Eric Simmons began his message on evangelism by asking us this question. “We have been preached the truth this week. What now will we do with this truth?” He said that we have two options. We will either keep it self-contained or we will broaden it into our communities.
Colossians 2:4-9 was the basis for his sermon.
2Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison-- 4that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
5Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
7Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, 9and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here.
The first main point was that we need to Think Globally. We need a bigger picture of Christianity. We tend to get so caught up in our small little existence that we love site of the vision. Our life is so full of gotta’s. I gotta get up. I gotta go to class. I gotta go to care-group. I gotta go to celebration on Sunday. What was meant to be delight has turned into drudgery, because our gaze is on ourselves instead of on Christ.
Christ clarified our Mission upon His ascension.
15And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.
18And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
The rule and reign of the Father has invaded the world? Do we live like this?
Back to the main Scripture, Colossians 4:2-9. Eric pointed out that the church at Colossae is not a church that Paul planted and pastured. Paul was writing this from prison and yet he is still encouraging them. No matter what Paul’s particular circumstances were, he was mindful that the gospel was bearing fruit somewhere in the world. Everyday the kingdom of God is being fully and further revealed. This global vision should inspire me to play my part in God’s vision.
The second main point was we needed to Act Locally. (Comment from me-somewhere in here Eric showed a video that was made in Gaithersburg. They interviewed people in his community and asked them what they thought the gospel was and some questions about evangelist. A sadly funny part was this. When asked “What is the gospel?” numerous people responded with “It’s like, some kind of music, right?” People in the center laughed, but what a tragedy. My friend Josh said this when talking about this short movie at Care-group tonight. “When I heard all these people with no clue as to what the gospel was about, I thought ‘What morons. How can they not know? It’s Christ. Get with it.’ Then I heard the Lord say to me ‘Without me Josh, you were that ignorant. You were that moronic. It is only by grace that you know the gospel is Christ and Him crucified and not merely a genre of music.’” I just thought that was a very cool thought and wanted to share it before jumping back into Eric’s message.)
Eric pointed out that Christ’s mission, this grand vision, wasn’t just for the 12 disciples. I too have been called to this, privileged to go out and tell others. I GET to tell people about my God. I GET to tell people about my Risen King. Do I live this way? Am I excited to share my God’s story? To talk about His redeeming love? Do I just ‘go’ to college? Do I just ‘go’ to work? Do I just ‘go’ to family functions? Or am I ever cognizant of God’s heart in sending me to that particular place at the sovereign time?
He said that we need to look at EVERY Sunday as a sending Sunday (for those not in Sovereign Grace, we are all about church planting, so many a Sunday are specifically church plant or mission trip sending Sunday’s, officially.) It’s not just a church plant or the mission field. At the end of the sermon, it’s not just lunchtime; it is sending time-out into our field, our culture, our lost world. We are missionaries to the world next door.
How can we be an effective missionary? First, we need to pray. In verse 2 of Colossians 4, Paul says to be “…steadfastly in prayer.” This word steadfastly means dedicated, devoted, persistent, and unwavering. Our prayers should be alert, watchful. We should be so filled with His presence that we are ever alert to His moving throughout His kingdom, ever alert to the Sovereign moments He places in our lives to tell others of Him. How should we pray? Verse 3 says “…for an open door.” Paul wants the church at Colosae to pray for an open door for the word. (Think about this. Paul is in prison. He is not asking for his prison door to be opened that he may be freed, but for the prison guards’ hearts to be opened. For his fellow prisoners’ hearts to be opened. He is right where he needs to be, and he is cognizant of that. Jail time has turned into Gospel time. Everything is seen through the grid of the gospel and the kingdom.
Again in verse 4, Paul asks for prayer that the mystery of Christ would be dear to them. Mystery is good. Were we to be all knowing and all confident, we would lose our dependency on the power of the Spirit. God wants fear in evangelism. It makes us desperate for Him and His power. It makes us rely solely on the Holy Spirit.
We should also pray for opportunities. Be warned. Praying for opportunities in evangelism is like praying for patience. It will happen, and it probably won’t always be pretty. It will happen at the most awkward and worst times that your human mind could possibly imagine. But it is perfect and seamless in the plan of the Kingdom.
Besides praying, we must also live. Verse 5 says “Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.” Effective missionaries live a distinctly different live among a specific culture of people. We are to be where they are. Live where they are. Go where they are. We must hang out with the people to whom we are called. Here Eric said that when a missionary feels called to India say, is this what he does? Does he go to India and get married and get a stable job and simply just interact with the Indian people at the store and at the bank and with his neighbors? NO! He would then be a resident. He is specific and intentional in his actions. Do we live like this in America? Do we live like missionaries or residents?
We need to sow the kingdom of God strategically. Pick one person. Have a genuine authentic friendship with them. Pour into them, invest into them. Be love to them. You may be the only example of Christ’s love in their life. Make sure that your conduct matches your message. Enjoy them, love them, and above all, serve them. The world today is saying that we need to be relevant. But relevance is merely a package for truth. It is important, but it is not essential. When the emphasis is more on the shell and the packaging as opposed to the gospel, then we have some major issues.
Think of your language. We need to learn how to communicate with the culture. We should not walk around saying “church words” like sanctification and propitiation and relatable. The culture will not understand what you are saying. But there are certain elements of the culture that we need to out rightly reject. He asked if we all needed to get tattoos, and a nose ring, and wear a Coldplay t-shirt in order to connect with the culture. The answer is no. But if this is you, when people begin to unwrap your packing, they MUST SEE SOMETHING DIFFERENT. They must see grace. (My friend Eric at care-group tonight put it like this. “My unbelieving roommates, when they think of me, do they think of me as ‘Eric, Godly man who is living a pure life different from ours.’ Or do they think ‘Eric. Yea, he goes to church.’” Relevance is good, but not at the expense of truth.)
When witnessing, concentrate on how you say things more than on what you say. Concentrate on your attitude and motives and heart rather than your apologetics. The phrase “…seasoned with salt...” means witty and full of life. We are allowed to have fun! We are allowed to be fun people. In fact, we are called to delight in the Lord.
Do not get disheartened when you don’t see hundreds of people come to know the Lord because of you and your words. Probably, in the end, we are each more likely to be seed sowers than reapers. Eric told this story. There was a girl who worked at a Starbucks that for whatever reason, even though she wasn’t a believer, still felt drawn to this college group on campus and she would come and hang out and discuss and have fun with all these people. They invested in her life but never saw any tangible results. She moved away to New York (from Maryland) and he never really knew what happened with her. Years later, he was greeting people at the door at Covenant Life, and in walks this girl. She said to him “They say you hear the gospel 85 times before you profess faith. For me, it was 86. Thank you for those 85 other times. Thank youfor not stopping at 84.” We will never know, until in glory, the true impact of our lives for the Kingdom of God.