Compelling Methods - Part 2 
Scripture: Colossians 4:6

Sermon Outline:

 

3. Practice Compelling Methods

 

    A. Wise Interaction
    B. Urgent Encounters
    C. Effective Conversations
        i. Gracious 
       ii. Relevant

 

Sermon Summary:

The third message of the series focuses on the believer's responsibility not just to proclaim the message of Christ, but to practice the compelling method of gracious conversation.  To many times we find ourselves sitting in the judges seat instead of the witness chair when we talk with people.  Paul helps us to see that if our speech witnesses to the grace of God in our own lives, then perhaps God will help others to see the errors in their ways and come to faith in Christ Jesus.

Community Group Discussion Questions:

1.  ICEBREAKER: Share a story of when an act of kindness back fired on you?  How did you feel?  How did you respond?

2. Why does gracious conversation make such a difference when we share about the Lord?

3. We learned that if our conversations speak of Christ, then they are relevant because they lead people to a better life and to have a thirst for more of who God is.  How do your conversations with people need to change to be more relevant?

Sermon Notes:

What an incredible story about life change through God’s grace.  Last week, we saw Rashell’s testimony and how she was saved as a child and was able to walk with God from a young age and not experience some of the harsh consequences of sin.  This week, Kenny shared how he encountered God when he hit rock bottom.

Seventeen years in prison was the consequence for his actions.  But, God works in amazing ways.  Physically, Kenny was locked away.  He went to prison in chains, but there he became a free man.  Free from the chains of sin.  Freedom from the old self.  Freedom to live in newness of life in Christ. Amen! We thank you for sharing your story Kenny.

You see, God has a purpose for all of us, even the worst of sinners.  And, there is no place that God’s love cannot reach.  We cannot run beyond the reach of God.  His love can enter into our lives even if we are locked away physically.  But, the reality is that we are all locked away spiritually.  We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  We are all in need of rescue.

And, over the past two weeks we have learned God’s plan to rescue us, the foundations of the gospel.  We discovered his plan by learning three circles.  I want to share it with you again.  My hope is that you will have courage to share this plan as you become more familiar with it. 

We first learned that God originally designed a world that worked perfectly—where everything and everyone fit together in harmony.  And God made each of us with a purpose, which is to worship Him and walk with Him.

But, sadly from the first humans until now, we have SINNED and gone against God’s purpose and design for our lives, and selfishly insist on doing life our own way.  And, the consequences of this sin is separation from God—not only in this life, but for all of eternity.

As a result, sin has led us to a place of BROKENNESS.  Brokenness in relationships, marriages, issues with our children, troubled finances, addictions, depression—you name it.  People all around us are broken.  And, if we are honest with ourselves, we are broken.

At this point, we need a remedy—some good news, and our gracious God has provided us with the best news we will ever hear or receive.  The Bible calls it THE GOSPEL.   The Gospel is this: because of his love, God did not leave us in our brokenness.  Jesus, God in human flesh, came to this earth and lived perfectly according to God’s design.

He then did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. He took our sin and shame to the cross and payed the penalty for our sin by His death.  Jesus was then raised from the dead to provide the only way for us to be rescued and restored to a relationship with God.  

But, simply hearing this Gospel, this Good News, is not enough.  We must admit our sinful brokenness and stop trusting in ourselves.  We don’t have the power to escape this brokenness on our own.  We need to be rescued.

We must ask God to forgive us and turn from our sin to trust in Jesus.  This is what it means to REPENT.  Turn away from sin, and turn to Jesus.  Then, BELIEVE.  Believe in Jesus, and by believing, we receive new life through him and God turns our lives in a new direction.

This is the only way to be saved from sin and eternal death, and experience new and abundant life now.  You see, when God restores our relationship to Him, we begin to discover our meaning and purpose in this broken world.  And now, we can RECOVER God’s Design in all areas of our lives.

We can know his purpose for our lives: for our marriages, our children, our friendships, the way we treat those who don’t show us love, they way we love those who are far from God.  And, God’s Holy Spirit empowers us to PURSUE God in all areas of our lives and reclaim his design for us.  This is Good News!  This is the Gospel!  

