Faith without WORDS is dead! We are created in the image of a communicating God, and it’s not what goes in the mouth, but what comes out of the mouth that defiles a man (Matthew 15:11). If we believe, we need to confess Jesus is Lord. What comes out of the mouth on a regular basis will reveal whether faith is operating in the Christian life. You can’t believe that all things work together for good to those who love God and then say, “Woe is me, I’m doomed!” You can’t believe that the Lord has made you righteous, and then carelessly speak profanity. Words are expressions of what’s dominating inside.
That’s why it’s so important to have the Word dominating. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). Notice that when the Word dwells richly, we all become teachers! It doesn’t just apply to pastors, but it speaks of teaching and admonishing one another. And it doesn’t say to use sermons, but psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
Does this mean that life is like a musical, and when the need for teaching arises, we break out into song? Wouldn’t that be fun! But it means that we speak with passion and, in a sense, poetry. It doesn’t say to teach with a dry theological lecture. It’s not talking about giving sermons. It’s talking about the general communication that proceeds from love and devotion. We should be so affected by the Word that it causes us to sing. Some people would like to tell us to keep our faith to ourselves, but we can’t keep quiet. It might not be actual singing, but if grace is working in a heart of devotion, it’s going to seek lively expression.
Devotion is different from ‘having devotions.’ It’s good to read devotions and to have set apart times with the Lord. But devotion is a setting of the heart. The heart is fixed in loving God and wanting to please Him. Lots of Christians have devotions. Too many lack devotion.
How to grow devotion
“I guess if I’m honest, my heart lacks that kind of devotion.” That’s when you need to let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Often, good Christian people deal with the Word but it’s only a temporary encounter. The Word comes knocking at their door, say on Sunday or at a Bible Study. They open the door and converse with it. They delight in it. But then it’s time to go, so they smile and shut the door saying, “Enjoyed it, please come again!” Instead, they need to invite it in to stay and live with them. The word dwells by holding on to it in the heart and prizing it. Let it in and govern.
This requires commitment. Devotion will produce commitment, and commitment will in turn grow devotion. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17). Christian commitment applies to both word and deed. There are many believers that do good deeds but they talk like the world. Or they talk as one without hope. There are other believers who say the right things but their actions go contrary to Christ. It’s important to be committed in both word and deed.
Every Christian is a preacher. I don’t mean that they all give sermons and lead churches. But their lives preach. When they prove to be inconsistent with their walk and talk, it sours their witness. It is a bad communication to those who are watching them.
I don’t recommend the old TV show, M*A*S*H, because it sometimes got unwholesome. But anyone who saw the show will remember the character, Frank Burns. Frank was a loser. He carried a Bible but his life was full of negativity and sin. It was a mockery of the faith he professed. The sad thing is that there are many Franks in the church. They look fine and talk right in Christian gatherings but then they go and mistreat others at home or on the job. Our goal is to live consistently for Jesus. A Christian may not always be perfect, but should be consistent.
The commitment carries into “whatsoever ye do.” Not just in religious things like prayer and Bible study. Not just in going to church. It carries into the workplace, relating with neighbors, doing whatsoever! And it’s all to be done “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” This means speaking and doing in the place of Christ Himself.
Not that you are Christ! But the word of God gives warrant to speak with His authority, as if He Himself were speaking.
Peter wrote, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1Peter 4:11). The word “oracles” means divine utterance. This doesn’t make us gods. There’s only one God and we are not Him! But He Himself has conferred His great name upon us that we may ask in His name, do in His name, and even speak in His name. It’s bold, but it’s an act of faith. And Peter practiced what he preached. When he saw the lame man at the temple gate, he didn’t say, “Oh! Let me pray for you.” Instead he said, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6).
After the man was healed, the Sanhedrin challenged Peter. “By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?” (Acts 4:7). The name is linked to power! What we say and do in the name of Jesus has power and authority. Maybe one reason there’s so much failure to see it enacted is because we’re not fully committed in the “whatsoever ye do” sense. But there’s grace, and many are growing, and it’s not too late to start living all out for the Lord!
What’s in a Name?
A name is linked to one’s identity. You’ve heard the expression, “He has a good name in that town,” or “His name is mud.” Jesus’ name is more than good: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:9). Think of it! His name carries weight. In contrast, who am I, or who are you?
Early on in China, I was invited to give a lecture to elementary school students. The college leaders I worked for drove me to the school. At that time, the students had never seen a westerner before. They anticipated the event with great excitement. When we pulled up and got out of the car, the students erupted in cheers and applause. You would’ve thought I was Elvis! Then at the end of our time, they ran up and hounded me for my autograph! I actually felt like Elvis. But I knew who I was, and I thought, “These kids don’t understand that I’m an ordinary guy.” Nonetheless, I could’ve done anything as if I were Elvis Presley, and would’ve gotten a good reaction.
Because the Lord has called us to speak and act in the name of Jesus, we can expect a good reaction in the spiritual realm. And that often plays out immediately or eventually in the natural realm. If a word of wisdom or encouragement is spoken with Christ’s authority, the hearer can instantly be comforted. The prayer of faith in the name of Jesus can heal the sick. The speaking of truth can set the captives free.
In my own name? No. How far will our own names go? Yet the highest name, the one above all names, is conferred to us! We have the signature or endorsement of the One at the top. It’s like we have His power of attorney, which means that we act and speak for Him, in his place and with his authority. In this sense, we are identified as children of God. So what if a big star comes to town! The glory is where we are. Wherever we go, we go in the highest name. If people really knew, they might crowd us at the supermarket and ask for autographs! But for now we have this treasure in earthen vessels (2Corinthians 4:7).
As He is
Jesus, the Word of God, is the expression or communication of who God really is. Now through His Spirit He lives in us and communicates through us. We become the communication of who God really is. Are the words and deeds lining up accordingly? This isn’t legalistic or condemning. This is life giving. Christians were born again for this. When words and deeds line up with the name of Jesus, things just work better. Otherwise, things may be working, but not as well as could be. I can use my computer when it’s overloaded with old files or even when a program has brought suspicious lag. It’s frustrating. It buzzes and cranks and moves so slowly, but it’s still working. It’s so much better when all the junk has been deleted and the computer runs flawlessly, the way it was designed to do. We were designed to do all in the name of Jesus.
Let’s consider His name and some other names associated with Him. The name Jesus in Hebrew means, salvation. Do our words and deeds have a saving nature, or a judgmental nature? Do they reflect hope? Do they reflect deliverance from filth and corruption? Are they selfless, or selfish?
Another name for Jesus is Immanuel, which means “God with us.” Do others hear what God would say, or what the devil would say? Is our conversation seasoned with grace? Do we bring light, or darkness? Life, or death?
Jesus is also called the Lamb of God. This means meek and gentle. How do we speak to or treat others?
In Revelation 19:16, He has the name, “King of kings and Lord of lords.” Do we speak as royalty, or as the common folk? Do we speak as victors, or victims?
This is not burdensome, but a privilege and honor to be called in the name of Jesus. When you see it this way, and rejoice in the grace that covers our failures, the final instruction in Colossians 3:17 becomes a source of life and joy, “giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Let’s bring back consistent devotion to the Church. Let’s become saints! It’s a key to victory in a culture gone mad.