The Preeminence of Christ in the Way We Speak

Steve Viars April 2, 2017 Colossians 4:2-6

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1 John 1:3-4 - …what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

1 Peter 5:7 - …casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

Psalm 119:57-64 - The Lord is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words. I sought Your favor with all my heart; Be gracious to me according to Your word. I considered my ways and turned my feet to Your testimonies. I hastened and did not delay to keep Your commandments. The cords of the wicked have encircled me, but I have not forgotten Your law. At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You because of Your righteous ordinances. I am a companion of all those who fear You, and of those who keep Your precepts. The earth is full of Your lovingkindness, O Lord; teach me Your statutes.

2 Timothy 1:12 - …for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

2 Corinthians 3:18 - But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

Colossians 1:18 - He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

James 3:2, 5-6 - For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

3 characteristics of communication that honors our Savior

I. A Tongue that Prays Faithfully

Philippians 2:12-13 - So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

A. Devoted

proskartereo – kartereo – “to be steadfast, to endure”

…with the preposition that intensifies it’s meaning – “to be courageously persistent, to hold fast and not let go.”

B. Alert

Colossians 4:2 - Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it…

C. Thankful

Colossians 4:2 - Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving…

Colossians 3:17 - Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

D. Missional

Colossians 4:3 - …praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word…

II. A Tongue that Proclaims Clearly

A. Looking for open doors

Colossians 4:3 - …praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word…

B. So we will speak forth the mystery

Colossians 4:3 - …praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ…

Colossians 1:26-27 - …the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 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.

C. At whatever the cost

Colossians 4:3 - …praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned;

D. With clarity

Colossians 4:4 - …that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.

III. A Tongue that Speaks Graciously

A. Always with grace

B. Seasoned with salt

C. Able to respond wisely

Colossians 4:6 - Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. 

 

Outlined Manuscript

- If I asked you this morning – what do you especially like, or value, or appreciate about being a Christian…how would you answer?...

- and perhaps I should stop there and point out that while I’m going to try to quickly sketch out a couple of responses…this might make an excellent discussion question at the family dinner table…or with a group of friends…

- especially as we approach Easter and the marvelous opportunity to reflect on the substitutionary death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus…what is it about what He purchased for us that makes us especially thankful to be…as the King James would have said it so eloquently…in the beloved…

- so, what do you especially like, or value, or appreciate about being a Christian?...

 

1.      I assume very near the top of the list is the truth that we can have a genuine, intimate, personal relationship with the God of heaven and earth…

- The New Testament calls that fellowship with God…in Greek – koinania…the apostle John said it like this -- 1 John 1:3–4 - …what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

- the more we understand the holiness of God, and the sinfulness of man – not just mankind in general, but mankind including the person I saw in the mirror this am…the more astounding it is to contemplate that a way has been made for my sin to be forgiven (past, present, and future)…and for the righteousness of Jesus Christ to be placed on my account – positionally – so that now I can have a personal relationship with God…

- and that’s not just some arcane theory for Sunday mornings…

- many here this am could talk about all sorts of examples this week where that fellowship was real and powerful – it was the most important thing about your existence…

- so you’re driving to work while the sun was coming up – and you were praising God for his creative beauty…it was just you alone in the car…but it wasn’t just you alone in the car…

- it was worship service on Tuesday morning while you were heading off to the salt mines (or wherever you work 5 days a week)…

- you may have even picked up your imaginary mic and belted out your favorite praise song while you were driving and watching the sun come up…and isn’t it amazing how incredible your voice sounds…when you’re the only one listening…

- or on a more serious note…when you had something this week that was weighing you down…who did you want to talk to…and I realize there may be several names on that list…but whose name is at the top… 1 Peter 5:7 - casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

- what an incredible privilege, to be able to do that…one of our old hymns says it like this…

- Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us, that we should be called the sons of God!...

- many of us here this morning at both our campuses would say – that’s right – that reality is astounding to behold…

2. A second answer many of us would give to the question -- what do you especially like, or value, or appreciate about being a Christian…is that we have a reliable, and unchanging, and life-giving source of eternal truth in the Word of God…

- sociologists are telling us that now we are not only in an era that post-Christian, and post-modern…but even post-truth…

- it is amazing to try to have a conversation where people appear to have very little concern for speaking the truth…

- so you can show someone a video of what he said 30 days ago – and in some cases repeatedly…an compare it to what he said yesterday that was the complete opposite…and that’s acceptable in our culture…

- if you think about that long enough, it could become confusing and depressing for sure…

- well, against that backdrop fueled ultimately by our adversary whom the Scripture refers to as the “Father if Lies” – we have the inspired, inerrant, and sufficient Word of God…

- that’s why the longest Psalm in the Scripture by far, Psalm 119, is dedicated to our love for God’s Word…like this particular stanza….

