‘Songs that teach’ — Hugh Wetmore

Hugh Wetmore is a songwriter and student of worship trends. He invites you to join the worship conversation by commenting on his monthly column.

Colossians 3:16 – The first Purpose of Singing: To Teach

Because God wants our Lyrics to be rich in the Word, we must ask what is the Purpose of the Word of God?  Then we will understand better the Purpose of our Singing – WHY we should sing God’s Word.  This in turn will influence our choice of songs for our Song List on Sunday.  We will choose songs that accomplish God’s Purpose … firstly, to TEACH the Word of God.

Study 2 Timothy 3:16. This Scripture-defining verse says that God breathed out His Word in order to “TEACH, rebuke and correct” us.  It is His means of “training us, equipping us, in righteousness”.  So the songs we sing in church should aim to do the same.  Some songs should teach us about God and His ways.   Over a period of time, our singing should train us in right living.

Hebrews 5:11-6:6 amplifies this further.  As a church, we must “explain” God’s truth to those who are “slow to learn”. Our teaching must be progressive, moving from “the elementary truth of God’s word to more solid truths that will make us “mature, training us to distinguish good from evil”.  Some songs should teach us about God and His ways. Over a period of time, our singing should have trained us to distinguish good from evil.  Songs should develop ethical discernment, moral values.  This is critically necessary these days, when many songs out on the airwaves are demolishing godly moral values.  Our churches should be singing contrary songs, songs that build strong Christian moral values into the characters of each generation.

James 1:22,25 encourages us “to not merely listen to God’s Word, but to DO what it says.”  We must “look intently into God’s perfect law that gives freedom”.  Allow it to  teach us, so that we “can DO it”.   In this way we “will be blessed in what we do.”

1 Peter 1:21,22 urges those who have “put their faith in God” and “have purified themselves by obeying the truth, to love one another deeply, from the heart”.  The songs we sing together in Church should encourage deep Christian love for one another.  Christian LOVE is the supreme virtue.   Love is derived from God (John 3:16, 1 John 4:16). Love is expressed in Jesus (1 John 3:16, Romans 5:8). Love is    required of Christians (1 John 4:11, 1 Corinthians 12:11-13:13). Let’s sing this Word of Love into our Christian consciousness!

2 Peter 1:19-21 emphasises the positive hope-building value of “the prophecy of Scripture”.  Prophecy is God speaking His Word through a human prophet (1 Samuel 3:21-4:1). Scripture is full of such prophecy. Some of the greatest prophets wrote their prophecies down, making themselves accountable to posterity as well as to God Himself: The writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. These “Writing Prophets” have left us an accessible legacy in the Bibles we now study.  Their messages were often recorded in poetic form, probably for singing in the style of their culture.   They are rich in teaching about God and His ways, strong in application to their contemporary situations.

Choose songs that Teach God’s Word to the singing congregation!

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