3-7 Preaching As Christ Did
Not only must we preach because our Lord preached. We must witness as
He witnessed. Paul understood us to have been anointed in a similar
way to who Christ was anointed; and thereby we become witnesses of Him.
In this context, he explains that he wasn’t vague and uncertain in the
matter of preaching; he didn’t keep vacillating between yes and no because
this was not how Jesus preached- in Him was “yes!” (2 Cor. 1:21,17). We
carry in our bodies the dying of the Lord Jesus, and live His resurrection
life even now in our mortal flesh- and “We having the same spirit of faith
[as He had], according to that which is written, I believed and therefore
did I speak. We also believe , and therefore also we
speak” (2 Cor. 4:11-13). Here Paul quotes the Messianic Ps. 116:10 about
our witness, which is a living out of the spirit which Jesus
had in His death and present life and being in Heaven. And we should adopt
a similar positive approach. As He ‘began’ in the prophets and expounded
“in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk. 24:27),
so those in Him “began at the same scripture, and preached....Jesus”
(Acts 8:35). And thus Acts 5:14 AV says that converts were added “to the
Lord” whereas the RVmg. speaks of them being added “to them”, i.e. the
believers who comprised the body of Jesus.
When Paul wrote that “the servant of the Lord must not strive” in his
preaching ministry (2 Tim. 2:24), he was alluding back to how the servant
song described the Lord Jesus in His preaching as not striving or lifting
up His voice in proud argument (Is. 42:2 cp. Mt. 12:19). And Paul goes
on: “...but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness
instructing...”. This is all a pen picture of the Lord’s witness to men
in Galilee. And yet it is applied to us. “Apt to teach” is surely
an allusion to the way in which the Lord taught the people “as he was
wont” (Mk. 10:1). So it’s not just that we should witness because the
Lord, in whom we are, was the “faithful and true witness” (Rev. 1:5; 3:14);
because we are in Him, we must witness as He did, with something
of that same ineffable mixture of candour, meekness and Divine earnestness
for man’s salvation. As the Lord was sent into the world, so
He sends us into the world [Jn. 14:12; 17:18; 20:21 - this is perhaps
John’s equivalent of the great commission]. Jesus ‘came down’ to this
world in the sense that He was the word of the Father made flesh, and
‘all men’ saw the light of grace that was radiated from His very being.
And that same word must be flesh in us, as it was in the Lord. We are
to be a living epistle, words of the Gospel made flesh, “known and read
of all men” (2 Cor. 3:2). Earlier the Lord had sent out His men as
lambs (Lk. 10:3)- as those in Him, the Lamb of God. It was written of
the Lord’s preaching that He would not “strive, nor cry; neither shall
any man hear his voice [raised up in this way] in the streets”. And for
this reason He asked His converts not to “make him known” in this way;
He wanted them to witness as He witnessed (Mt. 12:16,19). This
is quite something, the more we reflect upon it. He rebuked the self-righteous,
restored peoples’ dignity, alleviated their poverty and sicknesses to
give them a foretaste of the future blessings of His Kingdom on earth,
opposed legalistic and corrupt religious practices, and ultimately gave
His life to show that even His enemies were encompassed in His love. This
is the pattern for us, especially in our seeking to do these things in
the lives of those who respond to the Gospel.
It's interesting to compare the Gospel of John with his epistles. Clearly,
he saw himself as manifesting to his brethren what the Lord Jesus had
manifested to him. John records how the Lord had said: " I have said
this to you...that your joy may be fulfilled" (Jn. 15:11), but he
then says of himself that " We are writing these things so that your
joy may be fulfilled" (1 Jn. 1:4 RV). He saw himself as the face
and mouth of Jesus to his brethren; and so are all of us who are in Christ.
Continuing His Work
It also explains why the record of the Acts is a continuation of all
that Jesus began to do and teach as recorded in the Gospels (Acts
1:1). The preachers were witnesses of Jesus (Acts 1:8). The logical
objection to their preaching of a risen Jesus of Nazareth was: ‘But He’s
dead! We saw His body! Where is He? Show Him to us!’. And their response,
as ours, was to say: ‘I am the witness, so is my brother here, and my
sister there. We are the witnesses that He is alive. If you see us, you
see Him risen and living through us’. In this spirit, we beseech men in
Christ’s stead. Just as the Lord strangely said that His own witness to
Himself was a valid part of His overall witness, so our lives are our
own witness to the credibility of what we are saying. Paul in Galatians
2:20 echoes this idea: " I have been crucified with Christ: the life
I now live is not my life, but the life which Christ lives
in me; and my present bodily life is lived by faith in the Son of
God, who loved me and gave himself up for me" . The spirit of the
risen Christ lived out in our lives is the witness of His resurrection.
