Articles

            The last week of Jesus’ public ministry he was witness to two acts of extravagant giving, and he calls our attention to both.  O. Henry, is his most famous short story, “The Gift of the Magi” writes that repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love is “always a tremendous task…a mammoth task.” Jesus observes both acts of extravagance and calls us to appreciate the faith, and the heroism they both represent.

            You can read about them within a page or so of each other is the Gospel of Mark. We meet the first, a widow in Mark 12.41-44.  Jesus has just indicted the scribes because they “devour widows’ houses,” (v.40).  And then we meet such a widow.  She is undoubtedly a street person, although what she was before her widowhood we are left to imagine. She has two lepta – the smallest coins in circulation. Street venders would sell two sparrows on a stick for one lepta (Matthew 10.31). She has two. She comes into the court of women where there were large boxes for donation. One of those boxes would have been a widows fund. The rich are giving large sums as it is Passover week. Some have traveled from the far ends of the empire to bring their offering.  I doubt they noticed her at all.  If she did draw their attention it was the negative attention street people are used to receiving.

            Jesus notices her though. He notices that she put in both coins. Both! If she had kept one she would have had enough for one meal, but she put in both.  Jesus draws attention to her – makes His disciples SEE her as a woman of value, as a hero. “Truly I say to you this poor widow put in more than  all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty put in all she owned, all she had to live on,” (vv. 43-44).

            The second act of extravagance happens later in the week.  Just before everything got hectic – the night before the last supper – Jesus was hosted at a banquet in Bethany by a man named Simon. Jesus’ dear friend Mary comes in (Her sister Martha is serving at the banquet – John 12.1-3) carrying an alabaster bottle of pure nard. Nard is a perfumed resin, very costly, produced at the foot of the Himalayas. This alabaster vial cost a year’s wages. In its pure state it would be used sparingly, and would have been mixed with something to thin it. The bottle would be stoppered – sealed with wax to preserve the precious content. Mary however does an amazing thing, a seemingly senseless thing – she breaks the neck of the bottle so its contents cannot be preserved (Mark 14.3). She pours the nard on Jesus’ head and feet.  Then she does an equally extravagant thing – she lets down her hair, and uses her hair to wipe Jesus’ feet. This level of intimacy was not permitted publicly or privately between a man and a woman who were not married – but she does it anyway. Jesus understands this gesture for what it is intended to be – an act of pre-embalming. A sort of giving-one-roses-in-life and not after death.  She was saying to Him – “I know what is about to happen to you, and I care as much as my heart is able to care.”

            Again, Jesus forces his disciples, despite their indignance, to really SEE her as a woman of value, as a hero. “She has done a good deed to me…she has done what she could, she has anointed my body beforehand for the burial. And truly I say to you wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world that which this woman has done will be spoken in memory of her,” (vv.6-9).

            Two coins and a broken bottle –given as the offerings of true faith, real love, extravagant devotion.  They teach us the courage it takes to truly love, to truly give. They teach us that although humans refuse to see, or to see correctly, God sees.

             He sees. He knows. He cares. He understands. He appreciates. He says so.

 

1 -  WE MUST BELIEVE IN GOD!

"Without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that seek him" Hebrews 11:6 .

  1. First, we must believe that God is -- that he exists.  The universe is one of the best sources of evidence in proof of such. "For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity" Romans 1:20.
    1. Two broad solutions are offered for the origin of our universe: naturalism/materialism [usually identified as evolution] and creationism. In the previous verse, creationism is specified as the correct answer [see also: {bible 9}Genesis 1:1; Exodus 20:11; Psalms 19:1-3; Psalms 33:6-9; Isaiah 45:18;Jeremiah 27:5].
    2. By a study of the universe and a logical search for its origin, you and I can know that God exists, that he is powerful and that he is divine. Without this intellectual acceptance, it is impossible to please him.
  2. Second, we must believe that God is a rewarder of those who seek after him. -- Where is he? Who is he? What is he like? What does he want? Without some kind of revelation, we have no answer. 1 Corinthians 2:10.
  1.  
    1.  That's where the Bible comes in. For "all scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" 2 Tim. 3:16.   By turning to "the implanted word, which is able to save...souls" James 1:21, we learn about God and the life he requires of us.
    2. Now, let's assume that you and I both accept the existence of a divine being based on the existence, the size and the intricate design of our universe. Let' s also assume that we accept the Bible as his divinely inspired revelation.
    3. That being true, let's turn to his revelation to see why we have to seek him and what we must do to have a relationship with him. Let's turn to the Bible to see what we must do if we really want to go to heaven and live with him.
2 -  WE MUST ACCEPT PERSONAL GUILT

"Let no man say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted of God'; for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempteth no man. But each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust when it hath conceived, beareth sin; and the sin, when it is full-grown, bringeth forth death." James 1:13-15.

