There are worship songs that are good, and then there are worship songs that are excellent. I once had an interesting conversation with an agnostic about a Christian worship song they enjoyed because it reminded them “God loves them so much.” Interestingly enough, the worship song did not specifically mention Jesus’ name or his Gospel work on the cross. After that conversation, I asked myself, “Could some of the songs we sing in our church allow non-Christians among us to praise God apart from the Gospel?”
Our churches should worship with songs non-Christians could not sing comfortably due to the lyrics’ clear articulation of the Gospel. Our songs should confront us with the holiness and sovereignty of God, our terrible sinfulness, our great need for the cross of Christ, and the blessings of belonging to him through grace by faith.
These are not things the non-Christian can sing about without a degree of discomfort in their souls because the cross is an offense to the hardened unregenerate heart. Are non-Christians confronted with their need to repent and place their faith in Christ through your church’s worship songs? Could any lyrics your church sings lead people to a nebulous view of God’s love apart from faith in Christ?
We should not have Gospel-saturated songs only to make the Gospel clear to the non-Christians among us, but also because we do not have anything else to celebrate. The Gospel is why we can worship at all! Like Paul, far be it from us to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to us, and us to the world (Gal. 6:14).
Our songs should be filled with the Gospel because the purchase of salvation for all who would believe in Jesus’ name is the greatest work of God in all history. And oh how often we forget! We need to be reminded of our need for the Gospel just as much as the non-Christians who may be around us, and so even our songs are filled with Gospel.
Isaac Watts penned the lyrics to the popular song recently reconceived by Sojourn, "Only Your Blood is Enough:"
I am ashamed, conceived in sin; I’ve always been.
Born in a world where Adam’s fall corrupts us.
Rooted is the seed of death in life’s first breath.
Your law demands a perfect heart, but I’m defiled in every part.
Only Your blood is enough to cover my sin;
Only Your blood is enough to cover me.
These are the sort of lyrics non-Christians in our churches need to hear, and these are the sort of lyrics we must be filling our hearts with in our praise of God. We must continually be brought low by our sin in light of God’s grace in Christ, and we must continually rejoice in God’s acceptance of us through the cross. Songs that have well-articulated Gospel content will lead us to deeper and richer moments of worship together better than any song where the Gospel is simply assumed.
So, where do we find these kind of songs? There are plentiful resources for great Gospel-rich worship songs. In my experience, Sojourn Community Church, Sovereign Grace Ministries, and Indelible Grace have a great selection of hymns and choruses with lyrics saturated in the Good News that translate well in corporate worship. I hope they are a help to your church as they have been mine.