- Psalm 119:57–64 - The Lord is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words. I sought Your favor with all my heart; Be gracious to me according to Your word. I considered my ways and turned my feet to Your testimonies. I hastened and did not delay to keep Your commandments. The cords of the wicked have encircled me, but I have not forgotten Your law. At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You because of Your righteous ordinances. I am a companion of all those who fear You, and of those who keep Your precepts. The earth is full of Your lovingkindness, O Lord; teach me Your statutes.

- and there will be plenty of people here today who would say – that’s my heart…

- that’s why early in the morning I wake up and get to a quiet place where I can open my Bible…and drink from God’s Word…

- because I don’t want to try to face the craziness of the world in which we live without being anchored firmly in God’s unchanging truth…

- and there’s stability that comes from that…so Paul could say to young Timothy -- 2 Timothy 1:12 - …for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

- I graduated from Baptist Bible College 35 years ago this spring…and for our class gift we went down to the docks in Philadelphia and bought this huge anchor…and they brought it back and installed it on the campus to go along with our school’s moto – anchored in the Word

- that’s one of the great blessings of being a follower of Christ…the stability we receive from being anchored in His unchanging Word, and His steadfast love…

 

3. A third answer I believe many of us would give is how our relationship with Christ sets us up for a life-time of change and growth…

- we believe God will meet us where we are…but He has no intention of leaving us there…

- 2 Corinthians 3:18 - But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

- that’s a great way to describe us, you know…being transformed…

- so Christianity is practical…it has guidance and direction for everyday life…and we love that, and we need that…even if at times it makes us uncomfortable…

- oh oh – did somebody mention being uncomfortable?...why did that just come up when thinking about how practical the Word of God is?...it’s because the next section in the book we’re studying addresses the way we use our tongues…oh oh…

- With that in mind, please open your Bibles to the book of Colossians chapter 4…that’s on page 158 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- we’re coming down to the end of our verse by verse study of the book of Colossians…in fact this would be a good time to look for opportunities over the next two weeks to read the book of Colossians in its entirety in one sitting…because hopefully now you’re much more familiar with the various sections we’ve unpacked verse by verse…

- it’s a good idea to also be in the practice of reading large sections of Scripture you have the entire context and flow of thought…

- now, our overall theme this year is – In Christ Alone…and why is that?...because this is the 500th anniversary of the protestant reformation…a period of time many of you are reading at least one book about during this calendar year…where we’re coming to understand that the five great solas of the Protestant Reformation were that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scriptures alone, to the glory of God alone…

 

- so Colossians was a logical book for us to study to begin this year because the theme of this entire book has been the preeminence of Jesus Christ…

- one of our key verses has been…Colossians 1:18 - He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

- is that your heart’s cry this morning – that Christ might come to have first place in everything?...even in the way you use your tongue…because we all know this…how did James say it… James 3:2, 5-6 - For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well…So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

- so these next verses in Colossians are going to teach us about The Preeminence of Christ in the Way We Speak

- let’s listen in – read Colossians 4:2-6

 

-

I. A Tongue that Prays Faithfully

- if you haven’t already, I’d like to ask you to have a piece of paper on which to write several take-aways, or homework assignments…

- I know many of you would say – I already did that when you floated the idea of reading through the book of Colossians in one sitting this week…great…

- that’s something else we like about Christianity – God is doing a work in us…but we cooperate with that work, right?…in other words, we work too…

- what did Paul tell the Philippians at about the same time he was writing the book of Colossians… Philippians 2:12–13 - So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

- so I think most of us would say as we read this passage – wow, I have some work to do…let’s let the passage guide us…how is prayer described in verses 2-3?...

A. Devoted

- proskartereo – kartereo – “to be steadfast, to endure”…

- with the preposition that intensifies it’s meaning – “to be courageously persistent, to hold fast and not let go.”

- well, that leads to a question or two, doesn’t it?...

- could your prayer life be characterized with words like this?...is it devoted…

- and please don’t think about that in the sense of raw duty…instead please connect it with everything we have learned about the person of Christ and our position in Christ…throughout the entire book…

- as you read it in its entirety – you could just go through and circle everything that Paul says about Jesus, that if I truly believe it, I would be more devoted to using my tongue to pray to Him…not because I have to…but because I can’t believe I get to…

- what else do you see in this passage about the way we’re to pray….

