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Sermon #4156

Worship in the Spirit

A Sermon on Ephesians 5:19


Ephesians 5:19 ESV KJV
addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, (ESV)

Sermon Description

What is the role that singing is supposed to play in the church? What are the Lord’s instructions for how He is to be praised through song? In this sermon on Ephesians 5:19 titled “Worship in the Spirit,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones answers these questions and more. In this passage, Paul is concerned with how the Holy Spirit is manifested when believers gather together for worship. But what is his intent in this section? Is it meant to prescribe the exact style of worship that every church should have? Dr. Lloyd-Jones uses Scripture to provide helpful commentary on why this is not the case. Paul here is calling for a unified expression of joy through singing, specifically through “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” Though they might sound as if they are the same, Dr. Lloyd-Jones is careful to show the differences. A psalm is a sacred song intended to be sung with the accompaniment of a musical instrument. A hymn is a song of praise to God. Finally, a song is an ode or lyric, which is why Paul describes it additionally as needing to be “spiritual.” Dr. Lloyd-Jones ends with a note on the permanence and importance of singing in the lives of believers, drawing on thousands of years of church history to show why this should have such a vital place in the spiritual walk of Christians.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The passage under consideration is Ephesians 5:19 - Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.

  2. The context is Paul exhorting Christians to be filled with the Spirit rather than drunk with wine. Being filled with the Spirit manifests itself in expressions of joy when Christians gather together.

  3. Paul is not prescribing a strict liturgy but illustrating how the Spirit-filled life expresses itself. He begins with corporate worship since joy and fellowship are natural expressions of the Spirit-filled life.

  4. 'Speaking' refers to singing, not just speech. It means addressing one another in song.

  5. Psalms refer to sacred poems, especially those meant to be sung with musical accompaniment. Hymns specifically refer to songs of praise to God. Spiritual songs refer to spontaneous, Spirit-inspired songs about spiritual things.

  6. Some argue only psalms should be sung in worship, but:

  7. The Ephesian church was mainly Gentile, unfamiliar with the psalms.

  8. Early church history shows other songs were sung.
  9. The passage refers to singing to 'the Lord' (Jesus), suggesting new compositions.
  10. 1 Cor 14 shows various contributions in worship, including spontaneous psalms.
  11. Limiting singing to psalms limits the Spirit, who inspires prayer, preaching, art, and hymns.
  12. The argument against hymns also argues against extemporary prayer and worship.
  13. Revivals, when the Spirit moves, often inspire new hymns. Hymns have also sparked revival.

  14. The early church meetings were joyful, spontaneous, and Spirit-led, unlike typical formal services today. Paul had to warn against disorder, not prescribe a strict liturgy.

  15. We must avoid quenching the Spirit with legalism. Order and decency restrain excess, but do not prohibit expression. Spirit-filled churches should overflow with praise in various forms.

The Book of Ephesians

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.