November 15, 2013
I have always been intrigued with the words written in red in my red-letter edition of the New Testament. These are, of course, the recorded words spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ. I realize, Biblically speaking, that His words are no more inspired of God than those written in black and are no more necessary to our Christian growth than those written by Paul, Peter, James, John, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and all the rest. But for some unexplained reason, I always slow down when I read the words of Jesus. I guess I unconsciously feel compelled to read them a little more carefully. This became even more pronounced as I grew in my understanding of the true identity of my beloved Savior. He is truly God manifest in human flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up into glory” (1 Tim. 3:16). He is the member of the Holy Trinity that created this entire universe, and He is the One who created me (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:15-16; Heb. 1:1-2). It is understandable that one should be in awe of His creator.
Recently I was teaching once again the miraculous controlling ministry of God the Holy Spirit from Ephesians 5:18: “And do not be drunk with wine in which is dissipation (excess) but be (being) filled with the Holy Spirit.” What is the evidence that the Holy Spirit’s ministry is active in us? We will have a song in our heart. We will speak with other Christians in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, and we will make melody in our hearts to the Lord. God gives us a song. Singing is followed by a thankful attitude toward God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and a submissive spirit toward one another motivated by an admiration of God (Eph. 5:19-20). The end game is a family relationship marked by submission, love, and respect (Eph. 5:21-6:9).
Colossians is almost a photocopy of Ephesians. A parallel passage to Ephesians 5:18 is Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.” Christ’s rich indwelling words from this passage produce the same result in us as the control of the Spirit in the previous passage. What are the results of letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly? It results in our wisdom and our teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord. What follows is a thankful heart to God the Father through Jesus Christ. And, as we would expect, strong family relationships result (Col. 3:17-25). The pattern is a perfect match.
There is no difference in effect between the controlling ministry of the Spirit and the indwelling word of Christ. Both produce exactly the same results in us. Is the “indwelling word of Christ” referring to the God-breathed words written in the entire Bible? Most commentaries say that it is. Or does Paul mean by “Christ’s word” that which He communicates to us by His special words written in red? Asked another way, could not the truth contained in what Christ teaches be referred to as “the word of Christ?”
I have memorized many of Christ’s recorded words. I find myself meditating on them often. When visiting people in the hospital who are struggling with health problems – sometimes life and death issues – or people in nursing homes who are at times lonely, I am compelled by the Spirit of God to pray audibly the powerful words written in red in the Bible. Folks seem to be comforted by hearing them. I sense that these powerful words meet a need in the life of the hearer. I completely agree with the officer’s testimony who heard Jesus speak. “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (John 7:46).