Colossians 3:16b

Let the Word of Christ Dwell in You RICHLY

 

1. The richness of our relationship to Christ is a reflection of the richness of our relationship to His Word.

a. The richness of our love for Christ is also a reflection of the richness of our love for His Word.

b. There is a connection between our love for Christ and our love for the Word of Christ… for it tells us of Him.

2. I am aware that some folks don’t like to read books… and that creates a problem because the Bible is a book!

a. There is nothing unspiritual about not being a good reader… or not loving books… even though the Bible is a book!

b. There is nothing unspiritual about being illiterate… or a slow reader (like me)… or getting a headache every time you open a book.

c. When we encourage and challenge folks to spend time in the Bible every day, it is not book-reading that we are promoting.

d. We are not even encouraging folks to love the Bible as a book… that’s very short sighted.

e. God isn’t interested in our love for books. He is interested in our love for HIM… and for His Beloved Son…

f. In this period of Christ’s absence from the world, the only way we can spend time getting to know Him is through spending time in the Book… the Word of Christ… so if we love Christ, we will love His Word…

g. But our love is for the PERSON revealed in the book… not so much the book itself.
• When we go to heaven and stand before Him face to face, we leave the written word behind… (I Cor. 13:12)
• We will have no need of the written Word of Christ in that day, for we will be in the very presence of the Living Word, Christ Himself!
• But until then, we need His Word… it is how we get to KNOW Him better and to develop our relationship to Him.
• And a genuine love for the Person of Jesus Christ will find a way to overcome a lack of love for reading books.
• Love is clever and inventive… love will find a way!

h. Example: Suppose you lived way back in the 19th century… way back in the 1800s. Your daughter is a missionary in Sudan… and she writes you a letter… and it takes six months for a letter to arrive.
• It doesn’t matter how good or how poor your reading skills are.
• If you love your daughter, you will LONG to read that letter… if you hear it is on the way, you will be waiting anxiously… dying to hear from her!
• If the letter comes and you can’t read, love for your daughter will move you to find a way to find out (one way or another) what it said. You will bring it to someone to read it to you! You will sit and listen to it being read.
• And if you are a fair reader, and she uses some words you don’t understand, you would get out a dictionary and look them up! You want to know what she said to you!
• She will be coming home one day, and then you will be together again, and you won’t need to rely on letters…
• But in the meantime, your only way of communing with her is through the written page… her letters.
• A doting father is going read and re-read that letter from the daughter he loves.

i. And so it is with our relationship to Christ.
• He is away in heaven right now, but He has sent us the WORD of Christ… a book that is all about Him.
• If we love the Lord, we will read and reread His Word… the Word of Christ… the revelation which is all about Jesus Christ.
• We will want to sit and hear others read it to us... in the local church.
• We won’t need it in heaven; we’ll be face to face.
• But NOW, it will be precious to us… and a love for Christ will drive us to find time… to MAKE time to spend in the Word of Christ.

3. In this present life we cannot separate the written Word from the Living Word…

a. BOTH are the Logos of God… the Logos in ink and the Logos in flesh. BOTH are God’s revelation to us of WHO HE IS.

b. In this life, there is no such thing as loving Christ but not loving His word!

c. There is no such thing as loving Christ, but not wanting to spend time with Him!

d. We cannot spend time with Christ physically. His human flesh is in heaven at the right hand of the Father.

e. But we CAN spend time with Him through the Word.

f. Some believers are busy doing this and that like Martha trying to serve Christ… but not spending time WITH Christ.
• We want to be like Mary… who sat at the feet of Jesus to hear His Word… She wanted the word of Christ to DWELL in her heart…
• Because she loved the Lord, she loved His Word.

