二○一八十年十一月三日／十一月四日 Click here for English version
Experiencing God in Praise Singing
Rev Pun Kin Tong
Praise singing in a worship service is not for entertainment. Neither is it just liturgy. When we sing praises to God, we give thanks, confess our faith and have fellowship with Him. "Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises" (Psalm 22:3). When a church community truthfully sings His praise, God will make His dwelling place among the believers, live amongst them, and have fellowship with them.
I believe, therefore I sing: "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him" (Hebrews 11:6). "Faith" is a prerequisite to worship. It is not possible for the faithless to truly worship God. "The waters covered their adversaries; not one of them survived. Then they believed his promises and sang his praise" (Psalm 106:11-12). When the Israelites experienced the might of God, they believed in Him, and responded naturally by singing His praise. To sing by faith before God is different from reciting a creed (which is another form of expression). We sing because our genuine experience has brought forth faith, which is then expressed in praise singing. Such faith is not generated by creeds but is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Praise singing is not uttering a creed or standard religious jargon. It is the relating of real faith experiences by means of songs. It is faith experienced and not ritualized religious behavior. Real praise singing, therefore, stems from the faith experiences of the congregation.
From a touched heart: Such faith is not just rational conviction but an outflow from a touched heart. "Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts" (Colossians 3:16). "With gratitude in your hearts" – sincere praise singing comes from inner gratitude. It is much more than a cognitive expression.
In real life, some people may query the expression of joy in worship. But the Bible clearly says, "Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the Lord" (Psalm 68:4). Praise singing in the Bible is often related to joyful expression. That is to say, the Bible asks that we encourage one another to sing His praise with a joyful heart. Joy should mark every worship. That is natural when the creation welcomes the presence of God the Creator. "Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy" (Psalm 96:12). "Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy" (Psalm 98:8).
"Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me, and to the blameless I will show my salvation" (Psalm 50:23). In worship, a good offering does not depend on the animal sacrifice or the composition of the song, but on the quality of the worshiping heart and a life devoted to what is right in the eyes of the Lord.