Let the Word of Christ Dwell in You Richly
Thistletown Baptist Church
August 17, 2008
To listen to the sermon, go to the Internet Archive page, or use the player below.
We are looking at some texts that speak to two things – the matter of revival and the matter of how our purpose statement fleshes itself out. We are looking at both of these things because they amount to the same thing. We will never declare, from our hearts, in word and deed, the magnificent worth of God… in the way that we should if our hearts are not what they ought to be. And our hearts will never be what they should be if God does not come and do something that will really turn us around, wake us up, set us afire, get us back to Him.
Revival is a work of God. We cannot revive ourselves. Only God can take a heart that is cold and warm it. Only God can take a heart that is carnal and spiritualise it. Only God can take a heart that is dead and enliven it. But as much as that is true we never see God reviving people who do not have some warmth and some spirituality and some life. Revival is not conversion. In a real revival God will bring conversion. But conversions are the result of revival. To revive means to give life again to that which is already alive. It means that those who are in Christ become more like Christ. Revival is not what Rexdale needs. Revival is what the church in Rexdale needs. It is what you and I need. And when it happens God will save this community through us who are truly alive in Him. Revival comes through the things that God provides for us to use for our spiritual good.
Last week – John 13:35 … Here is the primary mark of revival. A group of God’s people who love each other the way that Christ loves them – I Jn. 3:16, Eph. 5:25, Rom. 5:8, … When we love each other like that then we have revival and we will have conversions. Dear ones – do you really want this community, or your neighbourhood to turn to Christ in faith? It starts with how you think about, speak about, speak to your fellow Christians – not the ones in the church down the street, but the ones in this room right now with you. When we love like John 13:35 we will be in revival.
“Just get along” some could say was the subject of last week’s message as we began considering what living out our purpose statement might look like. Love one another. JUST do that and all will be well. The problem with that is that it denies the need for the Gospel. Oh yes, we know that no one can be truly loving except that love come from the Christ who lives within, but if all we say is “let’s be more loving” we have not communicated anything distinctive about the Gospel to anyone. It was not a Christian who wrote “What the world needs now is love sweet love …”, it was a Jew. The world knows that love would cure the world’s ills. The Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, atheist … all will agree with the statement that what this world needs more of is love. So we must not be content to leave it at that. We need to make the call for love a Christian call. The love that Christians have for one another is a love built on a foundation. The foundation is the Gospel. That is why, so often when we are commanded in the NT to love one another it is unequivocally connected to the Gospel, to the cross. The cross is the crucial issue. (In fact our word “crucial” comes from the Latin word “crux” which means “cross” – crucial means “of a critical or decisive nature”)
2 Thes. 1:3 (ESV)
We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.
Hebrews 10:19-21 (ESV)
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,  by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,  and since we have a great priest over the house of God ,… let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, …
1 Peter 1:22-23 (ESV)
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,  since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;
1 John 3:23 (ESV)
And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
1 John 4:7-12 (ESV)
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
2 John 1:4-7 (ESV)
I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.  And now I ask you, dear lady- not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning- that we love one another.  And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.  For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.
Dear ones, we are simply not interested in living a life that has the admiration of the community but does not have its foundation in the cross of Jesus Christ. In fact, an admirable life absent of the cross of Christ is not a Christian life at all and ends people up in hell. The person who stands before God and maintains that he should be allowed entrance into the presence of God based on his love for mankind, no matter who they are, is going to be sent away from God for eternity. And, just so that we are clear about this – it is possible to live morally, maintain a love for Jesus and still not be saved. Let us not forget those false Christians of Matthew 7:21-23. How do they refer to Jesus? “Lord, Lord” These people are not surprised to be standing before Jesus. They knew they would. And they knew they would be welcomed in. They would have said they loved Jesus. Their call to Jesus in Matthew 7 is orthodox, that is, it is an accurate description of who Jesus is, what Jesus is, His sovereignty … – but they still do not enter into the K’dom – because they do not know God through faith alone in Christ alone … . The cross is the crucial crux of the matter. The Person and work of Christ is always the issue. Dear ones I don’t be numbered with the people of Matthew 7:21-23.
The love we have that shows that we are Christ’s disciples is not a love that hangs on nothing. It hangs on the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross, dear ones, the cross. The cross is the issue. It is the central issue. It is the one issue from which all other issues depend. No cross, no glory. No cross no church. No cross no showing love to one another and nothing to show a lost world.
How do we know about the cross? How do we know it is the focal point? How do we know it is the thing from which all other things fall? How do we know that it is the crucial issue in everything Christian? How do we know that we are to love one another? How do we know anything we know about the Christian faith? Because the Bible tells us so.
This morning we read from Paul’s letter to the Colossians.
Paul had never met the Colossians by the time he wrote them this letter. But he had heard about them and he had heard that false teachings were being taught in the Colossian church. So he wrote them this letter to make sure they did not believe the false things they were being taught.
What did he write to keep them from falling? He wrote them about the supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ as opposed to other things that they were being taught.
