Wisdom and Worship

Christ Covenant Church
Rev. Marq Toombs
7 April 2019
Lent

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Series — Re:Lent – A Time to Give Up

[sketch notes & talking points]

Sermon Text — Ephesians 5:15-20

Today we reach the end of our mini-series Re:Lent — A Time to Give Up.

The goal of the series was/is to help us give up our sins for the Lord and give up ourselves to the Lord.

I hope that you have learned something about how to live in the Father’s house as adopted sons and daughters.

The last thing we will consider in this series is wisdom and folly.

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The word of the Lord.

As children of the Father, adopted by grace into the family of God, we are called to walk in wisdom and worship before the face of God.

Proverbs: Walk in Wisdom

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

wise = The Book of Proverbs teaches us that God is the source of all wisdom.

Proverbs 2:1-15 on the benefits of wisdom

My son, if you receive my words
    and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
    and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
    and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
    he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
guarding the paths of justice
    and watching over the way of his saints.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice
    and equity, every good path;
10 for wisdom will come into your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
11 discretion will watch over you,
    understanding will guard you,
12 delivering you from the way of evil,
    from men of perverted speech,
13 who forsake the paths of uprightness
    to walk in the ways of darkness,
14 who rejoice in doing evil
    and delight in the perverseness of evil,
15 men whose paths are crooked,
    and who are devious in their ways.

The gospel shows us that Jesus Christ is the embodiment of wisdom. In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2). True wisdom is found by walking / living in Christ.

making the best use of the time = don’t waste your life doing a bunch of stupid and foolish things, things that dull the senses, things that lull you to sleep, things that stifle life, things that do not bring good things to life, either for yourself or others. Whatever you do, whether watching netflix, playing on social media, driving to work, do it all for the glory of God — with a God-consciousness. 

the will of the Lord is = sanctification (1 Thes. 4:8)

18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.

Proverbs teaches us the benefits and dangers of wine and strong drink.

Self-medicating (or partying your life away) is not an option for the children of God. Our help comes from the Lord; our helper is the Holy Spirit.

Psalms: Walk in Worship

18 … be filled with the Spirit = how? 

19 speaking to yourselves (lit.) in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,

speaking to yourselves = either as an individual; or as a community / both? 

Read, Reflect, Remember psalms and hymns and spiritual songs =

psalms = refers to the Book of the Psalms in the OT / the Greek word conveys the idea of striking the chords of a musical instrument

hymns = in Greek writings from Homer down, a song in praise of gods, heroes, conquerors; obviously, in Christian usage, a song in praise of the triune God, esp. Jesus Christ

spiritual songs = an ode or chant

singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord

making melody = plucking a string; playing on a stringed instrument (like a harp or lyre)

with your heart = not just playing with your fingers or paying lip service

The CoC and some Presbyterian and Reformed churches insist on a cappella — vocal and non-instrumental music — in worship. They read the scriptures incorrectly at this point. For example, a CoC / NT-only reading yields (in their view) one interpretation = no musical instruments. But a redemptive-historical reading (that reads the OT and NT together, forwards and backwards) yields a true and better interpretation = when Paul said “sing psalms” everyone in the church at Ephesus knew he meant sing the psalms from the Book of the Psalms in the OT.

The psalms themselves encourage worshipers to sing to God with a variety of musical instruments.

Two examples:

Ephesians 5:18-20 echoes Psalm 149 which we used in the call to worship

Also, Psalm 150 lists a variety of musical instruments (notably, organs and drums are omitted from the list.) j/k 🙂

While we are permitted to sing a cappella, we are not required to sing a cappella only, nor are we prohibited from using musical instruments.

In fact, the very word psalm (which conveys the idea of striking the chords of a musical instrument!) indicates that instrumental are more than permissible (to put it mildly).

Note: God’s people refused to sing — with and without musical instruments — when they were in Babylonian exile. See Psalm 137:1-6

“Music is the hand-maiden of theology” (Luther). The right psalm, hymn, or spiritual song can serve as a weapon to fend off the darkness and foolishness of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

The point I wish to make here is this:

The power of music must be felt among the children of the Father. He wants his house to be filled with the sounds of his children singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

Note: The Book of Common Prayer has helped me pray through the psalms.

20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

never underestimate the value of gratitude! ingratitude leads to all kinds of sins and rebellion.

Thanksgiving = our word eucharist comes from this Greek word eucharisteo.

The table of the Lord is the place where we come not to make sacrifices or offerings, but to give thanks to God.

When we come to the partake of the eucharist, we give thanks for everything the triune God has done, is doing, and will do for us.

We thank our Father for electing us in Christ and predestinating us for adoption. We thank our elder brother Jesus for taking on our flesh and for laying down his life for our sins. We thank the Holy Spirit for sealing us and securing us for teh day of redemption.

We thank God for one another, for the love we have received and the support we have been given. We thank God for the church catholic, the communion of saints, Christians throughout the world.

We thank God for the life we’ve been given, the ups and downs we have experienced, the growth we’ve enjoyed, the struggles we’ve overcome, the grace he has lavished upon us, the forgiveness he has granted us, the help he offers us.

The bottom line — As children of the Father, adopted by grace into the family of God, we are called to walk in wisdom and worship before the face of God.

Summary

In this season of Lent, I hope and pray that you have learned to relent, to give up your sins for the Lord, and to give up yourself to the Lord.

When we started the series, I encouraged you to examine yourself and pick a fight with one or two of your persistent, deeply rooted, sins. I hope you have been doing that and keep on doing that.

I hope and pray that you alway remember and never forget —

The Father loves you, Jesus is on your side. The Spirit is for you. God is relentless in his pursuit of you.