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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Personal study

I am often asked where a good place to start studying worship would be.  Here are a few questions to get you started.


What is good Music

1. What is your music style preference?  According to the following passages, does God have a music preference?  If so, list the descriptions of God’s worship/style preference given in the verses. (1 Chron. 25:7; Ps. 29:2; Amos 8:3; Jn. 4:24) 






2. Do God’s preferences matter?  If so, list the phrases that exhort us to search it out.  (Rom. 12:2; Phil. 1:10; Eph. 5:10,17; Heb. 12:28) 







3. How does God characterize the music of the world (in these verses) and do you see any comparisons to certain types of music today?  (Ex. 32:17; Ps. 69:12; Eccl. 7:5; Is. 23:15) 







4. What are the main 3 music styles that God clearly describes. (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16) 

1)

2)

3)


5. How is the ideal worshipper described in Eph. 5:18-20 and Col. 3:16?  





6. In Phil. 4:8, what words apply to morality and what words apply to beauty?  Is beauty merely in the eye of the beholder (just a matter of opinion) or does God actually have a standard for beauty as well as for morality and how might that relate to our worship? 












7. Examine the lyrics of the following songs and indicate if there is anything unbiblical. Explain.


I Then Shall Live
(To the music of "Be still my Soul")
Words by Gloria Gaither


I then shall live as one who’s been forgiven;
I’ll walk with joy to know my debts are paid.
I know my name is clear before my Father;
I am His child, and I am not afraid.
So greatly pardoned, I’ll forgive my brother,
The law of love I gladly will obey.

I then shall live as one who’s learned compassion;
I’ve been so loved that I’ll risk loving too.
I know how fear builds walls instead of bridges;
I’ll dare to see another’s point of view.
And when relationship demand commitment,
Then I’ll be there to care and follow through.

Your kingdom come around and through and in me;
Your power and glory, let them shine through me;
Your Hallowed name, O may I bear with honor,
And may You living Kingdom come in me.
The Bread of Life, O may I share with honor,
And may You feed a hungry world through me.


Unbiblical thoughts/theology.










8. Examine the lyrics of the following songs and indicate if there is anything Biblical and list references.


It is well with my soul
Horatio Spafford

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul


Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.


Refrain:
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.



Biblical thoughts/theology and references. 







Saturday, August 2, 2014

Vocal Worship (cont.)

"By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name."

     It is by Him that believers can please God, and know how to please God, only by His righteousness, found in His Holy scriptures and by God's wisdom. This truth is of vital importance.  

