Sermons & Sunday Schools


Persist in the Gospel

In this sermon, Pastor Joe Babij examines Colossians 1:23 and Paul’s exhortation for believers to persist in the true gospel. Pastor Babij first outlines reasons given in the passage to persist in the gospel, then explains what the hope of the gospel is, and finally outlines some main ways to guard against being moved away from the hope of the gospel.

Full Transcript:

This morning we are back in the book of Colossians. Take your Bibles and turn there. Let me read this morning from Colossians 1:15-23. It says,

15 He is the image of the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church and He is the beginning, firstborn from the dead, so that He himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

Let’s pray. Father, this morning, as we look at Your Word, and as we understand what it says, that You would allow every single one of us here to not only understand the gospel, to believe it, and live it, but Lord, when the trouble comes, when we’re thrown off center, that we would hold fast and that we would persist in the gospel. I pray this in Christ’s name, amen.

In about 1604, a man named Jonathan Burr grew up in a Christian home and then became a pastor of a church in Suffolk, England. He started preaching the gospel there and started expounding the Word of God. However, the Church of England didn’t like it, so they dismissed him. He said, okay, it this doesn’t work out in Old England then I’ll go to New England, Massachusetts.

He went to Massachusetts, and he began to preach and start a church there. The Lord really made him successful in his ministry. In between the time from leaving England to come to the United States to establish a church, he got smallpox. He was at the point of near death. He prayed, Lord, if You want me to continue on and preach, then you’re going to have to heal me. The Lord did heal him.

After that happened, he actually dedicated himself fully to the Lord. He came up with a personal covenant, in which he wrote down several things. He said, first of all, I will aim only to His glory and the good of souls and not my own glory. Secondly, he says, I will walk humbly with lower thoughts of myself, considering that I am a puff of breath sustained by the power of grace alone.

Thirdly, he says, I will be more watchful over my heart to keep it in due season in the frame of holy obedience without running so far after the creature, for I have seen that He is my only help in a time of need. Fourthly, he says, I will put more weight in the firm promises that He’s given us in the truth and the Word of God than anything else. He says, fifthly, I will set up God more in my family, myself, wife, and children, and that I will remember death. He says, in myself I am nothing, in Christ all things.

Later on, after his ministry in New England, he ended up dying at the age of 37. While he was on his dying bed, the last words he said to his wife were: our parting is for a time, cast your care upon God, and He will care for thee. Then, he said this to her before his last breath: hold fast.

I say that because in Colossians 1:23, we actually get something very important being said to us here. It says,

if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel

The little particle ‘if’ introduces to us a conditional clause, which assumes to be true about the Colossians, but it should also be true about us. That is that the gospel has brought us into an abiding state of standing steady and firm on sure foundation. The exhortation for us is not to merely continue to be steady and firm in the gospel but to continue and then some. In other words, to be persisting in it.

When I was a training instructor in the Marine Corps, I could tell who would make it through the training. It usually wasn’t the biggest, or the most muscular, or even the most competent. It was the ones who were persistent, that no matter what was thrown their way, they found a way to overcome and press on. It’s very true of believers that are growing in their faith that they cannot be moved. They refuse to be moved away from the hope of the gospel. Scripture will do that with us. They will persist and hold fast.

       There are four things to observe in order to hold fast to the gospel. I will go through the first four very quickly and then I will spend some time on the last one.

       The first one is this; why should we persist in the gospel? The first is to persist in the gospel that delivered to you the faith. Notice again in verse 23—in which I will spend some time on. It says, if indeed you continue in the faith. The gospel provides us a firm basis for belief and practices. It produces in us immovable inward convictions. The gospel is established on a sure foundation and its structure is surely sound. Those who believe the gospel will also remain in the condition of firmness.

       If you look over to Colossians 2:5, it says something similar. It says,

For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and stability of your faith in Christ.

Or the firmness of your faith in Christ. The faith here is either the settled body of apostolic truth that has been delivered to the saints or it’s the personal truth in Jesus Christ. I believe both are included in the context of Colossians.

