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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at Life BPC 8 am service, 2003-03-30

Text: Colossians 4:2-18

In the past 12 weeks we have had 12 messages in the theme, 'Do you know my Jesus?' This knowledge of Jesus that we have been talking about is not a mere head knowledge of Jesus, but heart knowledge as well. Do you really know the Lord Jesus personally in your heart? It is our hope that this whole series of messages would ultimately help each of us to have a deeper personal walk with Jesus Christ, our beloved Lord and Saviour. There should be nothing more thrilling to our soul than Jesus, our blessed Redeemer. Thus far we have already seen that He is truly the perfect Son of God and Son of Man. We have also seen that Jesus was a man of earnest Prayer, a man of great compassion and a man of humble submission to God's will. We have seen Jesus as the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, the Lover of Sinners, the Healer of Souls and in last week's message we saw Him as the Forgiving Man.

I. The World's Greatest Need is for Salvation

Now we come to the final message in the series: Jesus, The Saviour of the World. I think that this topic is a very relevant one for our present time as we witness all the turmoil that is taking place in the world right now ' the ongoing war in Iraq, the expected backlash of terrorist attacks, the threat of war with North Korea, and the violent protests all over the world. Added to this are all the crimes, corruption, immoral lifestyle and ungodliness that are obviously increasing at an alarming rate today. These things make it abundantly clear to us that the world we live in is filled with sin. 

And sin has been multiplying in this world ever since the time that the first man fell into sin. In Romans 5:12 the Bible says that 'as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.' Isaiah describes it, 'All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way.' (Isa 53:6) Even from the time a person is born, he already manifests the sinful nature. David testified in Psalm 51:5, 'Behold I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.' Since all men are born in sin, all without exception, are by nature spiritually dead. This sober truth is found in Ecclesiastes 7:20 'For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.' 

Because of this, we can now see that the greatest need in the world today is not for peace, nor for more tolerance, love and understanding between the various nations, races and religions. Neither is it the removal of evil tyranical regimes. Neither is it finding a cure for infectious illnesses like the SARS outbreak that is now spreading worldwide and also affecting us in Singapore. All these things are good, but we must recognise that they can only deal with the symptoms. They do not even touch the source of all the world's problems. What the world needs most, dear friends, is salvation from SIN! Without dealing with this root cause of all evil, found in the hearts of men, any attempt to change the world will be absolutely futile.

II. Only Jesus Christ Can Save The World

There is only One who can save the world from sin, and that is Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the World. That is what the Samaritans called Him in John 4:42. They said to the woman who had introduced Jesus to them 'Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.' Jesus Himself stated that He came to this world in order to be the world's Saviour: 'And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.' (John 12:47).

A. By Dying For The Sins of the World

And the way that Jesus saved the world is by making an atonement that is sufficient for the sins of the whole world. That is why John the Baptist called Him, 'the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.' (John 1:29). When Jesus was crucified, that one death that He died on the cross at Calvary was sufficient to take away the sins of the whole world. That is what the Bible says in 1 John 2:2 'And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.' We believe of course, that Christ's death ultimately saves only the elect (i.e. those whom God has chosen from the beginning of the world). The atonement that Jesus made was efficient for the elect alone. But our focus this morning is on the fact that the atonement of Jesus was actually sufficient to save the whole world. As Charles Wesley wrote in a hymn: 'Lord, I believe were sinners more than sands upon the ocean shore, Thou hast the ransom fully paid, Thou hast a full atonement made.'

B. By Bringing the Light of Life Into the World

Besides making a sufficient atonement for the world, our Lord Jesus has also brought the Light of Life into the world. John 8:12 'Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.' As the Light of the World, Jesus gives Guidance for Holy Living. This means that He enables us to see how we may be holy in the midst of a world filled with sin. 

Without Jesus, our eyes would be completely blinded by the thick darkness of sin that surrounds us. No one would then be able to find the path of holiness which leads to life. As the Light of the World, Jesus also gives Truth for Enlightened Living. In His Light we can find all the absolutes that we must live by in a world where there are no absolutes. Without Jesus, no man can be enlightened with truth for meaningful and successful living. And as the Light of the World, Jesus also reveals God fully to us, so that we can have a Relationship with God for Blessed Living. Without Jesus, no man can ever know God personally, and live a fulfilling life that is both blessed and complete.