4. A love for His Word is a measure of our love for Christ.

a. The one who truly loves Christ will love to read His Word EVERY day…

b. The one who truly loves Christ will love to come to the local church, where Christ is Head, and where the Word of Christ is taught…

c. The one who truly loves Christ will not think it a burden to come to Sunday school, morning worship, and then come back again for the evening worship. The world thinks that’s crazy… but not those who love Christ. They crave the Word of Christ.

d. It isn’t a law. It’s the law of love. Love for Christ compels us to come for more… more of His Word.

e. There is a HUNGER for His Word… which nothing in the world can ever satisfy.

f. Just suppose we had a young man and a young lady in this church who were planning on getting married soon.
• There is no RULE that requires the young man to spend at least 5 hours a week with her.
• If they are truly in love, nobody has to FORCE them to spend time together.
• It isn’t a duty, an obligation, or a burden to spend time together. It is a DELIGHT! They WANT to!
• They do whatever they can to push other things aside in order to spend time together… commune together… get to know each other better.

g. So OUGHT to be our relationship to the Word of Christ, IF we love the Lord.

h. Personal devotion time, family Bible time, and coming to Sunday school and church services where the Word of Christ is taught are NOT just a duty or an obligation to the one in whom the Word of Christ dwells richly. They are a DELIGHT!

5. The Word of Christ dwelling richly in the heart will, with all certainty, influence one’s walk, talk, demeanor, behavior, and character.

a. In that sense it is similar in meaning to the concept of FILLING.

b. Eph. 5:18-20 – consider this parallel passage:
• The influence: the FILLING of the Holy Spirit… (vs. 18) (Filling; influenced by; controlled by; outward behavior transformed by.)
• The result: singing psalms and hymns (vs. 19) and thanksgiving (vs. 20)… followed by teaching on husbands and wives… (vs. 22-33).
• The comparison: same context… same result.
• The difference is that Ephesians emphasizes that it comes as a result of being under the influence of the Holy Spirit… while Colossians emphasizes that it comes as a result of the influence of the Word of Christ.
• Hence, the rich dwelling of the Word of Christ stands parallel to the filling of the Holy Spirit.
• They both speak of a controlling INFLUENCE for GOOD in the believer’s life… (a song in the heart; thanksgiving; a happy, well adjusted home; etc.)
• The longer and more consistently a believer is filled with the Spirit… the faster he will mature.
• The deeper and richer the Word dwells in our hearts, the more influence it will have in our lives… and the faster we will mature.
• Because there is a difference in believers’ willingness to yield to the Holy Spirit… to walk in the Spirit, there is also a difference in the amount of fruit produced in that life… some 30 fold; some 60 fold; some 90 fold.

6. Richness comes in all degrees… (From watery skim milk to thick, rich, cream!)

a. All true believers have some love for Christ and some love for the Word of Christ.

b. The word of Christ dwells in the hearts of all believers to one degree or another.

c. But clearly, some believers have more love for the Word than others… at any given point in time.

d. Some believers demonstrate a deeper, richer love for the Word than others.

e. Some dabble in the word; others dive right in.

f. Some take a little taste; others hunger for it and devour it.

g. Some read the word out of a sense of duty; others because it has become such a part of them, they couldn’t imagine going through a day without time in God’s Word!

h. Some read it occasionally because the pastor said they should. Others read it because it is the joy and rejoicing of their hearts.

i. Some open up the Bible only when problems arise and they need wisdom. Others live in the word…

j. Some nibble at the word like an occasional snack… others esteem the words of God’s mouth more than their necessary food.

k. The command to let the Word of Christ dwell in us RICHLY means much more than to take a slight taste of it now and then.

l. Richly means abundantly… overflowing…

m. A slight taste of it now and then may not produce the desired results mentioned here: a SONG in the heart… the thankful spirit… and the well adjusted home life that the context indicates is true of those hearts in which the word of Christ dwells RICHLY… abundantly!

n. Richness in the Word comes in all degrees. Our hearts will experience the rest, peace, joy… the song in the heart… in accordance with the degree to which we LET the Word dwell in our hearts RICHLY!

o. Rich dwelling = rich fruit… Meager dwelling = meager fruit!

p. You reap what you sow. We are COMMANDED to let the Word of Christ dwell in us RICHLY.

q. I am not convinced that the average Christian does that.

r. It should be the norm… I’m afraid it is increasingly becoming rare.