       According to this verse, and all throughout the New Testament; serving, pleasing, obeying, loving, exhorting, etc. can only be done through the strength and energy of God.  This idea is clearly seen in Philippians chapter 2:13.  The Greek word translated " worketh" is ἐνεργέω (en-erg-eh'-o).  It is God that gives us the energy (literally: to put forth power) both to will and to do of His good pleasure.  This verse assures believers that God provides the will and desire, but also the ability to perform that which is pleasing in His sight.  The human voice is the oldest and first instrument created by God for His pleasure.  It didn't take long for men to figure out the various ways that the voice can be utilized and many artists still utilize their voice in many different ways, and to change the message of a song.
      The next piont we see in Hebrews 13:15 is that worship, particularly with the voice, is to be a sacrificial offering.  Not all offerings are sacrificial.  They can be selfishly performed, and for the gain of one's own benefit, whether monetary or otherwise.  When offering to the Lord, He wants if to be a sacrifice.  Usually,  when the offering is from the heart, it is automatically sacrificial.  Singing to God is never usually thought of as a sacrifice, simply because it is so common today, and to sing...anything.  Many, many christians may be and probably are singing their hearts to the Lord, but the message of a song or hymn can very easily be changed simply by the voice.  It is a sacrifice to sing to the Lord, and in following the principles of His word.
      Who do we sing praise to?  Well, the only One that deserves praise and adoration.  God is worthy of our praise and desires His children to give voluntary praise.  It's amazing to me to think of this, even though there is nothing good that men can do.  
      Another important fact, and this was mentioned in my previous post, is that the worship of the believer needs to be continual.  The Literal translation of John 4:24 brings this out nicely, but the writer of Hebrews reiterates this.  To worship God continually can not be stressed enough.  So often the stresses and busy-ness of life occupy our time and takes us away from worshipping the Lord.   It is absolutely necessary to abide in our relationship with Christ so that Satan doesn't get a foothold in our life, especially when trials greet us.  
       What is it that believers need to offer, sacrificially, to God?  The fruit of our lips, according to Hebrews.  To further my understanding, I wanted to remind myself what "fruit" was exactly.  This Greek word has the idea of being advantageous or something that is profitable.  This is the first real mention of the use of the voice in this verse and, of course, refers to what we say, but also can be applied to how it is said.  Take for instance the word "fine".  When a person is asked how they are doing and respond with "fine", it can be said numerous ways.  Imagine asking a person how they are and they answer "fine" in an unabrasive, polite, and jolly tone.  It's logical to conclude that the person is truely fine and nothing is bothering them. In fact maybe they are happy and excited about something.  On the other hand, if a person answers in a harsh, abrupt and angered tone, that person is clearly not fine.  These examples show the difference between what is pleasant speech as opposed to unpleasant.  Of course, this is a very small scope in making this piont, but it does make the piont and singing to God needs to be offered sacrificially, continually, and with the fruit of our lips. (The what and how) 
       There is one more item listed in this verse and that is thanksgiving.  Many, when reading this verse, associate giving thanks to be the fruit of our lips.  Certainly giving thanks is a fruit.  Speech, as a whole, can be fruit or can be merely candy.  We all know that candy is sweet but does not nourish or fulfill.  Therefore candy is not very profitable.  In addition to our speech should be added another fruit, the fruit of thanksgiving.  Specifically, in this verse thanks be to the name of God.  The names of God throughout scripture reveal His character and just to reflect on these names are a blessing.  Whatever is going on in our lives, thinking about the names of God and their meaning is a huge comfort and assurance of who we have an eternal relationship with.  
Psalm 7:17 "I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high."

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Vocal Worship

    There are many, many references to vocal worship and singing in the Bible.  Moses writing songs for the nation of Israel to sing to God, proclamations to sing praise, Solomon writes a thousand songs, songs in worship, singers are separated unto God, God gives songs in the night and Job worshipping the Lord regardless of his earthly circumstances can all be found in the Old Testament and, of course, there are numerous exhortations in the Psalms.  There are, however; a couple verses in particular in the New Testament that sum up the vocal worship of the church age believer.  

John 4:24  "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."

Hebrews 13:15  "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name."

    In this post, only the first verse will be pondered then another post for the verse in Hebrews.  
    I have mentioned John 4:24 in previous posts, but it is absolutely necessary to see:1) who God is and 2) the need to worship God in Spirit and Truth.  Much can be learned about who God is, throughout scripture.  Yet, John simply states that God is a spirit.  Of course God is a spirit being, but the Greek word translated "spirit" in this verse is πνεῦμα (pronounced: pnyoo'-mah) in which this word refers more to the personality and character.  Because God is spirit (in personality and character), believers must worship with that same spirit (character) Other scriptures detail God's character further, and specifically are seen throughout the providence of God in the O.T.  Jesus knew this and knew that the woman at the well was familiar (to some degree) with the O.T. 
    Secondly in John, is the mention of the necessity for truthful worship.  Humans are very good at making things look good, especially ourselves.  God is only concerned about our hearts worship attitude towards Him and believers can only know how to worship God by reading His instructions and John 4:24 is a very good start.
  
   Previous posts have already addressed the hearts worship, worship in thought life, and when it is appropiate to worship.  This post is about the believers vocal worship and, though God is concerned with our hearts attitude, our vocal worship is heard by people.  Anything that a believer does that others can see and observe is a testimony to how we view God.  Believers are commanded to worship in Spirit (God - honoring character) and Biblical truth.  Our hearts may have the most Godly character and we may think we understand all the truth about worship, but if our vocal praise and worship to God is tainted (and it is by sin), by our preferences in style, our culture, or our impressions of how we should worship, it is not very truthful and spiritual and others are watching.  Along with proclaiming God's truth is that the context needs to also be truthful.  A lot of Christian pop music has some very good lyrics that contain a lot of biblical truth, but the envelope that that truth is carried in isn't always truthful or spiritual.  There are many, many ways to sing and I have heard many different versions of, " Great is thy Faithfulness", for instance.  Knowing the difference between what is pleasing to the Lord and what may decieve us into thinking it is pleasing to the Lord involves discernment in a lot of cases, however some cases seem to be very obvious in what is appropiate or inappropriate.  There are a couple of examples that illustrate this point and because this post is about vocals and singing that reflects a proper attitude for the song, it would be best to close your eyes while the video is playing. 

