Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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8 Questions about Music

TrebleI just watched a lengthy video featuring a number of Calvinists who were taking issue with what music in worship has become in American churches. They were concerned with too great an emphasis upon the musical style (with the most important thing being how it “makes me feel”); a willingness to put up with a church teaching error, as long as “the music is good”; and an unfortunate imbalance as music is overemphasized as a part of Christian worship.

The video was interesting, as I think it addressed problems we see in the Lord’s church as well. I personally have encountered Christians who prefer songs based upon musical style rather than the sentiment expressed; who are more interested in whether a congregation has “good singing” than whether it stands for truth; and who would travel 250 miles for an “annual” singing, but can’t be bothered to attend a neighboring congregation’s gospel meeting!

In the conclusion of the video, the narrator asked 8 questions that I think make valid points about what music should be:

  1. Is the music emphasizing the teaching, or does the music become most prominent? The purpose of music is to edify one another, and glorify God (cf. Ephesians 5:19). The tune, style, key, tempo, etc. can contribute to the message (ex: a mournful song in a minor key), but sometimes a song seems to be more about the music than the sentiment.
  2. Does the music deliver accurate instruction? (Colossians 3:16). The lyrics must have biblical integrity, containing the “words of Christ.” If the words are not scriptural in concept, they have no place in Christian worship.
  3. Does the music come from a wrong motive? Jereboam constructed worship to draw the people to himself (cf. 1 Kings 12). Our worship must never be about us! Unlike what Victoria Osteen says, we don’t worship God to make ourselves happy, but to make Him happy!
  4. Does the music worship the right God in the wrong way? Interestingly, only lip service was given to this principle, as these men contended that mechanical music, though not practiced in the New Testament, was allowable. Just as Nadab and Abihu were condemned by their will worship, we can’t please God if we depart from the pattern (truth) in our musical worship to Him (cf. Matthew 7:21-23).
  5. Does the music foster reverence? Reverence is an intrinsic part of all Christian worship. This truth is seen in the literal definition of the term (to prostrate oneself in homage). Common sacrifice is not acceptable to the Almighty (cf. Malachi 1:7-8)
  6. Does the music foster holiness or sensuality? Music has the ability to elicit emotion. It is important that the mood it sets is one of holiness rather than sensuality. An inappropriate tone can be set either with the tune or the words.
  7. Does the music foster orderliness? It is always important, in any act of worship, that “…all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). This is why we might use a song leader, pitch pipe and songbooks to expedite orderly worship in song.
  8. Does the music foster love? The two great commandments for man — Love God, and love your fellow man. When we sing, it is important that through this act we exhibit our adherence to the imperative of love as defined by God Himself.

We need to engage in a careful examination of our musical worship, to ensure that we are pleasing Him rather than pleasing ourselves! “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).