1) Singing Is A Ministry of the Word Colossians 3:16 tells us that spiritual singing is actually part of the ministry of the Word – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…as you teach and admonish one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” The primary means of God’s grace in our lives is from the Word. The emphasis in worship is – God speaking to us. To receive God’s grace, you’ve got to know the God of grace. Life begins with truth. The more God’s Word sinks into our lives, the more grace he communicates to our lives, the more we are transformed into his likeness. The emphasis of the NT always begins with the Word: We sing the word, pray the word, preach the word, exhort and encourage with the word. Word plays the primary role. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ.
But Colossians 3:16 implies that spiritual singing is really a subset of the Ministry of the Word. Singing is a means of grace when it is a ministry of the Word. Singing along to U2 is not a promised means of grace. Singing Justin Bieber is definitely not a means of grace (pardon the thought). Singing spiritual songs filled with Biblical truth is a means of grace.
So true spiritual singing is not just about a melody we like. It’s not about “consumeristic preferences” or “personal tastes”. It’s about letting the Word dwell in you richly.
That affects what we sing. In church, we don’t just sing songs because we like the melody. Content must be the primary criterion. So we must be purposefully selective in what we sing. There are many songs that have a great melody, but when you examine the words, the words don’t say much. So you have to ask: What’s really affecting you – the music or the words? Music is certainly designed to affect you, but in worship, our music is to be a ministry of the Word. If the melody is affecting me more than the words are affecting me, then there’s likely an imbalance. I would rather sing a really good melody with really good words. So we have to ask questions like: What does the song say? Is it Biblical? Is it helpful? What does the song do? Why is this song needed? Is the style driven by the content or does the style make more impact than the lyrics? Will it be helpful in worship?
Singing should reflect the theology of the church. Reggie Kidd says,
“A theology that cannot be sung is not worth having either. Authentic Christian faith is not merely believed. Nor is it merely acted upon. It is sung—with utter joy sometimes, in uncontrollable tears sometimes, but it is sung.”
Because of the effectiveness of music and singing, the songs we sing have a great ability to teach us. While preaching is a central and essential means of grace that sanctifies you, you’re unlikely to remember all that your preacher says to you on a specific Sunday. You are more likely to remember the words to the songs you sang. Singing then becomes a great way to teach you theology, to teach you the truths about God. If we’re going to sing something, then let’s sing something that is worthwhile, that will fill our hearts and minds with with what is best – with the truth of God’s Word.
(By: Matt Foreman)