“If you wish to deepen the worship of the people of God, above all deepen their grasp of his ineffable majesty in his person and in all his works.”
This quote, following a sequence of statements regarding what God expects of his people when gathered together for the praise of his name and the edification of one another, prompted much personal thought on the issue of “church music” and its use in corporate gatherings. Psalm 95:6-7 proclaims, in the context of singing songs to the Lord, “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” If the authoritative Scriptures demand for God’s people to sing praise unto His name, we should not be slack in acquainting ourselves with this privilege and in what manner it is to be completed. Regarding “what manner,” it would be necessary to write another posting, but it would suffice here to say the manner in which we should approach God in singing is joyous reverence and thankful awe of who he is (see Psalm 20:5, Colossians 3:15b and Hebrews 12:28).
We see in the New Testament, in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you
richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Ephesians 5:19, in connection, tells God’s children to, “[address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.” These verses, among many others, help us see three important truths about what our musical offering to the Lord should consist of: 1) It should be word of Scripture-driven, 2) It should be Christ-centered and exalting and 3) It should be God-focused. Such Scriptures point us to the fact that worship, (using the musical sense of the word here) relays that God has chosen the craft of music to aid in the believer’s growth in knowledge and recollection of himself through his Holy Word. D. A. Carson uses the phrase “proper response” to describe the privilege of corporate worship. This “proper response” he suggests stems from the fact that worship is “grounded in the very character and attributes of God” (see Psalm 29:2) and that “God calls us to reflect on what he has disclosed of his own expectations (see Psalm 75:1)” Thus, we can conclude that musical worship is an integral part of our gatherings, and is to be guided by God-focused themes, (vertical praise) just as mutual encouragement, based on God’s Word, can be effective (horizontal edification).
Admittedly it is often easy to overlook Scriptural content for the appeal of a well-written
melody and/or style of song. For this we must give thanks to God for his blessings of musical artistry and the granting of musical skill upon his people, but we must not omit our obligation to use music for its intended purpose, that is, making much of his glory. Music is a tool helping us learn and recall the majesty of God through treasuring his Son and Word throughout the days he grants us.
One way we can increase our view and praise of God in corporate singing is to immerse
ourselves in learning songs that help us, as is posed in the opening quote, recall all his works. This upcoming Sunday, Lord willing, we have the privilege of studying the theme of the bride of Christ, his Church. Scripture has much to say about Christ’s gathered people, and it would be fitting for us to learn and sing a song, to be offered to God in thankfulness, that richly displays the glory of God through his work in Christ to purchase a people gathered for the glory of his name. Therefore, the Lord has enabled us to use the song, “The Church’s One Foundation.” The song, originally written in 1866 by Samuel J. Stone, reflects much of Scripture’s thoughts concerning the Church and will provide us a way to grow deeper in our knowledge of the Church while being able to give God glory for the authoring of it. We are thankful to God for Brian Moss, of Indelible Grace Music, who has re-written the melody to suit the need for an updated tune; we are pleased the song is both reverent and easy to sing.
For your personal interaction with the song, lyrics and YouTube video link are provided below. Also, for devotional use a lyric-to-Scripture comparison is provided for the first, and glorious, stanza. May God grant us a greater view of Himself and his works as well as an increased and Scripturally sound desire to pursue him in song in such a way that both honors him as sovereign and worthy of all praise!
Written by Jason Odel
The Church’s One Foundation (lyrics):
The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord;
She is His new creation
By water and the Word:
From heav’n He came and sought her
To be His holy Bride;
With His own blood He bought her,
And for her life He died.
Elect from every nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth,
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.
’Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace for evermore;
Till, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest.
Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won:
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we,
Like them, the meek and lowly,
In love may dwell with Thee.
The Church’s One Foundation (YouTube):
The Church’s One Foundation (Lyric-to-Scripture Comparison):
1) The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord:
1 Corinthians 3:11 - For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Colossians 1:18 - And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
Ephesians 5:23-24 - For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
2) She is His new creation:
2 Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has
passed away; behold, the new has come.
3) By water and the Word:
Ezekiel 36:25-27 - I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
Ephesians 5:26-27 - Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave
himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
4) From heaven He came and sought her:
Luke 19:10 - For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
5) To be His holy Bride:
Ephesians 1:4 - even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we
should be holy and blameless before him.
6) With His own blood He bought her:
Ephesians 1:7 - In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
Ephesians 2:13 - But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
7) And for her life He died:
Romans 5:6 -For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
1 Corinthians 15:3 - For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,