Monday Morning Musings is a hodgepodge of contemplations as I begin a new week. Check-in every Monday morning to receive a myriad of thoughts from my vapid brain.
Grab the Knife
On Sunday, I preached from Ephesians 2:11-12. All of Ephesians 2 is a masterful chapter about the power of the gospel to save. Ephesians 2 tells how a person is saved and what Jesus overcame to save his elect people. In Ephesians 2:11-12, we read that the Jews did not accept Gentiles because they were uncircumcised. They were not part of ethnic Israel. And the covenant of the Old Testament was foreign to them. These two verses have a twinge of the entire Book of Galatians. Circumcision anyone? The Jews celebrated all the checks against the Gentiles.
Doing More Than We Realized
As I was studying this passage in preparation to preach, I was struck by the breadth of what Jesus accomplished through his death and resurrection. Yes, the atoning death of Jesus forgives His people of sin (Ephesians 2:1-3). Yes, a person is saved purely by the grace of God (v. 8). But Ephesians 2:11-12 tells us more about what he accomplished. Jesus fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:17). Therefore, the Gentiles do not need to be physically circumcised but need to be circumcised in the heart. Not a part of the Jewish state? No problem. Jesus busted down the doors to let other people in. Jesus made sure that people from all tribes, tongues, and nations are part of his kingdom. What about the covenants? Go read the Book of Hebrews. But if you are looking for the cliff notes on how Jesus included the Gentiles into the family of God, here is the following verse in Ephesians 2.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.– Ephesians 2:13
How far off were the Gentiles? How far off were you? A Hubble Space Telescope is needed to see how far off you were. But God…
But God (Ephesians 2:4) made a way through Jesus Christ. It’s through Christ in which a person is reconciled to God. It is through Christ in which a person is forgiven of sin. Through Christ, a person is brought near, even though many of you reading did not grow up a Jew.
When you are brought near to God through Christ, you become a part of a rich history and a part of God’s great redemption story.
Everyone has preferences, especially church members. If you want to hear a regular churchgoer’s preference, just ask about the songs and instruments used on Sundays. If your church has an organ, there will be a segment of people who want to see the organ used. No organ, eh? What about a pianist or guitarist. I know I have my preference between the three. Of course, there are additional preferences, such as creating a beat with a cajon. If a church really wants to up its game, then you pull out the entire drum set. How many vocalists should be on stage? 1, 2, or 10? Let’s not forget the lighting, the fog machine, and the strobe light. Every generation has its version of worship wars. And I imagine, because people make up the church, the worship wars will continue until Jesus returns.
So what matters the most when it comes to worship in song on Sunday mornings? I can make the case against fog machines during church, but I’ll table that conversation for another day. Recently, I pondered the question about worship with a close friend. In my mind, the most critical factor when it comes to singing a particular song is strong theology. Theology is the study of God. It’s not the study of man. The study of man is called anthropology. Take a look at Psalm 95 and ask, who is the psalmist singing to and why?
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!– Psalm 95:1-2
The psalmist makes it obvious. He is singing to God. God is the rock of his salvation, and that is why he sings to God. As we sing to God, we also sing to one another (Ephesians 5:18-19). Today, the content of so much Christian music is self-focused. It’s anthropological and not theological. Here is another psalm.
Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!– Psalm 105:2
Are you singing about your wondrous works? I hope not. You need to sing about God’s wondrous works, which means using songs with strong theology describing God’s wondrous works.
Ya know, I am not a fan of the organ. But I’ll take the organ over the guitar or piano if the lyrics connected with the organ reveals solid biblically based theology. I love a myriad of instruments (even though I can’t play any), but I’ll sing acapella in the church if that means the theology is solid. Here is the bottom line. Your preferences are just that…preferences. So grab the 80-year-old lady who knows how to play the organ, and I’ll sing with joy.