Earnest sermons aren’t pushy or unkind. An earnest pulpit doesn’t berate the pew. To be earnest, the tone must fit the situation. Shepherds love and feed their sheep; the sermon is an occasion for a meal, not a slaughter. There is joy in earnest preaching, not dour solemnities.
Earnestness in preaching doesn’t look like a stony scowl but an open chest. It’s the heart of heaven poured through the preacher into the people. There’s an intensity to an earnest preacher because he’ll say what needs to be said about life, death, and eternity. He will call out sins by name, apply balm to the open wound, and lay bare with clarity what everyone is thinking. He’s not there to impress. He’s not lighthearted, casual, or glib. He never says, “Take it or leave it.” An earnest preacher is a man in whom there is no guile, no pretension, and no airs, but whose every word is laced with a love that pleads with souls for Christ.
早期许多敬虔的犹太人归主后依然坚守旧约中的条规(徒15:1、徒15:24、加2:12-13)。为了敬虔的耶路撒冷犹太人的缘故，使徒保罗也按雅各和长老们 （徒21:21-25）的建议行洁净的礼。而耶路撒冷的众使徒与长老们也清楚吩咐外邦人归主后不需要像犹太人一样遵守摩西在旧约中的宗教礼仪律ceremonial law (徒15:5、15:24)。耶路撒冷大会唯一要求外邦人基督徒要遵守的是“禁戒祭偶像的物和血，并勒死的牲畜和奸淫” （徒15:29）。
I personally believe that singing psalms alone is significantly insufficient for Christian worship in the context of the New Covenant, under the gospel of Jesus Christ. For instance, Jews who oppose Jesus as the Messiah can happily sing these psalms while maintaining beliefs that are contrary to ours.
While I understand the necessity and obligation to read the Psalms (since they point to Christ, as per Luke 24:44), I am not convinced that it is compulsory to sing them without an accompanying musical score.
I have deep respect for all churches that perceive it as their moral obligation to create their own music scores (since the recorded Psalms do not include any) and incorporate these into their worship.
My only hope is that they would respectfully avoid imposing their personal moral obligations on other churches, and refrain from judging those who practice their faith differently. I earnestly hope that those who choose to sing Psalms in their worship and those who choose to sing new songs praising Jesus Christ would show mutual respect for each other.
Singing of Psalms is good but not obligatory. If it were obligatory, God would have preserved the musical scores along with the psalms.
Secondly, some of the psalms are dangerous to be sung during Christian worship, as many Christians who do not fully comprehend their historical and theological context will likely misapply the content to their personal lives.
Below are some examples of imprecatory psalms in which the psalmist cries out for curses and vengeance against their enemies in specific historical settings. Please imagine singing the following verses in a Christian worship session. What would non-believers perceive if they hear Christians singing these? Of course, I personally believe that all churches would have deliberately omitted singing these imprecatory psalms, or at least reduced their frequency.
Psa 109:9 May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow!10 May his children wander about and beg, seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!
Psa 137:9 Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!
Psa 140:10 Let burning coals fall upon them! Let them be cast into fire, into miry pits, no more to rise!
Psa 143:12 And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant.
Psa 3:7 Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked.
The Scripture teaches a Trinitarian understanding of God: we have only one God in three persons – God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit. In this context, prayers are often addressed to God the Father, through the Son, and in the power of the Holy Spirit (Eph 6:18, Jude 1:20).
A Trinitarian understanding of God emphasizes the unity and co-equality of the three persons of the Trinity. Thus, it is permissible and appropriate to address doxologies and prayers to all persons of the Trinity, including the Holy Spirit (Mat28:19, Eph 6:18, Jude 1:20).
Although it is appropriate to pray to the Holy Spirit, we must understand that the Holy Spirit Himself, being the author of the Bible (2 Peter 1:21, Acts 1:16, 28:25), instructs us to direct all our prayers to the Father (Matt 6:9, Eph 1:16-17) or the Son (Acts 7:59, John 14:13-14) in the Spirit.Therefore it’s important to note that believers typically maintain the pattern of praying to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.
Below are some points for reflection:
1. The Holy Spirit’s Personhood: The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force but is fully God, just as the Father and the Son are fully God. His personhood implies the ability to receive and respond to us.
2. Praise and Worship: If we cannot talk or pray to the Holy Spirit, it would imply that we cannot likewise praise the Spirit in our doxology. Worship and praises and thanksgiving are directed toward all three persons of the Trinity.
3. No Prohibitions: There are no passages in the Spirit-inspired Bible that explicitly forbid us to talk or pray to the Holy Spirit.
4. The Holy Spirit’s Role: The Holy Spirit is described in the Bible as our Comforter, Helper, and Advocate (John 14:26, 15:26), and indeed as the other Helper sent to continue the work of Jesus on earth. This implies a relational role that could reasonably include the receipt of commmunication.
5. Instructions from the Spirit: There are instances clearly written in the Bible where the Holy Spirit speaks to the apostles (Acts 13:2, Acts 16:6-7). It is appropriate to assume that the apostles could reply and answer those instructions in prayer or ask the Spirit if any clarification to those instructions is needed.
6. The Trinity’s Unity: The unity of the Godhead in Trinitarian theology suggests that prayer to one person of the Trinity is prayer to all. If it’s appropriate to pray to the Father and the Son, then it should also be appropriate to pray to the Holy Spirit.
7. Implicit Examples While the Bible doesn’t provide explicit examples of praying to the Holy Spirit, it does provide implicit examples of having a relationship with the Holy Spirit in ways that are similar to prayer. For example, in Ephesians 4:30, believers are told not to grieve the Holy Spirit. In Acts 7:51, Stephen accuses his persecutors of resisting the Holy Spirit.
8. Christian Historical Traditions: Various historical Christian writings and traditions include prayers to the Holy Spirit. For example, the traditional hymn “Come, Holy Ghost”， “Hover Over Me Holy Spirit 真理圣灵在我心中”，Open My Eyes That I May See 愿开我眼“, that is essentially a prayer to the Holy Spirit.
The arguments above don’t mean that one should pray to the Holy Spirit, but rather showing that doing so can be viewed as biblically and theologically consistent within a Trinitarian framework.
Although it is appropriate to pray to the Holy Spirit, we must understand that the Holy Spirit who dwell within us John 14:16-17，Rom8:11, 1Corin 3:16, 1Corin 6:19) instructs us to direct our prayers to the Father (Matt 6:9, Eph 1:16-17) or the Son (Acts 7:59, John 14:13-14). It is the Holy Spirit Himself that helps us direct our cries to our Heavenly Father Gal4:6).