Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:12-17 (ESV)
Paul E. Deterding writes:
Col 3:16-17 and the parallel in Eph 5:19-20 present worship as consisting of two components: the sacramental (God bestows his gifts upon His people) and the sacrificial (the people present their confession of faith, prayers, thanksgiving, and hymns of praise to God). Worship has its center and origin in the proclamation of the Word of Christ. That is done by the reading of the Scriptures, by proclamation (preaching and teaching), and by that music which involves the proclamation of the Word. That music is also a means for the proclamation of the Word. That music is also a means for the proclamation of the Word is made clear in the Ephesians passage, which explicitly makes reference to speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs as well as singing to the LORD. This teaching and exhortation in all “wisdom” (Col 3:16) takes place in worship and provides the ability, motivation, and guidance for ethics.
Another component of worship in the sacrificial, which is our response to God’s saving proclamation (the sacramental). Our response is thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is expressed in music and other forms of prayer and praise within a worship service. In 3:17 the apostle expands the scope of our response of thanksgiving beyond the worship service to include the worship of God in everyday life. All things that we do or say are to be carried out as an act of thanksgiving to God. This is possible only “in the name of the Lord Jesus,” that is, in a saving relationship to Him through faith … and sustained through the Word of Christ. To give thanks to God by word and work is to speak and to do all things in a manner pleasing to Him.
The priority of the sacramental component of worship is indicated by the fact that Paul places first in 3:16 the indwelling of the Word of Christ. It is also indicated by hymnody being highlighted as a means of “teaching and instruction.” Thus, the chief criterion of evaluation for music in Christian worship, if is to follow the pattern set forth here, will be its kerygmatic content. Music and hymnody that proclaims any message contrary to the Word of Christ will be rejected. Music that is not contrary to the Scriptures but that is weak in its theological content or focused on the more peripheral concerns of the biblical revelation will have a much smaller place in Christian worship than that which richly proclaims the Christ-centered teachings of the faith. Similarly, a much-diminished place will be given to music that is introspective or anthropocentric in comparison to that which is strongly focused on the Word of Christ. Music that is merely sentimental will find at most a very limited place in Christian worship, especially in comparison with that which objectively proclaims the great truths of the faith and leads the worshippers in thanksgiving and praise for those great truths.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 11
Q. 11. What are God’s works of providence?
A. God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.