We are Him to this world.
The spirit [of Christ] in us is what bears the witness [this theme is
developed more in “What seekest thou?”]. The description of love
in 1 Cor. 13, the outline of the fruits of the Spirit in Gal. 5:22-26,
these are all portraits of the man Christ Jesus. The clearest witness
to Him “therefore consists in human life in which his image is reproduced”
(1). This approach helps us understand the Lord’s words about
the sign of the prophet Jonah. As Jonah was three days in the whale and
then came up out of it to preach to the Gentiles, so the Lord would be
three days in the grave and then would rise- as a sign to the Jews. But
how was His resurrection a sign to them, seeing they never saw His risen
body? Yet the Lord’s reasoning demands that His resurrection be a sign
to them, just as tangible as the re-appearance of the drowned Jonah. But,
the Jews never saw Him after the resurrection...? The resolution must
be that in the preaching of the risen Jesus by those in Him, it was as
if the Jews saw Him, risen and standing as a sign before them, every bit
as real as the Jonah who emerged from the whale after three days.
It is helpful to read Luke and Acts following straight on. It is evident
that Luke saw the apostles as continuing the work of preaching that Jesus
personally performed. One of the most evident connections is the way in
which Luke ten times uses the word ‘euaggelizo’ to describe the Lord’s
witness; it occurs only one other time in the other Gospels. And yet Luke
uses the word 15 times in Acts to describe the witness of the apostles.
He clearly saw them as continuing the ‘evangelion’ of Jesus. As Jesus
preached the Gospel of the Kingdom as He walked around Israel in the late
20s of the first century (Lk. 4:43; 8:1; 9:11; 16:16), so His men continued
the very same witness (Acts 8:12; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23,31). Not only are
there links between Acts and Luke, as if the preaching of the apostles
continues the personal work of the Lord in whom they lived and moved,
but often Acts records the preaching work in language lifted from the
other Gospel records too (e.g. Acts 4:2; 5:12-16 = Mt. 4:23). And further,
the synoptic Gospels use the same words for the activities of both Jesus
and the disciples in respect of preaching, teaching, healing etc. Theirs
was a shared ministry. Thus Jesus is recorded as “showing the
glad tidings of the Kingdom” (Lk. 8:1), but in the same context He asks
a new convert to go home “and shew how great things God hath
done” (8:39), as if he were to continue the ‘showing’ of Jesus. Particularly
significant is the way Mark’s Gospel opens with Jesus going around preaching,
appealing for people to repent and believe the Gospel (and this is described
as “the beginning of the Gospel”). Mark concludes with us being
asked to do the same, thereby directly continuing the work of the Lord,
because we are in Him.
Bringing Forth His Fruit
In Jn. 12:23-26, the Lord foretold aspects of His coming sacrifice: “The
hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily,
I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it
abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit [spoke in the
context of potential Gentile converts]. He that loveth his life shall
lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it...if
any man serve me, let him follow me”. Here the Lord goes on to assume
that His death, His falling into the ground, would be matched by His followers
also hating their lives, that they might rise again. And He connects His
death with glorification. Soon afterwards, the Lord spoke of how his followers
would likewise “bear much fruit”, and thus glorify God. And in
this context He continues with words which can be read as John’s record
of the great preaching commission: “I have chosen you...that ye should
go [cp. “Go ye into all the world...”] and bring forth fruit”
(Jn. 15:8,16). Clearly the Lord connected His bringing forth of “much
fruit” through His death with the same “much fruit” being brought forth
by the disciples’ witness. It follows from this that the fruit which He
potentially achieved on the cross is brought to reality by our preaching.
And perhaps it is also possible to see a parallel between our preaching
and His laying down of His life on the cross, as if the work of witness
is in effect a laying down of life by the preacher, in order to bring
forth fruit. Likewise the Lord had earlier linked the life of cross carrying
with bearing witness to the world around us (Lk. 9:23,26). As His witnesses
we bare His cross as well as share His glory.
