by Wayne Barber
In our last article, we began looking at the means of the church in accomplishing the ministry of preaching and teaching the message of Christ in you the hope of glory. We saw the price that we will pay and the power we will enjoy as verse 29 of Colossians 1 says: “And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.” There will be labor and there will be a striving, but it will be according to the power of Christ living in us. It is Christ in us, the very essence of what we preach, that enables us to preach and teach this powerful message in the midst of the error of our times.
In this concluding article on the purpose of the church we want to look at the actual practice of carrying out our task. The phrase “which mightily works within me” is the key to it all. I’m so grateful that God works from within us. In this world, power is seen as external. I remember years ago walking into a health spa for the first time as if I knew what I was doing. A friend had gone with me and we were going to get into shape. I asked this muscle-bound freakish-looking guy where we should go to get changed into our gym clothes. He flexed! I couldn’t believe it! He actually flexed his arm muscles and then pointed to the locker room. I could hardly hold in my laughter! He was a strong man externally, and this is the way people in this world view strength. But God empowers us from within. Our power to carry out the task He has assigned is produced by the Holy Spirit who lives within us. All religions deal with the external power of man. But in the Kingdom of God our power is from within.
Paul, in his prayer for the Colossian believers in chapter 1 has already given us a preview of how this works. In verses 9-12, Paul first prays that the Colossian believers be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. “Filled” in verse 9 is the word pleróo, and is in the aorist passive, meaning to allow yourself to be filled. The idea is to allow yourself to be controlled by the Spirit of God. The word “knowledge” is epígnosis, meaning not just a mental knowledge but a participatory knowledge. It is allowing yourself to be controlled by His will. The word for will is thélema—that which God intends for our lives. This is the prerequisite to God strengthening us from within: wanting God’s will and allowing ourselves to be controlled by it. Paul then adds, “in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Allow yourself to be controlled by God’s desired will, and He will give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.
You won’t have to worry about how or what to do! God will handle that! This enables you to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (v. 10). The Greek word for “worthy” means to balance the scales. Our walk and our talk will match. This pleases the Lord! “Bearing fruit” in verse 10 is in the present tense. This will be consistent as you allow God’s will to control your life. God’s hand will be on you. And you will increase in your knowledge of God.
The word “strengthened” in verse 11 is dunamóo. It is present passive. God is strengthening you from within—giving you ability that you do not have apart from Him. And how is He strengthening you? “With all power”—all that you need He enables. The measure of this strength is “according to His glorious might.” The purpose of this strength is so that we “attain to all steadfastness (hupomeneâ, to bear up under any circumstance) and patience (makrothumía, the ability to put up with any person).”
Then, states verse 12, we will be “joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”
Summing up, Christ in us the hope of glory is our message; our mission is to mature the saints; and our means is Christ in us. This is the purpose of the church.
Wayne Barber is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church, located in Albuquerque, New Mexico.