The Book of Colossians #16

 

A Witness for Christ
Colossians 4:2-6
 
It seems that increasingly we are getting good news about the fight against cancer. Maybe you read an article just recently that they are getting closer and closer to a cure for this dread disease of cancer. It will be good news indeed when they find out the solution to this tremendous problem and are able to devise means to deal with the disease of cancer.
 
        Maybe there’s a scientist who found the cure for cancer and then took that information and buried it and refused to share with the world his cure. It would be a crime, wouldn’t it? A man like that would be prosecuted. It would be criminal to have good news about how to how a disease like cancer and not share that disease with other people.
       
The Bible says that you and I have some good news for this world. It is the good news that people can go to heaven when they die. They can have a meaningful life. They can be forgiven of their sins. They can have peace in their hearts which passes understanding. It would be a crime for you and me to have good news like that and not share this good news with a world that desperately needs it.
 
I think in the Old Testament of an experience with two lepers who were in desperate condition. They were hungry, they were starving, they were looking for a way to survive. They went into a city and found that the city had an abundance of material things and here’s what they said, “We do not well, this is a day of good tidings and we hold our peace.” 
 
It is not good to have good news that people need and not share that good news with others. I wonder what kind of approach are you taking? What efforts are you making? What are you doing to make contact with those who need to know the Lord Jesus as their Savior?
 
One of the problems Christians run into as they become older in the Lord and as the years go by as a Christian, is that if they are not very careful they will get so involved with their Christian friends that they do not know people who need to know Christ as their Savior. It’s wonderful to have Christian friends and to fellowship with those who know the Lord, but if we aren’t careful we will get isolated from those we are trying to win to Jesus Christ. 
 
When you study the Bible you will find that the Christian is intended to be insulated, but he is not intended to be isolated. Jesus, in John 17, talked about our relationship to this world. He said that we are saved out of the world. Then He said we are still in the world. Then He said we are not of the world. But he said we are to be sent into the world. So, you and I are not to be isolated from sinners.
       
Think about electrical wires: the wires are well insulated but there is power inside those wires. One end of those wires is connected to a source of power and the other end is connected to a need. The wire is the link between the power and the need. That is exactly what a Christian is supposed to be. 
 
We are to be well insulated, not to partake of the sins of this world, but in contact with Jesus Christ, the power on one end and in contact with those who are in need on the other end. 
So, you and I are to be interested in this matter of witnessing to those who need the Lord.
       
I want to call you attention in verse five to a little phrase, “those who are without.” That’s talking about those who do not know the Lord. It’s talking about people who don’t know Jesus. It’s talking about people who have never been saved. It’s used in several places in the Bible. 
 
In I Corinthians 5:12 it says, “For what have I to do to judge them that are without. Do not you judge them that are within, but them that are without God judges.” Two groups of people in this terminology. Those who are without. They have never been saved. Those who are within--those who have come to Christ. 
 
It’s really a sad picture of those who don’t know the Lord. It’s like a sheep without the fold. It is like a child without a family. To be without means to be without Christ. It means to be without hope. It means to be without forgiveness. It means to be without peace. 
 
So, the Bible says we are to walk in wisdom toward them that are without. That’s what our job is. Our job is to go out there where they are and bring them in. Those of us who are within are to go out and tell those who are without that they also have been invited to come within. That’s what these verses are all about. It’s talking about how the whole witnessing enterprise works.
       
I want you to see from these verse some encouragements that will help you and me
as we witness to those who are without. 
These verses lay before us several encouragements that will help us in the witnessing enterprise. I want to call your attention that these verse encourage us in our witnessing to –
 
I. Be PRAYERFUL.
       
Prayer is a very important aspect of witnessing. 
 
Verse 2
 
It takes a lot of prayer to bring people to the
Lord. There must be heart
concern. Prayer.
 
I would encourage you to have a prayer list. Maybe in your Bible. Put down the names of people you are praying for. Write down their names. Every day you pray for them. Be prayerful.
That’s the first encouragement.
       
He tells us several things about our prayer. He tells us we ought to pray continually in verse 2. “Continue in prayer.” Some translate that -- be devoted to prayer. 
 
The picture of the word here is of an army making a persistent, consistent attack against a city. Never giving up. Praying continually. Devoting yourself diligently to prayer. Sometimes you have to pray a long time for people to come to Christ. Some of you have prayed many years for people to know Christ and after many years God has answered. 
Some of you are still praying. Don’t ever give up.
       
Edgar and Olivee Wilson
 
God answered her prayer. Don’t ever give up. Continue in prayer. Devote yourself to prayer.
       
