'in Christ', it will be evidenced, it will be manifested. In what? In faith and love.

So let me ask you today, if you examine your life, would you say that you are only 'in church' or you are truly 'in Christ'? How do I know? Very easy, just ask yourself. Has your life demonstrated faith? Not just the knowledge of truth, but the obedience to it and the willingness to be ridiculed and to be scorned and to be laughed at and persecuted because of it. Is there evidence of that faith, that obeying life in me?

And is there love in my life? Love is not about mere emotions or sentiments. Love is expressed in practical, tangible actions of sacrifice, of service. Do you see yourself in church as a consumer or a contributor? Do..Do you come to church thinking, "Ah, what is there for me today?" or do you think about, "How can I serve someone else today?" But these are the marks - beautiful marks.

If you come to Christ, your life cannot be business as usual because when the Colossians came to Christ, there is faith and love that blossoms.

My wife had a friend from the States. I think a week or two ago, she came, she stayed here in Singapore, stayed in the Sands Hotel. And was here for four days and I was told that out of the four days, two days was - you know in Singapore four days you can go a lot of places, but for four days, two of the four days were spent in Gardens by the Bay. Just go the Gar.. just go Gardens by the Bay!

I mean I would spend maybe half an hour, okay, one hour, two hours in Gardens.. but she spent two days there! I said, "Wow, why?" She really loved Gardens by the Bay. She loved probably all the botanical stuff, the flowers and so on, the orchids, the roses, the lilies, the tulips - it's so beautiful!

But you know something, I see something even more beautiful. Every week, I see you. "Uhh..'m so pretty ah?" No lah, uh no.. I..I don't mean that. I.. I see your faith and your love. Now I, I wouldn't say I see it in every single one. Because I don't presume every single one is 'in Christ'. Because some of you are 'in church', I'm grateful for that. I hope one day you will not just stay 'in church' but you will be 'in Christ'.

But when I see your life, I see your faith, I see your allegiance, your obedience, your.. your.. your desire to protect and defend the Gospel. I see something beautiful, I see your love. I see how you love one another, serve one another, bear with one another, forgive one another. It's a beautiful sight to behold.

So Paul praises God for that divine work amongst the Colossians. Just like my wife's friend who would say, "Wah, the Singapore government is amazing!" When you see beautiful things like that, you.. you praise the nation. And when we see beautiful faith and love amongst God's people, praise goes to God.

So Paul says, "Whenever we pray for you, we thank God." For what? For the manifestation of Christ in your life, for faith and love.

2. Motivation
A second thing Paul would thank God for amongst the Colossians is the motivation behind it all. Paul says in verse 5, the motivation that drives you to such a life of faith and love is 'because of the hope laid up for you'. So let us read this in totality. Your faith, I praise God. We praise God for your faith and for your love, that is because of the hope that is laid up for you.

Now, here you have this trinity of virtues that are very common in the Scriptures - faith, love and hope. But the relationship here is quite unique in that Paul says, "Your faith and your love springs from hope."

Because your faith and love is because of hope. So what is hope? Hope is not wishful thinking in the Bible. I know that's how we understand the word to be. Or I hope she will like me in return; it's.. it's sometimes just a wish. But when the Bible uses the word 'hope', it's not just a wish. It's a certain confident expectation of the good that is promised.

So Paul says, "The motivation that I hear of amongst the Colossians is that you all believe. You all have a confident expectation that there will be the promised good coming to you as you live your life of faithfulness unto the Lord."

That reminds me of a man like Abraham. Abraham was willing to leave the Ur of the Chaldeans to be a nomad, to be a pilgrim, to live in tents. Why? Because the Bible tells us, Abraham was looking forward to a heavenly city. He had a hope, he had a confident expectation that the life that is to come is well worth it.

Then I think about Moses. Moses chose to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. Why? Because the Bible tells us Moses esteemed the reproach of Christ greater treasures, greater riches than all that Egypt could bring. And Hebrews 11:26 tells us, 'for he was looking to the reward'. So why was Moses able to live such a life of faith? Because of hope! He was looking to the reward!

