He asked me for my take on the article. Below is my reply, which includes something I wrote a few years ago in my worship study, Pure Praise…
For the record, I liked Dr. Moore’s article and agree with it. In a nut shell I don’t think who wrote a song matters as much as the song itself. Does that song represent the worshiping hearts of those singing it? Are the words biblically accurate and true of what our congregation longs to say to God? Technically those are the only standards we have to consider, I believe. However, if our congregation was particularly knowledgeable about a certain well-known songwriter and their “fall from grace,” then I would probably not sing that songwriter’s songs, because I wouldn’t want to unnecessarily offend, distract, or confuse our congregation.
Let’s look at what Jesus had to say about worship. The Gospels record three instances in which he taught specifically about this topic. From these three short statements, we get a clear picture of what God requires in our worship and, thus, in our worship music.
- Please read Luke 4:5-8, in which Satan tempts Jesus aft er Jesus has spent 40 days in the wilderness. What did Satan want Jesus to do?
- Now read Matthew 15:1-9. How did Jesus describe the Pharisees’ hearts in verse 8?
- Now turn to John 4:21-24, and read what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman about worship. What kind of worshipers does the Father seek?
The common theme in all three passages is that true, biblical worship springs from hearts that are fully surrendered to God. Worship is, first of all, a matter of the heart. That’s why we learned in our very first week together that the essence of worship is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). One might think of the heart as the fountain of our worship, and the songs we sing express the love that is flowing from our heart.
But is a pure and passionate heart all that is required for our worship to be acceptable to God? I believe we will find the answer to be no. To see what else is essential, we need to examine Jesus’ words even more carefully.
According to the passages we just read, we must focus our worship not on just any god; our attention and adoration must be on the true and living God, God who is Spirit, the God of the Bible. When our understanding and concept of God become distorted, we are no longer worshiping the true God. Likewise, when the words of our praise songs do not represent the Lord as he revealed himself in Scripture, then we are not really singing to him but rather to a “golden calf ” of our own making. (See Exodus 32.)
Jesus’ words reveal one more requirement regarding the substance of our worship. Not only must we correctly represent who God is, but any worship that flows from our lips and our lives must also properly represent what God says.
Please reread Matthew 15:1-9. Basically Jesus stated this about the Pharisees’ teaching: God had said one thing, and they were saying something else. They were misrepresenting God’s Word. Jesus, therefore, called their worship a farce because they replaced God’s commands with their own man-made laws. They were not worshiping God in truth, and it is truth that must be the foundation of all our worship.
By the same token, we must be sure that the contents of our songs and testimonies of worship are just as correct before the Lord as are the hearts from which they flow. The bottom line is this: If we don’t follow God’s precepts in everything we say and do, then we are not true worshipers of God. In the same way, if our lyrics do not represent accurate, biblical truth, then our songs are not true worship songs.
Let’s put the children of Judah’s song in 2 Chronicles 20:21 to the test to see if it qualifies as a biblical and acceptable worship song to God.
1. Did their song reflect worshipful hearts?
2. Did their song accurately represent God?
3. Did their song correctly represent what God has said in his Word?
IN A NUTSHELL:
Elements of Biblical Worship
• fountain—the heart
• focus—the Lord
• foundation—the truth
Praise songs must correctly represent:
• a worshiping heart
• who God is
• what God said