Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Why "Sermons in Song"?

Some have asked why we call what we do, "Sermons in Song," so this article should answer some of those questions. Mainly, we are trying to strengthen local churches by the preaching of the gospel according to Colossians 3:16. This verse says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

Sermons – Let the Word of Christ
There is almost nothing that will more quickly weaken a church than the neglect of preaching the word of God. For this reason, Sermons in Song is thoroughly committed to expositional preaching. This means that we endeavor to say what the Bible says, where the Bible says it, with the emphasis that the Bible gives. This is the proclamation of the word of Christ, and it is the partial fulfillment of the great commission, where Christ says that we are to teach disciples to “observe all things” that He has commanded.

The Old Testament Scriptures and the Apostolic teaching of the New Testament provide the content of the gospel, which Christ taught to His disciples and which has been transmitted to us in the Bible. For this reason, preaching and teaching of the Word of God is the first and most important element of Sermons in Song. Without this, all other efforts are empty and powerless. We believe that the only hope for the revival of God’s churches and the strengthening of God’s people is a concentrated emphasis on the exposition of His authoritative Word.

Sermons – Dwell in You Richly
Even a church that has a full complement of Bible teaching can be weakened because they are not vitally saturated with the Word of God. It is important to note that this phrase isn’t simply a reference to the fact that the Bible is everywhere present, so what could be missing?

God’s people must come to understand that the Scriptures are far more than a source book for defending a doctrinal statement or confession of faith. They are the self-disclosure of God Himself, centered on the person and work of Christ. As a result, Sermons in Song is committed to true gospel preaching that also focuses on showing how the person and work of Christ fully and completely impacts every sphere of life. There is nothing else that can strengthen God’s churches.

Sermons – In All Wisdom
There is a subtle trap that has been laid for the American church, and it is the suggestion that the word of God is sufficient for salvation and other spiritual stuff, but it doesn’t really impact the emotional and practical life of the people. This inevitably leads God’s people to trust in the false teaching of secular psychological philosophy that has been dressed up in spiritual sounding language. The sufficiency of Christ and of the word of Christ is threatened and undermined.

We must be jealous for the ministry of the word, and we cannot allow ourselves to supplant the life-changing truth with our own opinions or the opinions of some expert that would suggest Scripture isn’t a sufficient help. Anything except seeing that all wisdom and knowledge is found in God and revealed in the person and work of Christ will inevitably lead to weak churches. This is why Sermons in song is committed to Biblical Counseling.

Song – Teaching and Admonishing One Another
When our lives are saturated and influenced by the word of God, this will naturally be reflected in our music, and now we see Paul suggesting that the proclamation of the word should be set to music. We also see that this music is to be expressed in relation to the community of believers (one another), and it is at this point that Paul gives two purposes for the use of music in the community of the local church.

This verse leads us to conclude that music must be doctrinally accurate, at the very least. However, this is not the only element of teaching that should be in view. Our music also teaches us how we are to view the world and how the Scriptures are applied to various circumstances of life, and we don’t need to look any further than the Psalms to provide us a great pattern for the ways in which we are instructed by our music. In brief, Sermons in Song believes that the Christian’s music should either be directly Biblical or reflect a distinctively God-centered and Biblical perspective.

The second purpose given here for music is very interesting. It is the word noutheteo, from which we derive the concept of “nouthetic counseling.” In other words our music both teaches and counsels us! So, we are not just taught bare facts; we are also taught how we are to respond to the truth. This includes exhortation to action as well as the emotional response that is appropriate to the truth. For example, that I am a great sinner should accompany music that reflects the sorrow that a believer necessarily has because of their sin and its effects.
Because of this, Sermons in Song believes that our music must communicate in a way that reflects emotion that is appropriate to the truth being expressed in the language of the song.

Song – Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs
Much of the debate on this passage relates to the identification of these three musical terms. However they are understood, we can at least conclude that a variety of musical categories are intended. The identification of the Psalms is clear, and Sermons in Song believes the Psalms have been tragically neglected in many American churches. From this and the parallel passage in Ephesians we can also conclude that music, without lyrics, can be included, which has interesting implications for considering emotional expressions simply as they are or are not consonant with the Christian life. We can further conclude that these categories also include congregational music.

In light of these categories, Sermons in Song seeks to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of the Psalms, the writing of new congregational music, the renewal of historic hymns, and providing musical expositions of Scripture, all provided that the emotional expressions of the music are consonant with the God-centered life.

Song – Singing With Grace in Your Hearts to the Lord
Music starts with who you are, and it is essential that the grace of God be evidenced in the life of the believer. Our music reflects who we are with surprising accuracy, and Christian music must start with the believer knowing the grace of God in truth. From this point, we can encourage and counsel one another, but our music and ministry to one another needs to be understood as having one primary audience that matters most. We sing for the Lord, and this demands that our music demonstrates a life of worship, reflecting the character and attributes of God in our musical expressions.

While we acknowledge that various contexts require music that is appropriate to the occasion and audience, we do not believe there is a separate category for “worship music.” Sermons in Song is committed to musical expressions that reflect lives bent toward the worship of God and the enjoyment of who He is, which is the whole purpose for which we were created.

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