Hohenwald Christian Research: - Worship in Spirit V

Isaiah and Psalm 22 prophesy that Jesus will SING TO THE GENTILES. In all applications of this prophecy, the act is teaching and the singing is in the heart and directed to God.

So far, in the book of Romans, we have looked at worship which takes place in the mind or in the spirit where we connect with Christ through His Word and prayer. Now, we need to see how this worship in spirit expresses itself in outward forms.

In Romans 15, as well as in Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3, Paul uses the word "sing" as fulfillment of prophecy that Christ, even as He groaned in Spirit, would (1) "sing to the Gentiles" or the whole world (2) as He revealed the secrets of His Mind through His words. The outward service is always seen as sending His Words outward and they would not return empty or void. It is hard to follow Jesus where He did not lead. Therefore, we need to see what Scripture means by "singing." The first question to ask is:

How Did Jesus Sing to the Gentiles as Worship in Spirit?

To learn about singing, Scripture gave both a prophecy of what Jesus would do and what He actually did. The story begins in Isaiah where the Spirit of Christ (1 Pe 1:11) said:

Because truth totally failed (Isaiah 59:15

And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm (seed or strength) brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. Isaiah 59:16

The Redeemer would come to Zion as God's "Arm" stretched out from the Spiritual into the physical world to "sing" to us:

As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seeds seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever. Isaiah 59:21. Later, he said:

And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Isaiah 60:3

Remember that God as pure or holy Spirit lives in a Spirit world which we cannot reach. We cannot identify with a Spirit any more than we can see air. However, God "laid aside" His full glory like a robe in order to live in the "tabernacle" of a human:

Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: Hebrews 10:5

If I cannot live in water and need to extract an expensive watch, what do I do? Why, I reach my arm into the water because it can live there and it can do my work for me. My arm is not another "person." My arm is me. In the same way, it would do no good to our limited minds for pure or Holy (without parts) Spirit to speak to my physical ears. For all of God's speaking through especially qualified prophets in the Old Testament, it turned out that there was no man who could mediate and redeem mankind.

When God sent His own "right Arm" He was both God and man. In this form, He became the "door" or the "gate into the spiritual world." That is, He bridged the gap between humanity and Himself. In the following illustration note that we cannot cross over to the Spirit world or force God into our presence. In this bridge from the Spirit dimension to the Physical dimension, God is both Father and Son:

Spiritual World


Great Fixed Gulf

Physical world



As Arm stretched out to mankind


God in man, Christ in man, man in Christ, Citizenship in Heaven

Because mankind was separated from God as full Deity, there was no "agent" who could bridge the gap between the Spirit world and the physical world. To think that He could send a junior member of the "God family" is to minimize the ability of God Who, in His Nature is neither Father nor Son. By "reaching through" the great gulf between the Spirit dimension and physical dimension, God was Father (to relate to the Spirit) and Son (to relate to humanity). He was both "sender" and "sendee." He was the "beginning" of the beam of light and that which was reflected in the face of Jesus and He was the beam.

In the beginning was the beam. The beam was with the light and the beam was the light.

He was the One True Deity and the "vision" or "image" of that Deity. As our mind or spirit is the father of our thoughts and words, God's Mind was the Father of the Words delivered through His breath or Spirit (1 Corinthians 2). These are all symbolic (figurative or spiritual) and cannot be grasped by the carnal mind.

God (full Deity) living in a human body could not cease to be fullly God. By analogy, if I am the king and take off my kingly robes and put on the rags of the beggar, I do not cease to be the king "enfolded" within the beggar's garments. The apostles were dealing with the King of the universe or Father but because He was manifest as a Son or creature, Philip didn't recognize Him:

Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? John 14:9

Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. John 14:10

The "king" was in the beggar and the beggar was in the king because the king and the beggar were one and the same being. Paul said,

For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Col 2:9

Iesous (g2424) ee-ay-sooce'; of Heb. or. [3091]; Jesus (i.e. Jehoshua), the name of our Lord and two (three) other Isr.: - Jesus.

y˙howshuÇwaý (h3091) from 3068 and 3467; Jehovah-saved; Jehoshua (i. e. Joshua), the Jewish leader: - Jehoshua, Jehoshuah, Joshua. Comp. 1954, 3442

This word is made up of Jehovah and:

Yasha (h3467) yaw-shah'; a prim. root; prop. to be open, wide or free, i. e. (by impl.) to be safe; causat. to free or succor: - * at all, avenging, defend, deliver (-er), help, preserve, rescue, be safe, bring (having) salvation, save (-iour), get victory.

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. Zec.9:9

In this image, God comes as both the King who has Salvation with Him. This is why Jesus is Jehovah-Saved. Isaiah understood this:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

In a sense the "Father" had to allow Himself as "Son" to bear the burdens of the sins of the world because only the Son could die.

