Usually when you think of a prison ministry, you think of ministering to prisoners, but here we find that the ministry was reciprocal. Paul was refreshed and revived while he was in prison by the news he had received concerning the believers in Colosse.
As a result, God used him to write the book of Colossians. It is one of the richest of Paul's letters, and is a deep source of truth concerning Christ. It is a part of what we refer to as the 'prison epistles', because Paul wrote it while he was imprisoned in Rome.
Epaphras had brought news from Colossae that ministered to Paul. Joy filled Paul's heart over what was happening in this church. Now, what had caused Paul such joy over these believers? That is what we want to consider this evening.
I. Their Strong Faith in the Savior (vv. 1-4)
A. "To the saints and brethren in Christ"
B. These believers were genuine
1. Paul knew that they were real and called them saints.
2. Saints = separated ones
a. Separated from sin and the world.
b. Separated unto God for His purposes
3. He rejoiced that they were faithful to Christ
a. Just hearing about these Christians made Paul thankful (v. 3)
b. This is similar to what we find in John's epistle.
(3 John 1:4) "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."
c. This is true in our families, but the true interpretation and application of this verse is to apply it to the spiritual growth of new believers.
C. He found himself praying for them often
1. Their strong faith refreshed Paul's soul
2. Their faith was evidenced in their prayers and
3. Their faith was demonstrated in their giving.
4. "A little faith will bring your soul to heaven; great faith will bring heaven to your soul." - Chas. Spurgeon
II. Their Sincere Love for All Believers (v. 4)
A. "The love which ye have to all the saints"
1. What a great reputation for any church!
2. Last week I preached about my desire that we become known as a loving church.
3. Here we see that this church was known for its love of the saints.
B. Love is the badge of our discipleship.
(John 13:35) "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
1. Note: 'all men shall know'
2. How we love one another is witnessed by others.
3. Our love for the Lord and for one another is the basis of our love for the lost.
C. Love proves that we've passed from death to life (I John 3:14)
(1 John 3:14) "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death."
1. Paul told the believers in Corinth that without love, we're nothing (I Cor. 13:3)
(1 Cor 13:3) "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."
2. What we do is meaningless if we do not love.
3. Love for all saints should begin with those closest to us
a. Active love in our homes
b. Active love in our churches
c. Love ends strife and builds fellowship
4. No wonder Paul was refreshed by this loving church!
III. Their Sure Hope of Heaven (v 5)
A. "For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven"
1. Heaven was real to these faithful believers
a. This world was not their home
b. They longed and lived for heaven
2. They were laying up their treasures in heaven
a. "Which is laid up for you"
b. A great motivation for Christian service
B. Where did that hope come from?
1. v5b "…whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel."
2. There is no hope without the truth of the Word of God.
3. God's Word is the basis for our hope of eternity.
Faith, Hope, and Love… Are others affected by our faith, hope, and love? Do we refresh or discourage other believers? Let's consider what can we do to minister to others every day!