There were churches Paul planted and mentored through his letters, who followed this principle. Notice what he says about the church at Colossae; “Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 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, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant” (Colossians 1:5b–7a). The “word of the truth” came to them because their spiritual roots were deep in “the gospel” (read Galatians carefully). The natural outcome was that the gospel which came to them was growing and bearing fruit “in the whole world”. Now that is what we call ‘global impact’!
My next point is that it requires the Holy Spirit to ‘live by the principles’ of the gospel. He gave the Colossians the ability to “understand the grace of God in truth” because He is “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17). Without the Spirit we are unable to either understand or apply the truth of the gospel to our lives. Paul makes this point abundantly clear; “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” (1 Corinthians 2:12). Through that understanding, lives are transformed and proclaim the gospel by the way they are lived.
I will leave my last point about roots for tomorrow – ‘remain strong in times of testing’. I want to conclude this blog with a portion I read this morning from a Puritan prayer.
Plough deep in me, great Lord, heavenly Husbandman,
That my being may be a tilled field,
The roots of grace spreading far and wide,
Until You alone art seen in me,
Your beauty golden like summer harvest,
Your fruitfulness as autumn plenty.
Adopted from The Valley of Vision, Arthur Bennett, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2014, page 135.