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Principles for Selecting Christian Music - Part 2

The Christian Worldview / David Wheaton
The Truth Network Radio
December 10, 2022 6:00 am

Principles for Selecting Christian Music - Part 2

The Christian Worldview / David Wheaton

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December 10, 2022 6:00 am

GUEST: CHRIS ANDERSON, hymn writer and author, Theology That Sticks 

Last week on the program we discussed how Christian music in general and church music in particular has undergone a huge change over the past 50 or 60 years. Whereas for centuries Christians sang Psalms and hymns as a congregation, now the mainstream of Evangelical church music is played and presented in rock concert fashion.

This week on the program, we’re going to discuss why this has taken place and how it’s significantly altered the church’s worship service. Then, Chris Anderson, hymn writer and author of Theology That Sticks—The Life-Changing Power of Exceptional Hymns will join us again to explain how churches and individuals need to carefully select music that is sound in doctrine and directs our hearts to worship God.

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Principles for Selecting Christian Music. Today is part two of that topic, right here on the Christian Real View Radio Program, where the mission is to sharpen the biblical worldview of Christians and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

I'm David Wheaton, the host. Today's broadcast is brought to you by the Christian Radio Ministry. We are able to broadcast on the radio station, website, or app on which you are listening today because of the support of listeners like you. So thank you for your prayer, your encouragement, and support.

You can connect with us by visiting our website, thechristianrealview.org, calling our toll-free number, 1-888-646-2233, or by writing to Box 401, Excelsior, Minnesota, 5533. Now, if you missed last week, we discussed how Christian music in general, and church music in particular, has undergone a huge change over the past 50 or 60 years. Whereas for centuries, Christians sang psalms and hymns as a congregation, with or without instrumentation, by the way, now the overwhelming majority of evangelical church music is like a rock concert that has taken a form of music which intentionally incited listeners to immoral sex, drug use, and rebellion against authority.

The rock musicians say so themselves. This week on the program, we're going to discuss why this has taken place and how it has significantly altered the church's worship service. Then, Chris Anderson, our guest from last week, who is a hymn writer and author of Theology That Sticks, The Life-Changing Power of Exceptional Hymns, will join us again to explain how churches and individuals need to be carefully selecting music that is sound in doctrine and directs our minds and hearts to worship God. There are a lot of significant events taking place right now in the news, and we could discuss those today, but I would assert that what is taking place in the church with music is an even bigger issue. The church is the only institution on earth that God has promised to build and not abandon, because the church is the body of believers, the body of His Son, Jesus Christ. And when there is compromise in the church, it affects everything, not only the church itself and those who are members of the church, but their families and even society more broadly. Because the church is so important, therefore, Satan works tirelessly to attack the church. Even in the first century, shortly after sound churches were established by, let's say, the apostle Paul or the apostle Peter, they would soon fall away or go off into false doctrine. And then Paul would be writing letters to them to correct where they've gone astray.

So the church is under constant assault. And we see in the beginning of Acts in verse 42 of chapter 2, it says this, that the early church were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. And those four things, notice what they are, the preaching of the word, fellowship with other believers, breaking of bread, that's communion and prayer. Those were the four pillars of worship services in the early church. Now, you'll notice there that music wasn't a significant factor in the church.

At least it wasn't mentioned there. They didn't say praise and worship in that list of four things. But today, music has become either the most significant element of a church service, or at least tied with the preaching aspect of the service.

Each are given about equal time. Prayer and Bible reading and communion are given far less time in today's church service. I think back over the years of churches that I went to earlier in my life, remembering what the service was like then, and then thinking to what the service has become like now, even in the same church, it's such a huge difference.

It's just hard to even process. But the present makes such a strong influence on us that we tend to forget about what it was like in the past. In the past, it was much more of a traditional hymn-based music in the church to, as I mentioned, more of a rock concert style of music today. This week, I came across three articles that explain more of the history of what music has become in the evangelical church, what is taking place in these worship services. The three articles are titled Strange Liar.