B. Alert

- 4:2 – Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it…

- Am I the only one who struggles with a mind that wanders during times of prayer?...like the disciples the night Jesus was betrayed and arrested…

- we love you Lord…we’ll never deny you or desert you…snore…

- last weekend I was down in our woods picking up some limbs that had fallen during the winter time…

- and you don’t really have to be alert when you’re doing that, right?...

- so I’m picking up sticks and also preaching several upcoming sermons…and planning years-worth of projects…and on and on…

- like Charles Barkley says in that hilarious commercial they’ve been running during the playoffs where he just claps for the games in his head – he says – it’s gets pretty loud up there…

- well, anyway, I had a whole load of branches in my arms and reached down to get another one except it wasn’t a stick…it was a snake…

- that’ll get your attention…it fact it shocked the fire out of me…

- then he acts like he’s going to bite me – and I say to him – really?...with those little teeth – what do you think you are, a rattlesnake or something…

- you know what he did next?...started sticking out his tongue at me…those things are rude…

- but the truth is – I was picking up sticks about half asleep and totally distracted from the task at hand…

- and I don’t know if that’s bad when you’re working in the woods – but it’s certainly bad when you’re supposed to be praying…a tongue that is devoted, and alert…and what else?

C. Thankful

- Colossians 4:2 - Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;

- this is the fifth time Paul has mentioned thankfulness in this short book…

- in fact he said it this way in verse 17 of chapter 3 -- Colossians 3:17 - Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

- And then did you see the transition in verse 3…[read – v. 3 – through “word”]…

D. Missional

- Colossians 4:3 - praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word…

- now, let me ask you to think about the way you tend to pray…lay that down in this column…and next to it what we read in this passage about using our tongues to pray in ways that are devoted, and alert, and thankful, and missional…

- that’s the way people who want Jesus to have first place in everything pray…

- so some take-aways…

- I would encourage you to make it a habit, if you haven’t already, to take your bulletin each Sunday which contains urgent and serious prayer requests on the part of our church family…and make those items a regular matter of prayer…then write in whatever updates your service pastor might have…it’s not an overstatement to say that your brothers and sisters are counting on you to do so…

- I would also encourage you to be praying for the upcoming Passion Play…[develop specifics]…

- Please also add to that our Easter Sunday services, and each of us faithfully inviting those the Lord has placed around us…[develop]

- then there’s the matter of praying for our college students, and professors, and staff, and athletes, and coaches…along with all the educators in our church…[develop the challenges that come at this time of year – and the privilege of being in a university town]

- the bottom line is – there are all kinds of ways we can use our tongues…one of the ways we show that Jesus Christ is coming to have first place in everything is by cultivating a prayer life that shows how much we treasure the privilege of coming into His presence…

 

- did you notice the “tongue transition” in verse 3…because Paul begins talking about the way he speaks…which when you think about it is absolutely fascinating…if there’s any example of a man who faithfully gave his life to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, it was the apostle Paul – and yet here he is humbly requesting prayer from these dear believers to be sure that his witness is faithful and true…so not just a tongue that prays faithfully, but also…

II. A Tongue that Proclaims Clearly

- please glance down over verses 3-4 and look for ways that Paul describes how we should speak for Christ…

A. Looking for open doors

- Colossians 4:3 - praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word…

 - there’s a couple of questions for us that flow just out of that…

- when you do pray, does it tend to be a laundry list of all the things you want the Lord to do for you…or does it include requesting that the Lord will give you, and show you ways to make a difference for Him…

- when’s the last time you looked for – or prayed for an open door of ministry?....

- now please connect that logically to what we’ve already studied…how do these two points fit together?...

- the issue of devoting yourself to prayer…what is it about the process that takes so long?...convincing the Lord to change His mind about the situation…or convincing yourself to change your thinking about the matter…

- Lord, change my co-workers…change my co-workers…change my co-workers…oh, there might be an open door of ministry as I respond well to co-workers who may never change?....

- thank you for the flaws of my co-workers and the excellent open doors of ministry those opportunities afford me…

- that’s what it’s means to pray in Jesus’ name – conforming our desires to His…

- this gives us a very straightforward question to ask – when is the last time you looked for, or prayed for, an open door of ministry?...

