Is Hymn Singing in Church a Sin?

A Study Paper Presented to the Consistory of Pilgrims' Reformed Church

by

Pastor Ron Potter

February 8, 1994

 

Reprinted by Permission, February, 1997. [This tract is intended for the edification and encouragement of the members and friends of Trinity Covenant Church, and is not intended to judge the worship of those who might think differently. We oppose elitism of all kinds, included musical elitism on both sides. CWP] Edited, with some additional Notes

 

I. Some Basic Presuppositions

A. It is to be presupposed that the sole authority for this study is to be the Word of God. This is the basic presupposition of the exclusive Psalm Singing (hereafter EPS) proponents and must also be the position of any response that would have the glory of God and His truth in view.

B. It is to be presupposed that to the extent that there is an appeal made to a historic source or to a particular writer it is to be only in the interest of biblical scholarship and to further our understanding of the subject at hand. The final court of appeal is the Word of God.

C. It is to be presupposed that the argument is not against Psalm singing but against Exclusive Psalm Singing. The argument for the inclusion of hymn singing in Worship is not to be construed as an argument against Psalm singing in Worship, but only against Exclusive Psalm Singing.

D. It is to be presupposed that the whole question is not a matter of indifference in the long run. Both an EPS and a non-EPS position cannot be right if God's Word is clear on the matter. It must be one or the other. This writer believes that the logical inference of the EPS argument is that it is a sin to sing hymns in worship. I for one, disagree. I believe, in what follows, that hymns may be sung in worship for the glory of God and the profit of God's people. This is the position I will attempt to establish.

 

II. The Construction of the EPS Argument; Together with Biblical Responses. There are many arguments that may be used in favor of the EPS position that are not primary pillars in their position. It is not my intent to take each of these up inasmuch as they are recognized by the writers themselves as secondary. I do however wish to deal with those pillars of the EPS argument without which the secondary arguments, while being informative, are not conclusive. Very often the pillars of an argument govern the outcome for they set the course along which the argument must proceed to its conclusion. The following represents what this writer perceives as the pillars of the EPS argument together with a biblical response to them.

A. The EPS argument is that singing is an act of Worship distinct from other practices of worship. John Murray in the Minority Report presented to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in the Fourteenth General Assembly makes this distinction. This writer does not disagree. Singing is distinct from preaching or praying in worship. But it does not therefore follow that though they are distinct acts in worship that divine authorizations concerning one part of worship cannot be applied to another part of worship.

 

Nor can it be argued that what is right and proper in one area of worship (i.e. prayer and preaching) is sin in another (i.e. singing). Yet this is what EPS proponents assert without proving the point. What needs to be proven in support of the EPS position is that there is a clear line of demarcation between spoken and sung speech acts in the Scriptures; that what is said of one cannot be applied to the other. Certainly that demarcation cannot be established by an appeal to the Psalms for they are BOTH singing acts and speaking acts. Psalm 72:20 for example states: “The prayers of David, the Son of Jesse are ended.” The Scripture does not have a line of demarcation between what is spoken in prayer and what is sung. Are we to assume that one must exclusively sing the Psalms but not exclusively pray them? If we are not bound to exclusively pray the Psalms how then can we be bound to exclusively sing them? The proponent of EPS needs to prove the distinction between speech acts and singing acts, not assume it.

 

Another example is that of Paul and Silas. Acts 16:25: “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” The word “and” does not appear in the original Greek. The sense is that Paul and Silas “praying hymned” for so is the Greek for “sang praises” (humnoun). There is no clear line of demarcation between a speech act and a singing act.

 

Again, in Deuteronomy 32 where Moses taught the congregation of Israel a song concerning the Lord (Deuteronomy 31:30) he refers to this song, after he taught it, as testimony and a law (32:46). Again, no clear demarcation between a speech act and a singing act.  The burden is upon the EPS advocate to prove there is a line of demarcation between a speech act and a singing act, and not assume it without evidence.

 

B. The EPS argument from the application of the Regulative Principle of Worship as referencing the Second Commandment together with a response.

 

B__ A__ writes of the regulative principle as “the really authoritative argument for psalmody...” and references the regulative principle of worship to the Second Commandment. He also quotes the last part (italicized below) to the answer to question 96 of the Heidelberg Catechism which asks: What is required in the Second Commandment? “That we in no wise make any image of God, nor worship him in any other way than he has commanded us in His Word.” again referencing the regulative principle to the Second Commandment.