Think through the implications of Lk. 3:4, where we read that John’s
preaching was in order to make [s.w. ‘to bring forth fruit’] His [the
Lord’s] paths straight- but the ways of the Lord are “right” [s.w. “straight”]
anyway (Acts 13:10). So how could John’s preaching make the Lord’s ways
straight / right, when they already are? God is so associated with His
people that their straightness or crookedness reflects upon Him; for they
are His witnesses in this world. His ways are their ways. This is the
N.T. equivalent of the O.T. concept of keeping / walking in the way of
the Lord (Gen. 18:19; 2 Kings 21:22). Perhaps this is the thought behind
the exhortation of Heb. 12:13 to make straight paths for our own feet.
We are to bring our ways into harmony with the Lord’s ways; for He is
to be us, His ways our ways. Thus Is. 40:3, which is being quoted in Lk.
3:4, speaks of “Prepare ye the way of the Lord”, whereas Is.
62:10 speaks of “Prepare ye the way of the people”. Yet tragically,
the way / path of Israel was not the way / path of the Lord (Ez. 18:25).
We are not only Jesus to this world but also effectively we are the witness
to God Himself. We minister His care to others; to the extent that Paul
could write both that he was a minister of God, and also a minister of
the church (2 Cor. 6:4; Col. 1:24,25).
The crucial importance of personal, Christ-like example empowering our
witness is brought out in Philemon 6: “The communication [sharing] of
thy faith may become effectual [Gk. ‘energized’] by the acknowledgment
[i.e. recognition, by others] of every good thing which is in you in Christ”.
There’s a lot compacted into these words, strung together as they are
in a rather awkward sentence. Our sharing of the faith is energized, it
takes on power and compulsion as a witness, when others can acknowledge
that we are “in Christ” because they see His characteristics reflected
in us. This is why effective witness can only be made by those “in Christ”,
those who show His personality written in theirs. This will ‘energize’
their sharing of the facts of the Gospel with others. As I have pointed
out at such length in The Power Of Basics, each doctrine of the
Gospel is designed to elicit practical changes in human life. Where those
changes are apparent, the preaching of a doctrinal Gospel becomes empowered
and energized. Proffering mere doctrinal propositions to this world and
nothing else, will never be successful. It will lack power, energy and
the compulsion required for conversion.
A Shared Witness
The apostles bore witness to the Lord Jesus (e.g. Acts 26:22; 1 Cor.
15:15 s.w.), and He in turn bore witness to the [preaching of] the word
of his grace (Acts 15:8). In their witness lay His witness. Revelation
begins with John witnessing / testifying to the Word [made flesh, i.e.
Jesus], and concludes with Jesus testifying (Rev. 1;2 cp. 22:20 s.w.).
The description of the rider on the white horse going out to conquer (Rev.
6:1,2) is intended to be linked with the description of the Lord Jesus
in Rev. 19:11. Yet the rider of Rev. 6:1,2 is the ecclesia, going forth
to powerfully convert the world in the run up to AD 70 (and also in the
last days). Yet in doing so, they were effectively Christ to the world;
His triumphant victories over men and women were theirs, and theirs were
His. The witness of the Lord and of His disciple were one and the same.
And had not John earlier written of how the witness on earth was a reflection
of that in Heaven (1 Jn. 5:6,7)? The whole purpose of the Lord’s life
was that He should “bear witness” unto the Truth of the Father (Jn. 18:37).
But John also records the Lord’s expectations that all in Him should likewise
“bear witness” (Jn. 15:27). And as John recounted the Gospel [of which
the Gospel of John is a transcript], He stresses that by doing so he is
‘bearing witness’, living out the work of the Lord who lived as the faithful
and true witness to men (Jn. 3:11; 19:35; 21:24 cp. 18:37). Peter appealed
to Israel: “Hear these words...”, and then went on to quote a prophecy
of how the Lord Jesus would be raised up [i.e. after His resurrection],
“and him shall ye hear” Acts 2:22; 3:22,24). The record adds
that the crowd received Peter’s word and were baptized (Acts
2:41), whereas elsewhere in Acts men and women receive the word of the
Lord Jesus. It is simply so, that when we witness, the words
we speak are in effect the words of Jesus. Our words are His. This is
how close we are to Him. And this is why our deportment and manner of
life, which is the essential witness, must be in Him. For He is articulated
to the world through us. And it explains the paradox of Mk. 3:14, whereby
Jesus chose men that they should “be with him and that he might send them
forth to preach”. As they went out to witness, they were with Him, just
as He is with us in our witness, to the end of the world [both geographically
and in time]. And this solves another Marcan paradox, in Mk. 4:10: “When
he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked him…”. Was
He alone, or not? Mark speaks as if when the Lord was away from the crowd
and with His true followers, He was “alone”- for He counted them as one
body with Him. This was why the Lord told Mary, when she so desperately
wanted to be personally with Him, to go and preach to His brethren (Jn.
