Let’s not grow weary!

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Series: Spirit-filled, by Rosie Moore

Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith (Gal 6:9-10).

I don’t know about you, but I need patience in the Christian life. Sometimes we feel weary, especially when things appear to be getting worse, not better. But Paul’s letter to the Galatian church reminds us that the Spirit-filled life is a long distance race and it’s easy to stray from the road of truth (Gal 5:7). It’s easy to fall into a works-based religion where we abandon Christ (Gal 1:6-7; 2:16). And it’s easy to use our Christian freedom as a license for sin (Gal 5:13; 2:4-5). Personally, I’m glad Paul loved the Galatians enough to write them this honest letter, as these warnings are for us too (Gal 4:16).

In the last two weeks, we looked at the marks of a Spirit-filled Christian, both in the exercise of fruit and gifts of the Holy Spirit. We saw how these spiritual gifts and fruit can only be genuine if produced by the Spirit of God in us. We also saw that they are given to build up the church as a community. Today we focus on Paul’s plea in Gal 6:9-10. What an amazing reminder to all God’s people who are discouraged and weary today!

But we ask, “Paul, how can I not grow weary? How can I keep doing good, keep enduring, keep sowing even when I experience only discouragement?

Christ alone

Firstly, the Bible tells us that only Jesus can motivate and keep us enduring with the gospel to the end. No human goals or pursuits, however worthy, can keep us true to the gospel over the long haul. The writer to the Hebrew Christians nudges us to run with endurance the race set before us,

“…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted” (Heb 12:1-3).

As the household of faith, the race we are running is God’s race, the race to take the gospel baton throughout the world. We dare not act independently of Christ’s person, his works, his teaching, his mission and his sufficiency.

Christ alone is the creed of the household of faith!

The perfecter of faith

Jesus never leaves us to fend for ourselves. He remains in the arena with us, and fights for us when we suffer for doing good. He stays in our corner. He will mould and mature our faith to the very end, to make us fit for heaven. So let’s not grow weary and give up!

Jesus is not only our example, but he has also given us his Spirit to strengthen us for the good he has called us to do, summarised succinctly for us in Galatians 5:22-23. But, so often, we are impetuous and impatient. We put the work before the Spirit, and act or speak without first praying and depending on him. The result is that we don’t display the Spirit’s fruit at all.

We will never have the power to endure if we trust in our own wisdom and strength. We will never produce his good character if we are looking to our flesh or to the world for guidance (Gal 5:18). But if we look to Christ– to his example of goodness and humility, to his words and teachings, he will guide us and refresh us by his Word of truth. He will give us rest instead of restless wandering. He will produce life and peace in us, rather than the discordant acts of our sinful natures (Gal 5:19-21). He will give us a good harvest in its proper season. For, “our Lord does not grow faint or weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength” (Isa 40:28-31).

Do good to everyone

The second helpful thing I noticed in this text is that God calls us to take opportunities. He has given us these opportunities to do good, to show kindness and love to everyone, especially to fellow believers (Gal 6:10). It is often the small things that make a big difference. Perhaps the email or text to encourage a weary believer; the invitation to join a Zoom Bible study; the meal you drop off at an isolated neighbour. Doing good always involves drawing people closer to Christ.

These small things reflect what Jesus did all the time, as he went about doing good to all. Jesus did not treat people according to rank, status or importance. No one was a distraction on his way to the cross. No, Jesus affirmed the dignity of a foreign woman at a well; a rich religious ruler; tax collectors, zealots and children; the sick, bereaved and prostitutes, even a Roman guard and a dying thief. His impartial encounters were part and parcel of his salvation work. He was not a respecter of persons. And Jesus is our example of how to “use every opportunity to do good to everyone”.

Jesus has done the work!

But let’s always remember that the good we do can never earn us God’s favour, for Jesus has done the work! (Rom 8:1). God’s favour is a free gift for all who come to Jesus in faith and repentance, because of his finished work on the cross. Once for all, for every sin — past, present and future, he has done it (John 19:30; Ps 22:31; Rev 21:16; Dan 9:24)

That is wonderful news, because the household of faith is now free to live the abundant, beautiful, gospel-shaped life God wants us to live (John 10:10). We are no longer under shame or guilt. We do not have to do good works to prove our worth. No, we do good to all, with complete assurance that we are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph 2:6-7). It is as good as done!

