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Here are two more verses we ignore because they don’t fit our “way-to-do-church” paradigm:

“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19–20 NIV).

Again, because we can’t imagine how in the world—rather, how in the church—we would “speak to one another” by singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, we jettison two more verses out into the bone yard of church-culture incompatibility. However, wouldn’t it be wiser and more obedient to ask the Lord how we could fulfill what is revealed to us in His Word?

Here’s another verse that we disregard:

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).

What we do with this verse is pay attention to only the first admonition, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” We teach believers to study the Bible, memorize and obey it. Then we schmooze our way through the rest of the verse by thinking, Sure, we teach and admonish as well as sing with thankfulness to God in our church services, so we’re doing fine. With pious schizophrenia, we split this verse into two religious time zones. The “teaching and admonishing one another” aspect of this verse happens outside of the church service, perhaps in one-on-one encounters or in small groups, but the “singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” happens during the church service. Or perhaps we use slippery logic and maintain that the “teaching and admonishing one another” is what the pastor does when he speaks from the platform.

How does the word of Christ dwell in us richly? According to the flow of thought in this verse, it’s by teaching and admonishing one another—whether the richness of that dwelling of Christ’s word is the cause of the teaching and admonishment or the result of it, or both. However, we don’t teach and admonish one another when we gather in the church. One or two people handle that task, on a platform in the front of the church building.

The four verses we just considered are from three different books of the New Testament, and our eyes have thus far been closed to them. These aren’t enigmatic verses in impenetrable, symbolic, apocalyptic literature. These are clear, practical instructions from three letters written by Paul the apostle.

But they don’t fit our contemporary church practice. They won’t work. What on earth could Paul have been thinking when he wrote these things? Guess he was somehow sadly misinformed about the way church should be.

Or maybe the Bible is only partially the inspired Word of God.

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