  1. First, the above passage teaches us that temptation and sin are personal. -- NOTE: "each man is tempted...by his own lust, and enticed." If we are not careful, our own desires seduce and lure us away from God! When that happens, we are guilty of giving birth to sin in our lives.
    1. That makes sin something we must take personal responsibility for. We are not made to sin, forced to sin, or "blind-sided" by sin. In the final analysis, sin is invited into our lives when we yield to some personal desire that is out of harmony with God's revealed will. The guilt is something we must shoulder as individuals.
  2. Second, the above passage teaches us that sin reaps bitter consequences. -- The word used was "death."
    1. After his creating man, there was only one thing God told man not to do...only one negative command: "Of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" Genesis 2:16,17.   But man disobeyed (Genesis 3:1-19) and, thus, "through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin" Romans 5:12.   Did you see the word "death"?
    2. Since that day, "all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23.  "All." That includes you and me. AND NOTE: "all have sinned." We are not born with sin in some kind of depraved condition. We do not inherit sin. We sin. We choose to transgress and cross the lines God has drawn (1 John 3:4). When we do, we invite some awfully dark consequences into our lives. Consequences such as:
      1. The plight of "separation" from God: "Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sin has hid his face from you" Isaiah 59:1,2.
      2. The prospect of eternal "damnation": "For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23); that is "the lake of fire and brimstone; which is the second death" Revelation 21:8.
  3. Now, let's assume that you and I, based on our belief in God and the Bible as his word, accept our status of guilt in sin. Let's also assume that we want that status changed from guilt to spiritual innocence; "godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation" 2 Corinthians 7:10.
  4. That being true, let's turn to the Bible to see what we must do to be cleansed of our guilt. Let's turn to the Bible and continue to see what we must do if we really want to go to heaven.
3 - WE MUST DEPEND ON THE GIFT AND GUIDANCE OF GOD'S GRACE

"God, being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved)...that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus: for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works that no man should glory" Ephesians 2:4-9.

  1. First, the above passage teaches us that we are saved by grace. -- Did you happen to see the three elements that make up God's grace? They are (a) mercy, (b) love, and (c) kindness. In our escape from the darkness of sin and its consequences, all three are involved.
    1. Salvation is possible because God is merciful and has feelings for man. -- In fact, God "is longsuffering...not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). Indeed, "your heavenly Father is merciful" (Luke 6:36).
    2. Salvation is possible because God is loving. -- How many times have we heard it, read it, quoted it: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son" (John 3:16; cf. Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:9,10)? The entire ministry of Jesus is the product of God's love, his grace (cf. Hebrews 2:9).
    3. Salvation is also possible because God is kind and concerned about doing what man needed to have done. -- In fact, this kindness is one of the things that can motivate us to make the necessary changes needed for salvation (Romans 2:4).
      1. Mercy...Love...Kindness! That's grace. That's what made salvation possible and available. No one served as God's counselor, advising him to save man (Romans 11:33,34). No one put God in debt, forcing him to save man (Romans 11:35). He provided man a way of escape from the darkness of sin and its consequences because he is a God of grace. What a thought!
  2. Second, the above passage teaches us that we are saved by faith. -- From the example of Abraham, we learn that faith is accepting God at his word and submitting to his guidance. "Looking unto the promise of God, he wavered not through unbelief, but waxed strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what he had promised, he was able also to perform. Wherefore also it was reckoned unto him for righteousness" Romans 5:20-22.
    1. This "accepting God at his word" is the kind of faith we are also to possess in that we are to "walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham" (Romans 4:12).  And what kind of faith did Abraham have? When he accepted God at his word, his faith was obedient. He submitted to the guidance of God because he accepted God at his word (Hebrews 11:8).
    2. Now, let's put it together. We are saved by grace in that God's mercy, love and kindness made it possible. At the same time, we are saved by faith in that we accept God at his word, yield to his guidance -- as did Abraham -- and do what he has commanded. So, to escape the guilt of sin and its dark consequences, we must rely on the grace and guidance of God.

