Read this article by Alistair Begg on the teachings of John Owen regarding holy living
Listen to this seven-part sermon series by Josh White, pastor at Door of Hope in Portland.
We’re back! For many of you this isn’t a return but simply a kicking-off. Wherever you find yourself, I am delighted that we are (finally) resuscitating the Village Church’s blog. Our desire in bringing our blog back to life is simple: we want you, our church family, to have regular resources that can stimulate, encourage and challenge you in your journey with Jesus…
The following is from the July 16th article from Ligonier Ministries ‘Renewing Your Mind’ devotional. I found it quite helpful and wanted to share with you all:
The organized church is torn with strife and distrust. Ultimately, the battle is not so much between conservatives and liberals, evangelicals and activists, or fundamentalists and modernists. The issue now is between belief and unbelief: Is Christianity true or false, real or unreal?
What is deadly to the church is when the external forms of religion are maintained while their substance is discarded. This we call practical atheism. Practical atheism appears when we live as if there were no God. The externals continue, but man becomes the central thrust of devotion as the attention of religious concern shifts away from man’s devotion to God to man’s devotion to man, bypassing God. The “ethic” of Christ continues in a superficial way, having been ripped from its supernatural, transcendent, and divine foundation.
Biblical Christianity knows nothing of a false dichotomy between devotion to God and concern for man. The Great Commandment incorporates both. It is because God is that human life matters so much. It is because of the reality of Christ that ethics are vital. It is because the cross was a real event that the sacraments can minister to us. It is because Christ really defeated death that the church offers hope. It is because of Jesus’ real act of atonement that our forgiveness is more than a feeling.
The church’s life and her creed may be distinguished but never separated. It is possible for the church to believe all the right things and do the wrong things. It is possible also to believe the wrong things and do the right things (but not for very long). We need right faith initiating right action. Honest faith—joined with honest action—bears witness to a real God and a real Christ.
Village Church Family,
I'm sure you've noticed that within recent months we have sung more hymns than usual and I want to take a second to explain why. My hope is that when you hear our reasons you'll not only appreciate the level of intentionally we have in choosing the songs, but you'll also feel the love we have for you through doing better music.
Our focus at the beginning (now over four years ago) was to sing songs that were saturated with gospel-centered lyrics. And when I refer to the gospel I mean "that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Gospel-centeredness means that we focus on this series of events along with all the glorious doctrines that flow from it: justification, adoption, union with Christ, sanctification, glorification, etc.
However, we have strayed from that focus over the past year.
Instead of intentionally choosing songs that give us a vehicle of response to this gospel, we found ourselves drifting more towards popular trends that gave us a fantastic feeling but, in the end, left us wondering what we were actually saying about God and ourselves. Recently we began asking questions like:
Does this song talk more about God or me?
Who is the focus?
Does it remind us of the gospel?
What are we saying in this song?
Does it stir genuine worship and enhance our gathering?
Now I want to be careful in how I describe modern worship music because I will be the first to applaud the vast creativity that God continues to give today's worship leaders who pen songs that are incredibly true and gospel-rich. Yet my attitude in song selection had became passive instead of proactive. We began saying "well although the lyrics aren't gospel-rich, at least they're not heretical (false)." And this isn't a God-honoring method for worship song selection. Why? Because true Biblical worship should be based on truths of who God is and how we are to respond to Him; our response flows from gazing at God's character.
Recently, at a Together For the Gospel conference in Louisville we felt the Holy Spirit show us our lack of focus. But to be clear, this correction was a loving thing that God did for us. He desires us to sing songs that glorify Him and give us a vehicle of response to His glorious gospel. How do we know this? Consider these verses:
"(Address) 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." Ephesians 5:19-20
"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." Colossians 3:16
So in light of this we have resolved to use the following criteria to choose our weekly songs:
1. Clear and true descriptions of the gospel and it's implications.
This means we will choose songs that, although may seem more wordy at times, will clearly state Biblical truths of who God is, what Christ has done, and who we are in light of these. The sub-topics abound because we can never run out of ways to apply them.
2. Clear and appropriate responses life situations with a gospel-lens.
This means we will choose songs that deal with our very human experiences, and use them to propel us toward a Gospel-informed heart posture, because Gospel always has a lens for every situation we go through. The book of Psalms is full of this! Also take for example Horatio Spafford's lyrics in It Is Well - "whatever my lot Thou has taught me to say it is well, it is well with my soul". Here he is reminding us that hardship helps us feel our frailty and reminds us that our greatest affliction (sin) was absorbed by Christ on His bloody cross. Therefore we can "rejoice always" (Phil 4:4).
All that said, we humbly recognize that this won't be a perfect process, and sometimes our worship songs won't be timely and appropriate for each season of your life. But I ask you to pray for us to lead you well in the worship music selection so that we can better serve you, and thereby give God the glory He deserves.
I invite you to subscribe to our following Spotify playlists: