Thursday, January 20, 2022

2022.01.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Colossians 3:15–17

Read Colossians 3:15–17

Questions from the Scripture text: What do we have from God (Colossians 3:15a)? What must we let it do and where? To the peace of God also, God has done what to us (verse 15b)? In what? What must we be toward God (verse 15c)? What has God provided by which all this happens (Colossians 3:16a)? Where must it dwell? In what manner? In all of what? By doing what to one another (verse 16b)? In what three types of songs? Singing with what, where, unto Whom (verse 16c)? To what do these instructions apply (Colossians 3:17a)? How must it be done (verse 17b)? What do people who do things in Jesus’s Name always do to Whom, through Whom (verse 17c)? 

The entire Christian life ought to be one of thankfulness. 

In our inner life, Colossians 3:15-16a. The peace of God (verse 15a) is something that we already have with Him in Jesus Christ. But, we are called to make increasing application of that peace in our lives. 

It’s one thing to know what He’s done for us; it’s another thing to have the thoughts, feelings, and decisions of our hearts shaped by what He’s done for us. It’s one thing to know that the hostilities between us and Him have been canceled; it’s another to remember that this happened to us as part of the entire body of all believers, and that we must not maintain any hostility with any of them (verse 15b). It’s one thing to retain the fact of peace with God; it’s another to persist in thankfulness to Him (verse 16c).

How can we maintain such an inner life? By having Christ’s word not only as something that we hear or read or remember about, but as something that dwells in us—indeed, that dwells richly in us.

In our worship lives, Colossians 3:16b–c. Do you want the Word of Christ to dwell richly in you? Then you must follow the prescription of Him Whose Word it is: corporate worship, and especially corporate singing. We know that we are to receive the Word meekly as it is read and preached, as we seek for it to be the “implanted” Word which is able to save our souls (cf. James 1:21). And if we have considered the sacraments scripturally, we know that one of their great purposes is to drive this Word home to us with greater assurance and comfort. But perhaps you have not considered that there is a third part of corporate worship that is designed for the driving home of Christ’s Word into our hearts: corporate song.

To make his case, the apostle marshals three words that come from Psalm-titles in the Greek translation of the Old Testament that the Colossians would have used (“Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs”). Some who don’t know this think that this verse justifies corporate worship songs from outside Scripture, but even they must see that Colossians 3:16a makes it plain that this is referring to singing Christ’s Word, not ours. Others, who know the origin of the words, think that this means that we are only to sing the Psalms. But do they think that we are not to sing those Psalms that lack these words? If we consider all of Scripture to be the Word of Christ, then we are to sing from all of Scripture. Ultimately, the apostle has made His point: by putting songs in His Scriptures, God has made it clear that He has designed our singing of His Word as a mechanism by which His Word dwells richly in our hearts.

But not only is such singing to teach and admonish one another as it aims at our brothers, it must also aim at the Lord. The word “grace” in the original is closely related to the word for “thanks.” God’s grace produces thankfulness in the heart. It is instructive that in the parallel instruction in Ephesians 5:19, the apostle uses the word “melody” (meaning tune, and especially instrumental accompaniment) where the word “grace” appears here in Colossians 3:16. There, Ephesians 5:20 immediately explains that this accompaniment of the heart is “giving thanks.” So, as we address one another with Christ’s Word in corporate singing, the true accompanying instrument is the grace-formed heart as it plays the tune of thankfulness unto God. 

This is the sort of singing that God has designed to make His Word dwell richly in us.

In all of our speech and conduct, Colossians 3:17. Christ’s Word is to be as frontlets between our eyes (cf. Deuteronomy 6:8b), controlling how we think about everything, and as if bound to our hands (cf. Deuteronomy 6:8a), controlling how we do everything. It is not only to be in our hearts (Colossians 3:16a, cf. Deuteronomy 6:6), but continually in our mouths (“in word,” Colossians 3:17a, cf. Deuteronomy 6:7). 

Speaking or doing in the Name of Jesus (Colossians 3:17b) does not mean that we can apply His Name as a label to whatever we wish to say or do. Speaking or doing in the Name of Jesus means that we speak and do only, always according to the Word of Jesus. The peace-ruled heart is a word-filled heart that expresses itself in a word-saturated life. And what is the hallmark of such a life? All speech is spoken with thanks to God through Christ (verse 17c). All actions are done with thanks to God through Christ.

A Christian is someone who has put on Christ (cf. Colossians 3:1–11). What is one of the great hallmarks of such a person? Hearts, songs, and lives of thankfulness to God in Christ!

In which of these areas do you most need to grow in thankfulness? What are you going to do about it?

Sample prayer:  Lord, how we thank You for raising us with Christ, hiding our life with Christ, making Christ our life, and uniting us with Christ. What a glorious peace with Yourself You have given to us in Him! But we have much failed to enjoy and apply that peace. By Your Spirit’s almighty work, make Christ’s Word to dwell richly in us, so that we will live lives of thankfulness to you, we ask in Christ’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP100 “All Earth, with Joy” or TPH488 “May the Mind of Christ My Savior”

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