Summary: Two essential elements to a New Testament church are prayer and personal evangelism.
TWO ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS TO A NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
Text: Col. 4:2-6
1. Illustration: Canadian preacher, theologian, and founder of the Christian Missionary Allaince, A. B. Simpson, had this to say, "Prayer is the link that connects us with God. It is the bridge that spans every gulf and bears us over every abyss of danger or of need. How significant is this picture of the New Testament church: Peter in prison, the Jews triumphant, Herod supreme, the arena of martyrdom awaiting the dawning of the morning. 'But prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.' And what is the sequel? The prison open, the apostle free, the Jews baffled, the wicked king divinely smitten, and the Word of God rolling on in greater victory. Do we know the power of our supernatural weapon? Do we dare to use it with the authority of a faith that commands as well as asks? God grant us holy audacity and divine confidence. He is not wanting great men, but He is wanting men that will dare to prove the greatness of their God.
2. Now to be clear there are several elements to being a NT church.
A. The study and proclamation of Scripture
3. However, if we boiled it down to two essential elements of the NT church they would be...
B. Personal Evangelism
4. Let's stand together out of respect for the Word of God as we read Col. 4:2-6.
Proposition: A New Testament is both a praying church and a witnessing church.
Transition: The most important element of a NT church is...
I. Prayer (2-4).
A. Devote Yourselves To Prayer
1. As Paul begins to bring his letter to the Colossian church to a close, he reminds them of two essentials when it comes to being the Church of Jesus Christ.
2. The first, and by far the most important, is prayer. In v. 2, Paul says, "Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart."
A. Devote: to continue to do something with intense effort, with the possible implication of despite difficulty (Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Symantic Domains, Under: "68.68).
B. Devote expresses one aspect of the power and vitality of early Christianity: "persevere with, persist in." While it primarily carries the meaning of remain strong, steadfast, persevere, it gives greater emphasis to the time element. Duration is the key element in persistence (The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary â€“ Pi-Rho, Under: "4201).
C. The believers were responsible to pray; prayer was their lifeline to God. To devote themselves to prayer meant that they should be persistent and unwilling to give up even though their prayers may seem to go unanswered.
D. Paul's advice to "keep on praying" (1 Thessalonians 5:17) has the same meaning.
E. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT2)
17 Never stop praying.
F. Their devotion to prayer did not mean that they should spend all their time on their knees, but that they should have a prayerful attitude at all times.
G. This attitude would be built upon acknowledging their dependence on God, realizing his presence within them, and determining to obey him fully.
H. Then they would find it natural to pray frequent, spontaneous, short prayers.
I. A prayerful attitude is not a substitute for regular times of prayer but should be an outgrowth of those times (Barton, 887).
3. He also says that in our praying we should have an alert mind.
A. Alert: Be (or) stay awake, be alert, watch, be vigilant.
B. Having an alert mind may have been referring to not dozing off, to being alert in their devotion, or to being alert for God's answers and then thankful when they came.
C. More likely, he was focusing on the anticipation of the Lord's coming. The Lord could return at any time, so believers should be found alert and waiting (Barton 887).
D. The major reason to stay alert in our praying is the devil.
E. 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT2)
8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
F. The area that the devil wishes to attack us in the most is in our prayers, and yet the best way to fight back against him is in prayer.
G. "Men and women of persistent prayer are those who are constantly on the alert, alive to the will of God and the need of the world, and ready to give an account of themselves and their stewardship" (Bruce, 172).
4. Furthermore, Paul tells us to pray with a thankful heart.
A. Something that can never be separated from prayer is thanksgiving.
B. As we remember what God has done for us it not only produces spontaneous praise and worship; it is also an incentive to devotion in prayer (Bruce, 172).