Let the Word of Christ Dwell

19 February 2017 PM – Colossians 3:16-17 – Scott Childs

Introduction: While honeybees are busy collecting nectar from flowers, their flapping wings create static electricity in their bodies. Their bodies then attract pollen like a magnet. They use their legs to collect the pollen from their bodies and store it in pollen baskets on their back legs. The more flowers they visit, the more pollen they collect.

A Christian learns from the Bible a similar way. The more he is in the Bible, the more he gains from it.

Transition: Read text. This evening we are going to examine three parts of these verses.

1.        The Subject

a.         The subject is “the Word of Christ”
1)         This quite obviously refers first to words that Christ spoke or taught. This includes the gospel message of salvation as well as all the doctrines spoken by Christ and about Christ and the Christ-like life.
2)         In a broader sense because Christ is God it can refer to all of God’s Word. The Bible is the Christian’s manual for daily life.
3)         I have been reading the manual for our newly purchased van. I am trying to learn how to use all of the features that it includes. The purpose of a manual is to provide accurate instructions for the proper operation of equipment. I may have to read the instructions several times before they sink in. Then later, I will need to read them again to refresh my memory. The same is true of our Bible manual. We must read it regularly to learn God’s instructions for life. We must read a section until we have mastered the content. Later we will need to read it again to refresh our memories. Because the Bible is so large and because it is full of principles that must be mined out like gold, reading the Bible manual is a lifelong task.
b.         The Word of Christ has a parallel in Eph 5:18
1)         Paul wrote similar words in the book of Ephesians. [Those in red are identical in Greek, those underlined green are participles]
Colossians 3:16-17
Ephesians 5:18-20

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess;
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly
but be filled with the Spirit
in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another
Speaking to yourselves
in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing
in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing
with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
and making melody in your heart to the Lord
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;”

2)         This strongly implies that “letting the word of Christ dwell” is parallel to “be filled with the Spirit”. We cannot be filled with the Spirit if God’s word does not dwell in us and when God’s word does dwell in us it opens the door for the Spirit to fill us.

2.        The Command

a.         You must let the Word of Christ dwell in you
1)         This is an imperative from God. It is not a suggestion. It is not an option. It is a requirement.
2)         The word “dwell” means to inhabit. Dwell does not describe an occasional visit. It describes a permanent residency. When a person comes to Australia, he is only a visitor until he acquires permanent residency. Only then is he free to stay. We must not let God’s word visit our hearts occasionally. We must let God’s word inhabit our lives every day.
b.         It must dwell in you richly
1)         This phrase strengthens what we have just learned.
2)         The word richly can also be translated abundantly. God is not commanding us to let His Word dwell in us on Sunday’s only. He wants it to be like an overflowing dam that contains so much that it cannot hold it all.
3)         We must read the Word daily, but it will not dwell in us until we take the time to meditate on what we read. Ask yourself “What did God say in this passage and how does it apply to my life? What changes do I need to make?” If you do this and then make the needed changes, you will see a big difference in your life.

3.        The Resulting Participles

When the Word of Christ dwells in us richly and we allow the Holy Spirit to fill us, the results will be significant. Paul identified the results with four participles.

a.         Teaching in all areas of wisdom
1)         Some Bible teachers connect “in all wisdom” with dwelling, but it seems to apply more to teaching. If God’s word is dwelling in us richly our overflow will be teaching others in all areas of God’s wisdom.
2)         Teaching describes giving instructions. The best teachers I have had in my many years of education have been those who knew their subject so well that it overflowed from their words and their lives. They made the subject come alive because it was live to them. In the same way, we will naturally teach one another (lit. yourselves pl.) by our life and lips if God’s Word is dwelling in us richly.
b.         Admonishing in all areas of wisdom
1)         Admonishing describes warning. Warning is just as important as teaching, sometimes more important, yet we tend to shy away from it. The older you get, the more easily you can recognize danger signs. The Bible-indwelt, Spirit-filled life will also overflow with warning in all areas of wisdom to help others avoid danger.
2)         If your preacher or a Christian friend warns you that something you are doing is not good, don’t bristle and get upset. Take heed! (Proverbs 29:1) “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”
c.          Singing
1)         We are to be singing. Singing is giving praise to God in song.
2)         We do this in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Psalms are scripture songs. Hymns are songs of praise to God. And spiritual songs are songs that strengthen us spiritually and honour the Holy Spirit. The hymns in our hymn books include all three of these types of music far better than the contemporary worship music that many churches dance to.
3)         Godly music is important in the Christian home. When the Word of Christ dwells in us richly and we allow the Spirit to fill us, we will naturally desire to hear, sing and hum music that uplifts and glorifies the Lord.
d.         Giving thanks (v.17)
1)         Notice that Paul prepped this participle with these words, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus”. This has two emphasises.
a)         Whatever you do in word must be worthy of the name of the Lord Jesus.
b)         Whatever you do in deed (work) must be worthy of the name of the Lord Jesus.
2)         Peter Pett notes, “When a servant wore the livery [uniform] of his lord he was seen as acting in the name of his lord.” As Christians, we represent the Lord Jesus and the way we talk and live ought to express gratitude to Him.
3)         The fourth participle is giving thanks. It is an expression of gratefulness to God (and others) for things received.
4)         We all know from experience that receiving thanks from others is VERY encouraging, yet we often forget to express thanks. As Ron Hamilton put it, we need an “attitude of gratitude.” All that we say and do ought to express thanks to the Lord. (e.g., chorus, “After all He’s Done for Me.)
5)         We should begin every day by taking time to thank God for the many things he has done for us (e.g., sleep, health, food, life, beautiful day, forgiveness, salvation, eternal life, etc.). If you struggle, meditate on Psalm 1.

Conclusion: How much do you let the Word of Christ dwell in you? If it is not dwelling in you richly, you need to make Bible study a priority. As you do, it will overflow so that you will teach and warn others from what you learn. You will also sing praise to God throughout the day. You will also become thankful for all that God is doing for you.

Song: Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord – 337