 

What this generally sets the stage for is requiring of those opposed to an EPS position to come up with a verse of scripture that actually commands the writing of any song or hymn apart from that which is already given by God in the Psalter. Mr.__ does indeed ask this. “So here it is: where did God command us to write our own hymns in His worship?”

 

At issue here is “express commands” versus “good and necessary consequences” (the Westminster Confession of Faith [hereafter WCF] term for biblical inferences). Reformed Christianity, as evidenced by the WCF has always held that whatever is necessary for God's own  glory, man's salvation, faith, and life is either expressly set down in Scripture, or may be inferred from it. A__ A__ references this as one of his major presuppositions in his EPS argument. To think therefore that an “inferential” basis for hymns is inadequate and that the regulative principle requires an “express command” is an unwarranted application of the principle itself.

 

Two things must be kept in view with respect to the regulative principle.

 

First, more than the second commandment is involved. EPS advocates are too narrow in referencing the regulative principle to the second commandment. It is applicable to the first four commandments. The First Commandment sets forth who is to be worshipped; the Second, How He is to be worshipped (in Spirit and in truth); the Third, That He is to be worshipped and Where, and Fourth, When we are to worship and with respect to what (our six days of labor). To reference the regulative principle to only the Second Commandment is to have too narrow a focus, which leads me to consider: 

 

Secondly, the regulative principle as broadly stated above, must be understood in terms of its focus on the person of Christ and in His saving work as the fulfillment of the promises and patterns of redemptive history. The book of Hebrews clearly teaches that the exactness of the regulation of Old Covenant worship was to mirror or set forth the Lord Jesus Christ. It was a type of Christ until reformation came. Any application of the regulative principle must therefore be Christ-focused.

 

To illustrate all this, you will not find a verse to support Sunday as the Sabbath. But by inference Sunday is established as the New Testament day of rest and worship. And why is it so inferred that in the New Covenant worship can be regulated to the first day of the week?  Because of the finished work of Jesus Christ in making atonement for sin and His rising victorious, from the dead, on the first day of the week.

 

Any application of the regulative principle that is limited to the Second Commandment only and which does not take into account the First, Second and Fourth Commandments and which does not have a Christ- focus is too narrow. A consistent application of this “narrow” notion of the regulative principle would mean that a specific command regulating the Lord's Day would be necessary to warrant a change from the Old Covenant Sabbath. I know of no EPS advocate who is consistent in his application of the regulative principle at this point. Thus, this writer contends that the EPS pillar of the regulative principle is a narrow application of something intended to be much broader, and that in light of this broader view the EPS position is undercut.

 

Moreover, to use the regulative principle to argue from the command to sing Psalms to Exclusive Psalmody a misapplication of the regulative principle, and a non sequitur. Every stage in redemptive history was characterized by a fresh outbreak of inspired praise songs which are not included in the Psalter. These songs reflect on advances in redemptive history and as one enters the New Covenant there are several praises that take the form of songs which contain allusions to, and quotations from, the ancient words of promise but which are “updated” by the Holy Spirit in terms of the New Covenant focus on the Savior, Jesus Christ in the same way that Ezra in the return from the exile update the psalms by adding the words “to Israel”.

 

Would an advocate of EPS claim that any of these inspired songs are contrary to the regulative principle because they do not appear in the Psalter. I think not. Advocates of EPS are quick to point out that these are “inspired songs,” but this is to beg the question. The fact that these inspired songs did not make it into the Psalter does not mean they are not to be sung in worship. I should think what Moses or an angel sang or an inspired priest sang, or what the Elders sang in Revelation is suitable material every bit as much as what David or Asaph sang. These demonstrate that songs outside the Psalter and within the parameters of the regulative principle (broadly understood) are singable and thus “by good and necessary consequence” commanded by God.

 

C. The EPS arguments from definitions centered around Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 together with responses.

 

Ephesians 5:19

 

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody

in your heart to the Lord.”

 

Colossians 3:16

 

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one

another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the

Lord.”

Much of the EPS argument centers around the meaning of “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” in the above texts. EPS advocates define these words as being a reference to the Old Covenant Psalms. I suggest it may be a case of finding what you are looking for. Let me set forth several points on this. 

