Singing

Singing is a very important part of our lives as Christians. We have done it almost everyday of our lives in school, whether as part of devotions or as part of a choir. We sing in the worship services at church and at singspirations as well as casual hymn sings with family and friends. Music is one of the chief ways in which we glorify God for all that He has done for us. I have enjoyed singing for many years. However, we should be aware that not all spiritual songs are edifying. Some are blatantly Arminian such as the following first verse and chorus of the song “You Must Open the door”: There’s a savior standing at the door of your heart/ He’s waiting to enter/ Why let Him depart/He’s patiently called you so often before, but you must open the door. Chorus: ” He wants to come in and save you from sin, but you must open the door”. The implication of this song is that we must accept Christ into our hearts in order to be saved. This however, runs contrary to Ephesians 2:8,9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest anyone should boast.” This is also the reason why we should be careful when we hear the Christmas carol “Joy to the world” and it comes to the line “let every heart prepare him room”. We are sinners, who apart from the grace of God, have no desire to have Christ at the heart and center of our lives. Others have a word or two that we don’t agree with, but we can still sing in good conscience. For instance, the first verse of the song “To God be the Glory” goes like this “To God be the glory great things he hath done/ so loved the world that he gave us his son/ who yielded his life an atonement for sin/and opened the life gate that all may go in”. With the exception of the word all, for which “we” has been substituted in our circles, we can sing this song without any further revisions. Hymns, however, are not the only songs that require us to keep our eyes and ears open. Although our Psalter is in many ways a faithful, sound God-glorifying songbook, there are a few lyrics that should give us pause when we see them. The first is Psalter 255 verse 4 “while He proffers peace and pardon”. God does not proffer or offer peace and pardon to us, He gives it to us of His own free will on the basis Christ’s work of atonement for us on the cross. The second example is found in Psalter 213 verse 8 “They limited God the most holy one, and hindered the work His grace had begun” God’s grace cannot be resisted at all because He “worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). We have no hand in our salvation whatsoever. Furthermore, God cannot be limited in any way, except for the fact that He cannot lie. Hebrews 6:18 even goes so far as to say that it is “impossible” for God to lie. Does this mean that we should avoid singing hymns or any Psalter numbers that contain those things that I have mentioned? I believe that we can sing hymns, provided we use Christian discretion and “try the spirits” (1 John 4:1). Some hymns such as “Amazing Grace”, “Take Time to be Holy”, “Trust and Obey” and “Great is thy Faithfulness” contain sound, Biblical ideas and even direct quotes from the Bible itself. Great is thy faithfulness, for instance is taken out of Lamentations 3:23 and following. Additionally, the first verse quotes from James 1:17 where it talks about God having “no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 2 Timothy 1:12 is quoted in the hymn “I know whom I have believed.” “For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” Furthermore Handel’s Messiah contains quotations from Scripture as well. God commands us to sing praises to Him. “Speaking unto yourselves in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”(Ephesians 5:19,20). When we sing with Christian discretion and understanding, keeping an eye out for doctrinal error, we will be blessed by God and will enjoy and be greatly edified by the singing which we do, whether during the worship service, or when we gather with family and friends. God be glorified and praised in our singing!

Kevin Rau

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