Indwelling of the Word of Christ
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…


1. The literal Word of Christ is one of the most wonderful things that ever has been in the world. Not from Roman rostrum, nor in terms of Greek philosophy, nor as a Jewish rabbi, but simply and naturally to simple and ordinary men wherever they could be got together, and as He spake the words seem to root themselves in the heart, and grew a living force in the life of the nation. Then came the alternative that He must keep silence or die; but He went on speaking till lie said, "It is finished." Immediately on His resurrection He began to speak, and when He went away He left nothing behind Him but His Word. At that time His life and death were unknown powers, and He did not leave the least written explanation of them, nor were the Gospels in existence at the time of this Epistle; but there was the Word of Christ in its newness and energy.

2. Whether or not that Word would have lived without a literary embodiment we are not required to settle. For evidently it was Christ's purpose to condense His living speech into writings for the instruction of men. And there is clear reference here to the written as well as the spoken Word. Thus the phrase takes its most comprehensive sense — the gospel — all that is revealed of God for human salvation.

3. Manifestly all this lies solely in the Scriptures. There is authoritative Word of Christ for us nowhere else. But here the Book is all His. He has fulfilled it, explained it, inspired it, made it a living Word from first to last, that He might by His Spirit give it living and blessed applications.

II. ITS INDWELLING. Yield yourselves up as sacred dwellings to be occupied with it.

1. This means that other tenants are not to remain unless in full agreement with this chief dweller. Thoughts and words of men, plans of earthly ambition, pleasures of sin — away! All thoughts are to be ruled, all cares hallowed by it, and all enjoyments made safe and good. It must be this much, or it can be nothing vital. Christ's Word in the morning, selfish prudence all through the day; Christ's Word for religious service, the word of man for the mercantile transaction; Christ's Word for sickness and death, other words for times of health and pleasure; will not do. The tenant will only occupy as sole possessor of the tenement.

2. Let it dwell. There is plenty of it to fill the wonderful house.

(1) Down to the deepest base of life it will go, where passions lurk, and flowing round and through them, it will purge away what is unhallowed, leaving only wholesome forces to strengthen and perfect character.

(2) Into the rooms that lie more open to common day, and more level with the world, where many busy feet come and go — where knowledge gathers her stores, prudence holds her scales, judgment records her decisions, diligence plies her tasks, acquisition counts her gains, and foresight watches the opening future; into all these the living Word will enter, and at her ingress the darkening shadow melts, the wrinkles of care are smoothed, and slippery things cease their blandishments, and injustice and unkindness hide their heads.

(3) Up higher yet, where imagination lights her lamp, and invention stirs her fires, and desire bends the knee, looking upward, and hope sits watching with nothing between her and the stars.

3. Richly — in its best forms and sweetest fragrance, with all its luminous, guiding powers. Fill yourselves with it. Open all the doors, fling wide the windows. You have only to do that. You have not to make the Word: it is nigh thee in thy heart and in thy mouth if thou wilt but let it dwell in thee richly.

4. But here is more than a mere passive allowance. There is a direct appeal to the will and to the activity of the mind. The Word, abundant as it is, will not come to dwell at all without consent and careful and diligent endeavour. Much "wisdom" is needed for the due remembrance and seasonable entertainment of the various parts in order to apply it to meet the wants of life as they arise. In this every man must be his own minister. We do not need the whole Bible every day; we need it as we need corn in the granary, as the lamps by night. There is many a passage in reserve. We glance at them to-day with only a general interest, but the day will come when they will be as thousands of gold and silver. Meantime it is a great matter to know what is daily bread for this day.

(1) Am I in the dark about myself, about the world? Then it will be wise to let the Word of Christ dwell in me as a revelation.

(2) Am I doubting and desponding, finding few signs of grace? Then let me remember the Word of Christ as a word of assured salvation, saving the eyes from tears, the feet from falling, and the soul from death.

(3) Am I, though calmed with forgiveness, very weak, and unfit for continuing the struggle of the nobler life? Then let me take some strong promise, adapted to the need, and drink it up as a tainting man would drink a cordial until I am refreshed.

(4) Am I sorrowing? Can I forget "Let not your heart ,be troubled."(5) Am I passing away from earth and time? More than ever do I need to take Him at His word: "I will not leave nor forsake."

III. THE OUTFLOW. One of the divinest and most necessary truths is that we must give in order to have. The Word of Christ, in order to secure continuance, must be always leaving us. Go among the mountains, and you will see that it is the living stream that flows away; and where it flows the grass is green, and the flowers bloom, and the cattle drink, and the children linger to dip the foot and hear the song. Yet the spring is in no way exhausted. It is fed by the drawing sun, the condensing mountains, the bountiful clouds, the wide sea. Let your inner life, nourished by the indwelling Word, have not ostentatious and noisy, but natural and continuous expression. Its light will come to you from the land of lights. So will you draw from the infinite ocean of Divine love (see vers. 16, 17). A beautiful life; a life of poetry and heart music; a life, too, open alike to all.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart to the Lord.

Colossians Iii. 16, 17
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