How to Answer Every Man
How to Answer
1. As noted last week, verse 6 can have LOTS of different applications.
a. Gracious speech is always a good idea… in any setting.
b. Knowing how to give good answers is also beneficial in lots of different settings.
c. However, this passage is found in a specific context in Col. 4.
d. We want to look at the verse from that perspective.
2. Paul was asking for prayer that God would open opportunities for him to speak the mystery of Christ… the mystery of the gospel of God’s grace. (vs. 3)
3. He saw that as a moral obligation: I OUGHT to speak. (vs. 4)
4. Then Paul mentioned the need for a witness to walk worthy of his high calling… to walk in wisdom before the unsaved. (vs. 5)
5. He also challenged us to buy up all the opportunities we can to preach the gospel. (vs. 5)
6. Last week we looked at HOW to communicate the mystery of the gospel: in an atmosphere of grace… IN grace… with gracious words coming from a gracious spirit…
7. There is one other thought (an important thought!) that Paul included in verse six: that we should know HOW to answer every man.
8. This too needs to be understood in its context.
a. How to answer those who question your walk in wisdom.
• Our walk ought to both POINT to Christ and MANIFEST His life to those around us.
• This will cause some men to become curious as to what makes you tick.
• They may even ask you outright.
• Paul says that we should know HOW to answer them!
b. How to answer your gracious presentation of the gospel.
• Wisdom and grace go hand in hand. It is wise to be gracious!
• Ecc. 10:12 – The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious.
c. If our walk and our talk are what they ought to be (full of wisdom and grace), then God WILL open doors to speak.
• A foolish, obnoxious, crass, and offensive walk and talk disgrace the Lord… and close doors.
• But a wise walk and gracious words will open doors. It will create curiosity.
9. I Pet 3:15 – that kind of a walk and talk is part of a life where Christ has been SANCTIFIED…
a. And that kind of life OPENS DOORS.
b. People will naturally be curious and will want to know more.
c. And when they DO, we should be READY to give an answer. (?p?????a – a verbal defense; a reasoned argument.)
d. Peter and Paul agree: as Christians we need to know HOW to answer men who have honest, legitimate questions about our faith.
• And oh how we need both wisdom and grace in handling the precious gospel message…
• This is especially so since a man’s eternal destiny hangs in the balance.
10. Prerequisites to a proper ANSWER
a. I Pet. 3:15 – sanctify the Lord God in your heart… and reply with meekness and godly fear.
b. Col. 4:5 – walk in wisdom.
c. Col. 4:6 – let your words and your approach be IN grace.
d. So far what they’ve told us about how to answer says nothing about the CONTENT of our answer… but more concerning our own personal heart attitude: Christ centered; wisdom; grace; meekness; godly fear; etc.
e. This is HOW we ought to answer… as a vessel in God’s hands… yielded and surrendered to Him… emptied of self… and filled with the Spirit… filled with the Christlike character the Holy Spirit produces in us…
f. That’s how to answer every man!
g. That’s the platform from which we are to speak.
1. “Every man” is not a synonym for “everyone” or “all mankind.”
a. Paul is not saying that there should be one blanket answer for all of humanity.
b. He is not saying that there is one generic answer that we should learn and give to everyone.
2. “Every man” = heni ekastw = “each and every one.”
a. It was translated variously as “each one,” “each person,” etc.
b. The difference is between the generic “everybody” and the specific “each individual.”
c. The implication seems to be that there are different people will have different questions… different concerns… different issues… which will require different answers on our part.
d. We should know how to answer each INDIVIDUAL.
3. We noted last week that God did not assign the ministry of evangelizing to parrots. But if there was but one pat answer we are to give to every human being, then maybe a parrot would suffice!
a. We noted previously that God has chosen human beings—sinners saved by grace—fallen, sinful creatures who have experienced the grace of God personally to tell others about that amazing grace.
b. God has placed each one of us as Christians in a unique circle of influence.
c. We all come in contact with people—but we all come in contact with a different SET of individuals.
d. And in that circle we get to KNOW these folks.
• We get to know somewhat of their backgrounds, their interests, their family life, their hobbies, their problems.
• Over time, a relationship with them has developed, and you get to really know them… so that you can read them.
e. And they get to know you… and trust you… a friendship develops. You can tell when they feel comfortable and are ready to open up and discuss spiritual things. You learn to know when to speak up and when to shut up.
f. Every person is different.
• And wisdom demands of us that we learn HOW to answer each individual person… in a way that is suitable to them… in a manner they can grasp, be interested in, in a way that captures their attention.
• This knowledge comes from KNOWING the person!
g. If someone asks you about your faith or about Christ, approach your answer from an angle that is sensible in light of the individual who asked.
a. Matt. 19:23-24 – Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.? ?And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
• This is a great Bible verse in speaking to an individual about their need for salvation. Jesus spoke these words to the rich young ruler.
