To Them Who Are Without: Colossians Series #9

November 21, 2023

I am sure you know someone who has had cancer. It will be good news indeed when the medical world finds the solution to this tremendous problem and is able to devise means to deal with the disease of cancer.

I wonder if it could be possible for a scientist who has found the cure for cancer and yet took that information and buried it, refusing to share the cure with the world. It would be a crime, wouldn’t it? A person like that would probably be prosecuted. It would be criminal to have good news about a cure for a disease like cancer and not share the cure 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 us to have good news like that and not share this good news with a world that desperately needs it.

From the Old Testament, I think of an experience with two lepers who were in desperate condition. They were hungry, they were starving, and 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 you are taking to share the good news with others. What efforts are you making? What are you doing to contact 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 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 are not careful, we will get isolated from those we are trying to win to Jesus Christ.

Jesus gives us the perfect example. The Bible says about Jesus that He was separate from sinners. Yet, on the other hand, it says Jesus was a friend of sinners. He was separate from sinners in that He was different from them in an infinite way. But also, the Bible says He was a friend of sinners. It is one thing to be separate from sinners; it is another thing to be altogether isolated from sinners.

When you study the Bible, you will find that Christians are intended to be insulated, but they are 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, we are not to be isolated from sinners.

In this chapter, I would like to call your attention to the phrase found in Colossians 4:5, “toward them that are without.” That’s an interesting way in the Bible of 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, and those who are within; those who have come to Christ. Where do you fit in that illustration? Are you without or are you in? Have you never received Christ as your Savior? Are you out? Or have you invited Jesus into your life? Are you in?

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. Our job is to go out there where they are and bring them in. Jesus put it in a parable like this. He said, “Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come 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.

I want you to see, from these verses, 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 you to see, from these verses, 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. We Are To Be Prayerful With Our Witnessing

man_praying_holding_bible.jpgPrayer is a very important aspect of witnessing. In Colossians 4:2 we read, “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” The Apostle Paul said, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved. It takes a lot of prayer. It takes a lot of agony in prayer to bring people to the Lord. I think so much of that verse in the Old Testament, “As soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.” That means that there must be agony. There must be a heart concerned for prayer.

I would encourage you to have a prayer list. Maybe in your Bible. Put down the names of the people you are praying for. You are praying for someone who is lost, aren’t you? You do have someone in mind that you want to know Christ as Savior, don’t you? So, get a prayer list. Maybe it’s your classmates at school who need the Lord. You write down their names. Every day you pray for them. Maybe it’s the folks you work around during your job each day. Put their names down and pray for them daily. Being prayerful is the first encouragement.

He tells us several lessons about our prayer. Paul tells us we ought to pray continually in verse 2. He says, “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, and devoting yourself diligently to prayer. Sometimes you must pray for a long time for people to come to Christ. Don’t you ever give up.

Now, we read, “And watch in the same.” Not only pray, but the Bible says to watch. The word, “watch,” means to be alert. It means to keep your eyes open. It’s important for us to watch and pray. Nehemiah in the Old Testament said that we made our prayer unto God, and we made a watch unto them. 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 on what’s taking place in the world. It will help us be a better witness for the Lord. We need to find out what people are thinking today. If we don’t keep up, we will fall behind because things are moving so rapidly now.

A Christian should be well informed. You should know what’s taking place in the culture. You should watch and pray. Watch before you pray. Watch while you pray. The easiest thing is to wander while you’re praying. Have you ever noticed that? It’s so easy for your thoughts to wander while you are praying. You will think of something you need to do. 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. We should be prayerful in this matter of witnessing. Pray continually. Pray watchfully.

Pray thankfully. Paul says, “with thanksgiving.” 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? When God answers a prayer for you, thank Him for it.

As we move to Colossians 4:3, Paul gets to the heart of the matter. He talks about praying evangelistically. That is praying to the end of seeing people come to Christ. What a wonderful statement is verse three. Paul says, “Withal praying also for us…” He talks 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 of utterance. 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 the preacher while he or she preaches, that God would use what they say and that there will be a door of utterance–an opportunity to speak. Pray that the Holy Spirit will open up the hearts of people as we speak so that the Word might get into their hearts.

