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What resides in you?

Colossians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  31:56
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Intro

As we have been studying Colossians 3 together we have seen a number of imperatives, where Paul is asking us, begging us, telling us things that we really ought to be doing because of our relationships with Jesus.
We are not doing them because they will get us into heaven, but because of the work of Christ in us.
These passages are meant to help us, as believers in how we interact with each other, and with the world around us.
This week, Rocky Mountain Bible Mission had their Shepherd’s conference in Missoula.
Tiffany and I have been able to attend the last couple of conferences and they are always educational and refreshing.
One of the things that I was reminded of through main speaker was that in the passages of scripture that teach us these things.
Passages that specifically help to shape our actions and interactions, passages that tell us how to live, are firmly rooted in the gospel.
We must remember that to be true.
We must remember that if Jesus is not at the center, our actions, are nothing better than morality.
And morality, being a good person is not going to get us to heaven.
Each and every day so long as we have placed our faith in Christ, from the time we open our eyes, we have forces at war within us.
Some days easier than others but each day is a battle.
We are all born of sinful flesh, but when we place our faith in Jesus, His Spirit enters into us.
The Holy Spirit is working in us, leading, guiding, shaping us into the image of Christ.
Through our passage for today, I would like for each of us to address the question of what is it that is taking up residence within me?
We know from Romans 6 for instance that we are no longer slaves to sin, but how often does it still rear its ugly head.
Colossians 3:16 ESV
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.

The Word of Christ.

Our verse this morning begins - Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.
So what is it that Paul is instructing us to do here?
We must first look to the word of Christ.
What is it?
Those of us who have been in the church for a while probably have some ideas and are probably correct, but it is also important to know the connection. The why.
We can begin very literally, let the very words that Christ spoke dwell in you.
Did the believers in the church of Colosse audibly hear Christ teach?
Most likely not, but they did have the OT scriptures, as well as stories and songs.
We believe that God, and by association of the trinity, Christ is the author of scripture.
We see from the context of the book as well -
Colossians 1:5 ESV
5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,
Colossians 1:25 ESV
25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known,
That the word is the gospel. The good news.

Christ is the Word, the wisdom of God, the truth; and truth as well as grace came by Him.

There is great power in the word.
Psalm 33:6 ESV
6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
We see through the creation account in Genesis that God simply speaks, and creation happens.
This force is extremely powerful, I would also add uncontrollable. We have no control over it whatsoever.
The word of Christ them is the message about Christ.
It is the message that contains new life, new creation.
The word of Christ contains the wealth of God’s wisdom.
Believers do not need special visions to enhance the wisdom they already have in the word of Christ.
The word of Christ is the greatest force that ever can act upon a person.
For the word of Christ has the power to save, and the power to condemn.

Let the word dwell in you richly.

What is it though that is to be done with this powerful word.
Our verse tells us - Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.
First off, Paul is imploring, begging, and instructing believers to let the word of Christ dwell.
This is another imperative.
The word is to dwell.
The picture that is painted for us is for is of a home.
Let the word of Christ make its home in you.
This strikes me perhaps a little different because of the stage we are in having recently moved.
It brings to mind for the the fact that this takes time.
It is a process to make a house into your home.
The same is true for us and our relationship with Jesus.
If we want Him to be at home in us, we must make an effort to first invite Him in.
Then comes the cleaning process.
Maybe its a little dirty.
The floors may need cleaned, walls washed.
The windows may need cleaned so you can better see true beauty that surrounds you.
Maybe there is a pile of junk in the basement, that has been covered up, pushed to the back, and hidden away that needs to be brought up and thrown out.
This of course can be extremely difficult. Things that you don’t want to deal with.
But Christ is the one coming in to make His home within us.
And remember the great power that comes along with Him that we just spoke of a little bit ago.
The fun part then comes when He brings in the new furniture, the new wall hangings.
The compassionate heart, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
To let the word of Christ dwell in us, it must not be a stranger, or a visitor.
It cannot be an acquaintance with whom we are not intimate, or a friend that we seldom see.
Rather the word of Christ must be as a resident member of our family.
Someone with whom we are in constant loving communication.
More importantly though, the one that dwells in the house, is in fact the master of the house, not just someone passing through.
In turn then, what Paul is saying is for his readers to make Jesus the master of their lives.
And to do so richly, or abundantly.
With great increase to the point of excess.
This richness though is not for the believers own benefit though.
The thrust of this verse is pointing to the corporate gathering of believers.
This force at work in us individually is not to remain in us alone
Paul is urging the community as a whole to put the message about Christ at the center of its corporate existence.
The message about Christ should take up permanent residence among believers.
It should be constantly at the center of the community’s activities and worship.
The power is multiplied as individuals who are placing Christ at the center of their lives gather together.
The great excess comes when the word of Christ is not superficial or passing but deep and penetrating into the core of our lives. Bringing the transforming power to life in the community.
The question comes then of how does this come about in the community?

