For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
–Romans 11:36

Perhaps you remember the “worship wars” during the last decade in which many churches debated the right kind of music to use in worship. Should it be hymns or praise choruses? Some people said, “Hymns are too old to be relevant.” Other people said, “Praise choruses are too repetitious to be meaningful.” Of course, both charges are ridiculous. If something is irrelevant because it is old, then we might as well throw out the Scriptures. If something is meaningless because it is repetitive, then we ought to get rid of one of the most loved praise choruses ever written: Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” Remember the words? “Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.” The real issue of music is not the style; it is the substance. The issue is not the date of origin; it is the direction. Does it exalt man, or does it exalt God?

Unfortunately, much of the music in many churches today is man-centered rather than God-centered. Michael Horton wrote about the not-so-subtle shift in focus that has occurred in many churches: “We have become God’s demanding little brats. In church, we must be entertained. Our emotions must be charged. … We have forgotten that God is a monarch. He is the King by whom and for whom all things were made, and by whose sovereign power they are sustained. We exist for his pleasure, not he for ours. We are on this earth to entertain him, please him, adore him, to bring him satisfaction, excitement, and joy. Any gospel which seeks to answer the question, ‘What’s in it for me?’ has it all backwards. The question is, ‘What’s in it for God?’”

I have a sneaking suspicion that if the Apostle Paul were to attend worship services today, he would pay special attention to the music we sing. I say that because of the praise chorus he penned. We find it in the last verses of Romans 11. It is a song that focuses our attention on God rather than ourselves.

In Romans 9-11, Paul talked about how God gave the gospel to Israel, but Israel rejected the gospel and now Gentiles have an opportunity to come to faith in Christ. God will use Israel’s rejection of Christ not only to bring about the salvation of the Gentiles but also to result in the salvation of Israel. One day God’s elect among Israel will be saved just as God promised. But Paul’s understanding of election and eschatology did not lead him to pride; it led him to praise. That was why Paul ended this chapter talking not about Jews or Gentiles but about God: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Paul’s Praise Chorus” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.

Michael Horton, “Made In America: The Shaping Of Modern American Evangelicalism” (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1998), 87-88./span>

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.