C. By Becoming the Ultimate Ruler of The World

Jesus is not only the Saviour the world by making a sufficient atonement for the sins of the world, and by bringing the light of life into the world. He will also save the world by becoming the ultimate ruler of the world! Revelation 11:15 tells us of this glorious future event: 'The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever.' And when Jesus reigns over all the earth there will finally be righteousness, justice, peace and order in the whole world. His reign will surpass all the empires and superpowers that this world has seen. Jesus will be the perfect world ruler, succeeding where the United Nations have failed, and where all kings, presidents and prime ministers before Him have failed. Jesus alone will succeed in subduing all authority and dominion in this world under His full and absolute control! 

And this worldwide reign of Christ may be inaugurated soon, when Jesus Christ returns to this world in His second coming, to claim His rightful place as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! This is something that we can all look forward to right now as world events indicate that the time draws closer and closer to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! And so, dearly beloved, let us all live now with a sense of eager anticipation to meet our Lord Jesus, who is the Saviour of the World. And since He is the Saviour of the world, we must not keep Him all to ourselves, or just within the four walls of our church.

III. We Must Bring The Gospel of Jesus Christ to Everyone

In all these messages we have had for the past 12 weeks we have been studying all about Jesus - His life, His attributes, His person, ministry and character. Now that we know Jesus in all of His many glorious aspects through these messages, it would not be right for us to keep this knowledge all to ourselves. The world needs Him as much as we do, and we must do our part in bringing Jesus to the world. So let us now be outward-looking, applying the words of our theme, 'Do you know my Jesus?' to everyone around us. The knowledge of Jesus is not only meant for us, it is also meant for everyone.

Let us look at some verses of Scripture - Colossians 4:6 tells us, 'Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.' 1 Peter 3:15 says 'But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:' Hebrews 2:9 'But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.'

Perhaps we may ask: In what sense is Jesus for every man? There are some who teach that God has no concern or interest at all in anyone but the elect. But the Scriptures show us that this is not true. While it is true that none but those whom God has elected to salvation are saved, God does not take delight in seeing any sinner die, and in fact, He desires the salvation of all men (Ezekiel 33:11). This can be seen in Acts 17:30,31 'And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised him from the dead.'

In line with this teaching, we need to constantly affirm the free offer of Christ to all men. The Lord Jesus Christ must be freely offered to all men. As far as we are concerned, God wants us to do everything we can to sow the seed of the gospel lovingly, widely and indiscriminately. We are not to worry ourselves about whether the people we reach are elected by God or not. That is entirely God's realm alone, and really none of our concern. Our responsibility is to bring Christ to the whole world, that is, to every tribe, tongue and nation, and to every man. It is for this reason that the Lord gave His disciples the great commission, and the one in the Gospel according to Mark reads, 'Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.' (Mark 16:15). 

There is no doubt that we must obey this great commission and get the gospel of Jesus Christ out to every man, woman and child. We are to lift Christ up for the whole world to see, so that all the ends of the earth may look to Him and be saved (Isaiah 45:22). Jesus Himself said in John 12:32 'And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.' But how are we to do this? What are the ways in which we can bring the Gospel of Christ to every man? >From our passage in Colossians 4 we will see at least four ways: The first is 

A. Through Prayer

In vv.2-4, the apostle Paul instructs the Colossians to continue in prayer, and then he makes a specific prayer request 'Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.' Paul wanted them to pray that God would provide an opportunity for him to preach the gospel, and that he would make it clear so that those who hear him would understand the message. 

It is interesting to observe that this is the only prayer request that Paul made in the whole epistle of Colossians, and we must remember that he was in prison at that time. And yet he did not ask for things we would have expected him to ask, like 'Pray that I will be released from this prison, or Pray that the Lord will send people to visit me so that I will not feel so lonely.' These things were secondary to Paul. The cause of Christ was much more important to him than even his own difficult circumstances!

In the same way, our prayers should also put the cause of Christ first before anything else. And like Paul, we should also pray for the gospel to go forth to everyone. This is the way to begin to look outward - we should pray that the Lord would open opportunities for us to share the gospel with someone in our place of work or study or in our neighbourhood. Once we pray that prayer, we should then be sensitive to God's leading to see the answer to our prayer. We should also pray that God would give us the ability to make the gospel clear. Now besides prayer, another thing we need to do to bring The Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone is:

B. Through Walking in Wisdom Toward Them

Vv.5,6 says 'Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.' To walk in wisdom means to 'live wisely and carefully' (referring here to conduct). All our attempts to share the gospel of Christ with others would be useless if we are not careful in our conduct before them. People would say, 'What you do speaks more loudly than what you say.' There should be nothing in our conduct that will hinder our witness for Christ. We should rather 'Let [our] light so shine before men, that they may see [our] good works, and glorify [our] Father which is in heaven.' (Matthew 5:16).

