Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Keys to Fulfilled Christianity - Spirit filled and Bible filled

Ephesians 5:18-19 - "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord."

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 

Introduction & Review:
Unless you and I are finding our fulfillment in Jesus Christ, we won't experience nor retain fulfillment. With that said, Colossians 3:15-17 gives us the specific keys to fulfilled Christianity. Another epistle written at the same time as Colossians, Ephesians, as similar statements in Ephesians 5:18-21 that we find here in Colossians 3:15-17, therefore we will include Paul's remarks from that epistle in this post.  In yesterday's post we looked at the first key: Christ's Lordship. Whenever you and I are yielded to His Lordship, there will be peace. Frankly this is the only way in which we can fulfill the command of Colossians 3:15 - "Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart".

Point of Application: So what are the keys to fulfilled Christianity? To answer that question we will spell it out in the point of application for today's post: The keys to fulfilled Christianity are Christ's Lordship, the Holy Spirit, the scriptures and thankfulness. We looked at the first key: Christ's Lordship and in today's post I want us to consider two more keys: The Spirit filled life and the Bible-filled life.

Key #2 to the fulfilled Christian life - Spirit filled
You may have noticed in the opening verses of today's post that both Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:18-19 are worded very similarly. Why is that? Because both were composed at roughly the same time and location (Paul's Roman imprisonment, under house arrest). The Holy Spirit of course comes to indwell the believer at salvation as promised by Jesus in passages such as John 14:17, 15:26 and 16:12-15. Further study reveals that the Holy Spirit indwells Christians individually (1 Corinthians 3:16) and corporately as His temple (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Ephesians 2:22) The indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit entails Him shedding light upon the scriptures (1 Corinthians 2:10-13; 1 John 2:20,27), an act which is also called "illumination". Included in the Spirit's indwelling work is that of reminding the believer of their adoption as a son or daughter of God. (Romans 8:16).  To say that the Holy Spirit indwells me means I enjoy the permanency of salvation is promised by Jesus, rooted in the Father's choosing and affirmed to me by the Spirit Himself in the scriptures.

Indwelling is a one time act that occurs at salvation. As a Christian, I will get all of the Holy Spirit I am ever going to get. He is after all infinite by His shared Deity with the Father and Son, and you cannot add nor subtract from Someone who is by nature infinite. However, when we speak of the Spirit-filled life, the issue becomes "how much of me does the Holy Spirit have"? The Spirit-filled life entails being controlled by the Spirit, rather than the sinful flesh. (Galatians 5:16-18). This battle between the will of one's flesh or sinful, ungoverned desires and the Spirit must be fought by every believer, everyday. (Romans 8:1-5). Either we are going to be full of the Spirit or full of ourselves, resulting in confusion and inability to find fulfillment in Jesus Christ. (see 1 Corinthians 3:1-4). To be filled by the Holy Spirit means to be under His influence and thus is a repeated, commanded experience every Christian must undergo if they are to achieve fulfillment. 

Whenever we heed the command of Paul to be "filled with the Holy Spirit", we will be able to have that music of the soul, that song of salvation that accompanies vibrant Christianity. The Holy Spirit does not desire merely to be a guest in town, but the Sherriff of our hearts. When you read the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23, you understand why the fulfilled Christian life requires the filling of the Spirit: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." So we have seen that the Spirit-filled life is required for fulfillment in the Christian life, however let us consider one more key for today, namely...

Key #3 to the fulfilled Christian life - Bible filled
Colossians 3:16 states "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God." Now as we noted already, this verse and the command to be filled with the Holy Spirit are worded very similarly. Consequently we can say further that to the degree we fill ourselves with the Word will determine how much we are able to be Spirit-filled. 

There is no doubt that the number one way to fill yourself with the Word is to commit it to memory. Joshua 1:8 commands us to "meditate on the Book of the Law" day and night. Psalm 119:11 urges the reader to "hide the Word" in their heart that sin may not result. Whenever the Word of God is dwelling in me richly, it is because I have taken in the words of God as residents of my soul. To take in the scriptures yields the same results as being Spirit-filled, which is why both go hand in hand.

Perhaps an illustration is in order. This past year my wife purchased for me a bag of my favorite coffee: Jamaican Blue. Now this is no ordinary coffee. As the story goes, it grows on one side of a mountain in Jamaica that is only accessible by donkey. Its price is only exceeded by its taste. Whenever we brew a pot of that coffee, the scent wafts its way throughout the house.  That scent carries with it influence, flavor and the potential for an eye-opening experience in a cup. Now by this point what would be the logical step be for me after that coffee pot has concluded its brewing of that luxurious black gold? To take it in of course. 

See, the scent and the process of ingesting the physical coffee go hand in hand. To not drink the coffee would be unthinkable, and yet we do that to our Bibles all the time. We claim we want God's mind, and yet we fail to open up the very book which is the "mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16). 

Closing thoughts:
For today I would like to close with a quote from Charles Stanley's Book "The Wonderful Spirit-filled Life". In that book, Dr. Stanley ties together the necessity of the Spirit-filled life and spending time in the scripture as keys to a fulfilled Christianity: "If you can read this book and are not reading your Bible, you will never experience the Spirit-filled life with any consistency. Your Christian experience will for the most part be a subjective search for truth within the limited realm of your thoughts. Your conscience will never be a totally reliable guide since you are not renewing it to the truth of the Holy Spirit. And the peace of God will elude you. The Bible is the Holy Spirit's most objective way of communicating with His people." Dr. Stanley then closes with this thought: "If you want to know what the Holy Spirit thinks about something, read the Bible." 

More tomorrow.... 

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