The remarkable revival under the Wesleys and Whitfield in the UK in the 18th century produced many thousands of songs. The Wesleys said that the key to people learning the truth of God’s Word was the content of the songs!
But what about the early church – what did they sing? Well we have a number of examples in the New Testament of what are believed to be songs sung in the early church. Many scholars discern hymns in the texts of the New Testament epistles. The historian, Jerome Murphy-O’Connor and many other scholars believe that Philippians 2:6-11 was a magnificent hymn, written by someone in one of the churches that Paul founded. The various congregations would have sung this wonderful song that exalted Jesus.
1 Timothy 3:16 and in 2 Timothy 2:11-13 were also part of early church songs.
After Jesus and His disciples had taken the last supper they sang a hymn [Matthew 26:30]. In the prison at Philippi, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God at midnight [Acts 16:25].
The early Christian hymn in 2 Timothy 2:11-13 shows us that the words emphasized vital and key spiritual truths which, as they sang them became part of their being.
[a] If we died with Christ, We shall also live with Him
Here is the promise of being crucified with Christ and living with Him.
When He died we also died. “It is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives
in me” [Galatians 2:20].
[b] If we endure [persevere], We shall also reign with Him.
We may suffer hardship. The disciple is not above his Master. If we
endure we shall reign with Him. It is more than just a decision for Jesus –
we must endure!
[c] If we deny Him, He also will deny us
What a challenge to those who are about to give up and to deny the Lord.
The pressure has not become too great, because “God is faithful, who will
not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bear, but with
the temptation will make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it”
[1 Corinthians 10:13].
[d] Even if we are unfaithful Jesus is always faithful
Even when our faith fails, He will remain faithful. “Though we fall, we shall
not be utterly cast down because the Lord upholds us with His hand”
[e] Jesus cannot deny Himself
There are certain things God cannot do. He cannot lie, and He cannot
deny Himself. He is unchangeable and totally trustworthy
Do the words of the songs we sing in church help people to understand truth?
Read Psalm 40:1-3. What do you think is the meaning of singing “a new song to the Lord”?