Now I think those biblical examples may fly by but if you are a lady today, you would understand. Suppose you are going to be married soon, you know how it is. You would diet. You would, you would say no. You would refuse the fleeting pleasures of 'char kway teow' [stir fried rice noodles]. Why? Because you are looking to the reward. What's the reward? When I can finally fit into my wedding gown. That's what drives you, what allows you to deny all this good stuff. Because the reward is well worth it.

So why were the Colossians willing to suffer and obey and love? Because of the hope. They see it's well worth it. So you see, the motivation for the Christian life is not because it's convenient, it's easy, or I love you because I hope you'll love me back. I scratch your back, you scratch mine. That's not the motivation of the Christian life. The motivation of the Christian life is God-centred. It's founded on God's promised goodness to His people as we are faithful and as we serve Him.

How often we see in Christian community, we treat one another in a very reciprocal way. A.. an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth mentality. If you're nice to me, then I'll be nice to you. If you're nasty to me, then I 'bochup' [colloquial, don't care/indifferent] you.

Well, the Bible tells us that the Colossians were remarkable because they love one another. And they love one another because they were anchored on the hope that is set before them. How tragic it would be if our minds today are all wrapped up around the things on this earth. That's why so few Christians could really live lives of faith. And so few of us really display radical, God-honouring, mind-blowing love, because our motivations are not founded on the hope that is set before us.

Paul says, "I thank God for you guys. I see your faith, your love. I see how that is engined or powered by hope."

3. Message
And then thirdly, he praises God, not just for the manifestation or the motivation but also the message. Because this hope is derived from the message. 'Of this' - what.. what is this 'of this'? Of this hope! This hope 'you have heard before in the Word of the truth, the Gospel'.

The Gospel, the Good News, that's what it is. The Good News of Jesus Christ and how He died and rose again to save us from our sins. So that sinful man can now be reconciled with God. Or as Paul would succinctly put it, the Gospel is how Christ died according to the Scriptures and was buried. How He was raised according to the Scriptures and how He appeared to Cephas and to at least five hundred over people.

This hope is founded in Jesus Christ. How He died and rose again and promises to receive His people to Himself. So if Jesus is risen, then those who follow Him will one day be glorified, just as Jesus is glorified.

So we heard about this, you heard about this, from this message of the Gospel, 'which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing'. So Paul uses a botanical imagery here, that the Gospel is like a seed that you sow in the ground and one day it will germinate, it will grow, it will blossom, it will bear fruit. And what is the fruit, you may ask? Faith, love and hope.

The Gospel is an amazing thing. A seed is an amazing thing. Just a tiny little seed that you place in the ground, can one day grow to be a giant redwood tree. Amazing potential and power in a seed! And the Bible says that the Gospel is like that powerful seed, that when it is sowed in your life, it is placed in a heart that is good and prepared, oh.. it will blossom. It will bring about faith and love and hope and on an increasingly wonderful level.

That's why I'm excited to be in the ministry of the Word. Now it looks very simple, actually. My sons always say, "You, you don't do any work one nah.. you." They.. they kind of despise what I do, I think. I.. I can understand. Everyday Bible only, it's so easy. Well, in a sense, it is easy because it's just the Bible but on the other hand, it is a totally underestimated power.

I..I mean I can choose to do appendicectomy my whole life - save some appendix, no.. no, not save.. save some lives by cutting out appendices. But I don't think anything compares to this.

It is a wonderful calling from God, not for me only but for all of us. Because Jesus said to all the disciples and subsequently from the apostles, I think, to all of us, that we are to be making disciples of all nations, of all peoples, teaching them the Word of God. Why? Because the Word of God is powerful. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, unto everyone who believes.

So it's so exciting personally, when we can help someone understand the Gospel in one-to-one sharing. When we have our Bible studies, when we have our care groups, when we have our discipleship groups, you know what's happening? We are sowing seeds. We are watering the seeds. And we are longing and excited to look at the 'Gardens by the Bay' in our lives. So that when people see that 'Gardens by the Bay' in your life, they praise God. They praise God. That's the message.

But this message has to be received. So Paul repeats of this - 'you have heard, you have heard, you have understood'. And I say to you today, I can preach till my tongue hangs out and I may be exhausted, but the Bible will not help you if you are not willing to listen and you do not work at understanding it.

