Singing to God
The other day one of our Elders mentioned that he had gone to the funeral of a friend of his who did not know the Lord. He was a member of the prominent church in our community. Out of respect, both he and his wife decided to participate in the congregational singing. However, they both stopped just a few words into the song. Why? The hymn talked about ones pre-existent state, how we came to this earth to "earn" salvation and "prove" ones worthiness for exaltation, and at death we return to "heavenly Father."
I commented that if you really want to know what a church believes - examine the hymns they sing.
It made me realize again that music is a teaching ministry. Each Sunday Tim Frost selects songs that teach best the text for that morning.
Colossians 3:16 tells us,
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 thankfulness in your hearts to God.
The word you is plural which reminds us of our life together and about being a Bible centered church.
How do we teach each other here? In songs, hymns and spiritual songs. Songs carry Scripture into our hearts so that it sticks in a unique way.
So we should take the content of our songs as seriously as the sermon. We intentionally design a Bible-centered service from beginning to end.
What style of music is best for worship then? If Colossians 3:16 is our guide, then the best style of music for worship is the one that helps the Word dwell richly in your heart.
I call this the shower test. What music will you sing in the shower on Monday morning? That is your heart-music, the music that resonates with you on a deep level. Your heart-music lodges God's Word inside you, so that your heart sings truth throughout the week.
That said, we must make the effort to embrace both old and new music. We need music from the generations before us. The Scriptures say,
One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.
And they also say,
Sing to him a new song. (Psalm 33:3; 96:1)
Every generation experiences God's grace for themselves. So musicians should write new songs with creative joy that are scripturally accurate.
We have inherited a wonderful treasury of songs and hymns from earlier generations. All of them were contemporary music at one time!
• In the 16th century, Martin Luther wrote new songs like "A Mighty Fortress" during the Protestant Reformation.
• In the 18th century, Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley wrote new songs that fueled worship during the First Great Awakening.
• In the 19th century, the blind hymn-writer Fanny Crosby wrote new songs for her generation.
And we are writing new songs today.
• In 2001, Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty wrote one of our favorites, "In Christ Alone."
• In 2005, Chris Tomlin wrote, "How Great Is Our God."
• Musicians are writing new arrangements for the words of older hymns which are wonderful.
Here's the point: When we come to worship, let's allow God's Word to dwell richly in our hearts. Let's be a church that is passionate about encouraging fellow believers to follow hard after Jesus, to hear His Word, and to celebrate his grace.
See you on Sunday!
In the light of His glory and grace,