Friday, July 9, 2010

The Madness and Ministry of Music

There is a lot that is made of the issue of music. It is one of those subjects that can divide Christians, churches, and preachers. For some, music is a fundamental of the faith; for others it is a preference. For the purpose of this post, I will briefly be discussing Christian/Worship music and not secular music. So, what does the Bible say about the issue of music?

  • We know that music can be used for the good and the uplifting of people – 1 Samuel 16:15-16; Ephesians 5:19 
  • We also know that music can be used for evil and idol worship – Daniel 3:5

The interesting thing to me about Daniel Chapter 3 is that many of the same music instruments used by the psalmist for praising and worshiping God were also used by the wicked musicians for Nebuchadnezzar. During David’s time, it says that they played all manners of instruments (2 Samuel 6:5). So then, maybe it is not so much what is used to make the music, but what music you make with it.

It was during the time of David that music seems to of had its greatest impact in the worshiping of God (though a careful reading of Revelation shows to us that music and worship will be a part of eternity). Today, many Christians choose to join (or leave) a church solely based upon the style of music used during the church service. So then, what does the Bible say about the music that is to be used in such a case? We notice in Ephesians 5:19 three types of songs, or music:

Ephesians 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

I have always heard (and agreed with, yet not sure who said it first) that a simple explanation of the differences in these three is this:
  • Psalms – Songs that are sung TO God.
  • Hymns – Songs that are sung ABOUT God.
  • Spiritual Songs – Songs that are sung about OUR relationship with God, our Christian testimony, etc.

Another verse that speaks along these same lines is: Colossians 3:16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. This tells us that music is to be used to teach and admonish (warn or exhort) each other.

This is where we must be careful with music, especially much of the music that is being produced for today. As I have always told our church, I am not against anything new when it comes to music, as long as it is Biblical. It seems to me though that much of what we hear today either promotes false doctrines, or has false motives (glory of man and not God, etc.).

So, should we throw out all new music? My answer is no – remember, Amazing Grace was once a “new” song! Now, I do listen to some “new” worship music – in private! Why in private and not public? That is because I consider them to be spiritual songs which benefit me on a personal level and are beneficial for me in my personal worship of God. But as far as corporate worship (church service), we do better to stick with the Psalms and Hymns, even though we sing very few Psalms these days.  Maybe we should get back to opening the Book of Psalms and singing it instead of reading it?!

I know this can be a touchy and controversial subject amongst Christians, so I am open for discussion, BUT NOT ARGUMENTS. 


  1. Among my favorite hymns are those by Fanny Crosby. They are not 'new', having been around for more than a hundred years. But, what if they had been rejected for being new and modern when she wrote them? We would not be singing any of the more than 400 lyrics she wrote (under a number of names!!) We would not know "All The Way My Saviour Leads Me," nor would we "Praise Him, Praise Him," and I could go on and on. Listen for God's words to speak to us through the 'new' music and praise Him when it does.

  2. Amen Bro Brad! I think though that people need to always remember the difference between praise and entertainment. There is nothing wrong with Christian entertainment but it comes down to who is going to get the glory? I think that is the true test of music does it glorify God? Does it praise him? Or is it entertainment.....

    Daniel Watson

  3. I like your "simple explanations." They are helpful in understanding where a song may fit in that spectrum.