Andrew Fountain - Two Simple Keys for Living in the World

Colossians 3:22–4:18

  1. Bondservants, obey in everything your masters according to the flesh,
        not with good appearances, as people-pleasers,
        but with a dedicated heart, fearing the Master.
  2.     And whatever work you do, do it with all your soul,
            as if working for the Master and not for men,
  3.     knowing that from a master you will receive an inheritance as the reward;
            for you serve the Master—Christ.
  4.     for the one who does wrong will be repaid for the wrong,
            and there is no favouritism.
  5. Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly,
        knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

Living in the World: Pray, Walk and Talk

  1. In prayer giving constant attention, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving;
  2.     praying at the same time also for us too,
            that God would open to us a door for the message,
                to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains,
  3.         that I may reveal it, as I ought to speak.
  4. In wisdom walk, toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.
  5. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt,
        that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

Concluding Greetings

  1. All the things concerning me will be made known to you by Tychicus,
        a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord.
  2. I am sending him to you for this very purpose,
        that he may know the things concerning you and comfort your hearts,
  3. with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you.
    They will make known to you all things which are happening here.
  4. Greetings to you from Aristarchus my fellow prisoner,
        and Mark the cousin of Barnabas
        (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him),
  5. and Jesus who is called Justus.
    These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision;
    they have proved to be a comfort to me.
  6. Greetings to you from Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ,
        always labouring fervently for you in prayers,
        that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
  7. For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you,
        and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis.
    14. Greetings to you from Luke the beloved physician and Demas.
  8. Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas
        and the church that is in his house.


  1. Now when this epistle is read among you,
        see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans,
        and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.
  2. And say to Archippus,
        “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord,
        that you may fulfill it.”
  3. This salutation by my own hand—Paul. Remember my chains.
    Grace be with you. Amen.

Sermon notes - Two Simple Keys for Living in the World

  • In this passage, Paul gives us two simply keys
    • a simple key to the workplace
    • a simple key to evangelism
  • This is the end of the book, but the keys are rooted in the beginning
    • The keys flow from the truth:

0. Review of the Book

  • The theme of the book is

that brings

  • The first ½ of the book is teaching (Truth)
    • The second ½ is application (life)
  • The climax of this first ½ is the idea that we are
    • “United with Christ” in his death and resurrection
    • We died with him
    • we were raised from the dead with him into a new existence
  • But we are still living in this world. We’re living in two worlds at the same time
    • The age to come, and this present world
    • Here lies our problems
  • I’ve tried to sum it up in a picture:

The Two Worlds

The Two Worlds

  • The second ½ of the book is the implication
    • How this truth brings life
  • This second ½ spreads out into four areas

1. Our inner world, and our temptations

Boston Cream

Boston Cream

Image source: Vanessa Ravencroft

  • The Boston Cream Donut: chocolatey outside and yellow sweet creamy middle
    • I could shout very loudly about them! (as some preachers do)
    • I could plead with you and weep, and try and put emotional pressure on you
      • How could you have eaten those 15 donuts..., it grieves me so much, after all the time we spent trying to deal with this issue you let me down!
    • I could terrify you with threats of judgement to come
      • I could go on and on trying to play with your imagination till you were scared
    • I could move you with some tragic stories of the effects of sin
      • The terrible tale of Mr. Tim Horton who couldn’t resist his own donuts and exploded in one of his own restaurants
    • I could try and logically reason you out of sin
      • Those donuts actually have very little food value, and each one takes 1 week off your life
    • Paul says: “Who are you?”
      • You’re so much more than a donut eater.
        • You are the pinnacle of God’s new creation
        • What God has for you in these next few years is so exciting—don’t let donuts get in the way
        • You have a destiny that even now you are beginning to live in
  • So if it’s Truth that brings Life
    • The truth is our new destiny, our new identity
  • Then we looked at:

How we relate within our Christian family

  • We dressed Cam up in new clothes

New Clothes

New Clothes

  • The key idea is that the inner you is already new—you are a new creation in Christ
    • You need to throw off the old habits that don’t fit
    • Put on your new clothes
    • Anyone remember any of the old clothes?
      • tender mercies, kindness, humility, gentleness, longsuffering
    • Anyone remember any of the new?

