Contact Us

  • Phone: (509) 747-3007
  • Email:
  • Mosaic Address:
    606 West 3rd Ave., Spokane, WA 99201

Service Times

  • Sunday:  8:30 am, 10 am, 11:30 am
  • Infant through 5th grade Sunday School classes available
  • FREE Parking!



Back To List

Feb 26, 2017

Questions, Questions, Questions!

Passage: Colossians 4:5-6

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: Search and Rescue

Category: Evangelism

Keywords: evangelism, grace, questions, wisdom, secular objections


This message looks at the place questions can play in opening hearts to the gospel. It also develops the role of grace and truth in opening hearts to Christ.


Questions, Questions, Questions!

Colossians 4:5-6

February 26, 2017


I must confess that I’m a lover of questions.  I love to use questions when I’m teaching.  I love to ask questions when I’m around friends and family.  I love pondering questions that have the capacity to open up whole areas of insight and wisdom.  Questions are, quite simply, one of God’s best gifts to us as humans. 

            Just think about how you have used questions already this morning…and it’s only 10:30!  How would your greetings have changed if you hadn’t been able to ask a single question today?  How would your breakfast have been…or gone…if you weren’t allowed the privilege of asking your spouse or your server or Seri(?) anything about…anything?    

            Over the past month, we’ve been mining and mulling over this whole arena of sharing our faith with spiritually disconnected people in our lives.  We’ve talked about godly motivation like love and grace.  We’ve shared some of our own biggest fears and roadblocks to sharing the love of God with others.  We’ve talked about how essential prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit is to sharing the love of Christ with people.  We’ve seen how much of a spiritual battle it is to share Christ, even if you’re the Apostle Paul.

            But today I’d like us to dive into this whole arena of how God has given us questions as a tool to help us pass along the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. 

            Are you aware that we have recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John some 307 questions Jesus used to help his hearers grasp the truth He was trying to teach them?  Listen to just a handful. 

  • Why do you worry about food and clothing? (Mt. 6:28)
  • Why do you harbor evil thoughts? (Mt. 9:4)
  • Who do you say that I am? (Mt. 16:15)
  • Did you never read the Scriptures? (Mt. 21:42)
  • Why does this generation seek a sign? (Mark 8:12)
  • What were you arguing about on the way? (Mk. 9:33)
  • Why do you call me “lord, Lord’ and not do what I command? (Lk. 6:46)
  • Where is your faith? (Luke 8:25)
  • Which of these in your opinion was neighbor to the robber’s victim? (Luke 10:36)
  • Do you want to be well? (John 5:6)
  • Why are you sleeping? (Luke 22:46)
  • Do you love me? (John 21:16)

It’s my contention that more real learning happens asking questions that downloading information.  You’d probably never guess that from listening to me preach Sunday after Sunday. J  But I believe questions engage the mind in ways lecture doesn’t.  That’s why I’ll often ask us to get into groups of 4 or 5 and talk about a question or two from time to time. 

            Questions are vital.  But so are solid answers that are actually true…eternally true.  In fact, having both questions and answers is, according to God’s word, not optional for the follower of Jesus who has been left in this world for a reason. The Apostle Peter talked about this in I Peter 3:15 when he said,

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 

16 keeping a clear conscience….”

            What is the leading command here in vs. 15?  “Be prepared.” For what?  To enter into dialogue with anyone who is the least bit inquisitive about the nature of our faith.  Peter comments that it is to be a faith that is spilling over with hope about the future, particularly our eternal future with God himself. 

            So, on a scale from 1-10, 1 being “Not prepared at all” and 10 being “Able to share my faith with just about anyone confidently”, where would you say you are today?  [Take 15 seconds.]

            My guess is that any of us who may have answered an 8-10 are able to say that because you are either a.) somewhat self-deluded about your abilities, or b.) have worked long and hard at talking about Jesus with people.

            If you put yourself between a 5-7, you may feel somewhat confident about opportunities to share Christ but still uncertain about how to get into those conversations and how to use them well to talk about Jesus.

            And if you put yourself at a 4 or less, my guess is that you may not have spent a lot of time or effort being prepared to talk with other about Jesus and therefore feel pretty unsure either intellectually or spiritually how to go about it.    

            In a culture like ours that is growingly hostile and antagonistic to the claims of Jesus Christ and the values of His followers, there is often a lot of groundwork that needs to happen before most of us are going to see any kind of observable fruit.  I think we may need to change our definition of evangelism to include conversations and encounters with people that move them to a place where they are even willing to talk about soul-issues much less willing to listen to an entire presentation of the Gospel.  Our goal in having spiritual conversations with people shouldn’t be to give them the whole load of hay at one time but to give them enough food for thought that they become thirsty for more.

