Colossians 4:3-4

Steve Viars March 4, 1995 Colossians 4:3-4

3/5/95
Colossians #25
saved on Colossians SS disk as "coloss25"

- last week we began stuyding the important matter of communication.
   - and how a person who is convinced that Jesus Christ is preeminent
       uses his/her tongue.

- we said that it didn't surprise us that this topic would come up.
   - Paul has talked about marriage
   - he's talked about how we rear our children
   - he's talked about the workplace

      - each of those topics were to be understood in the context of a
         person being convinced that Jesus Christ is preeminent.

- and then Paul moves into the important subject of communication,
   speech, how we use our tongues.

- that’s important, because one of the ways you can tell if a person
   really believes Jesus Christ is preeminent is the way they speak.

- In fact, it gives us a good way to evaluate our past week:
    - "What did the way you spoke to others this week (silently)
       communicate to them about who Jesus Christ is to you?"

- now, we said these 5 verses naturally fall into 3 divisions.
   - last week, we talked about a particular use of the tongue--that was
       what?  (prayer)

   - you can evaluate how important Jesus Christ is to someone by
      watching and listening to the way they pray.

- INPUT - what kinds of things from verse 2 did we say ought to
           characterize the way a person prays?
              - persistence (watch thereunto, devote yourselves...)
              - being alert (aware of the issues around me)
              - being thankful

  - we spent most of our time last week on the matter of persistence (did
      I say "we"?)
        - but all three ideas are very, very important

- these ideas also lead us naturally into our study this morning.
   - verses three and four talk about "the speech of proclamation"

- it's interesting the way the verses develop
    - Paul begins by asking this church to pray for him as he witnesses
    - but in the process, he instructs us on the way we should witness.

- so these verses are about evangelism, and when you think about it, it's
   a natural extension of what we studied last Sunday.

    - as we pray persistently.
    - as we work at being alert to the issues around us.
    - as we thank God for what He has done in us...

       - that can, should, and must lead us to thinking about how we can
           use our tongues more effectively in witnessing, and thus
           demonstrate that Jesus Christ is preeminent.


- this morning, I'd like us to see from verse 3-4, four components of an
    evangelistic heart.

I. Paul Recognized His Need For Prayer

    - it's very important to note, that Paul is instructing this church
       in the way that they pray, that he reminded them---he implored
       them, that he and his group needed prayer.

    - last Sunday night in the commissioning service, we studied several
        places where the apostle Paul asked for prayer.

        - I Thes. 5:25 - Brethren, pray for us

        - Eph. 6:18 - Praying always, with all prayer and supplication in
            the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance in
            the saints; and for me...


    - so the point is -- Col. 4:3 teaches us that Paul recognized his
        need for prayer.
          - especially when he's about to launch into a discussion of
            evangelism, he begins that discussion with a request for
            prayer.

    - INPUT - what does this teach us about Paul?

          - not proud  (I'm the big church planter--you ought to be
                 asking me to pray for you)

          - not humanistic in his approach to ministry  (cf. Bennett's
              Book of Virtues -- great book, but can it accomplish what
              it sets out to do apart from a relationship with Christ?)

    - INPUT - what question could we ask ourselves based on this point?
        - how important is it to me that someone else would pray for me
            as I evangelize?
        - have I ever asked anyone to pray for me about this?
        - is my spouse praying for me about this matter because we're
            communicating about those we're trying to reach?

- see, what does your perceived need for prayer communicate about your
        evangelistic heart (or lack of it)?


II. Paul Knew It Was God Who Gives Doors Of Utterance

    - Paul was very specific about what he wanted the Colossians to pray
        for regarding this matter.
    - "pray that God would open up for us a door for the Word"
        - the KJV - "a door of utterance"

    - now, we don't need to get all spooky about this--because there's
       nothing spooky about it.
    - he's using a very graphic image to describe the way God works.

       - INPUT - what is a literal door?
                    - an opportunity to enter
                    means of approach, or access

- so a door of utterance is an opportunity to speak the gospel message
   - an opportunity to carry the good news of Jesus Christ across the
      threshold of someone's heart.

- now, there's a lot in the Scripture about open doors.

    - I Cor. 16:8-9 - I shall remain in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a
          wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are
          many adversaries.

          - Paul knew what it was like for the Lord to open up all sorts
              of opportunities for ministry.
          - By the way, this passage in I Cor. 16 illustrates a very
              important point about "open doors"
                 - they are not "trouble free"
                 - some folks have the idea that a "door" is only "open"
                     if there's no obstacles.

                 - that is not true.
                 - "the door wasn't open" has often been used as an
                     excuse to not do do what God wants us to to.

          - our problem today isn't that God is not opening doors for
              ministry.

              - our problem is that we either:
                 1) don't recognize the ones God has opened
                 2) don't want to take that opportunity because of the
                      obstacles that come with it.

                      - repeat I Cor. 16:8-9

        - another verse about open doors is:

             - Acts 14:27 - this is at the end of the first missionary
                 journey
                   - Paul and Barnabus come back and reported to the
                      church "all the things that God had done with them
                      and how He had opened a door of faith to the
                      Gentiles"

- the point is that Paul knew that ministry opportunities didn't just
    happen.
      - he knew that those opportunities were the result of a sovereign
          God working providentially in the lives of people.
      - part of his evangelistic prayer requests was that God would
         continue to provide those kinds of ministry opportunities.

- now, when you think about it, it was amazing that the apostle Paul
   would be concerned about this kind of a door.
     - remember, where is Paul when he is writing this book?
         - he's in prison.

- what door do you think he would be most concerned about having opened?
     - the door of his cell!

