The Pastor and Christ -- By: Glenn O’Neal

Journal: Grace Journal
Volume: GJ 14:2 (Spring 1973)
Article: The Pastor and Christ
Author: Glenn O’Neal


The Pastor and Christ

Glenn O’Neal

Professor of Practical Theology
Talbot Theological Seminary

[The material in this article was originally presented at Grace Theological Seminary as comprising the Louis S. Bauman Memorial Lectures, February 13, 1973. Three other messages will follow.]

Paul declared the goal for the ministry to be “that we may present every man complete in Christ” (Colossians 1:28). Colossians 2:10 adds “and in Him you have been made complete.” The thought is that by appropriating Christ’s work on our behalf we can experience the fulness of God, that is, enter into a process by which God can accomplish every goal that He has for man. The word translated “complete” in Colossians 2:10 means literally “full.” In ancient Greece it was used to describe a ship that was loaded with cargo, had a full crew and was ready to sail.

It is my conviction that many seminary graduates have sailed into the pastorate with an inadequate grasp of the truth that Christ is the complete answer to man’s needs.

The problem in Colossae was evidently similar to that which is faced today. There is a trend toward emphasis on the “Jesus experience” thus minimizing the importance of the encounter with the historical Christ who died, rose, ascended and by His Spirit wants to work in our lives today.

One commentator described the heresy faced by the Colossians as follows: “…Christ was absolutely dethroned, …a shadowy fantastic transcendental idealism, and a mystical approach to God through angels and aeons, were substituted for the very Man, the real Cross, the actual death, the true redemption which consists in forgiveness of sin. But this theoretical error was accompanied by, and at root was the cause of, a grave practical mistake—a mistake pervading the entire life of those who received it. A series of minute observances, of petty devotions, of fragmentary rules and little ascetic efforts—the small ritualisms and smaller practical code of judaizing superstition—were exchanged for the breadth and strength of Christian’s supernatural life, begun in Baptism—for a real union with the Risen and Ascended Lord.”1

This explains the exhortation, “See to it that no one take you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

In the challenge to t...

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