This Sunday at CLC, we’ll be in the 11th week of Born Again: Sermons on the New Birth. After reveling last week in our adoption, “the highest privilege of the Christian (Packer)” this week we’ll rejoice in the christian’s union with Christ, what John Murray called, “the central truth of the whole doctrine of salvation.”
My (imperfect) aim for our worship gathering is to have a unified theme grown out of God’s word, particularly God’s word preached.
If the preaching text for Sunday presses God’s power, the Psalm we read, the corporate songs, hymns, and spiritual songs, and the scripture read to send us into the world, will press God’s power.
On a perfect Sunday, echoes of the text are heard through the duration of the gathering and by God’s grace our congregation picks up on the cues.
Gordon Fee, famously wrote, “Show me a church’s songs and I’ll show you their theology.”
In this vein, I want to prime the pump for this Sunday’s songs about our union with Christ so that when we gather our voices boom and our hearts burn with these truths of “so great a salvation.”
So, here goes.
Center My Life
Austin Stone’s “Center My Life” is an upbeat prayer to God that we would behold the beauty of Christ. I chose this song for two lines in particular; the opening verse,
“Turn my eyes to see you Jesus, in all Your glory…”
and the end of the chorus,
“…the Risen Christ, lifted high…”
This is where the Christian’s union with Christ is found, in all His glory, risen, ascended, and seated
As the team leads and the church sings, I’ll have my heart and mind on Ephesians 2:6, where God’s people are, “raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” and Colossians 3:1, where “those who have been raised with Christ (are in union with Christ), seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
Before the Throne of God Above
Next, Charitie Lees Smith’s “Before the throne of God Above.” This song is a sermon. If all we did Sunday was sing this, exposit this, and respond to this, I’d count it a win.
The second verse bring to bear an incredibly practical implication of the doctrine of union with Christ:
“When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within…”
What Christian hasn’t had the enemy jack with their assurance? But the song doesn’t leave us hanging. Union with Christ is the solution to the problem.
“When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within….Upward I look and see Him there, who made an end of all my sin. One with Himself, I cannot die. My soul is purchased by His blood. My life is hid with Christ on high with Christ my Savior and my God.”
Again, Ephesians 2 and Colossians 3 are hanging out here, enjoying the sunshine.
More Than Ashes
And last, a song precious to our church for many reasons, Tim Reimherr’s “More Than Ashes.”
I can’t hear this song without vivid recollection of Dalton White as a high school student belting this on Sunday nights and enjoying the effect it’s had on my own heart, driving home the truth that God doesn’t simply tolerate or deal with His people, but that He actually, truly, in their union with Christ, enjoys them.
(Should note, this song was written with Ephesians 5 “bride of Christ” dynamics in view, interpreting the Song of Solomon as the Christ/Church relationship)
“I’m more than what these ashes say”
Roman 8:18 “sufferings of this present time” (ashes)
“They will fade away when He comes for me.”
Romans 8:18, the “glory that is to be revealed” (they will fade away.)
After this reckoning, our current sufferings and the glory to come, we sing the simple gospel truth…
“By grace, through faith in Christ I’m saved”
…followed by Song of Songs 4:9 language of the lover’s heart being captivated with just one glance.
“I am not the same when He looks at me”
The pre-chorus then brings us to sing the truth of God’s love for His people.
“I am the rose, the joy for which You died”
Hebrews 12:2, “Looking to Jesus…who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.”
“And this I know, I move You with delight”
Psalm 149:4, “For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.”
“And when my heart condemns on every side
I take refuge in the truth: I am the rose to You”
1 John 3:20, “for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart…”
Verse 2 brings us into the main reason the choice of this song, it’s declaration of our union with Christ.
“My life is more than meets the eye
I’m hidden now in Christ and I’m one with Him”
Colossians 3:3, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
The song then brings back the Song of Songs 4 language “ravished by the sight” and Song of Songs 2 language, “I am the rose, I am the lily” with an emphasis on our “beauty” being God’s. It’s His. And if we our in Christ, what is His is ours.
And finally to close, we’re led into singing about that great day when already and not yet meet, the, Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
“There’s gonna be a wedding, it’s the reason that I’m living, to marry the Lamb”
Revelation 19:6, “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
9 And the angel said[a] to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
These are truths worth singing about.
Listen to Center My Life here:
Listen to Before the Throne of God Above here:
Listen to More Than Ashes Here: