Question #9: Paul mentions ‘psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’ in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. Isn’t this proof that we should sing more than the Biblical Psalms in worship?

Question #9: Paul mentions ‘psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’ in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. Isn’t this proof that we should sing more than the Biblical Psalms in worship?

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24 responses to “Question #9: Paul mentions ‘psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’ in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. Isn’t this proof that we should sing more than the Biblical Psalms in worship?

  1. A Special Exegesis of Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16

    Prof. John McNaugher, D. D., LL.D., Allegheny, Pennsylvania, USA

    As even a glace at their contents shows, the epistle to the Ephesians and that to the Colossians are closely alike. About half of the verses in the former have parallels in the latter, and there are other resemblances as well. This twinship is explained when it is remembered that the two letters were written at the same time and to communities similarly circumstanced. Among the coincidences in thought and language are to be numbered the texts under study, which almost repeat each other.

    Turning to these duplicate exhortations, it appears at once that they are of peculiar interest in that they yield a glimpse of the simple worship of primitive days … True, the question has been raised whether they have to do with worship at all, whether Paul is not touching merely upon the intercourse of believers in their family life, at their love-feasts, their social gatherings, and other meetings, and suggesting mutual edification by song. On this mooted point the common verdict is that the main, though not exclusive, reference is to the stated services of the public assembly, which seem to have been of a free and elastic nature. That worship, as well as joint instruction, is in mind is indicated by the concluding words in each citation—“singing with grace in your hearts unto God,” “singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.”

    With the foregoing inquiry answered, it may be added as beyond doubt that all the resources of the early church as regards her treasury of sacred song are embraced in the “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” here mentioned. In the three terms the inventory is evidently complete. Here then are classical passages which must be consulted in connection with any investigation into the hymnology of the apostolic period, passages which have a decisive bearing, therefore, on what compositions may be employed properly in the ordinance of praise.

    As to their meaning, there has been pronounced disagreement. The advocates of uninspired songs in worship look on them as strongholds, arguing therefrom that in the age of the apostles the Psalter was supplemented by new lyrics, and that therefore, as a necessary consequence, the legitimacy of the modern hymn is established. Some writers on this side declare themselves in a very dogmatic way, dismissing lightly the idea of contradiction. On the other hand, it is alleged that there is no cause for supposing that Paul’s “hymns and spiritual songs” were anything different from the canonical Psalms, and that there is no license here for the use of other devotional pieces than the Psalms in the worship of God. The latter is the view which will be upheld in this exegesis. It challenges the opposite interpretation as being but a surmise, and offers a series of substantial reasons for its own correctness.

    To begin with, it should be realized that present usage as regards the debated terms plays no part in fixing their sense. One can be misled by the seemingly familiar phraseology, and think forthwith of the hard and fast distinction now made between Psalms and hymns. But we are deciphering what was penned in A. D. 61 or 62, long centuries before any of the uninspired productions in the hymnals of today were extant. In order, therefore, to make these lines intelligible, we must transport ourselves back into that past to which Paul and his readers belong, and there undertake our exposition with open-mindedness and cautious discrimination.

    As an approach toward identifying the poems intended by these designations, there is clear evidence at hand that all of them were divinely inspired, indicted under the extraordinary influence of the Holy Spirit. Preliminary to what is deemed decisive proof, certain considerations which go to make this important claim a strong probability may be adduced.

    1. First, in these verses the direction given is not to prepare or provide songs of praise, but only to sing them. On this we must be permitted to insist. But in the absence of an express warrant for so doing, would not these Asia Minor Christians have been chary about writing original hymns for rendition in worship, when the Psalter, written on the mountain-tops of inspiration, and full of the things of God, was everywhere, as is allowed, a congregational handbook? Is it likely that any, self-advised and unaided, would have had the temerity or the desire to attempt such an innovation?

