Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:18-19
In this series of messages, I would like to stick to only 2 key passages that are VERY often used in discussions about music and worship and see what we can learn through just these two verses. Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:18 are verses that have encouraged, convicted, and overall been a joy in my life. Let me just share why I would like to stay with these verses. April (of 09), I realized that the Lord had laid, heavily, on my heart the subject of music and how important it is to be discerning in that area. I prayed about how to approach the subject since it is a very broad topic to study as opposed to an expository study. I started studying music and what the Bible says about it and started reading various books on the subject and such and all the while I really desired to stay with an expository format. I would continue to pray about the messages the Lord would have me to share and specifically that the Lord would reveal to me how to do an expository study, which would perhaps include the topic of music. I wasn't sure what passage to expound upon and so I started putting together messages on music in general. It is so amazing how the Lord answers SPECIFIC prayers. The Lord later opened my eyes to Col. 3:16 and Eph. 5:18 There is so much information in these verses that cover, not just music, but various topics. In this series of messages, we will see all the different topics that is covered and Lord-willing be able to discern all the different results of being filled with the Spirit.
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
In this passage, Paul tells us that there are results to letting the word of Christ DWELL in us richly. Lets first look at this word dwell. This term has a sense of inhabiting something, to be at home. This also implies that there should be some level of comfort that exists. I dont know if the word of Christ will ever be comfortable in me, but were commanded here to allow some level of comfort suitable for the word of Christ to dwell richly in us or to be comfortably at home in us. Im sure that most of us here have been on a vacation or away from home for a length of time. There is a VERY comfortable feeling that we get when we come HOME from a vacation. It might be a very relaxing vacation and we enjoy everything about it, however there is nothing like coming home. The vacation is very comfortable and home is comfortable, but it is more FAMILIAR to us and..it just feels comfortable. We need to let the Holy Spirit feel at home in us. Anything that will make the Holy Spirit uncomfortable in us needs to be done away with, or confessed. Also, the word richly in this verse means abundantly. What a command!! We need to LET the word of Christ BE AT HOME in us RICHLY or ABUNDANTLY.
The next thing we notice in this verse is that we are told to let the WORD OF CHRIST dwell in us. The phrase word of God or word of the Lord occur more than 300 times in the Bible and often it is referring to the word which came from the Lord God as the source. This phrase, the Word of Christ only occurs once in the whole Bible, which might indicate that Paul is using this phrase in a different way than the word of God or the word of the Lord. The whole Bible, from cover to cover is the word which is all about Christ. The theme of the book of Colossians is about Christ. Col. 1:14 tells us that we are redeemed through Christ. Verse 15, Christ is the express image of God. Were told in 16 that all things were made by Christ and FOR him. Verse 17 tells us that Christ consist or Christ holds everything together. Christ is to have preeminence in our lives and everything we do according to verse 18. This is just the first part of chapter 1. Later on, Paul tells us Christ is in US, the hope of Glory.
Revelation 1:1An unvealing of Christ
John 5:46Moses wrote all about Christ in the Pentateuch
Luke 24:27The Prophetic books concern Christ
Luke 24:44The Law, the Prophets, and the writings are about Christ. All 3 major sections of the Old Testament.
We can see from these passages that the Bible IS about Christ and so when Paul uses this phrase in Colossian 3:16, its not a stretch to say that the word of Christ refers to the Bible.
The first result we see in this passage is teaching one another. The Word of Christ dwelling in us richly will automatically result in us wanting to teach others. Everyone who is a believer and knows the Lord as their personal savior is able to teach. No matter what the level of Bible knowledge is. You dont need to take all the theological and seminary classes before you begin to teach, if you know the simple truth that the wages of sin is death and Christ paid the debt for our sins so that we might be saved through faith, you are able to share that with your unsaved friends or family. Were also told that when we teach some truth about Gods word, it needs to be done in all WISDOM. This is not referring to our wisdom, we have no wisdom. All the wisdom that we DO have is from the Lord. We need to keep this in mind when teaching any truth from Gods word.
James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated(Good to believe and trust), full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
Whenever I teach anything from Gods word, I like to think of it a little different. Im just SHARING the study that I have been privileged to experience. The Wisdom that God gives to his children when they study HIS word is such a blessing. Throughout the study, God teaches us more about what is being studied, but more importantly were learning more about GOD himself. That should be the goal in life. That was Paul's goal in Philippians 3:10. We NEED to know GOD more in this life. What a joy it will be when we get to see GOD face to face!!
Along with a desire to teach others when the word of Christ is RICHLY dwelling in us, were told that we will also feel a need to ADMONISH others. The Greek word that is translated admonish is to caution someone or to warn. What is it that we need to warn others about? Well, the day of the Lord is approaching and there are certain events that need to happen first. Watching the news, we can see, though the events described in the Bible are not happening yet, there are things in our government and in the world that are making them more and more likely to happen soon. We NEED to admonish others their need to know Christ as their savior so that they will be saved from the wrath of the Father. Both of these, teaching others and admonishing others needs to be done IN ALL WISDOM, were told. The more the Word of Christ dwells in us, the more truth we'll learn, simply because were spending time in the Word of Christ. Its only natural to want to share the truth of what you just learned. There are AMAZING truths found in Gods word, however truth is far more effective when shared with wisdom. It might not be very wise at all after a car accident and the car is totaled to say "Well, all things work together for good to them that love God" or to tell someone "they better stop smoking because the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience". We all sin against the Lord, but in his infinite grace, he forgives us. Those things quoted from the Bible are true and right, but not necessarily given with wisdom. When someone gives us advice, or we feel led to give advice, we need to pray about it and search the scriptures on the subject. Lets look at a few verses.
