by Abraham Cremeens
Last week, Will Peycke wrote an excellent blog post on learning the gospel as we saw in the life of Epaphras. I would like to continue that encouragement by heightening both the supernatural and natural elements of gospel growth. Thankfully, gospel growth depends on God... and he wants to use you.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is wonderful and powerful. Paul impacted Epaphras. Epaphras impacted the Colossians, and that spiritual multiplication has not stopped since. As people hear, understand, and believe the gospel, lives are forever changed. We see that in Children’s ministry, as Will explained last week. We see that from the pulpit. We see that in global missions. We see that anywhere the gospel is proclaimed.
This means you are a part of something that is absolutely huge. Think of it: the exact same Christ-exalting, hope-giving, life-changing words of the gospel that came from the mouths of Epaphras and the Apostle Paul still resound from mouths like ours today. It is a privilege to be a part of gospel growth. Why would we do otherwise?
I’ve been recently struck with the reality that gospel growth is both supernatural and natural. It is supernatural in that only God can resurrect spiritually dead people. Only God has the power to grant a new heart that pleases him in the power of the Holy Spirit. Only God can forgive sin and empower his people to fight sin.
But gospel growth also contains a natural element to it. No, we don’t change or save anyone from their sins. We are unable. But we are messengers who use the natural, fleshy, human mouths God created us with to proclaim the live-giving power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
After Paul spent significant time pointing to the wonderful work of Jesus and highlighting the worshipful hymn about Jesus, he took a moment to explain the proclamation of Jesus. And, believe it or not, it is really quite simple. Natural, even:
Colossians 1:28 (ESV)
[Christ] we proclaim,
warning everyone and
with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
Gospel growth results from gospel proclamation as the people of God express the work of God and others come to believe in Jesus. It is a conversation that includes heart-felt warning and mind-blowing teaching from the Word of God. It requires wisdom that God provides. It aims for maturity in Jesus Christ. It is supernatural, yes. Only God can do it. But it is also natural because we need to open our mouths, use our words, and tell the truth of God and his work.
It reminds us of what the Apostle Paul said elsewhere…
Romans 10:14-15 (ESV)
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
God has designed to bring about supernatural change through natural means within everyday life. He could have chosen to work through angels. He could have written the gospel in the sky. He could have determined to speak audibly with his own voice. But he chose to use you and me. What a privilege.
The world is just as messy as in the day of the Colossians. People still need Jesus. And God still uses the mouths of his people as they proclaim the divine words of the gospel within the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. It is a win-win. Why wouldn’t we participate?
I want to encourage you (and me) to not read Colossians only as something God did way back then using “those people.” It is history, but it isn’t only history. Gospel growth continues today. God wants to use you today in bringing people to himself toward maturity in Christ. Let Colossians encourage you to keep the message going.
Our Midweek ministry launches in two weeks. Pray for gospel growth there, and consider volunteering. What about your neighborhood, workplace, and extended family? Ask God to connect you to those who don’t know Jesus yet. Deepen your friendship with them. Seek opportunity to bring Jesus into conversations.
It is a privilege and it is a responsibility. It all depends on God, and God wants to use you. Join him and have a blast.