Before becoming the fourth president of Moody Bible Institute, William Henry “Will” Houghton pastored several churches in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and New York. Biographer Wilbur Smith said of him, “Two primary passions possessed the soul of Will Houghton: evangelism and the study of the Word of God.” Houghton’s legacy can still be seen at Moody, specifically his advocacy for Moody Radio programs to be broadcast regularly and widely. He was convinced that God uses the Scripture to transform lives.
Today’s passage from the apostle Paul’s letter to the believers in Colossae was one of Houghton’s favorites. These verses follow Paul’s teaching that we have been made alive in Christ. Here, Paul explains what a difference that makes. In verse 15, Paul uses an imperative for the word “to rule” as he wants Christians to have peace with themselves and with each other. In verse 16, Paul uses another imperative when he urges the message of Christ, or the Word of Christ, “to dwell” in us richly. These two words, “rule” and “dwell,” signal a needed action on our part.
Paul urges Christ followers to live a life soaked in Scripture. Colossians 3:16, in particular, encourages believers to allow God’s Word to dwell in their hearts and lives in a deep and meaningful way. Bible study and teaching, reading Scripture, and music are important in this endeavor. Too often we read God’s Word or hear a sermon preached and quickly turn our mind to other things. Instead, we are urged to let the message of Christ soak in, to dwell in us richly, until it permeates everything we do. “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (v. 17). President Houghton was right: “Lay hold of the Bible until the Bible lays holds of you.”
>> Next time you read a passage of Scripture, don’t just read it once. Read it repeatedly and try praying slowly through the words of Scripture.