I recently told the gathering of chaplains at Fort Campbell, Kentucky that their theology should make them sing. Indeed, their vocation should sing. I viewed my time with them as “romancing their call;” helping the mid-career clergyman to sing the song of the call from heaven once more. I know that when that song is alive, then there is the possibility of power in the sermon. If the preacher is changed there just may be change in the Church, too. I am not of the opinion that the messenger is of little importance to the message. To the contrary, I hold that the message, historically, has been most clearly and powerfully demonstrated when it has been breathed out through the living sermon of a preacher burning alive with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
[pullquote]If your theology cannot sing how can it preach?[/pullquote]
I read Jonathan Edwards’ Religous Affections today. Edwards, like St. Paul, was quite clear that doctrine is always pastoral and always practical. Grace, he said, is always gracious in its effects in personal and corporate religion.
“‘Tis plain from the Scripture that it is the tendency of true grace to cause persons very much to delight in such religious exercises. True grace had this effect on Anna the prophetess; Luke 2:37, “she departed not from the temple; but served God with fastings and prayers, night and day.” And grace had this effect upon the primitive Christians in Jerusalem; Acts 2:46–47, “And they continuing daily, with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness, and singleness of heart, praising God.”
Grace creates a graciousness of life not only in worship, but in prayer.
“Grace made Daniel delight in the duty of prayer, and solemnly to attend it three times a day: as it also did David; Psalms 55:17, ‘Evening, morning and at noon will I pray.'”
We may bring our own lives, then, to the Lord in prayer and plead, with David, “search me and see if there is any wicked way within me.” We might ask, “Lord, is the doctrinal formula I confess the practical religion I adorn?”
[pullquote]”Lord, is the doctrinal formula I confess the practical religion I adorn?”[/pullquote]
“For the grace of God has appeared, bring salvation for all people, training us to remoune ungodliness and wordly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our present hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14 ESV).
Grace led to self control in order to purify a people who could do the good works of God in the world. This is a theology that is going somewhere, a doctrine that dances, a theology that sings, and a religion that regales in an active, vibrant faith that is ever moving onward and upward.
“Father, is Your saving grace leading me to sing, pray and pursue a life of holiness and devotion?”