Updated: Aug 10, 2020
Music, the Christian's Achilles Heel
"Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up." Daniel 3:3-7
The worship of God in heaven is conducted with music. God approves of good instrumental music as evidenced by those in heaven possessing harps. (cf. Rev 5:8, 9; 14:2-3; 15:2-3). The redeemed sing the song of Moses and the song of the lamb before the throne. Rev 15:2,3
As God ordained instrumental music in His temple in heaven so He commanded instrumental music in the temple on earth. The earthly temple was a model or type of the heavenly temple: “And he [Hezekiah] did [that which was] right in the sight of the LORD...And he set the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the kingʼs seer, and Nathan the prophet: for [so was] THE COMMANDMENT OF THE LORD by his prophets.” 2Chron 29:2, 25.
Use of musical instruments was commanded by God
Through His prophets God has actually commanded His people to praise Him on wind, stringed and percussion instruments. (Ps 149:3; Ps 81:2-4; Ps 150:3-6; Ps 92:3; 2Chron 5:13). David appointed musicians (1Chron 25:11) and the prophet Elisha used music on one occasion for prophetic inspiration (2Kings 3:14, 15).
Holy instrumental music is a good influence
Holy instrumental music can lift the mind to heaven and bring the blessings of peace and calm. (1Sam 16:14-17, 23).
God enjoys good music
God commanded instrumental music in the past, He enjoys it in heaven, and He does not change. Mal 3:6 “For I [am] the LORD, I change not...” In the New Testament Jesus associated music with joy and celebration (Luke 15:25).
Psalms indicates instrumental music
We are told to sing Psalms (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16; James 5:13) and many Psalms were designed to be accompanied by instrumental music. The word “psalms” in Eph 5:19 and James 5:13 is from the Greek “psallo” which, according to several Greek lexicons, means “to pluck, pull, to strike the chord, twang the strings of a musical instrument so that they gently vibrate. To play on a stringed instrument, to play, the harp, etc.” Not everybody in the church can play an instrument but those who can may and this music can accompany the Psalms. “In the LXX [Greek translation of the O.T.] ps[allo] freq. means ʻsingʼ whether to the accompaniment of a harp or (as usually) not...” The Greek English Lexicon of Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker (891).
A Misunderstood text explained
“Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.” Amos 5:23 23. Does this condemn musical instruments in worship? In verse 21 God condemns their “solemn assemblies” Both verses refer to Godʼs disgust of hypocritical religion, not Godʼs disgust of musical instruments or of solemn assemblies!
Though there are few references to instrumental music in the N.T. there are NO scriptures forbidding it. It is possible that the early church avoided instruments in their church services because of their pagan or secular associations, (may we show their caution in our musical choices) however no passage prohibits musical instuments. In light of Godʼs command to have instrumental music in the Old Testament; the existence of instrumental music in heaven and the fact that God does not change, we are within Godʼs will to praise Him with carefully considered instrumental music today.
God permits what He does not forbid e.g. motorized transport, telecommunications hymnbooks etc.. As our unchanging God nowhere forbids musical instruments and as He even commanded their use, we may know that God is well pleased with the right use of musical instruments in worship today.
ACCEPTABLE CHRISTIAN MUSIC
Evangelism and worship have been greatly enhanced by music but ultimately it is the Word of God accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit that converts people. From the priestly chants of early centuries through to congregational singing, brought in by Martin Luther, Christian music has changed over time. In all this change we need to ask what does God like? This study examines the Biblical principles that relate to worship music. It is our prayer that all who read it will do so seeking to know Godʼs will.
Music - Audible feelings
Music is based on physics - sound waves of a certain melody, rythmn, pitch, volume, etc. Our emotions are also connected to physical affects such as heart rhythms, voice pitch, volume, etc. Skilful musicians can encapsulate the physical properties of feelings in the physical properties of music. All emotions can be captured this way. Because music communicates using the same physical phenomena of emotion which we all posses, all of us respond in similar ways to music. Music is thus a universal language.
Music, even without lyrics, affects us
Music styles, even without lyrics, impact us all in similar ways. Indeed, if this were not the case there would be no point in a music sound track in a movie. The emotion of each scenes is emphasized with appropriate music. When a movie is released internationally the musical soundtrack remains unchanged. This shows that the music affects all peoples the same way. Language is decoded using a learned language code. However the imagery, suggestion and feelings of music are not decoded because it is not a code, it exists in the raw material of existence - physical phenomena. This means that music affects us irrespective of the lyrics. Worship music mus therefore be carefully chosen based not only as to lyrics but also as to style.
Music styles have a power to change us
As music even without lyrics can communicate emotions and feelings music can affect morality. Music may illicit feelings of anger, rebellion and discord or it may brings feelings of peace and serenity. Philosophers and politicians have recognised the power of music to affect people and some have even tried to regulate it. Music has helped to lure Godʼs people into false worship before: Worshipping the golden calf (Exo 32:19). On the very borders of the promised land the children of Israel were “beguiled by music and dancing.” (Num 25:1-2; PP 454). On the other hand music can bless. Davidʼs music soothed Saul (1Sam 16:23). Because of musicʼs power to affect us we must choose our music carefully.
There are dangerous musical styles
Music, like everything else, has been affected by sin. The gift of music God gave has been perverted and turned to an evil use by Satan. Satanʼs power to tempt is ever increasing and it would be foolishness to think that he has not developed musical styles to use in his work. Heavy rythmic beat captures the physical aspects of excitement, rebellion, anger, and sexual desire (increased heart rate). The strong repetitive rythmn of rock, which often increases to a crescendo, suggest physical rythmn such as sexual activity. The sexual suggestion can be further exaggerated when the deep base is actually felt.
