Summary: This is the fourth and final sermon in the series, "Reality Prayer - How to Ask So God Will Answer"
Can you imagine going to church and not singing or hearing any music?
We gather to worship to hear God’s Word, give to God’s work, and fellowship with other worshippers - but gathering without songs of praise as part of our worship - how wrong would that be?
Church without the singing of praise would be like tea without sugar.
Go to some parts of the country and ask for sweet tea at a restaurant and they will look at you like your pixilated. The waitress will say, "Hon, the sugar and sweet-n-low are on the table. If you want sweet tea you’ll have to make it yourself."
Here in the south they know sweet tea. We know sweet everything. My wife is constantly trying to slip in this low-fat, no sugar stuff on me. She put some low-fat dressing on the chef salad and I complained right away. "It tastes the same", she said. If it tasted the same I wouldn’t have noticed it. It doesn’t taste the same - it tastes bland. I have one word for that low-fat stuff - Blah.
Church without praise to God is chef salad without the good tasting dressing.
One couple were in their eighties and had been married for sixty years. Though no longer young, they were both in very good health, largely due to the wife’s insistence on healthy foods and exercise for the past three decades.
One day their good health didn’t help when they were in an auto accident which sent them both to heaven.
They reached the Pearly Gates, and St. Peter escorted them inside. He took them to a beautiful mansion furnished in gold and fine silks with a fully stocked kitchen pantry. St. Peter said, "Welcome to heaven, this mansion will be your new home now."
After settling in they went for a stroll down the streets of gold and came across the most magnificent buffet they had ever seen. Every kind of cuisine imaginable was laid out before them, from seafood to steaks to exotic deserts, and beverages flowing free from numerous fountains.
The old man looked around and glanced nervously at his wife. "Well, where are all the low-fat and low-cholesterol foods, and the decafinated tea?"
"That’s the best part", said St. Peter, as he glanced over their shoulders. "You can eat and drink as much as you like , whatever you like, whenever you like, and you will never get fat or sick. After all, this is heaven."
The old man further inquired, "No gym to work out at?" "Not unless you want to", was the answer.
"No testing my sugar or blood pressure or..."
"Never again. All you do here is enjoy yourelf."
The old man glared at his wife and said, "You and your fat-free bran muffins. We could have been here twenty years ago."
Church worship without songs of praise not only wouldn’t be any fun, it wouldn’t be scriptural either. The Bible commands us to be "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord." (Ephesians 5:19) It is the result of being filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)
Let’s define each of the three types of church songs mentioned in the Bible:
PSALM = A sacred song sung to musical accompaniment. The New Testament Greek word literally alludes to the striking or twitching with fingers on musical strings. (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words) The Old Testament Psalms were also sung with the accompaniment of stringed instruments like the lyre or harp. The harp in those days was not the large instrument we’re familiar with today - where the instrumentalist has to sit down to play - rather it was a hand-held stringed instrument, plucked or strummed. It would in many ways be comparable to dulcimers, autoharps, violins, guitars, etc. today.
HYMN = To celebrate God by a song of praise addressed to Him. (Vine’s) "How Great Thou Art" would fall into this category for instance. By this definition you can see that not every song in our hymnbook is technically a hymn. Some of the songs are sung "about" God rather than "to" Him.
SPIRITUAL SONG = An ode (poem put to music) sung in praise of God or Christ. (Vine’s) "Amazing Grace" is a well-known example of this type of church song. John Newton, the one-time slave-trading ship captain who repented of his sins and was later called to preach, penned it as a personal testimony of God’s saving grace.
Sometimes the songs we sing fall into more than one category, but you can clearly see the significance of each type.
We sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God, and to men about God, as acts of worship and praise. New songs in each of these categories are being written all the time, as well they should be. This doesn’t mean we have to set aside the old songs, but we should be open to adding new expressions of praise to God.