(and I'm not saying it would have been sinful had Paul asked these people
to pray that he would be released)

- but the point here is -- that wasn't on the forefront of Paul's mind.
    - that wasn't the top of the agenda.

- Getting out of the situation was not Paul's goal.

- INPUT - what was Paul's goal?
    - using the situation to have as many opportunities to speak for
        Christ as possible.

- can I ask you this morning, is that convicting?

- how many of us have the mentality...Lord, if you get me out of this,
   I'll really be a good witness for you.

     - if you just give me another job, I'll really live for you.
     - if you heal me of this illness, or heal my loved one...I'll be a
         great testimony for you.
     - "open the door and get me out of this, and I'll sing your praises"

- that’s a lot different than what Paul is talking about here, isn't it?
    - Lord, I invite you to keep me in this trial as long as your
       purposes can be advanced by me being here---but help me not to
       miss the doors of opportunity.

- is that your heart this morning?
- are you asking God to give you doors of opportunity?
    - are you looking for those opportunities?
    - are you using those opportunities?

    - or is it possible, that you're trying to get out of the very
        opportunities that the Lord has provided?

- cf. Phil. 1:12ff

- by the way, while Paul was in prison, did the Lord give him doors of
     utterance, and did Paul make the most of those opportunities?

- Input - what kinds of things did Paul accomplish while in prison?

    1) wrote letters to the churches that have been a blessing to
        believers for centuries.

          - Eph, Col, Philippians, Philemon - the "prison epistles"

    2) ministered to many he would have never ministered to otherwise

         a) mob at Jerusalem - Acts 22:1 ff

         b) Felix - Acts 24:10 ff

         c) Herod Agrippa - Acts 26:1 ff

         d) Roman soldiers - Phil. 1:13 ff

         e) members of Caesar's household - Phil. 4:22

         f) members of Rome's Jewish community - Acts 28:17 ff

    - in fact, Paul's imprisonment is summed up in the book of Acts with
        the words, "He stayed two full years in his own rented quarters,
        and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of
        God, and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all
        openness, unhindered" (Acts 28:30-31).


- Paul wanted these dear folks to pray for him because he knew it was God
   who gives doors of opportunity.
- do you and I believe that?

    - when's the last time you asked someone else to pray that God would
       give you one?
    - when's the last time you recognized one?
    - when's the last time you capitalized on one?

cf. Matt Prelock's testimony


III. Paul Wanted To Speak The Mystery

    - Paul makes it very clear that he is not putting all the
       responsibility on the Lord (as we discussed earlier).
    - this is a great illustration of the balance between divine
       sovereignty and human responsibility.

    - Paul says, pray that we (he and his co-workers) would speak about
        the mystery of Christ.

    - INPUT - when Paul uses that phrase "mystery of Christ" -- what is
        he referring to?

        - cf. 1:26-27
        - the fact that that the gospel was to be preached not just to
            Jews, but to Gentiles.
               - any person who was willing to repent and believe would
                   be saved.

    - now, everything we have studied in this prayer request has been
       amazing---but there's a point crying out to be made here.

       - what was it that led Paul to be imprisoned in the first place?

       - his preaching that both Jews and Gentiles could be saved.

           - all through the book of Acts Jewish groups got angry because
               Paul said that gentiles could be saved.
           - those who wouldn't change often would seek to kill him or
               put him prison.

           - that’s a major theme of the book of Acts (18:12, 13; 21:28;
              22:21-30; 23:26-30; 24:1-9; 25:1, 2, 6, 7; 26:19-21, 32)

       - you would think by now, paul might be saying, "You know, maybe
           we need to rethink this, boys."
       - our message isn't playing too well.
           - maybe we need to get the church growth experts in on this
               and fine tune our message.
       - or if not, you'd at least expect him to say---"I've done my
            part--I've paid my dues--it's someone else's turn"
               - I want to get out of this prison, then I'm going to get
                  a little house by the sea---and get some fishing in.

- but that’s not at all what Paul is saying here.
   - the paradox is incredible.
   - he's there because of the message of the mystery of Christ (he even
       says--for which I am imprisoned)
         - but he's asking that he have additional opportunities to speak
             that same message.
- all this tells us something about an evangelistic heart.
- this man loved the message
    - he knew the way it changed his life
    - it had changed the lives of others
    - he couldn't think of anything better to do with his tongue than
        share the mystery of Christ.

    - and because Jesus Christ was preeminent in his heart---he wanted to
        keep speaking that message
          - and he even asked others to pray that he would be faithful
              doing it.

- what does your faithfulness at sharing the message say about how
    preeminent Jesus Christ is to you?
- are you using your tongue to tell others about Christ, even if there is
    a price to be paid?


IV. Paul Wanted To Speak The Gospel Clearly

    - just when you think this request couldn't get any more amazing,
        Paul speaks verse 4.

    - read

    - INPUT - what impresses you about this verse?
          (use of the word ought, his desire that his presentation be
            "clear.")

    A. To Paul, this was an obligation.

        - Paul had a compulsion to share the gospel.

        - Romans 1:16

        - I Cor. 9:16 - Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel.

        - II Cor. 5:14 - For the love of Christ constrains us...

        - Paul viewed evangelizing (and evangelizing clearly, and
           effectively) as something he ought to do.
             - it was his obligation.

             - not something his co-workers needed to be doing (though
                  they did)
             - not something the other churches needed to be doing
                  (though they did)
             - it was something he ought to do.

    B. His goal was clarity.

        - INPUT - why is this surprising?  (the great apostle Paul
            concerned about clarity)

              - he didn't want anything about his presentation to cloud
                 the message.

              - how much work and effort have you and I put into being
                 clear and precise at sharing the good news of Christ?

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

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