The musical instruments such as the electric guitar often produce a sound quality similar to a whine which exagerates the rebellious and aggressive aspects of cetain music. Due to the different quality of sound made certain instruments sit well with the calm and holy while others sit well with the aggressive and rebellious.
The way lyrics are sounded also has suggestive qualities. Some lyrics are sung in a ʻbreathy,ʼ husky, sexually suggestive way. Husky, sexually suggestive lyrics have no place in worship music.
The Musical style of rebellion
Of all musical styles in the past 2000 years none has been so closely associated with the rejection of the moral values and beliefs of Christianity as rock music. Rock is the universal style of choice for the worldly. Rock is associated with the irrational, the instinctual, the sexually immoral, the godless, and freedom from any restriction.
Musical styles are value laden
Rock music is the style above all others which is associated with worldly, immoral values. When rock is played in a church people think that the church not only accepts rock music but also to some degree the values associated with rock music. Because the rock style is associated with worldly values the rock style cannot properly represent Godʼs moral values. The true significance of issues such as life, death and holiness cannot be represented through rock style music because the rock style is inseparably associated with worldly values, unrestricted partying and godlessness.
Adding spiritual words to rock make it acceptable?
The rock medium itself is a vehicle chosen by the immoral and corrupt and good lyrics cannot change the medium.
“Christian” rock, because of its rock associations, distorts the message of the Bible.
If we adopt a worldly appearance to attract the worldly how can we present a vivid contrast between the worldly and the holy? Casual dress and behaviour associated with rock create a social club atmosphere, undermining reverence and holiness. Rock reminds people of their rebellious past.
Rock music undermines the churchʼs separation from the world.
Rockʼs innate worldliness has no place in Godʼs worship. Rock is not a neutral vehicle for Christian lyrics. “Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1John 2:15. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Rom 12:2.
Rock is bridge leading to the world
Christian rock does not give a clear call to come out of Babylon. On the contrary “Christian” rock is actually a bridge back to the world. Rock is the music of the world and the use of rock music in church stimulates memories of the world.
Rock music alters the mind and body
Rock music captivates, stimulates, and weakens moral sensibilities. It affects us physiologically and psychologically. The repetitive rock rhythm stimulates a sexual response. Rock music makes its impact musically rather than lyrically. The words, if they are noticed at all, are absorbed after the music has ʻhookedʼ us. Rock is hypnotic and addictive. The high some feel in Christian rock concerts, and believe it to be the moving of Godʼs Spirit, is no different than the ecstatic feelings the godles experience in worldly rock concerts and nightclubs
. Just because something may lead to salvation is no justification for its use
People have been led to saalvation by things God never sanctions. Evangelism must not be guided by its apparent ʻsuccessʼ but by its harmony with Biblical direction.
Can we allow people to choose their worship music?
We can no more allow our young people to choose appropriate musical styles than we can allow them to choose what they eat. Rock music has been called “junk food for the soul.” Musical style should be driven by theological directives not personal choices. The issue is not what we want but what God wants.
Why has there not been more resistance to rock style music in church?
Many naively thought that taking the rock medium (the rock style music) and replacing the ungodly rock lyrics with Christian lyrics made it safe. It did not: 1. Rock makes its impact musically rather than lyrically so the rock style itself affects people in unchristian ways irrespective of the lyrics. 2. Christian rock addicts people to the rock style and becomes a bridge over which many move into worldly rock. 3. Rock style music is inseparably associated with the irreligious and the immoral. Therefore its use in church is in conflict with Christian values. No wonder those churches using it generally dress casually and a show lack of reverence.
1. Music lured Godʼs people into false worship before: The worship of the golden calf was associated with music, dancing and nudity (Exo 32:17-19). (a) The music was the music of Egypt. (b) The worship service was that of Egypt.
(c) The church leader (Aaron) had given in to the wants of the people who desired to have what they had done in Egypt.
2. On the very borders of the promised land the children of Israel were “beguiled by music and dancing.” (Num 25:1-2; PP 454).
3. The language of Revelation is based on Old Testament stories. The end-time worship of the beast and his image is based on the events in Daniel 3 in which the faithful were commanded to worship a Babylonian image and music was used to lead all into worship. Today Satan is using the music of spiritual “Babylonian” to induce Godʼs people to worshipping the image of the beast.
Christian Rock Festival
“Christian” rock is eroding the distinctions between denominations and the world. This is leading to a united worship style and doctrine. The resulting unity among various deomination will eventually lead to them pressuring government to have their common doctrines enforced by law. The true Christian message is to call a people out of Babylon. Soon the whole world will be gathered for the end-time worship of the image and the music of Babylon will be played to lead the inhabitants of the world to “worship the beast and his image.” (Rev 14:9).
In the end God will overthrow Babylon and her music will be silenced. “...Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all...” Rev 18:21-22. The silencing of Babylonʼs music indicates that their music had played a part in seducing Godʼs people into Babylonian worship.
Heavenly musical is described as primarily choral. Only harps are said to accompany it. Babylonʼs music, by contrast, is full of instruments and minstrels (professional entertainers). It is perfomance based.
Rock is addictive
Rock music is so stimulating and addictive that many now listen to it on mobile music players almost continually.