  2. From W. W. Barr, The Use of the Psalms in Worship

    “IX. No authority has been given to make or sing in the praise of God other songs besides those contained in the Bible. Such authority has been claimed, and the present practice of the large majority of professing Christians in the world would seems to indicate that there must be some good ground on which to base the claim. In this intentionally brief article, we cannot even note all the considerations that have b;en advanced in favor of using hymns of human composition in the worship of God. Most of these are of little moment, and do not at all touch the vital question of authority. In these late days that question is rarely referred to. The right to make and use hymns in worshiping God is assumed. When the question of authority is introduced, the reference is to Eph. v. 19, and the parallel passage in Col. iii. 16. It may be safely said (hymn-singers themselves being judges) that if there be not authority in these two texts of Scripture, for making and singing hymns in Gcd’s worship, the authority is not in the Bible. We therefore quote the passages, and consider them. In Eph. v. 18, 19, Paul says : “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” The parallel passage in Col. iii. 16 is, ” Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

    That these passages do not authorize the making and singing of hymns in the worship of God, seems to us to be clear from such considerations as these : (1) The word ” Psalms,” refers to the psalms of the Bible. This is so generally admitted by commentators that it may be regarded as a point settled. (2) The presumption is therefore that the terms ” hymns” and ” spiritual songs ” likewise refer to the Scripture psalms. It can hardly be believed that the Apostle would link compositions of men with those of the Spirit of God; put them on the same level; assign to them the same use as matter of God’s praise, and give to them the same efficiency in filling believers with the Spirit, and equal virtue as matter with which believers are to exhort one another. All this we must believe he has done, if ” psalms ” means the psalms of the Bible, and ” hymns and spiritual songs” mean the uninspired compositions of men. (3) The three terms used by the apostle, have corresponding terms in the Hebrew psalter— psalms, hymns, songs. Those to whom the Apostle was writing were familiar with these in the Greek version of the Scriptures. They would readily understand him as referring to these. (4) The very Greek words which he employs are in the titles to the psalms in the Septuagint or Greek version. Paul and those to whom he wrote, no doubt, familiarly used this version. It is, therefore, morally certain that he referred to the scripture psalms, fs) The word “spiritual” qualifying “songs,” is properly that which is produced by the Spirit. So Dr. Hodge regards it in every instance in which it occurs in the books of the New Testament on which he has commented, except in /his single instance. Mr. Barnes might be referred to as sustaining the same view. (6) The apostle is urging the right use of the ” Word of Christ —that is, the Bible. Hymns and songs made by men are not the word of Christ. (7) If the reference in ” hymns and spiritual songs,” be to the compositions of men, then the apostle enjoins Christians without exception to make as well as sing these—an injunction with which the vast majority of Christians could not possibly comply. (8) It is inconceivable that the apostle would make it the imperative duty of the members of the Church at Ephesus and Colosse to make hymns with which to praise God. The most of them were just out of heathenism. What a hopeless task would our missionaries now assign their new converts, if they would impose on them the making of hymns of praise ! (9) If a work so important as making songs with which to praise God, has been assigned to the Church, it is amazing that no promise of the aid of the Spirit has been given for this end. We have the promise of help in prayer; but we have no promise of assistance in making hymns. (10) If the Church was commanded to make and sing her hymns, it is unaccountable that we have no record of an early attempt on her part to fulfil this obligation. Certainly no serious effort was made in the days of the apostles, or for a length of time after them. No hymns of those days have come down to us. Mr. Barnes candidly admits this. The oldest Christian hymn known to be in existence was written some two hundred years after Christ. In view of all these considerations, we submit that there is not authority in these passages of Scriptare for making and singing hymns in the worship of God. The great God whom we worship has given us hymns in his Word with which to praise him. He has not authorized uninspired men to make others. In the whole history of the Church given us in the Bible, there is no evidence that God was ever praised with an uninspired hymn. It is not his will that he should be so praised. “

  3. From The True Psalmody

    “Having subjected these passages to what we believe to be a faithful and impartial examination, it may not be out of place to inquire how far the result harmonizes with the views of distinguished divines and commentators. A careful inquiry will show that those who maintain that the hymns and spiritual songs mentioned by the Apostle are those of inspiration, have clearly the weight of authority on their side.

