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A BIBLICALLY URGENT LIFE

Sermon Preached 18 AUGUST 2019 at Fairview Community Church

Fairview, Tennessee

The title of this morning’s sermon is A Biblically Urgent Life.

The text for this morning’s sermon is Colossians 4:5–6 (ESV), which reads:

5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

There are a couple of preliminary points I want to make.

First, on Logos Talk, which the Logos Bible software blog, I ran across an article entitled “Preaching? Drain the Liquid Before You Give It to Others”  (https://blog.logos.com/2019/08/preaching-drain-the-liquid-before-you-give-it-to-others/ ).  It describes the early human testing of the polio vaccine:

… a researcher named Hillary Koprowski …was a leader in the search for the polio vaccine in the 1940s. Koprowski and his team had done animal tests successfully, and the next step involved a powerful but unwritten rule of scientific research: Before testing an oral vaccine on other humans, the researcher must try it himself. 

So late one winter afternoon in 1948, he and his assistant whipped up a polio cocktail and the two men drank from small glass beakers. They tilted their heads back and drained the liquid fully. They agreed it tasted like cod-liver oil. The assistant said, “Have another?”

“Better not,” Koprowski said, “I’m driving.”

For any of us that teach or preach God’s Word, we have:

… to take the same gutsy step. We have no right to give other people our “holy vaccine” until we’ve drained the liquid ourselves. And sometimes it does taste like cod-liver oil.

What I am going to speak on this morning is more of a process than an event so that it takes time to implement.  But, please know I am drinking the vaccine, and it tastes a little bit like cod-liver oil.

Second, in his book Love Your God with All Your Mind, J. P. Morland writes that the church is both a hospital and a war college.  He describes the war college function as:

… to mobilize and train an army of men and women to occupy territory and advance the kingdom until the King returns.

This morning’s message is from the war college division because we are in a war, and the stakes are eternally high because the war is for the souls of men and women.   While the forces of the enemy cannot cause a Christ-follower to lose his or her salvation, they can certainly impact a Christ-follower so that he or she is less effective in carrying out their God-given mandate to tell lost people about God’s plan of salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  

The goal of this morning’s message is to encourage each Christ-follower to more urgently speak to others about God’s plan of salvation so that our lives exhibit an outward focus rather than an inward focus whereby we live a biblically urgent life because the end will come, and although we do not know when it will come, it is one day closer today than yesterday. 

Let’s get to our text of Colossians 4:5–6 (ESV).  I’ll read it again:

5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul gave the church at Colossae [ko-LAH-see] instructions about how to witness.  It is not much of a leap to take what Paul wrote in the 1st Century and apply it to 21st Century Christ-followers here at FCC because back then, there were saved people and lost people, today, there are saved people and lost people, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ has never changed.  Let’s go through Paul’s instructions.

First, a Christ-follower is to “walk in wisdom” meaning that he or she is to engage in a lifestyle that exercises the capacity for rational thought and the ability to apply rational thought.  I want to point out that the grammar of the Greek verb translated as “walk” is such that what Paul writes is a command with no assessment of the walking ever being completed.  It is reasonable to say that Paul commands a Christ-follower to live a rational thinking lifestyle, that is to say, “walk in wisdom,” for their entire life.

Second, the phrase “toward outsiders” means towards lost people.

Third, the phrase “making the best use of the time” means to efficiently use one’s time to redeem or buy back the time.  There is a sense of urgency to use one’s time in a way that compensates for earlier wasted time.  While each of us could have done some things differently in the past, rather than be on a lifetime guilt trip, let’s live from today forward in the way God commands us to live with a sense of urgency.  As one commentator writes:

Time has been lost by procrastination, pleasure, laziness, disobedience, etc.; so let us put these aside and make the most of what time is left.

We need to have a sense of urgency that Jesus taught in John 9:4 (ESV):

4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.

Our days are numbered, and our time is short. 

Fourth, what a Christ-follower says to a lost person must always have two attributes.  First, what is said must be “gracious”, meaning that it is kind and is the result of a genuine desire to see lost people saved.  In other words, you really care about where the person who you are speaking to spends eternity.  Second, what is said must be “seasoned with salt,” meaning two basic things.  The first attribute of “seasoned with salt” speech is what you speak is true and accurate and not a corrupt or non-saving gospel.  Second, “seasoned with salt” speech should be interesting, witty, appealing, and tactful to the lost person with whom you are speaking.  In sum, a person needs to take care regarding what they say to a lost person, and it always has to be biblically true.