Now, let's assume that you and I believe in God, accept the Bible as His word and humbly accept the guilt of our sinful status. We're in sin, separated from God, damned to perdition and we want to do something about that. Let's also assume that we have gratefully turned to the grace of God for help and are willing to accept him at his word, submissively yielding to his commands with an obedient faith.

That being true, let's continue to turn through the Bible to see what God would have us to do to be cleansed of our guilt. Again, let's continue to turn through the Bible to see what we must do if we really want to go to heaven.

4. WE MUST RESPOND TO THE SPECIFIC COMMANDS OF JESUS

Remember, Jesus is "unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation"  Hebrews 5:9.

  1. The Savior of whom? Those "that obey him." If we want to go to heaven, we must -- out of an obedient faith -- give in to his commands. And what commands does he attach to our being freed from the guilt of sin?
    1. First, our obedient faith must believe in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God: "Except ye believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24). -- On one occasion a woman of Samaria said to Jesus, "I know the Messiah cometh (he that is called Christ)." Jesus' response? "I that speak unto the am he" (John 4:25,26). So, if you and I want to go to heaven, we must believe that Jesus is "He," the Christ, the Messiah.  See also: John 3:16-18; Acts 16:30; 1 John 5:1-3,11-13.
    2. Second, our obedient faith must repent of the past: "Except ye repent, ye shall all...perish" (Luke 13:3,5). -- To repent, as evidenced by the men of Nineveh, is to turn from evil (Matthew 12:41; see, Jonah 3:10). So, if you and I want to go to heaven, we must stop doing what is wrong and start doing what is right. We must turn from evil.  See also: Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30; 26:18-20; 2 Peter 3:9.
    3. Third, our obedient faith must confess Jesus: "Everyone therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32,33). -- The word translated "confess" means to say the same thing as another. If we want to go to heaven, we must say what Jesus said about himself, we must say what God said about Jesus, we must confess our faith in his being the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God.  See also: Romans 10:9,10; 1 Timothy 6:12; cf. Acts 8:35-37.
    4. Fourth, our obedient faith must submit to baptism for the remission of sins: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned" (Mark 16:16). -- Further study will prove this baptism to be an immersion (Romans 6:3,4) in water (Acts 8:35-39) for the purpose of taking away one's sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). If I want to go to heaven, I must be baptized; that is, immersed in water for the purpose of having my sins taken away See also: Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:47; Acts 10:48; 1 Cor. 12:13; Galatians 3:26,27; Ephesians 5:25-27; 1 Peter 3:21.
  2. Now, again, let's put it all together. Out of his mercy, love and kindness, God sent Jesus to die for our sins (cf. Isaiah 53:4-6; Matthew 20:28; 26:28; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:20). In response to such a gracious gift, you and I are commanded to possess a faith that accepts God at his words and yields to his commands. We, thus, yield to the command to:
  1. Believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah of Old Testament prophecy, the Son of God.
  2. Repent of our sins in a deliberate choice to turn from evil in our lives.
  3. Confess our faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God.
  4. Be baptized, immersed in water to have our sins taken away.
5. WE MUST LIVE A NEW LIFE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

"For hereunto were he called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow in his steps"  1 Peter 2:21.

  1. We must never put a period where God has placed a comma. Becoming a New Testament Christian via the active grace of God coupled with our obedient faith [an obedience of faith, repentance, confession and baptism for the remission of sins] is only the beginning of an abundant life.
  2. After becoming a Christian, we are blessed with the challenge to think like Jesus (Philippians 2:5) and become as much like him as possible. "What would Jesus do?" "How would Jesus respond?" "What would Jesus think? What would he say? What would he decide?"
  3. Using the New Testament as our standard for day to day living, knowing that he will judge us in keeping with the same (John 12:48), we are to use him as our great example and echo the words of Paul: "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me" !  Galatians 2:20

Long before the New Testament writers spoke of baptism, the Greeks used the very same word to describe the process of dipping, immersing, or submerging something. The root word "bapto," from which baptism is derived, is translated as a form of dip in several passages: "dip the tip of his finger in water" (Luke 16:24); "when he had dipped the sop" (John 13:26); and "he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood" (Revelation 19:13). When English scholars began translating the New Testament into English from the original Greek, they sought to avoid controversy by transliterating the word for baptize (that is, substituting the letters of our alphabet for the Greek letters), rather than translating the word (giving the actual English equivalent). This allowed people to continue to believe and teach that either sprinkling, pouring, or immersion was scriptural baptism, despite the clear meaning of the original language. "Immersion" properly translates "baptism." For example, a literal translation of Acts 2:38, "repent and be baptized," would be "repent and be immersed."