The Book of Colossians can roughly be divided into three main sections: 1) The supremacy of Christ[ 1:9-2:6 – key 1:18], 2) the errors of the false teachers [2:7-23 – key 2:8], 3) Christian living as God says in contrast to the false teachers and in agreement with the supremacy of Christ[3:1-4:6 – key 3:1]. This 3rd section amounts to saying what we should be doing as opposed to what false teachers teach.
In this 3rd section Paul gives some basic principles about how Christians ought to live:
1-4 – where their heads should be focussed.
5-11 – what they must not do
12-17 – what they must do instead
This 3rd section is where we find ourselves this morning – how Christians ought to live as opposed to what certain other philosophies might say we are to live. And in that 3rd section I want to focus on one verse in the verses 12-17. Verse 16 – “…”.
Are you following all this? We exist “to declare …”. We can’t do that if we do not love one another like Christ loved us. But if we do not attach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the reason we love one another, we have done nothing. We need to attach some meat to the bone of “love one another…” and that meat comes from the Scriptures. Paul wrote the Colossians to make sure they were not deceived into false teachings and he told them something that relates to us living to declare the worth of God to a dying world and to each other.
Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly…
“Word of Christ”- This phrase can mean two things:
“The word [or message] proceeding from Christ, the Word that comes from Christ” or “the word [or message] about Christ, the Word that points to Christ” but does it not amount to the same thing? The word proceeding from Christ – the written word of God is the word that has, as its primary theme, Jesus Christ. It comes from Him and it is about Him. The Word of Christ is the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed by Christ to us through the Spirit and inspired by Christ as the Written Word of God. The theme of this message from Christ is – Christ.
So the Word of Christ is the revealed Word of God but not merely the word of God. It is the Word of God as it exalts and deals with and educates us about Jesus Christ and His work and – oh – that would be the whole Bible. Luke 24:25-27, Acts 8:32-35.
Now dear ones – can you do what Jesus did with the two disciples in Luke 24? No? Then you need to have the word of Christ dwell in you more richly.
“dwell” – in + house – to live in, to make one’s home in, see II Cor. 6:16, Rom. 8:11, II Tim. 1:14, II Tim. 1:5, Rom. 7:17
The force of the verb is – “Keep on letting the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.”
Have you seen “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader”? The premise – … . What the producers know is that since you were in grade 5 there is an awful lot that you have forgotten. In grade five I had to memorize all the counties of New Brunswick and their Shire towns. You think I can do that now? Of course not. Why not? Because I was in grade five a very long time ago and knowing the counties of NB is not something that I have needed ever in my life – so I let it go from my memory banks and it is gone. Don’t think that the same thing won’t happen to you with the Word of God if you do not constantly make sure that you are putting it in.
Bonus Point for the Day – Note in this verse what will happen if we let the Word of Christ dwell in us … . Compare that to Ephesians 5:18f. What will happen when we are filled with the Holy Spirit? What will happen when we are filled with the Word of Christ (Col. 3:16)? There is an awful lot that can be said about this but for now we just note this: There will be no filling of the Holy Spirit where there is not the Word of Christ dwelling in us richly. In fact, the two phrases may mean exactly the same thing. Far too many people going around trying to get filled with the Spirit who are not taking up their time getting their minds and hearts filled with the Scriptures and the message of the Gospel. We are talking about revival. Revival will happen when we have an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon us. And the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon us when we get into the Bible and study it and have it change us and grip us and when we know it and memorize it and obey it and live it out day by day. Do you pray to be filled with the Spirit? Do you follow that up with serious study of the Word of God? Don’t read? Get the Bible on CD or tape. Get into a Bible study. Talk about the Scriptures with other believers. Get under the sound of the preaching of the Word regularly and consistently and ask the preacher questions … . This is where the filling comes form. I have been accused of not having a Spirit filled ministry. Our church has been accused of being absent of the Holy Spirit. If the Bible is read and preached and heard and believed and obeyed then we have a Spirit filled worship of God in this place. See 2:18 – what is the cure for that? Having the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Dear ones – don’t be going off looking for visions and dreams and revelations from God. God has given us a revelation – the Bible – and if we will let it dwell in us richly we will be filled with the Holy Spirit. It won’t be as spectacular as some say it is. It won’t necessarily be accompanied with miracles and wonders as some say it always must – but it will be life changing and it will be noticeable and it will result in the Gospel being delivered more like it should be and it will have the smile of God upon it.
Psalm 36:1 – Sin lurks deep in the hearts of the wicked, forever urging them on to evil deedsi And what is to dwell deep in our, as opposed to the hearts of the wicked, will be Christ’s word. And note it well dear ones – it cannot be both. If it is not one, it will be the other.
“The exhortation is to the effect that the Christian is to so yield himself to the Word that there is a certain at-homeness of the Word in his being. The Word should be able to feel at home in his heart. The saint should give it unrestricted liberty in his heart.”