            This is precisely what Paul talked about in Colossians 4:5, 6 just after he asked for prayer that he might be a bolder witness for Christ.    

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.  Let’s dissect these two verses a bit today to figure out how every one of us here today can actually become more relaxed, more real, less fearful about everyday encounters with people needing Jesus. 

Vs. 5 indicates that the way we “act” or better yet “interact” with unbelieving people demands that WE grow in wisdom.  Paul isn’t suggesting that we just “be careful” what we do around “outsiders” to the Kingdom of God.  He’s calling us to a much more involved, much more life-encompassing experience with people disconnected from God. 

Wisdom takes work…especially in relationships.  To have healthy relationships with people around us, we need to be wise about how we interact with each one individually. We need to know what sets them off, what captures their attention. The more we know about someone, the better relationship we can have with them.  The same holds true to having positive relationships with people needing Jesus.

Even the O.T. prophet Daniel gave a very revealing prophecy about the relationship between having wisdom and leading people to a saving relationship with God.  At the end of his book of amazing prophecies, in Daniel 12:2 when he is talking about the end of time and the beginning of eternity, this is what he says:

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise [those who impart wisdom] will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

Notice the connection that even Daniel makes between wisdom and “lead[ing] many to righteousness.”  The alternate reading of the beginning of verse 3 puts the emphasis, not on just being wise, but on sharing that wisdom with others.  And since we know from Proverbs 9:10 that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…”, certainly helping people today to find the beginning of wisdom about life and eternity must involve helping them find God.  Like the bumper sticker says:

No God? No wisdom. 

Know God?  Know wisdom. 

So being wise in the way we live among and relate to kingdom “outsiders” requires that we apply our hearts and minds to growing in God’s wisdom.  The original language here uses what is called a “present, active, imperative.”  It’s a command that we are to engage in all the time.  Failure to make progress and growth in how we relate to secular people will also lead to a failure to answer the call God gives ALL his children to “make the most of every opportunity.” 

            That phrase “make the most of every opportunity” is translated in the ESV as “make the best use of the time.”  It was used metaphorically of making the most of an opportunity by buying something at a good price or at an appropriate time (cf. Eph. 5:16). 

Can we all agree that the BEST us of any time with someone is to help them take another step towards God?  We can talk about a whole lot of things with people—the weather, sports, work, family, even politics (well, maybe not).  Conversation about those topics may build a little more friendship…or distance.  But conversation that moves anyone one step closer to God—particularly someone disconnected from God—certainly is “making the most”…truly the most in every positive way…of whatever time we have with them. 

Next Paul goes on to tell us what the content of our conversation should be. 

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. 

            This is the difference between people who shut down spiritual conversations or open them up.  Are we learning to fill our speech, our conversations with secular people with God’s grace and His “salt”?  Those are 2 sides of the same coin, as we will see in a moment.  “Salt” here is, I believe, another word for “truth.”  Just as Jesus was a man “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, 17), so that is precisely what is to characterize our interactions with unsaved people. 

But the very fact that Paul would command us to have conversations that are “full of grace” and “seasoned with salt” tells me that this has been a challenge for the people of God for a long time.  People who are overbearing or argumentative about spiritual realities are not grace-filled.  And their interactions don’t leave other people hungry for more conversations about God. 

            So let’s do a little work today on both sides of that coin—conversations with people disconnected from God that point to God’s grace and conversations that point to God’s truth—spiritual salt. 

Last week we looked at how vital it is that we be people deeply marked in our own experiences by the grace of God in order to be people who can pass along to others real grace.  Remember our simple definition of GRACE?  In relationship to God, grace is “getting what we don’t deserve” in the positive sense of the word.  It’s receiving blessings we didn’t earn, work for or merit.  For Christ-followers it is getting God himself—the love of God the Father, fellowship with the Holy Spirit himself, all that Christ is despite all that we are as sinners and are not yet as redeemed saints.  So on the human plain, grace is giving people Jesus when they deserve judgment.  It’s actually blessing them when they curse us.  It’s answering kindly when we’re spoken against.  It’s giving blessings when people deserve punishment or smack-downs.

            Here is where our personal testimonies come in.  I say “testimoniesplural because all of us have multiple testimonies of God’s grace to us.  Some of us have testimonies from this week, others from last month.  None of us who know Christ should have to go back years and years to talk about God’s grace to us. 

