Being Salt and Light in Ocean View, HI

Col 4 Instructions Regarding Outsiders

This week marks a shift in Paul’s writing. He is preparing to close his letter and leave them with some final important thoughts. But as he does so, he is brought to consider another group… another “hierarchical” relationship; that of “insiders” and “outsiders”. He writes…

Col 4:2ff. “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; 3 praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; 4 that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.” As he comes to the close of his letter, he wants to leave his readers with an important thought… a critical exhortation.

  1. Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving
    1. Devote; continue in.
      1. We have seen in previous studies that our new life in Christ is to be expressed in certain ways
        1. In our purity
        2. In our relationships
        3. In exercising authority and in submission to authority
        4. In our humility; thinking rightly about ourselves
        5. In our devotions; those things that are ever present in our minds and hearts… Those things that we constantly and continually care about… think about… talk about… practice.
      2. We see those things that the early church was devoted to in the book of Acts.
        1. Acts 1:14 “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”
        2. Acts 2:42 “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
        3. Acts 2:46 “Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.”
        4. Why? Because they were grateful for, and amazed by, what God had done in their lives. This is the fire that Paul wants to rekindle in their hearts as he closes his letter… a passion for the person and things of God. And it is a passion that is to be exercised with vigilance and alertness. It is not a casual affair; it is focused and thoughtful. It is mindful of circumstance and potential difficulty and pitfall. It operates wisely with eyes wide open. So, back to our text…
      3. Vs 3. “praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; 4 that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.”
        1. As Paul is exhorting them to devote themselves to prayer, he mindful that both his specific ministry and the ministry of the gospel to the world in general are in need of prayer as well.
          1. Prayer for an open door
          2. Prayer for clarity of presentation
            1. To make clear; “to make manifest or visible or known what has been hidden or unknown”
              1. It is not so much the right words as the right message.
            2. To unfold the mystery of Christ. What is the “mystery of Christ”?
              1. God in human form
                1. Phil 2:5ff. “Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”
              2. The ultimate and final sacrifice for sin
                1. Heb 10:12ff. “He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, 13 waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. 14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”
  • A new covenant (continuing in vs 15)
  1. Promise extended to the gentiles
    1. Eph 3:4ff. “when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; 6 to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel”
  2. Paul, in asking for prayer on behalf of the ministry of him and his companions, very naturally broadens his thought to include the similar ministry entrusted to the church in Colossae. He writes; Col 4:5ff. “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”
    1. It is a ministry “toward outsiders”; those outside the covenant and promises of God
      1. Eph 2:12 “remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”
    2. It is a ministry of urgency and importance; “making most of the opportunity” or “redeeming the time”
      1. The idea is one of “rescue” or “ransom”. Lives are seen to be at stake.
        1. John 4:34ff. “Jesus *said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. 36 Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.”
      2. It is a ministry, predominately, of speech
        1. that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ… that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak… Let your speech always be…
          1. Speech that is clear in content; unfolding the mystery of Christ adequately
          2. Speech that is full of grace
            1. bathed in humility
            2. anointed in love
              1. not needlessly harsh and accusatory
  • Speech that is seasoned…salty
    1. Mk 9:50ff. “Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you [fn]make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
    2. To be salty in this context is to manifest the character and mind of Christ
  1. Speech that is tailored to each person
    1. It presupposes some knowledge… some awareness of the people or person being spoken to.
  2. 1 Cor 9:19ff. “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under [fn]the Law, as under [fn]the Law though not being myself under [fn]the Law, so that I might win those who are under [fn]the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.”


Beloved, when Paul enlarges his evangelistic focus to include the Colossians, he enlarges it to include us as well. His instructions are the same… that we “redeem the time” and seek to clearly communicate the gospel to the world around us. That we do so in love and humility, full of grace… manifesting the character and mind of Jesus… mindful of the persons to whom we are speaking and sensitive to their attitudes and needs. The message is unchanging, but it is shaped in wisdom, love, and knowledge to “make the most of our opportunities”

Let us pray


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