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Themes in Worship: The Gospel of John

As a worship leader, I am continually looking for ways to communicate the glories of God, the centrality of Christ, and the story of the gospel in a meaningful and articulate ways.

Often times our vernacular in worship can seem monotonous, if all we are singing is one specific aspect of the nature and character of God. An example of this is the frequency of which we choose to sing of God’s love and mercy, but scarcely sing songs of his holiness and justice.

Singing the Gospel of John

This week our church begins a verse-by-verse study through the Gospel of John. We will be preaching through this book for the next year or more. In preparation for this journey, I have been and will be spending time in multiple commentaries. Shaping my understanding of scripture will be the works of DA Carson, Merrill Tenney, F.F. Bruce, John Calvin, and Andreas Köstenberger.

Spending time in commentaries of the books we are preaching helps press the truths, themes and contours of the scriptures into me. This is a vital practice as I help shape the worship of our church. I am hoping our songs, prayers, and readings, are informed by the scripture we are studying.

We have a unique feature in the gospel of John in that the purpose of this book is clearly defined.

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31 ESV)

With this passage as a launchpad into the book, I will choose worship elements with this purpose statement in mind. Through this lens, I realize my main role throughout this study is to develop a Christology that holds Jesus high. As we do this it allows our hearts to believe and marvel at the person and work of Christ.

Another useful tool I’ve found is a table of key themes found in the ESV Study Bible. The themes outlined here include:

Summary

In summary, there are sixteen distinct themes that are given by Köstenberger to help group certain themes of the book. My aim is that as we walk through John, our worship will be informed and influenced by the overarching themes of scripture. Hopefully this will provide, both for our people, and me a robust theological perspective of the text we will be studying. Ultimately my goal is that our elements of worship will move thoroughly toward a gospel-centered, Christ-exalting view of the book of John.

Matt Boswell is the Worship Pastor at Providence Church in Frisco, TX, and founder of Doxology & Theology.

 

About Matt Boswell

Matt Boswell is the founder of Doxology & Theology, and Pastor of Ministries and Worship at Providence Church in Frisco, TX. Follow Matt on Twitter.

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2 Comments

  • Zac Hicks says:

    Great post! I’ve been fascinated by something else in John that has a lot of mileage for worship. The first half appears to be making some bold statements about Jesus being the fulfillment of the Jewish festivals and feasts (e.g. “I am the light of the world” is not just a simple statement about Christ’s missional luminosity, but he’s saying, “Hanukkah…that’s about ME!”). Given that the feasts and festivals were the liturgical framework on which the Jewish worship calendar was hung, this has some hefty implications for Christian worship. In a nutshell, it gives credence to Christians observing a Christ-centered liturgical year (the Church calendar is more than just tradition, baby!) and a gospel-centered approach to worship services.

    John’s writings, in general, often goes under-appreciated in theology of worship discussions (e.g. Revelation).

    Thanks for helping bring John into the worship conversation!

  • Adam Green says:

    Very well put, Matt. Enjoyed reading your thoughts. I too echo much of the same sentiment on the necessity for worship leaders to be intentional in their pursuit of leading their church in a well-rounded worship experience. It takes diligence in preparation through much prayer and study along with utter dependence on His Spirit to do this incredibly well.

    I love those verses 30-31 from John 20 you shared. They always remind me as much as we strive to know all we can about our Heavenly Father – His character, attributes, works and miracles – that there will always remain so much undocumented, unknown and unseen. The love, grace and mercy we find in the story of the Gospel and through a relationship with Christ as a result of responding to it is immeasurable.

    Praise the Lord for the mystery of grace and His work on the cross. I’m in awe more and more with each day that passes by.

    Keep up the great work my friend!

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