Colossians 3

  1. But now you yourselves are to strip off all these:
    anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language out of your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another
  2. Therefore, as the chosen of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourself with tender mercies, kindness, humility, gentleness, longsuffering; 13bearing with one another, and forgiving one another,
    if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do;
  3. and of top of all these things adding love, which is the bond of perfection.
  • So if it’s Truth that brings Life
    • The truth is that the core you is new, and you actually can discard old habits like old clothes
    • Don’t be trapped by thinking that you can’t
  • Larry’s goldfish
  • Last time we talked about submitting to one another in family relationships and in the church
    • The New Creation is about how Christ submitted his own interests to our best interests
    • By submitting to one another, we are able to bring the future into the present
      • The Age to come into the now
      • The New Creation into our daily lives
    • We walk out the submission of Christ in our relationships
  • This week we are going to look at how we relate to those who are outside
    • We’ll see two simple keys

1. The Passage

2. The Workplace

  • We are going to go back to the last section and read from 3:18 onwards
    • partly because we didn’t look at these verses last time
    • but mainly because in Paul’s day these words related to the home
      • but now they are more appropriate to the workplace
  • Before we do, a note about the translation:
    • The word in Greek for Lord (as in Lord Jesus) is the same as for Master —Kurios
    • This enables Paul to make a play on words, which is lost in many translations
  • First a few notes of explanation
    • This is literally talking about slaves, but slavery was very different in those days
      • In the worst case of course there was abuse and cruelty
      • In the best case the slaves were treated just like the real children
        • job for life, care and protection, and may even be adopted as a son
      • But also remember that in general life was very hard for everyone in those days
        • most people had to work extremely long hours with no day off or vacation, whether slave or free
      • In a minute I am going to talk about how these words might apply to our workplace situation today
    • Masters “according to the flesh”
    • Paul has this image of The Two Worlds in mind

The Two Worlds

The Two Worlds

  • Problem is that we are living in the old as well as the new
    • How then do we live on a Monday morning in the flesh? We reflect the realities of the world of the Spirit back into this one
  • There is a master in both dimensions of reality
    • we serve the flesh-master as if we were serving the Master
  • “People Pleasers”
    • do you ever notice how when the boss walks in, people stop chattering about what they did last night and start focusing on work?
    • Have you ever seen people whose main aim is to get the credit for what is going well
    • It is all about giving a good impression to the boss, and not the actual work
    • e.g. I used to be a university lecturer and had a lot of big projects to grade, which I didn’t enjoy
      • nobody would ever know how carefully I graded them
      • Some people joked that the best way to grade them was to throw them (heaviest went further)
    • Literally this is “eye-service”
  • How would it be different if you were doing it for someone who noticed all those extra little things you did to do a good job
    • someone who valued the care you took, even when nobody else notices
    • the word “soul” has many meanings, but here we can best think of it as life energy
      • “doing it with all your life’s energies”
      • pour everything you have into it
  • Now Paul tells them that the reason they should do it as to Christ, is that
    • they actually are serving him
    • In the end, he will be the one who pays them (see image)
    • The reward is actually closeness to Jesus himself.
  • Then masters have their turn
    • They must be just and fair because they are accountable to a greater master
    • v.25 applies to both—God will judge slave and master alike. They cannot bribe him.
  • Interesting question: Why is there so much here addressed to bondservants, compared to the other five
    • Maybe most of the people in the church were in that category
  • How does this apply to the modern workplace?
  • First, I don’t think we can just draw a straight line and say
    • employees must never complain about pay or conditions, but just slave away
  • The model we have today is that there is a working agreement between an employer and employee
    • May be a written contract, or may be implied
    • It is essentially a trading agreement —hours of effort in exchange for money
  • This agreement should be fair and not exploiting the workers
    • We have a right to negotiate a good agreement and protest about bad agreements
    • Unions are a necessity in a fallen world
    • There are bad unions around, but if you look, bad management often gets the unions they deserve.
    • unfortunately mostly it is about greed on both sides, but I am not trying to make a political statement here so I won’t say anything more
  • Now, once you have agreed to a contract (written or otherwise), then this passage applies much more to you
    • During the time you are supposed to be working, this is how you should work!
    • This doesn’t mean you have to work all hours of the week like a slave
      • or unsafe working practices etc.
    • But the promise of a reward from Jesus will still apply to you.
      • Double pay: at the end of the week or month, and in eternity!!
  • This is the Key
    • the most important thing you can do is to understand the principle:
    • we are living in the physical world, according to the principles of the Spiritual World

