LET the word of Christ be making its home in you
richly, in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing yourselves; in psalms, in hymns, in
spiritual songs, singing, with grace in your hearts to God. And whatsoever you may be
doing, in word or in act, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to
God, the Father, through Him (Col.3:16,17).
The word of Christ needs
to be making its home in us, not merely visiting upon occasion. And it needs to be
present in abundance, or richly, not in short supply, or poorly.
How we need to be thinking Christs thoughts and to be governed by His motives!
Therefore we also, from the day on which we hear (Col.1:9a) concerning the
realization of the grace of God in truth (Col.1:6)whenever we
learn that it has been given to any of our fellow believerswe do not cease
praying for you and requesting that you may be filled full with the realization of His
will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding (Col.1:9b).
This is Pauls prayer
for us, for you to walk worthily of the Lord for all pleasing, bearing fruit in
every good work, and growing in the realization of God; being endued with all power, in
accord with the might of His glory, for all endurance and patience with joy; at the
same time giving thanks to the Father, Who makes you competent for a part of the allotment
of the saints, in light (Col.1:l0-12).
As a figure of
association, Paul uses the expression the word of in a number of places
in reference to various foundational unfoldings of truth entrusted to him by the Lord
Jesus Christ. Each of the following seven expressions or passages from Pauls
ministry present or make reference to the word of (the teaching concerning) a
particular consequential theme: the word of [Gods] grace (Acts
20:32); the word of promise (Rom.9:9); the word of the truth
(2 Tim.2:15); the words of the faith (1 Tim.4:6); the word of life
(Phil.2:16); the word of the cross (1 Cor.1:18); the word of the
conciliation (2 Cor.5:19).*1
Yet here in Colossians
3:16 Pauls expression is the word of Christ. We are to heed his entreaty
concerning it: Let the word of Christ be making its home in you . . . .
Just as any consideration of the word of Gods grace will
concern itself with the nature of and various key elements pertinent to grace, all our
meditations upon the word of Christ will be centered upon those most
notable things pertaining to Him.
Paul speaks to us from the
vantage point of his own evangel, the evangel which came to him through a revelation of
Jesus Christ (Gal.1:12), which he heralded among the nations (Gal.2:2). He does not even
take up the many details of the personal ministry of Jesus, those things associated with
the Lords personal entrance to the entire people of Israel (cp
Acts 13:24; Matt.15:24). Paul begins his evangel where Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
conclude theirs. From beginning to end (cp Acts 13:16-48; Phil. 2:8-11),
Pauls message is the sacrifice of Christ and the blood of His cross
THE SCANDAL OF THE
Paul, the word which is of Christ, is vitally connected with
the word of the cross, the sufferings and shame associated with His death. Yet
it centers upon, to borrow a phrase from Peter, the glories after these (cp
1 Peter 1:11), upon glories which were hidden from the prophets of old of whom Peter
writes, glories which are only revealed through the prophetic scriptures
(Rom.16:26) of the apostle Paul.
In itself, the word of the
cross heralds not Christ glorified, but Christ crucified. To those not
called, it appears to be a very stupid message (1 Cor.1:21). It is stupidity,
indeed, to those who are perishing, yet to us who are being saved it is the power
of God (1 Cor.1:18). It speaks of the terrible suffering, the pain, humiliation,
cursedness and abandonment of the cross. It presents a bloody Sacrificein all
its stark ugliness and terroryet a Sacrifice which is a fragrant odor to God
The word of
Christ reveals to us, most notably, the significance and consequences
of His sacrifice in achieving Gods purpose. Briefly, all is for God and His glory,
and is according to His purpose. This entails the highest measure of blessing for His
creatures. The entire ecclesia, and eventually all mankind, will one day find their All in
God, yet only through Christ. God is working all together for good, but only through, and
because of, the cross.
Sadly, many who gladly
receive the word of the cross with respect to the terrible event itself and its
sacrificial nature on their behalf, nonetheless become enemies of the cross
(Phil.3: 18). For they insist on adding something of their own to its saving power,
insisting that Christs work alone is insufficient to ensure their salvation. Though
a few of them may succeed in doing so modestly, they all boast in their own flesh, in the
supposed part which they fancy they had in the whole matter. Thus they nullify
the scandal (skandalon, AV offence) or
snare of the cross, its completeness or all-sufficiency for salvation,
and so avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ Jesus (cf Gal.5:11; 6:12-14).
