Tag Archive | God

Selecting Music For Worship (Part 2): Know Theology

by Ken Puls

How well do you know the music your church sings in worship? Can you think, for example, of a song that teaches that sin corrupts and deceives the heart? Or a song that unfolds the work of the Trinity in our salvation? If you were to measure the depth of doctrine and the breadth of truth in your church’s music for worship, what would you find?

In my last post we began considering ways that worship leaders can best prepare for the task of selecting music for worship. My first encouragement was know the Word. The first and best way to prepare for the task is to be regularly and diligently in God’s Word.

But second, and closely tied to the first, those who lead music in the church must know theology. Music is tied to theology—our songs instruct us. Music gives us voice to rehearse and remember the truth. It helps us rightly respond and rejoice in the truth.

Except for the preaching of the Word, no other ministry in the church has such a profound impact on shaping our understanding of truth than music. The music we sing helps us declare what is true about God, ourselves, and the world around us. And it embeds that truth in our thinking and in our lives. Paul makes the connection between music and truth in Colossians 3:16. He instructs us:

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16, ESV).

We want to sing and celebrate what is true. We want our music to support and undergird the teaching and preaching ministry of the church. For this to happen we must be wise and discerning in what we choose to sing. We must know the truth and be able to recognize lyrics that are rich in truth, lyrics that are light on truth, and lyrics that stray from the truth.

So commit yourself to study theology. Read sound, theological books. Learn to think theologically about your church’s music. Peruse and evaluate the lyrics of music you are using or considering for use in worship. Along with looking for quotes, allusions, and connections to specific Scripture references in each song, ask yourself: What theological truths does this song teach?

One of the methods I have used to help me think theologically about music is to compile a Theological Index of Church Music. I started the index twenty years ago as a project for one of my PhD seminars in seminary. I created both an outline of theological topics and a list of song titles (psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs) that we were singing at the church where I was leading worship. Then I created the index by working through the lyrics of each song, line by line, listing the song title under each entry in the outline that was stated or affirmed in the song. The resulting index provided a valuable resource, not just for selecting songs by theological topic, but for evaluating the scope and content of our church’s music.

You can find the Theological Outline here along with a list of some of the books I used to compile the outline.

I have resisted  (for now) posting my full Theological Index of Church Music. I recognize that each church will have its own compilation of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs that it knows and sings well. I have also discovered that much of the benefit in having the list is the time spent creating it—thinking through lyrics and evaluating strengths and weaknesses.

Here, however, are a few entries from my opening questions:

Songs that teach that sin corrupts and deceives the heart

  • All I Have Is Christ (Jordan Kauflin – Sovereign Grace Music)
  • And Can It Be (Charles Wesley / Thomas Campbell – PD)
  • No, Not Despairingly, Come I to Thee (Horatius Bonar – PD)

Songs that unfold the work of the Trinity in our salvation

  • Heavenly Father, Beautiful Son (by Mark Altrogge – Sovereign Grace Music)
  • Come Praise and Glorify (by Bob Kauflin / Tim Chester – Sovereign Grace Music)
  • Wonderful, Merciful Savior (by Dawn Rodgers and Eric Wyse – Word Music)

The Holy Spirit and Ethics… Part I

by R. Keith Whitt

INTRODUCTION

Can the Holy Spirit make a difference in a person’s life? Of course He can. But that really isn’t the question most of us should be asking. If you are a believer or have been associated with a Bible-believing church for any period of time, you know the answer is “yes.”

Will I yield to the Holy Spirit so He will enable me to make ethical decisions? This is the right question! The central truth of this lesson is “The Holy Spirit influences Christians to live ethically.” One of the Holy Spirit’s roles here on earth is to lead us in truth. Truth enables us to make right ethical choices, regardless of how difficult some of the choices may be. Although Scripture doesn’t always provide a “thou shalt” or “thou shalt not” statement for each of the situations we encounter, the principles are there. We then must have the wisdom and strength to make the right choice, regardless of the economic or positional impact.

The desires of our flesh are often at war with spiritual truth. In those situations we need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to forge ahead and do what is right. No one is exempt from these settings; however, some believers may face more of them due to the nature of their work and their personality. For example, if you are a person who greatly desires the approval of others, you might be prone to make decisions that make you “look good” and receiving the acclaim of others. Or, perhaps your income is determined by sales and commissions. Will you “stretch the truth” to make the sale?

When believers allow the Holy Spirit to guide their lifestyle and decisions, there will be no ethical conflicts or compromises. We will do what is right, even if it hurts. However, doing right always brings the blessing of God’s favor despite the discomfort of our choice.

Making ethical decisions enables a believer to “sleep soundly” at night, knowing truth based on the Word of God and the guidance of Holy Spirit has prevailed.

I. SPIRIT-TRANSFORMED LIFE (John 16:8; Titus 3:3-8; 1 Cor. 6:19-20)

A. Freed by the Holy Spirit (John 16:8; Titus 3:3-8)

John 16:8. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.

