|From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase|
Part three (final) of a series. Read part two
Editor's Note: This article presents the final segment of a position paper on music in worship originally published by Reformation Bible Church in Darlington, Maryland. RBC's presentation of Biblical truth and call for discernment brings much-needed clarity to a subject on which there is much confusion in the church today. We thank Dr. John McKnight, senior pastor of RBC and a member of TeachingTheWord's Advisory Board, for permission to reproduce it. - Dr. Paul Elliott
1. Discerning saints who desire to please their Master with music strive for words, music and a presentation that convey the same message. The message is dedicated, designed solely to exalt the persons of the Godhead, their attributes and glory.
Yet the predominant emphasis in modern religious music is a secular style and a worldly perspective. Non-doctrinal, subjective words expressing man's ideas and feelings have become prominent. This approach is not prescribed by Scripture, but is fleshly and market-driven. Consistent with values of the prevailing new evangelical philosophy in North America (see position paper, "Come Out From Among Them"), it appeals to the flesh on the theory that thereby the spirit of man might be reached. Thus, "gospel rock," along with the styles and values it has engendered in the contemporary Christian music industry, is a counterfeit of Biblical, Christ-honoring music.
2. God-centered music is sung to God and for His glory. The Psalms sung in a humble, Christ exalting manner are surely the best, for they are God-breathed, and we are commanded to sing them (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16). Whereas hymns penned by fallible men have sometimes included error, the Word of God is inerrant and infallible, perfect for truthful expression to God. According to Scripture, we are to sing psalms as a manifestation of the indwelling Word and Holy Spirit. God is pleased when saints sing His Word.
Hymns such as those which emerged from the Protestant Reformation and subsequent periods of God-sent revival should be highly valued by the Church. They present an exalted view of God and a diminished view of man, realities noticeably absent from most North American hymnody. It is difficult to surpass the words of Isaac Watts, John Newton, William Cowper and Charles Wesley. The melodies used with their hymns support and advance the Biblical messages contained in the words.
3. The argument that worldly styles of music must be employed to reach youth exposes the non-Biblical thinking prominent in contemporary Christian music circles. Scripture prescribes the preaching of Christ as the means for reaching the lost, while mandating singing as a means to praise God. We are to preach Christ-crucified to man, and we are to sing praise to God. When the focus of singing and preaching are Biblical, God is honored.
The Gospel is "the power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16). Unembellished with earthly wisdom, undiluted by earthly means, preaching Christ-crucified is "the power of God, and the wisdom of God" by which lost souls are converted. "It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe . . . Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (I Corinthians 1:24, 21, 25). Preaching, not music, is the means by which God draws men to conversion.
It is easy to see why Man cannot fathom how preaching "Christ crucified" is the means by which God draws men to conversion. "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord" (Isaiah 55:8).
But to abandon preaching for an approach more appealing to sinners is to discard the vitality and power of the Gospel. Such means may attract man to the method, not to Christ, leading him into a false sense of security and into self deception. It exposes man's lack of confidence in the Gospel as the lone power of God unto salvation. Man's heart is reached for conversion solely by the Spirit of God, moving through means He ordained. We will know God's blessing when we employ the means He established.
The recipient, subject and motivation of Biblical music is God - not man. He is pleased when His people strive obediently to exalt and honor Him. The pleasure of God is the saint's greatest objective, his greatest reward. "For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen" (Romans 11:36).
For a copy of the entire position paper in a single web document, click here.
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