This week our theme verse for our “Taste of the World Day” is from the book of Colossians. In the 1st chapter Paul writes, “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth (v.1b NIV). What a very remarkable verse. When Paul used the phrase “all over the world”, he was referring to the Roman Empire. By this time in the 1st century the gospel had been preached in many of the provinces of the Roman Empire. When we get together this Saturday for a time of food, fellowship and fun followed by an International praise service we will be celebrating literally with people from all over the globe. In the 1st century the gospel had made rapid progress as the Holy Spirit performed miracles and transformed lives. The gospel of Jesus Christ is still bearing much fruit and transforming hearts and lives.
The gospel of Jesus Christ has both an individual and universal appeal. The word world is the Greek work “kosmos” that speaks of the people associated with a world system that for the most part is estranged from God. We very much live in a culture similar to that of the 1st century. That culture was completely without God. Our own culture has left the biblical moorings on which it was founded. Yet in the face of those 1st century challenges Paul says that the gospel was “bearing fruit and growing”. That is the purpose for the proclamation of Jesus Christ as Messiah, that the message will bear fruit in hearts and lives and people will be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. Fruit is a genuine evidence of a true born again experience. Just as a tree bears fruit and grows in size so the gospel produces spiritual fruit in the believer’s life. The people that we fellowship with and taste their foods from all over the world this Saturday are the long term fruit of the glorious message of Christ. The message of Christ transcends race, culture and language barriers and time and age differences. The “gospel” has been bearing fruit for nearly 2,000 years and it is still doing so today. Praise be to our great Savior!
At the heart of this gospel growing and spreading is the grace of God. Notice again Paul says “since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth”. The profound difference between the Christian faith and other religions proceeds on the assumption that man must prove himself to God by his human efforts. But true Christianity teaches that God has done it all and that salvation is solely by God’s grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. I was struck by the new pope’s comments last week saying he’ll see an atheist on “the other side” if that atheist does enough good works. I’m not sure what other side he’ll be seeing him at but I know that the only way to get to heaven is through faith in the finished work of Christ, not by the merit of our own works. This is the gospel that Paul preached and the gospel we will be celebrating with people from all over the world this coming Saturday. Because the gospel is still bearing fruit and growing; come and taste and see that the Lord is good and He has entrusted to us, in a hopeless world, this Word of hope which we proclaim.
Pastor Rich Sivo