You mentioned critically selecting songs that match theology in a previous article. Would you clarify that more?
Sure. Scripture offers a powerfully singular model for equipping Apostolic musicians. We find this by asking questions such as: What did the NT writers sing? What songs will we sing in heaven? As Apostolics, we believe methodology matters. The way we “do church” is informed by Scripture alone. Or to say it another way, we must be Apostolic in every way (soteriology, christology, doctrine of God, pneumatology and ecclesiology).
As Apostolics, we work at being thoughtfully and deliberately consistent in all these areas. What does the NT model? Further, from this understanding, what do Apostolics singularly and uniquely offer in worship?
So how does working intentionally with the Bible as a model both inform our practice as worshipping Apostolics and offer a critique of non-biblical models of worship? These powerful NT songs model, with their intentional message, our Apostolic methods!
There are, first of all, what some have termed “early Christological hymns” (Phil. 2:6-11, Col. 1:15-20, 1 Tim. 3:16, 1 Pet. 3:18-22, Hebrews 1:3, and Jn. 1). They lift up in worship Jesus’ life and mission, glorying in what He accomplished as man. They also celebrate His ascending into heaven and His glorification in that role as Savior. “Jesus paid it all…” is the anthem.
However, these songs do not stop at the cross but lead us to understanding His glorious ascension and what that offers us now! To put it more candidly, we do not leave people at the foot of the cross! I have no problem singing and preaching about the cross. But anything that leaves them there and not to the essentiality of the Upper Room experience is limiting God’s work of salvation. We see the realization of God’s intention on the cross by obeying Acts 2:38!
There are also what some have termed “seven Heavenly hymns” sung in Rev. 4:1-8:1. There are three great converging themes in these chapters: worship, revelation and worthiness (Rev. 4:8, 4:10-11, 5:8-9, 5:11-12, 5:13-14, 7:9-10, 7:11-12). One of the great themes in Revelation is, “Whom do you worship?” Clearly, the lesson of Revelation is “worthy is the Lamb that was slain” (Rev. 5:12). Again, this is God in the man Jesus accomplishing His task!
The result of modeling these examples is a powerful worship encounter designed by God. Wherever the doctrine of essentiality is lifted up, it points people to the heavenly reality. People don’t just hear singing anymore. They receive because our song’s message aligns with the intent of heaven! Only true Apostolics will write and sing songs about this doctrine. But remember we are in good company with the NT writers themselves. And if we can’t sing this song now, we won’t be a part of those singing this song in heaven.