Colossians 1:7, 8:
As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit. There is a way to know that a believer has a good start: he comes into Christ by being exposed, through preaching, to the Word of the hope, and rejoicing in the spirit becomes his common characteristics. Likewise, a minister of the Gospel is one who is able to initiate men into that Hope. According to 1 Peter 1:3, the believer is born-again “unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” But sometimes we lose heart when we hold on to the preaching of this hope, because there is a temptation to want to preach “the immediate” to people in the name of Christ. We want to preach to them from the angle of trying to solve their present problems, but those problems cannot find total solution unless it is by the hope. God has, in Himself, a means of how to solve our issues once and for all, and the Gospel is that means. It is given as the resort and so, ministers of the Gospel must understand that God is not trying to do something to excite us for a moment and then go away. Jesus chose to raise ministers who will do the Father’s will—the Father’s once-and-for-all answer to human crises, and Epaphras was one of such people. The people he was shepherding in the region of Colosse were rejoicing in the Spirit because of the Word of the hope that was preached to them. It is same as what is referred to in Ephesians 1:13 as the “word of truth, the gospel of [your] salvation”, for which the Holy Spirit came as our seal when we believed. Therefore, if anyone does not have a good start by hearing the Word of truth, s/he will not be able to obtain salvation. To start with, salvation is our inheritance and hence, the essence of preaching. But what is the nature of that inheritance? For example, it is like calling someone’s name, which is just a way of referring to the bearer. But really, the bearer is a person, a living entity. There is a kind of blood that flows in his veins and nature he possesses that makes him what he is, and by that, I could have met him or known who he is without that name, because the very substance and nature that he possesses actually make him what he is. In the same vein, when the Lord says He will give us salvation, there is something He wants to give that the word “salvation” describes. When we obtain it, then we have inherited salvation. It then implies that the receiving of the Word of truth is the receiving of the Gospel that brings salvation, and every man needs the deposit of the Spirit to be helped to start this journey. (See Eph. 1:11-14.) When you have a wrong beginning, it is not easy to change the direction on the move. But it is sad that many have a wrong beginning in the Gospel. Those who call on the Lord should note that being born-again is not as simple as “Jesus did it for me; He can do it for you too”. It does not mean He cannot do it, but the question is: what did He do for you? Perhaps you were having bad dreams before but when you went for a church service and were prayed for, Jesus took the bad dreams away. Yes, he did that for you. But if He took away your bad dreams without making you realise that you are a sinner—for whom he shed His blood—and that your salvation is in having a relationship with Him, what is the use? The Lord is our salvation! We have been appointed “to obtain salvation” (1Thess. 5:9, 2Tim 2:10), implying that we should obtain God. Jesus wants to give us God by initiating a relationship with us. He wants to make us heirs (i.e. “co-owners”) of His Father. Colossians 1:12 and 13 say, “Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (ESV). It means that in this programme, when you hear the Gospel of your salvation, you receive the Gospel of His love.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” This shows that every man, by reason of The Fall, is destined to perish. If a man is not saved or does not inherit salvation, he will perish. However, the human life was made by God as an outflow of love. Man is an object of love, though not yet an object of His love until he is saved. God has His love. He made many things and made them beautiful.
Imagine the sun and stars in their glories. There are many creatures—wonderful ones— in the aquatic world. When the dark tunnels of the sea are lighted, you will see many awesome creatures there. He made them out of an expression of a kind of love, which was not exactly His love. God is love. He is anything called love. Don’t say “agape”; He is just LOVE! And in that love, He created the things He made, but because they were not of His love, they cannot inherit His substance—His glory. And as a result, they are not saved. Anything that is not born of God’s love though may enjoy its expression cannot be saved. If, for instance, you did not have money to go to school and I helped you, I have only expressed a kind of love towards you, which may not be the same as love towards my own. When the Father looks at the Son, there is a way He looks at Him. Though He sent the Son to go and die on the cross, it was in His love. Though the Son suffered for you, a sinner, the Father loves Him more than you. Can you fathom their depth? No expression of His love for the world can be compared to that which He has for the One Who is from His bowels! John 3:16 simply shows that God has loved man to a point that He contemplated what He could do to save him, and giving His only begotten Son was the appropriate answer He found. When He gave His Son, He gave His love, knowing that when He did, His love would replicate Him in many. Yet, in that technology, His love would be kept intact. So, He sowed His Son by the wisdom of love to reap many sons who will be expressions of His love. For this reason, Isaiah 53:10 says, “…it pleased the Lord to bruise him.” The Father could not have bruised the Son except sin was imputed, and “for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2Cor 5:21 ESV). So for a moment, He looked away from His Beloved in order to love us with an everlasting love. Now we have been brought into that space where Adam once lived. But all who are born in the flesh are still condemned until they partake in God’s love, not necessarily because they have sinned, but because the sin of Adam was imputed into everyman’s account. When he fell from the realm of love of the created, it was an opportunity foreveryman to be engrafted into Divine love where salvation dwells. In the past, God allowed several things to exist outside the realm of His love. Angels are a good demonstration of this. They are not objects of His love. This is why the kingdom of God and His angels is known for manifestations of might and strength; it is a kingdom in the realm of “the Lord of host who dwells between the cherubim” (2 Sam. 6:2). The Lord of host is His name, the God of the armies of Israel! Psalm 103:19-22: “The Lord has prepared His throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. Bless the LORD, ye his angels that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion…” It is a kingdom of warfare. These angels were made in their ranks to do the Lord’s commandments. Anywhere you see an angel appear, disobedience is always far away or else there will be great judgement there, not because they love God, but because that is the way they were made. They were made to excel in strength, and hearkening is one of their attributes. If they respond lesser than that, they are not to stand before God’s throne any longer. Therefore, you will understand that Lucifer’s sin was not only against God, but also against his makeup. The kingdom of God and His angels demonstrates order. That is what keeps them. You must not peep beyond your hierarchy. Even Paul urges the woman to have covering over her “because of the angels” (1 Cor. 11:10). They are to keep order while they are kept by that order. They are not kept by love but by the law that is within them. However, when they see love, they bow, because it is higher than law. What is God trying to get across to us therefore? It is that when you heard of Word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation, you actually came in contact with the Gospel of Love. Anyone who receives this package will not perish but have everlasting life. In that love is life, and that life is salvation. God Himself is our salvation, and the way He chooses to save is to initiate a love relationship. It does not matter how much God loves the world, if the world rejects His love or His call for a love relationship, it stands judged and condemned. If we reject who He has sent, He will not be able to reach out beyond that initial love. You now see how receiving Christ is not a mere thing as an action taken because you were sick. Our heart must desire Him and say, “Lord I receive your love. I receive your love. I believe in your love!” And of a truth, it is a strong thing to know that love. Solomon speaks of love as “strong as death…. Many waters cannot quench love…” (SoS 8:6,7) But really, when you look at it, love seems weak, because it does not come with force or the strength or force of war. It appears too weak to make a change. That is why it was hard to understand when Jesus appeared on the scene as Israel’s Saviour. He did not seem fit. The promise of God for salvation coming via love? It was practically strange. But when you see God’s kingdom, what you will see is love, because it is the kingdom of the Son of His love. Everything therein is sustained by love. Even in having things work for us, we must live by love. Romans 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good…” the completing phrase does not say “to them that God loves but to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” That purpose is bound by love. Those whom God loves must respond to Him in like manner. …to be continued.