30 August 2022
“If indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation, under heaven and of which I, Paul, became a minister” (Col. 1:23 ESV).
In the previous sharing on the telos of Christianity, the exhortation is not to lose hold of the gospel. Here in Colossians 1:23, note the emphasis – ‘continue in the faith, stable and steadfast’; ‘not shifting from the hope of the gospel’.
Here was Paul’s exhortation to the believers in the church of Colosse – but the exhortation remains relevant today, for the errors of practice and deviation from the gospel continue to appear in ‘modern attire’.
The church loses its hold on the gospel whenever it falls under the sway of an outlook that would swallow up the gospel by assimilating it into a larger, non-evangelical whole.
Paul wrote to the Galatlians basically because the gospel was being swallowed up by legalism – they were adding to the gospel of salvation as they sought to observe Jewish ceremonial law (with circumcision as a major issue) as a necessary addition for salvation.
The Colossians’ problem was the gospel being swallowed up by polytheism – they observed the worship of angels (Col. 2:18), compromising the truth, treating the gospel as no more than a part of a larger and more comprehensive whole.
Believers seek to walk according to the truth of the gospel when they let their lives be governed by doctrinal error. It can also affect the leadership of the church – Peter withdrew from table fellowship with Gentile Christians at Antioch under pressure from the Jerusalem party (Gal. 2:12).
We must withstand errors of practice no less vigorously than deviations from evangelical doctrine if we desire not to lose hold of the gospel of Jesus Christ.