When God enlightens us, He
makes known the word of Christ to us. He reveals the truth to us concerning His own
righteousness, the good news concerning gratuitous justification for all through the
deliverance which is in Christ Jesus (Rom.3:21-24). It is this word of Christ,
this gracious message pertaining to Him, which must dwell in us if we would enjoy
and experience its practical benefits.
So, by His grace, we are
heeding Pauls entreaty to be rejoicing in the Lord. To be writing the
same to you is not, indeed, irksome for me, yet it is your security. Beware of
curs, beware of evil workers (Phil.3:1,2). We are glorying in Christ
Jesus, not in ourselves (not in that flesh of yours), for we have
no confidence in flesh (Phil.3:3; Gal.6:13).
We must beware of
those who teach differently, who, like wild dogs of the street, voraciously take to
themselves all manner of things from Scripture (since they are in the Bible)
which, as employed by them, detract from, if not altogether deny, the work of Christ. Thus
many are distracted from a greater appreciation of the word of Christ, and many more are
debarred from it altogether.
FAITH IN WHAT GOD HAS SPOKEN
word of Christ needs to be making its home in us not only richly, but in all
wisdom (Col.3:16). Brethren, do not become little children in disposition. But
in evil be minors, yet in disposition become mature (1 Cor. 14:20). Do not
become imprudent, but understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph.5:17). It is not
sufficient simply to read the Scriptures casually, or to repeat many passages from its
pages merely by rote. We would become aware of the facts which it contains, and
acquire an intelligent grasp of what the Scriptures actually say. This itself is a great
advance. Even then, however, we would judge each passage as to whom it concerns, when it
applies, and in what sense it is true. This calls for competency, and especially for wisdom.
Wisdom is the faculty which makes the highest and best application of
knowledge (KEYWORD CONCORDANCE, p.329). We need to use our minds*2
and to use them well.
Faith is out of
tidings [what is heard], yet the tidings through a declaration of Christ
(Rom.10:17). The sword of the spirit . . . is a declaration of God (Eph.6:17).
As Paul says, In accepting the word heard from us, from God you receive, not the
word of men, but, according as it truly is, the word of God, which is operating also in
you who are believing (1 Thess.2:13).
Our faith, if it is
the faith [which is] of God (cp Mark 11:23a), is found only in what God
has spoken, not in mans mistranslations, misapplications, or inferences. We need to
be fostered (NOURISHed) in the words of the faith (1 Tim.4:6),
and to learn to think and express ourselves accordingly.
It can certainly be
helpful to be admonished (MIND-PLACED) by those who teach us
well, but we also need to be admonishing ourselves, in psalms, in hymns, in
spiritual songs, singing [whether literally or figuratively], with grace in our hearts
to God (Col.3:16). It is at least as important for true grace to be a matter of
the heart as it is for it to be a matter of the intellect. The joy and assurance of
Gods gracious goodness to us cannot live in mere intellectual correctness. It is
vital for us to be correct that we might be faithful, but it then becomes vital for
us to know the love of Christ as well which transcends knowledgethat
you may be completed for the entire complement of God (Eph.3:19).
Everything, whatsoever we
may be doing, in word or in act, is to be done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, with
thanksgiving to God, the Father, through Him (Col.3:17). Anything that cannot be done in
the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, is not to be done at all. This entreaty reminds us of
Pauls words, in Romans 12:1,2, to present our bodies a sacrifice, living, holy, well
pleasing to God. This is our logical divine service. We are not to be configured to this
eon, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, for us to be testing what is the
will of God, good and well pleasing and perfect.
If it was foolish for
Israel of old to say, All that Yahweh speaks we shall do (Ex.19:8a), it is
beyond foolishness for us to make a similar response when reading these words of
Pauls. We laud and commend the ideal, but we recognize that we must have a Saviour
if we are even to begin to live in accord with these lofty admonitions.
FAITHFULNESS VS. SUCCESS
phrase, Let the word of Christ be making its home in you richly (Col.3:16),
the idea is not let in the sense of permit, but let in
the sense of, Let each one be fully assured in his own mind, or, Let
there be light. It is the imperative mood, not the thought of cooperation. We, who
are nothing (Gal.6:3), are nonetheless given this imperative.
If we have any hope in
heeding this imperative, however, it is not to be in ourselves. The confidence that we
have is through Christ toward God (2 Cor.3:4). Not that we are competent
of ourselves, to reckon anything as out of ourselves [would be wrong], but our competency
is of God (2 Cor.3:5). He, then, Who is supplying you with the spirit,
and operating works of power among you [will be completing what He has
undertaken] (Gal.3:5; cp Gal.3:3).
