Advancing The Gospel
Passage: Colossians 4:2–4:6
ADVANCING THE GOSPEL
Last week, I preached on being an ambassador for Christ. As ambassadors for Christ, we learned that we have a mission in this world. We serve as Christ’s representative and his messenger. We also learned that we are to proclaim a message to this world. That message is one of reconciliation. When we share that message, we are to implore people to receive it. As ambassadors, I challenged us over the next 3 months (June, July, & August) to identify at least one person we plan to share the gospel with.
That brings me back to my story about my car. Last week, I told you about my car fiasco in Jasper, TN. I mentioned the fact that I had been talking with Jimbo over the phone concerning my car. I also mentioned that I planned to share the Gospel with Jimbo when I went back to Jasper to pick up my car. On Tuesday morning, I called and talked with Jimbo and told him what happened to my car. I told him that I was concerned that it was my transmission. He said he would look at it and get back to me. On Wednesday, Jimbo called me back to tell me it was not my transmission. Instead, it was a part they had installed the previous week that went bad. They replaced it and it cost me $0. That afternoon, we went back to Jasper to pick up my car.
When I got there, I was able to meet with Jimbo and talk with him. I found out that his brother owned the repair shop and that he decided to work with his brother after his wife had passed away. He then told me, “On my way to church on Sunday morning, I drove past the repair shop and saw your car sitting in the parking lot. I said, ‘that can’t be good.’” I asked him where he went to church and he told me. I found out that Jimbo just finished serving on the pastor search committee for his church. All in all, I am glad to say that Jimbo is my brother in Christ! Now, I need to find someone else to share the gospel with.
This morning, I want to continue the theme of sharing the gospel. How can this local congregation advance the gospel, specifically here in Murfreesboro? If you have your bibles, turn to Colossians 4:2-6. If you do not have a Bible with you, you can find one in the pew rack in front of you. You can find that passage on page ___. How can we advance the Gospel? Let’s read our text.
Out of respect for the authority of God’s Word, let’s stand and read Colossians 4:2-6.
Read Colossians 4:2-6 and Pray
I. Prayer Serves as the Foundation for Advancing the Gospel. (vs. 2-4)
Notice in verse 2 that Paul tells the church to continue steadfastly in prayer. This is the direct command in this verse. What follows in verses 2-4 further describe how to continue steadfastly in prayer. Some translations read, “Devote yourselves to prayer.” To continue steadfastly implies unrelenting persistence. In lines up very much with what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:17: Pray without ceasing.
We see this same time of devotion to Prayer in the early church. Acts 1:14 says:
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer,
And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Prayer characterized the early church and Paul, knowing the power of prayer, continues to exhort the people of God to devote themselves to prayer. In verses 2-4, we see 2 characteristics of this type of praying.
1. Watchful Prayer
The idea of watchful prayer is to be mentally alert. It carries the idea similar to what Jesus told his disciples at the Garden of Gethsemane, “Stay here and keep watch.” Being mentally alert also means to be aware of or know the circumstances of life, specifically those which affect the spread of the gospel. Richard Melick writes,
Informed prayer is likely to be more purposeful, personal, and powerful.
2. Intercessory Prayer
Paul doesn’t just ask the church to be watchful in their prayers, but he asks the church to intercede on his behalf. He writes, “At the same time, pray also for us.” Notice what Paul asks for…for God to open a door for the gospel. Paul here is in prison and he is not asking them to pray for his release. Paul is not asking for prayers concerning his well being. Instead, Paul is asking specifically for prayers that the gospel would advance in his current situation. Paul always had a way of redeeming his circumstances. Listen to what he writes in Philippians 1:12-14:
I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
So often, we pray to be relieved of our inconveniences or troubles or our sickness. It comes natural to think about ourselves first in these circumstances. But Paul used his circumstance as a springboard for the gospel to be shared. Some of you have been able to use your difficult circumstances as opportunities to share the gospel. God has a way of redeeming difficult times in our lives. That is why Paul wrote in Romans 8:28:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Paul doesn’t just ask the church to pray for the gospel to go out. He also asks the church to pray that he can also communicate the gospel clearly. He does not want people to misunderstand the gospel. We must make sure that we are communicating the gospel clearly.
