The Details of v16
Paul writes, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, these clear instructions to this group of Christians who have a new position and life in Christ that comes out of them in every aspect of life. When they gather together to worship, things are supposed to look a certain way because of their being in Christ. He mentions the function of music in the new life of the believer in this verse, so it is important that we look at the details. We have just looked at the passage with a magnifying glass. Now we get out the microscope.
- Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly:
- Word of Christ: Specifically, the gospel, contained in the Scriptures. We learned from John 1 that Jesus is the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us, and from Hebrews that long ago God spoke through the prophets and through many ways, but in these last days he has spoken through his son, Jesus. We know from Romans 10 that faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of Christ, or the gospel. The entirety of Scripture is about the gospel, or the message of redemption and entrance into the kingdom of God that has come in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Paul is saying that this truth contained in the Scriptures of God, centered upon Jesus Christ is to dwell in us richly. What does that mean?
- Dwell in you: To live in, to spiritually be at home in. To take up residence.
- Richly: Abundantly, permeating every part of the believer. I would say, to saturate. The truth of God in Christ is to saturate the being of the believer. How does that happen?
- Teaching & admonishing one another in all wisdom:
- Teaching: Preaching & other doctrinal instruction (2 Timothy 4:2).
- Admonishing: To warn, stimulate and encourage…to counsel. Counseling is the ministry of the church, not a professional with a shingle outside his office. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
- Singing: What kind of singing?
- Psalms: Psalter, or the book of Psalms: Songs like Come Let Us Worship & Bow Down
- Hymns: Augustine has a great definition of a hymn. It is music in the form of praise, directed to God. Vertical, musical theology: O Worship the King
- Spiritual Songs: Testimony songs about what God has done: Amazing Grace.
- Wisdom: this describes the how, or the method in which we teach, admonish and sing. We do all of these things in order to practically apply the truth of God in memorable ways. Preaching should be applied to the heart for life-transformation. That means I explain what the passage means and then what it means for you. If all a teacher or preacher does is say what Greek words mean or include lots of facts about the background of the text and never arrives at any meaning or application of that, all he has given is ingredients, and what you need is a meal. You need to know the point of the text and why that text is changing your life in this moment. In biblical counseling, we apply the Scriptures in intense discipleship, or a focussed application of the Bible in every day existence whether it is uncomfortable or not. So if you are fighting with your spouse over how you spend money maybe you don’t need to learn their love language better. Maybe you need to see that the love of money is the root of all evil and if you serve money rather than Jesus your marriage will wreck. Singing is practical because we sing in English and with certain theological ideas in mind so that the words will be memorable and imprinted in your heart.
- With thankfulness in your hearts: This is the source of worship. Gratitude. We are grateful to God for what he has done for us in the gospel and as that gospel takes root, our worship takes flight. In Romans 11, Paul is finishing his explanation of the glorious redemption plan of God for his people and it is with this Scripture-saturated heart that he cries out, “Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
- To God: This is all directed to God. We sing to God. We aren’t singing because it is pretty. We’re singing to God because we have been taught the Scripture, counseled by the Scripture and our hearts are so filled with the Scripture that we sing it back to God in worship over who he is and what he has done.