The faith applies to one’s convictions, which must be well grounded in Scriptures, and able to make one strong and solid and immovable. Truly, as Christians learn Scriptural truths, they become strong in the faith and in the convictions that God will never leave or forsake them. By developing convictions based on the study of the Word of God, the believer is able to cling to the faith, the body of truth delivered to us, and the relationship they have with Jesus Christ in the face of attack, of error, and of false teaching.

Remember, Colossians is a book written to warn us against false teaching. The enemy’s goal is to distort the biblical doctrine that has been given to us and the God-pleasing way to live life. These distortions of truth and heresies want to spoil us. They want to cheat us and make us captive to the old way to move us away from the truth of the gospel.

He’s writing in verse 23, telling them, listen, if indeed you continue in the faith. The superiority of the gospel is seen in that the whole subject and content is true, as in Colossians 1:5, where it says, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel. It is not a word of a guess or probable inference, but it is the infallible truth of God.

There may be other things that are true in the world, but God’s Word is the essence of truth, and the gospel reveals to us the essence of the grace of God. These believers in Colossae heard the gospel before they heard false teaching, so abandoning the gospel that they heard, believed, and embraced would be a very disastrous thing, and even deadly.

In fact, the Colossian believers have already experienced being transformed in their mind to know the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God. The gospel has already taken root to grow and bear fruit in their own lives. They see it not only in themselves but in the church of those who have been born again in Christ Jesus. Therefore, to abandon it would be eternally foolish.

       A second thing to observe is to persist in the gospel that is personal. In Colossians 1:23, it says, if indeed you continue. Then at the end of that verse, that you have heard. Look up at Colossians 1:5, it says, of which you previously heard. Then verse 6, which has come to you. The gospel itself is very personal. It comes to you, it shows you your sin, it shows the plan of God on how to be rescued from that sin to receive forgiveness, and then you go on to live in a relationship with Jesus Christ. The gospel is very personal.

       A third thing to observe is that we ought to persist in the gospel because it is universal. In Colossians 1:23, it says, it was proclaimed in all creation under heaven. The gospel is seen in its universal outreach. It’s for all people in all of the world. The gospel was not contained in one locale. Biblical Christianity spread rapidly through the known world at that time as it does today.

       Also, the gospel is not restricted to a particular culture, nation, or tribe. It has the power to influence all sorts of people, all groups of people from past, present, and future. Historically, all schisms and heresies are partial and local. Of course, this is a refute against the false teachers because false teaching tends to be local and regional, but the gospel goes through the whole world and draws all kinds of people.

Therefore, Scripture is intended for everyone, not just for the educated, religious elite, or some special group with superior knowledge. The gospel is for everyone, even for you. The gospel is still going out to everyone, everywhere on this earth, at this very moment.

Fourthly, the next thing to observe is to persist in the gospel that is authoritative. In verse 23, it says, of which I, Paul, became a minister. the gospel has come to us from a divine source, God Himself. Jesus has chosen faithful servants and gave them authority to be His representatives and spokesmen on this earth.

The gospel has been and is being preached by faithful servants of Christ from the apostles and prophets, including Paul, and all loyal evangelists and pastor teachers today. The authority that is given to them is given to them in the Word of God. The power and authority are never in the man, it’s always in the truth of God’s Word, which has authority. That authority has been given to us by God to proclaim to those who have not yet heard it yet, and to those who have heard it, so that they can grow in their faith.

This brings me to the last observation. To persist in the gospel that is charged with hope. I want you to see it again in verse 23,

if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

That hope here can be defined as a mighty certainty. What makes Christian hope so strong is a growing knowledge of God. Hope here is the realization that you have been called to be a saint and a faithful Christian. You have been called by God and His gospel. The call came from this offer of the gospel, in which you responded in repentance and faith.