“Being vigilant”. Not only pray, but the Bible says to watch. The word there means to be alert. It means to keep your eyes open. Be watching. It’s important for us to watch and pray.   In these days it’s very important for us to be alert, to have our eyes open, to know what’s going on in the world. You need to be up-to-date in what’s taking place in the world. 
 
It will help you be a better witness for the Lord. You need to find out what people are thinking today. If you don’t keep up, things are moving so rapidly now. Keep up so you’ll know how to be a witness for the Lord in this day. A Christian should be well informed. You should know what’s taking place in the culture. You should watch as well as pray. Watch before you pray.
 
Watch while you pray. The easiest thing to do is wander while you’re praying. Have you ever noticed that? It’s so easy for your thoughts to wander while you are praying. All kinds of things will happen. You will think of something you need to do. All kinds of thoughts. We have to watch while we are praying so that these extraneous thoughts don’t hinder us in our prayer. 
 
After we pray we ought to watch and look for God’s answers and expect God’s answers to come. Pray. Be prayerful in this matter of witnessing. Pray continually. Pray watchfully.
       
Pray thankfully. “with thanksgiving.” That’s very important. 
Has God ever answered a prayer for you? Then thank Him for it. What would you think about a child who is constantly coming to you asking for something and never thanking you for what you have already given them? How does God feel if we are just constantly asking and we never stop and thank the Lord for what He has answered in our lives. If God has answered a prayer for you today, thank Him for it.
       
Verse 3 gets to the heart of the matter. It talks about praying evangelistically.
 
That is praying to the end of seeing people come to Christ. 
 
He talking about himself and the other preachers involved in the preaching enterprise, seeking to preach that others might be won to Christ. He says to pray for us that God would open unto us a door to speak. He is saying to pray for us as we speak. Pray that God will give us the words to say. I hope you pray for us during the week that God would help us as we study to give us the word that you need on Sunday and Wednesday. 
 
I hope you pray for us while we preach that God would use what we say and that there will be an openness, a freedom, an opportunity to speak. Pray that the Holy Spirit will open up the hearts of people as we speak that the Word might get into their hearts.
       
Not only for us, but pray for all who are witnesses. Pray for your fellow church members, your fellow Christians who are telling others about Christ. 
 
Pray for yourself that God will open a door for you to speak. 
 
Listen: God knows how to open doors. God is a
door-opening God. That is saying that God can make opportunities for you. God can open up pportunities for you to say something for Jesus. I know we believe that. And maybe that’s why we don’t pray this prayer. Because if we pray it, and God opens the door, then we are going to have to speak, and we really don’t want to do that. 
       
Listen: IF God can open the door, he can equip you to be ready to speak. We don’t have to be afraid or intimidated by those opportunities. We need to make ourselves available to do that. Praying for the opportunity is a way to get ready. 
 
I think about how Paul took every door of opportunity. Paul used prison as an opportunity to win people to the Lord. Chained to Roman soldiers, Paul witnessed to those soldiers and told them about Christ. In the hospital rooms you may have an opportunity to tell somebody about the Lord. Have a flat tire. Somebody stopped to help you. It might be an opportunity to tell somebody about Jesus. Look for opportunities -- they are everywhere. There are folks that can be won everywhere to the Lord.
       
There are prospects everywhere. That store you are going to tomorrow there will be somebody there and you need an opportunity to lead them to the Lord. Speak a word for Jesus. That person who knocks at your door. That repairman who comes to your house. That may be an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus Christ. Take opportunities. 
The first encouragement is to be prayerful. Make it a matter of daily prayer. When you get ready to leave your house every day, pray specifically for these opportunities. Pray specifically that God will put in your path someone that day who needs to know the Lord as their Savior. Then he says
 
II. Be CAREFUL.
       
Verse 5
 
This verse takes us from the place of prayer out into the public place. There are two aspects to the witnessing life of a Christian. There is the hidden aspect--that’s our prayer life. There is also the public aspect--that’s our daily life. 
 
When he says here in verse 5, “walk in wisdom,” the word, walk, is a figure of speech to describe our daily lifestyle. Be careful. Redeeming the time. That means we ought to be careful in our testimony. Your daily life -- how you live. How you conduct yourself in front of other people. Your daily behavior, your daily activities, how you just live your daily life is tremendously crucial in this matter of witnessing to others. People see what you do far sooner than they hear what you say.
       