   This first video illustrates an obvious reverence and soberness in respect to our country.  This can easily be determined simply by the quality of the singing.  

Example A:  National Anthem sung by veterans.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtuZ2ZnpfYM

   Listening to this next rendition creates a shrill and atrocious anxiety of what is thought of about the United States. 

Example B:  National Anthem sung by Roseann Barr
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ru2BYd3c90w

   The above examples, to some, may be extreme, but they make the clear point that just the singing of a song can have a huge effect on the overall message.  This point can also be made clear with hymns.

    The singer in this example is singing one of the greatest hymns that recognizes who God is along with numerous characteristics.  The heart attitude certainly seems to be present and there is no doubt that this man is trying his best to please the Lord, but at the same time, these vocals and the "playing" seem to detract from the message of the hymn anD puts some focus on the singer.

Example C: "Great is thy Faithfulness" 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SpGV4fTsLI

     In this final example, there is clarity in the lyrics and crisp distinctions made in the vocals.  It is not hard to sense the reverence that everyone in this choir has for the message of this great hymn.

Example D: "Great is thy Faithfulness"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25_LVO_YV74

    Vocals are just 1 aspect in the music and the voice is powerful in changing the message to anything that the artist or performer chooses, but standing firm in the principles that God has given has long been the struggle of believers. God is faithful and also requires faithfulness in His children, not just in music, but in all of life.


1 Corinthians 4:2 "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Thoughtful Worship

       The Christian life is a mindset and this concept is all throughout the New Testament. If our life is to be worshipful; after our hearts worship attitude, the next place we find worship is in our thought life.  There are many passages that command, make reference to, and exemplify the proper thought life of a believer.  An example of each of these will be looked at.
       
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things"

       Philippians 4:8 is probably the most common verse that commands a holy thought life.  There are 8 root words in this verse that produce good fruit in the thought life and, unfortunately, no human can fulfill this command, unless they are walking in the spirit. Like Romans 12:1 says, these can only be fulfilled by the mercies of God.  An exercise can be utilized with this verse. Choose 1 of those 8 words and practice thinking only about pure, or true, or honest, etc.  It won't be long until you find that it is very hard to do and when left to our own abilities (rather, inabilities), failure is sure.  God's mercy and grace is needed for our thought life to be holy and acceptable and God desires for His children to kneel at the cross in humble submission with every part of our lives.  In fact, believers are commanded to shun away thoughts that are  inappropiate, in 2 Corinthians 10:5, and to bring every thought to the obedience of Christ. 

"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity 
every thought to the obedience of Christ"

       There are also verses that reference the importance of the thought life.  Colossians 3:1-3 indicate this.  

"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."
       
