THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL BEING
THE EXPERIENCE AND MAGNIFYING OF CHRIST
Philippians tells us the secret of experiencing Christ. After the book of Romans there are the two Corinthians, and after these are four short books: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. These four short books are the deepest books. God’s central thought, eternal purpose, and economy are revealed in them more than in all the rest of the sixty-six books of the Bible. Colossians tells us who Christ is and how much Christ is. In order to know who Christ is, you have to study Colossians. In relation to God, Christ is the image of God. In relation to creation, He is many items. In relation to the new creation, He is all the members of the Body. Christ is so much; He is everything. He is life to us, our hope for the future, and all in all. Galatians tells us that this all-inclusive Christ must be experienced by us not merely outwardly but inwardly. Christ is revealed in us, Christ lives in us, and Christ has to be formed in us (1:16; 2:20; 4:19). Then in Philippians, Paul tells us the secret of how to experience this all-inclusive Christ. Finally, Ephesians speaks of the Body, the church. The Body comes into existence from Christ and by Christ as the Head. This can be possible only through our inward experience of Christ according to the secret of experiencing Christ.
The book of Philippians is the unique book that tells us how to experience Christ. The experience of Christ is for the preaching of the gospel, and the preaching of the gospel is the very experience of Christ. In other words, the preaching of the gospel is the expression of Christ. When we express Christ, when we live out Christ, and when Christ is expressed through us, there is the preaching of the gospel. Consider the branches of a tree. The bearing of fruit by the branches is the branches’ experience of the tree. When the branches experience the life of the tree, the bearing of fruit eventually comes out. Bearing fruit is the outworking of the inner experience of life. A branch cannot experience the life of the tree without bearing fruit. The more the branches properly experience the life of the tree, the more fruit they will bear. In the same way, the preaching of the gospel is the outworking of Christ experienced by us. If we experience Christ, there is the outworking of this life, that is, the preaching of the gospel.
Paul and Silas were put into prison in Philippi (Acts 16:23-25). The magistrates charged the jailer to keep them securely, so he put them into the inner prison and secured their feet in the stocks. At that time Paul and Silas did not preach. They were simply filled with Christ and filled with the Spirit, and at midnight they sang hymns of praise to the Lord. That was not merely preaching in word; that was the expression of Christ, the outward expression of the inner life. That was a strong example of the genuine preaching of the gospel, and the jailer, the keeper of the prison, was saved. If we put that story together with the writing of the book of Philippians, we can realize what the proper preaching of the gospel is. The proper preaching of the gospel is the very expression of Christ.
Suppose, on the other hand, that these two apostles had merely realized that their responsibility was to preach the gospel. They might have tried to do it with a long face, saying, “We preach that Christ is the Savior. You have to believe in Him. If you do not believe in Him, you will go to hell.” This kind of preaching would not have been prevailing. However, these two apostles did not do this kind of preaching. They were simply experiencing Christ. They were filled with Christ, so they were full of joy and singing. This kind of singing is simply the overflow of the indwelling Christ, that is, the expression of Christ. At that time God shook the prison, and the jailer was also shaken and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). Then he and his whole household were saved. That was the genuine preaching and the real experience of Christ.
Philippians 1:19 contains the secret to experiencing Christ—the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. This is not only the Spirit of God but the Spirit of Jesus Christ, and with this Spirit there is the bountiful supply. These two apostles, Paul and Silas, lived in this Spirit and received the supply from the Spirit. Therefore, regardless of what kind of situation, in life or in death, even in suffering and in prison, they magnified Christ. To preach the gospel is to magnify Christ. As we have seen, it is a matter of the Body, but it also depends on the magnifying of the Lord in our life. Wherever we are, in school or at the store, among neighbors or among relatives, there must be the magnifying of Christ in our life. We cannot preach the gospel only by our word. We have to preach the gospel by magnifying Christ. We need to experience Christ within and learn the secret of how to experience Christ; then we will have an overflow of Christ. This overflowing is the real preaching. This will minister Christ to others.
(Preaching the Gospel in the Way of Life, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)