The Evidence of Genuine Faith

We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus.

–Colossians 1:3–4

In our fast-paced culture, we have little patience for preliminaries. We don’t want to sit through the pregame activities before kickoff, the ads before a movie, or the introduction to a book. But to skip the introduction to Colossians is to miss some rich spiritual truths.

Last week, we learned that Paul wrote this letter to the church in Colossae. The founder of the church was a man named Epaphras, who had been saved through Paul’s ministry. Though Paul had never been to the church personally, he was the spiritual grandfather of these Christians. Paul was grateful for the good things he heard about the Colossian church, but he was also distressed to learn that heresies were creeping into the church. The Colossians were trying to integrate false religious beliefs with the Christian message. When Paul heard this disturbing news, he wrote a letter to remind his spiritual grandchildren that they did not need to search for other religious truths to find the truth of God. That’s the theme of Colossians: Jesus Christ alone is sufficient. He has sufficiently saved you, sufficiently secured you, and sufficiently empowered you to live a victorious life.

In Paul’s day, the Greeks began their letters with a standard introduction. Paul did something unusual for the time: he began with personal words to the Colossian Christians. In the first half of his introduction, Paul expressed gratitude for what was happening in their lives. He described the evidence of their faith.

Paul began, “We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel” (1:3–5). Paul was saying, “I’m grateful for the gospel because of what it’s produced in your lives.” It’s interesting that Paul’s first words were not philosophical or theological; they were practical. Every time Paul presented a doctrinal truth, it was followed by a practical application. That’s a great lesson for anybody who presents the Word of God, whether as a pastor, Sunday school teacher, or Bible study leader. Paul was reminding his audience of the practical results of their faith in Jesus Christ. As we study his opening words to the book of Colossians this week, we’re going to be reminded of the power of the gospel, the uniqueness of the gospel, and the progress of the gospel.

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Today’s devotion is adapted from “The Evidence of Genuine Faith” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

 

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