With this foundation in mind, the next question is, how do we advance the Gospel?  In our main scripture, Colossians 4:2-6, we learned some guidelines for advancing the Gospel.  So, let’s read our passage again:

2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

 

Guidelines for Advancing the Gospel

1. Pray for an Open Door
     A. Pray Fervently
     B. God is the Key

From our scripture, we learned that the first guideline is to pray for an open door to share the gospel.  Pray fervently, and God will be faithful to open those doors in his timing.  

Guidelines for Advancing the Gospel

2. Proclaim the Message
     A. With Clarity
     B. As Necessity

Once the door opens, the second guideline is to then proclaim the message of Christ in a clear way.  This is our responsibility as Christians.  We must practice evangelism.  But there are appropriate ways to do this.  

Guidelines for Advancing the Gospel

3. Practice Compelling Methods
    A. Wise Interaction
    B. Urgent Encounters
         i. Identify
         ii. Invest
         iii. Invite

So, last week we learned that our third guideline is to practice compelling methods.  We must be wise in our interaction with people.  The heart behind the wisdom is to remember that we are not better than non-believers, but simply better off because of the grace off God.  

We are better off because we are saved from sin and can walk in newness of life in Christ.  And, because we know that he is the only way to reconciled to God, we must have a sense of urgency in our encounters with people.  We must make the most of every opportunity.  Like a bargain hunter tries to urgently find the best deal, we must also urgently buy up every opportunity to share Christ, lest the opportunity slip away.

And, We can be intentional about having a sense of urgency.  The way that we do this is three fold.  First, we IDENTIFY…We evaluate our relationships and ask God to help us help us identify the people in our lives who are far from Christ.  Secondly, we INVEST in their lives, to be a friend, to be present, and to meet needs.  

But our challenge is always to move beyond the investment to the invitation.  Third, we can INVITE them to two things: a Gospel Community (a worship gathering at our church or a small group) and invite them to a Gospel conversation where we share with them God’s plan of restoration for their lives.  And that is where we pick up today.

3. Practice Compelling Methods

     A. Wise Interaction
     B. Urgent Encounters
     C. Effective Conversations

Today, we are going to talk about how we can be effective in our conversations.  We need to have wise interaction, urgency in our encounters, but the third component of practicing compelling methods is to have effective conversation.  How do we do this?  How can we be effective in our conversation.  Let’s look again at verse Colossians 4:6

6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

3. Practice Compelling Methods

    A. Wise Interaction
    B. Urgent Encounters
    C. Effective Conversations
        i. Gracious 

The first component of having effective conversations is to be gracious.  The scripture says, “let your conversations be full of grace.”  Paul gives a contrast of gracious conversation earlier in this letter. In Colossians 3:8-9, Paul writes, 

8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices. 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

So, this is the opposite of what it means to have gracious speech.  If we are full of these things, then there will not be room for grace.  So, that is the contrast, but what does it mean to be full of grace in our interactions with people?  I want to share with you three ways that we can have gracious conversation.

Gracious Conversation

1. Be Kind
2. Be a Witness
3. Be Encouraging 

First, gracious conversation is one that is kind.  Conversations full of grace show kindness to others.  In 2 Timothy 2:23-24, Paul writes these words to his protege Timothy,

23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.

This verse gives us a great understanding of what kindness in conversations should look like.  Kindness means that we avoid foolish and stupid arguments that will produce fights.  Now, there are certain battles that are worth fighting for, but we are not to fight with people over foolishness.  

The way that we keep ourselves out of these fights is to remember the bigger picture.  Be quick to offer mercy.  Be quick to forgive.  If you do need to correct or offer suggestions, do so with a gentle, grace-filled spirit.  You can speak the truth, but it must be done in loving way.  It may or may not be received well at first, but love always wins even if your conversations don’t go as planned.

Have you ever had an act of kindness backfire on you?  I don’t know if I have shared this story with you before, but one time I was at a gas station and noticed a lady about to drive off with her drink on top of her car.  I didn’t want her to lose her drink, nor did I think she would want to litter.  So, I honked the horn and flagged her down.  

