*1 *Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!
\\ *2 *Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
\\ *3 *Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!
\\ *4 *For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.
\\ *5 *For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
\\ *6 *Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
\\ *7 *Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
\\ *8 *Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts!
\\ *9 *Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
\\ *10 *Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.”
\\ *11 *Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; \\ *12 *let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy \\ *13 *before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.
This is the final message in our series on the gospel.
We began by noting the importance of being clear about the gospel since there is always the danger of gospel confusion.
Then we spent two weeks outlining the basic storyline for the gospel under four points: creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.
Last week we talked about the way in which we are personally called to respond to the gospel.
Today I want us to consider the way in which we are corporately called to respond to the gospel.
In other words, once we have been saved by God’s grace through faith in the gospel, what then?
How should we as a church continue to respond to the gospel?
A PERSONAL TESTIMONY
I want to begin today by sharing with you some of my own story on this subject.
I grew up in church.
I’ve considered myself a Christian my entire life.
And I always thought of the gospel as something that non-Christians needed.
The gospel was about conversion and since I was already converted, I assumed I didn’t have much of a need for the gospel anymore.
But there was a moment in my life about 8 years ago where I began to sense I was missing something very important in my Christian faith.
I didn’t know quite what it was, but two things had a major impact on me.
The first was studying the book of Ephesians in one of my seminary classes.
I was struck by a repeated refrain in the first Chapter.
* In love [God] predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, /to the praise of his glorious grace/.
* In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be /to the praise of his glory/.
* In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, /to the praise of his glory/.
Three times the Scripture says that God chose us, predestined us, and guarantees for us our salvation so that he might be praised for his glorious grace.
Stated another way, when the Apostle Paul reflected upon God’s grace in saving him, he did not wonder why God chose to save him but did not choose to save others.
He simply worshipped God.
He was overwhelmed that God would be gracious to one who considered himself the chief of sinners.
The second thing that impacted me was a conversation with another minister shortly before I moved to Dallas to go back to seminary.
I was not just going back to school; I was also leaving the tradition in which I was raised.
It was not a crisis of faith per se; I never questioned the most basic teachings of Christianity.
Nevertheless, it was a time of deep soul searching for me and my wife.
We were missing something and we didn’t know what it was until that other minister pointed it out to me.
After hearing me talk about how much I had been taught about God he said, “But it sounds like you don’t find much joy in God himself.”
God was important to me to be sure.
But though I knew God, I could not say I found much delight in God.
Not like the delight I found in so many other things.
So began a personal quest to find this kind of daily delight in God.
The quest continues.
I have moments where I find it, but the struggle continues.
Nevertheless, what I have learned is that this is where ultimate joy is found.
And it is not some unobtainable ideal.
Neither is it something we cannot find until after death.
God, through the gospel, intends to delight his people now.
Indeed, Christians ought to be the happiest people on earth.
PSALMS OF JOY
Nowhere else in the Bible is this pervasive joy described more frequently than in the Book of Psalms.
This book was the songbook of ancient Judaism.
Many of its lyrics come from Israel’s history, commemorating historical events in which God had acted on Israel’s behalf.
Such is the case with Psalm 96.
We find many of these same words in 1 Chronicles 16 following the inauguration of David as Israel’s new king.
This psalm, like so many others, is a song of celebration.
It is meant to convey the joy of seeing God act on behalf of his people.
So this is a good place to go when we want to think about what kind of response Christians ought to have to the gospel, where once again God has acted on behalf of his people.
Imagine you have just escaped from Egypt where you and your ancestors have been in forced slavery for 4 centuries.
But you are not able to enjoy your freedom yet because the Egyptians are bearing down on you and you are trapped by the Red Sea on whose shores you now stand.
But Moses, your leader, tells you to not fear.
He says that God will bring salvation.
And then, right before your eyes, the waters of the Red Sea part down the middle.
You quickly hurry across the floor of the sea, amazed that it is not even muddy!
You get across just in time to see the waters collapse upon your enemies who were pursuing you, killing them all.
Now imagine the joy you would feel as you sang this song,
/I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea./ (Exodus 15:1)
As thrilling as it must have been for Israel to see God miraculously wipe out the Egyptians, we have even greater reason to rejoice.
God has conquered an even greater enemy on our behalf.
/He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea./ (Micah 7:19).
There is no denying it: When we grasp the true significance of the gospel, we will respond to God with the joy of worship just like Israel did time and time again until an entire songbook was written!
THE CALL TO WORSHIP (vv.
Look now at Psalm 96.
It begins with a call to worship.
Sing to the Lord.
Tell of his salvation.
Declare his glory.
That’s a good outline of what worship consists of.
!! Sing to the Lord
We can scarcely think of worship without song.
And rightly so.
Music is the language of worship.
The psalmist calls for all the earth to join in blessing God’s name in song.
The psalmist also calls for us to sing to the Lord with “a new song.”
Because God is always acting and constantly revealing himself to us, it is appropriate for us to write new songs of worship.
But it is not necessarily a new composition that is in view here.
A new song can refer to the freshness with which we sing any of our songs of worship to God in response to the freshness of his mercies to us.
Does your worship today seem stale and boring and joyless?
Aren’t you glad that God’s faithfulness to you does not grow old but is new every morning?
So sing to the Lord a new song!