    “In an edition of the Westminster version of the Psalms, published in 1673, the reader will find a preface signed by the celebrated Dr Owen, and twenty-five others, among whom are to be found the most illustrious divines that have ever adorned the church. Their testimony on the point before us is given in the following words: ‘To us David’s Psalms seem plainly intended by these terms of psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, which the Apostle useth. Eph. v. 19; Col. iii. 16.’

    “Ridgely, in his Body of Divinity, expresses the same view, and says: ‘ It cannot be denied that the Psalms of David are called indifferently by these names.’

    “Dr Gill, the learned Calvinistic divine of the Baptist school, in the introductory remarks to his Commentary on the Book of Psalms, says: ‘To these several names of this book, the Apostle manifestly refers in Eph. v. 19; Col. iii. 16.’ In his exposition of Eph. v. 19, he thus expresses himself: ‘the hymns are only another name for the Book of Psalms,’ and ‘by spiritual songs are meant the same Psalms of David, Asaph, eta’

    “Calvin, according to Doddridge, in his note to CoL iii. 16, ‘thinks all these words refer to David’s poetical pieces.’

    “Beza, according to Macknight, ‘thinks psalms in this passage denote those poetical compositions in which David uttered his complaints and prayers; also those historical narratives by which he instructed the people; and hymns are his other compositions in which he celebrated the praises of God.’

    “Macknight limits the ‘psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, mentioned by the Apostle, to those which were ‘recorded in the Scripture,’ and to such as were ‘ dictated by the Spirit.’ The same view is expressed by the continuators of Henry’s Commentary, and by Bloomfield, Brown, Home, Durham, Daille, and others.

    “The reader will see from the authorities to which we have referred, that our criticisms on these passages present them in no new light to the church. Indeed we question whether any one of the evangelical denominations can find anything like the same authority, either in point of weight or variety, for their interpretation of any of the proof texts on which they rest anything that is distinctive in their profession, either in relation to doctrine, worship, or government.”

  4. Hmm, I was wondering when this was going to come up concerning Calvin. I had no idea that Calvin believed that. His commentary on Ephesians and Colossians seems to say otherwise. It would be quite a turn of events if it were true though since that is a reason some do not believe the Bible teaches exclusive psalmody (if not because Calvin believed otherwise, because they perceive the EPers as lying by saying Calvin believed it). So….is there any proof that Calvin believed that, or is this one of those things where we have “He said that he said that he said…”?

  5. Raymond,

    Yes, you are correct that Calvin’s commentary of the passages in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 is not what we would expect it to be. The quote by Doddridge is a little generous. I have known people who oppose EP simply because of their perception that Calvin would be opposed to EP in our day. For myself, I claim Calvin in our camp because of his life’s work on the Genevan Psalter. He gradually moved toward a completed Psalter by 1562 that did not even include a versified Apostle’s Creed (at least as I understand it). I believe he did not fully state our position because he didn’t know he needed to. As I have stated elsewhere, if Calvin lived in our day and saw the worship practices of the modern evangelical world, he would strive for the completion of the work he started in Geneva. That is our goal today, to push forward our reforms beyond Calvin’s reforms. Of course, my speculation about Calvin is just that…speculation. The evidence of Calvin’s life’s work is much closer to the EP movement than it is toward the non-EP.

    Regarding Calvin’s commentary on Eph and Col, I think he wasn’t at his best. That doesn’t discount his tremendous step forward in the reformation of worship. For example, read the preface to the Genevan Psalter, it seems to clearly be in step with EP.

  6. I’m looking into the Doddridge quote. Since it is quoted in The True Psalmody, I want to see why it was chosen to justify Calvin’s position. I will also see if I can find some discussion of Calvin’s view of the two passages in question.

  7. Thanks! As for Calvin’s Preface, it strikes me as very odd. Once again another person who sounds EP–and arguably should be EP according to his own logic–but isn’t. As far as I know he also sang a couple of other inspired songs outside of the Book of Psalms. But I do agree that it is important to further Calvin’s reforms–even if Calvin wasn’t truly an exclusive psalmodist.