I told her, ma’am, your drink is on top of your car.  She couldn’t understand what I was saying, so she rolled down her window.  Ma’am you drink is on top of your car. She said, “oh really, thanks!”  So she got out and I started to drive off feeling pretty good about myself since I had stopped that from happening.  

That feeling slowly faded when she preceded to take her drink from the top of her car and throw it into the ditch next to her.  She then got in her car and drove off.  In disbelief, I probably held this pose for at least 30 seconds. 

The truth is that people won’t always respond well to kindness.  But, that doesn’t mean we don’t continue to be kind.  And it also doesn’t mean that we just become pushovers either.  When we talk about Christ, people won’t always be receptive. But, when this happens, we sometimes tend to shrink back and become passive in future interaction.

We say, “Well, I tried and they just didn’t respond well, so I am done with that.” This will always be one of our greatest challenges in faith conversations: To be kind without losing conviction; to be kind without becoming weak or passive.   

The verse says the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.  So, we must be kind, but still be able to teach.  We must still be able to share the truth of God in a loving way despite the response.  

After all, in Romans 2:4, we find that “God’s kindness is meant to lead us all to repentance.”  And we, who are instruments of God’s grace, should be representatives of God in showing kindness to lead people to repentance.  We must be kind, because it also leads into the next component of gracious conversation.  

Secondly, gracious conversation witnesses.  Our conversation must be focused on witness rather than judgement.  In conversations about faith, “How many times have we decided to sit in the judgement seat rather than the witness chair?”  You see, the judge decides whether or not the offense is unlawful.  The judge decides the guilt.  The judge decides the punishment.  The judge also decides leniency and grace.  

On the other hand, The witness tells their account, what they saw, and how it affected them.  A witness of God shares the truth as they experienced it.  They are witnesses to the work of God in their lives.  They are also witnesses to how sin has been destructive to their lives.  But, most importantly they are witnesses to the grace of God in covering sin.  Listen to James 4:12

12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

Our conversations would be more gracious if we would spend time talking as a witness of God’s grace in our own lives and not a judge of sin in someone else’s life.  A few weeks ago, it was reported that the entire database for the Ashley Madison website was hacked and user information has been leaked online.

This website is a site that celebrates, encourages, and enables people to have affairs.  You may have already had conversations about this with someone.  You may find yourself in the middle of a conversation with someone who’s name is on the list.  In situations like this, can I just encourage you to remain in the witness chair.  Listen to 2 Timothy 2:25-26

25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

People who oppose the truth are to be gently instructed.  While doing so we hope.  We hope that God will grant them repentance just like he has done for us.  If I am talking with a man who has been caught in adultery, I would not be kind to him if I don’t share how God has led me to repentance in my own struggles with sexual sin.  

If I am not a witness to the grace of God in my own life, then what are people left with when they leave a conversation with me?  If we are faithful to witness to the grace of God, then the scripture said, perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of truth, and escape the trap of the devil. Let’s spend time in the witness chair, not in the judges seat.

Third, Gracious conversation encourages.  It builds people up.  Ephesians 4:29 says,

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

So, praise others regularly, and be specific with your encouragement.  Tell someone that you are proud of them and their achievements.  If someone is having a rough day, do your part to help cheer them up.  Commentator William Barclay says,

One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement…It is easy to laugh at men’s ideals; it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage other.  The world is full of discouragers.  We have a Christian duty to encourage one another.  Many a time, a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet.  Blessed is the man who speaks such a word.  Proverbs 12:25 says,

25 Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up. Proverbs 12:25 

 

3. Practice Compelling Methods

 

    A. Wise Interaction
    B. Urgent Encounters
    C. Effective Conversations
        i. Gracious 
       ii. Relevant

 

Our first component of effective conversation is to be gracious, and we will be full of grace if we show kindness, if we witness, and if we encourage others.  The second component of effective conversation is that it be relevant.  The second part of verse 6 says,

6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt,

To be effective in our conversations, we must relevant.  Paul says here that conversations should be seasoned with salt.  What does that mean?  I heard my dad preach a sermon a couple of Sundays ago, and he spoke about this very thing.  He said, Jesus, just like Paul, also compared the Christian influence to salt.  Matthew 5:13 says,

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

What did salt do? (1st Century)
   1. Preserved Food
   2. Flavored Food
   3. Created Thirst

When both Paul and Jesus spoke these words, their hearers would have known the connection.  You see, in the first century, salt did three things.  First, it preserved food.  It kept food from rotting and decaying, so in that way, salt was an antibacterial agent.  Secondly, salt was used as a flavoring agent.  We are most familiar with this in the south because we know good food.  Right?

