Summary: Does the American church remember what the Great Commission really is?
October 16, 2005
Text: Colossians 4:2-6
Title: Walking Through Open Doors
In the four years that we have been in this church much of my preaching ministry has been spent on the subject of the importance of witnessing. I’ve shared what the bible says about it, mainly with the emphasis on our need to be participants in sharing your faith.
One of the areas of the Christian life that I have focused on recently has been the comparison of the natural man and the spirit man. In his writings the apostle Paul often speaks of the great conflict between the spirit and the flesh. Even he, being the great man of God that he was, struggled with the flesh. There were times when said he didn’t do the things he knew he should and did the things he knew he shouldn’t. This conflict certainly spills over into evangelism.
Though there is a conflict between these two aspects of our humanity, there is also a wonderful reward to be had through the cooperation of the spirit and the flesh. That cooperation can be seen in two principles that are at work in our passage today. These two principles are 1) dependence, that we are dependent upon God to do his part in the witnessing process, and, 2) discipline, knowing that God is faithful to do His part, we in turn must be faithful to do our part. The principles of dependence and discipline are two of the main concepts in Paul’s writings.
This is the first sermon in a short series on evangelism. As I share the word of life with you I pray that it changes the way you think about sharing your faith.
“2Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3And 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. 4Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Today I want to focus on verse 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.”
I. ANSWERS THROUGH PRAYER. Paul asks the church in Colossae to pray for him. I want you to understand this. Though the passage is referring to Paul and his ministry the principle is not limited to him and his ministry. Every believer who desires to be a soul winner must begin in prayer. Now I confess that asking you to pray places a great burden on you, but it removes an even greater burden. You now are transferring your burden over to the Father and He bears it for you. I don’t understand why God designed the system the way He did, but I do know this much. He wants to work in our behalf, but we must initiate it by our prayers. Now where does this fit in with evangelism? Ezekiel 22:30-31, “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with My fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.” The holiness of God demands justice but the love of God seeks to be merciful. In this case, if God could have found one person to stand in the gap in prayer on behalf of Judah, He would have spared it. Do you see the cooperation (or lack of it) between the spirit realm and the natural realm? If Jerusalem could have done in the flesh what God was seeking in the Spirit, Judah would have been saved from captivity. James wrote in 5:16, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” Or KJV, “the fervent effectual prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” In other words, what is going to be accomplished for the kingdom must have its origin in fervent prayer. The word translated as “fervent” in James 5 means a prayer that is 1) active, it is an ongoing process. We don’t cry out for a lost person one time and then quit. But I am convince that through our active prayer for a person or people that the Holy Spirit continues to work His work of conviction in them, 2) operative; this means that prayer is working. The design for prayer ordained by God is not ineffective, 3) effectual means much the same as operative. Fervent prayer is bringing about the desired effect, and 4) powerful because the formula for effective prayer works through the power of God and not through us. Fervent prayer also indicates a sense of urgency. Occasionally God lays on my heart that sense of urgency for the lost that time is growing short and many will be lost unless we can bring them into the kingdom quickly. Prayer is the beginning of the process.