Liar is spelled L-Y-R-E. That was a musical instrument. It's a play off the strange fire that Nadab and Abihu, who were the sons of Aaron, the high priest, sinfully offered at the altar in the Old Testament. The subtitles of the articles are The Pentecostalization of Christian Music. That's the first one. The second one is Early Beginnings of Pentecostal Worship. The third one is A Radical Departure from Historic Worship. I cannot recommend highly enough that you read these three columns that are linked at our website. Just go to thechristianworldview.org and read through these three.

This will give you an explanation for how music in the evangelical church got to where it is today and what is behind it. The author of these three columns is named David de Bruyn. He was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. He now pastors a church there called New Covenant Baptist Church. He's going to be coming on the program in a future week. I'm going to read a few excerpts of what he says in his columns.

Here's how it starts out. It's hardly disputable that global Christianity has been overwhelmed and colonized by the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. After Roman Catholicism, the Christianity identified variously as Charismatic, Pentecostal, Prosperity Gospel, or Latter Rain with all its permutations and differences makes it by far the largest percentage of what is classified as Christian. In just over 100 years since its beginnings in Azusa Street, California, it has come to dominate Christianity and particularly the Christianity spreading in the global South and Southeast. The growing and newborn Christianity in South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia is overwhelmingly of the Pentecostal kind. Next paragraph. Very few voices have been raised to counter the theological distinctives of Pentecostalism, which are an emphasis on the supernatural sign gifts of the Holy Spirit, a belief in the baptism of the Holy Spirit after or subsequent to salvation, and assorted novel views on healing, prosperity, prosperity gospel, and spiritual warfare.

I'm going to add one more that's a distinctive of Charismatic or Pentecostal theology as you often hear them talk about getting extra biblical direct revelation. God told me this. He spoke to me. Maybe it was a dream, maybe it was a vision, or I heard a voice.

Next paragraph. But perhaps far more insidious has been the quiet takeover of Christian worship by Pentecostalism, even in those churches that reject the theology of continuationism. Continuationism is the belief that the miraculous sign gifts that men had were gifted with in the first century, the apostles were, speaking in foreign languages or tongues, doing healings of people, doing miracles in prophecy foretelling the future, that men and women continue, and that's where you get the word continuationism, that they still have these same miraculous gifts today. Now just to be clear, we at the Christian worldview are cessationists, which means that we believe that these miraculous sign gifts that were given to the first century apostles as a sign they were from God before the record of the New Testament was put together are not given to men and women today, but we absolutely believe that God still does miracles and healings today, and these miraculous sign gifts will be given again to men in the future.

Think about the two witnesses in Revelation who do signs and wonders. So back to the article, he goes on to say, As cessationist churches, those who don't believe in the miraculous sign gifts, post vigilant patrols at the doctrinal boundaries but offer open borders to charismatic songs, music, forms of prayer, and overall sentiment, a quiet transformation takes place. The result is a church that is cessationist on paper, but increasingly charismatic in sentiment and outlook. And here's an important sentence. It is not long before this begins quietly reordering the discipline and ultimately the doctrine of the church from within.

That's a big statement. Okay, just two more paragraphs, and then I'm going to give a musical example of what Pastor David de Bruyn is talking about. He says, Praise and worship theology. This is a peculiarly charismatic approach to worship that believes in an almost sacramental view of music and a tangible experience of the Holy Spirit's presence. By means of successive phases of music and songs, often repetitive and unbroken in sequence, worshippers can be led deeper and deeper into the presence of God until worshippers experience the presence of God in felt experiential ways.

Certain kinds of music or prayer will bring about God's presence, the way the mass, the Roman Catholic mass, brought the body and blood of Christ to the table. I'm going to play an example of this by Hillsong, which is a charismatic based church out of Australia but has a global influence, makes millions of dollars through sales of their albums and royalties, writes to have their songs sung in churches. This is the engine that keeps this ministry going.

They have a very well-known song, you've probably heard it. It's called Wonderful Name, and here are the lyrics. The heavens are roaring, the praise of your glory, for you are raised to life again, you have no rival, you have no equal, now and forever God, you reign, yours is the kingdom, yours is the glory, yours is the name above all names. And then it goes into this extremely powerful chorus, what a powerful name it is, what a powerful name it is, the name of Jesus Christ my King.

