Preaching Includes Modeling "Christ In Us"

by Wayne Barber

In this article we want look at the mission of the church, focusing on Colossians 1:28: “And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ.” How do we effectively communicate the message of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (v. 27) within the walls of our church? First of all we must be about modeling this message. It is only learned when it is lived. This was Paul’s mission as he preached Christ in you the Hope of Glory. But, in a very specific way, this is the mission of every church. Paul says in verse 28, “And we proclaim Him.” The word “proclaim” is kataggéllo, meaning “to announce, declare, proclaim, publish,” etc. The word has the idea of warning built into it: To proclaim as if to warn of something urgent. In fact, kataggéllo appears to me to also mean to proclaim Christ in the way that we live. For example, the instruction on partaking of the Lord’s Supper: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). By what you do you are making a statement. We must proclaim Him not in just what we say, but in how we live. In our day it is urgent that we walk what we talk. This walking, talking message of Christ stood in the face of the Gnosticsm of Paul’s day and it will stand in the face of error in our day. Paul lived by faith, trusting only the One who lived in him. Hence, his ministry to others showed that the message was not in just His preaching but in his life. Paul’s ministry to the Ephesians was a great example of this. When he met for the last time with the elders of Ephesus on the Island of Miletus he said to them: “You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews” (Acts 20:18,19). His life was a living example of what he preached. And oh, how he had preached to them: “…how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (vv. 20,21). Paul told the defiant Corinthian church concerning his ministry with them that they knew the witness of his life backed up his message (see 1 Cor. 2:1-4). Again, Paul reminded the church of Thessalonica that: “…our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake” (1 Thess. 1:5). Our lives speak louder than our words. Paul was not a perfect man, but he was a man who had been overcome by Christ who lived in him. And we are called to follow Paul in this. We make Christ known not just by what we say, but by how we live. Even when we fail, we make Him known as we run to the cross, run to our Lord, and bow afresh to Him. This communicates a message that would refute any Gnostic in any day. Gnostism required that believers had to overcome their flesh in their own strength. We, on the other hand, allow Christ to overcome us. So, our message is not just in what we say, but in how we live out the message of Christ in us. Our mission is first of all to model the message of “Christ in us, the hope of glory.” The situation is urgent! In the church, we must allow what we say we believe to totally influence how we live and how we go about doing what we do. This models the message! Wayne Barber is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church, Albuquerque, New Mexico.