Be sure of this. No one in God’s household of faith will ever be abused, cancelled, marginalised, silenced, accused, shamed or cast out by Jesus. We will always enjoy his loving presence. The good we do is just the natural fruit of the gracious life we have been given in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:8-10). Praise God that we are free to do good to all, as Jesus did.

That’s why those in the household of faith can keep doing good, keep sowing, keep enduring even when we see only thorns. We can be wholehearted in our service no matter how we feel (Col 3:23-24). And we can do good from a position of victory. As long as we are running Christ’s race and not our own, our effort will never be in vain (1 Cor 15:58). He will enable us to turn away from evil and do good; to seek peace and pursue it (1 Peter 3:11). As the people of God, Jesus will enable us to endure hostility as he did when he died for us (Heb 12:2-3). And he will give us everything we need to abound in every good work right to the very end (2 Cor 9:8).


Lord, fill us with your Spirit. You know that many are feeling discouraged and weary, but thank you that you never slumber or sleep. Draw your people into your fold. Bind up the injured and strengthen the weak. Help us to remember that we have been saved by grace, through faith in your finished work on the cross, not through anything we do. Thank you that we bear no shame or condemnation, and that we are in fact a delight to you, our loving Father. Help us to remember that together as a church family, we are the household of faith– your workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for the good works you have prepared beforehand for us to walk in. Father, help us to run with endurance the race that you have set before us, not looking to the left or right, but looking straight ahead, always to Jesus. Amen.


spiritual GiftsSeries: Spirit-filled (By Peter and Rosie Moore)

“What is this?”

“What am I going to do with this?”

These are probably some of the questions you ask yourself each time you have a birthday and someone gives you a gift (particularly if it’s your young child!)

But when we consider spiritual gifts, I think we should similarly ask two questions: “What are my spiritual gifts?” And, “What shall I do with my gifts?”

Natural and spiritual gifts

When the Bible talks about a gift, it is talking about any natural ability that God has given you. What then makes that gift spiritual? A natural gift becomes spiritual when that gift is used for a spiritual end, namely when the person using their gift is empowered by, and acts in accordance with, the will of the Holy Spirit. We often refer to this as bearing spiritual fruit. We can use our natural gifts to do and accomplish a lot of good things, even as a non-believer. However, we will only bear spiritual fruit when we are in communion with Jesus through faith and repentance. As Jesus told his disciples, “Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (Jn 15:4). If we want to bear good spiritual fruit, we must remain in Christ.

And so, whatever our particular gifts and callings, we must speak and act in ways that honour the gospel of Jesus Christ (Eph 4:2-6). We must always speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15; 25). And we must remain reliant on the Holy Spirit to take our words and deeds, and use them for God-honouring consequences. For, “apart from (me) Jesus, you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).

Are gifts miraculous or non-miraculous?

Contemporary Christianity often exalts the miraculous, but the exercise of our gifts can be spectacular and public, or ordinary and seemingly mundane. The results vary too: Some are miraculous, seeming to bypass normal laws and principles, and some may appear inconsequential. However, the Scriptures do not make this distinction between the spectacular and the mundane.

Hence, the gift of prophecy and miracles is listed alongside serving, helping, teaching, languages, communication, wisdom and discernment, shepherding, giving, leading, public speaking, encouraging, administration and being merciful (I Cor 12:28, 1 Cor 12:8-10, Eph 4:11, Rom 12:6-8, 1 Cor 7:7, 1 Pet 4:11). I do hope that, in reading this list (which is by no means exhaustive), you will see some of your own spiritual gifts. One thing is certain: Christ has gifted each and every Christian (Eph 4:7-8).

What’s the purpose of gifts?

It’s all very well to identify our gifts, but what exactly am I meant to do with my gifts? 1 Pet 4:11 is most helpful in showing us that gifts are given to enable us to speak and do God’s will, “in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ”. And so, when spiritual gifts are discussed in the New Testament, the types of gifts described are wide and varied, because the ways we speak and act for Christ are wide and varied too. Just as the parts of the body are diverse, enabling the person to perform a varied number of functions, so too are gifts. So the gifts listed in the New Testament do not appear to be an exhaustive list, but just a sample of the infinite possibilities.

What then is God’s will for how we should use our gifts? Well, ultimately it is to bring glory to God, the very reason we were created. Although that sounds very “spiritual” and otherworldly, it is actually very practical. We bring glory to God by utilising our gifts in order to be a blessing to those around us, both inside and outside the church.