And it keeps on repeating this over and over again. This is how this charismatic worship transports the listener into this deep, sensory, highly stimulating experience, both with the repetitive lyrics and the overwhelming rhythm and form of the music. Yours is the glory, yours is the name above all names. What a powerful name it is, what a powerful name it is, the name of Jesus Christ my King. What a powerful name it is, and nothing to stay against. What a powerful name it is, the name of Jesus. What a powerful name it is, the name of Jesus.

That was Hillsong with their song Beautiful Name, and there's nothing untrue about that, there is power in the name of Jesus. But the way that is communicated and presented and repeated in the musical accompaniment that goes with it, that is almost like a drug that will just take you over. And that is the point of it, to get you deeper into this sensory experience as if you can enter into the very presence of God. I'm going to read a couple more excerpts from Pastor David de Bruyn's columns on music here. He goes on to say, Christian worship has often had a remarkably similar shape across traditions. As Brian Chappell showed in his work, Christ-Centered Worship, that corporate worship, except for communion, in Roman, Lutheran, Reformed, and Evangelical traditions, had a very similar form—a call to worship, a confession, followed by thanksgiving, an Old Testament reading, a New Testament reading, a prayer for illumination, a sermon, followed by a benediction or dismissal, with hymns or psalms interspersed. Friends and proponents of Pentecostal worship, as you just heard, often do not realize how radically different charismatic worship is from this historic pattern. Pentecostal authors have written that praise is a kind of quote, path into the presence of God. That is, worship is not a series of gracious revelations from God's Word with faith responses from His people, worship becomes a series of steps or stages growing in intimacy and intensity. Charismatic worship writers speak of the importance of quote, flow, a technique of uninterrupted, continual music designed to emotionally transport the worshippers into the climactic experience of quote, worship, which they deem to be more intense in focus than quote, praise.

Just for the sake of time, he goes on to say the Pentecostal approach has parallels to the sensual and ecstatic worship of paganism. One more example here of how this is done by another super popular group out of Bethel Church in Redding, California called Jesus Culture. The song is He Loves Us, sung by Kim Walker Smith, and some of the lyrics are, if His grace is an ocean, we're all sinking, and heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss, and my heart turns violently inside of my chest, I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us, oh how He loves us, oh how He loves us, and then that phrase is repeated over and over and over again.

Listen to what it sounds like. So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss, and my heart turns violently inside of my chest, I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way He loves us, oh how He loves us, oh how He loves us, oh how He loves us, yeah He loves us, oh how He loves us. Again, that's Jesus Culture and Oh How He Loves Us. And as if that wasn't enough, where you stimulate the body into a heightened state, quoting the article again through sensual music, dancer movement, steadily sedating the mind through chant-like repetition, narrowed focus, listen to how the song concludes with just more of this. And tonight, God wants to encounter you and wants you to feel His love, His amazing love.

Without it, these are just songs, these are just words, these are just instruments. Without the love of God, it's just like we're just up here just making noise, but the love of God changes us, and we're never the same, we're never the same after we encounter the love of God. We're never the same after we encounter the love of God.

And right now, if you have an encounter with the love of God, and you would know, because you wouldn't be the same, you would never be the same again. And if you encounter the love of God right now, you better just brace yourself, because He's about to just blow in His blaze, and we're gonna encounter the love of God right now. So God, I speak to all the hearts, and I ask God that every heart be open right now, every heart be open, every spirit be open up to You, God, to You, and a love encounter, a love encounter. You and I, a love encounter in Your love. Yeah, He loves us. He loves us.

Did you hear what she was saying? A love encounter, a love encounter from you tonight. This kind of Pentecostal, charismatic worship experience is what has taken over the evangelical church, and this is one of the primary reasons why the church is the way it is today. We are doctrinally shallow or compromised, worshippers seeking an experience rather than being transformed by the renewing of our minds through congregational singing of reverent music, psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, and sound and strong preaching of the word of God.