There was a preacher coming to the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, a number of years ago. Someone, for whatever reasons, put a private eye on him to just check him out. True story. That private eye followed him around for several days. He brought the report back that this man lives what he preaches. What would happen if they put a private eye on you? We have some private eyes right here in our church. 
You may be sitting next to a private eye.    If they put a private eye on you and followed your activities for the next seven days. Would that be all right? Would it be all right to give a public report next Sunday morning for what you did in the seven days of this week? Your lifestyle is very important. Walk in wisdom. Live in such a way that your testimony will be consistent.
       
People see what you do every day. If what you do contradicts what you say you believe, you are wasting your words. You have lost your opportunity to witness. 
               
You are writing a gospel, a chapter each day. 
By deeds that you do,
by words that you say. Men read what you write, whether faithless or true.      
        Say, what is the gospel according to you?
       
The little phrase “redeeming the time” literally means to “buy up the opportunities.” He is saying we ought to buy up the opportunities to lead people to Christ. In other words, make the most of every opportunity. We don’t have much longer. Time is getting by. 
 
Have you ever thought about how brief is our opportunity? We need to buy up the opportunities. Life gets by in such a hurry. We don’t have many more opportunities. We don’t have a lot more time. We need to buy up the opportunities. This word, buy up, carries the idea of cost. It cost something to be a witness for the Lord. 
 
 
 
If you really want to win people to Christ you are going to have to pay a price.   You are going to have to inconvenience yourself a little bit. It’s never convenient to witness for the Lord. You are going to have to inconvenience yourself if you are going to go out and tell other about Christ. You are going to have to pay the price of some pain and some rejection and some hurt. But, oh, how important it is to tell others about Christ.
 
Be prayerful. Be careful.
 
III. Be GRACEFUL.
       
I’m talking about the witness itself--the words you use. I’m talking about your speech. Be graceful. 
 
Look at verse 6
 
There should be a sense of favor about our speech. The word, grace, means favor. How can our speech be seasoned with grace? 
 
Look back at Colossians 3:16
 
, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.” That’s God’s word. Get God’s word in your
heart. “Teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” The singing of God’s songs. Then he says, “singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” You get grace in your speech by getting grace in your heart. Fill your heart with God’s grace. Open your heart to God’s favor in your life.
       
 
 
The closer we get to the Lord and the more we learn about the Lord and the more the Lord begins to change our lives, the more we begin to experience His grace in our lives, the more our speech can be with grace.
       
Listen to Ephesians 4:29. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth but that which is good to the use of edifying that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” 
 
Do your words minister grace to the hearers? Be careful of your speech. Make sure there’s a favor about your speech. Be careful of your conversation.
       
I heard Bill Stafford, the evangelist, tell this some time ago. He said that he was in a city in a meeting and went to a restaurant to eat one of the nights. He said sitting nearby him was a table full of people from one of the churches in the city. He said he was not eavesdropping but they were just talking loud enough where he could hear. 
 
As they were talking it became very obvious that they were talking about their church. They were so critical of their church. They were so unkind in the things they said about their church. They had so many negative things to say about their church. Never knowing that he was a preacher. Bro. Stafford said that in a little while he got up and walked over and said to them, “I want you to know that I’m an evangelist and a Christian. I’m really glad that I am because if I were a lost person and had sat listening to what you had to say about your church tonight, I probably would never, never come to Christ.”
       
He also says, “seasoned with salt.” Not only favor in your speech, but flavor in your speech. Salt flavors things. Some translate this “a hallowed pungency.” A pungency about what we say. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you have to be a dull conversationalist. Find out what’s going on in the world. Get up-to-date. Be alert. Have some pungency in what you say. 
 
Some Christian’s conversation would bore the angels. It’s amazing. Make your conversation interesting and winsome. When you go into a home and start talking to people, one of the best things to do is start talking about their children. If you want to get people interested in what you have to say, start bragging on their children. Say something sweet and kind about them (if you can). If they are about to jump into the aquarium it makes it a little hard. But say something sweet in the home. “seasoned with salt.” He is saying to be graceful in your speech, in the pungency of your speech. 
       
“That you may know how you ought to answer each one.” He is saying to be very purposeful in what you say. Let your words have a purpose. Know how to answer. 
 
Do you know how to answer people today? Do you know how to give a good defense of the Christian faith today? You better have some answers. You better know what you’re talking about. Better be studying your Bible. Better be getting involved in your Sunday School studying the Word. You better be coming to the Bible studies and getting everything you can.
       
 
In I Peter 3:15 it says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and be ready always to give an answer to every man who asks you a reason of the hope that is in your with meekness and fear.” Always be ready. Be ready to give an answer. Tell people why you believe what you believe. We have a job to do. We have a witness to give to those who are without.
       
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