An example of how we use our gifts properly in the church would be “.. to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph 4:12, 29). Despite our diverse gifts, races and cultures, we are urged to use our gifts to keep spiritual unity through the bond of peace (Eph 4:3-4). We are always to exercise our gifts humbly, gently, patiently, graciously, “bearing with one another in love” (Eph 4:2; 32). We are always to use our gifts in a way that pleases and doesn’t grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30). Abiding in Christ is the only way to bear spiritual fruit.

Outside the church, it might be that we use the gift of tongues in order that people from other tribes, tongues, peoples and nations can hear the gospel in their own language, just as they did on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:8). It may be to expose evil or show mercy (Eph 5:9,11). But either way, the proper use of spiritual gifts is always outward focused, not to draw attention to ourselves or win the approval of people. Our service must be undergirded by the gospel and the glory of God. In contrast, using gifts “unspiritually” would be doing so with a selfish motive, often manifesting in boasting, vanity, slander and rage (Eph 4:31).

So, if you can dream up a way to bring glory to God and reach people with the gospel, then go ahead. Unwrap the gifts God has given you for his kingdom, and keep using them until the day he takes you home. Just have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness while you go about your business (Eph 5:11).

Should I desire spiritual gifts?

The reality is that as a Christian, you already have spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:7, 11 & 1 Pet 4:10) because everyone is gifted by God and every Christian has the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9; Eph 4:7-8). As a result, no-one in God’s kingdom can claim to be “ungifted”. Everyone has a unique purpose and a part to play. If you want to extend your giftedness, perhaps you should ask yourself the questions, “Why do I want a gift? Do I want this gift in order to be more useful in God’s kingdom, or do I want it to extend my own kingdom?” If the answer is “yes” to God’s kingdom, then “eagerly desire” and pray to be equipped with spiritual gifts (1 Cor 14:1). You are never too young or too old to be using your gifts for the kingdom.

How do I identify my gifts?

You can do this by reflecting honestly (Rom 12:3) about your interests, desires and abilities. Also, honestly reflect on your effectiveness when you have taken opportunities to minister. Be brave enough to lose your defences and insecurities. Try new areas of service. Ask people around you (who know you well) to give you an honest assessment of where they perceive your gifts to be. Ask yourself whether you enjoy using certain gifts more than others. And ask God, who knows and loves you, to answer your prayers and give you wisdom in this regard (James 1:5-6).

More blessed to give than to receive

Jesus and Paul remind us to work hard and help the weak, for “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Our gifts are not ours to keep or store for a future day. With that in mind, let’s prayerfully consider the spiritual gifts God has uniquely given to each one of us, and use them for the benefit of others and for His glory.

You can’t pin lemons to a lemon tree

Lemon tree resizedSeries: Spirit-filled, By Rosie Moore

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal 5:22-23).

It’s easy to look at this list of Christian graces, known as the fruit of the Spirit, and feel despair. If this is the yardstick of virtue, who can claim to be good? If I’m completely honest, my fruit is often fragile, apathetic, conditional and fickle. At times, it’s absent.

But, like the ten commandments, the fruit of the Spirit only convinces me of what John Newton, the slave trader, said about himself, “I remember two things: that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Saviour”.

Our deep depravity and Jesus’s great goodness meet on the cross, for only Jesus has embodied these fruit perfectly, at all times.

Fortunately, there’s the little preposition, of. It reminds us that the fruit listed in this passage is not our own fruit, but the fruit of Christ’s living and active Spirit, working in and through God’s redeemed people. It’s not virtue pinned on the outside, but virtue produced and ripened from the inside-out.

The sad tale of a barren tree

This week I noticed that our lemon tree in the garden is completely bare. It used to produce lovely bunches of bright yellow lemons throughout the year. Of course I was disappointed, but I’ve only myself to blame for its barrenness. After a few seasons, my zeal to irrigate, fertilize, spray and prune have waned. My tree is sadly neglected.

Slowly, the nearby trees have grown wild, robbing my little lemon tree of sunlight and nutrients. So, the simple fact of the matter is this–there are no lemons for tea, because I stopped tending the lemon tree! It illustrates the Biblical proverb, “Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Gal 6:7).

Now, it won’t help to buy a bag of lemons and pin them to the tree, because soon they will rot and fall off. You see, the problem with my tree is not superficial, it’s systemic. Left to nature, my tree cannot produce good fruit, as the conditions in which it grows are dry, dark and nutrient-deficient.

My little lemon tree reminded me that, left to ourselves, it’s impossible for any human being to live by the Spirit and produce the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:16). It’s why we need a supernatural intervention to cure our sin problem and rescue us in this present evil age (Gal 1:4). We need to be actively led and controlled by the Spirit of Christ, who re-orders our desires.

