Summary: Sermon 15 in a study in Colossians
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
I think we could all agree that this first admonition of Paul’s in verse 16 is far from being an afterthought; that in fact all he has been telling them to do in the past 15 verses is dependant on their diligence to follow this one.
For how can a person perform these spiritual exercises, putting off things of the world and the flesh and putting on things of the Spirit in his daily life, if he does not have the mind of the Spirit – and how can he have the mind of the Spirit if he does not have the Word of Christ in him?
Now before we go very far into this I want to remind you that Paul is writing this letter, not to an individual, as he did to Timothy and Titus, but to a church. He is writing to an entire congregation of people who are being troubled by men who would distort the scriptures and lead people away from truth into grievous error.
So this exhortation of his to ‘let the word of Christ richly dwell within you’ is said with a sense of urgency and momentousness, and it is said to the church! This is said to the congregation as a whole. Therefore Paul is calling for a congregation of believers to work together in diligence to keep the Word of Christ before them and taking it into them so that it abides, not only in individuals but as a living entity in the church.
THE SURPASSING VALUE OF THE WORD
Let’s talk first about the Word itself. Paul says here, the Word of Christ. It should be apparent to us what he is talking about. He is talking about the scriptures.
Now here is where one scholar might argue that when Paul was writing, to him the scriptures were the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms, so in saying the Word of Christ he must be meaning the Gospel message itself, and maybe some of the sayings of Christ that had been written down so far in the epistles.
But I think by this time Paul had understood clearly that since all scripture is God-breathed, 2 Tim 3:16, and Christ is God, as he just stated in verse 9 of chapter 2, then all scripture comes under the heading of the Word of Christ.
So if some nit-picker who needs an excuse to be lazy and negligent in Bible study says that what Paul is encouraging here is the memorization of the Gospel message and some of the sayings of Jesus to get us through the rough places, our answer to them is that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (It’s always best to respond to error or to challenging questions with scripture)
So then, if we are agreed that Paul meant all of scripture when he used the term Word of Christ, and we are already agreed that for us of the New Testament church ‘all scripture’ has come to mean these Bibles we hold in our hands, then we must agree that Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit…maybe I should turn that around and say, the Holy Spirit through Paul, has told us that we should have the Bible, the scriptures, the Word of God, taking up residence within us.
We’ll talk more about this. First I want to establish a couple more things about the Word itself.
First, it is alive. It is a living thing. The Bible says so. Hebrews 4:12
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
Isn’t it interesting, that in history men have passed judgment on the scriptures, declaring them to be in error as a result of the passing of time and many transcriptions, declaring them to be myth, and worse, deliberately falsified by men with their own agendas, declaring them to be outdated and no longer adequate to help modern and enlightened society, declaring them to be the crutch of the superstitious. They have stood in pretentious judgment of the scriptures in their ignorance and their sin…
…but the scriptures will judge them. The scriptures do judge them. The scriptures are able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart, because they are living and active and, may I add, more up to date than tomorrow’s headline.