“We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.” Colossians 1:28
It is obvious that one of Paul’s goals for the churches that he worked with was to bring every single person to a place of being complete in Christ. He, along with his co-laborers, would do this by proclaiming Christ, admonishing, and teaching. We are also told in the following verse that for this purpose he would labor and strive. This was not just some passing interest for these early Christian leaders. They saw this as the central part of their ministry.
So what does it mean to be complete in Christ? If this is so important, why do so few Christians even understand what this means, much less make this a life pursuit? The Greek word for “complete” is a word used in many other places in the New Testament. It means coming to a place of spiritual maturity or wholeness. While this involves a life-long process and certainly includes many aspects of spiritual growth, I have increasingly become convinced that a major part of this process means learning who we are in Christ.
Two very powerful words we see used over and over are “in Christ,” or sometimes “in Him.” Scripture clearly states that those who have truly received God’s gift of salvation by faith are “in Christ.” At Immanuel Fellowship (the church in which I serve as a pastor) we are currently going through the book of Ephesians on Sunday mornings. After almost three months, we are still in Ephesians chapter 1! The focus of this first chapter is looking at some of the ways we are in Christ. We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. We have been chosen before the foundation of the world in Him. In Him, we have been predestined to adoption as sons. We have redemption through His blood in Him. We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit in Him. The list goes on and on. These truths may seem lofty and irrelevant to some, but actually, gaining an understanding of them can greatly affect our thinking and our lives today. To put it another way, if we do not know who we are in Him, then we will constantly be tossed emotionally and spiritually all over the place. Sadly, that is the state of so many Christians today. We must learn who we are in Christ.
It is not just who we are in Christ. We must also learn what we have in Christ. We have been given so much! Ephesians, for example, speaks of the “riches of His grace” and the “riches of His glory.” In chapter three, Paul speaks of his call to preach the “unfathomable riches of Christ” to the Gentiles (verse 8). The New Testament is filled with passages that describe the riches that we have in Christ Jesus. Rather than being rich in Him, many Christians are spiritual paupers. No wonder the Church today lacks the power and the passion that she once had! We have lost our bearings. We have lost sight of who we are in Him, and what we have in Him. To be sure, much of the blame falls upon Christian pastors and leaders who do not “labor and strive” to present every man complete in Christ.
Maybe I should mention one other thing. It is not enough to know who we are in Christ, and what we have in Him. Yes, it begins there. But, in order to truly be complete in Christ, we must “appropriate” these things. That means that we allow these things to change our way of thinking, and we walk accordingly. The result will be a transformed life that is honoring Him in our words, attitudes, and actions; it will produce power in our lives and authority in prayer and influence. I urge Christian leaders and pastors not to be content with just preaching these truths. Like Paul and his companions, we must “impart” these truths into the lives of the ones whom we serve. Admonishing every man and teaching every man suggests that this work involves personal relationship with people. May we proclaim Christ, and may we admonish every man and teach every man, that we may present every man complete in Christ!
(If you would want to listen to any of the podcasts on Ephesians 1, you can do so by going to immanuelfellowship.podbeam.com).