• It can be used effectively in presenting the gospel.
• However, if you were addressing a crowd of poor farmers in Zambia, that’s probably not the best way to answer their questions about heaven.
b. The gospel message is presented in the NT from various angles. (legal = justification; birth/life = regeneration; purchase = redemption; etc.)
• If you were speaking to a young couple who just had a new baby… speak of regeneration!
• If you were speaking to a lawyer—speak of justification.
• If you were speaking to a financial planner—speak of redemption.
• Wisdom dictates that we communicate to people in an appropriate manner. Speak their language!
• Expositors says: “They must strive to cultivate the gift of pleasant and wise conversation, so that they may be able to speak appropriately to each individual (with his peculiar needs) with whom they come in contact.’
5. Every man = every individual.
a. Everybody is different… and each one is to be approached in light of that fact. Be aware of the person.
b. Take note of their age (are they 6 or 60?)
c. Male, female? Rich, poor? Any cultural differences.
Different Answers for Different People
A. Acts 13:14-25 – Paul preaches at a Jewish Synagogue in Pisidian Antioch
1. Vs. 14 – the setting = Paul enters the synagogue in Antioch Pisidia on the Sabbath day.
a. This is NOT the same Antioch as the church that sent Paul out (vs. 1). The sending church was in Syrian Antioch. Now Paul is preaching in Pisidian Antioch in Galatia. (Turkey)
b. There Paul spoke in a Jewish synagogue. Thus, this is a Jewish audience.
c. Paul knew how to speak to a Jewish audience: He wrote, “Unto the Jews I became as a Jew!”
d. Thus, in a gracious spirit, Paul submitted to the custom of the day in the Jewish synagogue.
2. vs. 15-16 – The custom was to read the law and prophets.
a. After the reading, Paul was given an opportunity to speak (as he ought to speak!)
b. Paul knew the protocol there… and submitted to it.
c. He entered the synagogue and sat down and waited for the appropriate time to speak.
d. HE was very courteous and respectful to all.
e. When invited, he stood up to speak. The door was wide open for him to make known the mystery of the gospel.
f. And Paul knew HOW to address this audience.
3. Vs. 17-22 – Paul reviews the history of Israel to this audience.
a. What he said was right in harmony with the Jewish scriptures… and they all recognized his words as such.
4. Vs. 23- He used THEIR HISTORY to introduce them to Jesus Christ!
a. He linked the coming of Christ to the expectation of THEIR prophets… pointed to Christ as THEIR hope… a fulfillment of promises God made to THEM!
b. He identifies Jesus as a Savior UNTO Israel!
c. Vs. 24-26 – He lets them know that God cares for THEM and sent this word of salvation to THEM… to the stock of Abraham… and God-fearing gentiles—proselytes to the Judaism.
d. Vs. 27-29 – He explains how the Jewish leaders, way back in Jerusalem, did not recognize Him as the Christ and had Him crucified… as it was written in THEIR prophets!
e. Vs. 30-31- He then tells them that God raised Him from the dead and that there were many eyewitnesses of His resurrection. (He knew that Jews seek signs…)
f. Vs. 32- Then Paul declares the good news—the gospel—that the death and resurrection of Christ identify Him to the Jews as their Messiah!
• To prove his point, he quotes from Psalm 2, Isaiah 55, and Psalm 16… all of which would be familiar passages to this Jewish audience.
g. Vs. 38-39 – Then Paul boldly declares that they can receive forgiveness of sins by FAITH in Christ Jesus… and that they could never be justified through the Mosaic Law!
h. Vs. 40-41 – And he closes with a warning by quoting another Prophet, Habakkuk.
i. Vs. 42-44 – Many of the people wanted to learn more and asked him to come back.
j. Paul and Barnabas persuaded the people to continue in the grace of God… (as opposed to their age old attempt to be justified by the Law of Moses).
5. HOW did Paul preach to this PARTICULAR group of men?
a. He preached a sermon saturated in Old Testament scripture!
b. He brought them through Exodus, the dividing of the land, the period of the Judges, Samuel and the prophets, then the kings, culminating with the Davidic Covenant…
c. He quoted Psalm 2, 16; Isa. 55; Hab. 1:5.
d. The people he addressed were well versed in the Old Testament Scripture, so Paul took advantage of that.
e. He proved from THEIR own Scriptures how Jesus Christ was the One who fulfilled what the Prophets predicted… in His death, burial, and resurrection.
f. Acts 17:1-3 – Paul’s MANNER was to go to the synagogues and REASON (dialogomai – intelligent conversion; back and forth) with them out their Scriptures… proving that Jesus is the Christ.
g. Paul had developed a unique MANNER of presenting the gospel of Christ to the Jews.
h. It was appropriate for a Jewish audience.
i. Unto the Jews he became as a Jew… spoke their language… addressed them at a level that made sense to Jews.
