Sermon: Talking to Older People



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Purpose: To show what it takes to help older people be restored or converted

Talking to People as They Approach Death

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • February 14, In the year of our Lord, 2016

Scripture Reader and Reading: Dave Fitzwater – Isaiah 38.1–3

Song Leader and Song Suggestions: Larry Amberg – Songs on evangelism


  1. A sermon request came in asking how to talk with people,
    1. in particular older people,
    2. as they approach death.
  2. I have witnessed numerous people over the years come to Jesus for salvation,
    1. even in their later years.
      1. It does happen,
      2. although not nearly as much as teens and those in their 20s.
    2. Part of those in their latter years,
      1. have been the husbands of Christian wives.
      2. It never occurred to me to remember of the various reasons
        1. that those people finally turned to Christ.
        2. Therefore, I never wrote anything down.
  3. We often think to ourselves
    1. that certain people have no interest in spiritual matters, but
    2. we wrongly prejudge them.
      1. True, some have no interest, but
      2. you will find some who do have the interest.


  1. How You Live Lends Credibility to Your Teaching
    1. I am going to draw a parallel between converting or restoring older people and converting unbelieving spouses, because I see similarities between the two.
    2. Peter makes this point twice in First Peter 3.
      1. He makes these points, because they speak the truth.
      2. Do we believe the truth, or
        1. do we think that what the Bible says will not work in our case, that is
        2. with the people we have in mind.
    3. First, Peter spoke to wives,

      1 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God (1Pe 3.1–4).

      1. It is unfortunate that the word “submission,”
      2. among women has fallen into disrepute.
        1. One time when I preached on this about 25 years ago,
        2. a sister with an unbelieving husband,
          1. refused to accept what Peter said.
          2. She told me that she had fought for whatever she had in her marriage, and she was not about to give it up.
            1. She never saved her husband and
            2. they eventually separated and divorced.
      3. Submission speaks of a spirit of cooperation.
        1. Along with submission, Peter spoke of
          1. chaste conduct,
          2. inward adornment,
          3. a gentle spirit, and
          4. a quiet (not silent) spirit.
        2. Let us assume, sisters, that Peter had addressed husbands.
          1. How would it affect you if your husband
            1. submitted himself to you and not to other women,
            2. if he had chaste conduct,
            3. if he had a beautiful heart,
            4. if he had a gentle spirit, and
            5. if he had a quiet (not silent) spirit?
          2. Would all the women who do not want those in their husband, please raise your hands.
        3. Or let us broaden it to anyone.
          1. Your neighbor.
          2. Your employer or employees.
        4. Do not those qualities draw you to that person,
          1. making you want to be as them?
          2. That happens when you let Jesus live in you.
    4. Not long after Peter wrote those words, he said,

      13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed (1Pe 3.13–16).

      1. Yes, speak the truth, but
        1. be a follower of what is good,
        2. be meek,
        3. have fear, and
        4. have a good conscience.
      2. This may only serve to shame them when they speak evil of you, but
        1. ultimately you will open their eyes
        2. to the life of Christ and its power.
  2. Be Relentless in Bible Class and Worship Attendance
    1. Be consistent.
    2. Do not decide every week whether you shall go.
      1. You made the decision when you became a Christian.
      2. However, if you have been slack, rededicate yourself now.
    3. Older person you wish to convert, unbelieving spouse you wish to convert,
      1. will see what you do.
      2. It may irritate them.
        1. Yet, if you persist and do not compromise,
        2. it will speak volumes to that person,
          1. even if you never say anything.
          2. I know of countless examples of conversions from this,
            1. including my own.
            2. My girlfriend in the 70s,
              1. insisted on always going.
              2. Eventually I started going with her.
                1. Then I became interested, and
                2. well, today I am preaching the Gospel.
    4. We had a sister in Klamath Falls,
      1. who also once lived in Grants Pass,
      2. who did not have a believing husband.
        1. Her husband refused to take her to services.
        2. Since she did not drive,
          1. she would walk her boys the long distance to the building.
          2. Sometimes she pulled them in a wagon.
            1. After doing this for many years, and he was watching her,
            2. it led to his conversion.
  3. Ecclesiastes 11.9–12.7
    1. While Solomon wrote this passage to young people,
    2. I speak it to young people who have already done as he said,
      1. you are remembering your Creator in the days of your youth, but
      2. now look at the passage when you work with older people.
    3. As we grow older,
      1. Solomon shows poetically how difficult life becomes.
      2. He says to remember your Creator in youth, because
        1. when you are older,
        2. your thinking might be consumed with your frailties.
          1. If you want to convert an older person,
          2. remember what this passage says, and
            1. exercise patience.
  4. Do Not Forsake Them When They Are Old
    1. Psalm 71.9, 18 shows the fear of being forsaken when old.
      1. If this is a reference to God not forsaking,
      2. I think the point still stands,
        1. that older people still need to know that you will not forsake them.

          9 Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
          Do not forsake me when my strength fails.
          (Psa 71.9)

          18 Now also when I am old and grayheaded,
          O God, do not forsake me,
          Until I declare Your strength to this generation,
          Your power to everyone who is to come.
          (Psa 71.18)

  5. Have Your Children Around Them
    1. Unless you know that older person just does not like children, and
      1. there are some older people who do not want little children around them,
      2. be sure to bring your little ones to visit the older folks.
    2. If your children are well-mannered,
      1. it impresses the older people, and
      2. will endear you to them,
        1. making a return to fellowship with God easier.
        2. They love seeing the youth and the energy.
    3. At the Clairmont House they loved seeing the young children.
      1. They see nothing but older people.
      2. We baptized a couple of those people.
  6. Ask Older People Questions
    1. They have much to give and most are eager to give.
      1. I take you back to Psalm 71.18,

        18 Now also when I am old and grayheaded,
        O God, do not forsake me,
        Until I declare Your strength to this generation,
        Your power to everyone who is to come
        (Psa 71.18)
      2. Every older person I know,
        1. wants to say something “to this generation.”
        2. However, they think that no one wants to listen to them.
          1. And they are right, that some people do not, but
          2. they need to know that some will listen.
            1. Listen to them and
            2. they will listen to you.
    2. Find out whether they are Christians.
      1. If they are no longer faithful,
      2. they will probably bring it up themselves.


  1. My main point is that devoting your life as a disciple of Christ
  2. will open doors for you that you never imagined.
    1. People want to see the genuine article.
    2. They know many who claim to follow Christ.
      1. Yet, the one you want to convert or restore,
      2. sees those same people thinking, speaking, and doing as the world.
        1. If you truly base your thinking, speaking, and doing on the Scriptures,
        2. people will notice and
          1. when the time of their departure arrives,
          2. they will want to talk to you.
            1. If you were always there for them,
            2. they know that you will be in their hour of need.
    3. If they do not want anything to do with Christianity,
      1. they will let you know.
      2. Many have told me that.