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Epistle On The Worship That God Accepts
Jonathan, a bond-servant of the Lord Jesus, set apart as His broken instrument so that the harmony of the chorus of Christ might be revealed to be all in all –
To the saints who are dispersed:
Grace to you and peace in the Name of God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I am writing to you, beloved, as I have heard there to be a great deal of discord and dissension among you lately as to what sort of music is the most worshipful and pleasing to the Lord. I can hardly believe my ears. I therefore charge you in the Name of the Lord Jesus to hear the counsel of the Word of God when it testifies of Him, “For it was fitting for Him, for Whom are all things, and through Whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the Author of their salvation through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, ‘I will proclaim your Name to my brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.’” And again, “Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those reproaching You fell on Me.’ For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written, ‘Therefore I will give praise to You among the Gentiles, and I will sing to Your Name.’ Again he says, ‘Rejoice O Gentiles, with His people.’ And again, ‘Praise the Lord all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise Him.’”
So, then, brethren: it is Christ who worships and sings to the Father in the midst of His people; and, as our Lord told us, wherever two or three of us are gathered together in His Name there He is in the midst of us – if it is truly in His Name, His character, that we assemble. Therefore, with such a wonderful and inspired Vocalist in our midst, let us ask ourselves: “Are we listening to Him, or merely to ourselves? Who, in all this dissension, is on the Lord’s side? Above all, can anyone hear His voice? If so, is Christ’s voice one of harmony or discord?” I ask those ‘wise’ and ‘learned’ among you, “What does Christ testify in your midst?” And, “What is this that you are testifying in His presence and the presence of those for whom Christ died by your own words and actions?” Christ is not divided is He? Is there no One among you qualified to judge in this matter? For by the testimony of two or three witnesses is every word of Christ established. Tell me, those of you who are so zealous for the worship of the one true God, are you so busy making a supposed ‘joyful noise unto the Lord’ with your own dissonant voices that you’ve forgotten the reason why you are supposed to be singing in the first place? For Christ is our Head and our Worship Leader, and His preferences ought to prevail above our own.
Therefore, let us render to God the worship that He desires and accepts; for as the Scripture says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” And again, “Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lips, but remove their hearts far from Me, and their worship of Me consists of tradition learned by rote, therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; and the wisdom of their wise men will perish, and the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed.” Therefore, if anyone does speak now, let it be as the very oracles of Christ so that at last the Body might be built up into the Head. For when we find our true center in silent reverence before God in the mind of Christ – opening our hearts to His still, small voice – then and then alone shall we together find our one voice. Everything else is vain distraction and a striving after the wind: an offering of a strange fire of incense before the Lord that will not be accepted by Him. Just as the Preacher warns us, “Watch your step as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few.” Now may all of God’s family, in the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, destroy every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of Christ in their midst; and let us all take great care lest we inadvertently reproach Christ by disregarding any of those in whom He dwells, crucifying Him that we might be justified in our own eyes, exposing Him again to public shame. For as it is written, “The Name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” And again, “All the day long I have spread out My hands to an obstinate and contradicting people.” Finally, brethren, let us not forget the dying words of our Lord Jesus on behalf of His accusers, “Father, forgive them… for they do not know what they are doing.”
So, in the words of our brother Paul: “What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” As it was at the beginning, let it be so now, so that Christ’s glory might again be revealed in His temple, that is: His Body. When all of God’s people finally return to worship in the tradition of the apostles, as set forth and approved by the Word of God, will there be any cause for division left among us? After all this petty quarreling about individual music preferences, isn’t it time for all of us to do things God’s way? Is not everyone in whom the Spirit of Christ dwells to be a sharer in the acceptable altar of Christ? Does not our Father delight to hear the heart-song of each and every one of His children? And shall not the family of God as well, as those who are called by His Name?
As Paul said, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” Such is the noise that grieves God’s heart and sows discord in the hearts of His children. So then, if we would truly make a joyful noise unto the Lord – as one Voice that pleases Him – let us therefore love one another as God is love… for with such sacrifices God is well-pleased.
Now may the God of peace grant you to be of one mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, and bear you up in the fellowship of the unity that is the Spirit of Christ, to the praise of His great glory. Amen.