Jesus and the Songs We Sing

I recently had the privilege of speaking at the Doxology and Theology conference in Frisco, Texas, and the Christian Musicians Summit in Seattle, WA. One of the breakouts I did at D&T was called, “The Worship Leader and Christ.” I shaved about 40 minutes off that message, renamed it “Jesus and Our Songs” and gave it again at CMS. Here’s a summary of what I shared.

Christians worship a triune God—Father, Son and Spirit. All three persons are equally God and equally worthy of worship. That’s one of the many things that distinguish us from Buddhists, Muslims and Mormons. But the three persons of the Trinity possess unique roles and relationships. We don’t come to Jesus through the Father. The Spirit doesn’t send Jesus. The Father didn’t die for us.

One of the distinctions that exists in the Trinity is that both the Father and the Spirit share a desire to exalt the Son. Look at Phil. 2:9-11:

Therefore God has highly exalted [Jesus] and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes … He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:13-14).

In light of this reality, it’s important for us to ask, “What difference does Jesus make in the songs we write, play and sing when we gather as the church?”

Jesus is the leader of our songs. (Heb. 2:10-12)

This has at least three implications.

  • Our songs are made possible by Jesus.

The separation of the “Holy of Holies” from the rest of the tabernacle and temple in the Old Testament made it clear we can’t approach God any way we want, any time we want. We have to find a way to approach God, the consuming fire (Heb. 12:29), without being consumed. Jesus is that way.

We have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by  the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. (Heb. 10:19-22, emphasis added)

  • Our songs are made acceptable by Jesus.

[We] are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 2:5).

It’s not the excellence of our songs that make our worship pleasing to God, but the excellence of Christ.

  • Our songs are made one by Jesus.

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility (Eph. 2:14).

We are a spiritual house, not a group of scattered bricks. We are united through our common Leader and Savior, not our common musical preferences.

A few implications:

  • We need God to approach God.
  • Despite the number of times it’s said, no musician will ever lead anyone into God’s presence. Only Jesus can do that.
  • We should be more grateful than anxious as we prepare to lead. It’s about Jesus’ performance, not ours.
  • Our “worship” isn’t more acceptable to God because we hit all the right notes. The people we lead might appreciate it, but even our best playing and singing requires the death of Christ to make it worthy of God’s holiness.
  • Music makes us one for a moment. Jesus makes us one for eternity. 
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Bob Kauflin currently has the privilege of serving as the Director of Worship Development for Sovereign Grace Ministries. © Sovereign Grace Ministries. Used by permission.