Jesus never "chickened out" or tried to pray Himself out of doing what He came to do. Therefore, He would "die in the flesh but be alive in the Spirit" to be His own Redeemer, right Arm or right Hand. Jesus quoted the first verse of Psalm 22 as a common way of pointing us to the whole Psalm to show that He would achieve victory and be able to "sing to the Gentiles." His final song was a pathetic cry of:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? Psalm 22:1

O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. Psalm 22:2

See Psalm 22 Study to repudiate music.

Those who could not help the people despised and reproached him. Their laughing was "imitating a foreigner, to speak unintelligibly." The "strong bulls" danced around him in a circle and beset Him which was to crown Him. They pierced His hands and Feet and even stretched him until his bones were out of joint. For all of that, God in human flesh would win the victory and proclaim it to the Gentiles:

I will declare (inscribe with a penknife, tell) thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise (by singing to the Gentiles) thee. Psalm 22:22

For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard. Psalm 22:24

All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. Psa 22:27

For the kingdom is the Lords: and he is the governor among the nations. Psalm 22:28

As God sent His own "Right Arm" or seed as Jesus to be His own Intercessor, He sat down again at the Right Hand of the Glory He gave up to become both Father and Son. John said that the Word was with God and was God. In the same way, my right hand is with me and is me. What we know about Him has been revealed by Him. Using the same figurative language, He has returned to be clothed into the "folds of the garments" of God:

No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. Hohn 1:18

It is important that we use the words which God demanded not depart from our mouth forever:

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: Isa 55:10

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

This is why Jesus warned so severely against the teachings which come out of the mind or heart of men -- any man. This would include songs composed by men:

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. Matthew 15:8

But in vain (return the words void) they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Matthew 15:9

An Italian writer notes about worship in spirit that:

"Sometimes religion produces suggestive rituals shared by a community to create an atmosphere useful for uplifting one's thoughts and coming to one's senses. There are those who cannot do without such forms of worship. Where, however, the form takes the place of meditation, or conditions it; where human words prevail over the Spirit.. then we are no longer in the presence of true religion.

"The one who uses colours and sounds and forms and movements and other gifts of God under the illusion of creating a stairway to heaven out of his own resources can, even involuntarily and in good faith, be raising an invisible barrier between humanity and God himself. (Davide Melodia, The Lord of Silence)

However, when "worship in spirit" is successful, the natural result will be service to God by serving the poor, weak and untaught. For instance, Paul showed how internal worship spills over into the external:

For God, whom I serve (worship) in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you." Romans 1:9

Paul used a word for worship which applies to both external and internal worship:

Latreuo (g3000) lat-ryoo'-o; from latris, (a hired menial); to minister (to God), i.e. render religious homage: - serve, do the service, worship (-per)

God has always defined worship at some level. Therefore, how we worship is not optional. Nor is it tested by how many people it attracts. Paul used another word, latreåia, and said:

THEN verily the first covenant had also ordinances (rules) of divine service (worship), and a worldly sanctuary (holy, dedicated physical place). Hebrews 9:1

Furthermore, Jesus implied a useful form of worship by defining vain or empty worship with acts.

Isaiah said that God's words are not void or vain only if they return to Him as He delivered them. If we had the words to "bridge" the gap and perform God's work upon mankind then we would not need Him, would we? That is what Jesus said.

"Singing" in Romans Chapter Fifteen

Remember that Luther Burbank said that only 15% of us think anything new, and that thinking is a great torture. However, we cannot understand the Mind of an Infinite God without using the mind He designed for that purpose. Not thinking is vanity.

Melodia notes that forms can actually "raise a barrier" between the ever-present Lord and the thinking worshipper. Indeed, Jesus condemned the Jewish clergy because they deliberately took away the key to knowledge in order to silence thinking.

If we think about it, we will hear Paul using the word "singing" as a way to minister the gospel or all of the good news words of God's "right Arm." Now, here comes the thinking test: read down Paul's first cycle which defines "singing" and compare each verse with the one in the second column.

Cycle One

Cycle Two

WE then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Romans 15:1

And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. Romans 15:10

Romans 15:2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.