Not only for preachers but pray for all who are witnesses. Pray for your fellow church members and your fellow Christians who are telling others about Christ. Pray for yourself that God will open a door of utterance for you. Read these words out loud, “That God would open unto us a door of utterance.” God knows how to open doors. God is a door-opening God. In Revelation 3:7-8, we read, “He that opens and no man shuts and shuts and no man opens. I know thy works says the Lord Jesus, behold I have set before thee an open door and no man can shut it.” God can make opportunities for you to share Christ.

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. Maybe you will have a flat tire and somebody will stop to help you. It might be an opportunity to tell somebody about Jesus. Look for opportunities — they are everywhere.

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 so that God will put in your path someone that day who needs to know the Lord as their Savior.

II. We Are To Be Prudent In Our Witnessing

We have come to an incredible statement in Colossians 4:5: “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.” 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. The words, “Be careful. Redeeming the time” 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, and how you just live your daily life are tremendously crucial in this matter of witnessing to others. People see what you do far sooner than they hear what you say.

The story is told about a preacher who was coming to a major city to preach the Gospel. Someone, for whatever reason, put a private eye on him to just check him out. 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? 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 about your lifestyle next Sunday morning about what you did the past week?

In Proverbs 6:13, we read, “They speak with their feet.” We teach by where we go and the lifestyle we live speaks. Be sure your feet don’t contradict your lips. Be sure that what you do does not contradict what you say.

Here is a poem to put on your refrigerator door:

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?

“Redeeming the time” has the idea of “buying up the opportunities.” We should buy up the opportunities to share Christ when we go shopping.  In other words, make the most of every opportunity. We don’t have much longer. Time is getting by.

We should invest in opportunities when we go to the bank. The greatest investment we will ever make is sowing into the souls of people.

We should multiply our opportunities when we go to a ballgame. Instead of going alone, take others and create opportunities to share Christ. The greatest grand slam is winning people to Christ.

Jesus said to work while it is day, the night comes when no man can work. Have you ever thought about how brief is our opportunity? We need to buy up the opportunities. Life gets by in such a hurry. I see these high school seniors when I speak in a local church. How young, how energetic, how filled with anticipation for the future they are. It won’t be any time they will look around and say, “Man, I’m in my thirties. Seems only yesterday I was in high school.” Then, they will blink their eyes a couple of times and they will be looking at their grandchildren. They will blink their eyes a couple of times and they will be coming toward the end of it all. We don’t have many more opportunities. We don’t have a lot more time. We need to buy up the opportunities.

This word for “redeeming” or “buying up,” carries the idea of cost. It costs 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 others about Christ. You are going to have to pay the price of some pain and some rejection and some hurt. But how important it is to tell others about Christ.

III. We Need to Be Pungent In Our Witnessing

At this point, I am talking about your speech. Be graceful. Look at verse 6, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt.” There should be a sense of favor about our speech. The word, grace, means favor. How can our speech be 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.

In Psalm 45:2, talking about the Lord Jesus it says, “Grace is poured into your lips.” Then when Jesus spoke in Luke 4, when He got through speaking the Bible says the people were amazed and filled with wonder at the gracious words that proceeded out of His mouth. 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.

Is your speech flavored with grace? He also says, “seasoned with salt.” Not only favor in your speech, but flavor in your speech. Salt flavors things. Some translate this as “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 and be alert. Have some pungency in what you say. Some Christian’s conversation would bore the angels. 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 about 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 is “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 every man.” 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. 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 you with meekness and fear.” 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.

There are two groups of people normally in a church service. Some are within. They have come to Christ. Now, they have the God-given assignment to go to those who are without and bring them in. If Christians would bring an unsaved person with them next Sunday morning, probably half of them would be saved. It’s amazing how many people are saved if they get under the sound of the Gospel.

If we are saved, we have work to do. It’s to witness to people who don’t know Christ. But if you are not saved, then you are in the without group. In John 6:37, “All that the Father gives me shall come to me. And him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.” Look at that last phrase.

Jesus said if you would come to Him, He wouldn’t cast you out. Are you in or out?

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