       There are a few key words in this passage that refers to the thought life, and to ponder on spiritual things.  First, in verse 1 is the command to seek things above.  This Greek word translated "seek", actually means to seek by thinking, meditating, reasoning, to enquire into.  We have a responsibility to study the scriptures, and to rightly interpret them, but also to sit and meditate about the truths God has richly blessed us with, and revealed to us. What a blessing it is, just to ponder on the thing of the Lord! 
       In verse 2, this sentiment is repeated, to set our affections on things above.  This word, "affections", again, pertains to the thought life. However, this word goes a little deeper in meaning.  Not only are we exhorted to meditate on the truths of God's word, but "aim to be wise" in our understanding.  How are we to be wise, by rightly interpreting scripture.  It would be unwise for believers to interpret the tables of the moneychangers in  Matthew 21:12 as the prophecy of the collapse of the world's economic system, when this parable was, in fact, a rebuke by the Lord Jesus of inappropriate behavior in His house.  God wants us to be wise in the handling of His scripture, and to set our affections on rightly understanding everything about them, even how to interpret. 
       In Colossians, the reason believers are to seek or meditate on things above and strive to rightly understand God's Word is because our life and every aspect of our life is hid with Christ in God.  Everything a person does is premeditated, in some sense and whether the motives are good or bad, but it only makes sense that the thoughts should be right if our actions are to be right.  Proverbs 7:25 exhorts to "Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths."  A literal translation would be to not let our hearts (or innermost thoughts) deteriorate and then follow in that way.
       Lastly, there are accounts in the Bible of believers in dire circumstances, yet their mindset is on things above.  For example, there is so much that can be learned from the account of the imprisonment of Paul and Silas in Acts chapter 16 in addition to this point, but reading the circumstances of this account reveals that Paul and Silas were naked, beaten and thrown in prison.  At midnight, they prayed and sang praise to God.  These men were probably very cold and hungry and sick, but their position in Christ and striving to set their minds on things above allowed the joy of the Lord to be in their hearts and minds.  There was nothing in those circumstances that would change that and this is a great example of what having the right thought life will result in: not only an overwhelming joy, but worship to God no matter what the circumstances. 
        Like Paul writes in Romans 8:35  "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?"

     

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Heart Worship (cont.)

Heart Worship (cont.)
    
      One account that reveals the heart of a Christ like man, is the book of Job.  Of course, only a limited scope of this man's heart can be gleaned, but there is much that can be understood about the proper heart attitude.  The previous post emphasized that believers don't know their own heart, but the Lord has providentially orchestrated each and every circumstance in the life of a believer to do His will.  The life of Job was a life of yieldedness and patience.  Job seemed to have a firm foundation in his knowledge of God and that shines through in this book, along with his patience and heart attitude 
     
      There is a key element about Job’s heart attitude that is presented at the beginning of the book.  That is the fact that the believers attitude is observed by others.  Firstly, God then the angels and finally, man.  God sees everything in the believers heart, but men and angels can not see the heart, but only the outward display.  Unfortunately, it is human nature to draw conclusions based on that outward display.  

      Job's heart attitude towards God is recorded in the first chapter.

"And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, 
and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."
     
       
       It seems that a lot of christians believe that the heart attitude is all that matters when worshipping and serving the Lord, and they are right, however scripture also teaches that there are more spectators of our testimony than God alone.  This heavenly scene in Job 1:6, where God suggests Job as Satan's test subject, the sons of God are also present.  When Satan is testing Job, Satan's angels, but also the sons of God, or angels, are observing the testimony of Job.  Job may not have understood that angels were observing him, but it is reasonable to conclude that from this passage, but the New Testament also tells believers this clearly in 1 Corinthians 4:9b.

"...for we are made a spectacle unto the world, 
and to angels, and to men."

       Believers are made to be a spectacle unto the world.  What a testimony we can have before the world when obedience, reverence, and Christ-likeness is manifested!  Paul writes later in chapter 3 in 2 Corinthians that believers are "our epistle...known and read of all men."  Only God knows the heart of man, but men see the outward testimony and observes closely how Christ-like a believer is, especially if that believer is in the process of witnessing.  It is hugely humbling to remember that men are watching our testimony.  Job had a human audience.   His wife and his 3 comforters.  Job's wife even suggested to "curse God and die", but Job's heart was set on establishing a testimony before God and men.  Christians seem to forget that unbelievers are watching, but the Holy scriptures remind believers that a testimony of God is "known and read of all men." 
        Angels also watch believers.  A unique perspective on the book of Job is that God gave us a behind the scenes look into how Satan needs permission from God to cause trial in our lives.  When a trial comes along, it is easy to conclude that it is our fault and of course this is most often the case since we still have a sin nature, but it is possible that God is using the trials in our life to teach the angels more about himself.  Trials certainly teach the believer more about God , and of our own sin nature, but our trials also are a teaching tool for the angels.  God reminds us of that in at least 2 places of scripture, in Job chapter 1 and 1 Corinthians chapter 4.  
        