 

First, as A__ A__ admits, these passages are not in the context of public worship. To this the Minority Committee Report on song would nod assent. Why then exegete this passage in support of EPS in Worship? This is nothing more than an arbitrary application of a text to provide support for a position. If on the other hand the EPS exegesis is accepted, it proves too much: namely, that a Christian is never to sing anything other than Psalms even outside of worship, something contrary to the non-Psalm songs of praise noted previously in Scripture.

 

Second, to state that the Apostle Paul needs to add “hymns and spiritual songs” to establish the fact that it is Psalms exclusively he has in mind is contrary to the rest of the New Testament where “Psalms”, when referencing the book of Psalms, is sufficient. The use of “hymns and spiritual songs” would seem to detract from an EPS position rather than establish it. It would appear he has something in addition to Psalms in mind, namely “hymns and spiritual songs.”

 

Third, when the word “Psalms” is used by the New Covenant Scriptures in quoting from the Book of Psalms itself more than “Psalms” is used. For example,

 

Luke 20:42

 

“And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand....”

 

 

 

Luke 24:44

“And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me.”

 

Acts 1:20

 

“For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishopric let another take.”

 

Acts 13:33

 

“God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is

also written in the second Psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.”

 

Whenever the New Covenant Scriptures refer to the book of Psalms in a definite way the

definite article is used, which in Greek usage is like a teacher tapping the blackboard with a

pointer at a particular spot to make a definitive point. No such definite article appears in

Ephesians 5:19 or Colossians 3:16. One is left with the impression that Paul was not referring

specifically and emphatically to THE book of Psalms but simply to Psalms, hymns and

spiritual songs. This is the plain reading of the text.

 

Fourth: Mr._____ defines the words “Psalms, hymns, and spiritual Psalms” as divisions or title of the Psalms. This gives a rather shaky construction of an avowed important pillar of the EPS position. These three words are translations of a number of Hebrew words which serve the task of describing many, but not all the Psalms. They are not titles; they are descriptions.

 

Rev. Robert Grossmann, former professor of New Testament History at Mid-America Reformed Seminary, in private correspondence to this writer notes: “...that these three Greek words (Psalmos, humnos, odee; ie, Psalms, hymns and songs) were the only common words for song available to the translators of the Septuagint and they used Psalmos to translate MORE THAN ONE Hebrew word.”

 

According to another source the noun “hymn” is employed by the Septuagint “in translating the Hebrew names for almost any kind of poetic composition” and adds that it “does not seem to have in the Septuagint, any very special meaning.”

 

The same source states that the Hebrew word for “song” (shir) and the Greek for the same word (ode), were “generally used on occasions of thanksgiving and triumph.” (cf. Song of Moses, Miriam, Barak and Deborah etc. referred to above.) This is borne out by Hosea 2:15 “And I will give her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.” Again from this source: “In this sense a new song denotes a great deliverance and a new subject of thanksgiving; so a new song, as in Psalm 40:3; Revelation 5:9 and elsewhere, implies a new work of salvation and favor, requiring an extraordinary return of gratitude and praise.”

 

Contrary to EPS advocates who seek to define “Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” as buttressing their position, the actual use of the words is more generic and broad than is first asserted. 

 

Fifth, if in fact “Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” is to be understood in this sense as “Psalms, Psalms, Psalms” the apostle has engaged in a redundancy that is not peculiar to his epistles and strange, to say the least, to the rest of the New Covenant Scriptures. 

 

Sixth: If we are to believe that “spiritual songs” are tantamount to “inspired songs” as EPS advocates claim, then it seems strange that Paul would use the Greek word “pneumatikos” (spiritual) and not the Greek word “theopneustos” (God breathed) as in 2 Timothy 3:16. John Murray in the Minority report cited above contends that “pneumatikos” (spiritual) means “given by the Spirit” or “proceeding from the Spirit as theopneustos.” In other words “spiritual” is the same as “inspired”. Thus Paul is contending for only “inspired songs”. If this were the case then the EPS position is undercut because, in their view, only those “songs” that are in the Psalter are eligible to be sung. But here Paul would extend that to all “inspired songs” including non-Psalter songs. 