Fifth, the reason your speech should be gracious and seasoned with salt is  “so that you may know how you ought to answer” the particular person with whom you are speaking.  You should choose your words for that specific lost person keeping in mind that what you say must be biblically accurate.  You cannot water down what you say to make it more palatable.  

Before we articulate one pertinent, fundamental teaching for our text, we must keep in mind that (1) God’s Word is authoritative and we are supposed to obey it, and (2) what Paul wrote in Colossians is God’s Word.  One fundamental teaching from our text is that Colossians 4:5-6 says is God’s direct order to each Christ-follower at FCC to live a biblically urgent life with a primary focus on telling others about salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  It is our duty.  God has commanded us to do so, and to neglect doing so is to disobey God. 

How do we live a biblically urgent life with a gospel focus?  There are eight actions that I believe will help us to live that biblically urgent life. 

First, we must be absolutely confident that we are saved.  It is tough to live a biblically urgent life with a gospel focus when we are not sure of our own salvation.  It is difficult to stand for long on a spiritual “wobble board” without falling down.  While other Christians can walk you through the attributes of a saved person, at the end of the day, this is something only you can settle.  A book like John MacArthur’s Saved without a Doubt is a great place to start.   It is an issue you must settle because if you are saved, you’ll know it and you can throw away the spiritual wobble board, and if you’re not saved, you can “get saved”, and throw away the spiritual “wobble board”.  You must throw the spiritual “wobble board” in the trash!  Walk with the certainty of your salvation and God’s guarantee of an eternal home in heaven.

Second, we must possess the genuine appreciation that what the Bible plainly teaches is real!!!!   God really means it!  There is a heaven.  There is a hell.  Lost people do physically die.  God isn’t necessarily going to keep lost people around waiting for you to speak to them about Jesus.  God is angry with sin.  Upon physical death, unless a person has exercised biblical saving faith, they will experience the wrath of God, and their eternal destiny is torment in hell forever and “forever” has no end.

Third, we must be intentional to know the Gospel better so we can effectively communicate what is necessary to be saved.  This is going to require study, and it is something a Christ-follower ought to study and become continually better versed in throughout their entire life. 

You can take the approach Paul did in Acts 17 when he preached on Mars Hill.  This is the approach Kan Ham encourages in his book Gospel Reset – Salvation Made Relevant.  You can use John 3:16 as a text like the tract For God So Loves You.  The sketch in the Billy Graham tract Steps to Peace with God is a helpful way to present the gospel visually.  Other texts you can use are 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 and Romans 10:8-11. 

There are a lot of relevant gospel texts that you can use to present the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.  Find one you are comfortable with, study it, pour over it, and become an expert at using it to explain God’s plan of salvation to a lost person.

And you must be able to tell it in every day English and not Christianese.  As Ron Hutchcraft points out in his book A Life that Matters, lost people do not have a concept of what it is to be “born again,” to “accept Christ,” to “receive Christ,” and the list goes on. 

Of course, some lost people don’t get it because like what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:18a (ESV):

18a For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing,”

But, don’t let your inability to tell the Gospel in plain English be a barrier.  Learn the Gospel in plain English.

Fourth, we must be intentional to pray that the Holy Spirit will make us sensitive to opportunities and give us the words to speak.  As recorded in Acts 1:4-5, 8, Jesus made it clear that the power of the Holy Spirit is necessary to proclaim the gospel:

4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” … 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Living the biblically urgent life requires the empowering of the Holy Spirit.

Fifth, we must be intentional to look for ways to participate in spreading the Gospel.  A logical progression of the proclamation of the gospel message is set forth in reverse order in Romans 10:11–15 (ESV):

11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

Looking at the Romans 10 model, you can participate anywhere in the spectrum from being an evangelist on the front lines to someone who provides financial support and prayer support.  Even if we do not have the gift of evangelism, we still are to do the work of an evangelist per 2 Timothy 4:5.

Sixth, we must be intentional not to let our busyness in life get in the way of living a biblically urgent life.  Somehow we think that busyness is a sign of success or is a merit badge.  Busyness spans from working long hours on the job to hauling the kids to every sport and extra-circular activity known to man.  So many Christ-followers have succumbed to the Tyranny of the Urgent by doing what is urgent and miss out entirely on doing what is essential.