Titus 3:3. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

4. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,

5. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

6. Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

7. That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

8. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

One aspect of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is clearly stated in the initial verse of our lesson (John 16:8). He is here to repress the actions of sin. One dimension of that occurs within the life of believers. If believers cannot live ethically and eradicate sinful tendencies in their lives, how can they expect sinners in their fallen moral state to follow paths of righteousness?

Usually we see the role of the Holy Spirit as the Comforter – the One who stands alongside to defend. However, here we see the Spirit on the other side of the legal fence. He stands as the prosecutor bringing attention to people’s sins. The purpose isn’t just to cause people to feel guilty, but to bring them to righteousness.

The Holy Spirit’s convicting work in a person’s life is what causes her or him to realize their pitiful condition. As Paul writes to Titus, he lists specifics of unbelievers’ sinfulness. We understand not all unbelievers are involved in every type of sinful activity. However, the unbeliever is heavily influenced by personal passions and the desire for pleasure which may be immoral and/or illegal (3:3). This leads to foolish and disobedient actions which may result in ongoing consequences.

Paul emphasizes how sin deceives. It may cause us to assume we are having “the time of our life” or on the road to great happiness when in reality this is a major deception. Instead of being on the road of freedom we are enslaved. This enslavement could be to drugs, sex, greed, or frivolity. All of them speak of being in bondage to the enemy of our soul who seeks to destroy us.

Rescue from this state of bondage cannot occur by our own attempts to do good. No number of positive deeds will change our sinfulness into righteousness; only “the kindness and love of God our Saviour” (v. 4) can save us. Verse 5 emphasizes the process of spiritual renewal being the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, which makes us “heirs having the hope of eternal life” (v. 7 NIV).

The freedom we experience through the work of the Holy Spirit isn’t totally separated from our own actions. We cooperate and maintain what has been done in our lives by daily following a lifestyle of holiness which is in accord with God’s Word (v. 8), but even that is made possible through God’s grace.

B. Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

19. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

20. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Though we are freed by the Spirit and enjoy Christian liberty, there still are rules of conduct which govern how we live. Here at the end of a definitive statement on sexual immorality (vv. 12-20), Paul presents the biblical view of the believer’s human body.

He clearly underscores the unity of the spiritual and the physical. Our physical body isn’t an entity separate from our spiritual nature. Unlike those who say the actions of the body have no connection with the spiritual relationship with God, Paul points to our body being “a temple of the Holy Spirit” (v. 19 NIV). His indwelling and covering of us places us at the service of God. We are not being independent self-serving agents. At the price of Christ’s sacrificial death, we can be free from the bondage of sin. Once we accept this offering, a transfer of ownership occurs. Now we are Christ’s! The Holy Spirit’s regenerating work places us in the privileged position of glorifying God (v. 20). This is to take place in the words of our mouth and the actions of our bodies.

Chained to the World

Focus Verse of the Week

I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. (Ecclesiastes 3:14)

Classic Commentary

Every thing is as God made it; not as it appears to us. We have the world in our hearts so much and are so taken up with thoughts and cares of worldly things, that we have neither time nor spirit to see God’s hand in them. The world has not only gained control of the heart, but has formed thoughts against the beauty of God’s works. We are mistaken if we think we were born for ourselves; no, it is our business to do good in this life, which is short and uncertain; we have but little time to be doing good. Therefore, we should redeem the time. Satisfaction with Divine Providence is having faith that all things work together for good to them that love Him.

(Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible.)

A Thought to Keep

Are you tied up so much in the world that you miss what God is doing? Pay attention to the good He does for you this week

Credit: (BibleStudyTool)

 

Social Netchurch

The internet is something we all use and enjoy, but are we using it too much, or not enough at all?

I hear so many people rebel against social websites because they claim, “It distracts them from God” or, “It’s just too worldly.” I know this might sound odd, but I want people to start re-thinking their decisions.

Now, don’t get me wrong… I understand their reasoning to boycott these cultural habits, but shouldn’t their reasoning to leave give them an even bigger reason to stay?

We as Christians continuously talk about being a light to the world, an example of Christ, and a reflection of His Hope. So, if the internet is something you claim distracts people from God, then how about you be the difference and make it a place that attracts people to GOD.

Let’s be a generation that TAKES BACK the internet and social media for the Good of Christ, using them to share His LOVE and HOPE.

Use your social networks for Gospel good works. We are called to tweet, post, pin, tumbl and digg all in the name of Christ.

Social Tips:

1. Be consistent. (Keep your posts fresh, and up to date. Don’t let your platform get dry. You never know who you’re reaching.)

2. Be honest. (Don’t try to be someone you’re not. People will call your bluff. Honesty is the greatest of leaders!)

3. Be creative. (Think outside the box.You never know until you try! Pictures and videos are a great way to increase engagement.)