7. Richness in the Word of Christ is related to our will.

a. It is a command… and it is thus our RESPONSIBILITY to obey. This requires engaging our will… making choices.

b. We have to CHOOSE to MAKE time for God’s Word.

c. We have to determine not to allow anything to push it aside… or replace it…

d. All of this is our own choice…

e. Willingness to read it daily… meditate upon it…

f. Willingness to memorize it and hide it in our hearts…

g. Willingness to study it on our own… Do you have a desk and some study tools at home? You should!

h. Willingness to hear it taught… Sunday school, morning and evening services, Bible studies… etc.

i. Don’t think for a moment that at the Bema seat the Lord will ever accept the excuse, “I didn’t have time,” or “I was too tired.” You have exactly the same 24 hours per day every believer has. It is what we CHOOSE to do with our time.

j. If you cut your finger off at work, you certainly wouldn’t say, “I don’t have time to go to the hospital!” If your boss invited you to a meeting because he was about to give you a huge raise, you wouldn’t say, “I don’t have time!”

k. When we see the value, the need, the urgency, the importance, or the worth of something, we have a way of making time for it.

l. Jesus Christ demands our all.

m. Knowing Him, our relationship to Him, being transformed into His image, the capacity to bear fruit, are all based upon allowing the Word of Christ to dwell RICHLY in us.

8. It takes TIME for the Word of Christ to dwell in us richly.

a. You can commit a verse of Scripture to memory in a few minutes.

b. It takes TIME for that truth to settle down and be at home… to sink in its roots… and to dwell in your heart richly!

c. But when it does, it changes us. We begin to THINK godly thoughts… in harmony with the Word… we have a new SONG in our heart… we begin to WALK in harmony with it…

9. The one in whom the Word of Christ DWELLS richly is satiated… filled… satisfied…

a. Nothing satisfies like the abundant life that is ours when Christ and the Word of Christ are at home in our hearts.

Application to the local church

1. The Word of Christ should dwell in individuals and in the Body corporately too!

a. The local church ought to emphasize the Word which is about Christ too.
• When the Word which is about Christ is emphasized, Christ will be the theme!
• Christ will have the preeminence in the preaching and teaching.

b. There seems to be a push in many circles today to minimize the teaching of the Word of Christ…
• There the preaching is boiled down to mini sermons… sermonettes… skits… high tech slides shows… musical performances, movies, multimedia presentations… and other forms of entertainment…
• Other things are dwelling richly there… but not the Word of Christ.

c. And in yet other circles, the Bible is taught… but as the Word of something other than about Christ…
• The Word of salvation… or the Word of Theological Academics… or the word of interpersonal relationships… or the Word of church growth… or the Word of Psychology… the Word of self esteem… or the Word of social activism… the word of current events…
• Instead of the Word of Christ… where CHRIST is exalted and given first place.
• The word of Christ ought to dwell in the ministry of the Church Body corporately.

d. And in yet other circles, the teaching in the local church is the Word of Christ, but it is the Word about Christ as He appears in His earthly, Jewish ministry in the gospels, rather than the Word of Christ… our Risen, Glorified, Heavenly High Priest… and Head of the Body… the One IN WHOM we dwell… and who dwells in us! (Col. 3:1).

e. In the Local Church, it is the Word about the Risen Glorified Christ that needs to dwell richly… or we are failing to comply with this important passage!

f. The Bible needs to be rightly divided… and taught and preached in such a way that the God-Man in HEAVEN, risen, glorified, ascended, exalted, enthroned, our High Priest, our Head, is given preeminence… so that the Word is about HIM… the Jesus we have been studying throughout the book of Colossians!

g. I know no other Jesus! I know of no other way to preach God’s Word… the Word of Christ.

h. I want to see THIS WORD dwelling richly in this assembly… and in each of us individually too!

i. That’s why we meet together…

10. The local church is God’s instrument for bringing a depth to the richness of our relationship to Christ.

a. God gave pastors and teachers, individually and uniquely chosen and gifted for each individual local church.

b. Their purpose is to teach the Word of Christ to that particular Body. (Eph. 4:11)

c. God’s design: for the Word of Christ to produce “perfection” or maturity… richness in their Christian life. (Eph. 4:12)

d. God’s purpose: to bring that particular body to the full knowledge of Christ… and thus, a rich relationship to Him… (Eph. 4:13)

e. Without God’s program (the local church – teaching the Word of Christ), believers will NOT achieve a richness in their faith… or in their knowledge of Christ… and thus, will not experience a richness in their relationship to Christ.

f. If we are going to OBEY the command to LET the word of Christ dwell in us richly, we need to be faithful to the local church… God’s means of teaching and instructing us in the Word.