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  10. From William Hanna, A Plea for the Songs of Zion, 1860

    “The terms—Psalmos, hymnos, ode—employed in the original, are the same in both passages, and correspond to the titles given to the Psalms in the Septuagint and in the original Hebrew. 1. The titles prefixed to the Psalms in our Hebrew Bibles are considered by many of equal authority with the Psalms themselves. On this point the learned Professor Alexander, of Princeton, remarks — ‘They (the titles) are found in the Hebrew text, as far as we can trace its history, not as addenda, but as integral parts of the composition.’ These titles are Mizmor, Shir, and Tehilla, and a few without any title. 2. In the Septuagint version, a Greek translation of the Old Testament, which was in common use at Ephesus and Collosse, we have Mizmor translated Psalmos, Shir translated ode, and eighteen Psalms with the title Halleluja, which corresponds precisely with the Greek term Hymnos. 3. Mark how nearly these terms agree with the words of the Apostle. In the Septuagint, there are Psalmos, ode, and alleluja, equivalent to hymnos; and in the original of the New Testament, the words employed by Paul are Psalmos, ode, hymnos. When, therefore, the Apostle commanded the Ephesians and Colossians to sing praise to God in ‘psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs,’ he was using the very terms by which the Psalms, according to their titles, were designated in that version of the Old Testament, which was in common use among them.”

  11. Doddridge says on Colossians 3:16

    “singing with grace in or in private conrerence, we in a proper manner diversified with the use of David’s psalms, and other evangelical hymns and spiritual songs which under the influences of the Spirit ye may be enabled to compose. For it will be both pleasant and profitable to be frequently employed in singing such pieces of sacred poetry and music, provided it to be not merely the language of the lip, or the exercise of the voice, but be likewise attended with the exercise of grace in your heart; which surely it will be, if we rightly consider that they are addressed to the Lord, to whom every sentiment of the heart is known, and to whom nothing can be acceptable which is not attended with cordial devotion.”

    “Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs: Calvin thinks all these words refer to David’s poetical pieces as some of them are called Mizmorim psalms, attended with instuments, some Tihillum, which he thinks were prayers generally sung, and others Shurim songs, containing not only proper and immediate acts of devotion addressed to God but also moral and religious instructions. But I see not the authority of this interpretation, and I think it much more reasonable to believe that by hymns and spiritual songs he means such poetical composures as, under the influence of the Spirit were written or uttered. For it would be absurd to suppose, that when there was such a gift in the church, as we are sure there was, they should be confined to the words of David in all their devotions of this kind. And it would certainly be as reasonable for us in these later ages to explode all kinds of prayers in public, but liturgies collected from the words of Scripture, as all sacred songs in divine worship but literal translations from what is called the Book of Psalms. Numberless passages in both the Old and New Testaments are equally capable of furnishing us with sacred anthems.”

  12. Calvin on Colossians 3:16

    “Psalms, hymns. He does not restrict the word of Christ to these particular departments, but rather intimates that all our communications should be adapted to edification, that even those which tend to hilarity may have no empty savor. “Leave to unbelievers that foolish delight which they take from ludicrous and frivolous jests and witticisms; and let your communications, not merely those that are grave, but those also that are joyful and exhilarating, contain something profitable. In place of their obscene, or at least barely modest and decent, songs, it becomes you to make use of hymns and songs that sound forth God’s praise.” Farther, under these three terms he includes all kinds of songs. They are commonly distinguished in this way — that a psalm is that, in the singing of which some musical instrument besides the tongue is made use of: a hymn is properly a song of praise, whether it be sung simply with the voice or otherwise; while an ode contains not merely praises, but exhortations and other matters. He would have the songs of Christians, however, to be spiritual, not made up of frivolities and worthless trifles. For this has a connection with his argument.

    The clause, in grace, Chrysostom explains in different ways. I, however, take it simply, as also afterwards, in Colossians 4:6, where he says, “Let your speech be seasoned with salt, in grace,” that is, by way of a dexterity that may be agreeable, and may please the hearers by its profitableness, so that it may be opposed to buffoonery and similar trifles.