We need to understand that prayer serves as the foundation for advancing the gospel. This leads to the second point of our text.
II. Living Our Lives with Wisdom is Necessary for Advancing the Gospel. (vs. 5)
Having discussed the necessity for prayer, Paul turns his thoughts toward how we live out our lives before non-believers. He says in verse 5 that we are to “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders making the best use of the time.” As believers, we are to be cautious and tactful so as to avoid antagonizing or alienating outsiders. We should live our lives in such a way that non-Christians may be attracted, impressed, and ultimately convicted. Outsiders are watching how we react, how we make decisions, and how we speak. In other words, non-Christians should be able to view how we live our lives and, therefore, leave a positive impression of the gospel. It is vital that this be true among us because in doing so, we make the best use of our time.
Listen to these passages of scripture that speak to this truth:
1 Corinthians 10:32-11:1
Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
1 Peter 2:12
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
In High School, I was trying to witness to a girl named Christina. In biology class one day, we began to discuss what a Christian was. I will never forget what she said. Does so and so go to your church? I said yes. Does he claim to be a Christian? I said yes. She said, “If that is what a Christian is like, then I don’t want it.” I was never able to persuade her because of how another Christian was living.
I remember another time in Fort Worth at the preschool where I worked for 4 years. I was trying to witness with one of my co-workers named Mrs. Allsup. She grew up in Russia but came to the States to marry a man. One day, I was taking the trash out to the dumpster just as we were all leaving. It wasn’t long after the shooting at our church, Wedgwood Baptist, where 7 people were killed on a Wednesday night. Mrs. Allsup drove up beside me and said, “You go to the church where the shootings happened don’t you.” I replied, “I do.” She then said, I know that you are a Christian because of how you live your life, especially over the past few weeks and also the way you treat others.” I told her I was a Christian and that nothing prevented her from becoming one as well. She could not get past the idea of God the Father executing his wrath on his son for others. I tried to persuade her, but I couldn’t. The point is, she watched how I lived my life and it provided an opportunity for the sharing of the gospel. We must be wise in how we live and interact with others.
Making a good impression isn’t everything, but it is not unimportant. The gospel message must always be fleshed out by the way believers live. Therefore, we must live our lives with wisdom so that the gospel can advance! This leads us to the 3rd and final point.
III. Interacting with Non-Believers Graciously is Essential for Advancing the Gospel. (vs. 6)
Not only does the way we live our life matter for advancing the gospel, but how we interact with non-believers and communicate the gospel is vital. The text here gives us two descriptions to illustrate the nature of Christian talk.
1. Let you speech be gracious
The idea of gracious here implies pleasant, attractive, and winsome. Jesus demonstrated this in his ministry and Luke writes about it in Luke 4:22
And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph's son?”
2. Let your speech be seasoned with salt.
In the time of Paul writing this letter, salt had 3 primary uses. It could preserve food. Second, it could sterilize food or act as an antiseptic. Third, it could season food. Paul has in mind this third idea. To allow our speech to be seasoned with salt is to let it be acceptable and inoffensive. Jesus once again spoke of this truth in Mark 9:50:
Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
When we engage with non-believers graciously, our conversation will be appropriate for each person we speak to. Listen to what Peter writes in 1 Peter 3:14-15:
But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.
We must interact with non-believers graciously so that the gospel may advance.
So, how can we advance the gospel here in Murfreesboro?
1. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel.
Ask God for opportunities to speak of Christ and for boldness to take the opportunities that he gives. Do this in your personal time with God. I would encourage Sunday School classes to pray for opportunities to share the gospel. If we aren’t willing to pray for opportunities, then more than likely, we will never recognize the opportunity when it presents itself.
2. Live out the gospel at all places. (home, work, gym, restaurants)
Show love to others.
Live out grace before others (forgiveness, kindness, compassion).
Live authentic lives. You are not perfect.
3. Be mindful of how you interact with people.
Are you warm and friendly to others?
Not talking to people
Your in my seat
4. Know the Gospel!
God, Man, Christ, Response