Teaching and admonishing in wisdom.

Paul gives us some instruction with the rest of the verse
Colossians 3:16 ESV
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
The NIV helps to show this connection a little better.
Colossians 3:16 NIV
16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
Paul is showing a couple of ways that the word of Christ establishes its central place in the community.
Paul used these same words in connection a littler earlier in the book to describe his own ministry to the church.
Colossians 1:28 ESV
28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
The purpose here though shifts slightly.

Teaching

Teaching here refers to a positive presentation of Christian truth.

Teaching is the orderly arrangement of truth and effective communication of it.

Paul is not speaking here as teaching that comes from pastors and elders though.
Here Paul is teaching of how church members teach each other in the ways of God.
This happens when we spend time in God’s word together.
This happens when we gather together over meals.
This happens when we are helping one another with projects.
This happens when we sing together.

Admonishing

Likewise Paul also speaks of admonishing. Earlier in 1:28 the word was translated warning.
Warning about the danger of straying from the truth.
To admonish is to counsel about avoidance or cessation of an improper course of conduct, admonish, warn, instruct.

Admonishing differs from teaching. Admonishing has the element of strong encouragement. It is generally practical and moral, rather than abstract or theological. It is the way teaching is reinforced in the lives of the hearers. Such orderly arrangement of truth and strong practical encouragement are to be done in wisdom.

In wisdom

Paul told the believers to pray for wisdom in 1:9, in 2:3 he stated that wisdom in in Christ, and now Paul is urging believers to use this wisdom in how they relate to one another.
Those who are doing teaching and admonishing do them in appropriate ways, governed by insight into the situation and the people being addressed.
This responsibility belongs to each and every believer.

Through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

The Pillar New Testament Commentary: Colossians and Philemon 3. Putting on the Practices of the “New Self” (3:12–17)

without limiting the means to these activities, identifies “psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit” as the way in which believers teach and admonish each other

This is one specific vehicle that God has chosen for teaching and admonishment.
Those who are a bit more musically minded will see this a bit more often, but who has heard a song that just seems to speak to them. To their situation they are currently. Something that encourages you, reinforces a truth that you know but needed reminded of in a difficult time.
As believers gather and sing, we are teaching and admonishing one another through the words we sing.
Christians have always sung their faith, and there is a biblical basis for it.
Although there is quite a bit of overlap with the meanings of each of the terms listed, Paul has each one listed for a purpose. There is some help in seeing where they differ.