It has been exported all over the world. What has been taught evangelicals is to seek a sensory experience, to feel a certain way at worship rather than to actually mentally and volitionally worship God. And yes, with our affections, I want to be clear that I do not think worship should be sedate or morose or lack joy or enthusiasm. Shouting to the Lord and even raising hands to worship Him or falling down before Him is a very biblical thing if done with the right intentions and the right kind of musical accompaniment and words to it. To direct our hearts to God is a beautiful and correct thing, not this sensual overtaking view by repetitive, throbbing music.

Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs can be done in ways that bring joy out of us and not just rote singing. And that leads us into our interview with Chris Anderson today. Chris is a former pastor of 25 years. He's a hymn writer and he's also the author of the book. We started discussing last week theology that sticks, the life-changing power of exceptional hymns.

We're going to hear from him after this next short break as we discuss how to select the right kind of music. Because after all, what we listen to and sing is a choice, just like what we choose to eat or watch. We develop an appetite for what we eat or watch.

You are what you eat, it is said. So what we choose to sing and listen to should be what most honors God. And we choose in life, by the way. We make decisions, we select based on our worldview. That worldview is mainly driven by what we love the most. Do we choose based on a love for God, what honors Him? Or do we choose based on a love for what makes us feel good? Stay tuned because we'll discuss all that with Chris Anderson right after this short break on the Christian Worldview Radio Program.

I'm David Wheaton. The original stalwart souls who created a colony in the howling New England winter, just so they could worship according to the dictates of conscience, had far more influence on world history than they could have ever imagined. You see, the scenes of liberty, both religious liberty and civil liberty, and the idea of self-government and rule from within, all these are within that body of pilgrims. The proceeding is from The Pilgrims, a 57 minute documentary of the inspiring story and faith of these Christians who greatly impacted our nation. You can order the DVD for a donation of any amount to the Christian Worldview. Go to thechristianworldview.org or call 1-888-646-2233 or write to Box 401 Excelsior, Minnesota 55331.

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It's 264 pages, hardcover, and retails for $24.95. To order, go to thechristianworldview.org or call 1-888-646-2233 or write to Box 401 Excelsior, Minnesota 55331. Welcome back to the Christian Worldview. I'm David Wheaton. Be sure to visit our website, thechristianworldview.org, where you can subscribe to our free weekly email and annual print letter, order resources for adults and children, and support the ministry.

Chris Anderson is our guest today. He is a hymn writer and author of the book Theology That Sticks. We are now going to discuss how to select psalms and hymns and spiritual songs that bring honor to God and edification to the saints. Chris, you write, Christians must select worship songs intentionally using a biblical grid. And you have about eight or nine chapters in the book. Sing songs that are biblical, doctrinal, Christian, Trinitarian, congregational, unifying, inspired, diverse, emotive, beautiful, experiential, and doxological. We have a chapter on each of those categories.

I guess there's about ten or more there. Let's go to the category of congregational. You've already alluded to this, that so much of the church today has got away from congregational to more of a performance, a performative type situation. You go to an evangelical church today, it's like walking into a Christian rock concert.

That's not meant to exaggerate, but that's what it is. Multiple people on stage, colored lights, fog coming off the stage, highly emotional, experiential performance, and people are typically standing, and they're being performed at. If you look at people, yes, some will have their hands up, some will be singing a little bit, but most people are just sitting there watching.

They're not necessarily participating in this. Talk about the importance of congregational participation in churches, how to foster that, as opposed to what we see so often today in this performance methodology. The Bible commands us to sing together. Often we'll say, we're not singing for people, we're singing for God, we're singing for an audience of one. That sounds very sanctified and holy, but we are singing for God and we're singing to one another. There is an edification that happens in our music, not only in exaltation. Healthy sound church music sounds like the congregation. Regardless of the instrumentation your church uses, you can do this poorly or you can do this well. But by conviction, you need to say the singing of the congregation is crucially important.

How do you foster that? You choose better songs. I tell people in an average church service, you probably sing five songs. There are hundreds of thousands of songs available. You get to sing five.

So don't waste your choices. Don't sing a song just because it sounds good on the radio. In fact, if a song sounds good on the radio, it's probably not going to sing well congregational.

Most of your church can't sing like Josh Robin. Hymns are traditionally written to be very accessible. They're easy to follow the syncopation. It's easy to follow the rhythm.