“dwell in you richly” – “He would have the doctrine of the gospel be fully known to them” – John Calvin. In the days in which Calvin lived and wrote those words the Roman Catholic church was teaching that it was wrong to allow the Bible to be put into the hands of non-clergy. Calvin’s point here was that the NT encourages what the RC church was forbidding and that every believer should be allowed to get into the Word. Did you pick that up dear one? Every Christian should be allowed to study the Word. Do you rise every morning with thanks that you are permitted t o open the Bible and read it for yourself? Or is your attitude that this is something you MUST do as a duty to God and if you don’t you’ll be sorry? This book is God speaking and for Him to allow us to even pay attention to what He is saying is an immense privilege.
Amos 8:11-12 (ESV)
“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God,
“when I will send a famine on the land-
not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of the Lord.
 They shall wander from sea to sea,
and from north to east;
they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord,
but they shall not find it.
This, dear ones is what should frighten us more than anything. It happened in the life of Israel that Amos was talking to. For 400 years they had no prophet, no one able to truthfully say “thus saith the Lord”. And when God did finally speak to them what did He do? He sent His Son into the world to save it. And now we have the Word of Christ and we are called to have it live in us richly.
“in you” – in the community of the faithful. The church is to be filled with the word. They are to commune with it. The church is to imbibe it. It is to fill the church, the people of God. It is no Christian church that is not permeated by the Word of God. It is to be an integral part of all that we do as a church. Revival will not come and we will never “declare from our hearts…” if we are not, as a church, doing all that we can to have this word dwell in us richly.
One of the goals of the leadership of this church is that every person who makes TBC his church home is involved, at some level, in a Bible study that helps them know the Bible better, live it better. A church where people discuss the Truth of the Word of God and grow by it.
Get into a Bible study – make no doubt about it dear ones – if you are not engaged in a Bible study of some sort with other true believers in Jesus Christ – you are not growing as a Christian should – PERIOD. You can look good, sound pious … But you need to interacting with others around the Word of God or you are going backwards. Right now we have several Bible studies of one variety or another taking place. If none of them fit then lets make some more. Every Christian in this room right now should be meeting with other Christians sometime around the Word of God in a small group type setting before we meet again next Sunday. Do it as a family.
You young people who say church is boring. Part of the problem is you are never discussing the Bible with other young people. You are not getting your questions answered. You are not coming after church to ask questions. You need to interact with other people and with the Bible in order for it to come alive for you and cease to be something that you endure. The Bible does not have to be something you endure. It (and the morning church service) can be something you enjoy, find exciting, challenging … . But you absolutely must get into the Scriptures together. There may be some things that we need to do to help you find the Bible and the worship of God more interesting, but there is also this: you need to show that you really are a Christian by getting into the Bible yourself and disciplining yourself to pay attention in church and interacting with the Scriptures and coming to the Q&A after church or calling me or some other mature believer and asking your questions.
Parents listen – make Deut. 6:4-9 (ESV) the mark of your parenting
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
It is not inevitable that we lose our kids to a godless culture with a godless philosophy. The Word of God IS quick and powerful – get it into your kids, so that it dwells in them richly.
“Richly” – not haphazardly, not in a shallow manner, not poorly, not partially..
plousiws – richly, abundantly, I Tim.. 6:17, Titus 3:6, II Pet. 1:11
Dear ones you must never be content with the degree to which you are indwelt by the Word of God. There is always room for more.
“In all wisdom” – ah there is no end to the people who get a little bit of Bible knowledge in their heads and ruin people with it (eg. Check out the “real bad theology” in Phil Johnson’s web site). And Paul knows that is the case, so he adds – “in all wisdom”. The Colossians have already been taught some pretty bad stuff (See 2:16-23) and he wants to make sure they don’t do more of it themselves.
No end to the number of people who read, read, read, talk, talk, talk and yet never show any real signs of putting all their knowledge into real Christian living. And that is very foolish. A definition of foolish?
Ephes. 5:17-19 (ESV)
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,  addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart,
Dear ones do you see it? It is a sin not to know the will of God. How will I find out what the will of God is? Be filled with the Spirit. What does that mean? It means get the Word of Christ – the Bible, the teachings about Jesus Christ, who He is and what He did and what He is doing – in us richly, deeply, powerfully. It means listening to all that Jesus Christ says to us through His Word and being empowered by Hm, through His Spirit, to live it out for the praise of His glory.
Now then – didn’t Paul know that these Colossians had a real life to live? Yes he did. And he wanted to make sure that they lived it well – no matter what they were going through. And that is what Christ wants for us too. This is not irrelevant stuff. This is what you need in a work place that stinks. This is what oyu need if you don’t have a workplace. This is what you need in your home and this is what we need in our church.
How you doing dear ones? You need help with this? Come and talk to me. Call me. Let us all work together with the goal of having this church TBC be a church that has the Word of Christ dwelling in us richly so that, as verse 17 says
Col. 3:17 (ESV)
[that] whatever [we] do, in word or deed, [we] do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.