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
Psalm 33:11 The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
We, in and of ourselves, have no wisdom to show to others. The only wisdom that we DO have is from the Lord. When we have an opportunity to explain the Gospel or share some advice with someone, it should, not only be Biblically accurate, but we should pray (right then and there) and ask the Lord how HE would want us to explain this or how to share this advice while being sensitive to the situation. The council of the Lord is the BEST council that anybody could share with others. Sometimes I might be talking to a brother in Christ and Im not exactly sure what to say or what advice would be appropriate. Its amazing what scripture the Lord brings to your mind that you can share.
Lets turn to a parallel passage.
Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
Eph 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Eph 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
This passage starts by stating that there are 2 different types of influences. The Bible is very clear in this passage and this analogy of choosing to be drunk or to be filled with the Spirit is relatively easy to understand when compared to other commands in the Bible. This passage compares 2 different ways we can let our body, mind, thoughts, etc be controlled. The word RICHLY in Colossian 3 and the word FILLED in Ephesians are related. These 2 Greek words mean to be abundantly filled. If we study these 2 a little further, well find that their meanings also have a sense of inhabiting something. In short, were commanded to let the Word of Christ be completely and comfortably abounding in us.
The first way is to be controlled by alcohol and when somebody is controlled by alcohol, they act out of their nature. Wherein is excess tells us again that this person gives the control of their body over to alcohol. Whether in Bible times or today, I can only imagine that the result is the same when abused and drank in excess. Maybe some of us here have seen the way a person acts when they are drunk. When somebody is filled or controlled by wine, they allow the alcohol to influence the way they talk, the way they walk, the way they think, and to control the way their body acts. I remember when I was younger, I was with someone who drank A LOT and they were NOT in control of their body. In fact, they woke up in the middle of the night, vomiting. There was so much alcohol in their system that their body wanted to get rid of it and even though they werent conscience of what was going on, their body was reacting. In contrast to this type of control is the control of the Holy Spirit. When somebody is filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit, there is also an aspect of allowing the Holy Spirit to control. Its very, very difficult to plainly explain to someone how to allow and to let the Holy Spirit lead. The Holy Spirit works in different ways in each persons life so my experiences and how the Holy Spirit works in my life might not be the same working in your life, but it is VERY important to pray and to set our affections on things above and to make wise decisions where Christ has the preeminence. When our minds and affections are set on things above, well want to seek things above more and more.
Col. 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Col. 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
These 3 verbs in verse Colossians 3:19, speaking, singing, and making are all direct results of being filled with the spirit. Christ-honoring music will naturally flow out of the Spirit-filled believer, if we are yielded. We will be speaking to ourselves in Psalms, Hymns, and spiritual songs and more importantly singing and making melody in our HEARTS to the Lord.
Lets first look at the result to speak to ourselves in Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual songs. The WORDS in the hymns that we sing came from great trials that the Lord used in the authors lives. The great hymn O Love that Wilt not let me go written by a man called to the ministry and his fiancé left him because she didnt want to be married to a blind preacher. It is well with my Soul, one of my favorite hymns, written by a man (Horatio Spafford) that lost his only son to pneumonia at the age of 4,lost his life savings during the great Chicago fire in 1871, and finally, losing his 4 daughters on a shipwreck. More recently, Ron Hamiltons song Rejoice in the Lord was written in result of losing his eye to cancer. Many Hymns and songs like these are an encouraging testimony of devotion and honor to the Lord, and in the Bible, were told to comfort and edify one another. (1 Thess. 5:11)
The next result were told about is that we will be singing and making melody in our hearts TO the Lord. Only the Lord can see our heart attitude towards him and he comforts us here, by telling us that when we are filled with his glorious Holy Spirit, our hearts will sing and make melodies TO the Lord. We can read about the testimony of singing TO the Lord in Acts 16. The filling of the Holy Spirit results in singing TO our God. Our joy in the Lord is based on the relationship we have in Him. This is illustrated for us in Acts. Paul and Silas were wrongfully imprisoned, stripped and beaten, and shackled to a dirty dungeon. No one that I know would be happy in those circumstances.
Acts 16:22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.
Acts 16:23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:
Acts 16:24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
Act 16:25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
There is no doubt in my mind that the prison guards heard a clear presentation of the gospel. Maybe Paul and Silas sang songs of personal testimony similar to Amazing Grace that saved a wretch like me or Burdens are lifted at Calvary or maybe there was a first century hymn similar to the one we sing. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let this blest assurance control, whatever my lot though hast taught me to say, It is well, It is well, with my soul.
As was mentioned earlier, Christ-Honoring music is a result that directly stems from great trials of the faith and even though there was no upside to Paul and Silas' earthly circumstance, there was NOTHING that take away the joy in their HEARTS.