You don't have big jumps. If you're introducing a new song to your church, introduce one carefully chosen new song and then reward the church with four other songs that they can just belt. Part of that is just a conviction that this really matters to God and it's a big part of the health of the church. So let's choose songs that foster congregational singing and let's teach them well and maybe turn down the volume of our accompaniment. Having four or five vocalists on the platform sing is fine, as long as they're supporting the congregation, not drowning out the congregation. You want your church music to sound like the church, voices of the gathered people of God. As you were saying that it brought memories of when I've been out to the shepherds conference where you have four to five thousand men from all over the world congregationally singing. It is truly something to behold, where you're not being overpowered from the stage. There's a performance illusion right there from the platform, whatever you want to call it. But there's such a power in that where the message of the music is not being lost in the loudness of it or even the performance of it.

So good words there. Chris Anderson is our guest today here on the Christian worldview. We are carrying his book Theology That Sticks The Life Changing Power of Exceptional Hymns. We highly encourage you to get a copy for yourself and also give one to your minister of music at your church or the pastor who selects the music each weekend.

You can go to our website to order it, theChristianrealview.org, or just give us a call toll free 1-888-646-2233 or write to us at Box 401 Excelsior, Minnesota 55331. Chris, what are some of the most important principles a pastor or music pastor should be using to evaluate songs that are worthy to be sung in the church? You know, you think about parents, so parents, your kids are going to sing maybe five songs in church, maybe a couple of songs in Sunday school or children's church, and then they're with you all week and in your minivan or in your house. You're teaching them music just all the time. I would say I probably learned more music in my home growing up than I did in the church.

As you drive in the car, you're teaching your kids songs that they will literally remember on their deathbed. So you want to be teaching your kids songs that matter, not only choosing well for your church. I would say now when it comes to choosing well as a church, you should have as little tolerance for poor hymns as you do for poor sermons. Most of our churches wouldn't tolerate somebody getting up and preaching error. Error isn't less threatening because it's sung.

So we need to be even more careful. You know, the first part of the grid says they need to be biblical. And that sounds like a no brainer, but there are a lot of songs that don't really have obvious biblical content. I tell people when I sing and even when I write lyrics, I basically, in plagiarizing scripture, take a biblical idea and then try to craft it into a beautiful song. I want to sing songs that when I sing the line, I'm actually singing the word of God. For example, if we sing And Can It Be by Charles Wesley, we're going to come to the verse that says, no condemnation now I dread.

Jesus and all in him is mine. As soon as you sing no condemnation now I dread, the entire congregation should be thinking of Romans 8.1. There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Or John 3.17, God didn't send his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. So we sing a line, and if we are intentional in our singing, if the leadership is intentional in how they set the song up and kind of give a preparatory word, we should be rehearsing Bible truth as we're singing.

So that's why I would say biblical, doctrinal, Christian. I don't want to sing just general theology. I want to sing a song that is so overtly Christian that an unbeliever in their conscience, they couldn't sing it. It would be offensive to them because we sing that on the cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied. There are people that couldn't sing that. They don't believe that God is a God of wrath.

They don't believe that the crucifixion was a satisfaction, a propitiation of that wrath. I want to sing songs that are not just decent, not just passable. I want to sing songs that are exceptional.

And again, if you only get to choose five or six for a service, choose them really well. The rest of the book gets into songs. Some of them should be Trinitarian, not all of them, but we have a shocking lack of hymns on the Holy Spirit. We should sing more of those and we should write more of those. We should sing songs from a variety of eras. I love to sing a song by Isaac Watts, followed up by a song written by Bob Coughlin. They're both teaching the same doctrine, but they were written a few hundred years apart.

I think there's something beautiful about that. Not only singing old songs because God continues to teach us through his word today, so we have new songs, but not only singing new songs as though Christianity were copyrighted in the 80s or 90s. So there should be a definite breadth to our singing as well. You're listening to Chris Anderson on The Christian Real View today. You can order his book, Theology That Sticks.

