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November 13, 2016
Truth in Love
Showing and explaining the word of God is essential in teaching the lost. To accomplish that, we ourselves must spend tie with His word; we must “rightly divide the word of truth” (2Timothy 2:15). We must present it accurately and use Bible authority (Colossians 3:17). God word is the only truth and only the truth will set souls free of their sins (John 8:32).
Presenting the truth is not the only concern we should have. We must also be concerned with how we present the truth. God’s people must take care how they teach God’s word. The Scriptures give what we should speak and how we should speak it. The way we present God’s word makes a big difference in our success in reaching others.
We are given specific instruction: “we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:14-15). To follow the instruction, we must begin with our heart. Why we do the things we do is important to God (Matthew 5:8). Speaking the truth to others should be done from a motive of love—all that we do should be done out of love (1Corinthians 16:14; 13:1-3). Teaching should not be done through envy, strife, jealousy, or selfish ambition (Philippians 1:15; James 3:14). The apostle Paul had love for those he taught; does it show in us (2Corinthians 2:4)?
The motive of love involves the manner in which we present it to others. Like Christ, we must not “wrangle” or “quarrel” or cause strife (Matthew 12:19). The truth has enough enemies—we should not try to make more. There is a proper way to speak God’s word to non-Christians. “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:5-6). Kindness in our speech relaxes, decreases anxiety, revives, strengthens, or comforts (Proverbs 16:24). “The wise in heart will be called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness” (Proverbs 16:21). Speaking in a pleasant manner, without compromising the truth, is vital to effective communication of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Speech with grace also includes the idea of showing grace—we speak what will benefit them spiritually. When we speak the truth, we should try to meet the needs of each individual (Ephesians 4:29). What is presented from God’s word should be suitable for the occasion (Proverbs 25:11) and to the person we are trying to teach. This is exactly what Jesus did (Luke 18:22; John 8:10-11; Mark 8:31-33; etc.). We can’t know like Jesus, but we must do our best to meet people where they are in order to lead them to where they need to be.
Once you begin to discuss spiritual truths with your neighbor, be careful not to speak in overbearing or arrogant manner. We must speak to people the way we would want to be spoken to (Matthew 7:12). Our speech should be kind and respectful, yet confident and bold (Acts 4:13). Speak with gentleness as needed (Galatians 6:1). Humility is also essential (Colossians 3:12)—don’t be a “know it all.” It is important to be modest and humble to avoid appearing haughty or proud. The way we speak ought to reflect that we are Christians.
There is a temptation to be ashamed of the gospel in a society that mocks Christians. The “intellectual elite” often assume that stupidity accompanies religious conviction! Many of our neighbors, coworkers, classmates, relatives, and maybe even our own family members and friends have been taught to feel this way about Christianity. Many people have been duped into believing that any discussion of Christianity has no place in higher education. Never feel embarrassment or shame with God’s word! Before you dismiss the possibility that you sometimes feel ashamed to present the truth to others, consider the idea of sharing the truth outside your “comfort zone.” You may be able to speak the truth boldly in the presence of other Christians, in a worship assembly, or in a Bible class, but what about other situations? Are you ashamed to bring up the subject of religion at work or at school? How about with your neighbors or relatives? We often think that we need to get people to come to church where we can communicate God’s word—shouldn’t we feel just as free to discuss the Scriptures with people at work, at school, or in their homes? We need to recognize that we will be condemned eternally for having shame of God and His gospel (Mark 8:38).
How can I be bold? It is easy when we listen to God. God gives us things to remember that help us:
Know your Bible (2Timothy 2:15). Be like Ezra— set your heart on the study of God’s word so you can teach others (Ezra 7:10). Christians should do their best to be prepared to give an answer for their faith (1Peter 3:15). The more you study the Bible, the more bold you can be in speaking the truth because you know it and know it well! You will not be able to answer every single question they may have, but you should prepare to answer as best you can.
Do not overestimate the “wisdom” of non-Christians (Psalm 14:1). Rather than be intimidated at the thought of a debate with non-Christians, remember that those who mock God are often foolishly ignorant of the Scriptures. Their so called “wisdom” is no match for the wisdom of God (1Corinthians 1:18-25).
There are many religious frauds out there, but you are not one of them! (2Corinthians 4:1-5). When you know you preach the truth, there is no reason to feel ashamed. People may doubt you or be suspicious of you, yet in time you may prove to them that you are who you say you are: a Christian who teaches the truth (Matthew 7:15-20).
Hostility or persecution in response to the truth is to be expected (2Timothy 3;12). Be joyful, not sorrowful or ashamed, when persecuted for Christ’s sake (Matthew 5:10-12; Acts 5:40-42). Speak God’s word with all boldness (Acts 4:29).
Remember that you are sharing the soul-saving Gospel! (Romans 1:14-17). We are not sharing with them the latest fad, a new product of man, or something outdated that adds little value to their lives. Do not be ashamed! Speak the truth in love!
—S. Scott Richardson Sr.