 

But the truth is that “pneumatikos” is not the same as “theopneustos”. If it were then several problems are apparent. For example in Galatians 6:1 when we are told that the spiritual (pneumatikos) are to restore one caught in sin, it would mean that only “inspired” Christians could undertake this task. Again, in 1 Corinthians 15:44, are we to understand that when the body is sown a natural body and raised a “spiritual” body that this means Christians at the resurrection will have an “inspired” body? No way! Again, are we to understand in Ephesians 6:15 when we fight against “spiritual” wickedness that this is “inspired” wickedness? I think not! But when you make “spiritual” equivalent to “inspired” this is what you must do.

 

It is interesting to observe that Murray, in the Minority report cited earlier, adopts the position that “spiritual” is equivalent to “inspired” and rejects the obviously correct interpretation of Trench without giving any exegetical reason. Trench states that “they were such as were composed by spiritual men, and moved in the sphere of spiritual things. In other words rather than composing “natural” songs or songs of the “flesh” the believer, in the light of Jesus Christ WHO IS THE SUBJECT AND OBJECT OF THE PASSAGES IN QUESTION, is expected to compose “pneumatikos odais”, NON-INSPIRED BUT THOROUGHLY SPIRITUAL SONGS.

 

An Old Covenant example of this is Hezekiah in Isaiah 38:20: “The LORD was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the LORD.” The inference is that these were songs composed by Hezekiah, a spiritual man, and they were suitable for Divine worship.

 

In the New Covenant Scriptures, in Revelation 14:3 there is a song sung before the throne that is a “new song” and “no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.” Clearly this is not a Psalm and yet is suitable to sing before the throne by the redeemed in Christ who alone knew it.

 

Sixth: If the great redemptive act of Jesus Christ in the New Testament could be celebrated only with hymns and spiritual songs and only and exclusively with the Old Covenant Psalter then the name of Jesus Christ could never be taken upon the lips of a believer in song in public worship (or for that matter in private since the Colossians and Ephesians passages have ordinary life in view and not public worship). To hold to an EPS position means that one could preach the name of Jesus, pray the name of Jesus but never ever sing the name of Jesus.

 

Nothing could be more contrary to the whole spirit of the New Covenant which at every turn celebrates and acknowledges the truth that, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

 

This being the case then, the passages in question, when defined biblically, far from establishing the EPS position, demolish it. Believers are to sing Psalms, but also hymns and spiritual songs.

 

III. Concluding Comments

A.     This writer acknowledges that there are other secondary and emotional and historical arguments that may be brought to bear in support of the EPS position. G.I. Williamson does this in his sermon entitled “The Singing Savior.” So also does Mr.__ in his paper to Consistory.  As tempted as I am to show that subjective appeal and experience is not the stuff out of which good exegesis is made; however much I would like to explore the historical argument and show that there were Church Councils that were not in favor of EPS; however I would desire to show that the EPS issue came to the fore at the time of the Puritans and not earlier in church history; and however much I would like to argue that the WCF does not take an exclusive position but in fact is promoting Psalms in an age of apostasy from the singing of them, I will, alas, sheath my keyboard and await another occasion, believing that the main pillars upon which the EPS argument rests have been considered and have been shown to be more than wanting in spite of the excellent scholarship and thought that has been given them.

B.     I would also categorically state that on the basis of the above responses to the EPS position, that hymns and spiritual songs in addition to the Psalter are to be sung in the worship of God and on ordinary occasions. It is not, in this writers view, a sin to sing a hymn.

C.     As an interesting aside, after receiving both the Majority and Minority Reports of the Committee on Song in Worship at the 13th and 14th General Assemblies of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the 16th General Assembly (1949) ordered the production of the Trinity Hymnal which contains Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. No mention is made of the EPS debate in the Minutes of the 15th, GA.

D.     It is instructive to note that Calvin does not take an EPS position in his commentary on Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 and in fact supports the position this writer has taken as outlined above.

E.      This writer would note that he is in agreement with his EPS brethren that there are some very theologically off base and error ridden hymns and spiritual songs being promoted in the Church today. The presence of these is not an argument against hymns and spiritual songs per se but a call to diligence upon the part of worship leaders to ensure that what is sung is true and in accord with the revealed Word of God, in the same way that what is preached and prayed must be true and in accord with the revealed Word of God.

