The Theology of Worship Music – Holy Spirit
by Bryan Torwalt and Katie Torwalt
The Torwalts are relatively new to the worship music scene. Holy Spirit is one of the first songs of theirs that I heard. It quickly became popular with worshippers because the focus is clearly on the Lord.
The lyric does not quote, or even paraphrase, scripture but the message is clearly reflected in scripture. The words are simple utterances of a Believer to their God. Moses said similar words found in verse one when he conversed with God in the wilderness after leaving Egypt.
Exodus 33:13-15 (ESV) Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.
The phrase “living hope” is speaking of the Spirit of Christ living in us.
Colossians 1:27 (ESV) To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
1 Peter 1:3-5 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Verse two describes further the relationship between the Bridegroom and His Bride, the Church.
Psalm 34:8 (ESV) Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Isaiah 61:3 (ESV) to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.
The bridge of the song speaks to the idea that it is the worshipper’s view of God that increases when we begin to focus on Him. God cannot increase. He already fills the earth. He is Omnipresent. This brings us to the chorus.
The chorus to the song Holy Spirit has the worshipper asking the Holy Spirit to “flood this place, fill the atmosphere.” That concept, while very common in song, is not New Testament in its origin. First of all, God cannot fill space that He is already in! Also, the prayer in the chorus for God to “overwhelm” is a cry of spirit to Spirit; our spirit yearning for more of God’s Spirit to shine forth through our life. The Holy Spirit was given to empower us to be witnesses, not so we could have “holy moments” in worship.
There is a fundamental difference in Old Testament and New Testament experiences of the Holy Spirit. In the OT, the activity of the Holy Spirit was external. Examples are the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire that led Israel through the wilderness. Another is the “glory cloud” that filled Solomon’s temple. This is the experience cited most often by worship leaders. People are seeking another outward manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
The problem is that the activity of the Holy Spirit changed after Pentecost. The Holy Spirit was sent to abide in the Believer. Now the work done by the Holy Spirit is internal. We no longer seek after glory clouds, but instead seek after a more intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit. The pursuit for the Believer is to more fully yield our spirit to The Spirit of God in us. That should become the heart-cry of the Believer.
I know this will be misunderstood. It is difficult to fully express this in a brief blog post. Perhaps I can address it in more detail at a later time. Until then, I welcome your comments or questions.