Now, let me say understanding God's truth is not merely your work. Because you can be a very smart person and you can pay all the attention but you may still not get it because spiritual truth has to be spiritually discerned. But on the other hand, you will not benefit from spiritual truth if you are not working on listening or understanding. The Colossians understood the message, received it and all praise and glory be to God.

4. Messenger
Finally, Paul not only thanks God for the manifestation, for the motivation, for the message but also the messenger. He says, "Just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant."

I find it so cool, that the church planter here is not apostle Paul. So that we do not despair, we do not say, "Oh I need to be an apostle then I can start the church." No need; you can be an Epaphras. But what you need to be is to be a fellow servant and a faithful minister. The word 'fellow servant' is 'syndoulos'. 'S-Y-N' which is 'together' - 'fellow' servant or fellow 'slave' - 'doulos'.

Another description of him is that he's a faithful minister. The word 'minister' is 'diakonos', from which we get the word 'deacon'. Both words speak about a servant mindset, a humble mindset. What do you need to be, to carry the message of the Gospel? Don't be full of yourself - be humble, be loyal, be willing to work hard, like a doulos, like a diakonos.

And that's what Epaphras was willing to be. And he brought the message not only to Colossae, but to Hierapolis and to Laodicea, and the Word of God flourished through this man's life. How exciting.

I was just speaking to another pastor from another church yesterday, and we were talking about disciple-making, church-planting and he was asking, "What.. what..what do you, how do you define a church?" He asked this question because in the past, he defines a church to be a place. Common problem. Talks about missions and so on, he says, "We cannot start a church because we can't find a building." But it's only later on in his life that he realized that a church is not about the building.

We don't read about the Colossians meeting in a building; they probably met in houses. And all it takes really is for a man who is faithful, who is servant-hearted, who is qualified to carry this message, to sow it into the grounds of many a heart, and maybe that's how God would start a church.

We as a church are thinking about church-planting, praying about church-planting. And we don't want to over-complicate things, as if we must have a 10-year plan for a building. No.. no.. no, I don't even want to think about buildings. I just want to think about the message of the Gospel, the messenger himself, and the people that God has called them to reach.

And God can call you to a Colossae, to Lim Chu Kang. Err, okay maybe not so fair to call Lim Chu Kang Colossae, but.. but to somewhere far away, maybe. Maybe Batu Pahat!

Whatever that may look like but I'm excited that as we minister in the Gospel and as we, I hope by the grace of God, cast our vision wider, beyond 39 Punggol Field Walk, that there will be perhaps many Epaphrases that will be raised up. To go to Colossae, Laodicea, Hierapolis and to the regions beyond.

So, Paul praises God for the messenger, who carries the wonderful, glorious message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So that when it is heard and understood, it becomes a powerful motivation that would spur them to manifest faith and love. And all that results in majesty and praise to God's Name. That's what it is all about.

So reading this text now in reverse gear, we all, not reverse gear, proper gear, alright, forward gear, we always thank God. That's praise and majesty to God, that's how Paul starts.

Why do I thank God? Because I see beautiful manifestation in your life - faith and love. And this manifestation of faith and love is because of the hope that is laid up for you in heaven. And this hope is found in a glorious message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which you have heard and understood, which is increasingly bearing fruit. And we praise God because this message was carried to you, not by me, the apostle Paul but by our fellow servant syndoulos and faithful diakonos, Epaphras, the messenger. And all glory be to Him.

So as we close, let us today learn to praise. I think it's very important to know what to praise God for. So oftentimes, so often, we.. we praise God when things go well - when I'm healed, when I'm delivered, when I've.. my son get 278 for PSLE, then you start praising God. Well, let me say this, I hardly read of such praises in the Scriptures. I'm not saying you shouldn't but I'm saying that should not be, I guess, the regular praise.

What should be the regular praise? Well, learn from Paul as he starts off the book of Colossians.

Let us Praise
We praise God for messengers. We praise God for people who are doing the Gospel work, who are carrying the message of the Bible to all corners of life here in Singapore. Praise God for faithful evangelists, disciple makers, Bible study teachers, care group leaders, missionaries, church planters, because everyone is out there serving because of God. God worked in their hearts. We praise God for that.