B. Acts 17:22 – Paul preaches Christ to a GENTILE audience in Greece.
1. He uses an entirely DIFFERENT approach. (same gospel; different approach). This is a Greek audience. Notice the difference in Paul’s approach.
2. vs. 22 – he says that they are too superstitious
a. The English translation sounds like he was rebuking them for their stupidity… their folly… (It sounds quite insulting in English… not very gracious…)
b. Don’t make fun of a person’s faith or church…
c. That kind of language would have slammed the door shut on him!
d. The English words “too superstitious” has also been translated as “fearful of the gods” or “given to the worship of the gods”… “very religious”… “very devout.”
e. Paul said something like, “I see you folks are very religious.” It was NOT an insult.
3. Vs. 23 – Note that he did not assume they know who God is. They do NOT.
a. He used one of their altars to an unknown God as a platform to introduce them to the true and living God.
b. They acknowledged that there was a God they did not know. Paul took advantage of that fact.
c. “HIM I declare unto you.”
4. Vs. 24 – Paul doesn’t start with the law and prophets. He takes this group of men all the way back to the beginning and introduces God as the One who Created heaven and earth.
5. Vs. 25 – He lets them know that God is not worshipped through dead idols. He is the LIVING God—the GIVER of life.
6. Vs. 26 – He states that the living God is Creator of heaven and earth. He is the One who made ALL nations.
a. Note that he says God made of ONE BLOOD all nations.
b. Thus, he eradicates any sense of racism or bigotry that might exist between the Jew and the Greek.
c. God made only ONE race—the human race—which happens to come in many different sizes, shapes, and colors!
d. Every nation is made from the same human stock.
e. The Greeks had a tendency to be proud over their knowledge of philosophy; the Jews had a tendency to be proud of their knowledge of God.
f. Paul was trying to avoid an unnecessary clash here by letting them know that the Jews and the Greeks were all created by the same God… and made from the same stock.
g. Whatever hatred or bigotry might exist between their two nations, Paul wanted them to know that the message he was going to preach was unrelated to politics or earthly prejudices.
h. Thus, he wants them to know up front that the God of Israel wants to be THEIR God too!
i. He made ALL nations—Israel and Greece too. Paul is careful not to come across to these folks as a proud Jew.
7. Vs. 27 – Paul lets these Greeks know that the God he preaches… the Creator wants ALL of His creatures to seek after Him. He’s never been very far away!
8. Vs. 28 – Paul quotes one of their poets.
a. This was apparently quoted from Epimenides, a poet from the island of Crete. (Others attribute this quote to two Greek poets: Aretus and Cleanthes).
b. Note that Paul did not quote Scripture. These Greeks were not familiar with Jewish Scripture. It would be meaningless to them.
c. Hence, he quoted from one of their own poets—someone they were familiar with…
d. Why quote a pagan poet? Because what this man said was TRUE. His writings were not inspired, but this sentence was true… and served Paul’s purpose.
e. Paul knew that this would get their attention… something they could relate to… and showed respect to them…
f. Paul noted that we are ALL God’s offspring (meaning creatures). It does NOT mean we are all sons of God… or part of His family of redeemed ones.
9. Vs. 29 – Paul REASONED from that fact (living creatures came from their Creator) that God Himself must be LIVING and should not be worshipped with idols of gold, silver, or stone… dead articles… created by man.
10. Vs. 30 – He states that God had winked at this ignorance in ages past, but NOW (since Christ came—the final and ultimate revelation of who God is) God COMMANDS all men everywhere to repent.
a. Repent = a change of mind
b. Vs. 31 – Judgment day is coming
c. The resurrection of Christ is God’s assurance of the reality of the message.
11. Vs. 32-34 – there were various responses to his preaching.
a. But what a CONTRAST between the way Paul answered the Jews in the synagogue… and the way he addressed these Gentiles in Greece!
b. To the Greeks he never mentioned the Law of Moses or the Scriptures. To those without the law he became as without law.
c. Paul knew HOW to answer every man… different individuals… different backgrounds… and thus a different approach.
d. But it was always the same message: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ… and a call to faith/repentance.
C. Nicodemus (John 3)
1. Nicodemus was a well to do religious leader. He was educated in the Scriptures. Jesus approached him at his level.
2. vs. 3 – Jesus uses a term (born again) never mentioned in the Old Testament, but a CONCEPT this religious leader should have known!
3. vs. 10 – Jesus EXPECTED this teacher of the Scriptures to KNOW what the Old Testament said.