God brings His children from an empty, false, deceptive, and dead hope to a strong, active, and living hope. The hope rests on God’s power and in His promise. Remember, Jesus was raised to life, and we will live because He lives. Hope speaks to our response to God’s promise. In other words, He offers us hope, and we can have hope in Him and His guarantees. We can believe them with confidence.

The hope, of course, is not an I-hope-so hope. I hope it happens is just wishful longing. A biblical hope looks forward with utter conviction and expectancy. It is not a hope mingled with uncertainty and doubt. Those who live in doubt are really not believing. The opposite of faith is unbelief. They are really certainly denying the hope that God gives them that is actually true.

A person who is not firm on the gospel is a person who is easily persuaded by other opinions and teachings. They end up becoming double-minded, unstable, and tossed around by every wind of teaching. This particular teaching is found in other places in the Bible. What happens to this group of people is that they do not mature, and they are worn because of their lack of maturity against apostasy. In other words, walking away from the faith, not being steadfast in it, not being firm in the faith. Like it says in Ephesians 4:14,

As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by very wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.

We’re not to be those kind of people. When we were looking at 2 Peter 3:16, it says,

As also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness.

All of the apostles are concerned that once somebody comes to faith, they remain steadfast and strong in their faith. Also, that they would become someone who cannot be moved because their foundation will not shift or become like sand.

The bottom line is that as long as a believer in Christ continues growing in their faith, they will become established and firm—not moved away from the hope held out in the gospel. They will experience the reality of being new in Christ. Christ will be their sole focus. He will be their center. When He is, they will understand the newness that has come into their life.

However, the battle does not end when you come to Christ. Have you not realized that, yet? As a matter of fact, the battle has just begun when you come to Christ. You don’t realize how much is up against you and how much of the Christian life is impossible. Unless it’s the power of God working in me, and the gospel hope that He has given me, then I will surely fall away. I will surely move away from the hope held out in the gospel.

This is all over scripture. The scriptures tell us that there will be a battle. There’s going to be struggling. There’s going to be wrestling. There’s going to be striving. You find this in every Epistle that you read. Like in Ephesians 6, we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood, we wrestle against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Then in Philippians, it says, you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind struggling together for the faith of the gospel. Later in Philippians 4, he tells us, to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake not only to believe in Him, but to suffer for His sake.

Believing in Christ and suffering go together. Therefore, the struggle should never take you by surprise. It was the Apostle Paul at the end of his life, right when he’s going to head his head chopped off, he said this, I fought the good fight, I have established or finished the course, I have kept the faith, I did not move away from the body of doctrine that was delivered to the apostles, I stuck with it, and I preached it, and now I am dying for it. We know that’s easy to do when you have hope.

The question that rises from our text this Lord’s Day is found in the little word ‘if,’ which indicates a condition. If indeed you continue in the faith. The condition is will you continue to follow Christ or will you not?

The reality is that there are forces of spiritual wickedness in high places that want to move you and I away from the truth of the message of the gospel. The enemy now attempts to drag you and I away from the refuge and protection. Satan and his minions take great effort to keep us from the hope of the gospel. Once you have this hope and you are in Christ, he wants to drag you away from Him. That’s what he wants to do it and he is good at doing it.

This is why you and I need to be firmly established, in verse 23, and steadfast into the hope of the gospel. This is a hope based on a promise. However, a promise is only as good as the one who makes it. And who makes this promise? God makes the promise, right?

Titus 1:2 says,

In the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago

See, God made the promise, and He has to keep His promise, because His promise is equal to the height of His name.

Also, this hope that we have obtained came through grace. It tells us in Thessalonians that good hope by grace comes through the Word of God. It comes through the gospel, as we see in our passage, and it comes through faith.

In Scripture, this hope is also described as good, living, sure, and steadfast. It’s described as being blessed. Christians are called to this hope, and they are to rejoice in this hope. They are bound in this hope. Therefore, we should hold fast to this hope. We should continue in this hope. We should not be moved from it.

Our hope has an object. That object is a person. The person is Jesus Christ. He is the object of our salvation. He is the object of our righteousness. He is the object of our future resurrection. Christ’s glorious appearance is what we are looking for. As Titus again says, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.