4. Give God The Glory. (If you’re not glorifying him, you’re glorifying yourself.)

Romans 12:2 – Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

How are you using your social networks to share the love of Christ? Leave your comments below. 

– Jarrid Wilson

 

Hardship and Opportunity

By Ed Welch

“What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about conflict?”

Ken Sande asked this question at a conference I attended. He could have asked “what is the first thing” or “what are the first fifty things.” For me, the answers would all be variations on the same theme. I hate conflict; I want to run from it. The “things” that come to my mind about conflict are: hate, loathe and avoid.
Then he asked, “How many people thought “opportunity?”
Not me. Not in a million years, even if I could cheat by consulting a dictionary or Wikipedia. To me, conflict is misery—not an opportunity. But the word opportunity is gradually sinking in because it is crammed with prominent themes from Scripture.
Think about this:
Start with how our God—our Father—sovereignly reigns.
      No detail is random and haphazard.
Add that he will accomplish his good purposes.
      He will make us more and more like Jesus.
Now add hardships.
      Our sufferings have new meaning since the cross.
What you get is opportunity.
Since God is sovereign and has good purposes, hardships are opportunities. They must be.
Many people have already learned this. Here is what some of them have said.
That “C” on the exam—is an opportunity to live by faith in Jesus rather than in my perceived successes.
That hard marriage—is an opportunity to love as I have been loved.
That miscarriage—is an opportunity to know that my Father has unlimited compassion for his children and I can trust him.
That cancer—(and this is really a hard one) is an opportunity to die well and show my children what it means to live and die by faith.
And we could go on. That traffic ticket, that car accident, that lost job, that plumbing problem, that neighbor . . . . how different life would be if we snuck in an “opportunity” or two each day.
Joseph understood. “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20). His time in an Egyptian prison was an opportunity.
Paul understood too. “We felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 2:9). His near death experiences were the perfect opportunity. You can almost hear him say, “These are just what I needed.”
There is no stiff upper lip in these opportunities. Hardships can be so painful, and our Father certainly encourages us to speak of those hardships to him. But opportunity says that hardships, for God’s children, never come without hope. And, with practice, we can discover that hope carries the most weight.

 

The Root of Bitterness

Unhappy couple sitting on couch silently after argument

The enemy of our souls has a very specific strategy to destroy relationships. Whether these relationships are in business, marriage or friendships, the strategy is the same.

A conflict arises, judgments are made, and feelings are hurt. What happens next is the defining point of whether the enemy gains a foothold, or the grace of God covers the wrong.

When a root of bitterness is allowed to be planted and grown, it not only affects that person, but it also affects all others who are involved. It is like a cancer.

Breaking satan’s foothold requires at least one person to press into God’s grace. It cannot happen when either party “feels” like it, for none of us will ever feel like forgiving.

None of us feel like talking when we have been hurt. Our natural response is to withdraw or lash out at the offending party.

It is only obedience that allows God’s grace to cover the wrongs incurred. This grace prevents the parties from becoming victims who will seek compensation for their pain.

The next time you are hurt by someone, realize the gravity of the crossroads where you find yourself.

Choose grace instead of bitterness.

Then you will be free to move past the hurt, and a root of bitterness will not be given opportunity to grow.

“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15

by Os Hillman

Not Just Washed

Focus Verse of the Week

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7) 

Classic Commentary

The apostle gives a grievous summary of the characteristics of man after the flesh—which we once were. Sin was foolishness, was disobedience; the sinner was deceived, was the slave of lusts, filled with malice and envy, hateful, and hating others. Such is man characterized by sin. But the kindness of God, of a Savior-God, His good-will and charity towards men (sweet and precious character of God!) has appeared.

That which has made us different from others is not some merit in ourselves, some personal superiority: we were sometime even as they. It is the tender love and grace of the God of mercy. He has been kind and merciful to us: we have known what it is, and are so to others. It is true that in cleansing and renewing us this mercy has wrought by a principle, and in a sphere of a life, that are entirely new, so that we cannot walk with the world as we did before.

Now when the kindness of a Savior-God appeared, it was not something vague and uncertain; He has saved us, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy by washing and renewing us. … He is washed from his former habits, thoughts, desires, in the practical sense. We wash a thing that exists. The man was morally bad and defiled in his inward and outward life. God has saved us by purifying us; He could not do it otherwise. To be in relationship with Himself there must be practical purity.

(Adapted from John Darby’s Synopsis of the New Testament, Titus 3.)

A Thought to Keep

God demands practical purity in our lives, but we can’t accomplish this without the Holy Spirit. Are you living the reality of a sinner saved by grace, relying on the Holy Spirit’s help?

Interested in starting a Bible reading plan in 2012? It’s not too late – check out our BibleStudyTools.com’s Bible Reading Plans, decide what pattern you like, and pick your start date. Just sign up to get started!

[Source: Beyond Sunday, Tropical Bible Study .]