Love For The Word, Part 1

Grace For The Journey

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24Aug  In our previous study, we learned that when God gives Christians new hearts that they are “let the peace of Christ rule” in their hearts and they are to have a continual spirit of thankfulness.  Today we will learn that when God gives us new hearts it will lead to another new behavior . . .

We are to “let dwell the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”  This phrase is an imperative and is used only here in the New Testament.  The phrase refers not only to the teaching of Jesus Christ, but also of all the Bible.  God’s Word should permeate our whole being so that we God-honoring and God-pleasing decisions and plans in our lives.

My Greek professor in seminary used to say, “As the rabbis later pointed out, ‘he who dwells in a house is the master of the house, not just a passing guest.’  Thus, we are to submit to the demands of the Christian message and let it become so deeply implanted within us as to control all our thinking.”  Many saved people cannot honestly say that God’s Word dwells in their hearts richly because they do not take time to read, study, and memorize it.

This phrase is full of teaching (the imparting of truth), and admonition (warning against error).  The Word of God is the basis four our worship.  The “psalms” refers to the inspired Old Testament psalms.  The word implies that the believers sang them with musical accompaniment.  Hymns are songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.  Spiritual songs probably refer to expressions of Christian truth set to music.  Thankfulness to God is to mark our singing too (cf. Colossians 3:15,16).

Whether with instrument or with voice or with both

It is all for naught if the adoration is not in the heart.

One of the first descriptions of a Church service which we possess is that of Pliny, the Roman governor of Bithynia, who sent a report of the activities of the Christians to Trajan the Roman Emperor.  In that report he said, “They meet at dawn to sing a hymn to Christ as God.  The gratitude of the Church has always gone up to God in Christian praise and Christian song.”  It has often been noticed that the Colossian passage is parallel with Ephesians 5:18-20.  In the latter passage the hymns and songs are the outgrowth of the filling of the Spirit, while in Colossians they are the result of the deep assimilation of the Word of God.  In other words . . .

The Word-filled Christian is a Spirit-filled Christian.

An examination of the two passages would save us from a great deal of error on this subject.

Undisciplined emphasis on the Holy Spirit

Is accompanied too frequently by

Shallow grounding in the Word of God.

Christians with new hearts will follow the Bible’s teachings in Colossians 3:15-17, where we are looking at three actions in these three verses.  The first was that we Learn To End Strife And Be Thankful.  Today we will learn about how we will . . .

2) We Love the Scriptures. 

Christians love the Word of God!

Colossians 3:16 begins by says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly . . .”

The “word of Christ” is shorthand for the entire Bible: the Scriptures.  Jesus taught that the Scriptures testified of Him (John 5:39).  In this phrase, then, Paul has in mind the Word of Christ as well as the Word about Christ: “Let Christ’s Word – the biblical teaching that points to and presents the person and work Jesus Christ – let this very Word dwell richly within you.”

The word, “dwell” is a word that means “to make one’s home” or “to be at home.”  And the sense is present and active and suggests, “Keep making sure that the Word of Christ is at home within you.”  Or put the opposite way: “Don’t treat God’s Word like an unwelcome guest” … Or even “an occasionally visiting guest.”  See to it that God’s Word is at home within you and that His Word continually dwells within you richly.

What do you enjoy dwelling within you richly?   I can tell you that I am happy to allow a number of things to dwell within me richly: fresh air, good homecooked meals with plenty of vegetables, aged cheeses, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, beverages like water, kombucha, and teas, for example.   These are things I enjoy “dwelling within” me.

In a very real sense, this is the same way we are to enjoy God’s Word, the Word of Christ.  The Bible is God’s food for us – and it is great food!  It is meant to be cherished as a singular delicacy.

Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly means “let it get down deep within, savor it, enjoy it.”  We are to get the Word of God into our minds and hearts for spiritual food every day and watch it change our life for the glory of God!

Read the Bible every day.  Whether you use a Bible reading plan or some other method, just be sure to take time to “let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.”  Slow down.  Read a portion as carefully and slowly as you would eat something you really enjoyed.

Don’t eat without tasting it! Savor it.  You might start this morning with a psalm.  Slowly read Psalm 1.  Read it and re-read it.  Savor it.  Allow it to “get down deep” within you.

Paul continues in verse 16, “… in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”  Christians share wisdom with one another by “teaching and admonishing one another.”  Christians not only teach, but “admonish,” which means “to caution, to counsel, to help by warning; to reprove gently.”  If we love each other, we will admonish one another, even warning one another when our behavior does not “match” our identity, when we are wearing the wrong spiritual clothing.

It is especially interesting in verse 16 that one of the ways Christians teach and admonish one another is through “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.”  Don’t miss the inference:

Worship music is to contain

Lyrics that teach Christians.

Christian hymns and Christian songs are to have a teaching quality about them; even an admonishing element about them.

I think this fact is more important than trying to figure out whether there is some kind of distinction between Paul’s understanding of psalms, hymns, or spiritual songs.  Volumes have been written on the supposed differences between and distinctions of these three musical offerings.

This much is clear . . .

While there is a variety of Christian music,

All of it should contain lyrics comprising the Word of God.

Songs should have words that teach the church

And songs that admonish the church.

Note also the “attitude of gratitude” in verse 16.  Just as verse 15 concluded with an element of gratitude, “and be thankful,” so verse 16 concludes with the statement, “singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”  “Singing with grace” is singing “with thankfulness in your hearts” or with “gratitude in your hearts.”  Thankful people can worship God meaningfully.

This “grace” carries the idea of “gratitude, favor, pleasure, and joy.”  Thus, God is telling us here that when we sing we should sing with an attitude of happiness and joy in our hearts because of our gratitude to God.  In other words, our songs should pour forth from a heart that is filled with happiness and thankfulness.

Consider how this melody, or grace, is to be directed toward the Lord. Paul says that we are to sing with melody, or grace, in our hearts “to the Lord.”  Too often it seems that people sing the songs of worship without any direction or feeling behind what they are saying.  The songs that we sing are not just words that we select and arrange so as to “sound good,” or to just “make a noise;” these are songs that are directed toward God.  We should sing them just as though they are being said directly to God, because that is exactly what is happening!  When you sing, sing it “to the Lord,” because He is the one who needs to know that we want to be there.  When you can truly sing to the Lord in a way that you mean it, you will have no problem teaching and admonishing one another.

If you have received God’s forgiveness and you know what it is to be forgiven of sin, then your heart will sing the praises of God.  Paul writes, “Singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”  Don’t say you can’t sing.  You can.  You may feel that you do not sing well, but that is to compare yourself with others.  Don’t compare yourself with others … Sing with grace, sing with thankfulness in your hearts to the Lord.

Do you see the principle?  As we all the Word of God to dwell within us richly, we will have thankfulness and gratitude to God that others can see and be influenced and impacted by.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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