3. Those who are outside

  • We have three things we can to that relate to those outside Christ:
    • Pray
    • Walk
    • Talk
  • And Paul says something about each one

Pray v2–4

  • “giving constant attention” —this is the same word used for the personal servants of the Roman general Cornelius who waited on him continually
  • In Luke 11 we have a parable about how to pray
    • The man who banged on his neighbour’s door and just wounldn’t let up!
    • The word can be translated “shameless persistence” —most people would be embarrassed to keep on so long
    • But not an attitude of being peeved at God, but “thanksgiving”
      • Not “God, why haven’t you saved them yet...”
  • But in this case, the context is the Gospel
    • What are the two requests? —opportunity and faithfulness
    • Door: a favourite metaphor for Paul and others
      • Acts 14:27 And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.
      • 1 Cor. 16:9 for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
      • 2 Cor. 2:12 When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord,
        • And this is a great message—that the door is for the message to go through.
    • Then he prays that he will speak “as he ought to” —he’ll actually say what he should say
    • This is a good way to start your day:
      • Lord, give me opportunities, and make me faithful when I get them
      • Give me open doors, and the boldness to walk through them
    • So this is the first point about how we relate to unbelievers

Walk: v5

  • concept of “those who are outside” outside of what? the new creation, the body
  • redeeming: (1:14 redemption) literally to buy up at a market (agora) snap up every bargain
    • Who likes shopping for bargains? (just had Black Friday)
    • Anne bought a food mixer
      • snap up a bargain!
  • What are they outside of? —The kingdom
  • Wisdom
    • Jesus is the one in whom all wisdom is hidden (1:?)
    • We don’t have to somehow work up this wisdom—he is living in us and freely shares it
  • What does this mean in practice?
    • being ready! (Chris has his personal tract)
    • not behaving in a way that brings dishonour to Christ, but the opposite

Talk: v6

  • Grace (ambiguous)... beauty (graceful) or free (gratuity)
  • Salty speech? ... and interesting and flavourful way of speaking, not dull and boring
    • not like the guy who shouted “are you ready to die?”
    • Paul at Mars Hill. “I see an alter to an unknown God” ...
    • My Mum taking the assembly at school, brings a real lamb!
    • We have to be interesting
      • Conversation with an atheist couple on a train: “We’re the kind of church that only believes things there is evidence for.”
      • Conversation with a man at a party: “We’re the kind of church that has no rituals”
    • Christians are very much stereotyped in the world today
    • Jesus was not boring and predictable!: Woman of Samaria, Nicodemus
      • Pray for his innovating wisdom
    • Think out in advance how a conversation might go.

4. Quick overview of the rest of the book

  • v7-9 Back in those days you could “tell a message to the postman”!
  • Onesimus is also carrying another letter!! (?)
    • Interesting to see a slice of church life going on
    • only place in the Bible where we know that Luke is a doctor!

Two Keys – 1: Workplace:

  • You have two bosses!
  • Bring the future into the present

2: Evangelism

  1. Pray: “Give me open doors, and the boldness to walk through them”
  2. Walk: Look for the opportunities you prayed for!
  3. Talk: words that are “tasty” and interesting
    (Wisdom from Christ)
  • Demo of walking through a door carrying tasty food

Updated on 2016-11-29 by Andrew Fountain