Colossians 3:12-17 (Pt. 2 – The Christian Life and Preaching)
Well, you remember, don’t you, that Paul exhorts us, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” That’s what we are to do as Christians. We are to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly.
And already, we need to understand something that Paul is exclaiming here. He uses the phrase, “the word of Christ” to declare to us that not only is Christ the Author of the word, but it’s the word about Christ.
Believer, what is the Bible from Genesis to Revelation about? It is about Christ. It is about the Redeemer; it is about God so loving the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believed in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. It’s a word about Christ.
In the second half of Acts 10, we meet a God-fearing Roman centurion named Cornelius. He is finally meeting the Apostle Peter in the city of Caesarea. God had brought them together remarkably and supernaturally. So Cornelius (who had been expecting Peter for about four days) gathered all the believers of the city into a room, and there in verse 33, said, “We are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”
We might be tempted to pass that comment right over, but that is a robust statement from this God-fearing man. Cornelius, as he assembled everyone together and spoke these words to Peter, was sure of one thing through the preaching of the Word, God was going to speak.
It shows us very quickly that preaching is not some outdated form of communication. It’s not an ineffective means to proclaim a message. No, it is the best thing we do when we gather together as a people of God.
The goal of preaching is to say what God says. Nothing more and nothing less. We are not here to listen to me, or any other preacher for that matter, expound political views, give book or movie reviews, or even tell unnecessary stories. No, we are here to listen to God speak. So preaching is always an explaining of what the Bible says and an application of that gospel-truth.
But what’s happening when a sermon is being preached? What is happening at the Word of Christ is dwelling richly in you? Simply, the answer is that God is active, and we see how he is active and what he is doing here in our text.
The Word of Christ Convicts the Heart
When we hear the word read and preached, we hear God speaking. And as our holy God speaks, he reveals to us our sin. Think about that for a moment; the word of Christ exposes sin as sin. It shows us the sins we are enticed by; the sins we struggle with; the sins we need to put to death.
This is what the Word does: it exposes our sinful condition. It exposes our desire for independence from God; it exposes our rebellion against him.
In our sin, we say that we will be the final authority in our life. We say that we will decide what is right and wrong for me, what is good and bad for me, and what is true and false for me. The Word preached doesn’t allow for this sort of thinking.
But it doesn’t stop with a realization of sin, for preaching always has an invitation to come. So, we need to hear that there is deliverance from this sin that we struggle with day-by-day. We need to hear that this is why Christ came and died in our place. We need to hear that he rose victorious over the grave. We need to hear that the free offer of the gospel still stands. We need to hear that we are justified by faith in Jesus Christ.
The Word of Christ Renews the Mind
Now, there is another thing that the preaching of the word of Christ does, and this phrasing comes from another letter that Paul writes. In Romans 12: 1-2, the Apostle writes, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.”
Paul here is talking about your life being based on God’s divine Word, not ruled by the culture around you. You’re not dominated by the “social norms,” but by God’s Word. We must have minds not dominated by the prevailing thoughts about what’s acceptable around them. It’s dominated by what God says in His word.
And if we keep that text, Romans 12: 1-2 before us. Paul goes on to say how that happens in the next phrase,” Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
This call of holiness involves an inside out transformation. The Christian life flows from a renewed inner man and brought about by a recreated mind and heart under the control and influence of the word of God. Be transformed. Paul is interested in the inner life. He knows that true religion flows from a renewed inner life.
We have to be transformed in order to live the Christian life. Well, how is it transformed? Through being brought captive to the word of God.
And that ties in perfectly to the last point I want to mention because a renewed mind moves to action.
The Word of Christ Strengthens the Will
You have not really listened to the Word if you have not obeyed the Word. Does that make sense? You have not really listened to the Word if you have not obeyed the Word. The Word of God preached forces action; if there is not action, then clearly there has been no acceptance to what it says. This is crucial to our faith. Those who truly love Jesus completely obey Jesus.
What powerful words. So often, we are just listeners. But, it has to be more than that! The Christian life is doing what God’s Word says.
How do we obey God’s Word? The answer is not that you muster up obedience to the best of your ability. No, the answer is that we quickly receive the Word preached with meekness, then we constantly remember it day by day, hiding it in your heart. As you do this, that Word which initially gave you new life as a Christian will work in and through you and move you to follow His commandments.
So, the question is, why is preaching so crucial in the Christian life? Because preaching is the means through which God works within us. So, we need to not only love the preached word, but we need to receive it. And believer, that takes some preparation on our part.
I want to point you to the Westminster Larger Catechism as it gives us some points of advice on how to be hearers of God’s Word:
- Our first duty as hearers is to hear it; to be present each and every week.
- We must be actively involved in hearing the WORD read and preached merely occupying a seat in the sanctuary does not fulfill our duty. Ask what this passage has to say to you as you listen to the preached Word.
- We should come prepared: not filling our minds with the matters of the world but on Christ; not letting the sermon compete with sports, movies, or politics, but focusing only on the Scriptures that are being expounded before us.
- Pray: for the pastor in his preparation and preaching that the Holy Spirit would guide him and his preaching and for others to receive the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
- Examine what you hear in light of Scripture.
- And finally, meditate on it, discuss it with others and hide it in our hearts. And show the fruit of it in our lives.