    Singing in your hearts. This relates to disposition; for as we ought to stir up others, so we ought also to sing from the heart, that there may not be merely an external sound with the mouth. At the same time, we must not understand it as though he would have every one sing inwardly to himself, but he would have both conjoined, provided the heart goes before the tongue.”

  13. Calvin on Ephesians 5:19

    “19. To psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs. These are truly pleasant and delightful fruits. The Spirit means “joy in the Holy Ghost,” (Romans 14:17;) and the exhortation, be ye filled, (ver. 18,) alludes to deep drinking, with which it is indirectly contrasted. Speaking to themselves, is speaking among themselves. Nor does he enjoin them to sing inwardly or alone; for he immediately adds, singing in your hearts; as if he had said, “Let your praises be not merely on the tongue, as hypocrites do, but from the heart.” What may be the exact difference between psalms and hymns, or between hymns and songs, it is not easy to determine, though a few remarks on this subject shall be offered on a future occasion. (See Calvin Commentary on Philippians, Colossians, etc., page217). The appellation spiritual, given to these songs, is strikingly appropriate; for the songs most frequently used are almost always on trifling subjects, and very far from being chaste.”

  14. Hmm. I guess Doddridge was wrong about Calvin. Or maybe he knew something we all didn’t. At any rate, here’s some interesting thoughts by Rev. Wizner concerning Thomas Manton and the inclusion of non-Psalms in the Genevan Psalter (actually, the whole article is quite good, and it does talk about the interpretation of “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” too):”Besides John Ball, the only other apparent Puritan advocate of an uninspired hymnody whom Mr. Murray quotes is Thomas Manton.65 It is difficult to comprehend under what auspices Mr. Manton would “not forbid other songs,” but receive them “into the Church.” But let the reader continue on with the earnest Puritan’s thoughts on the subject:

    Scripture psalms not only may be sung, but are fittest to be used in the church, as being indited by an infallible and unerring Spirit, and are of a more diffusive and unlimited concernment than the private dictates of any particular person or spirit in the church… But suppose men of known holiness and ability should be called to this task, and the matter propounded to be sung be good and holy, yet certainly then men are like to suffer loss in their reverence and affection, it being impossible that they should have such absolute assurance and high esteem of persons ordinarily gifted as of those infallibly assisted. Therefore, upon the whole matter, I should pronounce, that so much as an infallible gift doth excel a common gift, so much do scriptural psalms excel those that are of a private composure.66

    An unbiased reader of Thomas Manton’s exposition will undoubtedly conclude that the earlier part of his treatment on the subject was nothing more than a concession for the sake of the argument until he had come to deal with the question as to which songs are more appropriate to be used. When he says, “Therefore, upon the whole matter, I should pronounce,” the reader is being provided with the Puritan’s final conclusion on the subject; and that should be taken as his mind on the matter. ”

    “The fact that the Genevan Psalter included “such materials as the commandments and Nunc Dimittis,” as well as other uninspired matter including a hymn attributed to Calvin is quite beside the point. The inclusion of the Apocrypha in some of the early Reformed translations would not suggest to any fair-minded historian that the Apocrypha was thought to be suitable for reading in public worship. Neither should the presence of these other materials, which could have been included for any number of reasons,44 suggest that they were used in congregational praise. Unless the historian can provide a concrete testimony of their actual use in worship any claim that they were employed in worship is mere conjecture.”

    From here: http://www.puritanboard.com/f87/singing-lords-song-strange-land-24063/

  15. What I don’t get, from some of the above commentary is why would you call the worship songs not based on psalms uninspired? Is the Holy Spirit still not moving today? Is He still not here to help us in every area of our walk, including worship? We are expressive beings, made that way by God. He puts the song of joy in our hearts and to say that we don’t have “authority” to sing to the Lord with our own words is ridiculous!
    What I see here is nothing more than nit picking, which has been the bane of Christianity since Christs leaving. Causing division for a distraction from the goal.
    Not all modern “worship” is that, some is very self centred which you avoid, but a discerning heart which walks close with the Lord will keep you straight.

