Colossians 3.16 — Dwelling in Richness: the Beauty of Worship
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
A June 25, 2008 Associated Press article from Guthrie, OK, recounts a brave little girl. The girl’s mother taught her to call 911 for help with a simple little song. The song literally became a lifesaver when the pregnant mother fainted. The little girl took the phone and punched the correct buttons because of the song. The girl was even able to answer questions to guide the paramedics to the right location. I mention that story to illustrate the power that music possesses. God, the creator of music, knew the power music would have over us, and He uses music to teach us the importance and power of His Word in the believer’s life.
Our text focuses upon the believer’s worship, especially as it concerns how we relate to each other. In every group of people, inter-personal conflicts will inevitably arise. This reality is found even in Christ’s Church. Paul approaches the handling of inter-personal conflicts in verses twelve to fifteen. “12) So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13) bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14) Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15)Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” The only way that Christians can cooperate, defer to each other, is when Christ is held supreme in the church’s life and worship. Nothing on earth is more beautiful than a church which operates in the unity of Christ.
Paul discusses the worship of the church in verses sixteen and seventeen. Having just described the ideal behavior of the Christian, Paul gives the method by which the ideal is achieved. Paul points the Christian back to Christ. As one reads Christ’s word, He understands the heart of God. Paul described the heart of God in Colossians 1.19-20. “19For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” Christ, the express image and fulness of God bodily, set a perfect pattern for us to follow; the pattern is recorded in God’s Word. As we follow Christ’s word, we will worship in the beauty of perfection. Christ’s word must be the central focus of all public and private worship.
Christ’s Word should be used abundantly in the worship of the believer. W. R. Nicholson writes in his classic commentary on Colossians, “Study the Scriptures, get your ideas of Christ from them, keep your soul full of them… Acquaintance with and realization of the scriptural ideas of Christ will insure both the truthfulness and thoroughness of service to God.”1 We ought to immerse ourselves in Christ’s Word. The Bible is not something we simply add to our reading list; it is not something that is read like a novel or a history book. The Bible reveals Christ to us. The Bible was given by God’s omnipotent power to cleanse our lives. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.” (Psalm 119.9)
As we immerse ourselves in God’s Word, we must apply the person and work of Christ accurately to our lives. Christ is not just a wonderful person. He is not just our Saviour. He is our prophet, priest, and king. As prophet, He warns of the error of pride and sin. As priest, He ever lives to intercede for you, praying for you unceasingly. As king, He controls and reigns over your life. We cannot just add a little bit of Christ to our lives. Christ is not just a good luck charm. Christ is not an ordinary man; He is not a buddy. Christ is the Holy God. He is the only begotten. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We learn of our Servant King as we read God’s Word.
When the word of Christ is used wisely, we will understand what to teach and how to warn. Only the word of Christ can teach us what is right and warn us of what is wrong. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “16) All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17) so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
The word of Christ should also be used musically. Public worship will nearly always feature the performance of music. Music that truly honors Christ is characterized several ways in this verse. First, Christ-honoring music exalts the person and work of Christ. Second, the music is wise, in that it exalts Christ as He truly is rather than as we consider Him to be. Third, Christian music educates and even warns. Good Christian music will teach us the great doctrines of the Bible, but it also warns. Fourth, Christian music must be sung to the Lord. The world views music as entertainment. When a musician performs, he entertains the audience. Christian music is not for the purpose of entertainment. Christian music is distinct because it is for the sole purpose of praising God. As in all other aspects of worship, God is the primary audience. We do not sing to please men; we sing to please God. We are not singing an ordinary song; we are singing an extraordinary song. Thus, we ought not use common music; our music ought to be extraordinary and different. It ought to be distinctly Christian, not just in lyrics but in sound and rhythm. Because Christ is great and supreme, we ought to seek the greatest music we can offer. Worship of Christ is the most supreme activity, and we ought to use music that reflects the majesty and glory of Christ.
The greatest action you may do on this earth is worship. There is nothing more thrilling, joyous, and noble than worship. What a new light this fact sheds on our lives when we consider that everything we do is worship. Involving our entire being, we live an abundant life in the Word of Christ, wisely applying what we have learned of Christ in His Word so that Christ and His fulness express themselves even in our joyful songs. Worship is not just for church; it is your daily occupation. In order to worship properly, you must do so by living in the Word of Christ. Give yourself to the Bible. Treasure it. Delight in it. Immerse yourself in it, for, as you do, you immerse yourself in Christ.
What are your thoughts on this verse?
What kinds of effects does Christian music have upon the believer?
In what ways does the Scripture encourage? warn?
How can a believer make the Bible dwell abundantly in his/her life?