This would be very helpful for you in selecting music or for the pastor at your church who does so. Just go to our website, thechristianrealview.org, or call us 1-888-646-2233, or write to us at Box 401, Excelsior, Minnesota, 55331. What is the Christian Real View radio program really about? Fundamentally, it's about impacting people, families, churches with the life and eternity-changing truth of God's word. We know the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only message that saves us from God's wrath, by God's grace, for God's glory.

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Transcripts and short takes are also available. We're talking about music in the church today and Chris Anderson, a hymn writer and the author of the book Theology That Sticks is joining us. Chris, you've written some well-known hymns.

I took one of them, His Robes for Mine. And I think many of our listeners will have heard this hymn or sung it in their church. And I'd like you to walk us through what went into your thoughts in writing this particular hymn. It goes like this, His Robes for Mine, O Wonderful Exchange, Clothed in my sin, Christ suffered, Neath God's rage. Draped in His righteousness, I'm justified, In Christ I live, for in my place He died. Verse 2, His Robes for Mine, What cause have I for dread? God's daunting law, Christ mastered in my stead.

Faultless I stand, With righteous works not mine, Saved by my Lord's vicarious death and life. His Robes for Mine, verse 3, God's justice is appeased. Jesus is crushed, And thus the Father's pleased. Christ drank God's wrath on sin, Then cried, "'Tis done, Sin's wage is paid, Propitiation won.'"

I'll just do one more verse, the fourth verse. His Robes for Mine, Such anguish none can know. Christ, God's beloved, Condemned as though His foe, He as though I accursed and left alone, I as though He embraced and welcomed home. Then the chorus is, I cling to Christ, And marvel at the cost. Jesus forsaken, God estranged from God, Bought by such love, my life is not my own, My praise, my all, Shall be for Christ alone. And Chris, this is a beautifully written hymn, and it's really about the imputation of Christ's righteousness, the swap that takes place. 2 Corinthians 5, 21, God made Christ, Who knew no sin, To be sin on our behalf, So that we might become The righteousness of God in Him. So walk us through what went into writing that particular hymn.

That's a great question. That would be the hymn that I've written that is most used, probably has had the most influences, His Robes for Mine. And you're right, it's a hymn on the doctrine of justification, imputation. Imputation being that my sins were imputed to Christ at the cross, and Christ's righteousness, Christ's obedience is imputed to me and to every other Christian. And we call that the great exchange. This particular hymn, rather than dealing with justification, and then maybe regeneration on a different verse, and then I could do sanctification, adoption. This is just all justification. And verse after verse, there should be progress where we're going somewhere. We're getting deeper. We're considering kind of a new facet of this great doctrine.

So it starts out with a wonderful exchange. And then here's the exchange that Christ, clothed in my sin, suffered beneath God's rage. That's a strong word, but He suffered underneath God's wrath.

Really, the heart of this song is that God punished His own Son for the sins committed by everyone else, by others. And now He has credited Jesus' obedience, Jesus' righteousness to us. Christians often talk about Jesus' substitutionary death, His vicarious death.

So He died as a substitute in my place. We don't often enough talk about Jesus' substitutionary life, His vicarious life. There's a line in stanza two that I'm saved by Christ's vicarious death and life, that He obeyed every command that God has given. The commands that I break, Jesus obeyed. He fulfilled all righteousness.

He always did that which pleased the Father. So when I am clothed in the righteousness of Christ, it's not the righteousness which is His inherently as the second person of the Trinity. It's the righteousness that He earned as the perfect man by fulfilling every command of God without a flaw. So God's daunting law has been mastered, has been kept. We say that we're saved by grace, not by works.

Well, that's true when it comes to our works. Our works can only condemn us. But there's a sense in which we are saved by Jesus' works. You know, Jesus obeyed on our behalf. The commands we couldn't obey, He did. And then His perfect record and our terrible sinful record were swapped. Probably the encapsulation of the song is that last verse that says, He as though I condemned and left alone, forsaken of the Father.

I as though He embraced and welcome home. And that's the marvel of what God has done through justification. You mentioned 2 Corinthians 5 21 is a key part of that.

1 Peter 2 24, 1 Peter 3 18, Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous in order to bring us to God. Isaiah 61 10 talks about how we've been clothed in the righteousness of God in order to be saved. Chris, just so listeners can get a taste of what you're talking about, here is a short portion of your beautiful hymn, His Robes for Mine. His robes for mine, a wonderful exchange. Clothed in my sin, Christ suffered beneath God's range. Draped in His righteousness, I'm justified. In Christ I live, for in my place He died.