F.      The position of the Reformed Church in the United States which is of 16th century continental origin has never been an EPS position. Its position accords with Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 as stated above. The EPS position is of Presbyterian extraction, not continental Reformed.

 

IV. This writer would like to acknowledge the following persons and sources who contributed to his knowledge of the EPS debate and which helped him formulate his response and position.

A. Rev. Robert Grossmann who conferred with this writer and gave permission to use material he had produced on the subject of EPS and who as well as secured the Minutes of the OPC GA's referred to frequently, for this writer's use.

B. Rev. Roger Wagner, Pastor of Bayview Orthodox Presbyterian Church, San Diego who gave permission to use a study paper produced for his Church's use on the subject of EPS.

C. The introduction to the OPC reports cited above written by Peter A Lillback summarizing the development of the regulative principle in the Reformed tradition.

D. Antithesis, a now defunct publication (Volume 1, No. 2, March/April, 1990) in which a debate took place on the issue of: “Does Scripture permit the use of hymns other than Psalms in worship.”

E. The Council of Chalcedon, May 1991, in which the following article appeared by Gary Crampton: Thoughts on Exclusive Psalmnody.

G.     Volumes consulted included those listed in the footnotes as well as: the Heidelberg Catechism; the Westminster Standards; Ursinus's Commentary on the Heidelberg: The Psalms in Worship, United Presbyterian Board of Publications, 1907; Calvin's Commentary on Ephesians and Colossians; and The History of Christianity by Latourette together with the initial documents provided by B__ A__ consisting of a sermon by Rev. G.I. Williamson and three successive essays by Rev. A__ A__.

 

***************************

The above paper has been edited by Dr. C. W. Powell. Original footnotes have been removed in order to save

space. Those who would like them should correspond with Rev. Potter. It is used by the gracious permission

of Rev. Ron Potter, who is now Pastor of Covenant RCUS 47 S. Church St., Carbondale, Pa. 18407

 

Additional notes

by Dr. C. W. Powell:

 

Spiritual Worship: An additional consideration which I find compelling is the necessity of moving toward externalism in worship if exclusive Psalmody is used, especially if we also forbid musical instruments. Assuming that we use all the Psalms, we may find on occasion that we are singing a passage such as “Praise God in his sanctuary.... Praise him with the sound of the trumpet; praise him with the psaltery and harp....” (Psalm 100). But, of course, we cannot do that, if we are committed to EPS. Therefore, we must not even think of doing it, for to think something that is forbidden is sinful. The Scriptures must, therefore, become a snare to us if we even think of praising God in his sanctuary with a trumpet or a stringed instrument. We must constantly be making allowances and going through external motions, without giving true assent to these things in our hearts and spirits. In this matter we cannot worship God in spiritual worship (as opposed to meaningless ceremonies). What can be more meaningless than to sing of praising God with a trumpet in his sanctuary, but not being allowed to do so? Do we really believe that it is more “spiritual” to sing in the church that Moab is a washpot, than it is to sing with Handel, "The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised"? [I think I know the meaning of the washpot (Psalm 60), but do I have to sing it in church? Wouldn't it be better to sing Timothy Dwight's “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord" the spiritual fulfillment of the Psalm? If I can preach it and explain it, why can't I explain it in song?]

 

There are many such references in the Psalms which have particular reference to Israel, or David, or local circumstances, which cannot be applied in any meaningful way to the spiritual worship required in the Gospel age. The result is simply going through motions, without meaningful worship taking place.

 

Then there are places like Ps. 96:1,2 “O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord all the earth. Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; show forth his salvation from day to day.” What? we are to sing of the  salvation of the Lord, and never mention the Savior, the Lord Jesus, except in veiled figures and hidden parables? Does “new song” simply mean the same old songs with new meaning, or is it a prophecy about Gospel worship? The rest of the Psalm is clearly a prophecy concerning the taking of the Gospel to the ends of the earth and the establishing of Gospel mercies and praises among the Gentiles. In those days the people would sing a new song over the whole earth, coming into his courts in the beauty of holiness. Must this not mean that wonderful music that the Jews could never have known will carry the praises of the Redeemed into Heaven: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!”

 

But is the church just to sing about singing a new song and never sing it? Isn't this ceremonialism with a vengeance? Are we to be blind leaders of the blind, singing puzzles and conundrums which only the initiated know?

