This is part 2 of 3 of a series of blogs written especially for this site by Simon Brading who leads the worship team at Church of Christ the King, Brighton. I've had the privilege of leading alongside this man of God the last couple of years at Mobilise and he's a huge inspiration to me so I'm sure you'll find this blog useful!
The greek word for truth is AlEtheia and can be translated in two ways:
• Objective truth meaning ‘factual’ or ‘reality’ – worship with the facts
• Subjective truth meaning ‘truthfulness’ or ‘genuine’ - let your worship be genuine, not fake.
Both are contained in what Jesus means by ‘worship in truth’ – but in this post I’m going to focus the objective translation of AlEtheia… So why worship with the facts?? Let’s have a look:
Colossians 3:16 says ‘Let word of Christ dwell in you richly…as you sing psalms,
hymns and spiritual songs’
What should we sing? Let the word of Christ, the whole story of Jesus, the obedience of the God-man, the eternal finished work of His cross, the supremacy of His resurrection, the wonder of His ascension, the scandal of adoption, the subsequent life-changing benefits of knowing Christ, and all the glorious implications of this gospel, dwell in you as a community richly, as you sing.
So NT worship is to be characterized by singing the gospel. Why does God command this?? I suggest 5 points:
1. True worship is always a response to revelation
Our hearts are very forgetful – we’re not always conscious of God. Singing can become a dutiful, cold and religious display of dead works. The Holy Spirit opens our spiritual eyes (Eph 1:18) with the awakening power of truth, revealing facets of the gospel, causing our hearts to pump in passionate, grace-motivated response. As Matt Redman puts it, breathing in truths about God and breathing out the praises of God.
2. Truth dispels lies
There is a ‘Deceiver’ who is literally lying to us day and night (Rev 12:10) - attempting to derail, distract and destroy us. He works overtime to rob our enjoyment of God. The answer to a lie? The truth. Just a few words of truth have the power to demolish the strongest of lies, and bring God’s freedom. Songs that declare objective truth about the gospel are spiritual warfare – huge statements of faith that cause the enemy to shudder, prison doors to open and chains to fall to ground. Eg. songs like In Christ Alone, Before the throne, See His love… line after line of objective gospel truth
3. Singing the gospel pastors us
The guy chained in habitual sin finds freedom and strength in the gospel; the man living under a constant cloud of guilt finds there is no condemnation in the gospel; the girl who’s just lost her father finds comfort from a God who’s also suffered loss, and a perfect heavenly Father who will never leave her - in the gospel; the lady who is battling with sickness learns Christ carried her infirmities and that she’ll have a new body one day – through the gospel; the poorest family find heavens’ riches deposited to their account through the gospel.
We never graduate or move on from the gospel to the ‘real stuff’. As if! The gospel isn’t just a Christians’ ABC, it’s their XYZ. Not just the door, it’s the corridor. Worship in truth means leading people to Christ and the richness of all he’s done for them, where people find what they truly need.
4. Churches learn their theology through singing as much as through preaching
Lyrics get inside of you without you trying. You walk out singing the songs, not recounting points 3 and 4 of the sermon. Churches can learn the gospel, even specific bible verses, just through singing songs.
[Note: this is a big responsibility for worship leaders and a songwriters; every line teaches something. I like to use this test: if an alien visited your church for 6 months and write a book about God and what He’s done, just based on the content of your worship, how much of the gospel would it contain?]
5. We’re proclaiming the gospel to the unsaved
Singing the gospel is one of the most missional things you can do on a Sunday. It’s an easy win. Being exposed to a worshipping community who are boasting and glorying in a crucified Man, not themselves, is remarkable and powerful.
We’re proclaiming to a city - this is what we believe! This is who we worship! Not just through preaching but through the powerful dynamic of corporate singing.
By Simon Brading 19/06/13