We praise God for His beautiful, powerful message of the Gospel. That is something we should never tire of. How amazing is this message that when people receive, absolutely changes their life. I can't believe where I am today, compared to where I was in the past. And I.. I'm sure that it is not because I changed myself. But the Gospel is that seed that has been sown in this wretched life and is pushing its way out amidst from the ground of sin and depravity. I hope it is something that brings glory to God. And I trust that this message is what we can all be thankful for.

Let us learn to praise God for the wonderful hope that is set before us. You may be in hospital but you are in Christ. You may be in pain but you are in Christ. And one day, we will be with Christ in a heavenly city where there will be no tears, no sorrow; everlasting bliss and ecstasy with Him forevermore.

Let us praise God today for faith and love that we see in one another, because these things are of divine origin. Faith and obedience - that's God's work. Love for saints - that's God's work. So I pray today in your prayer life, think about these spiritual realities and praise God for these spiritual realities.

Let us Preach
I pray that Gospelighters would be a people who would go and preach the Gospel, who would be like Epaphras. I'm not an apostle, neither are you, but that doesn't stop us from doing God's work, right? That doesn't hinder us at all from giving the message of the Gospel and sharing God's Word and doing that farming, horticulture, agricultural work in their lives, spiritually speaking. To sow that seed and to water that plant.

Let us Ponder
Let us be a people who would go and ponder, to think about the hope that is set before us. As I've said, I think too many of us are so earthly-minded that we are of no heavenly good. So wrapped up by the cares and affairs of this life.

Oh, what's the economy like, what's the interest rate like, what's the job prospect like, what's my stocks like, what's my property price like - that's all we are thinking about. Now, I'm not saying be irresponsible with financial management, but it's an entirely different kind of life from someone who has his focus and priority on the things above.

I think a Sunday, a Lord's Day is a good day to recalibrate ourselves. To think about what's really important, to ponder, to think of the hope that is set before us.

Let us Prove
And let us then prove our faith. I'm not saying you earn your salvation by faith and works but the Bible does say, just as God has worked in you, let us 'work out our salvation with fear and trembling' [Philippians 2:12].

What that means is let us obey God in faith, let us love one another, especially those in a household of faith. And in expressing faith and love, we see the evidence of God's divine work in our lives.

Let us not be complacent. Let us not just say, "Oh, I was baptized 30 years ago and I don't care how I live today, I must be alright." Nope. Hukh, if you are really someone who has received the seed into your heart, there will be an increasing faith and love and hope over time in your life.

Let us Perceive
Finally, I say to all my friends, guests who are here today, I hope you'll perceive, I hope you'll understand, I hope you'll hear the Gospel.

"What is the Gospel?" you say. It's the Good News that Jesus Christ, God's Son, came and died on the cross. Why? Not because He was sinful but because He was there to bear your sins and to pay for your sins. And we know that it is fully paid for because Jesus took up His life; three days later, rose from the dead and is victorious. And those who believe Jesus is the Saviour, the Christ, the Son of God, the Bible says God grants to you eternal life.

I hope you'll listen, I hope you'll think, I hope you'll understand, I hope you'll receive this message into your heart. I hope today, by God's grace, I can be privileged to be like a farmer, to sow that seed into your life. And I pray your life would manifest faith and love and hope in time to come, unto His glory.

Let's bow for a word of prayer together.

Father, we thank You today that Jesus is Supreme. He's the Lord of all. All creation is made by Him and for Him. And even the church, the new creation is made by Him and for Him.

This morning, we are so grateful we can look at these opening words in a letter to the Colossians written thousands of years ago. But the message remains the same, because You are the same and the Gospel has remained the same.

And just as we see a flourishing of spiritual life amongst the people at Colossae, we pray for a flourishing of lives, spiritually speaking, amongst the people here at 39 Punggol Field Walk and in Singapore.

We pray for Your Spirit to work in all our hearts. That sinners will open their hearts to receive the seed of the Gospel and that saints will be reminded of the glorious hope set before us and be motivated today by Your love and Your grace and Your faithfulness. To grow in faith and love and to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to one and all.

But above all, thank You that as we plough through these verses, we are reminded it is all about You. It all is about Your glory and how You are worthy to be praised. So thank You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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