The sad tale of a twisted nature

Left to our natural desires and instincts, the works of the flesh will rule us. As God warned Cain, sin is crouching at the door of each of our hearts, eager to control us. But we must subdue it and be its master (Gen 4:7).

Against this reality of our sinful nature, Paul warns the Galatian Christians, and us, to wake up and smell the lemons, so to speak! Unless we are steadily being filled with the Holy Spirit; unless we actively and repeatedly crucify the sinful nature with its passions and desires, we too, will naturally default to the works of the flesh. Paul lists some of them for us:

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. (Gal 5:19-21).

The Spirit’s fruit versus the works of the flesh

As I read through Galatians 5 and 6, I wondered to myself:

Isn’t it more natural to bite and devour each other, than to love our neighbour as ourselves? (Gal 5:14-15) Isn’t jealousy, hatred, hostility and rage our native human language? (Gal 5:20)

Isn’t it more instinctive to slander someone, than to watch our own tongue and restore people gently (Gal 6:1)? Aren’t rivalries and factions the hallmarks of our fractured society?

Isn’t it easier to signal our own virtue on social media, to think we are something when we’re nothing, than to love our own spouse, or carry each other’s burdens (Gal 6:2-3)?

Isn’t it easier to compare ourselves to others; to feed our own pride and ego; to make a good impression, rather than to actually do good (Gal 6:4,9,10,12)?

Of course, doing virtue is harder than hearing or speaking about virtue (James 1:22). Likewise, discord and envy come much more naturally to us than being led by the Spirit into love, joy and peace (Gal 5:20-21).

But, Paul says that to sow to the flesh, is to reap corruption—a potent Greek word for decay, death and rotting corpses (Gal 6:8). It is the fruit of our lives that proves whether we are of God’s kingdom or not. Our fruit has eternal consequences, I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:21).

We need supernatural help to change our natural desires. Pinning a lemon on our tree won’t do.

John Stott expresses it well:

“To live in harmony with God and others, and in firm control of ourselves, this is a supernatural work of God’s grace. It is the ‘fruit’ of the Spirit… The real proof of a deep work of the Spirit of God in any human being is neither subjective, emotional experiences, nor spectacular signs, but moral, Christlike qualities. For we see in him a token of God’s grace and a temple of the Holy Spirit.”

Pinning lemons versus systemic cure

The events of recent weeks, and indeed world history, provide living proof that humanity is desperately sick and in need of a Saviour outside of ourselves. The Bible tells us that the real destroyer, the real scourge, the real barrenness in our world is rooted deep in the human heart (Jer 17:9).

Perhaps the hidden blessing of 2020 is that many may finally see that we are not good after all. For sin is the systemic gangrene of human nature that only Jesus can cure.

Left to nature, we are utterly incapable of loving our neighbour, and our feeble outward displays of virtue don’t fool the God who knows our hearts (1 Sam 16:7). Our only hope is the One who loved his neighbour perfectly, even to death on a cross.

As Abdu Murray says, “We cannot re-educate ourselves into a better world.” The only pathway to holiness begins with self-despair and repentance (Matt 9:13).

So holiness, an expression of Christ’s Spirit, begins with the death of ourselves, so that it is no longer I that lives, but Christ who lives and reigns in me (Gal 2:20).

Sowing and reaping

As the body of Christ, let’s remember that we are not our own, we are the Lord’s! And, as the Lord’s people and his ambassadors, we are responsible to create the right conditions to bear good fruit in our lives. We do this when we sow godly thoughts and godly habits (Gal 6:7-8).

If we take care of the seeds we sow, the Holy Spirit will take care of the fruit.

We sow by the company we keep; the use of our time; our interactions on the internet; the movies we watch; our private devotions and prayer; our preoccupations; everything that absorbs and dominates our minds. We sow, either to the Spirit or to the flesh, day after day. This determines the fruit we will produce, over a lifetime. Either the wholesome fruit of the Spirit, or the decaying works of the flesh. But tokens of virtue, like pinning lemons on a tree, do not fool God. They are religious rituals that cannot save us (Matt 9:13).

Abstract nouns and concrete verbs

These nine fruits of the Spirit may be abstract nouns, but their meaning is far from abstract or culturally determined. Whereas our world’s new definition of ‘love’ and ‘kindness’ is unconditional and unceasing affirmation of people, this is not the Bible’s definition of loving our neighbour.