        Everything a believer does is definitely seen by God and He will judge all of our works, but they are seen by men and angels also.  All the new trends in the christian realm are teaching others how believers view God.  The popular worship movements and questionable ministry organizations are teaching others an improper view of how a true believer views God, but also individual christians that are firmly settled in their convictions but dipping their toes in the waters of these trends and movements, are, in that sense, saying it is ok and nothing is wrong over here.  In other words, believers that are not entirely practicing the doctrine of separation are confusing others by doing so, believers and unbelievers.  For instance, a believer who is firmly settled in his/her convictions and what the Bible teaches, but desires greatly to reach the lost in the Homosexual demographic, would have a very confusing testimony if that believer chose to dip his toes in those waters.  The believers testimony before men includes evangelism, of course, but coupled with the practice of complete separation.   

 "For God is not the author of confusion, 
but of peace..."

        
     

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Heart Worship

    The most important aspect of a believers worship to God is the heart attitude.   Everything that accompanies worship; love, devotion, submission, obedience, the sense of awe of God, all starts in the heart.  1 Samuel 16:7b says:  

"...for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; 
for man looketh on the outward appearance, 
but the LORD looketh on the heart."

    This is probably the clearest verse telling believers that the Lord looks at the heart of man.  The worship of a believer is in the heart and the Lord is the only One that can see that heart.  In a previous post, the illustration of a little girl picking flowers for her mom was used and the mom was pleased with the heart of her little girl.  Her mom couldn't really know what was in her girls heart, but could only tell by the offering that was given.  Once the girl knew the boundaries, but still picked from the same bed of flowers, her mom could still sense love in her child, but it's not a pure love anymore, but mixed with something impure.  God wants a pure love offering from His children.  Every motive, every thought, every compromise that believers condone is brought before God, either voluntarily or before the judgment seat at that final judgement.  
    There is one man in particular that comes to mind and his heart can be known from reading his story.  Jonah did not have the right heart's attitude to serve the Lord.  In fact, Jonah admits (chapter 1 verse 10) to the shipment that he was fleeing from the Lord. The only logical conclusion is that Jonah did not want to obey.  Jonah heart was so in rebellion that he even fell asleep.  Earlier, in verse 5, Jonah was fast asleep.  Jonah was comfortable in his rebellion and turning away from the Lord. The Lord had to bring Jonah to the place where he "cried...unto the LORD...O LORD, my God."  
    
     It is also both, encouraging and fearful to know that God is omniscient.  God knows the needs of the heart and will do what is needed in order to humble that believer, whether they yield themselves or not.  The end goal of God is to transform the believer into the image of Christ.  Trials can have an element of excitement when realizing that God is at work, but because man does not even know his own heart, one's motives may seem good and right in his eyes, and even in the eyes of others, but it is God that knows when a person truely has right motives and looks deep into our hearts to keep us or get us back on the straight and narrow path. Just like the in Jonah's life, the Lord knows when we become complacent the Lord knows exactly what it will take and how heartbreaking of a trial we need to be humbled.  Hebrews 10:31 states:

 "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

         Believers may be able to deceive others, and even themselves, but it is only by God's Word that believers can be assured of the path that they go.

"Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: 
but the LORD pondereth the hearts."

    
  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Devoted Lifestyle

Worship: An Expression of Devotion.


IN LIFE

     If worship is, essentially, an expression of love and devotion to God, where in scripture is that concept mentioned and what do the scriptures say about the Christian life.

     In the previous post, Romans 12:1 was mentioned as one of the main commands in the New Testament for a life of holiness. Let's elaborate that verse a little bit.

 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a    living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."

