Why Do We Sing So Many Songs About The Cross?

Why do we sing so many songs about the cross?

Why so many songs about the blood of Jesus?  Why so many songs about salvation?  There are plenty of other topics we could sing about. Why so many songs about what Jesus did on Calvary?

Apparently God thinks it’s important because he commands us in Colossians 3:16:

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.

What is the “word of Christ” we’re supposed to keep singing to one another? It’s the gospel! It’s the word about Christ – the word about all God did to redeem us through the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. The word of Christ is the good news and all its ramifications and reverberations in our lives. The good news about the provision God made for sinners to dwell with a holy God through his Son’s powerful work.

Why do we need to keep singing the gospel?

We need to sing the gospel, because we’re so prone to forget it.  We need to sing the gospel because we’re inclined to becoming works-oriented and put our hope in other things besides Jesus.

We sing the gospel because through it God most clearly displays his holiness, love, mercy, and power.  We see how the infinitely holy and just God satisfied his justice by pouring out his wrath on Jesus in our place.  Nothing demonstrates the love of God like the cross.  ”But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

We definitely need to sing songs about God’s holiness. But if that’s all we sang we would eventually become condemned and fearful to approach him. If we only sang songs about God’s goodness we would probably have little holy fear and little appreciation for what he did to remove our sin. The gospel brings these glorious attributes together front and center.  Justice and mercy kiss at the cross.

We also sing the gospel because it’s the only hope of the unsaved who join us every Sunday. So we sing to ourselves and we sing to our friends and we sing to our children.

Keep singing “the word of Christ”.  Keep gazing at the good news from every angle, like turning a diamond in your hand. Keep singing new songs unto the Lord. But let the new songs be the old song. Keep marveling at all the facets of God’s holiness, love and mercy until we sing before the throne for all eternity,  ”Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!”

  • Elaine

    Thanks for the encouragement, Mark.

    This quote is so true – "We need to sing the gospel, because we’re so prone to forget it. We need to sing the gospel because we’re inclined to becoming works-oriented and put our hope in other things besides Jesus." Hits my struggle squarely on the head!

    Your post reminds me of one Tim Keller's quote from his book, The Meaning of Marriage: "That gospel message should both humble and lift the believer up at the same time. It teaches us that we are indeed self-centered sinners. It perforates our illusions about our goodness and superiority. But the gospel also fills us with more love and affirmation than we could ever imagine. It means we don’t need to earn our self-worth through incessant service and work. It means also that we don’t mind so much when we are deprived of some comfort, compliment, or reward. We don’t have to keep records and accounts anymore. We can freely give and freely receive."

    Thanks for reminding me of the glories of the Gospel, Mark.

    • Mark Altrogge

      What a great quote, Elaine! Thank you for adding this!

    • Sara

      Great quote Elaine! So challenging to my pride and encouraging to my faith!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Chris Lutyk

    We see your holiness most clearly when we see you crucified… such severity, such kindess, Lord we thank you that you died, perfect justice, perfect mercy side by side! Thanks, Mark, for the reminder and for the song these lyrics come from!

    • Mark Altrogge

      Hey Chris, thanks so much!

  • http://deeprootslibrary.com/ Luke @ Deep Roots

    One of the best videos I ever saw about this was from C.J. Mahaney. Amazing thought to me: we sing cross-centered songs because there should never be a moment in worship where we don't need a mediator. The only way I can EVER worship the Father is through the Son and his work on the cross, and the Spirit bringing me to Him.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGLrzyOY1SA

  • Pingback: Why Sing So Many Songs About the Cross? « As You Walk

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    Hey Mark, based on your reasoning here, shouldn't we be singing equal amounts of songs about the birth, resurrection, and ascension of Christ?

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      I think we should sing lots of songs about all these things.

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