Psalms

The first way the Paul references is through psalms.
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: Colossians and Philemon 3. Putting on the Practices of the “New Self” (3:12–17)

Psalm” refers generally in Greek to a song that is sung to the “plucking” (Gk. psallō) of the strings of an instrument

Hymns

The term hymn is more or less a synonym of psalm.
Outside of biblical literature, hymns were songs in praise of gods or heroes.
Given how closely related the terms are it is difficult to distinguish one from the other.
JB Lightfoot offers one suggestion

is that the “psalms” refer to praise drawn directly from the Scriptures (particularly the psalms of David), whereas the “hymns” are the more distinctively Christian compositions (the “new song” of Isa. 42:10?) which have been widely recognized within the New Testament itself

An example would be the song Mary sings in Luke 1 when she visits Elizabeth.
Luke 1:46–55 ESV
46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

Spiritual Songs

The third is a little more specific but still basically a synonym.
The idea behind this is songs that are sung under the inspiration of the Spirit.
Mary’s song could fall into this category as well.
This connection of words is also seen in Eph
Ephesians 5:18–19 ESV
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,

such singing is understood to be the result of being filled with the Spirit, in some ways like the uninhibited singing of those who are drunk (Eph. 5:18; cf. Acts 2:13–18), but expressive of a very different Spirit

The spirit is a force acting upon the believer to cause them to sing praise to God.
This verse is one of the very few that provide us with any sort of window into the worship of the early church.
It is though too brief to give us much specific information.
It does however make 3 points worth emphasizing.
The first is the message about Christ, the word of Christ, the word of God, was central to the experience of worship.
This was the most important force that was to be acting upon Christians as they worshipped.
Second is that various forms of music were parts of the experience.
Each word is a synonym but each one has it’s own distinct things that set it apart from the other.
Third is that teaching and admonishing, while undoubtedly of the responsibility of particular gifted individuals within the congregation (such as Paul as we saw in 1:28, or Epaphras who taught the Colossian believers, or elders in general.
These were not the only ones with this responsibility though. Each and every member is to be engaged in teaching and admonishing one another.

Worship with thankfulness in our hearts to God.

The purpose of the teaching and admonishment through song is all to be done with thankfulness in our hearts.
Singing is a natural expression of gratitude to God.
The statement in your hearts also points this out to be a personal experience.
Someone else can’t sing for you.
Fathers - singing teaches and warns your wife and your children. It shares the truth of Jesus.
Mothers in the same way, your singing teaches and admonishes your husband and your children.
Children - if you want to opportunity to teach your parents something, SING!
Each of us teaches and admonishes one another through what we sing.

Those who sing do so because they have felt the transforming power of God in their own lives, and they sing with an awareness of that grace

Types of songs don’t matter as much as content.

Today we have so many different types of songs.
In a church we must remember that singing one type or genre of song does not make us more spiritual. It is a matter of preference.
The types of songs we sing do not matter as much as the content of what we sing.
The ultimate goal of all of this is that the word of Christ might dwell in each and every one of us richly.
That we would glorify God.
Bob Kauflin writes
“Worship matters. It matters to God because ultimately He is the one worthy of all worship. It matters to us because worshipping God is the reason for which we were created.”
“Music is a powerful tool. It can move people to joy or tears, celebration or reflection. But music is a carrier of God’s truth, not the truth itself. Jesus said the truth, not emotional highs will set us free. “
The word of Christ is to dwell in us richly. The church is to be stocked with good teaching as a place filled with treasures.

Thankfulness - praise with our entire being.

A final note on the passage has to do with the method of singing that is being referred to by Paul.
Hymns and songs have often been a powerful means of implanting and clarifying truth.
So I implore us to sing praise with our entire beings. Whether you can carry a tune or not.
I remember a man as I grew up in church, he had the most monotone voice I had ever heard, but he sang, because of the work of Christ in him.
He sang for the purpose that Paul states for us here, to teach and admonish one another. He sang to keep the forces of evil bay within himself and those around him.

It matters what we sing.

It matters what we sing. The things that we sing about are the things that reside within our hearts.
Music is so easily memorized. We teach our children with music.
What songs have been ingrained into your mind?
What tunes come to your mind often?
What is it that is residing within you?
Have you opened all the doors that Christ might do his work in you?
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