Thursday, March 16, 2006
Does Your Music Check?
Music is a controversial issue, and I could get into why, but for now, let's look at one of the two major texts in the NT on the issue and glean some points about it. Go to Ephesians 5:19, which says, "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord."
First, "Speaking." "Speaking" is not the normal word for talking, the Greek word laleo here, and this word could include more generally the sound made with the human voice or musical instruments. The Greek word itself has a sound that someone would make when singing a tune without words. Next, "to yourselves." "To yourselves" does not represent someone who talks to himself. Not that talking to one's self is bad, but this should be understood as "among yourselves." This is talking about singing or playing in the church, congregational or special, which would be understood only by fellow believers. Unbelievers should not merit consideration with church music. The word "new" is used to characterize our song more than any other feature of our salvation--new as in "different." When someone receives Christ and his life changes, His song changes. Only other believers can really understand it. Churches should not alter their music to fit the taste of the world. I want to say only one thing about "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs." Why don't churches sing psalms today? "Singing and making melody" divides "speaking" into two categories: vocal and instrumental. The Greek word for "singing" means "to sing with the voice." The word translated "making melody" means "to pluck on a stringed instrument." Both the words and the tune come into consideration with these two words. God wants instrumental music too (read Psalm 150).
I believe the most important qualification for music is it's direction: "to the Lord." Worship is recognizing Who God is and giving Him what He wants. When we understand Who God is by studying His Word, we will give Him what He wants. The direction of vocal and instrumental music in Scripture is always "to the Lord." The greatest consideration for worship music is what is the kind of music that God wants. Music should not be a matter of our taste or our feelings, but for God's pleasure. Some might think or say that we cannot know what God wants to hear. We determine what He wants by Scriptural principles. This is how we worship Him "in truth" (John 4:23, 24). We allow Scripture to regulate the kind of music we use in church. That eliminates most kinds of music that were invented for self-gratification--fleshly, lustful, unresolved, angry, rhythm dominated music. We are interested in music for God that will represent Who He is, not what we like to hear. Certainly, a kind of music that might be permissible between a man and a woman in the bedroom is not what we offer God in the church. This little presentation in no way covers everything, but it will get you on the right path to determining whether your music checks.