At just the right times in life, God puts us in the paths of others who need to know the grace of Christ in some of the same areas and experiences of life where we’ve experienced God’s grace.  You won’t be proud of what you did nor talk about the “B.C.” days of our life like you are bragging.  Grace should enable us to talk humbly about what God saved us and continues to save us from in conversations we have with spiritually disconnected people. 

  • For example, our struggle with purposelessness or meaningless in life becomes a point of common contact with a friend who may be feeling that same emptiness in life right now.
  • Our battle with drugs or alcohol becomes a point of contact with others who are struggling with the same.
  • Our marriage challenges and failures, our parenting crises and messes, our battles with loneliness or depression or pornography or sexual identityanywhere we are broken or hurting becomes an opportunity for the grace of God to connect us with the reality of life of someone near us.

There is something powerfully attractive about the grace of God.  It is so completely opposite of how we humans react to wrongs and injustices.  Grace leaves people stunned.  It leaves them wanting more. 

Many people outside the church do not really believe that WE BELIEVE what we say we believe. [REPEAT] We say God is a god of grace and we are saved by grace, but if they don’t see or hear grace in action, they probably don’t believe it exists.  Many will think we are just playing church…or being religious…or trying to look better than we are.  But when they hear from our hearts and see from our lives that we are experiencing God’s grace in life changing us, and they see us living out grace to our families, friends and neighbors, then they will listen…or at least watch in wonder.

Genuine, growing followers of Jesus will have stories of God’s grace.  We’ll know some of what we’ve been saved from as well as some of the undeserved blessings of God that we’ve been saved to. 

Q:  When was the last time you shared with someone, especially someone without Christ, something of the grace of God at work in your life?  If we have difficulty sharing with people far from God, let’s start by looking every day or week to share something about God’s grace at work in you with a fellow believer.  If we get in the habit of doing that, I’m sure that pretty soon we’ll find ourselves giving the same “testimony”, the same grace-seasoned stories to people around us who are disconnected from God.   

This is why new believers in Jesus are often such powerful ambassadors of Christ.  They FEEL the difference Christ makes.  They can look back just days or months or years and remember what life was like before meeting Jesus—how empty it was, how enslaved to sin it was, how self-serving and people-using it was.  That’s conversation seasoned with grace, God’s grace to us.

            People can argue religion all day long.  But even the most hardened skeptics against Christ will have a very hard time refuting our stories of grace. They may not initially buy that they are a sinner needing a divine Savior’s grace.  But they will be able to grasp how God’s grace is changing the sinner they know or knew us to be. J

APP:  So turn to someone next to you and, in less than a minute, tell them what God’s grace has and is saving you from in life…and/or what it has blessed you with? 

EX for me

  • life of depression>>true joy…and a wife that is genuinely joyful about SO much of life.
  • destructive driven-ness for success>>peace and satisfaction with just being faithful to God and enjoying the simple events and people of life.
  • of a deadening life of stifling religious ritual >> a life full of joyful worship, prayer and relationship with God and

[2 minutes of grace stories.]

Let’s talk specifically now about HOW we can share about the grace of God in everyday conversations

            Because God is Lord over the entire universe, every moment in life has a spiritual dynamic.  Nothing falls outside God’s gaze or extends beyond His interest.  God is giving us constant encounters with His grace that are matched to encounters with other people.  Every person we meet, every encounter we may have, even every conversation with another person has some relationship to God and spiritual realities.

How might our spiritual impact on others change if we brought our walk with God into more of our talk with people?   I’m not suggesting we super-spiritualize every conversation we have with people.  But I do think learning to look to the Holy Spirit about when He might nudge us to bring Christ into our regular conversations is a great idea. 

ILL:  Jeff’s encounter a few weeks ago at McDonalds with one of the girls sex trafficked out of his Hillyard youth group.  He had just been telling us about her and how he had lost contact with this gal when she showed up…while we were having coffee after Thursday prayer!  Not every encounter is so dramatically a God set-up.  But conversations that include God can develop naturally in just about any setting.

  • When we’re viewing or experiencing the power or beauty of creation, comment on it and how it speaks to you of God.
    • Rain
    • Storms
    • Sunset
    • Full moon
  • When we’re experiencing a time/event of blessing or joy, it’s an opportunity to be thankful to God and let people know He’s involved with it and your life.
    • Family joys
    • Financial blessings
    • Good friendships
    • Peace in the midst of life storms
    • Answered prayers
    • Health blessings
  • It might be as simple as asking others, “What did you do over the weekend?” and possibly being able to share what you did with God over the weekend.
    • Had dinner with some friends and we got to talking about…what God is doing in our lives.
    • Saw a movie that got us thinking about life & death/good & evil/God’s commands & war.
    • Got to rest and experience God’s renewal while at church.
    • Enjoyed God’s creation going for a walk in the park.
  • Talking about life challenges and struggles will always open up possible references to God’s grace in your life.
    • Health issues
    • Family matters
    • Marriage challenges
    • Work issues
    • Aging issues

So, grace IS the personal testimony side of the evangelism coin.  “Salt” is the divine truth side of evangelism.  Salt conversations leave lost people wanting more connection with God than they have.

