Sorry I haven't written anything all week. I have two excuses. The first is that the internet at church is down, and while I could post at home, I generally like to do whatever blog-writing I do in the late afternoons at church.
Second, I had such a hard time getting my sermon finished last week that I've really been hitting the books hard this week.
I had a great moment yesterday. Whilst studying Ephesians 2:1-10 for Bible study last night, I was meditating on verse six: [God] raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus...I was thinking about the already-and-not-yet of being seated with Christ in heaven, pondering what that meant for life today and tomorrow.
And according to providence, it just so happened that I was listening to some of the worship from the last RP International Conference. There I was, listening to 2500 people sing God's songs (the Psalms), slowly turning up the volume until the pastor upstairs (the most senior pastor) must have wondered what was going on, reveling in the sheer glory of so many voices joined together to praise God. "This is what it means," I thought, "to be seated in the heavenlies." It means I'm not where I am, that where my final home is, where my Savior is, I'm not. The place I'm most at home in this world, then, is when I'm worshipping with God's children. This is the part of world-life that most closely touches and best approximates what being eternally "seated in the heavenly places" is like.
Part of the reason for this not-so-astounding revelation was hearing so many voices singing the Psalms. I don't often take time in this blog to encourage hymnists to sing the Lord's songs, but let me say that you don't know what you're missing. John's Revelation has several heart-rending pictures of what heaven will be like, when the countless multitude joins together to worship the Lamb standing as one slain. And they will sing a new song (Rev. 5:9); not new as in "never been sung before" but new as in "the fulfillment of every heart changed by God." (See Psalm 40:3, where David speaks of being given a new song by the Lord.) They're singing the Psalms, written by the inspiration of the Spirit; they might be singing new psalms, but until we get there and receive those new, inspired songs from the Spirit, we are called to stick with the 150 which God promised were sufficient for this life.
Yes, I believe the church is required by Scripture to sing only the Psalms in worship to God. But I also believe the church should only want to sing the Psalms in worship to God because they are the most heavenly songs we can sing. They are the songs of our homeland.