On almost every page, the Bible adds flesh and bone to these nine marks of a Spirit-filled Christian. It’s why we must read the Bible for ourselves. God has shown us in his Word, and through Christ’s life and teachings, what these fruits look like in a real human being, living in real tribulations, under real enemy fire.

God has shown us, in weighty passages like Romans 12:9-18, how to love in actions, rather than abstractions. In verbs, rather than nouns. Paul begins with “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good…He ends with, Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

There’s plenty of detail to digest in between those pithy instructions of Paul, and we would all do well to meditate on this passage and allow God’s Spirit to teach us what the Lord requires of us at a time like this. We need Him to show us what it means to act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).


Lord, we ask for your Holy Spirit to show us what you mean when you say, I desire mercy and not sacrificeFor I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners. Please save us from empty gestures that only feed our pride and ego. Help us to act justly, to show mercy and to be dependable in all our dealings. Lord, may our love be heartfelt and genuine, not just for the approval of others. May we sow good thoughts and habits, so we may develop minds that are controlled by your Spirit, not by our nature. May the fruits of life and peace ripen and mature in our lives. Let our lives demonstrate the saving power of Christ in us, as we show his love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control to our neighbour and our fractured society. Amen.

Further reading:

Abdu Murray, Saving Truth– Finding meaning and clarity in a post-truth world.

John Stott, Baptism and Fullness

Why we keep singing

50 nationsSeries: Spirit-filled, by Rosie Moore.

More than anything else in recent months, I have missed singing together in church.

Maybe it’s because music is a God-designed pathway to pray, to proclaim Christ to each other, and to praise the Lord. There is nothing quite like music to bridge the gap between our thoughts and our emotions. I am speaking here about Biblically-faithful, theologically rich, Gospel-centred music.

I’ll never again take for granted this simple joy. But I’ve also been amazed by the ingenious online efforts to bring music into our homes and hearts through playlists, videos and live-streamed services. Old hymns and Psalms are making a comeback too, even a little Bach and Handel’s Messiah!

So, why do believers have a compulsive need to sing the song of our Saviour? (Or, at least, to listen and appreciate it, if you’ve got a voice like mine!) Here are some thoughts:

Singing is Spirit-led

Ephesians 5 demonstrates a clear kinship between the Holy Spirit and music:

Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph 5:18-20).

Paul doesn’t say that heartfelt praise always comes easily to Spirit-filled believers. Or that we must sing only when the style, language and choice of song appeals to us. In some situations, it may be downright incongruous or uncomfortable to sing. But it is always a fitting way to worship God, and it is good for us too (Ps 147:1,7Ps 149:1,5).

Think of Paul and Silas in a Philippian prison cell. They sang hymns to God while semi-naked, immobile, in pain and pitch darkness, bound in stocks, before an audience of hardened prisoners and a jailer (Acts 16:22-25).

One can hardly think of a more unsuitable place to sing! Yet, they sang to express their deepest longings and needs to God. They sang to remind each other of their hope in Christ. And, as they sang, the truth in those hymns tutored and changed their own thoughts and feelings. Amazingly, their incongruous singing even led to the jailer’s conversion!

Singing is God-centred

And so, singing is not chiefly about us: Our feelings, our preferences, our comfort, our platform, our audience. It is a response to the Holy Spirit calling us to worship and thank God for everything, even our struggles (Eph 5:19-20). When we sing, we are addressing and encouraging each other. We’re building fellowship with other believers (Eph 5:19; Ps 95). And the byproduct is nothing like the mindless, self-absorbed disorder and depression that are the by-product of drunkenness.

The by-product of singing

I’ve discovered that worship music has lifted many of us through the lockdown. It has helped us to pray and proclaim the truth to each other; to process our turmoil and see our problems through the lens of God’s covenant commitment to us. It has even helped some of us to fight sin and temptation. For many, it has switched our despondency and doubt, to hope and joy in the living God (Ps 59:16).

The Psalms, which express a thousand years of human emotion, show how music is a God-given pathway to love God and enjoy him forever, regardless of our circumstances:

How good it is to sing praises to our God,
    how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

Sing to the Lord with grateful praise;
    make music to our God on the harp (Ps 147:1,7).

Singing embeds God’s word.

Singing evokes powerful responses that go beyond understanding facts. The reality of the gospel nestles into our mind and emotions through music. And so, music doesn’t just teach us theology, but also affects the way we think and live and feel. It’s why Paul tells the Colossian Christians:  

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” (Col 3:16).