His robes for mine, what cause have I for dread? God's daunting law, Christ mastered in my stead. For bless I stand, with righteous works not mine. Saved by my Lord's vicarious death and life. I cling to Christ and marvel at the cost. Jesus forsaken, God estranged from God.

But by such love my life is not my own. My praise, my all, shall be for Christ alone. What a beautiful hymn with sound lyrics about what God has done for us in salvation through Christ. So Chris, you've explained the doctrinal basis for this song. What do you hope listeners and singers of it take away from singing this hymn, His Robes for Mine? My hope is that people who learn that song, they sing it and then it sticks and they memorize some of the words. I want them to understand the doctrine of justification better because now they have a song that is teaching them and helping them remember. And that's a challenge of hymn writing. You're kind of stretching people so that they're learning more, but you're not stretching them so far that it's nonsensical the first time they sing it.

It needs to be quickly understood, but also kind of causing them to marvel. I think that's one of the lost things in our worship today is a sense of wonder, a sense of awe that I think of what Christ has done. And there's times I can't even sing it because I'm just moved. And something that has become maybe too familiar to us becomes precious again. Even through a word like estranged, I've gotten some pushback. Jesus says, my God, my God, why, why have you forsaken me? And I used for forsaken, I used the synonym estranged, that there was some breach. Isaiah 59, 2 says that my sin separates me from God. And when my sin was credited to Christ, there's some sense in which their fellowship, their eternal fellowship was broken. It's a mystery.

I don't pretend that I've understood it. But when Christ utters that cry of dereliction, you know, he's alone and he's feeling the full weight of our sin. And part of the punishment isn't just his physical death, but his separation from the Father. The wages of sin is death.

And the song says, sin's wage has been paid, the separation, the death. And it's just something that I think as Christians, we look at that and hopefully through a song like this, press into an idea. They cause you to pause and think, hopefully we understand doctrine better. But even more than that, hopefully we're more deeply grateful.

You know, these are just words. Now you actually further the message because you have just the right tune with just the right pathos, the right emotion. And it becomes a really powerful tool for the Christian to use for his own growth, the growth of others and the glory of God.

Chris Anderson with us today here on the Christian worldview. So you talked about that particular hymn, His Robes for Mine, and you explained it there. But you talk about in your book, Theology That Sticks, that the music pastor, music leader should really spend a brief time enhancing the songs and hymns being sung in a church service. In other words, not just saying turn to page 322 and let's sing or going into like a sermon trying to explain the song.

But there's kind of a right length and the right thing to say. What should music leaders be doing in advance of having the congregation sing? That's a great question. I think part of it is pastors. It might be the only pastor might be the senior pastor, but pastors need to lean into this.

It's one of the major teaching ministries of the church. You can't just hand it to somebody else. If there's somebody else choosing the songs, the pastor is at least giving some input. I recommend to people that they kind of set a menu, set it early.

Don't do it on Sunday morning, you know, in the car. Don't do it just, you know, hey, we need one lively song and then we need the song for the choir to move and then we need the song for children to be dismissed to Children's Church. You need to be more intentional than that. And I like to have four or five songs that follow the same theme. An obvious one, you might do the theme of redemption. You don't only have to use the word redeemed, but you could do Jesus paid at all.

You can do songs that talk about the price that was paid with the blood of Christ, that kind of thing, and integrate that with the scripture reading. Just don't do random. Do it on purpose. Do it intentionally, you know, not just based on this is popular on the radio.

But what is it teaching people? And have I used songs from a few different centuries and are they all pursuing the same theme? If we're talking about confessing sin, I could do a Psalm 51, a metrical Psalm I could do before the throne of God above, which is an old text with a beautiful new tune that perfectly captures the feeling, the pathos of the song. I could do Arise, My Soul Arise. We would align our choir song or any special music, the pastoral prayer, the scripture. And we do that all with the hymns on a theme. And then without preaching a sermon, you can in a line or two say, hey, we just sang about our Father is a creator.