  16. PJ,

    The words of the Psalms are inspired by God. The words I write when composing a song are not inspired in the same sense. The Scriptures are unique in their inspiration and so we know they are perfect, inerrant, and infallible. My words are not. There is no comparing a Psalm to “Amazing Grace”. While human songs may contain truth, they can also contain error. Furthermore, God has not told us to compose songs on our own. He has given us songs already. Notice that the songs we have in the Psalms were written by Prophets. There are no Prophets today writing new inspired songs. The Bible certainly never mentions a continuing office of “hymn writer”. The canon of Scripture is closed. There are no new inspired writings.

    You may think writing hymns in addition to the Words given by God is a good idea. You should consider the possibility that adding things to the Bible is a bad idea and something that will provoke the anger of God. Just because you think something is a good idea doesn’t mean it is. There is no Scriptural support for writing hymns.

    While you may see this as nit picking, there are many who choose to obey God and who only do the things God has commanded. The division is caused by those who depart from His Word, not the ones who are obeying.

  17. Yes the canon of scripture is closed but we’re not talking about adding to Gods word. We’re talking about expressing worship through song. There’s a stark difference. Adding to Gods word is obviously wrong but where is the command not to compose songs. Show me where we’re told only to use the Psalms? His Word actually directs and inspires us to worship in spirit and in truth. Led by His Spirit.
    So I take it you’re inferring that I, in worshiping using Psalms with other songs, have departed from His Word so angering Him? Let me ask you, do you sing in the Spirit as well as with your mind as Paul commands us to? Pray in the Spirit as well as with your mind?
    Where too, on a side note, does it say there are no longer prophets? From what I read in the perfect, infallible, and uniquely inspired word of God is the complete opposite, that prophesy is one of the outpourings of the Spirit in the last days. The “office” of prophet is continued, along with teacher, pastor, etc.
    You mentioned provoking God to anger by departing from His truth, is there a log in your eye Mark?

  18. PJ,

    I confess to having plenty of logs in my eyes. On this particular issue, however, I think the issue is simpler than you are seeing it. If we are holding to the Scriptures alone as the direction for our worship, all of our additions and inventions will fall away.

    Lets take your statements in order:

    “the canon of scripture is closed but we’re not talking about adding to Gods word. We’re talking about expressing worship through song. There’s a stark difference.”

    No, actually there isn’t a difference. Offering song to God in worship is bringing something into his presence. It is lifting something up to describe the nature of God. I would submit to you that we ought only to offer things in worship to God that He has asked for. He gave us the Psalms, they are exactly what he wants in return. He doesn’t ask for our creativity, He doesn’t ask for our additions or opinions. The Psalms are perfect and sufficient, a statement that you would agree with wholeheartedly because you love God’s Word. You can’t say that about man’s words. You also can’t say that about songs that are written by man. As we worship with inspired songs we know that we are perfectly describing God in our worship. We know that we are pleasing Him.

    If you think about it, we can never adequately describe God in our own words. In regard to worship, we don’t have to try to do that. We simply sing God’s perfect Word back to Him. The Word of God in the Psalms cannot err in speaking of God.

    “where is the command not to compose songs.”

    The appropriate Reformed response is ‘where is the command TO compose songs.’ The Regulative Principle of Worship insists that we can only do that which we are commanded in worship. God’s Word is very clear that we are not to add to or take away from the commands of God.

    Deuteronomy 12:32 “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.”

    “Show me where we’re told only to use the Psalms?”

    In Eph. v. 18, 19, Paul says : “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” The parallel passage in Col. iii. 16 is, ” Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

    There are many fine commentaries on these passages above that are very helpful. I would only point out here that the psalms, hymns and spiritual songs in their context are clearly referring to the titles of the Psalms in the Septuagint. Those who received the letters from Paul would have known nothing of Fanny Crosby, revivalism or Contemporary Christian Music (CCM), they would have thought only of the Psalms precisely because that is what Paul intended. This is where we are told to use the Psalms. Notice also that we are not told to make or compose our own songs.