But there’s an implicit warning here: if Gospel truth nestles into our mind and emotions through music, so too can narcissism and false gospels. It’s why we need to take care to listen to worship music that is God-centred and faithful to the Bible.

At the risk of giving away my age, just meditate for a moment on the rich theology in these titles, and listen to them later on Youtube :

“In Christ alone”, “Yet Not I But through Christ in me”, “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, “All Creatures of our God and King”, “Be Thou my Vision”, “Crown Him”, “His Mercy is More”, “Is He Worthy?” Christ our Hope in life and Death”, “It is well with my Soul”, “Jesus strong and Kind”, “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”, “My Worth is Not in What I own”, “There is a Day”, “The Power of the Cross”, “The Lord is my Shepherd”, “We will Feast in the house of Zion”, “Bless the Lord O My Soul”, “Guide me O Thou Great Jehovah.”

Don’t you marvel at how the whole redemption story merges into two or three soulful stanzas? How the gospel is carved into catchy poetry that’s easy to memorise? If we pay attention to lyrics as we sing, the ‘word of Christ’ will flow out of us when we are under great pressure and can hardly think or pray. It’s what I saw in my gran when she was 100 years old, and only wanted to hear us sing “The Old Rugged Cross.”

Singing builds up the church

We may not yet be gathering to sing in church buildings, but God’s people are still using music to minister to one another. Last week, in a Zoom Bible study, one of our ladies sang all the stanzas of “Turn your eyes upon Jesus!” Admittedly, she has an unusually lovely voice, but instantly our hearts were turned heavenward and the mood of our meeting changed.

In recent months, hundreds of voices have risen from Christ’s worldwide church, singing beautiful confessions of faith across the globe. One of my favourites, “The Blessing,” is resounding like a lockdown anthem from every continent. In “Amazing Grace from 50 countries”, Christians from fifty nations of the world announce the gospel, each in its own language and style. We cried as we watched our brothers and sisters in Christ, some of whom were singing with their faces covered due to persecution.

But they sung with full hearts and one Spirit—the Holy Spirit! They sung with eyes and voices lifted in praise to Christ! And they reminded us that we are part of a kingdom much bigger than any of our nations or even the world. And they called unbelievers to the Lord Jesus, just as God’s people in the Old Testament were called to be a light to the nations (Ps 105:1-2), “to sing praises to Him and tell of all his wondrous works.”

Singing is a preview of the ‘new song’.

Watching these videos of our brothers and sisters around the world reminds me of the three ‘new songs’ (an Old Testament reference to God’s victory), being sung in heaven (Rev 5:9-13Rev 14:2-3Rev 15:2-4).

Unlike the hymnbook of the Psalms, Revelation’s hymnbook is not about Israel’s deliverance from Egypt or a longing for the coming Messiah. No! The songs of Revelation celebrate the victory of Jesus, the Lamb of God, over sin, death and Satan. The new song is about Christ’s rightful claim to rule the world.

The ‘new song’ is sung by all the people Christ has purchased, from every tribe, tongue, people and nation, to reign with him on earth for all eternity (Rev 5:9-10). Everything and everyone will sing out, giving the triune God the praise and glory he deserves. It is the song of the Lord’s redeemed!

CS Lewis says, “We have joy whenever this world reminds us of the next.”

And so, every time we hear music that stirs joy or longing, we get a foretaste of the mighty chorus of redeemed people, joined by the voices of thousands upon thousands of angels, singing around the throne in heaven (Rev 5:11-12)! Every forgiven sinner will be there in person, singing their heart out to Christ, who is worthy of all blessing, honour and glory forever and ever. No audition required for this choir, as Christ alone makes us eligible.

On that day, our hearts will finally be full. Our longings will finally be satisfied. Our glimpses will finally give way to full sight. We will not be able to stay silent! As Randy Alcorn writes in his book, Heaven, “The things we love are not merely the best this life has to offer—they are previews of the greater life to come”.

Before I get too excited, I will end with a short clip of the ‘new song’ to ignite your own prayer:

“They held harps given them by God and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb:

“Great and marvelous are your deeds,
    Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
    King of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
    and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
    and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:3-4)

No wonder music gladdens a believer’s heart more than wine! Please make sure you are included in that heavenly choir singing the ‘new song’. You needn’t audition, but it’s only logical that you must love Jesus as your Saviour and King.

Further reading and listening:

Randy Alcorn, Heaven.

Nancy Guthrie, Seeing Jesus in the Psalms.

Click here to listen to 25 Christ-honouring worship songs on YouTube.