I have heard an interesting comment from Paul Baloche in an interview by Integrity Music. Baloche mentioned, “We may memorize 10 sermons in the course of our life, but we know hundreds of songs; so, for good or bad we get a lot of our theology from the songs that we sing.” I thought that this comment was interesting and wanted to explore it a little further.
In my own life I know that the above statement is true. I have sat under different pastors and listened to several sermons. I have also listened to several songs; and, it is true that if I sat and thought about it that I can only tell you about maybe 15 or 20 sermons that I’ve heard. I can also tell you that I have heard many songs and I know hundreds of them. I would even throw my own sermons into this mix. If it wasn’t for the fact that I have the sermons that I have given written down I would probably not be able to remember them either.
Growing up my dad was hymn leader in church and every Sunday morning and Sunday night (if he was feeling well) he would lead the church in a couple of hymns. The thing I love about hymns is their theology. Hymns seek to reveal the truth of God and not only his experience. Let us examine a very popular hymn that most people have heard and at least know of:
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me….
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.
T’was Grace that taught…
my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear…
the hour I first believed.
Here are the first two verses of the hymn Amazing Grace. Now, the whole song is full of theological soundness, but I have given you an excerpt of the song just to show you how rich the song is in the truth of God’s grace. Here are some theological things we see in these two verses:
- The hymn is going to be about Grace.
- Salvation comes by Grace.
- We were wretched (sinful) before we received this Saving Grace.
- By grace, we learned a reverent, holy fear of Lord.
- By grace, our fears that come from this world and from Satan are done away with because perfect love that comes by faith casts out fear.
- Grace appeared to us the very moment we believed.
We see that this song is very theologically rich. There are six points of our faith in the doctrine of Grace in these two verses alone. And, every hymn has a similar structure as this. They may not have as many points discussed in one song, but one thing is for sure, that they speak of truth of God and the truth of his character.
I have heard some great modern worship songs that have had a great message that sought to bring us closer to God, and then I have also heard some great modern worship songs that were only great in their music. It was the lyric that was poor theologically which could only amount to appealing to a person’s emotions instead of bringing the person closer to God. We should stick to our Christian music roots; not necessarily going back to singing only hymns but continuing to write and sing songs that can be used to build up our faith. Our worship to God should reflect our study of his nature so much so that those that have not been in church before can know what Christianity is all about the moment they set foot in a church worship service hearing the songs and witnessing the people in the service.
I love the way that old songs are packed with truth. Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Psalms and hymns are meant to be teachers and encouragers. When the study of God’s word is taken out of a song then that takes the teaching out of God’s word. So, I leave you with this encouragement, to continue to keep up the good fight of faith. If you have to sing a good song of the faith in order to encourage yourself to do good.
Peace, Love, and Christ ‘cause you know He died for you!