20:18), just as He had told some of those whom He had healed- for going
and preaching Him was in effect being with Him. Note how the Lord changes
pronouns in Jn. 3:11: “Verily, I say unto thee, We speak…”.
He clearly identifies the preaching of His followers with His own witness.
Paul likewise could say that his converts “became followers of us, and
of the Lord, having received the word...” (1 Thess. 4:9). He brackets
himself along with his Lord.
Time and again, the Gospel records reveal how the disciples manifest
the Lord Jesus. There are several passages where the text is unclear,
as to whether it should read, e.g., “As they were on the
way” or “As He went” (Lk. 17:11 RV cp. AV). The textual
confusion may reflect the unity between the Lord and His preachers.
Even within the Gospels, incident after incident shows the Lord
doing something alone, and then the disciples somehow being presented
as doing the same. Take the way He departed “himself alone”
when the crowd wanted to make Him king; and then soon afterwards
we read that the crowd perceived that the disciples had likewise
departed ‘themselves alone’ [same Greek phrase and construction,
Jn. 6:15,22]. The point is that the world is presented as perceiving
the disciples in the same terms and way as they did Jesus, even
when, in this case, Jesus was not physically with them. And we too
are to be “in Him” in our work of witness for Him. The
Lord Jesus describes Himself as sent “only to the lost sheep of
the house of Israel”; and yet he sends his preachers likewise solely
“to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt. 10:5,6; 15:24).
His mission was theirs, and it is ours. As He was sent out by the
Father, so He sends us out; we’re all in that sense ‘apostles’,
sent out ones. The Lord sent out the 70 “before his face into every
city whither he himself would come”. They were heralds of His presence;
and He goes on in this context to tell them that they were “as
lambs among wolves”- i.e. they were like Him, the lamb-
and that therefore “he that rejecteth you rejecteth me” (Lk. 10:1,3,16
RV). Yet significantly, having told the 70 to proclaim His face
to the cities where He would come, we find the comment: “Therefore
said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers
are few [i.e. only 70]: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest,
that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. Go your ways…”
(:2). Could this not mean that He would have travelled more extensively
around Israel in His ministry than He did, but He was limited in
the places He witnessed in by whether there were enough heralds
to go there in advance and prepare the way? The dearth of workers
meant that places He otherwise would have visited, He didn’t- for
it seems that He had a policy of only Himself working in areas where
His men had broken the ground. And is there not some worrying relevance
of all this for our work in this day, in this
All this has quite some practical import. The witness we make stems from
our inner experience of and faith in Christ. We are in Him and therefore
we effectively are Christ to this world. As such, “let a man
so account of us as the ministers of Christ”. Our deportment, body language,
dress, speech...all these things must reflect the Christ within. Now this
doesn’t mean that therefore we must consciously dress or act
in a Christ-like way when we are preaching, and leave it at an externality.
People soon see through externalities. The witness stems from within,
and as such these things will be naturally and artlessly reflective of
the Lord within who is the master passion of our lives. We must ask, of
course, whether He is within, and whether our witness is merely
contrived, a putting before men of certain true propositions of Biblical
exposition, and nothing more... We must examine ourselves, as to what
kind of witness we are (and it is more a question of being a
witness than making one). But if we are in Him and He is within us, then
whenever we witness to Him, indeed in our whole lives of witness, He is
intensely with us, even to the end of the world.