4. Vs. 7 – Note also, that Jesus told this religious leader (as religious as he was!) that he NEEDED to be born again. Religion cannot save. The law cannot save. But Christ can!
5. Vs. 14-15 – Jesus points him to an example from the Old Testament to define what faith is: LOOK and live!
D. The Woman at the Well (John 4)
1. This was a Samaritan woman who would normally be ignored by a Jew… but Jesus broke through that cultural barrier to meet this woman. (Vs. 4 – He must needs go through Samaria!)
2. The woman is shocked (vs. 9).
3. Vs. 10 – Jesus uses an ordinary aspect of everyday life to introduce spiritual truth.
a. She was seeking for water…
b. Jesus asked her for a drink…
c. Then He begins to speak about LIVING WATER.
d. He gained her interest with that. Drawing water was a chore she had to do every single day.
4. Vs. 13-14 – He used water to teach her a spiritual lesson.
a. He introduced her to Himself as the Living Water…
b. He spoke to her as a woman who was THIRSTY…
c. Her life was miserable and the Lord knew it… she LONGED for something better… something that was satisfying…
d. But her life was dry and dreary… and she had nothing that could satisfy the thirst of her soul.
5. Vs. 16 – she is told to go get her husband. (Jesus knew her situation.)
6. Vs. 17 – Jesus’ reply let her know that He knew her heart!
a. He knew all.
b. She recognized Him as a Prophet… not realizing He was God in human flesh!
c. Jesus spoke to her with great grace and kindness.
d. Jesus very tenderly pointed out her need of a Savior. Her life was miserable… unfulfilling… she was being USED by men… and cast out like an old rag…
e. His treatment of her was like the story of Christ dealing with the woman caught in adultery in John 8.
f. What a contrast to the way Jesus spoke to the Sadducees & Pharisees (ye snakes; vipers! Hypocrites! Whited sepulchers!)
g. Yes, Jesus knew HOW to answer every man… and He spoke to different men differently.
h. Jesus knew the hearts of the hypocritical religious leaders and rebuked them for their hypocrisy.
• He also knew the broken heart of this woman and how she LONGED for something better…
7. Christ offered Himself to this woman as an eternal Source of TRUE satisfaction… that for which her soul longed… He offered to her.
a. All she had to do was take a DRINK of the water
b. Drinking = an illustration of faith. How simple!
8. Vs. 20-24 – He pointed out the error of the Samaritan religion… but in answer to her question.
E. Different People Require Different Approaches
1. Oh how we need that kind of wisdom and discernment… and grace.
a. Jesus and Paul spoke differently and used different approaches to different people…
b. They considered their background… their education… their circumstances in life… their culture… their interests…
c. To the Jew he became as a Jew… to a Samaritan he became as a Samaritan…
d. What a contrast between Jesus’ gospel approach between Nicodemus and the woman at the well… the Sadducees and Pharisees vs. the woman taken in adultery… Bartimaeus… the rich young ruler!
e. And Paul used quite an array of approaches with the gospel… from Mars Hill… to the synagogues… to the Corinthians… he spoke before kings…
2. The business of bringing the glorious gospel of God’s grace is a supernatural work.
a. No wonder Paul PRAYED for wisdom!
b. Eph. 6:19 – he prayed that “utterance” may be given to him… (Lord, help me utter the right words!)
c. He wanted more than boldness… for boldness can be cold hearted and crass.
d. Boldness is needed… but so is wisdom… tactfulness… and grace… words seasoned with salt… KNOWING HOW to answer every man.
3. There is only ONE gospel message, but it can be presented to folks in LOTS of different ways.
a. Justification, redemption, reconciliation, salvation, regeneration, etc.
b. We have examples of the gospel being presented to Jewish men, pagan, religious, atheists, moral, immoral… to men, to women, to children…
c. Be wise and discerning.
4. But most importantly, DO IT!
a. Tell others about Christ!
b. Knowing HOW to answer every man does not mean we should not speak until we have all the answers.
c. It means we should pray for wisdom in speaking… and then speak up for Christ!
d. People don’t get saved unless they hear the gospel…and God has chosen US to bring the message to them.
5. Rom. 1:16 – And don’t be OVERLY concerned about the methodology.
a. The power is in the gospel itself… not in our puny presentation!
b. Do your best… and even if we fumble through it… God can use it to save souls… and glorify His holy name.
c. Present the gospel in wisdom, with tactfulness, accuracy, and grace… and leave the outcome with the Lord.
d. Present the gospel and trust in GOD to use His Word. Don’t trust in our own presentation.
e. Salvation is of the Lord, not us. Increase is of the Lord.
f. God is STILL adding to His church daily such as should be saved.
g. So try it this week! We are going to give each of us a tract to help us bring the message to those around us.