The first recorded practice of sprinkling came some two hundred years after the establishment of the church. Ancient historian Eusebius said that third century church leader Novatian, supposing he was dying, "received baptism, being besprinkled with water, on the bed whereon he lay (if that can be termed baptism)." Sprinkling, or "clinic baptism," was reserved for the ill, and was held in disfavor generally until the council of Ravenna, in 1311, said that baptism was equally acceptable by sprinkling or by immersion. Substitution of sprinkling for immersion is an ancient innovation, but is not biblical.

Only immersion fits the Bible pattern. The nature of baptism is such that it requires "much water." "John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized" (John 3:23). Sprinkling or pouring requires only a "handful" of water, but immersion requires "much" water.

Also, baptism requires a going down into the water, and a coming up out of the water. Luke records the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch: "As they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? . . . And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip" (Acts 8:36-39). They both went down into the water so Philip could immerse him. Finally, New Testament baptism requires a burial and a resurrection. Paul describes the act of baptism this way: "We are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection" (Romans 6:4-5). Sprinkling and pouring do not picture a burial and a resurrection as immersion does.

Christians readily identify with assembling on the first day of the week to worship their God and remember their Savior.  Additionally, familiarity exists for Christians partaking of the Lord’s Supper, giving, praying, hearing preaching, and singing each Sunday.  Few Christians would reject the notion that these practices represent the worship of faithful followers of Christ from today all the way back to the first century with the establishment of the Church.  Throughout the centuries, Christians strove to obey the commands of God regarding worship.  Sadly, the Church also saw its fair share of false teachers, skewed doctrine, and rebellious members over the years. Yet it was not until the 1800’s that wide spread abuses began to assault Christian worship practices.  What did God authorize for the Churches in regard to singing in its assemblies?  What specific type of music can be utilized in relation to God?  Do these standards only apply to the first day of the week assembly or do they apply any time music normally associated with God is sung?  For instance, what about V.B.S., WinterFest, L.T.C., Bible camp, youth devotions, “Christian” music on the car radio, at home on the piano, or just anywhere?  What does God expect when it comes to singing and what about those who say “My singing is not worship unless I intend it to be, so I can do whatever I want with songs normally associated with God.”  Elderships, congregations, and individual Christians should be answering these questions with the full authority of scripture before potentially risking their souls and the souls of others with an improper course of action.

What, When, and Where Worship?

A moment should be taken to clearly identify what “worship” means.  Worship displays itself in the honor, reverence, or respect given to a specific target.  Historically, man chose to direct worship toward all sort of animate and inanimate objects, real and imagined, in addition to or excluding Jehovah, the one and only God of all that exists (Isaiah 44).  The Bible provides guidelines for proper worship in John 4:24 stating: “God is Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  Summarily, this verse establishes: a defined target for properly worshiping God (God Himself), an intent to worship Him (spirit), and a pattern of worshiping Him (truth – found in His Word – John 17:17).  Thus, the concept of no worship unless there is intent seems to hold firm.  However, this does not provide a clear framework or answer for determining how singing songs associated with God should be treated whether in or out of worship.  It also does not determine whether or not such songs have authorization to be separated from worship (reverence to God).  Before moving away from a look at worship, one other aspect must be examined.  When does worship occur?  Is the act of purposely showing reverence to God, as He has prescribed, limited to a specific time or location?  Consider prayer in this query.  Prayer for the Christian aims itself at a very specific target – God! (Matthew 6:6-13)  Scripture is very specific about how we approach God.  God must be treated as Holy (I Peter 1:16 – “Be Ye Holy; for I am Holy.)  Seeing a target, an intent, and a pattern for prayer, when and where does it occur?  Paul answers this question in I Thessalonians 5:17 – “Pray without ceasing”.  Worshiping God can occur at anytime and anywhere and this is born out in the practice of prayer (Mat. 26:36, Mk. 1:35, Lk. 5:16, Lk. 18:10, Acts 4:31, Acts 10:30, Acts 16:25…).  Worship is not limited to a specific location or a specific time.

