"Theology of Songs"
Singing has been a way of expressing faith for thousands of years. The first and last song recorded in the Bible is the "song of Moses" from Ex. 15 and reinterpreted by the angels in Rev. 15. So why does Paul quote this early Christian song, and what does it mean to us?
Theology of Songs
(2 Tim. 2:11-13)
A. Singing has always been a way that mankind has reached out to praise God, to cry to God, or encourage their own walk with God. Singing touches the soul in ways most other mediums are unable.
B. The Hebrew people found songs to be cathartic. Their style of singing and they words they chose were an expression of who they were and what they were feeling at that moment.
C. Many people have called the Psalms the Jewish hymnal. Even Paul, when writing to the churches in Ephesus and Colossae talked about singing “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” But when you look at those two verses, what you find is that singing was connecting to the heart of the worshiper to their devotion to God.
D. In our American churches today music has a dominate place in the collective worship. Some churches are known for their music and how people are emotionally connected to God because of the music in those congregations. Singing not only expresses the heart but prepares the heart to receive from God the message.
E. People tell me about a collective worship that really affected them and often it was the singing that prepared them for the message that was preached. If the singing discourages the expression of the heart, often the message from God is unable to be received as powerfully as it could have. But when the singing expresses the moment – whether that moment is sorrowful or joyful – the message from God is received with a more open heart.
F. I asked some people to tell me their favorite worship song and why. Here are some of the answers I got back. (read the answers)
G. Why is this introduction so important to our sermon today? Because most likely Paul quotes part of an early hymn sung in churches to express truths that motivate.
I. An Early Hymn
A. This early hymn teaches some great theology. It is written in typical Hebrew style of poetry. Paul says that song is a trustworthy saying. So what can we learn from this poem? Why are words in a song so impactful? Let’s look at the words:
B. Paul quotes, “If we have died with him we will also live with him.” God turns death into life! What a powerful teaching. If we have died (the Greek is past tense) we will live (the Greek is future active tense). Remember, Paul is speaking to Timothy and fellow Christians. Paul used this poem/song to remind them of the beginning of their spiritual life. There was a point in time when we died (past tense) so that we will live with Jesus. This song makes our spiritual life personal. Let me take you back to Rom. 6:1-10. Because Jesus conquered death we will live with Jesus today, tomorrow, and forever. I don’t worry or get upset about am I saved. Yes, I fight the devil’s darts that strive to cause me to question my salvation, but I know that if I have died with him I WILL live with him. It is not about, “can I fall from grace” this song is about me walking in the light and realizing that my death with him gives me life.
C. The second line says, “If we endure, we will also reign with him.” God will turn obstacles into advantages! Here’s what you need to understand. Your death to self and life in Christ will bring for you possibility of having to suffer for him. We have enjoy relative safety from persecution and trials, but Paul wrote this letter and quoted this song from jail. If you stand up for Jesus as a soldier of the cross, then be ready to “share in the suffering” (vs. 3). It is very tempting to yield to temptation of the easy road. Yet, this song states the truth that we are called upon to “endure.” Let me make this clear, there are somethings more important than survival. Jesus tells the church in Smyrna, “Be faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10) Paul offers this promise, “if we endure, we will reign.” It is worth all that you must face in this life if you understand what it means to live eternally.
D. The third line of this song says, “If we deny him, he also will deny us.” We don’t like this line of the song. But again, it was sung or said as a teaching tool. We as Christians desire a relationship with Jesus. That relationship requires us to do our part to remain in relationship. Listen to Jesus as recorded in Matt. 10:32-33. These words may refer back to statements like this one. There is a consequence in denying who Jesus is and what he did for us on the cross. Sometimes we need to be reminded of the covenant we made with him.
E. The last says, “If we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.” This is a difficult phrase and probably only those who sang it fully understood it. But it could be that Jesus is faithful not to the unfaithful, but to himself, as in he must do what is right because he cannot do what is wrong. If that is the case, these last two lines are teaching the same thing – while we are saved by grace we can fall from that grace. But hold on to that fact, that Jesus is not faithless. Hold on to the truth that Jesus remains true and therefore we don’t have to live in fear.
F. Songs help us remember truths that are taught. They help us connect to God by lifting us up and reminding us of the deep truths that the Bible teaches.
A. When Jesus was on this earth, the night he led his disciples from that room where he shared communion and taught them, the bible tells us “When they had sung a hymn” Jesus took them to the Mount of Olives.
B. When Paul and Silas were locked in a jail in Philippi, the Bible tells us they were “praying and singing hymn to God.”
C. Singing expresses your heart, can teach yourself and other about Jesus, and can join the very song of angels in praise to the Lamb. In just a moment we are going to sing a song to invite you respond to God’s message. If His word and the words of this song call you to respond, then please come as we stand and sing.