Lyrics of popular worship song “I could sing of your love forever”, 109 words. Psalms 89 which has the same theme, “I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever”, about 850 words. Big difference. And in the difference lies one of the most serious problems of the modern church.
Popular worship song by Christian group Delirious focuses on our response to God’s love but gives little by way of the reasons why we should sing of God’s love forever. Psalm 89 is so much longer because the Psalmist gives lots of reasons why we should sing of the Lord’s great love forever.
The Psalmist roots his reasons in the created order:
“The heavens praise your wonders, LORD, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings? ” [v. 5-6 TNIV],
And in history, especially in God’s dealings with King David:
“You said, ‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant, I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations.’ ” [v. 3-4].
Now I enjoy singing Delirious’s worship song. But I know why I should sing of God’s love. (My studies in biblical theology and church history from Regent College helped.) I am concerned for the many saints who enjoy worshipping with this song, and this song can get quite hypnotic, who are not grounded in the solid historical reasons as to why they should respond to God with such abandon. Ditto the many “worship” songs out there.
Perhaps this present emphasis on the experiential is a response to the cold orthodoxy of another generation. Whatever the reasons, it has resulted in a spirituality which tends to focus on the feelings and experiences of worship but which is not rooted in history. This is a frightening loophole which can be exploited by Satan to undermine the church and the gospel.
The recent uproar over the Da Vinci Code book and movie in some quarters of the church is not so much a statement of the potency of the Da Vinci Code phenomena. (Initial reports from the movie’s opening at Cannes have the Press Corp laughing with derision at key moments.) It is a statement of how vulnerable the church has become to such attacks on the historical bases of its faith.
Christianity is a historical faith. It is based on things that really happened. Luke states it clearly at the beginning of his gospel:
“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” [1:1-4]
Indeed Theophilus and Luke and all others who want to follow Christ have to be certain of the claims of the Christian faith because they may have to suffer and die for the privilege of following Christ (Luke 9:18 -27). Many in the early church did.
I am not a Christian because it is a convenient faith to follow. I have enough problems putting my mind around concepts like the Trinity and the Incarnation for myself much less explain them to those outside the church. And I am definitely not in the market for martyrdom.
The only reason why I am a Christian is because I believe Christianity to be true. And I believe Christianity to be true because it speaks to the deepest needs of my heart, yes, but also because it is based on things that really happened.
I was born in a Christian family so my faith was not really tested till I came to a point in my life when I believed that the Lord was calling me to give up a career in dentistry to go into the bible teaching ministry. For the first time in my life following Christ was going to cost me something. For the first time I had to be sure. And it was the overwhelming evidence for the resurrection that kept me convinced.
Here I am in good company. The resurrection was also the clincher for the apostle Paul.
“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all others. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” [1Corinthians 15:17-20]
It seems obvious now that every Christian must be thoroughly grounded in the historical bases of the Christian faith. These include the reasons why we believe in the resurrection, and its significance. Christians should also be schooled in things like the canon of Scripture and key events in church history like the Council of Nicaea.
We can no longer avoid teaching such topics on the grounds that they are boring. This does not mean that we should not work at making the teaching of such topics interesting and relevant. But it needs to happen.
The Da Vinci Code phenomenon is just the latest “hack” on the truth system of Christianity. We should be grateful for this wake up call and get our act together.
Indeed we should sing of God’s love forever. Thank God there are many, many reasons why we should do so.
Your brother, Soo-Inn Tan