What is the Standard of Authority for Examining Singing?

Turn now your attention to the issue of singing songs associated with God and to the objective of singing without intent to worship.  The analysis of singing will be done with the authority of God’s eternal principles and that of the Law of Christ as seen in the New Testament.  Practices recorded in the Old Testament, which occurred with and without authority under the Law of Moses, will not be considered as that law was nailed to the cross and never had authority (nor was intended to have) over Christians and the Church of our Lord (Jeremiah 31:31, Hebrews 8:10-13, Colossians 2:13-14).

What Do Christians Sing?

Christian songs as seen in the New Testament take three forms: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16).  Psalms are odes to God as seen in the book of Psalms and a few other books.  Hymns are songs from the mind of man with themes made to praise God or educate man about God.  Indeed, many psalms could be classified as hymns as well.  Hymns also include all songs created today which are associated with God.  Examples would include:  “Jesus Loves Me”, “I’ll Fly Away”, “Sing to Me of Heaven”, “The B.I.B.L.E”, “Hilltops of Glory”, “Alleluia”, “Love One Another”, “My God is an Awesome God”, and others.  Men often find the third type of songs, spiritual songs, confusing.  Some think of these as deep soul songs, however, Greek definitions provides a very telling understanding.  Research the word “spiritual” (pneumatikos) and the following words will be found: “belonging to the Divine Spirit”, “non-carnal”, and “supernatural”.  In fact, a search for this same word in scripture will demonstrate that it is used exclusively for things not of man, but of God.  What does this mean to us?  Consider that spiritual songs were those given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the first century and not coming from the mind of man.  These were part of the gifts as mentioned in I Corinthians 14.  These were needed along with spiritual teaching and spiritual prayer in the newborn Church because folks did not know these things on their own, nor did they have scriptures to guide them as we do today.  Of course, with the complete revelation of scripture, its confirmation, and its spread throughout the world, gifts ceased as foretold in I Corinthians 13 and Ephesians 4.  Thus, today the Christians sing psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs having ceased.

What is the Purpose of Christian Singing?

In I Corinthians 1:18-21, it is established that the communication by proclamation of the cross (gospel) is what saves.  That proclamation includes verbal and non-verbal communication.  Biblical authority by way of command, example, and necessary inference supports this in at least the following forms: Preaching, teaching, singing, writing, illustration, and sign language.  Recall that all scripture is from God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  Thus, the Ephesians and Colossians passages mentioned previously are God providing man information through the Holy Spirit and spoken and written by man exactly as given.  The context of Ephesians and Colossians lays out what God wants from man.  God gives a command through general authority which summarily says “teach and admonish one another through speech and song, and sing and make melody in your hearts to God.”  There are eleven verses which speak of singing in the New Testament (Matthew 26:30, Mark 14:26, Act 16:25, Romans 15:8-9, 1 Corinthians 14:15, Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 2:10-12, James 5:13, Revelation 5:8-9, Revelation 14:2-3).  In all of these verses, it is clear singing is done with God being targeted.  Of the 11 verses mentioned, five are specific to New Testament Christian usage (Acts 16, I Cor14, Eph. 5, Col. 3, and James 5).  All of these pertain to Christians communicating in song serving the purpose of edification (building up) of others and self – communication which saves.  In a broad focus it can be said the singing of psalms and hymns by Christians in the Bible served one of two purposes: 1. Worship, 2. Edification.

What are the Guidelines for Singing Psalms and Hymns?

Time: Of great importance to the Christian singing psalms and hymns: when are they authorized sing these songs associated with God?  None of the verses demonstrating or directing Christian singing limit singing to a singular time frame.  The guidelines we gather from the five New Testament passages regarding singing by Christians apply at all times.  Christians can sing when they assemble, when they are alone, in their car, in their home, day or night, and in any location.  Paul and Silas sang at midnight in a prison!

Edification: Romans 14:14-19 states the following:

“I know, and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean of itself: save that to him who accounteth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.  For if because of meat thy brother is grieved, thou walkest no longer in love. Destroy not with thy meat him for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he that herein serveth Christ is well-pleasing to God, and approved of men. So then let us follow after things which make for peace, and things whereby we may edify one another.” 