If you go through Scripture, you will find that the wicked person has no ground for this hope. They have no ground to stand on it. Ephesians tells us to remember that we were, at that time, separated from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers of the covenants of promise, having no hope without God in the world.

The wicked person, the unbeliever, does have hope, but not in the true and living God. They have hope in everything else except God. They hope in the uncertainty of riches. They hope in themselves. They hope in their own philosophy. Yet they have no hope. The Proverbs tells us that the hope of the righteous is gladness, but the expectation of the wicked perishes.

Yet not to have hope is a very dangerous place to be. People contemplating suicide is mostly as a result of despair, depression, and utter hopelessness. The usual treatment plans for such a condition of hopelessness are pills, chemical prescriptions, psychotherapy, hormone treatments, nutritional supplementation, herbal remedies, and even shock treatments. These treatments are given because it’s viewed as a psychological disease in which you must change, improve, or correct brain chemistry.

Yet, the Bible approaches hopelessness in any form, from guilt, anxiety to depression, and suicide, in a very different way. The Bible simply calls it disobedience; a refusal to trust our faithful and loving God. And yet, all over scripture, like in Proverbs, it says to trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. Again, in the Psalms it says, when I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. Then in Psalm 62, trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.

Scripture points people to the basis of true hope. Namely, God Himself. The Lord has given much knowledge and modern medical science to care for legitimate diseases and health conditions, and we ought to be thankful for it, because that’s from the hand of God too. Yet, when it comes to finding real and genuine hope in this life, God’s Word is clear, the source is always and only the Lord Himself.

Paul even said right in 1 Timothy 1:1, in his epistle to pastors, he said this,

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope.

Unfortunately, you and I know people who have made a profession of faith in Christ and followed Jesus for a while, but they are no longer living for Christ and following in His footsteps. Some of Jesus’ seemingly real disciples were drawn away and were no longer walking with Jesus. Others, it says in scripture, outright deserted because they love the present world more than Christ—they dropped off.

These are painful happenings, but we are not alone in our experience. The Apostle John recorded that this very same thing happened to Jesus. It happened to the Apostle Paul. As it said in the scripture we read this morning, after Jesus preached the message, it says,

And He was saying, “For this reason, I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father. 66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

See, that is firmness of faith. That is in the opposition of when the truth is proclaimed, and everybody leaves, will you leave? Will you stay? The exhortation this morning is to make sure you are not the one who moves away from the hope of the gospel. We cannot slip into complacency and presumption. The message is to hold your ground, put on the whole armor of God, and take your stand. Do not move away from what has been given to you. That is the hope of the gospel.

What does that mean? There are many things included when considering the hope of the gospel of Christ that He has brought to us. I can’t mention all of them because we would be here all day, but I will mention a few of them.

What about right in Colossians 1:22? The hope of full salvation. Not partial salvation. Not a salvation where God will give you a part and you’ve got to work for the rest. No, it’s full salvation. Notice what he says in Colossians 1:22,

Yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—

See, we are saved, the Bible says, we are being saved, and we will be saved. That’s the hope that we have already learned—that Jesus Christ is the preeminent one in the salvation of sinners. No other person can redeem us, forgive us, or transfer us out of the domain of darkness into the kingdom of God and make us fit for the Christian life and the Kingdom of God. No one else could do that.

That’s why we give thanks to the Father because He has done everything. Salvation altogether is entirely of God. Because of this, we thank God that He enabled us to not only understand it, but to enjoy our salvation, because He qualified, rescued, transferred, and bought us with His own blood.

That’s the glorious character of great salvation. God the Father has delivered those who are truly believers in Christ from this domain of darkness; He changed their nature and gave them a new heart. If you believe in Christ, you are free from present and future condemnation.

As to all of your sins, you are faultless, without blemish, above reproach, and nothing could accuse or condemn you. The blood washing has already cleansed you and removed the possibility that your sins will ever have dominion over you again to send you away from God.