The phrase 'redeeming the time' in v.5 of our text implies that we must have a sense of urgency in reaching out to people, and make the most of every opportunity that we have to bring them to Christ. And this must be especially so for us now, as we see more signs heralding our Lord's soon return telling us that there is not much time left to bring the lost to Christ.

V.6 continues on the theme of walking in wisdom, by telling us how we should speak to others 'with grace, seasoned with salt' Grace here means to speak kindly and pleasantly, rather than in an aggressive and argumentative manner. The use of the term salt refers to the fact that it was once used to purify and preserve food. Thus whatever we speak should be clean and wholesome, leaving a good taste, so to speak in the mouth of the hearer. The verse also tells us to 'know how we ought to answer every man.' From what we know of the early church, there was a tremendous emphasis on giving a proper and accurate answer about the faith. Every Christian ought to know the Bible well enough to give a clear, comprehensive answer concerning what they believe. 

Thus far we have seen two steps we must take to bring Christ to every man: Firstly, to Pray for opportunities to reach out to others, and secondly, to be careful to live a life that attracts people to Christ and does not drive them away from Him. The rest of chapter 4 in Colossians are the concluding remarks of Paul to the church, where he writes about some personal arrangements he had made for them and conveys greetings to them and to certain people in their midst. But from this, we can draw two more steps that can help in bringing Christ to every man: The first is 

C. Through Faithful Messengers

One thing that can greatly facilitate the propagation of the gospel is the use of faithful messengers who are willing to go forth and bring the message of Christ to the world. This is why Christ exhorts us to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send forth more labourers into His harvest. 

In v.7 we can find a good example of one such messenger: Tychicus. He is described here as 'a beloved brother and a faithful minister and fellowservant of the Lord.' Tychicus came from the province of Asia, and accompanied Paul in part of his third missionary journey (Acts 20:4). He became the bearer of the epistle to the Colossians, and Paul stated the purpose of his visit to them in v.8. Thus Tychicus came to them as Paul's representative. He was to inform them about what was happening to Paul, collect information to bring back to Paul and also to comfort (or encourage) their hearts - which we can presume to mean that he would minister the Word of God to them.

V.9 mentions someone by the name of Onesimus who accompanied Tychicus. The full story of this person is found in the book of Philemon. He was a slave who worked for Philemon, one of the Colossian church leaders. Onesimus was not a Christian at first and ran away from his master, stealing some items from him in the process. Somehow, he came to Rome, where Paul found him and brought him to Christ. His life was changed and so Paul wanted him to return back to Philemon, and make up for the loss he had caused to him. Since Tychicus was going to Colossae, Paul sent Onesimus with him together with a letter to his master to receive him back. This letter is found in our Bibles as the epistle to Philemon. 

We can imagine the kind of impact the appearance and testimony of Onesimus might have made on the Colossian Christians. Here was clear evidence of God's grace working in a sinner's life. His life was a message in itself. And this is yet another way to bring Christ to every man - by sharing one's testimony of how one's life has been changed by Christ!

As we look at the lives of Tychicus and Onesimus, we ought to pray that the Lord will provide such useful messengers in our own midst who will go to places where Christ has not been proclaimed, and bring the gospel to them. We thank God for the missionaries that God has raised up from our church, and who are serving Him now in Cambodia, Kenya, Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, Saipan and Malaysia. They are there because Jesus is truly the Saviour of the world!

And all of us should be concerned with missions, and be involved in praying for missions, providing support for missions and even participating in mission trips and (if God calls us) becoming long-term missionaries. Next Lord's Day I will be on a mission trip to Batam, and a group of ladies from our Adults Sunday School will be coming with me, not to enjoy a trip overseas, but to serve the Lord in Batam: They will be conducting three Sunday School classes and singing a praise item at the first anniversary service of Sagulung Baru B-P Church. I praise God for them, as this is actually the 3rd of 4th such trip that they are making to Batam. If anyone of you is interested in going on mission trips, please let us know, as there are more upcoming trips to Batam, Malaysia and also to Kenya where much help is needed.

