Grace For The Journey
Corporate worship is one of the fundamental purposes and actions of the church. Unfortunately, that which should unite us together in praise of the one true God often serves as a wedge to divide the people of God across fault lines of age, socioeconomic status, and personal preference. We often make decisions concerning the various aspects of corporate worship without searching the Scriptures to determine the priorities that God places on this central action of His people.
In His encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:23-24, Jesus emphasizes the divine priority of worship when He utters the incredible statement, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father seeks such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
In these words,
Jesus describes authentic worship as
That which is offered to the Father
In spirit and in truth.
What is astounding in this passage is that our heavenly Father is searching for those who will offer Him this type of worship. We must continually evaluate and adjust our worship practices in light of these Scriptural mandates.
Throughout his letters to the churches, Paul continues to unpack the meaning of Christian worship.
- In the Epistle to the Romans, he locates the fundamental problem of humanity in its false worship whereby they “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 1:25).
- He spends considerable time correcting faulty worship attitudes and practices throughout 1 Corinthians.
- It is the twin Pauline passages found in Colossians and Ephesians that speak of “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” that provide us the best vantage point from which to examine the Pauline understanding of biblical worship through song.
The Bible says in Colossians 3:16-17, “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. And whatever you do in word or dee, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.”
This passage demonstrates that the Word of Christ
The truth of the Gospel about Christ
Should be included in the music of the church.
This means that the Gospel should permeate
The lyrical content of what we sing together as believers.
When I was in Southwestern Seminary, all ministerial students were required to take a course in the School of Music. One of the priorities that was emphasized countless times is the pastoral responsibility we bear to place the Word of God on the lips of the people of God.
Music possesses tremendous power to guide the thoughts and affections of those who listen and, more importantly, actively participate. Singing the truth of the Word of God drives these doctrines deep into the minds and hearts of the congregation. It is necessary and beneficial for the people of God to express their love, devotion, and need for God, but often the music of the church can lack the revealed truth of the Bible. Just as the Bible ministry of the church is urged to “let the Word speak,” so the music ministry must “let the Word sing!”
The Bible says in Ephesians 5:18-21, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Submitting yourselves one to another I the fear of God.”
This parallel passage in Ephesians similarly emphasizes singing to the Lord with thankfulness, but the prominence shifts from the work of Christ to that of the Spirit. Here, we are commanded to be filled with the Spirit as we address each other and sing to the Lord. Paul concludes by instructing believers to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
These dual mandates teach us a powerful truth:
Worship is corporate in nature,
And the Spirit uses
Our times of worship
To shape us
Into the image of Christ.
Corporate worship is not just a collection of individuals who happen to be worshiping God in the same room. When we gather for worship and lift up our voices to praise the Lord together, we are united in spirit and in faith. In fact . . .
The corporate time of worship
Is the only times when we are all
Doing the same thing at the same time.
The Spirit of God uses these experiences to mold us into the body of Christ, where we set aside our stylistic preferences for the good of the body and the sake of the Kingdom of God.
The need of our day
Requires that the Lord’s people
Center their primary activities on the Word of God,
Commit the personal live to the Word of God,
Be equipped to communicate His Word through our life and lips.
Let the Word of God be on our lips as we sing praises to Him, and let the Spirit move among us as He becomes more and more the object of our worship!
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”