Filled with the Spirit: Speaking to One Another in God’s Word
July 14, 2019
I love how the story of Paul’s life ended in the book of Acts. There he was in Rome. A prisoner. And his story ended with him “proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance” (Acts 28:31).
I love how Mrs. Kye Sook Won finished her story on this old and fading earth. Before she died, Mrs. Won requested, insisted, begged that the gospel of Christ Jesus be preached at her funeral and the call for repentance and faith be given then so that all of her non-Christian friends in attendance might hear and believe in the Lord.
Brothers and sisters, this is what a life filled with the Spirit looks like. Paul, proclaiming the kingdom God. Mrs. Won, desiring that the gospel of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ eclipse her life and death.
I hope that all of us can live like this as we wait and prepare for the return of our King. I pray that we would enjoy talking about Jesus. And I ask that we do so more and more.
People like to talk about all sorts of things. People like to talk about current events or funny stories. People like to talk about what’s happening in sports or the latest must-see television series or blockbuster movie. People like to talk about future plans with family and friends or stressful problems at work. And the list goes on and on: food, clothes, future plans, games, children.
But we who are in Christ are different. We are called by the Lord to address one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. We are instructed by Jesus to speak to one another with God’s Word. We are commanded by our King to have our conversational lives centered on his gospel, his salvation, his big picture, his glory.
What are these psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs? Well, they can be one thing specifically and another thing generally.
Specifically-speaking, psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are what you find in the book of Psalms. They actually work as categories or labels for all the 150 psalms in the book of Psalms. Thus, when we consider our conversational life with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are, specifically-speaking, called to include the words of the book of Psalms.
But psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs can mean another thing generally. Generally-speaking, psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs can be unique portions of Scripture that reflect the worship of Christ in the church in New Testament times. For example, many scholars believe that Philippians 2:6-11, Colossians 1:15-20, and Hebrews 1:1-3 were psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs of the church. Thus, when we consider our conversational life with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are, generally-speaking, called to include the words of Scripture where Christ is exalted.
Now, let’s not over-complicate things. This does not mean that we can never ever talk about current events or sports or future plans or your children - or that it is a sin to do so. And, perhaps most importantly, this does not mean that we are supposed to literally recite Scripture when we talk to one another.
Ephesians 5:19 is just getting at something very simple - but also very profound. As we wait for the return of Christ Jesus, we are to talk about him… together. And we need to talk about him together. Because when we address one another with God’s Word - with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs - there is encouragement. We encourage one another when we talk to each other about the gospel of the salvation of the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is one of the best ways to love your brothers and sisters in Christ. Talking about Jesus… together.
This is the life. The life that is filled with the Spirit. And this makes perfect sense when you think about what the Holy Spirit does. According to John 15:26, the main work of the Holy Spirit is to make Christ known. To remind us of who Jesus is and what he did for us. To fill you richly with the written word and with the Living Word. To glorify and exalt Jesus. When we address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, when we talk abundantly about Jesus, we are living lives that are filled with the Spirit. Lives filled with the good news of Jesus Christ.
How then do we actually do this? How can we address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs? Here are some suggestions.
When a brother or sister in Christ shares something good about who God is or what God has done in their lives, then praise the Lord. Don’t just say “That’s nice!” or “That’s great!” Instead, in the spirit of Psalm 22:26, you can say, “Praise the Lord!” Or in the spirit of Psalm 106:1, you can say, “God is good!” Words matter. This is a simple and easy way to start addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.
When a brother or sister in Christ is going through a difficult time in their life, remind then of Psalm 23. Remind them of how the Lord is our shepherd. How he is with us as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.
When a brother or sister in Christ feels like God is not with them, remind them of Psalm 22. Remind them of how Jesus was forsaken on the cross by the Father, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” so that we would never be forsaken. Talk to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.
When a brother or sister in Christ has sinned against God or against neighbor, walk them through Psalm 51, so that God would have mercy on us according to his steadfast love and create in us clean hearts and restore to us the joy of his salvation. Address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.
And talk to one another about Jesus. About how our Lord emptied himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men, and how he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-11). About how our Savior, who is the head of the church and the firstborn from the dead, might be preeminent in everything (Colossians 1:15-20). About how long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son (Hebrews 1:1-3). Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. There is just so much to talk about when it comes to Jesus!
Dear Highland, I challenge you to really run with this command in Ephesians 5. Let us not just talk about ourselves. Let us not just talk about worldly things. Let us talk more and more about Jesus. Let’s talk more about him here at church during snacks or lunch or whenever. Let’s talk more about him with our family members and friends. Let’s talk more about him when big things and small things happen in our lives. This is what it looks like to be filled with the Spirit. Let us be a church that is filled with the Spirit.
I challenge you to think about your conversational life and reconsider the content of your conversational life. Are you talking much about Jesus and his salvation? Or are you talking much about funny stories or complaints or gossip or worldly things? It is so easy to slip into a conversational life that is empty of Christ. But let us rethink everything here. A Christ-centered Christian life calls for a Christ-centered conversational life.
I hope that all of us can live like this, like the Apostle Paul, like Mrs. Kye Sook Won, as we wait and prepare for the return of our King. I pray that we would enjoy talking about Jesus. And I ask that we do so more and more.