Concerning the one who is
infirm in the faith, the apostle says, he will be made to stand, for the Lord
is able to make him stand (Rom.14:4). Patience will wait upon God and for His
appointed time. Similarly, wisdom will shun all human wisdom, especially that concerning
the free will of man, while recognizing and accepting Gods wise counsels
as to what must be (Rom.8:26). We simply wish to be meek and humble, to rely
upon God instead of man, to boast in our Saviour instead of ourselves. It is not that we
wish to be lax in the meantime, until God gives us further saving grace. Not at all. To
the contrary, as in all things, we long to be faithful and we seek to be faithful. Indeed,
we are thrilled that, in measure, we are faithful, and we give God all the
But when we fail, as we
often do, we wish to recognize that this is because of what we are in ourselves. We are
members of the old humanity. We sin because of what we are. We are flesh. The
disposition of the flesh is death . . . because the disposition of the flesh is enmity to
God, for it is not subject to the law of God, for neither is it able (Rom.8:6,7).
Indeed, whenever we obey or disobey, we act due to a cause, and therefore must act as we
do whenever we do act as we do.
Until we recognize and
understand this simple fact, we can never be humble of heart. Regardless of what we may say,
so long as we finally see something of ourselves as the key to our problems, we are
boasting in the flesh and not relying on God. The question is not what is popular, but
what is true; not what works, but what is faithful; not what seems
right, but what actually is right.
Everyone wants to succeed,
even those who have no interest at all in obeying God or in pleasing Him. No one enjoys
the suffering which attends failure. Since all genuine believers have a new disposition
and walk, it would seem that each one would have some measure of interest not merely in
success, but in faithfulness. However, unless we have a greater desire to be
faithful than merely to be successful, we will care more about success than faithfulness.
Even if we have a considerable desire to be faithful, if our desire to succeedto
have what we wantis greater than our desire to be faithful, we will surely be
disqualified as to the faith (2 Tim.3:1-7).
We may well attain a great
many of our goals, even including an externally upright walk, while all the while being
remarkably unfaithful. Unless our desire for faithfulness is greater than
our desire for success, we will not enjoy the former even if we should have the latter in
abundance. If we do not care how we succeed, we will never actually succeed at all.
The only true success is found in faithfulness to God. Yet faithfulness is
impossible apart from the faith.
Knowing the truth and
loving the truthwhile making some progress in pursuing righteousness even though
falling far short of the idealis ever so much better than being ignorant of the
truth or willfully repudiating what is actually true, even if we should manage to gratify
many of our desires for success and happiness by so doing.
The withdrawal (or
apostasy) from the faith is inevitable, for the spirit is saying
explicitly that it will occur (1 Tim.4:1,2; 2 Tim.3:1-13; 4:3,4). The
only question, from the human standpoint, is whether we will be a part of it. Therefore,
under God and in His grace, we wish to save ourselves from such a course (cp 1
Tim.4:1,16). Pauls words to the Ephesian elders serve ideally as a solemn entreaty
for us as well: Now I am aware that, after I am out of reach, burdensome wolves will
be entering among you, not sparing the flocklet. And from among yourselves will arise men,
speaking perverse things to pull away disciples after themselves. Wherefore, watch,
remembering that for three years, night and day, I cease not admonishing each one with
tears. And now I am committing you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able
to edify and give the enjoyment of an allotment among all who have been hallowed
LIVING BY THE FAITH OF THE EVANGEL
us Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, we have been called and we are
in Christ (1 Cor.1:24). But to be growing in assurance that we are indeed
living our lives in the faith of the evangel, we need to be growing in an understanding of
the evangel itself and in a practical realization of Gods faithful hand in our daily
The word of the
cross . . . to us who are being saved . . . is the power of God (1 Cor.1:18). Or, to
say the same thing, the power of God is the word of the cross. It constitutes Gods
appointed means. The word of the cross is the agency which God uses to savingly affect us.
It is powerful to God (cp 2 Cor.10:4). Wisdom will not drink from any other
fountain, no matter how sweet its water or promising its cures.
The word of the cross, and
its associated revelations, constitute the word of Christ. It is the agency which God uses
to effect our practical salvation. He causes us to be influenced by it in ways which
result in salvation, in our preservation or deliverance each day according to His own
counsels. The evangel . . . is Gods power for salvation to everyone who is
believing (Rom.1:16). Consequently, we say, Let the word of Christ be making its
home in you richly.
*1 for a consideration of each of these
expressions, cf Herald the Word, UNSEARCHABLE RICHES, vol. LXXVI,
*2 It is interesting to note that the
elements of the Greek word for foolish, anoÍton, are UN-MINDed.