I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God: Just hovering over the great gulf; till, a few moments hence, I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing—the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way: For this very end he came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: Here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be homo unius libri. [A man of one book.]
And the Reformers were clear that in order to control and check the movement of Christian tradition from age to age a norm was needed. That norm was the written Word, and so the Bible was for them the supreme “given” element in the Church and the final authority for all our forms of worship.
—Rev. D. H. C. Read, “The Reformation of Worship,” Scottish Journal of Theology 8:1 (March 1955):73
The Bible is forever a critical prodding presence among us.
—William Willimon, The Bible: A Sustaining Presence in Worship
A look at the average Sunday service today in the average Protestant church reveals, in the words of James D. Smart, a “strange silence of the Bible in the church.” The Bible is not read in the worship of most Protestant churches in any systematic way. The Old Testament is often omitted altogether. Thus, the preacher recanonizes Scripture to suit his or her own taste. When bits and pieces of the New Testament are read, they function mainly as a textual springboard for an often unbiblical sermon. This relative silence of Scripture is surprising, particularly when it is within those churches who pride themselves in being “biblical” churches. We Protestants are supposed to be people of the Book, followers of the Word. But the average Methodist, Baptist, or Presbyterian church would be put to shame in its treatment of Scripture by the worship of the average Roman Catholic church—which reads three lessons every Sunday.
William H. Willimon, The Bible: A Sustaining Presence in Worship, 14
[Our] plan is to follow the example of the prophets and the ancient fathers of the church, and to compose psalms for the people [in the ] vernacular, that is, spiritual songs, so that the Word of God may be among the people also in the form of music.
By the Eighteenth Century, writers such as Isaac Watts, William Cowper, John Newton, and the Wesley brothers felt at liberty to compose freely words of praise that were not strict paraphrases of Scripture. But they still felt strongly the obligation of being sure that their words were Scriptural if not Scripture. Often in those early days hymns were printed with the biblical references that justified their content appended at the end of every verse or even every line.
—Donald T. Williams, “Something Old and Something New: The Worship Wars and Christian Ministry,” 4
God’s Word to us matters more than our words to God. (Is. 66:2; Ps. 19:7-11)
- Music ministry is Word ministry.
- Don’t underestimate the value of proclaiming Word passionately.
- Seek to know your Bible better than your instrument.
- Lead people to sing the Word, hear the Word, see the Word, and pray the Word.
—Bob Kauflin, WorshipMatters.com 9/28/15