- and I’m quite certain that there will be many people here today who can say – I do that all the time…Lord, please help me to see and seize an ministry opportunities in this situation…

- others might have to say – I never have that on my radar screen…well, if that’s the case, it’s time to pick up that homework pencil, huh?...now, what else does Paul say about this….

B. So we will speak forth the mystery

- Colossians 4:3 - praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ…

- you say – what does that mean?...well, we have to make an interpretive decision here…but Paul already used this term earlier in the book, when he said…

- Colossians 1:26–27 - …the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 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.

- in this case we’re talking about the content of the gospel which would not have been fully known in the Old Testament and not fully available to the Gentile nations like it was in Paul’s day and is today…

- and if Paul was concerned that he would use his tongue to speak about Christ faithfully and well...where does that leave people like you and me?...

- with that concern times 100…

- now, you might say – well, that’s because Paul had it so easy…he was writing this book from a hot tub, he wouldn’t be focused on spiritual ministry if he faced the kind of trials I’m dealing with right now…

- are you sure you would want to say that?...and I’m not minimizing the difficulties that many people in our church family are facing right now…but where was Paul when he wrote this book?...

- here’s a hint – the book of Colossians was one of the prison epistles…so Paul was writing this from prison…

- and why was he is prison…well, he had a lead foot and his traffic ticket problem caught up with him…

- now, he was imprisoned for preaching the gospel and now he’s requesting prayer which he’s still imprisoned that he would be faithful in doing the very thing that landed him in jail to begin with…

- friend – when’s the last time you used your tongue to speak forth the mystery?...see…

C. At whatever the cost

- Colossians 4:3 - praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned;

- [if time, tell about when Jack Wyrtzen was dying in the hospital, he asked his long time co-worker Harry Bollback who had come to visit him to pray for his nurse who wasn’t yet a Christian…]…

D. With clarity

- Colossians 4:4 - that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.

- isn’t it amazing how the evaluative questions just come spilling out of this passage…

- [if time – tie back to the introduction – we love the Word of God – cf 2 Tim 3:16 – it correct us…]

- when is the last time you can remember using your tongue to clearly proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to someone else in your life?

- [if time – go back to what James said about the way we sin with our tongues – not just by commission, but by omission]…

- see, a tongue that proclaims clearly by looking for open doors, and speaking forth mystery, at whatever the cost, and with great clarity that only comes by depending on the grace and strength of our Lord…

 

- let me give you a quick update on the Northend Community Center and ways you can be specifically praying right now regardless of which campus you presently attend…

 

- this has been an open door of ministry if there ever was one…

- that’s true because of the location…

- it’s true because of the strong support and involvement of both the city of Lafayette and the United Way…it’s a marvelous community project that we have the privilege of leading and directing and owning…

- what’s also amazing is that the majority of the funding is coming from outside Faith…

- with a $5M lead gift from the John Scheumann Family Foundation

- over $3M in equity from NMTC’s…

- an anticipated $1M from the city…

- part of the land being gifted by the owners of Market Square Shopping Center…another parcel from the Price McKenzie family – a family that goes all the way back to Jim Price who owned National Homes and developed Market Square…

- but we could not go down this road were it not for the faithful giving and serving of our church family….people who in many cases are on the constant lookout for open doors of ministry…and who want to speak clearly and passionately about the good news of Jesus Christ…

- but it is crunch time for sure – between now and June 30th…and it would be very helpful if you could pray in these specific ways…

1. Land use due diligence – Joe Blake and Paul Refior – two men who are working tirelessly to bring these three parcels together…

- we’ve closed on the property…

- but there is environmental testing…

- surveys…variances…cross-parking agreements…

- please use your tongue to pray for us as we all seek to use our lives and our tongues to proclaim Christ more effectively in a new area of town…

 

  1. Final facility design and budget – Steve Marsh – Titan Construction

- [explain the process and the importance of April 12 – and the next steps…]

 

  1. Last Friday meetings with our collaborative partners…pray that friendships will be built

 

III. A Tongue that Speaks Graciously

- would you agree with me that Colossians 4:6 has to be one of the most convicting verses in all the Bible?...

- most of would be helped by reviewing it each and every day…and it’s only through the Savior whom this entire book is about…whom we’re told live inside of us…that we could ever hope to make progress in this area…

  1. Always with grace

- cf the question – if you placed a sign on your desk that said, “grace spoken here,” would the people around you ask if that was a new policy?

B. Seasoned with salt

- which in Bible times was both a preservative, and something that enhanced taste…

- it was always good…but just good in different ways

 

C. Able to respond wisely

 

- Colossians 4:6 - Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.

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.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video