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Excerpts from

Him We Preach

by Chip Brogden

http://www.watchman.net/articles/preach.html

 

"Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily" (Colossians 1:28,29).

Paul is writing to the Colossian Christians. He is writing to brothers and sisters in Christ whom he has never met face-to-face, and he is writing to them from jail. What will he say? How does he introduce himself? What we have in the first chapter of Colossians is very little about Paul himself. Instead, Paul takes the opportunity to introduce Another - or rather, to re-introduce Him. For we have here, in this first chapter of Colossians, that great revelation of Christ and God's Purpose: "That in all things [Christ] may have the preeminence" (Colossians 1:18b). Everything about this first chapter of Colossians is designed to take us deeply into Christ, and these depths are so deep that it takes your breath away. This is Paul's introduction, and what an introduction it is!

So when we come to the end of this first chapter, down to verses 28 and 29, we gain some insight into Paul's purpose. What drives him? What is his intention? What is he called to do? ...

And what exactly is this purpose? After giving us this magnificent vision of Christ in all His glory, in all His preeminence, in verse 28 Paul finally tells us something about what he is doing: "Him we preach." HIM we preach. HIM we preach. Who? Christ. This glorious Christ Jesus of Whom he has been speaking....

Paul was not occupied with Christianity per se, and he would have nothing in common with the Churchianity we are all so familiar with; he was forever and always occupied with CHRIST. "Him we preach." ...

We have taken "church planting" as a goal, or a means to a goal, when the goal is not "church planting" at all. What were they really doing? Not planting churches, but planting Christ - sowing the Word, the Living Word, so that He will find some good ground to build His Church upon. Those who believed were called disciples, and together they are referred to as the Church. That is the right order of things. Christ must have the preeminence: the first, the full, and the final place, and when He has that kind of position then we will see disciples made and ekklesias come forth spontaneously.

In addition to the Scriptures we have already referenced, consider the following:

"For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord" (II Corinthians 4:5a).

"Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole" (Acts 4:10).

"And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:42).

"Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them" (Acts 8:5).

"Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus" (Acts 8:35).

"[Paul] preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection" (Acts 17:18b).

"And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ" (Acts 18:5).

"We preach Christ crucified" (I Corinthians 1:23a).

"I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (I Corinthians 2:2).

"O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?" (Galatians 3:1).

"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Galatians 6:14).

"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ephesians 3:8).

"What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice" (Philippians 1:18).

"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him" (Colossians 2:6).

So Paul tells us the secret of his success and the key to the whole New Testament - for that matter, the key to the whole Bible and the Key to Everything. After presenting us with this glorious unveiling of Christ, Paul does not say, "This is WHAT we preach," but "This is WHOM we preach." ...

Let us keep reading verse 28: "Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom." In ALL wisdom. You know, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. Every denomination is based on a little bit of knowledge taken to an extreme, and before long that specialty becomes the thing they stand for. Free Will, Pentecostal, African Methodist Episcopal, Baptist, Holiness, Apostolic, Prophetic, Reformed, Charismatic, House Church, all of them stand for a particular "thing" and make that "thing" their distinctive. ...

There are only two sources of wisdom: the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit, and both these are always pointing us to Christ, "in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3). We need a good working knowledge of the Scriptures and a good working relationship with the Spirit in order to say we are truly speaking with all wisdom. The Scriptures are the objective standard by which all our subjective revelations may be measured. ... I can take the Scriptures and weigh what you are saying, and you can do the same thing with me. If it lines up with the Scriptures then we can accept it, but if it does not, then we can reject it. That is what it means to exercise good, sound spiritual discernment.

Or look at it the other way. Take the Scriptures without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Just use your mind and try to figure it all out. What will be the result? Error and deception. Just see what a man like Joseph Smith or a woman like Mary Baker-Eddy can do by taking one or two passages out of context! They did not know how to rightly divide the Scriptures, and they did not submit themselves to the authority of the Holy Spirit, the One Who interprets the Scriptures for us. To take the Scriptures and try to study them the same way you would study math or history or social studies is a grave mistake. Give a Bible to someone who does not have the Spirit of God for a teacher and you end up with either a Pharisee or a false prophet. Jesus pointed out that even though the Pharisees searched the Scriptures they failed to recognize Him, refused to come to Him, and eventually got rid of him - all the while clinging to their carnal understanding of the Law, and quoting Scripture the whole time! Why, even the devil can quote Scripture, just as he did in the temptation of Christ.

What am I getting at? I am saying that the Holy Spirit confirms the truth revealed within the Scriptures, and the Scriptures confirm the truth that is revealed by the Spirit (or, disproves what is purported to be the Spirit when it is not the Spirit). We need both, and this is what I see in that one key phrase: "in all wisdom." ...

We come to the end of verse 28, a very rich verse indeed, but there is more. Every word is priceless. We are about to discover the reason behind all this. Whenever we see the word "that" in Scripture we should listen carefully because we are about to be told the "why", the reason, the purpose behind what was just stated. Now Paul writes, "Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom." Why do you do it, Paul? What makes you tick? What motivates you? What are you driving at? What is the point? What is the goal?

"That we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."

Now when we see the word "perfect" here, let us understand that the sense of the word does not mean sinless perfection, but rather, spiritual maturity. Perfection, according to Paul, is spiritual adulthood. It is the full-knowledge of Christ. ...

Paul might have buckled under the pressure. He certainly grew weary. He certainly was misunderstood, rejected, and persecuted. He suffered so much. What kept him going? Verse 29 of Colossians 1 says, "To this end I labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily." He labors, and he strives. ... But there is something more extraordinary at work in Paul, something more than sheer willpower or determination. I tell you willpower will only take you so far. Willpower is overrated. We need something else, something supernatural, something that does not rely upon my limited willpower. What was it? "I strive according to HIS WORKING which works in me mightily." It was not the strength of Paul, but the strength of Christ in Paul, and through this Christ, Paul said, "I can do all things" (Philippians 4:13). All things!

So Christ was working mightily in Paul in order to accomplish His Purpose. Did Paul succeed? Yes - but Paul did not see the fulfillment of that glorious mission. Paul was finished, but God's Purpose was not. God's Purpose would continue on beyond Paul, down through the generations, and today the torch is being handed off to this generation, and when our time has passed, if the Lord tarries, we will hand the torch off to the next generation. How could Paul have imagined that we would be here today, nearly two thousand years later, discussing those letters of his, getting captivated by that same Christ Whom he preached?

And so we have taken this small passage of Scripture for our very own, because I believe it speaks to the exact purpose for which we have come together in this School of Christ. If someone asks, "What is your goal? What is your reason for living? Why this website, and why this School of Christ? What are you getting at?" My answer is this: we preach Christ, and we warn every man and teach every man with all wisdom, that we may bring every man into a perfect, complete, mature, and fully-developed relationship with Jesus Christ. To this end we will labor and strive according to His working which works in us mightily. Amen.


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