You have everything you need in Christ. You are complete in Christ. This hope purifies. This is a hope that we will be like Christ. A hope we shall see His face. A hope that His name will be on our foreheads. A hope of complete forgiveness and full justification. A hope that there will not remain in us any root of bitterness, no blemish of evil, and that no pattern of iniquity will be found in us.

This is your hope. Don’t move away from it. In fact, Colossians 1:27 says it pretty clear to us. It says,

To whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Hope of full salvation is one of them. What about hope of full perseverance? Final perseverance, meaning you’ll make it to the end. No matter what comes in your life, you’ll make it to the end.

If you notice in Colossians 1:5, it says, 

Because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel

In other words, if the hope we received in the gospel is laid up for us in heaven, then we will make it to the end. It’s not depending on you; it’s depending on God. What an encouraging thought—that those made righteous by Jesus Christ will hold out until the end no matter what. It’s from the scriptures that we know we have this confidence.

John the Apostle records in John 10:28,

And I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

If you didn’t believe that, He says in the next passage,

My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

That’s double right there. That’s double security given to us. Then, Paul says in Philippians 1:6,

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

If you are regenerate, truly born again, you can’t lose the divine life. We are not born again and again and again. There is no hope in the belief that one day you could be saved and then lose it the next day. If that’s true, then it’s not God’s salvation, it might be your own salvation. It’s not God’s because it’s not scriptural. Those who fall away were never in grace to begin with.

I like what Hebrews 3:12 tells us,

Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.

If you have an evil, unbelieving heart, then you’re not a believer. You fell away from possibly knowing the truth of what it means to be a Christian, but you never believed it yourself, where it regenerated you.

Also, in Hebrews 6:6,

And then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

That’s a group of people who have the full knowledge of the truth, but they don’t come all the way over and believe. They see and even understand it, but they don’t believe, they don’t take it to themselves. If you indeed believe in Christ, He will keep you to the end. That’s hope. That’s the promise God gives us.

What about the hope of resurrection? Our bodies will drop in physical death, but the voice of our Lord Jesus will call our bodies to raise incorruptible and be made new.

The Gospel of John again, John 5:25,

Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

God will raise people from the dead. Jesus says,

I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My Flesh.”

Our bodies shall rise again because our greatest enemy has been dealt with completely by Christ. He has abolished death, scripture says, and brought life and immortality to life through the gospel.

John 14:19,

After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.

Christ is risen, so we will rise. That’s the hope we have. That’s a hope when you go to a funeral. If there’s no hope, there’s genuine sorrow. However, if there’s hope, there’s sorrow mingled with a lot of joy because you know that, especially if you’ve known them and they walk with the Lord, they’re in the presence of God. You know that they’re doing a lot better than you.

That’s the hope that we have. That’s the hope that keeps us going, firm, and established. The world has no hope like that. That’s why they need the gospel so desperately.

What about the hope of the coming of Christ? If you die first, you will meet Him, yet we all will see our Redeemer when He stands in the latter days upon the earth. In Colossians 3:4 it says,

When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

It’s exciting to study the second coming of Christ. Remember where it says in Zechariah, that when Jesus left out of this world and went back to heaven with two angels standing there in white said, the same Jesus that left will return right here on the Mount of Olives. What does Zechariah say? He said, in that day, His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives will be split in the middle from the east to the west by a very large valley, so that half the mountain will move toward the north and the other half will move toward the south.

Jesus is coming back again. I believe in Zechariah that we will be with Him, because of the rapture, where God takes the saints out before wrath or tribulation, and then at the end of the tribulation is the second coming when Jesus returns to the earth with us. At that time, all of humanity will see Him. He will come right to the Mount of Olives, it will be after wrath, and where He saves Israel from the Antichrist. How does it happens? It won’t be a surprise like a thief in the night, that’s the rapture. It will be a climax of unfolding events.

