The Worship Series: Forever Reign
Written by Jason Ingram, Reuben Morgan © Hillsong Music Publishing
"The Worship Series" is a project that's very near and dear to my heart. Combining my passions for music, theology, worship, and teaching, I've created a short series of articles designed to deepen our collective understanding of modern worship music. Each highlights a specific worship song, and seeks to find its theological and biblical roots. I've also included original videos for each song, to give my own "stripped down" take on the song. It's my hope that these articles help mold and shape the way we approach modern worship music, and give us firm theological ground from which to sing about our God. Enjoy!
The fundamental values of this song highlight God's ability to do the impossible on our behalf. In the first verse we sing about the various ways in which our humanity falls short and God is able to become those things for us. This is a very important dynamic for us to understand and proclaim in our worship. Few things fuel our faith better than a humility rooted in the supremacy of God.
The chorus emphasizes an attitude of "dying to self", as we proclaim that God's love will always be enough. In singing these words, we express a desire for God's kingdom to advance (or that He would "reign forever") and this is reflected then in the bridge.
As we die to ourselves, our hearts begin to more closely resemble the character of Jesus. We declare in song, spirit, action, and vocation that our lives will lift up this name and set an example for Godliness in the lives of others.
Our hearts will sing no other name but JESUS
Why Sing It?
At first glance the lyrics of this song might seem simple. However, the simplicity of the themes and ideas in this song does not make them any less important to our worship. As we repeat these simple lyrics, we not only give glory to God for who He is, we also form ourselves into His likeness. Our hearts become more inclined (both by repetition and the element of community experienced in the church) to believe the truths we're singing.
If I were placing this song in the context of a church service, it would go at the very beginning; I love the way this song sets us up to interact with God. I find that the specific posture presumed in the first verse (e.g. there's nothing good in me; the darkness is closing in) is one that encourages and enables us to worship most freely. From this perspective, God is the perfect completion of our imperfect humanity, and every good thing comes only from Him. When we begin our worship from this place, we're drawn into a reliance on grace that both glorifies God and forms us more fully into His image.
A Biblical Foundation
When I consider the themes and ideas of this song, I'm drawn to Ephesians 3:20-21. This is a relatively short verse with huge implications for God's authority and character. Not only is God's power sufficient to meet our deepest needs, it transcends the deepest desires and expectations of our hearts. God is sufficient, we are insufficient, and by grace He intercedes to fill in those gaps; for that reason (and many others) we give Him all glory and praise.
Light of the World, Forever Reign.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21