For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. Romans 15:3

And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. Romans 15:11

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning (teaching), that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4

And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. Romans 15:12

Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: Romans 15:5

Now the God of hope fill you (not with wine but) with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Romans 15:13

That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify (tell of His works) God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:6

And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. Romans 15:14

Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister (deacon) of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: Romans 15:8

Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God. Romans 15:15

And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will

(2) that the offering (bloodless sacrifice) up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. Romans 15:16

(1) confess to thee among the Gentiles, and

(1) That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles,

(2) sing unto thy name. Romans 15:9

ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed. Rom 15:18

Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. Rom 15:19

By being filled up with the words of Christ (Colossians 3:16) we can be filled with "spirit" in the sense of having the Mind of Christ. To sing in Romans is to "make melody in your heart" in Ephesians 5:19. To admonish in Romans 15 is the same as to admonish in Colossians 3:16. To make melody in the heart is to sing with grace in the heart where grace means "divine influence or cheerfully."

Now, put on your thinking cap again and see that the statement Paul made to the Romans means what he said to the Ephesians and Colossians:

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Ephesians 5:18

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; (Isaiah 11, Not person but spirit of)

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Ephesians 5:19

teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:16

As in all of the "singing" passages, the horizontal part is to teach one another with the revealed Words of Christ. The vertical, in heart, part is to keep the melody internal and direct it to God.

Melody, by the way, is not harmony and is not related to it. External melody, similar to most musical terms in Greek, Psallo gets its name from "grinding to a fine powder" such as rubbing out kernels from grain or the sop Jesus fed to Judas. In Hebrew, melody is derived from "to prune the vine or to make the hair stand up or bristle." It is related to polluting man and God or "taking away ones inheritance." This is why Paul demanded that the speaking of Christ's words must be external and the melody (psallo) must be in the heart. The goal was not to excite the flesh but to teach the word and not let the melody get out.

Paul's writings are often commentary on the prophets. For instance, in the middle of his parallel teaching about singing and teaching to the Romans, he again quotes Isaiah:

And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. Rom 15:10

And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. Romans 15:11

And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. Romans 15:12

This is a quotation from Isaiah 11 which begins by prophesying that Jesus will come to communicate Spirit from the Spirit world to our mind:

AND there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: Isaiah 11:1

And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; Isaiah 11:2

And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and

he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: Isaiah 11:3

But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove (admonish) with equity for the meek of the earth:

and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath (spirit) of his lips shall he slay the wicked. Isaiah 11:4

"To smite" also has the same basic meaning as to admonish as one result of teaching the Words of Christ. The weapon is the double-edged sword of His mouth. His breath is the same word as Spirit. His supernatural influence in our physical world is compared to a Divine Wind hovering over His people.

Singing for Unity

Most ancient people, and some modern ones, spoke God's word in unison or, as Paul said, "with one voice." Even if they had a hundred singers they thought that it was important that God heard them united. In fact, this form of singing actually created unity or harmony. It also fulfilled Paul's demand that "singing" teach the words of Christ which he identified as "spirit" and admonish or smite with the Words and mouth of Christ.

"It is that in unison and unity they might glorify God the Father... in the background lurks the thought of the prejudice incurred for the final end to be promoted by the church when the fellowship of the saints is marred by suspicions and dissensions and in this case particularly by the arrogance of the strong and the stumbling of the weak. No consideration could enforce the exhortation more strongly than to be reminded of the glory of God as the controlling purpose of all our attitudes and actions." (Murray, John, Romans, p. 201, Eerdmans).

Isaiah then prophesied of peace and harmony among all creation so that:

They shall not hurt (grind into pieces) nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. Isaiah 11:9

And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: (worship) and his rest (abiding with His people) shall be glorious. Isaiah 11:10

Why did Christ Sing to the Gentiles

To "minister the Words of Christ" is to be a priest of God who dares not make substitutes. Paul, to the Hebrews, repeats the clear fact that "singing" is "declaring" the Words of Christ to those who do not know:

For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Hebrews 2:10

For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Hebrews 2:11

Saying, I will declare (teach or announce as a messenger) thy name unto my brethren,

in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. Hebrews 2:12

When the Levitical musicians began their "noise" in the temple, the people's "congregaiton" were put outside the gates or camp and the gates were closed.

In chapter 13, Paul continued to speak of singing as a way to follow Jesus out of the polluted cities where most false teaching and theatrical worship originates:

Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach (defile, reproach, upbraid, taunt). Hebrews 13:13

For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. Hebrews 13:14

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name. Hebrews 13:15

But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Hebrews 13:16

Philo, a Jew of Egypt, spoke of responsorial singing among a Jewish sect which was a verbal "battle." For actual worship he recommend a common form of silent singing: "Making melody in the heart."

"And indeed though the worshippers bring nothing else, in bringing themselves they offer the best of sacrifices, the full and truly perfect oblation of noble living, as they honor with hymns and thanksgiving their Benefactor and Savior, God,

sometimes with organs of speech, sometimes without tongues or lips, when within the soul alone their minds recite the tale or utter the cry of praise. These one ear only can apprehend, the ear of God" (Philo, Special Laws I.272).

