Worship New Testament Style

Oct 22, 2023

What do we learn from the New Testament about how we should worship?

We worship God, in spirit and truth, singing Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

Jesus teaches, “Worship in spirit and in truth,” – John 4:21-23

In John 4:13-14, 19-26, Jesus’ reply to the Samaritan woman at the well, “Worship in spirit and in truth.”

The context includes a relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord that results in new spiritual life and prompts our response of wholehearted truth-filled worship of the One True Living God.

Bob Kauffman writes about the worship leader and the lyrics of songs selected in “My Heart: What Do I Love? And My Mind: What Do I Believe?” in Worship Matters. We believe that the words we choose to sing are of great importance.

Word-centered and spirt-fullness are both joined at worship.

Heart and mind: “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts,” – Jeremiah 31:33

“I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statues,” – Ezekiel 36:27

Word-centered and spirit-fullness are both joined at worship. Filled with the Holy Spirit we are to sing and speak our wholehearted worship. This includes Scripture based lyrics. So, our Sunday worship times are not a warm-up to prepare you to hear the Word. It is a time for us to come together and give full voice to our response of wholehearted truth-filled worship of the One True Living God.

Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

Ephesians 5:17-19 “filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, spiritual songs.”

3 Types of Songs for us to sing:

A. Psalms

In the first century church, they all accepted and used the Old Testament worship literature as the basis for singing. The Psalms of the Bible are God’s inspired word and worship from this source is first and foremost. This type of singing is God-glorifying and life-instilling because it is in being breathed into the heart as it is being breathed out in song.

B. Hymns

Our word “hymn” is derived from the Greek word for a religious song. Every generation writes their own songs about God and to God. Hymns are songs of testimony, triumph, exaltation, adoration, and celebration of God. They are defined by their subject, God. We announce God’s works in songs, described as hymns. We praise God and review God’s attributes, testifying to his goodness as experienced over the centuries.

C. Spiritual Songs

Paul defined a specific form of music distinct and unique to the church. It was a form of music foreshadowed in David’s Psalms and taught by the Apostle Paul as a normal part of the Christians’ worship experience.

Hodais pnuematikais – is the exact phrase used in both Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 translated as “spiritual songs”. The first word is simply “ode”, or any words which are sung. The second word is most easily defined and understood by noting its use elsewhere in the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians 12:1, Paul uses the word in introducing the subject of spiritual gifts referring to the acceptance of the Holy Spirit’s work in the lives of the people and in the church. In Galatians 6:1, Paul uses the word in his appeal to the Galatians concerning their duty to restore fallen church family members. In both contexts, it gives us perhaps the clearest picture of what Paul is referring to: Holy Spirit-filled people of both character and charisma. Spiritual songs are an exercise separate from the singing of Psalms and hymns. It was a singing of unrehearsed, spirit-empowered, spirit-understood songs. It’s a complementary act to be intermingled in the worship experience (in keeping with Paul’s instructions about weekly worship services in 1 Corinthians).

They were spirit-enabled utterances that were definitely: singing (not spoken), part of devotional life and worship services, so desirable that Paul would choose to practice it “I will sing with the Spirit,”, was something in which the Holy Spirit was involved (doing something uniquely valid and valuable).

One way to follow the principle, from Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16-17, is to choose songs in a worship set whose lyrics journey through a “New Testament – Psalmic” approach to our worship time. (New Testament as described above and Psalmic as described by Ernest Gentile throughout his book of Bible Studies on the subject Worship God). We should literally sing the Psalms (at least passages of). We should sing additional established songs that praise our God, including God’s attributes, and God’s actions. We should also allow time and space for the singing of “new songs” that are Holy Spirit inspired.

Today’s notes are partially from the Mannahouse message series: People of Presence

(Life Group focus John 4:21-23, Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 5:17-19)

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