Music in The ChurchWith times becoming more deceptive and confusing, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)
It is vital that as a true follower of Christ, we are wise and not drunken with the secular and seemingly attractive styles of the world. “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” (Hebrews 11:25). Isn’t it very apparent that churches are slowly changing their worship styles to be one foot in the world and one foot in God? While using the excuse that they are trying to be modern and entertaining for younger audiences?
In this article, I will be analysing what the bible says on the topic of music and what type/genre should be used within the church.
But first, we need to understand what reverence is, so that we can use biblical reasoning to eliminate types of music that shouldn’t be included within the church. In Genesis 2:1,3 we see here that “the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.” (verse 1). After God created the heavens and the earth in six days, he blessed and sanctified the seventh-day (verse 3). The word sanctified in Hebrew is: qâdash meaning clean, pure and consecrated. The seventh-day Sabbath should be a holy, consecrated and purified day. Purified from what? The bible says, “from doing thy pleasure on my holy day…not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words” (Isaiah 58:13)
The Sabbath should be a time for reflection and adoration toward God, acknowledging Him as the Creator (Isaiah 40:28), but yet many spend this time doing their pleasures and speak their own words. In Ephesians 5:19, Paul makes it plain that we should be, “Speaking…in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Now, I completely understand that people express their adoration and thanks to God differently, but this should be done in a fashion that doesn’t contradict the bible’s guide on music and worship. Music shouldn’t encourage us to worship God emotionally, but spiritually through the knowledge of what we know about God and His goodness (Psalms 30:4). Music is not worship. Music is the means of expressing worship.
Let’s delve into the meaning of “spiritual songs.” Many have an understanding that a spiritual song is one that has an origin from the Holy Spirit, while others believe it consists of music from people that mention the word “God” a few times in their songs, such as many contemporary songs in today’s society. The Greek word is: pneumatikos, meaning non-carnal, that is, (humanly). The word spiritual here means non-carnal, without worldly origin or entices. Contemporary music such as Hillsong - “a charismatic Christian megachurch” – with further research we find that it is a form of Christianity consisting of three categories: Pentecostalism, the Charismatic Movement and Neo-charismatic movement.
Pentecostalism revolves around the use of spiritual gifts, mainly speaking in tongues, in a way that is meant to show that a person has the Holy Spirit. The way Pentecostalism practices this isn’t biblical. When they speak in this so-called “tongue”, it can’t be interpreted by anyone! In Acts 2:4, they were filled with the Spirit which gave them utterances. The two key things to note are 1) The word “tongues” is translated to “language,” and a language is one that can be interpreted (2 Corinthians 14:27) Paul also said, “let all things be done unto edifying.” (verse 26). This practice by Pentecostals is commonly known as “babbling,” because no two “babblers” can understand what each other is saying. 2) In Acts 2:6-7, we know that the apostles spoke actual, intelligible languages as every person that came to see the apostles understood their languages being spoken. This form of music shouldn’t enter a church as it goes against the bible and therefore isn’t true. The only identifying sign of the Holy Spirit is found in Galatians 5:22-23. Hillsong Music is played in such a way, that attempts to trigger this supposed “infilling of the Holy Spirit.”
The other two categories follow a similar trend to Pentecostalism. Any music that enters into the church that contradicts the doctrine of the bible should not be accepted within the church. The question has to be asked, how did this style of secular music enter the church? - But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. (Matthew 13:25)
The Greek word for “slept” is katheudō - to fall asleep. “Wherefore be ye not unwise…but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:17,18)
What is the will of God? “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication” (1 Thessalonians 4:3) The will of God is for us to be separate from the world and abstain from spiritual fornication with the world. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (James 4:4) Remember, that we put on Christ at baptism and should, therefore, walk in the newness of life. (Galatians 3:27)
Music should be filled with knowledge; it should be as though we are singing the bible to one another. We can see that contemporary music seems to have a more relaxed and calm style of worship, providing no urgency to spread the gospel and preach the truth to the world, which is the responsibility of the church (Matthew 28:19,20) I can’t find a single scripture to provide evidence for the use of music as an evangelistic tool, but it is mentioned many times in various passages that music is used to worship God and minister to other church brethren to provide hope (Psalm 47:1, Colossians 3:16, 2 Samuel 6:5, Revelation 5:9, 1 Chronicles 29:13). However, music can be used to minister or evangelise to people, but it isn’t an option that should be the primary option, replacing the preaching and meaning of the word of God (Titus 1:9). Take the words of Jesus: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34) Jesus says here that He came to preach the word of God (represented as the sword in Ephesians 6:17), likewise, we too are meant to preach the truth as it is, using the word of God. The majority of these music styles, such as gospel and contemporary, have such shallow theology and don’t provide an in-depth overview of who God is. The three main categories that I find in these songs are as follows: God is love, he died to save you and he will take you through your trials. Now, there is nothing wrong with these topics, but they don’t include the fullness of God’s character such as forgiveness, mercy, judgment etc, or include parts from the belief system (as a Seventh-Day Adventist, songs should include SDA doctrines and scriptural references) that teach an individual new knowledge. I implore you, dear reader, to look up a gospel song or contemporary song and compare the lyrics to a hymn with the same topic, comparing the depth of theology.
I've heard people within churches mention that hymns are elderly people's "comfort." I'd respectfully disagree, hymns should be the anthem of the church in song, to find hope in the promises of God. (Titus 1:2, Titus 2:13) Hymns should be used to prevent us from veering off into the world, compromising our faith. (Deuteronomy 5:32)
To conclude, songs within our church should be hymns with a few new ones as well. I’d recommend songs from a YouTube channel called “Se Samonte,” who have an array of songs that are sung in a cappella, providing a real soothing and reverent style of singing. Songs such as, I’ll Have A New Life, We Are Not Alone and There’s No Disappointment in Heaven are songs I’d recommend you listen to as they have inspired me.
I apologise for this article sounding too harsh and mean, but this is a topic I believe that many churches are lacking in, losing reverence (Hebrews 12:28) as they incorporate worldly music styles that don’t encourage the furtherance of the gospel. (Matthew 24:14, Philemon 1:6)