Thomas Merton wrote that "silence is our admission that we have broken communication with God and are now willing to listen.

We can be reduced to silence in times of doubt, uncertainty, nothingness, and awe. When we have exhausted all our human efforts, experience the limitations of human justice, or the finitude of human relationships, we are left with silence.

God through Isaiah 58:13 defined vain worship as "doing thine own ways and speaking thine own words." Again, Philo said:

"One cannot truly offer thanks to God as the vast majority of men do, with external effects, consecrated gifts and sacrifices..., but rather with songs of praise and hymns --

not such as the audible voice sings, but such as are raised and re-echoed by the invisible mind..,

if the soul has opened itself totally in word and deed and is filled with God then the voices of the senses and all other burdensome and hateful noises cease."

Christ was silently "singing" to the whole world while He was teaching, being mocked, tried, tortured, crucified, resurrected and ascending back to His glory. His singing was not "hip, rock or rap," or a talented team altering the mental state of the audience. No one would dare sing, clap and dance at the "foot of the old rugged cross."

To "sing to the Gentiles" always brought Paul extreme suffering and painful "groaning in the spirit" as Satan had his little agents out there trying to silence and discredit his message. We do not know that Paul was ever "elated" and "enthused" to sing sentimental poetry which worshipped the composer and singers more than God.

How Did Christ Sing?

We cannot be a disciple and worshiper of Christ as God Incarnate without walking in his steps and being mocked and buffeted by the world trying to "move us into the presence of God."

For instance, Christ's singing was "heart-abrading" as He taught while the world rejoiced:

Apalgeo (g524) ap-alg-eh'-o; from 575 and algeåo, (to smart); to grieve out, i.e. become apathetic: - be past feeling

Remember what Paul said in Romans 8? He said that our spirits groan within us expressing grief which we cannot put into words. Then, God, who "searches the spirits" (and not the body) understands our "spirit" feelings and accepts that as worship "in spirit" and "in truth" or as real worship. James warned us against trying to force singing upon those already under a heavy burden (James 5:13)

When Jesus hymned (cantillated) a Biblical Psalm or hymn, He was remembering the suffering in Egypt out of which God delivered Israel. He was preparing to be the Spiritual sacrificial lamb to suffer and die for the deliverance of all people.

We noted earlier that, as a solemn memorial of the Spiritual Passover, the Lord's Supper is not about "celebrating victory" but of acknowledging Christ's death as we "silently search our heart and purge it of leaven."

Praise is a Biblical hymn

Modern "praise" songs are clearly written to showcase the presenter and the content. Why is this clear? The Bible is filled with material called "songs" but they were used to teach and warn one another. God noted through the prophets that the wrong fast which was not accepted by Him was "speaking your own words." Isaiah 55 notes that God's words, to be fruitful, must be returned to Him.

Both the word "god" and "lord" are generic terms to describe the True God, the moon or a bull. The name of God to us is Lord (God) Jesus (man) Christ (Spirit anointed). His name is Jesus and not a generic "god." It is His family. You cannot praise God by singing "praise the Lord." To laud or magnify Him you have to tell what Jesus has done and how He did it.

Humneo (g524) religious ode; by impl. to celebrate God in song: - sing an hymn, praise unto.

And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. Matthew 26:30

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang (hymned) praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. Acts 16:25

Humnos (g5215) hoom'-nos; appar. from a simpler (obsol.) (to celebrate; prob. akin to 103); a "hymn" or religious ode (one of the Psalms): - hymn

Hymns "was that part of the Hallel consisting of Psalms 113-118; where the verb itself is rendered 'to sing praises' or 'praise' Acts 16:25; Heb 2:12. The Psalms are called, in general, 'hymns,' by Philo; Josephus calls them 'songs and hymns.'" Vine on Humneo

To "praise the Lord" one must tell others why He is praiseworthy and tell His story in His Words because we are separated from the Spirit world by a great gulf. Again,

As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seeds seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever. Isaiah 59:21

This is why Paul demanded of the Ephesians:

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit (Word of Christ, John 6:63); Ephesians 5:18

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Ephesians 5:19

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:16

If we reject the Word of Christ we reject the Spirit which would rest upon Him (Isaiah 11:1-4). And the words do depart out of the mouth of this generation of the seeds seed. And if we do not use the method of "singing" demanded by the prophets, by Jesus and by Paul then we do not have the Spirit or Word to dispense. Is that a sin? You decide.

Click to see the other examples where the Koine PSALLO is applied and then misapplied to modern singing idle songs and improvizing upon the harp like David.

Worship in spirit and in truth in primarily in the mind or heart and is not devoted to external acts of the body except in service.

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Kenneth Sublett

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