    “So I take it you’re inferring that I, in worshiping using Psalms with other songs, have departed from His Word so angering Him?”

    Anyone who adds to the commands of God is departing from His Word. Offering uninspired compositions to God is unwise, it is unlawful and yes, I believe it angers Him. I might also add that simply obeying the command to use the Psalms is not enough. Those of us who sing the Psalms only are often guilty of being distracted or going through the motions in our worship. Empty obedience is not the goal. However, obedience is critical to pleasing God. Displeasing God is not limited to those who sing uninspired hymns.

    “Let me ask you, do you sing in the Spirit as well as with your mind as Paul commands us to? Pray in the Spirit as well as with your mind?”

    I am not sure I understand here. Could you elaborate for me please?

    “Where too, on a side note, does it say there are no longer prophets? From what I read in the perfect, infallible, and uniquely inspired word of God is the complete opposite, that prophesy is one of the outpourings of the Spirit in the last days. The “office” of prophet is continued, along with teacher, pastor, etc.”

    In the Westminster Confession of Faith we express it this way: “Of the Holy Scripture, I. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence, do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation; therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his Church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.”

    The Canon of Scripture is closed, therefore there are no new revelations from God in the same sense. There are no longer men to whom God audibly speaks for the edification of the church. Of course, the broader Christian church in our day has major disagreements with that statement. I stand in the stream of Reformed Presbyterianism, we have been pretty vocal about the offices that have been discontinued such as Apostle, Prophet or Evangelist. Our RPCGA BCO puts it like this:

    “The apostles, prophets, and evangelists, as they were called extraordinarily by Christ, (1 Cor. 4:9) so their office ended with themselves. Therefore, when Paul directs Timothy regarding church administration, he gives no direction about the choice of apostles, prophets, or evangelists, but only elders (also called presbyters or bishops) and deacons (1 Tim. 3:1-2,8-13; 5:17; Tit. 1:5; Phil. 1:1). And when Paul was to take his last leave of the Church of Ephesus, he committed the care of feeding the church to the elders of that church and no others (Acts 20:17,28). The same charge Peter commits to the elders (1 Pet. 5:1-3). And when Paul wrote to the Church at Philippi, he addressed the letter to “all the saints in Christ … with the bishops and deacons.” Therefore, the ordinary and perpetual offices in the Church are elders (presbyters, bishops) and deacons (Phil. 1:1).”

    This is one of the reasons why it is so surprising to see Christians so eager to take up the pen in our day to write new hymns. The things they write are displacing the Word of God in worship. The people who write these modern uninspired hymns are not prophets. They are not the recipients of authority from God. Their words are not perfect, inerrant and infallible.

    “You mentioned provoking God to anger by departing from His truth, is there a log in your eye Mark?”

    As I stated, I am sure there are many. I do not believe we are departing from His truth by using the Word of God in our singing. If anything we could say we are keeping our worship pure by keeping out the words of men.

  19. My point was that you claim to follow the bibles direct instructions however that can’t be the case when your Westminster Confession of Faith, which you adhere to, picks which offices are still ongoing?? Not much divine inspiration there.
    You yourself wrote above: “The appropriate Reformed response is ‘where is the command TO compose songs.’ The Regulative Principle of Worship insists that we can only do that which we are commanded in worship. God’s Word is very clear that we are not to add to or take away from the commands of God.”
    and following that same line of reasoning I would emphasise your point that we are not to add or TAKE AWAY from His commands. Seems strange that you would adhere so closely to your perceived correct method of worship yet compromise elsewhere.
    Paul clearly states that prophesy will be an ongoing gift of the Spirit for the edification of His body, along with the other gifts of the Holy Spirit.
    There’s NO mention of a ceasation of these gift or a limit to their duration. Just a COMMAND to eagerly desire them.