And we should also seek to be involved in local missions, like our annual Vacation Bible School. This provides an excellent opportunity to bring Christ to children. Last year we had about of 330 children. And it took a team of 110 VBS staff to take care of the whole programme! Let us respond to this need for helpers for this evangelistic ministry. Whatever your gifts and talents may be, whatever your background, come and sign up for this worthy cause. And even if you are not able to serve in the VBS itself because of other commitments, you can still help to invite children to come for it. God can use anyone of us to do His work to do His work in local or foreign missions.

In this passage we can see a variety of backgrounds of people that God used to bring the gospel to others. We already saw that Onesimus was a runaway slave. In vv.10,11 there are three Jewish Christians mentioned - Aristarchus, Marcus and Jesus Justus. Epaphras (v.12) was the first Colossian to become a Christian through Paul, and he was zealous to go back and encourage the 3 churches he had established in the three cities of the Lycus valley (at Colossae, Hierapolis and Laodicea). V.13 mentions Luke who was a doctor from Philippi. We thank God for some doctors and dentists in our church who in the spirit of Luke, make medical trips to Batam twice a year. If you are an engineer, you can also be of help to the work of missions. One engineer in our church has sacrificed much of his valuable time in his busy schedule to make a 2-day trip to Cambodia just a few weeks ago to help our missionary, Rev David Koo in his building project.

Coming back to our text, we see Nymphas who is mentioned in v.15 as having a church in his house. And this provides us another effective means of bringing Christ to the world, by Christians who are willing to let God use their personal properties for His use. You can think of ways they can be availed for the Lord's use. You can open your house for Bible studies, or fellowship meetings, and invite your neighbours to come. If you have a car, use it to help fetch people to church on Sundays - especially those who do not have transport. If you have a computer, learn how to use it to do desktop publishing or to edit video reports on missions. One brother in our church has recently done just that, and the video he edited on Batam will be screened next Saturday during the seminar case study. Please come for this seminar to see how you can get involved in mission work in Batam.

The last person mentioned is Archippus (v.17) and he appears to be the resident pastor or fulltime worker at the Colossian church. He needed some special encouragement from Paul, perhaps because of the difficulties he faced there. When you think of our missionaries, evangelists and fulltime workers please remember that they sometimes need a word of encouragement from you, especially when they have to cope with problems on the mission field.

When I was a missionary in the Philippines one of the things I looked forward to was to receive mail from home. It was really like drinking from cool refreshing streams! Do you know that you can be a great help to the Lord's work in missions simply by writing a letter or email to a missionary? Just the thought that someone remembers him and prays for him can make a great difference in helping him overcome feelings of loneliness and homesickness. And this brings us to the fourth and final means we can use for bringing the Gospel of Christ to the world:

D. Through A Writing Ministry

V.16 is all about this. Paul's instructions was that this epistle should be read in the Colossian church and then sent over to the church in Laodicea to be read there as well. And apparently he had also sent an epistle to Laodicea, which was to be read to the Colossians. This letter no longer exists, and God chose not include it in His written Word. What we learn from this is how effective the writing ministry can be. One epistle could be circulated to many churches and wherever it was read, it would bring valuable teaching, instruction and encouragement from God's Word, as if the writer himself were present among them. 

Now Paul was not the only one involved in this writing ministry. In our passage there are two other Bible writers. Can you spot them? V.10 - Marcus, was the writer of the Gospel of Mark. V.14 - Luke was the writer of the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. What they have written has been read by thousands an even millions of people, has been translated into hundreds of languages. Their impact has reached down to us, and is still changing lives and drawing men to Christ! This shows us how powerful the written word can be. God's Word in Isaiah 55:11 says, 'So shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.' 

Let this encourage us to keep disseminating the Word of God, whether by giving out Bibles, or distributing Gospel tracts, or good Christian literature. Or even by using the Internet or e-mail. Today you can reach hundreds or thousands of souls with just the click of a mouse! 

I trust that the Lord has opened your eyes through this message that our Lord Jesus is not to be confined only to ourselves, to our worship services, our Bible study meetings, or to the four walls of our church. Jesus, the Saviour of the world is for Every Man, and it is up to you now to use all your resources to bring Him to every man, through prayer, through your Christian Conduct and personal sharing of the gospel with others, through sending and supporting God's messengers, and also through the literature ministry. Let us not delay to do these things, so that the name of Christ will be proclaimed as widely and as rapidly as possible and many more will come to know our Jesus!

 

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25