The Staff's ROD
a Review Of Doctrines held at Mission Bible Church
Our 9th emphatic belief states "that psalms, hymns and spiritual songs should be used to regulate our worship, and to distinguish our gatherings from the world." We also take exception to WCF's suggestion of exclusive Psalmody (WCF chapter XXI, para V), as noted by the phrase, "singing of psalms with grace in the heart".
We at Mission Bible Church employ what is known as the regulative principle of worship, meaning we allow Scriptures to regulate how we worship God. If you've done any reading through the OT, Israel fell into great troubles with God when they messed up worship. It's no different in the NT, as a review of the seven churches of Revelation reveals. This particular point of doctrine relates to music, which is always a touchy area.
Basically, we take Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16 as our guidance for music in worship, both of which instruct us to sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. We understand these to be three different types of music, and not only referring to Psalms, as some try to interpret it. Psalms are to be sung by the congregation, because they're divinely inspired pieces of music. (This should also include the song of Moses in Exodus 15, Deborah's song in Judges 5, as well as one in Habakkuk 3.) Why wouldn't we want to sing God's Words back to Him?
God also writes, sing unto the LORD a new song, no less than six (6) times. It was John Murray who won the day in a debate over exclusive Psalmody by asking, "Can I not sing in the name of Jesus Christ, Who was not known by that name in the OT?" Hymns are traditional songs that glorify God, are time-honored, and have an external focus. Bernard of Clairvaux, Isaac Watts, John Newton, Horatius Bonar, and Martin Luther are a few men who wrote timeless hymns of praise to God our Saviour. Spiritual songs are noted by their use of personal pronouns (I, me, my), being more testimonial and inward focusing. Such belong to Fanny Crosby, John Peterson, Ira Sankey, and other authors of "hymns for informal worship".
It is hard to write a doctrinally sound piece of music that the congregation can sing. We thank the Lord for the Trinity Hymnal.