The Lord’s commission to His preachers comes along with a promise that
He would “be with [them] always”. This is perhaps Matthew’s equivalent
to John’s promise of the Comforter, who would abide with the Lord’s people
for ever. The promise of Holy Spirit support in the work of fulfilling
the great commission is not necessarily fulfilled in the ability to do
miracles etc. It was in the first century, but not today. Yet the promise
that “I am with you always, even [as you fulfil my commission to preach]
unto the ends of the world”, is surely fulfilled in the promised Comforter,
who is to ‘abide with us for ever’. What does this mean? The Comforter
clearly refers to the personal presence of Jesus, even though He is not
visibly with us:
The Lord Jesus
Will come into the world
Jn. 5: 43; 16:28; 18:37
Comes forth from the Father
Given by the Father
Sent by the Father
The spirit of truth
The truth Jn. 14:6
The Holy Spirit
The Holy One of God Jn. 6:69
The disciples would know / recognize
As they knew / recognized Jesus Jn. 14:7,9
Would remain within the disciples
Jn. 14:20,23; 15:4,5; 17:23,26
Declares things to come
Bears witness, against the world
Jn. 8:14; 7:7
Not accepted by the world
Jn. 5:43; 12:48
Unseen by the world
Because of this, the Lord made a clever word play by saying that “ ‘Peace’
[shalom] is my farewell to you” (Jn. 14:27)- when ‘Peace’ was
what you said when you met someone, to say ‘Hello’. His farewell in the
flesh was His ‘hello’, in that His personal presence would be with them.
This Comforter, this personal presence of Jesus, is given especially
in the context of fulfilling the great commission to take Him to the whole
world. He will be with us, there will be a special sense of His abiding
presence amongst us, because we are witnessing “in Him”, and our witness
is a shared witness with Him. Any who have done any witnessing work, not
necessarily missionary work, but any witnessing to Him, will have felt
and known His especial presence, as He promised. And we live in a time
similar to that when John’s Gospel was written- a time when the church
were disappointed the Lord had not returned as quickly as they thought
He would, when the eyewitnesses of Jesus in the flesh were not with them
any longer. John’s point is that through the Comforter, it’s as good as
if Jesus is here with us; and he brings out in his gospel how
things like the judgment, eternal life, the coming of Jesus etc. all essentially
occur within the life of the believer right now.
Peter taught that “God,
having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him” to preach to the Jews
(Acts 3:26). Yet the Lord Jesus personally resurrected and ascended
to Heaven, having ‘sent’ His followers into the world. Yet because
all in Him are so fully His personal witnesses, representative of
Him as He is representative of them, in this way it’s true to say
that the Lord Jesus personally was “sent” into the world with the
Gospel message after His resurrection. And by all means connect
this with Peter’s difficult words in 1 Pet. 3:19- that by the spirit
of Christ, Christ ‘went’ after His resurrection to preach to those
imprisoned. By our sharing His Spirit, we are Him ‘going’ and preaching.
In this sense the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Rev.
19:10). And because Peter was alluding to the ‘sending’ of the great
commission, he goes on to say that the spiritually imprisoned to
whom we preach are saved by the baptism we minister in fulfilment
of the great commission, in the same way as the ark saved people
in Noah’s day.
The Essential Witness
The above paragraphs have shown beyond doubt that because we are in Christ,
therefore we witness Him; and we witness as He witnessed. His
witness is in fact ours. But there is a sober theme in Scripture:
that the essential witness of Christ was in His time of dying. “The
preaching [‘the word’] of the cross” (1 Cor. 1:18) refers to the
way in which the cross itself was and is a witness, rather than
speaking of preaching about the cross. The blood of Christ
speaks a message, better than that of Abel. It is a voice that shakes
heaven and earth (Heb. 12:24,26). This is after the pattern of how
the commanding voice of Yahweh was heard above the blood sprinkled
on “the atonement cover of the ark of the Testimony” (Num. 7:89
NIV). It shows forth, as a voice, God’s righteousness (Rom. 3:25,26
RV). Rev. 19:13 draws a connection between Christ’s title as “the
word of God” and the fact His clothing is characterised by the blood
of His cross. Ps. 40:9 describes how the Lord Jesus accomplished
God’s will as the ultimate sacrifice, through the death of the cross.
That death is foretold by the Lord, in the prophetic perfect, as
‘preaching righteousness to the great congregation’ [LXX ekklesia].
In living out the dying of the man Christ Jesus in our daily lives,
we are making the witness of Christ. In the context of telling His
followers to witness to Him, the Lord equates this with taking up
their cross daily (Lk. 9:23,26). To not bear that cross is to deny
the knowledge of Him before men. To live the crucifixion life is
the essential witness. Every act of grace, every evident sign of
self-control, every statement of forgiveness towards misunderstanding
and unrepentant men...all this is showing something of the cross.
And in this, painful and difficult as it is, demanding and driving-to-the-limit
as it must be, lies the essence of our being the Lord’s witnesses.
To witness Christ is not to just painlessly distribute a few tracts.