A recent article entitled You Have Enough Time to Study the Bible (https://www.knowableword.com/2016/07/25/you-have-enough-time-to-study-the-bible/ ) makes the point that it is not because of a lack of time that people don’t study the Bible, but it stems from the heart.  Our actions or inactions spring from and reveal the heart.  The author of the article makes two points: (1) we always do what we want to do; and (2) when we don’t study the Bible, it’s not because we are too busy, it is because we don’t want to. 

It is easy to draw the analogy from Bible study to living the biblically urgent life.  The reason we don’t live a biblically urgent life is not that we are too busy, it is because we don’t want to.  There are other things we would instead do. 

Seventh, we must be intentional not to let our material comfort get in the way of living a biblically urgent life.  Material comfort to some degree may better enable us to live a biblically urgent life, so there is nothing wrong with material comfort in and of itself.  But, to be like the rich man with the overflowing barns who placed comfort over God is foolish just like what God said to him as recorded in Luke 12:20–21 (ESV)

20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Eighth, we must be intentional not to let our desire to be insulated from suffering get in the way of living a biblically urgent life.  With so much bad going on in the world, we become numb to the suffering in the world.  All we want is to protect ours and ourselves from the terrible world “out there.”  It is a natural human reaction to want to stay safe and not suffer.  Peter’s denials represent his efforts to avoid being associated with Jesus and possibly suffering death.  Yet, the physical bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ dramatically changed Peter and Peter would die a martyr per John 21:18–19. 

So too should the historical fact of the physical bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ change us.

I want to close with two real-life stories of mine. 

Over 25+ years ago, my first wife and I ate a lot at a Waffle House located on the way to work.  We ate there enough, so we got to know the folks who worked there.  There was one waitress who would sometimes take our order, and we would talk with her.  I’m not sure we talked with her about Jesus, possibly, a little at best, but, certainly not very much.

One day we came into the Waffle House, and the overall mood was sober.  We learned that this waitress had been living with a man, and the relationship was not good.  Either they together, or he had recently, bought a new house, and they were living in that house.  At least in her mind, her life had no hope or so little hope that she went into the garage, took a shotgun, and killed herself.  The thing that still gets me is that the reason she went into the garage was so she would not mess up the inside of the new house.

Had she heard the gospel before?  Because she lived in the south, there was probably a reasonable chance that she had.  Did we know for sure she was not saved?  No, but her conversation seemed to indicate she wasn’t.

If you know someone like the Waffle House waitress, write down their name on the bulletin insert.  This can be someone who you casually know through where you eat or shop.

Let me tell you a second story.  Near where Sharon and I live there lived a good old boy.  We knew him, not well, but enough to wave each time he went down our road.   He was a really nice guy.  A typical Southern good old boy, but a person who was not a churchgoer.

One Sunday after spending the morning on the river with his girlfriend, he came in, said he wasn’t feeling just right, and took a nap.  He never woke up.  He was in his mid-40’s.

At his viewing in the funeral home, surrounding him in his casket were some hunting and fishing mementos.  He loved to fish.  He loved to be on the water.

Had he heard the gospel before?  Because he lived in the south, there was probably a reasonable chance that he had.  Did we know for sure he was not saved?  No, but outside indicators were that he was not. 

If you know someone like this good old boy (or it could be a good old girl), write down their name in the bulletin insert.

Whether you wrote down any names or not, I suspect that each one of us knows at least one Waffle House waitress or good old boy or some variation of these two folks who would appear to be lost. 

When it comes to the eternal destinies of these people, it’s not an academic discussion.  It is not a hypothetical we discuss over a cup of coffee, say we ought to do better and go our merry way without any change.

Everybody has a non-cancellable always on-time, reservation for a flight to exit this earthly life, and that flight won’t be early or delayed one nanosecond. 

If any person whose name you wrote down is lost and he or she checked out today from this earthly life, the awful practical reality is that their eternal destiny will be hell forever. 

There is no such thing as purgatory where they can be bought or prayed out of hell, there are no do-overs, and no preacher in the world can preach them into heaven at their funeral. 

I have names I could write down.  What am I going to do? 

Isn’t it time for me to be more urgent in speaking to others about God’s plan of salvation to where my life exhibits an outward focus rather than an inward focus; to where I live a biblically urgent life because the end will come, and although I do not know when it will come, it is one day closer today than yesterday for all the people I know and me. 

What about you?  What are you going to do?  Who knows the time of your reservation?

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