Sometimes we can take for granted, and get into a plateau with worship. We need to remember that the enemies of God are thrown into confusion by the songs of God’s people. God has appointed the use of spiritual songs as an effective weapon against his archenemy Satan. This isn’t child’s play, or a cool beat on the drums when we come together to praise. Our worship to God is shaking things up.
In Acts 16 Paul and Silas are not protected by God from the attack of their enemies. But they are spared from death. In verses 22–24 it says that they were stripped and beaten with rods and then put in stocks in the inner chamber of the prison.
Now picture this. You are walking down Millcreek Mall and suddenly a gang of vicious men surround you. They strip off your clothes and pull out their smooth wooden billy clubs and for 15 or 20 minutes smash you back and forth between them while the police stand back and watch. Then with open wounds and concussions and broken ribs and internal injuries, they drag you over, put irons around your feet, and let you down a manhole for the night. If you thought of our nice clean prisons, you wouldn’t have any idea of what Paul and Silas endured.
There you are in the middle of the night, having no idea whether you will be hanged or beheaded or flogged again, and what do you do? Pray! That’s right we would all pray. We would cry out for help. So did Paul. But that’s not all he did. Verse 25 says, “But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.”
Now why were they singing? It was midnight. They were in pain. They were weary. They were cut off from their traveling partners. They were at the hands of crazy men. Sleep from exhaustion, crying, pleading with God for help—these things we could understand. But singing hymns! If anybody were to say to us today, “When you hit bottom, sing hymns to God,” we would probably say to them, “Lay off with simplistic solutions. You’ve obviously never been on the bottom.”
But Paul and Silas were at the bottom. And they sang hymns to God. Sometimes the only solutions left in life are simple ones.
They were singing because they needed a display of God’s power. They had learned that singing to God is not merely a response to his grace but also a weapon of spiritual warfare. They had learned that the enemies of God are thrown into confusion by the songs of God’s people.
And in his great mercy God did for Paul and Silas in Verse 26: “And suddenly there was a great earthquake . . . and immediately all the doors were opened and every one’s chains came loose.” So we see again that God accepts the offering of praise and makes it an occasion for his power. And we see the truth confirmed, that God has appointed the use of spiritual songs as an effective weapon against our chains.
In Ephesians 5:18–19 it says, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to the Lord with all your heart.” The fullness of the Holy Spirit is experienced as a heart filled with singing. So if we fight Satan by the fullness of the Spirit, we fight him with song.
God has ordained that the gifted musicians among us be appointed for spiritual leadership in worship. David appointed the Levites of the family of Kohath to the ministry of music. They were to serve in the house of God to bring a continual offering of praise and worship to the Lord. They were to lead and assist the people in singing to God. In 2 Chronicles 20 their work is warfare. When they began to sing, the Lord sets an ambush against the enemy.
And so it is at Chi Alpha. This worship team is not here to turn worship into a nice, beautiful, casual experience for the pleasure of unspiritual artsy types. Kat and Jake and others who lead worship have not been called as a kind of musical artist in residence. They have been called as a company commander. The enemy is Satan and the warfare is song. And the worship teams business is to take charge of his company at the front ranks of the army and to lead us to God in worship, to each other in love, and into the world to plunder death, fear and pain.
I believe that worship, taken the way God intends to, as we exercise our spiritual muscle and not sit lifeless in the seat, can cause xa the same results….all the doors can fly wide open and all our chains can be loosed.