It is to live out the dying of the cross.
In Paul’s inspired thought, on the cross the Lord “gave
himself” for us (Gal. 1:4; 1 Tim. 2:6; Tit. 2:14). And yet
he uses the same Greek words to describe how are to ‘give
ourselves’ for our brethren (2 Thess. 3:9), to ‘give
ourselves’ in financial generosity to their needs (2 Cor.
8:5), and in Acts 19:31 we meet the same phrase describing how Paul
‘gave himself’ into the theatre at Ephesus, filled with
people bent on killing him, taking the conscious choice to risk
his life in order to share the Gospel with others. In this I see
a cameo of how the choice of preaching the Gospel is in fact a conscious
living out of the Lord’s example on the cross. Paul was discouraged
from doing so by his friends and brethren; and yet surely he had
his mind on the way the Lord ‘gave himself’ for us in
His death, as a conscious choice, and so he brushed aside his reserve,
that human desire to do what appears the sensible, safe option…
in order to bring others to the cross of Christ. And day by day
we have the same choice before us.
“The work that the Father gave me to finish...testifies” (Jn. 5:36 NIV);
and thus when “it [was] finished” in the death of the cross, the
full testimony / witness of God was spoken and made. When He was
lifted up in crucifixion, the beholding Jews knew that His words
were truly those of the Father; they saw in the cross God’s word
spoken through Christ, they saw there the epitome of all the words
the Lord spoke throughout His ministry (Jn. 8:28). The Lord’s blood
was thus a spoken testimony to all men (1 Tim. 2:6 AVmg.). Beholding
the cross and the water and blood that flowed from it, John struggled
with the inadequacy of human language: “He that saw it bare record,
and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true” (Jn.
19:35). Years later he described himself, in allusion to this, as
he “who bare record [in the past tense] of the word of God, and
of the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:2). He had earlier commented
that the Spirit, water and blood of the cross bore witness (1 Jn.
5:8). John seems to be saying that the Lord’s final death which
he had witnessed was the word of God, the testimony of Jesus Christ.
And as he had been a faithful witness to this, so now he would be
of that further revelation he had now seen in the Apocalypse. Because
he had beheld the Lord’s witness on the cross, he witnessed. For
he was in Christ, part of Him, of His life and death. And so are
each of us. Paul puts our thesis in so many words, by saying that
his preaching to the Galatians had been a placarding forth of Christ
crucified before their eyes (Gal. 3:1 Gk.). His witness to them
had been a living out of the Lord in His time of dying.
When we read of how we are to be "witnesses" to all the
world, a look under the surface of the text shows that the Greek
word 'martyr' is being used (Acts 1:8). We're all martyrs. Augustine
said that “The cause, not the suffering, makes a genuine martyr.”
In his play Murder in the Cathedral, T. S. Eliot defines
a martyr as one “who has become an instrument of God, who
has lost his will in the will of God, not lost it but found it,
for he has found freedom in submission to God. The martyr no longer
desires anything for himself, not even the glory of martyrdom”.
We can all enter into the definition of witness / martyrdom in this
sense, insofar as we are 'in' the suffering Christ, even if in practice
we may never be called to take a single blow to our body as the
result of our witnessing.
Identification With Our Audience
The pattern of preaching which we see in the Father and in the Lord Jesus must be our model. He identified with us in order to 'get through' to us; the power of His personality and work rests in the fact that He was genuinely human. God Himself chose this method, of manifestation in a Son our our nature, in order to redeem us. We can do likewise, in identifying with our audience; living as they do when in a mission field; learning their language, both literally and metaphorically; patient bearing with those suffering from depression, Aspergers, alcoholism, various neuroses... to win them. Thus to the Gentiles Paul became as a Gentile; and as a Jew in order that he might win them who were under the law (1 Cor. 9:20). This is exemplified by the fact that he underwent synagogue floggings (2 Cor. 11:24)- which were only administered to Jews who willingly submitted to the punishment because they were orthodox Jews (2). This was the extent to which Paul became as a Jew in the hope of winning the Jews. Fly by preachers, seeking to establish a colony of their home base, will never achieve much lasting success.
(1) C.K.Barrett, Paul (Louisville: John
Knox Press, 1994) p. 45.
(2) Mentioned in Larry Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion To Jesus In Earliest Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003) p. 88; E.P. Sanders, Paul, The Law, And The Jewish People (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983) pp. 177,178 .