- Text: Col. 4:5,6.
- When we communicate the gospel of Christ, the "what" of the message is important - Jn. 8:32. Cf. 1 Tim. 2:4.
- But the "how" of our communication is also important.
- We are to give a defense of our faith, "yet do it with gentleness and respect" (1 Pt. 3:15). Cf. Eph. 4:15.
- And we speak courteously, we must also speak clearly and boldly - Eph. 6:19,20. Cf. Col. 4:3,4.
I. We Must Be in Touch with the Real Life of Our Generation
- We need to know what parts of the faith the devil is attacking most fiercely right now.
- The devil changes his attack from time to time -- it is dangerous not to know where the "front lines" are.
- We need to pay attention and listen to the culture around us.
- At the personal level, we must seek to "identify" with the struggles of those outside of our own experience.
- The Lord knows what it is like to live in "our" world - Heb. 2:17,18; 4:15.
- For the sake of the gospel, Paul sought to bridge every cultural gap that he could - 1 Cor. 9:19-23; 10:32,33.
- Genuine empathy and understanding gain a hearing that can't be gained any other way. Cf. Lk. 7:36-50.
II. We Must Speak a Language That Can Be Understood
- Our message must not only contain truth -- it must be communicated intelligibly. Cf. 1 Cor. 14:16,23.
- We need to pay careful attention to our "diction."
- Diction = choice and use of words in speech or writing.
- Sometimes we use lingo that is not intelligible to those outside of our own religious circle.
- Sometimes we fail to adapt our approach to our audience. For example, the message was the same, but Peter's sermon in Acts 2 in Jerusalem was very different from Paul's in Acts 17 in Athens.
- Sometimes our "religious" manner of speaking leaves the common man confused.
- Jesus spoke in such a way that "the common people heard Him gladly" (Mk. 12:37 NKJV).
- There is a kind of "eloquence" that gets in the way of understanding and conviction - 1 Cor. 2:1-5.
- The NT was written not in scholarly Greek but the "common" (koine) Greek of the first century.
- We shouldn't expect our hearers to do all the work required to understand our message -- we should be willing to do some of the work to bridge the "communication gap." Cf. Neh. 8:7,8.
- Without compromising the gospel, we must speak so as to be understood by hearers from varied backgrounds.
III. We Must Proclaim the Whole Message of Christ -- and Nothing But
- We cannot leave out anything that Christ wants to be presented to our hearers - Ac. 20:20,26,27.
- Do we sacrifice candor for courtesy? Cf. Eph. 6:19,20.
- Are we willing to evoke "godly grief" in the interest of salvation? Cf. 2 Cor. 7:8,9.
- Are we willing to risk friendships in the effort to save souls? Cf. Gal. 4:16.
- Are we prepared for some to retaliate rather than repent? Cf. Ac. 7:54-58.
- We are "accursed" if we modify the gospel to suit anyone - Gal. 1:8,9.
IV. We Must Aim at a Knowledge of Christ, the Savior
- The object of our teaching is that people may know God -- and not just know some facts about God.
- "And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" (Jn. 17:3).
- "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ" (Phil. 3:8).
- "But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed" (2 Tim. 1:12).
- In our own learning, we must not be "always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim. 3:7).
- The gospel of Christ does involve a "theological system" and an "ethical philosophy" -- but it is much more than that.
- As we debate the "process" of the gospel, let's not forget its "purpose" -- a personal relationship in which people actually know God and walk with Him.
- We must aim at true conversion of heart and obedience of life - Ac. 3:19.
- As we learn to influence others more effectively, let's not forget to build godly character in our own hearts and lives.
- Working on our own character comes first -- only then may we profit from an improvement in our communications skills - Mt. 7:5. The best approach is "inside-out."
- The ultimate "communication technique" is to walk more genuinely and closely with the Lord ourselves.
- When we fail to live our message, even our best communication efforts will be seen as manipulative.
- What we ARE communicates more powerfully than anything we SAY - 1 Tim. 4:12. Cf. Mt. 5:14; Phil. 2:15.
- Like Paul, we must be able to express the desire that others become what we ARE - Ac. 26:28,29.
Gary Henry - WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com