4 Reasons to Use Doxologies in Worship

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Several times in the New Testament, inspired writers erupt into well-formulated verses of praise to God. Paul concludes a section on Christ as the Savior for sinners by rejoicing, “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:17). These doxologies (lit. “glory words”) are hymns or sayings that express thanks to God, ascribe honor to His name, and were likely well-known to the early Christian church.

Here are four reasons to incorporate doxologies into your personal and corporate worship:

Rich Theology

Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 6:15-16 are a glorious reminder of God’s attributes: “He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.”

Since “worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God” (Tozer), it is essential to lift our hearts and minds above the mundanity of life and soar on the wings of praise. Doxologies invite us to exult in the rich theological truths God has revealed in His Word.

One writer rightly contends that doxology is the goal of theology:

One mark of truly orthodox theologians is that their writings always include expressions of doxology. Knowledge of the Lord’s character and His work should inspire heartfelt praise, for why learn about God if we are not moved to fulfill the purpose for which we are created — to worship and glorify the Creator (Isa. 43:7)? When studying theology does not prompt us to adoration, we must question whether we are more concerned to puff ourselves up with knowledge than to glorify God.

Scriptural Language

Even the doxologies that are not taken directly from Scripture are saturated with Scriptural language. While authentic prayer is absolutely necessary, the contemporary emphasis on “just talking to God” has led to a generation that struggles to pray or praise God aloud. If the answer to better public praying is immersion in the language of the Psalms, surely the doxologies have something to offer for public worship. The best words we can offer to God are His words.

“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).

Catholic Spirit

Christian history is blessed with a rich tradition of doxologies. Perhaps the most famous is known simply as The Doxology:

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heavenly host:
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Generations of Christians have learned this doxology, and today countless churches across the globe could effortlessly unite in this familiar praise offering. When churches take the time to memorize historical and Biblical doxologies, a catholic spirit is fostered, and the church prepares to stand around the throne with “myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”

Trinitarian Worship

Finally, many doxologies are distinctly Trinitarian; for example, the Gloria Patri rejoices, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.” Trinitarian worship is deep worship. As Fred Sanders observes, “our forgetfulness of the Trinity and our feeling of shallowness, are directly related.”

Revelation 1:5-6 celebrates that we have joined in the worship of the Father through the life of the Son: “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Jude 24-25 ascribes praise to God through Christ: “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

Wayne Jackson notes, “Doxologies such as these should become a part of the fabric of every Christian’s soul, and such sacred sentiments of worship ought to be expressed frequently and fervently.”

For more doxologies in the New Testament, read Romans 11:36, Romans 16:27, Galatians 1:5, Philippians 4:20, 2 Timothy 4:18, Hebrews 13:20-21, 1 Peter 4:11, 1 Peter 5:11, 2 Peter 3:18, Revelation 5:13, Revelation 7:12.

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Johnathan Arnold
Johnathan Arnold is President and Founder of Holy Joys. He serves as Associate Pastor of God's Missionary Church in Newport, PA, where he lives with his wife Alexandra and son Adam. You can connect with him on Twitter @jsarnold7.
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