This is my Father's world. But he's not only a father who creates, he's a father who forgives. We're going to sing how deep the Father's love for us.

And you can quote maybe part of Romans 5-8 or something like that. But you're kind of walking people through the logical thinking. You know, once in a while somebody's talking for five minutes about a song. I'm like, just let us sing, you know, get out of the way. But you can just point out a line from the hymn where you can quote a portion of scripture that you've prepared ahead of time and make a segue. And then let's get back to singing. And you kind of step out of the way. And I tell congregational leaders, for the most part, you don't need to be doing karate chops with big gestures.

Just get us started. We're following your face anyway. Get us started and then just stand there and sing with us. And then if you'd like to come in and cut us off or slow us down at the end, that's fine. But musicians and song leader, just try to be as transparent as you can.

Get out of the way so we can just focus on what we're singing. Chris Anderson with us today and the Christian worldview. Just one final question for you, Chris.

And it's sort of unrelated to what you have in your book, but I think maybe related in some way. We're coming up upon Christmas this year. And of course, Christmas music is something that is a highlight for many Christians around this time of Advent when God sent his son into the world. Talk about Christmas music.

What are your thoughts and encouragements for us? What music, maybe certain songs, I love Handel's Messiah. I think maybe the best piece of music ever written straight from scripture.

It's just so powerful. But do you have any thoughts about when you think of Christmas and singing? What do you think of? I think my favorite Christmas song is Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. It is shocking the doctrinal depth of that song. Christ by highest heaven adored, Christ the everlasting Lord. Late in time, behold him come offspring of the virgin womb. Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see, hail the incarnate deity.

That's amazing doctrinal truth. Sing songs like that. Oh, come all you faithful is beautiful. You know, there are some that are going to be a little bit more nostalgic, like a Wayne the Major.

I'm not offended by it. You know, don't just choose songs because they're nostalgic. Try to choose some that have a little bit more doctrinal meaning.

I like the Getty, Stuart Town and Getty. Joy Has Dawned is a very new, very doctrinal Christmas song. Please get in the habit if you're choosing songs for your church, don't do it the morning of the service. Please don't just say, hey, we're going to sing verses one, two and four. Verse three might be the best of the song.

And, you know, hopefully the song builds and you need to sing all of them. But just be more intentional what you serve to us. We would not respect a pastor who got up to preach, who hadn't studied. And we should expect that there's been some serious prayer and thought that's gone into the selection of songs as well, because they teach us surely as the sermon does. Chris, we're so thankful for this book, Theology That Sticks, the thought and time and prayer and study that you have put into thinking about how Christians should be selecting music.

It's both glorifying to God, but also edifying for our spiritual growth. Thank you for coming on the Christian Real View today. We just wish nothing but God's best and grace to you. God bless you.

Thank you again for the opportunity. We are out of time, but thank you for joining us today on the Christian Real View radio program and for supporting this nonprofit radio ministry. Again, you can order the book we were discussing today, Theology That Sticks, the life changing power of exceptional hymns by Chris Anderson. By contacting our ministry, all that information will be given immediately following today's program, an excellent resource to help you select the kind of music that's honoring to God and especially your church as well.

Let's be encouraged. We may live in a challenging world in which many churches have capitulated on this issue of music, but our hope and trust is in this. Jesus Christ and his word are the same yesterday and today and forever.

So until next time, think biblically, live accordingly and stand firm. The mission of the Christian Real View is to sharpen the biblical worldview of Christians and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. We hope today's broadcast encouraged you toward that end. To hear a replay of today's program, order a transcript or find out what must I do to be saved, go to thechristianrealview.org or call toll free 1-888-646-2233. The Christian Real View is a listener supported nonprofit radio ministry furnished by the Overcomer Foundation. To make a donation, become a Christian Real View partner, order resources, subscribe to our free newsletter or contact us, visit thechristianrealview.org, call 1-888-646-2233 or write to Box 401 Excelsior, Minnesota 55331. That's Box 401 Excelsior, Minnesota 55331. Thanks for listening to the Christian Real View.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-10 08:32:42 / 2022-12-10 08:51:37 / 19

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