Presumptuous Praise

EarthI love to sing with the Lord’s people.

I love to sing about the scene recorded in Revelation 7, when people “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” will lift their united song of praise to God and the Lamb. We sing of it often in Edward Perronet’s All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name:

“Let every kindred, every tribe
On this terrestrial ball,
To Him all majesty ascribe,
And crown Him Lord of all!”

I wrote with a similar expectancy in Come Quickly, Lord:

“We want to hear the joyous cries
And join the ransomed throng:
“The Lamb is worthy!” praise will rise
From ev’ry tribe and tongue!”

I also love to sing hymns in which we pray for the Lord to spread the Gospel. My favorite by far is Isaac Watts’ How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place, which ends with these two stanzas:

“Pity the nations, O our God!
Constrain the earth to come;
Send Thy victorious Word abroad,
And bring the strangers home.

We long to see Thy churches full,
That all the chosen race
May with one voice, and heart and soul,
Sing Thy redeeming grace.”

That’s all great stuff. Amen!

While we were singing these words this past Sunday, however, it occurred to me that to sing songs praying for and rejoicing in the salvation of people from all over the world without a commitment to the cause of world evangelization is gross hypocrisy. The Lord certainly will “send His victorious Word abroad.” However, He has chosen to do so through His church—it will not be sent abroad apart from our obedience. Hudson Taylor warned against such a disconnect between worship and evangelistic neglect when he spoke to the Perth Conference in 1865 of the needs of China:

“Before the next Perth Conference twelve millions more, in China, will have passed forever beyond our reach. What are we doing to bring them the tidings of Redeeming Love ? It is no use singing as we often do ‘Waft, waft ye winds the story.’ The winds will never waft the story; but they may waft us. “

Shall we stop using these wonderful texts? Of course not. Long for the day when we will sing alongside people from around the globe the praises of our Savior. Pray that the Word of the Lord will turn rebels to worshipers by His grace. But do more. Participate in the goal for which you long. Add to your enthusiasm obedience to the Great Commission, whatever that obedience may entail for you. Seriously, when is the last time that you honestly considered what the Lord would have you to do for the sake of His name?

Let’s be careful that our supposed praise isn’t just presumption.

_____

For further consideration on your involvement in world evangelization…

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