 

Worship Is to Be In Spirit (John 4:23,24) Francis Turretin says that the phrase “in spirit” means with spiritual worship, in opposition to the carnal and external worship which prevailed under the Old Testament (Heb. 9:10). The Church's view of Christ was hidden under types and shadows, but now we see clearly and plainly, and are changed because we see Christ “evidently set forth, crucified” among us (Gal. 3:1). It is just as wrong to insist that music be confined to the Old Testament, as it would be to confine preaching and prayers to the Old Testament. It is wrong to keep Christ hidden under figures and shadows.

 

Unbiblical, Unnecessary Divisions : The body of Christ is rent apart. Private interpretations of Scripture have been used to mutilate the body of Christ so that we cannot even worship together. The Reformers rightfully rejected the Anabaptist attempt to build an elite church based upon a private interpretation concerning baptism and the nature of the true church.

 

This church [Trinity Covenant in Colorado Springs] has had visitors from EPS churches who refused to sing in our worship, not because we sang hymns, but they even refused to sing Psalms, because we used a piano to accompany the singing. If songs are prayers, then our prayers were considered ungodly and irreverent because of a musical instrument--even biblical prayers were considered irreverent because of a piano!

 

Shall we intrude our private interpretations into the worship of the Lord, and divide the body of Christ over a

piano string? Is this what it means to submit one to another in the fear of God? Is this what it means to esteem other better than ourselves? I do not think so. Elitism of all kinds is reproved by the spirit and the mind of the Lord Jesus, according to Philippians 2.

 

Regulative Principle: The regulative principle cuts both ways. It not only forbids us to add to the Scriptures, but also forbids us to subtract from them. If we are commanded to pray in the name of Jesus, the regulative principle forbids us from banning the name of Jesus from our sung prayers. The regulative principle was put forward to deliver the church from the weight of tradition and man- made regulations that had encrusted the Church of Jesus Christ over the years of papal domination, not to free the church from singing songs of praise to the Name which is above every name. It would appear to be sinful to forbid such singing, especially in the temple, the House of Prayer, where public prayers are to most fit to be made.

 

Legal, Wrathful Prayers : Many of the Psalms breathe the spirit of Moses, and seem inappropriate for Christian worship, without a great many mental caveats. Wrathful vengeance upon enemies, God's hatred of sinners, blessings upon those who destroy God's enemies are recurring themes. The spirit of Moses does not agree with the spirit of Christ, who commands us to pray for our enemies, do good to those who despitefully use us, and to forgive those who do all manner of evil against us.

 

Jesus gave us the pattern. Not once did He pray for judgment upon his enemies, or call down vengeance upon them. In fact, He rebuked the apostles for wanting to do this, “Ye know not what spirit ye are, for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.” On the cross He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

 

Certainly there is internal harmony between Moses and Christ, which is beyond the scope of this paper. When Christ sent His disciples forth into all the world to preach the Gospel, he forbade them to take vengeance but to turn the other cheek. They were to do good to all men, to bless and not to curse (James 3), to preach the righteousness of faith, not of precept.

 

Did He expect them to fill their worship services with prayers of vengeance and wrath? How can we sing and make melody in our hearts unto the Lord, while praying for His wrath upon our families, our neighbors, our enemies, and our fellow-citizens, contrary to the spirit and the example of Christ? The wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God. Moses will always have those who preach him (Acts 15:21), but we are called to bless, and not to curse.

 

The Gospel is certainly concealed in the book of Psalms. There are many of the Psalms that breathe the spirit of Christ and the love and mercy of God. But even in these, the Gospel truth is cast in Old Testament figures and hidden under the uses and traditions of Moses. In Christian worship we are to sweep away the veils and behold with open face the glory of the Lord, in order to be changed into his image, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2Cor. 3:17,18)

 

“The tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.” (James 3:8-12)

 

Jesus has died. The veil has been torn in two. The good news goes to all the world. It is a message of peace and blessing.

 

“And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou was slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;  And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Rev. 5:9,10)

 

------------------------------------

Write:

Pastor C. W. Powell

Trinity Covenant Church (RCUS)

6050 Del Paz Drive

Colorado Springs, CO 80918

719-590-1477

 

mailto:budpow@ureach.com