Paul speaks here regarding the issue of eating foods once considered unclean.  It violated the conscience of some to eat that food.  Paul’s conclusion is rather than to destroy someone’s faith, they should only engage in what edifies (builds up).  The application is the same with singing, edification is a guideline that must be followed.  God commands we sing psalms and hymns, but, however it is done, it must be done in a manner which builds up those present.  If there is a concern by another that the manner in which you are engaging in singing is sinful, then you certainly are not edifying and must stop.  Paul would go on to classify such actions as stumbling blocks.

Expedience: I Corinthians 10:23-24 carries the same theme as the above verse in that it requires that Christian actions edify.  But it also requires that they be expedient.  Expedient may be translated “profitable” in your Bible text.  This means, there must be an authorized profit or help from our actions.  If somehow the atmosphere or actions engaged in by Christians surrounding singing are not expedient, then they are also not acceptable.

Understanding: I Corinthians 14:15 establishes that singing must be done with understanding.  That is, the words shared must be communication which will be able to be understood by the hearer either by first hand listening or interpretation. Everyone knows what singing is.  Singing comes from the vocal chords.  A guitar cannot sing.  A piano cannot sing.  A harmonica cannot sing.  In fact, no electronic or mechanical instrument can sing.  What they do is respond to human input and play desired sounds.  Playing is not singing.  It is an addition to singing.  Additionally, clapping is not singing.  It is the use of percussion similar to a drum.  Christians are never asked by God to play, they are asked to communicate the salvation of God through singing psalms and hymns as seen in the verses mentioned.  This is what Christians have authority to do – sing.  Thus, this is a very important guideline for the communication of psalms and hymns.  Edifying, expedient psalms and hymns may be sung at anytime, but there is no authorization for adding the unintelligible playing of instruments or clash of clapping with them.  This would include at a V.B.S., WinterFest, on the radio, in the car, at your piano in your home, or anywhere else.  Such action is sin and requires repentance.

Bluntly, there are no commands, examples, or necessary inference for worldly usage of psalms and hymns by Christians of the first century in scripture (and therefore no Biblical authority for such usage).  Since, scripture provides all we need for life and Godliness (2 Pet. 1:2-3), if psalms and hymns were allowed for worldly usage it would be established in the Bible.

Does Intent Matter?

Perhaps you have heard, “Outside of Sunday morning assembly, I have no intent to worship when singing psalms and hymns!  I can add what I want to the songs.” or “We aren’t worshipping, we are celebrating!”  Folks who want to add clapping and playing and other innovations to their singing frequently say things like this.  The nature and creation of psalms and hymns is that they are to be directed toward God at all times and are meant to edify Christians as well.  They are set apart for God and directed by God for Christian usage and are thus holy.  Now, someone might ask what the difference is between “psalms and hymns” and “Unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine”.  God created food for man to eat.  Sometimes God has declared the food have additional purposes, such as the Lord’s Supper.  Psalms and hymns were created for offering to God and edification.  They have no other purpose that one which is holy.  Utilizing them for enjoyment, entertainment, celebration for man, and other reasons is to treat what is holy, profanely.  Treating Holy things in a profane manner is sinful.

When God makes something holy, it is not to be profaned.   Consider the following: Moses was told to remove his shoes when he approached holy Ground. (Exodus 3:5). Mount Sinai was Holy when God descended down upon it.  If the people or any beast came into contact with it, profaning it, they were to be put to death.  (Exodus 19:12-13) Nadab and Abihu did not treat the Lord in a sanctified “holy” manner when approaching him.  By not doing what he specifically said, they treated Him profanely.  (Leviticus 10:1-3). Korah and reputable princes of the people rebelled against Moses saying they were Holy before God.  They were commanded to go before the Lord with the censors of God and see what God would do.  God swallowed up their families in the ground and consumed them with fire.  Then God commanded their censors be picked up because those were Holy.  Those men were profane.  (Numbers 16:1-37) Christian communication is to be Holy, not profane by following after Old wives fables or profane babblings. (I Tim. 6:20;  I Tim. 4:7, 2 Peter 3:11) In Hebrews 12:16, Esau is called profane because he profanely treated his Holy birthright, which would set him apart with the responsibility of spiritually leading His family before God. 1 Corinthians 3:17 - “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”  When Christians, set apart and holy to God, step outside of what God has authorized they are acting profanely.

