“And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.” —Revelation 15:3-4
Gospel praise begins with the Word of God; and it must contain the revelation of the Lamb of God. Our passage first tells us that gospel praise begins with scripture because our songs of praise come from “the song of Moses the servant of God.” Although there have been prophets before Moses, as well as those after him, it is Moses who first applied stylus to parchment at the command of God in order to preserve God’s Word. The apostle states, “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God” (Romans 3:1-2). The significance of the statement is not the importance of the Jew, but the importance of God’s Word. It was an advantage to have Jewish heritage because, not only was that lineage granted to the Jew by the grace of God, but that the Law and the Prophets were committed unto them by God’s grace as well. And though it only mentioned Moses, his mention represents the whole of scripture.
Secondly, the Word that brings forth gospel praise must contain the revelation of the Lamb of God: Jesus Christ—in who He is and for what He has done, as it is written, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
To worship God, one must worship Him in spiritual truth (John 4:24); therefore our faith is not an ignorant faith, but knowledgeable (2 Corinthian 4:6), which by God’s grace, increases in glory (2 Corinthians 3:18) and also grows in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
Gospel praise acknowledges the sovereignty of God’s plans, and most particularly, His plan to receive His greatest glory through the cross of Jesus Christ: “Great… are thy works,” O Lord! We acknowledge this truth by the Holy Spirit’s illumination of the scriptures when we delight in and meditate upon them, as it is written, “The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein” (Psalms 111:2). Secondly, gospel praise also acknowledges the majesty of God’s purposes, most especially in the Redemption itself: “Marvellous are thy works,” O Lord! It is written, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14).
Gospel praise acknowledges that, not only is God sovereign over His plans and purposes, but that Christ is also sovereign over His redeemed ones: “…thou King of saints,” Thou art Lord of all!
It also acknowledges that His ways are just and true altogether (Psalms 19:9); and that He is the only way unto truth, justice, and life, as the Lord Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). The righteousness of Jesus Christ is impeccable in sinless perfection (Hebrews 4:15).
Gospel praise often ponders the strange wonder of irreverence in unbelief. Though the gospel is simple and can be understood with childlike faith, its glories are infinitely majestic and its splendor spans beyond the complete apprehension of men and angels. When the Holy Spirit opens certain truths to us through the Word, they are so indelibly written upon the fleshly tables of the new heart we have been given in regeneration (Ezekiel 36:26-27), that that revealed truth is intrinsically and overwhelmingly a part of us now (Acts 1:8). As we have become new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), at times we wonder with amazement, just as David did, when he wrote, “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD , and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us” (Psalms 2:1-3).
Gospel praise appreciates the uniqueness of our God in His glorious holiness. One of the great truths of His holiness is that He is distinct through the truth of the Trinity. He is God alone; yet, He exists in three distinct Persons of His holy deity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three are one God, the same in essence and equal in power and glory. God says this of Himself through the prophet Isaiah, “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10). Truly, “there is none like” Thee, O God! “for thou only art holy!”
Gospel praise also acknowledges God’s eternal plan, and more specifically, His plan of Salvation to bring forth worshipers unto Himself, was to include “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” (Revelation 7:9), not only merely the descendants of Jacob, who were few in number compared to the other nations (Deuteronomy 7:7). Such acknowledgment in praises to God recognizes the importance of true spiritual worship in the local church, as well as the importance of evangelism by the local church to all nations, kindreds, people and languages. It is written of old, “All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name” (Psalms 86:9).
Jesus Christ is Alpha and Omega; therefore, as our praise begins in the Word of God unto the revelation of the Lamb of God, gospel praise ends with Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. This truth of gospel praise stands by faith upon the Word of God fulfilled in Jesus Christ’s Person and redemptive work; and also looks with blessed hope upon the fulfillment of the remainder of God’s promises in Christ Jesus at His return in the consummation of all things. There is a judgment coming in that Day because the greatest manifestation of God’s justice is found in His eternal counsel, decree and judgment that the incarnate Son of God would receive the wrath of God in His Person as a perfect Substitute for His people. The holy judgment of God poured out upon the righteous Son is a divine truth that must be revealed by God to the one being made alive by the Spirit of God, as it is written, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). “Revealed from heaven” indicates that God’s wrath must be supernaturally revealed by God’s Spirit through the Word. That God’s wrath is revealed “against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness,” indicates there is a judgment coming; and since every man, woman and child, since Adam’s disobedience against God, are guilty of ungodliness and unrighteousness, as well as suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. It is only by God’s grace through saving faith in Jesus Christ that we are free from the wrath to come; for Christ our Lord, is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29), receiving upon Himself the curse of sin when He was pinned to Calvary’s tree (Galatians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Although these elements are certainly found in our praises unto the Father, and to His Son, the sum total of these elements may not necessarily be outwardly expressed every time we open our mouths in praise and thanksgiving. There may be moments in our personal situations and circumstances (or in our collective experiences as a local church) where God has brought us through certain things, i.e., the refining fires of affliction and tribulation, and therefore, our praise and thanksgiving will express such.
Additionally, there are certainly more that can be said of these seven truths; and one may even think to suggest that you can add one or two more to this list as it may be presented elsewhere in scripture. Although I have not accomplished a thorough and exhaustive search on the collective truths of gospel praise, I am convinced (at least for the time being) that those elements of gospel praise expressed elsewhere in scripture are either a subcategory within one of those mentioned above, or else it is merely another way of expressing one of those aforementioned truths.