By Ronny Milliner
While we are singing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” we are also to be “teaching and admonishing one another” (Col. 3:16). We are to worship God in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:24). Therefore it would be wrong for us to sing words that expressed a false idea. Indeed, if we engaged in such we would surely be as guilty of false teaching as if we had gotten up in the pulpit and taught the same thing.
Many of our songs have been written by those in denominational error. It would thus be very easy for some of their false beliefs to be expressed in the songs they write. We need to be on guard and to carefully examine all that we sing lest we find ourselves singing that which we believe to be contrary to God’s word.
I would like to give the reader’s four examples of such songs found in Sacred Selections for the Church for their consideration.
“Searching for a Savior”
Song number 128, entitled “What A Savior,” expresses in verse one, “They searched thru heaven and found a Savior To save a poor lost soul like me.” I have difficulty harmonizing this thought of a searching party roaming through heaven trying to find a Savior with the Biblical teaching on God’s eternal purpose. Paul connects the eternal purpose of God and Christ in Eph. 3:10-11. Peter speaks of Christ as the sacrificial lamb being “foreordained before the foundation of the world.” No, there was no searching for a Savior. God knew before the world was created that it would take the blood of His only begotten Son to take away the sins of men.
“Christ’s Righteousness Alone”
Much has been written, and rightly so, regarding the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. This erroneous teaching is found in number 120, “The Solid Rock” written by the Baptist preacher, Edward Mote. The words of verse four are, “When He shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in Him be found; dressed in his righteousness alone (emphasis mine-RM), Faultless to stand before the throne.” Our sins are not covered by a “make believe” pretense by God imputing Christ’s righteousness to us. They are forgiven as we repent, confess them, and ask God’s forgiveness (Ac. 8:22-24; 1 Jn. 1:9; Jas. 5:16). We will be judged by our righteousness. We will be judged by the deeds we have done in OUR bodies (2 Cor. 5:10).
I believe another Calvinistic song is to be found in the old familiar “Jesus Loves Me” ( # 274-a). Usually this song is taught to and sung by very small children. Yet in verse two we find the words, “He (Jesus) will wash away my sin, Let His little child come in.” Now what sin does a little child have? Is it the inherited sin of Adam? Should we baptize those to whom we teach this song so that this “sin” might be forgiven? The imputation of Adam’s sin is just as false as the imputation of Christ’s righteousness (see for example Ezek. 18:19-20).
“Imminent Return of Christ”
Many of our day, as true in time past, are crying of the imminent return of Christ. Some say it will happen “in this generation.” Others talk about it being “right around the corner.” Some have even set dates as to when Jesus will return. We have pointed out the error in this teaching by showing that we do not know when Christ will return. Yet would we not be guilty of the same thing by singing, “It won’t be very long till Jesus shall descend.” (“It Won’t Be Very Long- #343)? How is it that we know that “it won’t be very long?” Jesus said, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” (Matt. 25:13). He could come soon or it could be another 1900 years. We simply do not know.
Again, let us examine the words that we sing and the thoughts we express so we may know they are in harmony with the teaching of God. Let us not be guilty of singing false doctrine, but rather be “teaching and admonishing one another is psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16).
Truth Magazine XXI: 7, p. 109
February 17, 1977