The bottom line application of these scriptures is this: Whether your intent is to use psalms and hymns for worship or not, they are holy.  Treating them in an unauthorized manner and thus in an unholy manner is to profane them and sin.  Just as using the Lord’s Supper in a vain manner by not focusing on Christ is sinful, singing psalms and hymns without God in mind and reverence toward Him is sinful. Clapping out the song B.I.B.L.E., the word of God – sinful!  Playing the “The Old Rugged Cross” on the piano at home – sinful!  Listening to instrumental psalms and hymns on the radio in your car – sinful!  To use the name of God, the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit in song for non-authorized purposes is to use the name of God in vain – This too is sinful! It is vanity and pride to think one can take something holy to God and use it for themselves in an ordinary worldly way.

What Should We Now Know about Singing?

We know in regard to worship with psalms and hymns, it can be done anywhere and at anytime.  The authority for determining how Christians should treat psalms and hymns in a proper manner comes from God’s eternal principles and the Covenant of Christ as found in the New Testament.  Christians today sing psalms and hymns, but not spiritual songs as sung in the first century.  The purpose of those songs is worship and edification not worldly applications like entertainment, personal enjoyment, or personal celebration. Psalms and hymns can be sung anywhere and at any time, but must edify, be expedient, and understandable.  There is no authorization to sing Psalms and hymns accompanied by clapping or instruments at anytime whether intending to worship or not.  God has presented psalms and hymns as holy.  Their usage is not to be profaned with common treatment in any setting and to do so is sinful.  Psalms and hymns must always be treated reverently.

How is your congregational leadership handling these issues?  How are you handling these issues in your family when they have arisen?  If you are engaged in them, more is needed then just stopping the activity.  Repentance requires seeking forgiveness from God.  If this is something you or the congregation has engaged in publicly, then there needs to be public repentance so all will know not to follow your example causing you to be a stumbling block.  Brothers and sisters, leaders of congregations, let us treat our God and what He has sanctified to Himself as Holy that we might stand before Him in good favor.

some adaptations were made from the original artilce

 

Paul tells us that on the night He was betrayed, Jesus took bread, “and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come” (1 Corinthians 11:24-26). Jesus instituted this supper to be done in remembrance of Him. Paul said, “as often” as Christians partake of this memorial supper, they “show the Lord's death till he come.” There is no question that the church should partake of the Lord’s Supper (communion), but how often? Is the frequency of partaking of communion just a matter of opinion?

It would be strange if the Lord instituted a memorial and gave no guidance how often it should be done. The Jews received explicit instructions when they were to observe the Passover, Pentecost, and other memorials. The New Testament is clear that the early church assembled each first day of the week [Sunday] for worship. 1 Corinthians 14:23 speaks of the whole church “come together into one place” and Hebrews 10:25 warns against “forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” The first day of the week was the time for the early church to assemble and partake of communion.

Luke tells us that Paul came to Troas “and upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight” (Acts 20:7). The verse before states, “we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days” (Acts 20:6). Paul and his company had waited a full seven days at Troas so that they could meet with the Christians of Troas on the first day of the week, “when the disciples came together to break bread.” Their stated purpose in coming together was “to break bread,” meaning to partake of the Lord’s Supper, or communion. The writings of many ancient writers such as Pliny, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and others show that the universal practice of the early church was to meet each first day of the week to partake of the Lord’s Supper.

But was it every first day? When God told the Jews to "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8), they understood that it was every Sabbath day that was intended, even though God did not specifically say to remember every Sabbath day. When Paul wrote, “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:2), didn’t he mean that each first day of the week was the day for Christians to give? Each first day of the week, [the day of the Lord’s resurrection, and the day the church was established], is the day Christians are to observe communion. No other day is authorized by command or example of scripture.

Subcategories

Bible study is very important as an individual to know what the Bible says and what God wants us to understand about what our work is while we are on this earth.  We encourage you to take time out of each day to read the bible. but these articles will also help you to understand what you read. Acts 8:30-31

Take quiet time and read inspirational writing.  We have supplies some here.

When we meet

Sunday Morning Bible Class - 9:30 am

Sunday Morning Worship - 10:30 am

Sunday Afternoon Worship - 1:30 pm

Wednesday Bible Class - 7:00 pm

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