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A couple weekends ago (February 27th- March 1st 2015) I had to privilege to stand in the midst of an assembly of 12,000 Christians at the Challenge Youth Conference (CYC) in Pigeon Forge, TN and sing praises to God! This experience has only deepened my belief and understanding of the importance of a cappella congregational singing as worship to God! When we gather together as a congregation of the Lord’s Church to worship, we must all have a desire to participate. We don’t gather to watch others worship. We gather to worship!

I want to write this article to show the importance of singing as a part of worship to God. Today we see singing being de-emphasized while big bands, light shows and other things that are “cool to watch” or “pleasing to the worshippers” are being implemented. Instead of striving to do what we are commanded to do or what we see other Christians doing in the New Testament, we seek to entertain.

The question is, what are we commanded to do in the New Testament in regards to singing?  We sing because God’s grace should move us to sing His praise “In the midst of the congregation.” We are build each other up by addressing “one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” We are to worship God with all that is in us by “singing and making melody to the Lord” with our hearts. This article will seek to explore the idea of why we sing!

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

(John 4:23-24)

I can only imagine what it must have been like to have a one-on-one encounter with the Son of God! Little did the Samaritan woman from John 4 know, that when she started talking to a “random stranger” at the well, she would leave having met the Christ, the Son of God.  She would leave this encounter amazed by a man who would teach her about living water and what it means to worship the Father in spirit and truth!

What does it mean to worship? And beyond that, what does it mean to worship in spirit and truth? In the passage above from the Gospel of John, the Ancient Greek word for worship is προσκυνέω (proskyneo). The DBL Greek defines this word as: “Worship; bow as an act of allegiance or regard; prostrate oneself before; kneel down before as an act of reverence.” So when we gather with the church to worship, we must worship God with the right attitude and reverence of mind (in spirit) and we must worship Him according to the truth of His Word (in truth).

As I look around at “modern Christianity” I see a move toward “entertainment” as worship.  Instead of people “going to church” to worship, they are finding themselves “going to church” to watch worship. This is an idea that is foreign to the Scriptures. It is true that the people in the pews benefit from participating in worship with other Christians but they are not the audience, God alone is (Luke 4:8)!

When we gather together to worship on the first day of the week we participate in certain acts of worship that we have been commanded to do or have example of early Christians doing in the New Testament. These acts of worship are partaking of the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:26-29; I Corinthians 11:26; Acts 20:7), praying (I Thess. 5:17; I Timothy 2:1), giving of our means (I Corinthians 16:1-2), teaching of God’s Word (Acts 20:7; Ephesians 4:11-12) and singing (Hebrews 2:12)! Although all of these acts are of utmost importance, for this article I want to focus in on singing as worship. I want to give three reasons using scripture only as to why we should not only engage in singing when we gather together, but why we should look forward to it!

1. We have examples of Jesus and early Christians singing.
Matthew 26:30 – “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”
Acts 16:25 – “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.”
Romans 15:9 – “As it is written, Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.
I Corinthians 14:15 – “I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.
Hebrews 2:12 – “saying, I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.

2. We are commanded and encouraged to sing.
Ephesians 5:19 – “…be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart
Colossians 3:16 – “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.
James 5:13 – “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.

3. When we sing, it comes from the spirit and the heart (mind).
I Corinthians 14:15 – “I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.”
Ephesians 5:19 – “…be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart

Christian worship as laid out in the New Testament was designed to be simple. That’s the beauty of it. And for almost two thousand years, Christians have been gathering together to offer up the “fruit of our lips” in praise to God. 

Now is the time for change! Let’s get back on track with what God commands us concerning worship and singing! Let’s go back to God’s Word where we can find all things that pertain to life and godliness! (2 Peter 1:3)

 Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

 When we sing (not if we sing) we must sing with the spirit and we must sing that which is according to the truth. When we do this, we become people who the Father seeks to worship Him. We become true worshippers!

Dustin Humphreys is the Campus Minister with the Central church of Christ and 708 Ministries. He was born and raised in Johnson City, TN and attended Daniel Boone High School. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

708 Ministries ©2016
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