The exhortation is to not be moved away from the hope of the gospel. These four things express the believer’s hope. Now the question to ask is, how may we be moved away from the hope of the gospel? That’s why he’s writing this passage in this text. The false teachers have come in, so they are trying to move people away. I think there’s several ways we could be moved away from the hope of the gospel. At least in thought.

The first one is false teaching. The most obvious thing we find in Colossians is the false teachers. If you listen to any teaching which puts your working and doing in the place of Christ, then you will be swindled out of the hope of the gospel. All false teachers prove to have similar qualities. The first one is the ability to persuade others that their position is equal or superior in validity to what that person presently held.

Secondly, they have an intense desire to have their own following of disciples. They do this by perverting the path of previously held truth and they encourage acceptance and participation with the seemingly harmless and culturally accepted practices that they are espousing. People buy into this all of the time. Yet, when we look at Colossians 2:16, notice what he says very emphatically in these passages. In verse number 16, he says,

Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind. 

The false teachers say the Colossians and all believers who believe in Christ should live this certain way. They would set up the standards of living that way. Was that an aesthetic lifestyle or an antinomian lifestyle? Antinomian means that there are no rules and that you can live according to the flesh. Remember, they separated spirit from material. Since flesh was material to them, it didn’t matter how they lived, they could do anything they wanted in their flesh. That’s why it says in Colossians 2:23,

These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but ae of no value against fleshly indulgence.

And, of course, the worship of angels—they had to worship somebody and something. Somebody is worshipping something all of the time. If you don’t worship the true living God, you are worshipping something. Here, they worshipped angels because they thought they were undefiled beings, so they were honored by ritual and self-discipline as a way of getting to God and for mystical experiences. As it says, visions he has seen, inflated without cause.

For example, people having visions about dying, going to heaven, and talking to God that they come back to write books about them and end up making a lot of money doing it. People eat this stuff up like this is something that one should stand firm on. This is just shifting sand. That is all it is. See, false teaching will move you away from the hope of the gospel.

The second thing in Colossians is the philosophy of men. The false teachers are presenting themselves as smarter. Some people are impressed by people with superior minds, that they are so taken by the persuasiveness of their arguments, and they believe they have an option to take besides the gospel. Colossians 2:4 says,

I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.

Then, in Colossians 2:8, it says,

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

They are, in other words, dazzled by a person’s superior mind. They become convinced against what is actually true in the Word of God. If you take error in this, you will be removed from the hope of the gospel of your calling, which is free grace received by faith, which is in Christ Jesus the Lord alone.

Don’t be dazzled by intellectual ability or the ability of some men to write very convincingly or to write a blog that people are reading that says, you know what, I never thought about that. You’ve got to be firm on the Scripture, to know that when you read these things, you’re not going to be pulled away from the hope of the gospel.

What about feelings and emotions? If our decision to give ourselves to Christ came only on emotion, not fact, we would fade. How much stuff today, in the world of evangelicalism, is based on feeling? The Lord told me this, and the Lord told me that. Oh, I feel this, and I feel that. They get swayed. Living by our feelings, happy or sad, is not the standard. It is never the standard.

Our feelings are so fleeting, faulty, and changing, so how can we base anything on them? I do tell you this, that true doctrine and firmness in doctrine will inform feelings in the right way. The only reason why I believe I’m saved is because I trust Christ. It is faith that does it, not feelings.

Sometimes I don’t feel saved. Sometimes I don’t feel like a Christian, do you? I don’t because my feelings are all over the place. I know one thing, the fact that Christ saved me will never change. It will never change. That’s firmness. That will keep you where you ought to be.

What about this? What about lack of fellowship? Because of Covid, a lot of people have drifted away, and now they’re watching something on TV this morning, or on zoom, right? Zoom has some good things and it has some bad things, too. I think most people today are zoomed out, right?

Without proper fellowship, we shall surely be drawn away from God. Why? Because this is God’s plan for the church. God has designed the church for yours and my benefit, protection, and growth. If you drift away from the gathering of believers, you will be like a sheep who wanders off from the fold. When that happens, the danger level goes up quickly and exponentially. You have left the protection of the herd and the shepherd’s care and protection.

