Serving God Acceptably, 2

“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” (Hebrews 12:28) Paul posits in Eph.4:7 that every believer has been given a measure of grace, and James indicates that when we humble ourselves before Him He gives us more grace. (James 4:7) Consider, then, with me the grace of singing.

Music has always been an integral part of worship both individually and corporately. “I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have any being.” (Ps.104:33) Having been born into God’s family we echo in our hearts what the Psalmist said: “He hath put a new song in my mouth; even praise unto our God….” (Ps.40:3)

The individual who is saved and filled with God’s Spirit will demonstrate it by singing. In Eph.5:18,19 Paul commands his readers to be filled with the Spirit: “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord.”

Good music has always accompanied good preaching. The last thing that the disciples did at the Last Supper was to sing a hymn. Paul and Silas when jailed for Christ’s sake in Philippi prayed and sang. The Church of our Lord Jesus Christ has always been and will always be a singing church until one day the choir of the redeemed of all ages will sing the song of the redeemed. And they sung a new song, saying “Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals, for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation. And hast made us unto our God kings and priests and we shall reign on earth.” (Rev.5:9,10)

Many good and Godly Christian leaders today are alarmed, however, that the present-day sound of music which is coming out of many churches is not that sound.

We’re living today in the age of rock, and the age of rock is not in tune with the Rock of Ages. The contemporary sound in music, which is not only the dominant sound heard on most so-called Christian outlets, and even in many churches which call themselves evangelical, smacks more of Hollywood than holiness. Sadly, in many fundamental churches the music that is sung is not fundamental. Paul exhorts us to teach and admonish one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord.

We must, therefore, sing as we are filled with the Spirit. (Eph.5:18b) Then, too, we should be careful to sing the Word of Christ: “…I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.” (I Cor.14:5) Mary did this when she lifted her voice of praise in what is called the “Magnificat of Mary” recorded in Luke 1:46-56. She drew upon many Old Testament passages in her pean of praise to her God and Savior, singing with grace in her heart to the Lord. (Col.3:16)

The content of our singing is spelled out in Col.3:16: psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Psalms are words of scripture, especially the psalms of David, set to music and sung with instruments. Psalm 45 is a “song of loves,” (a royal wedding song); Psalms 46 “to or of maidens” sung by soprano voices; Psalms 54, 55 psalms with stringed instruments; and Psalm 13 plus 54 other psalms “to the chief musician,” the choir leader of the Temple as he would lead in public worship, as well as Psalms 120-134 “songs of ascent” sung by Israelis as they journeyed “up to Jerusalem” for their prescribed feast days. It is not so common to hear the psalms sung in today’s worship gatherings, but some churches do it and it can be a great blessing. Psalm 19 and Psalm 48 (in part) have been in the limited repertoire of psalms that our family has enjoyed through the past many decades.

Then, hymns, sacred expressions of devotion and faith. “Our God Our Help in Ages Past,” “O Worship the King,” “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” “Crown Him with Many Crowns,” and so many other hymns of the ages still bless worshipful bodies to this present day.

Finally, spiritual songs, gospel songs, often poems set to music, that testify to a believer’s personal experience with Christ. Whereas hymns are more God-centered and objective, spiritual songs tend to be more man-centered and subjective. “Beulah Land,” “We’re Marching to Zion,” “Living for Jesus,” “Just When I Need Him Most,” “He Leadeth Me,” and, yes, the old favorite of some, “I’ll Fly Away,” are just a few.

As we sing we praise and worship, but we also teach:

  • Of His power: “Be Thou exalted, Lord, in Thine own strength: so will we sing and praise Thy power.” (Ps.55:16)
  • Of His mercies: “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever….” (Ps. 89:1)
  • Of His wondrous works: “Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto Him: talk ye of all His wondrous works.” (Ps.105:2)
  • Of His righteousness: “They shall abundantly utter the memory of Thy great goodness, and shall sing of Thy righteousness.” (Psalm 145:7)
  • Of His honor: “Sing forth the honor of His name: make His praise glorious.” (Ps. 66:2)
  • Of His majesty: “They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the Lord….” (Isa. 24:14)

So, let us ever “have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably,” and always “singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Hebs.12:28; Col.3:16)

“Come Thou Almighty King, help us Thy name to sing; help us to praise; Father all glorious, o’er all victorious, come and reign over us, Ancient of Days.”

Thomas Fuller, a man known for his wisdom and quaintness, prayed, “Lord, my voice by nature is harsh and untonable, and it is vain to lavish any art to better it. Can my singing of psalms be pleasing to Thine ears, which is unpleasant to my own; yet, though I cannot chant with the nightingale, or chirp with the blackbird, I had rather chatter with the swallow than be altogether silent; now what my music lacks in sweetness, let it have sense; yea, Lord, create in me a new heart therein to mark melody, and I will be contented with my old voice, until in due time, being admitted to the choir of heaven, I shall have another voice more harmonious.”

“Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and His praise in the congregation of the saints.” (Ps.149:1)

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