Jesus and the Songs We Sing, Pt. 1

The past few weeks I had the privilege of speaking at the Doxology and Theology conference in Frisco, TX, and the Christian Musicians Summit in Seattle, WA.

One of the breakouts I did at D&T was called The Worship Leader and Christ. I shaved about 40 minutes off that message, renamed it “Jesus and Our Songs,” and gave it again at CMS. Here’s a summary of what I shared.

Christians worship a triune God – Father, Son, and Spirit. All three person are equally God and equally worthy of worship. That’s one of the many things that distinguish us from Buddhists, Muslims, and Mormons. But the three persons of the Trinity possess unique roles and relationships. We don’t come to Jesus through the Father. The Spirit doesn’t send Jesus. The Father didn’t die for us.

One of the distinctions that exists in the Trinity is that both the Father and the Spirit share a desire to exalt the Son. Look at Phil. 2:9-11:

Therefore God has highly exalted [Jesus] and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes…He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:13-14).

In light of this reality, it’s important for us to ask, “What difference does Jesus make in the songs we write, play, and sing when we gather as the church?”

1. Jesus is the leader of our songs. (Heb. 2:10-12)

This has at least three implications.

Our songs are made possible by Jesus.

The separation of the “Holy of Holies” from the rest of the tabernacle and temple in the Old Testament made it clear that we can’t approach God any way we want, any time we want. We have to find a way to approach God, the consuming fire (Heb. 12:29), without being consumed. Jesus is that way.

We have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by  the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. (Heb. 10:19-22, emphasis added)

Our songs are made acceptable by Jesus.

[We] are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices  acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 2:5)

It’s not the excellence of our songs that make our worship pleasing to God, but the excellence of Christ.

Our songs are made one by Jesus.

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility. (Eph. 2:14)

We are a spiritual house, not a group of scattered bricks. We are united through our common Leader and Savior, not our common musical preferences.

A few implications:

  • We need God to approach God.
  • Despite the number of times it’s said, no musician will ever lead anyone into God’s presence. Only Jesus can do that.
  • We should be more grateful than anxious as we prepare to lead. It’s about Jesus’ performance, not ours.
  • Our “worship” isn’t more acceptable to God because we hit all the right notes. The people we lead might appreciate it, but even our best playing and singing requires the death of Christ to make it worthy of God’s holiness.
  • Music makes us one for a moment. Jesus makes us one for eternity.

I’ll post the other two points tomorrow.

5 Responses to Jesus and the Songs We Sing, Pt. 1

  1. Carin November 14, 2012 at 9:11 AM #

    Thanks for this. It’s good to be reminded that Jesus is the reason for EVERYTHING we (can) do as Christians

  2. Luke November 14, 2012 at 6:41 PM #

    I’m so glad to see you back writing these theology of worship blogs! I know you’ve been super busy moving. Please keep writing! They sustain and encourage me weekly. Looking forward to seeing the future posts.

  3. Jeremy Taylor November 14, 2012 at 7:04 PM #

    Thanks for posting this, Bob! Your message at D&T was rich and reading Psalm 78 together was better than a fine meal. Thanks for opening up the word!

  4. Joel Olea November 15, 2012 at 2:56 AM #

    Thank you for your post. I am a Christian and a believer in Jesus Christ and when I worship, I feel the Holy Spirit and I worship God through the Spirit. I have never thought to include Jesus in my worship before reading this because I felt his role was to come to earth, teach us, die for our sins and defeat death to sit on the throne until he returns. I never thought to worship Him directly (as odd as that may sound) so he might lead me to worship. Thanks keep up the good work

  5. Tan Molina January 21, 2013 at 4:52 AM #

    http://blog.alavanza.org/?p=908

    blessings!

    tm

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