At times people will need salt-conversations more than grace ones.  They will need to be challenged with biblical truth claims that get them questioning their own world-view.  At other times they will need stories of grace more than sprinklings of truth “salt.”  “Making the most of every opportunity” will require both.

            My guess is that most of us find it easier to talk about God’s grace at work in our lives than to talk about His truth that may challenge the foundational beliefs of secular people.  But unless people see and feel a hole in their soul or thinking about life and their worldview, chances are they won’t be very thirsty for God.   

Knowing “how to answer everyone” takes listening to them and listening to the Holy Spirit.  It assumes that there is a genuine conversation going on between two people. It also presupposes that our conversations will bring up questions. Most people, when they feel they are around someone who is genuinely interested in them and has taken the time to ask them a few questions about who they are and what they believe, will return the favor.  Whether they do or don’t is not our responsibility.  We are called to love them and leave them with a little more of the life of Christ than they may have encountered or thought about to that moment. 

Col. 4:6-- Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.


There are questions that we can ask even someone we’re sharing just a few minutes or hours of life with (on the bus, plane, waiting at the DMV, working out at the athletic club, etc.).

Try one of these right NOW with someone sitting next to you:

  • So, do you have any kind of spiritual belief?
  • What’s been your personal journey when it comes to faith and God?
  • What particular challenge are you facing in life right now? I’ve experienced that God answers prayer, sometimes even the way I would like Him to. J May I pray for you about them?
  • What conclusions have you come to about who Jesus Christ is and your relationship to Him?

[Take 3 minutes to have them ask & answer 1 of these questions.]

So to finish this off this morning, I’d like to hear from YOU about questions secular people ask you about your faith that tend to be a challenge to answer.  Just what are those questions you and I are afraid our non-Christian friends will ask OR objections they will throw your way to get you to stop talking about God?  I’ve found that most of them boil down to just a handful of similar questions.  It’s not like we need to study for an exam in Anatomy & Physiology that has a thousand strange-sounding bones, muscles and tissue names we need to memorize. 

If we’re as serious about answering honest questions people have about God, Jesus or the Bible is as we are about learning subject material for an exam in school or a certification in our job, there is no reason in the world why every one of us in this room can’t engage with the smartest people in this city about God.  Seriously!  The answers are not that hard to find or learn.  But Christians eager to learn those answers are not so plentiful. 

So…what are the questions or objections most people have to belief IN Jesus Christ/God?  We may tackle one or two today or hold some of them over for future work. 

  1. I’m not religious. (End of conversation!)
  2. What makes you sure there even is a God, especially when you can’t see, hear or touch him?
  3. Science has done away with the need for God. I believe in evolution.
  4. If God is good and all-powerful as you say he is, why is there so much evil, suffering and pain in life? I have a hard time believing in a god like that.
  5. Don’t all religions lead to the same end?
  6. How can you believe in a God that would send people to an eternal hell? That’s not the kind of God I want to follow. 
  7. How can you trust and believe in a religious book that is full of errors and contradictions?
  8. Lots of evil has been done in the name of religion. Why would I want to be a part of that?
  9. Christians are a bunch of judgmental hypocrites. I don’t need more of that in my life.
  10. Truth is relative. It’s judgmental of you to claim that everyone needs Jesus.
  11. I just don’t care whether it’s Jesus or Mohammed or Buddha or some Hindu god or no god at all. It doesn’t matter what you believe. 

A few FUNDAMENTALS of winsome/winning conversations (rather than contentious/losing conversation):

  1. PRAY before, during and after you talk. Prayer will do more to prepare them and us for loving interactions while helping us follow the Holy Spirit’s lead.
  2. Grace is always more powerful than the best answer.
  3. Learn to listen by asking questions. Ask questions that help you learn where they are coming from both emotionally and intellectually.  Ask clarifying questions of their questions/objections.
  4. It may be more important to find out WHY people have the objections they do than answering the objections.
  5. Don’t be afraid to say, “That’s a good point,” or “I don’t have an answer for that right now. Would you be willing to let me do some research on that and continue this conversation at a future date?”
  6. Keep your comments short (1-2 minutes, not 10-15). Less is more when it comes to salt.