    But getting back on point, the scripture I was refering to, which you didnt understand was 1 Corinthians 14:15. You don’t mention singing with your spirit as well as with your understanding, which would be with Psalms in your case, as being an appropriate and INSTRUCTED way of worshiping, according to Paul. Again are you detracting from Gods command thus perhaps provoking Him to anger?

    The Psalms, wonderful as they are and I draw great inspiration from them, are Old Testament. A song book for Israel (His people), charting their journey, triumphs and victories through His hand. As well as their defeats and woes. How then can they be used to adequately worship the Lord Jesus, whos name isn’t even mentioned in them, the journey He has brought US on (His Church, His body), our victory won in Him and the glory He is leading us on to??
    How can you lift His name on High and worship the “Name which is above all other names”, the Name at which every knee will bow and every tongue confess as Lord, if theres no song yet written with which to do so. The cross, where He triumphed gloriously over the enemy, where He won our salvation and the redemption, can never so be mentioned in giving Him praise and thanks!! It’s crazy.The event that all creation and time was been building to, our reconnetion with God, and we’re not to sing a victoious song concerning it. You’ve acused me of over complicating things but my goodness to ignore the name of Jesus while worshiping Him takes some act of twisting.

    We’re in a new age, we are the “new creation”, with facaulties that the prophets, kings and even Abraham himself could only see afar off. We have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, God almighty Himself living within us, where the prophets were restricted to having the power of the Holy Spirit come upon them for certain tasks.

    In light of this how then can you still say that we can’t be inspired to worship. Again I’m not talking about adding words to the bible but using the gift of being “filled with the Spirit” to worship to Him. He put the “SONG of joy in our HEARTS”, not just on a page.

  20. We now are the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus (2 Corintihians 5:21), we are seated with Him in Heavenly places (Ephians 2:6). We have been washed by the blood of the Lamb and are pure and spotless before Him. So to imply that what we would bring, in our own songs of worship(and I mean Christ centred songs, not this bless me, touch me, all about me nonsense), is anything less than pure is wrong.
    Christ has called us into His courts to sing praises to Him, using His name. Revelations even talks of the angels in Heaven singing praises, “Worthy is the lamb”. it’s not recorded in the Psalms, but is the new song to be sung.

  21. PJ,

    Sorry, I’m really swamped this week, I will put up a more complete response next week. For now, it seems to me you are saying that we as Reformed Presbyterians (and the Westminster Confession) are taking away from the Bible because we believe certain offices no longer exist in the church? This is an interesting approach for you to take in this discussion. Are you saying that there are still Apostles today?

    Also, there are some good resources here for whether or not we sing the name of Jesus in our worship. Jesus never heard the name J-E-S-U-S in his lifetime. That is an English transliteration of his Greek name. His name means “salvation”, which occurs many times in the Psalms.

    More later…

  22. “Are you saying that there are still Apostles today?”…I can only refer you to Gods word and my point above. Look at Pauls words from Ephesians 4. It’s God who gives these gifts, they are not appointments made by church leaders! Who is man to contradict Gods word and determine what His ministeries are? That sounds a bit Rome-ish. You can’t possibly say that you know all the works which God is doing at the moment.

    “His name means “salvation””…True. I’ve got friends named John, but I don’t go round calling them “Gift of God”. His name means Salvation yes but Jesus is still His namev and the name by which we know Him. In Hebrew it’s Yeshua. Same name, different translation.

    Don’t forget to address my question regarding proper worship with singing with your spirit and more importantly how our praise, with our own words isn’t accepted given our position “in Him” and the new dispensation having been ushered in.

    Look forward to your full response. God Bless.

  23. Mark Koller’s gone very quiet

  24. PJ,

    I am really sorry to take so long getting back to your earlier post. We have Presbytery tomorrow and I have been out of town a lot lately. I am still thinking about it. Actually, I looked at the post again yesterday, but couldn’t really think of anything to add. It seems like we are going to have a discussion about the continuation of gifts, offices and revelation. It takes some time to bring that back to Psalmody and the RPW, but I think it will be a worthwhile discussion. I might make a new post so it will be easier to follow. More to come…sorry. Thank you for your patience.

    God bless.

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