That’s why in Hebrews, for all of those Hebrews who came to faith, they often had to be prodded with this saying,

Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

If you think you’re going to have church in your own living room somewhere, and everything’s going to be fine theologically, then you are wrong. You are a target of the enemy, and he is going to pull you away from the firmness of the gospel.

Then, there’s always unconfessed sin. Past and present sin, small and great, will lead you into despair. Remember, repentance and faith are available to turn from sin with the belief that Christ can and will forgive you. Proverbs says, he who conceals his transgression will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. We need to confess our sins, including past ones, to let Christ’s death be sufficient for them.

Many become so frustrated by continued failures like sins and restarts that they give up. A sin that becomes a habit will move you away from the hope of the gospel. As it says in 1 John, if you live habitually in sin, then you’re giving no evidence that you’re a Christian.

What about the worries of life? Anybody here not get worried about things? Matthew 6:32-34,

32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.33 But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all of these things will be added to you.

34 So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Is that not true? We need to stay focused on Christ and pursue Him so that the worries of this life do not choke him out.

The last thing is about the deceitfulness of riches. It seems like today there is a real emphasis on riches. What did Paul tell Timothy? In 1 Timothy 6:17, he writes,

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.

If you attach yourself to the wrong hope of life rather than your relationship with God, you will be in danger of moving away from the hope of the gospel. Even in Hebrews, it says,

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have;

Are you content with what you have? And why should I be content? Because it says in Hebrews,


That’s the promise that we have in God. That’s the hope that we have to live another day, to take another step, to breathe in another breath because we have this hope.

These last two—the words of life and the deceitfulness of riches is really the strangled hold that distracts the heart, like it says in the parable of the sower. Mark 4:18,

And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, 19 but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the world, and it becomes unfruitful.

This person hears the Word but attempts to mix it with the pleasures of life. He is preoccupied with worldly matters. They are quickly distracted by the pursuit of career, a house, possessions, cars, sports, partying, getting wealthy or prestige, and riches of life and everything else. Their motto is that they want Christ, and all that the world has to offer. For them, Christ is just to check the box.

 The present life is more important than the life to come. They have more pleasure in cash than Christ. Their stuff is more important than the Savior. The soil of their heart is full of malignant weeds that could never bear fruit. What does Hebrews tell us?

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

Why shouldn’t we move away from the hope of the gospel? There’s no place to go. Isn’t that what the disciples say: Where are we going to go Lord, you have the words of eternal life? There’s no place to go, and why would I want to go anyplace anywhere with the riches and the hope that I have in Christ?

Also, if you want to be moved away from the gospel, you know what’s next? Back to the slavery of your own sin. The slavery of the sin that kept you down all your life. Do you want to go back there? Do you want to go through all that pain and the pain that you’ve given other people? No, there’s nowhere to go.

Or the thought that you deserve the Savior. To search for salvation in some other place or way when there is none. Satan’s cry is this, come away and be free, which is the biggest lie ever told. When you serve Satan, you are his slave, and he is a ruthless master.

Remember, when you become a Christian, you are also a slave—a slave of Christ, who is a good Master. He is kind, gracious, loving, and merciful. He is taking care of you, and He protects you until you make it into His presence. That’s the hope we have.

Let me just conclude with this. Colossians 1:23,

If indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

All of God’s people said, amen. Let’s pray. Lord, thank You for the Word of God. Thank You, Lord, for the foundation that you have given us. Thank You, Lord, that we are not on shifting sand. We are on solid rock. We know, Lord, that rock is You. We praise You, Lord, for the Word of God. Lord, make us people who will persist in the gospel no matter what is thrown our way or what curve balls come across our path. Lord, please let us hold firm to the truth of the gospel. Let us not be moved away from it no matter what. Thank You, Lord, for this hope that You have given us. It’s a hope that only the children of God can have. I praise You for this. In Christ’s name, amen.