Study Notes

Colossians 3:16-17


We have come to a place in Colossians that wonderfully describes the ideal Christian life. The two verses before us this morning are an exhortation to make four things a vital part of our daily lives. They are the Word, Fellowship, Worship, and Service.

3:16-17 The Word Of Christ

The first exhortation Paul gives us is to...

Col. 3:16 Let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you...

You hear me constantly stressing the importance of the Word of God. I am like a broken record when it comes to this. But like the apostle Paul told the Philippians,

Phil. 3:1 ...To write the same things {again} is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.

We cannot emphasize enough how vital the Word of Christ is to the Christian. It is how we are built up in faith, because,

Rom. 10:17 comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

It is how we feed our spirits, for Jesus said,


It gives us direction:

Ps. 119:105 Thy word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path.

It establishes boundaries. Paul wanted the Corinthians to...

1Cor. 4:6 ...learn not to exceed what is written...

It also protects us against the attacks of the enemy. John wrote his first epistle to the young men, saying,

1John 2:14 are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

When the Word of God lives in you, abides in you, dwells in you, you are strong and walking in victory. As the psalmist said,

Ps. 119:11 Thy Word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee.

But how does the Word dwell within you? Some people think that just because they attend a strong, Bible-teaching church that the Word dwells within them. But remember, for something to dwell within, it must first enter, then it must stay there.

Hearing the teaching of the Word of God is important. But we must also be feeding ourselves with the Word, reading it constantly and memorizing it diligently. That is how the Word will dwell within us.

Teaching And Admonishing One Another

It is impossible to obey this next command if you're playing the part of the Christian Lone Ranger. You know the kind: "I've been hurt in church, betrayed by believers. From now on, it's just me and God." I've been there, and I know the feeling. But I also know that God doesn't allow me to make that decision. He makes sure that we are...

Hebr. 10:25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another...

We need the fellowship of other Christians. Not only for friendship, but for accountability and education. We are supposed to be teaching and admonishing one another.

We can all learn from each other, and should never miss the opportunity to learn from another believer.

We are also to admonish. That means to exhort or warn others about pitfalls that can be caused by wrong beliefs, dangerous practices, or certain situations. It is unfortunate that many Christians don't receive admonition well, and often get defensive, angry, or hurt when we lovingly bring certain things to their attention.

As the head of the Children's Ministry at our church in Oregon, I often had to admonish parents about their kids' behavior, and suggest that a Biblical approach to discipline and holiness in the home would make all the difference in the world. Sometimes people were thankful and heard the admonition. Others got upset and felt I was judging them.

The Bible demonstrates that it is the wicked and the hard of heart who do not pay attention to admonitions (Neh. 9:26; 9:34, Psalm 81:8, etc.). As Christians, we do not have a choice to admonish - we are commanded to admonish one another, regardless of how well we believe it will be received. You can certainly understand why the apostle Paul told those he served with to remember...

Acts 20:31 "...that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears."

Sometimes I watch silently as people begin to make decisions that I know will result in difficulties. Guys, some of you are sacrificing your families for your jobs.

Sometimes I say nothing as I watch parents allow ungodliness into their kids' lives. Parents, I cannot warn you enough to unplug the internet and disconnect the cable. Know what music your kids are listening to, and who their friends are.

Sometimes I keep it to myself when I know that I should admonish. And that's a sin which I am confessing to you. I have often broken this commandment of God for the sake of keeping people from getting angry with me.

Singing With Thankfulness

The third exhortation given here is to worship God musically and thankfully. You know, the style of the worship music doesn't matter - it can be an old hymn or a contemporary chorus. It can be quiet and acoustic or loud and electric. The real determination of what is worship is what is in your heart.

Notice the emphasis on thankfulness in this section of Scripture:

Col. 3:15 thankful.

Col. 3:16 ...singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Col. 3:17 thanks through Him to God the Father.

Thankfulness is essential. If you are not thankful to God for saving you, then you don't understand what He saved you from. When you realize the wretchedness of your soul, the terribleness of your sin, and the abundance of God's grace, your heart cannot help but overflow with thankfulness.

We are to take that thankfulness and use it as our motivation for singing. Some people in church think that the music is like the popcorn announcements before the movie. Or the organ before the circus. Or the chuckwagon races before the concert. The music is not the "opening act." It is when we sing to God, pouring out the thankfulness in our hearts to Him.

Do All In The Name Of Jesus

Notice that in this fourth exhortation, Paul tells us that out of our thankfulness comes not only worship, but service. Notice the "do." We are to be "doing." We are to be serving God and His people.

It is no secret that the American church is turning into a consumer-oriented business like McDonalds or Wal-Mart. A vast majority of people are saying, "What can this church do for me? What programs do you have that will meet my family's needs? Does this church do things the way I like?" But in reality, we don't come to the church to be served. We come to serve. That's in fact what the leadership's job description is: to teach you to serve.

Eph. 4:11-12 And He gave some {as} apostles, and some {as} prophets, and some {as} evangelists, and some {as} pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

We're supposed to be teaching you to take your thankfulness and turn it into "doing!"

And so we have these four things: The Word, Fellowship, Worship, and Service. They are all available to you right here in this group of believers. But while we can teach you the Word, it is up to you to cause it to dwell in your heart. While there are lots of other Christians here, it is up to you to teach and admonish each other. While we can worship and sing, it is up to you to pour out your thankful heart to God. And while we can equip you to serve, it is up to you to step forward and "do."

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