Third, salt created thirst.  These early Christians lived in close proximity to the Dead Sea, the saltiest water on earth.  They knew that drinking that water would create even more thirst.  And, Paul says that our conversation should be seasoned with salt.  So, with these three purposes of salt in mind, I want to show you how your conversations about Jesus can be relevant for today:

Relevant Conversations:
   1. Leave a Lasting Impact
   2. Make Life Better
   3. Cause a Thirst for God

First, If salt is a preserving agent making food last longer, then our conversations should leave a lasting impact.  The gospel of Christ gives life to those who receive it.  Therefore, when we speak to others we make sure to share with them what matters most.  

We speak what will give them life now and lead them to keep their life for eternity.  That is Christ.  He is life.  When we speak Christ, we are relevant because we make a preserving and lasting impact on others.

Secondly, if salt is a flavoring ingredient making food better, then our conversations should make life better.  In his book God’s Glorious Church, Pastor Tony Evans says, “every local church needs to ask itself whether its community is better, stronger, and spiritually healthier because that church is located there.  

We as Northshore Church need to ask the same question.  Is our community better because we are here?  If we ceased to exist, would people notice?  I believe they would.  But, remember, you are the church.  When people talk about Northshore Church they are talking about you.

For our church to be relevant, you need to be relevant in your interaction with people.  So, I ask the same question of you, “Are the people in your life better off because you are in their lives?”  You’re actions are important, but so are your words.  Do your conversations add flavor by leading people to a better life?  

Last, if salt creates thirst, then do our conversations create within others a thirst for God.  Do you make your words count?  Do they focus on the things that bring satisfaction to the soul?  That is exactly what Jesus did.  In John 4 we learn about the samaritan woman who Jesus met at a well.  

Jesus asked the woman to give him a drink.  She was shocked because he was a Jew and she was a Samaritan.  Those two groups hated each other.  Jesus explained to her that if only she knew who he was, then she would be asking him for a drink because he provides living water that comes from a spring welling up to eternal life.  Drink of this water and she would never thirst again. 

She asked him to give her some of this living water, and he said, first go and tell your husband to come.  But she said, “I don’t have a husband.”  Jesus said you are right, “you have five husbands, and the man you are with now is not your husband. 

The woman tells Jesus that she can see that he is a prophet.  But, Jesus informs her that he is much more than a prophet, he is the Christ, the messiah, the savior.  So, the woman leaves her jar and runs back to town.  She tells everyone to come and see the man who has told her everything that she has done.  Let’s read in scripture what happens next.  John 4:39-42.

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers. 42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

Come and see.  Come and see this man.  Her encounter with Jesus had changed her.  She wanted everyone else to come and see the man who did it.  Her spiritual thirst was satisfied, and that created in others a thirst to know more about the man she had met.  

Do your conversations about the Lord create a thirst in other people?  When we share how God changed our lives and quenched our thirst, then it may just come to pass that the people who hear about it, will say similar things just like the friends of this woman.

We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.  Your testimony has caused us to desire to know more about Jesus, and after pursuing him, we have come to faith in him.  We now believe he is really the Savior of the World.

And may that be true of us, that our interactions with people would leave them thirsting for God, and that they would pursue him because of our witness.  If we pray and ask God to open the doors, and proclaim his message clearly, and practice compelling methods, then listen what happens at the end.  The last part of our verse for the series says this,

6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. 

If we approach our conversations in this way, then we will know HOW to answer everyone.  Remember it is important that we know what the gospel is all about to answer questions, but it is another thing to know the way in which we answer people.  How we answer is just as important.  

It is what keeps the door open.  If our conversation is gracious and seasoned with salt, then the foundation of what we share may very well take root.  And, the people in our lives who are far from God may one day say, we have heard your testimony, and now we have pursued him on our own, and we know this man is really the Savior of the World.  Let’s pray.