      Believers are beseeched or strongly exhorted to present their bodies a living sacrifice. This is only possible by the mercies of God. The Greek word translated "mercies" in this verse is the word for compassion. The etymology of "compassion" is Latin, meaning "co-suffering." More involved than simple empathy, compassion commonly gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another's suffering. As we can see from the etymology of this word, it is more than just an exhortation, rather it is God's desire to alleviate our suffering and it is only by faith in God that our suffering is alleviated. Colossians 3:3 states that "...your life is hid with Christ in God." The believer's life is found in Christ every time that believer humbly kneels at the cross of Calvary. It is not easy to kneel at the cross, but like Isaiah 57:15 says (and in many other passages as well) the Lord delights in the presence of contrite heart. It is necessary to give the sufferings of this life to God so that believers may be of more service in God's work on earth.
      The first command in this verse is to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. There are all sorts of sacrifices and offerings made unto the Lord in the Old Testament. In the New Testament there is a different type of offering commanded by the Lord, the sacrifice of our body and life. According to Romans 6, our old nature has already been crucified with the Lord. Believers now have to offer their bodies and lives to the Lord. Our life is already in the hands of the Lord, which is both a comforting thought and a fearful thought. This can't be some nonchalant offering, but needs to be made to be pleasing and acceptable and holy to the Lord, unlike need Nadab and Abihu offering their strange fire. So often, Christians believe that what they offer is automatically accepted. If believers are commanded to offer a holy and acceptable sacrifice, then not everything is holy and acceptable, and only God has told us what is holy and acceptable.
       What is a holy offering? This verse commands believers to present their living body as holy. (The next group of posts will analyze the individual parts of the body mentioned throughout scripture.) There are two aspects to holiness, within one definition. The essence of the word holy means to separate. In the Christian life, a holy life is twofold, in that there is to be separation FROM sin and the world, yet also separation UNTO God. This is very similar to thinking of the advice that Daniel gave King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4: 27.

 “Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.”

        Sin is all the flesh knows, but God has given us a new and spiritual nature...A nature that the flesh is unfamiliar with. It seems that believers need to deceived their own flesh and offer a spiritual offering. James chapter 1 verse 22 exhort the believer to deceive their own selves by doing the word, by living out our faith.

"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."

        The whole christian life is filled with choices between sin or righteousness. God hates sin and the more time a believer spends getting to know God, the more repulsed the believer will be by his sin nature and his daily sins. God commands His children to be holy all throughout Scripture. Reading through Leviticus, it is easy to see how holiness was to be expressed, in the clothes the high priest wore, the sacrifices, the choosing of the high priest, etc. In the New Testament, holiness is to be displayed in the life of the Christian, not only his life in general, but in every facet of his life. Holiness is only obtained through the recognition that there is nothing good in the flesh, as Paul lamented in Romans chapter 7.

       The next step, according to Romans 12:1, is that our life needs to be acceptable. Only God tells us what He accepts. Yes, God will accept any man that will come to Him on the basis of child-like faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross, but does God accept the way christians live their lives? This verse in Romans is a small indication that our lives are not acceptable, simply because we are commanded to live a life that is acceptable. For instance, 1 Timothy chapter 2:1-3 exhort believers to pray for their president, and this is acceptable to the Lord.

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;"

      There are numerous other places in Scripture that instruct us in acceptable and holy living. Those will be looked at further in the following posts.

Friday, June 6, 2014

When is worship appropriate? (Cont.)

       If worship is an expression of a believers love and devotion to God: love of God, a love for His truth, and a love to understand and learn more truth should be clearly evident in a believers life.

2 Corinthians 5:14  "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:"

     This verse tells believers one of the great sanctification truths of God's love.  God’s love should definitely be the main motivation of the believers worship and service to God, but in addition to that, God's love will constrain believers to right worship and service.  (Romans 12:1 and other places in Scripture equate worship and service.)
     There are two ideas that can be gleaned from this verse.  First, the love of God for sinful man, which was clearly displayed at the cross of Calvary, is the controlling factor in the believers life.  Whether this believer is walking with God or being chastened, God's love prevails in everything in those circumstances.  The promise in Philippians chapter 1 that he which had begun a good work, will perform it until Christ returns is reiterating this truth of the love of God.  It is only by God's unending love that His grace abounds, his provision exceeds, and his comfort overwhelms.  In Romans chapter 8, Paul tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God and it is that love that conforms believers into the image of God.  God forces his hand on his children and though it often times is excruciating, the end result is to be conformed to be more like Christ.  What love of God!
       Another idea that can be gleaned is that the believers love for God controls the things that he does.  To know that we are being conformed to be more Christ-like in order to be used more effectively by God should motivate the believer to yield himself wholly to God's loving hand.  Love for God results in stricter dedication and a willingness to refrain from certain activities.  It seems the norm today that ones expression of worship is flippant and anything goes, but the Bible teaches that God only accepts worship that is acceptable and on His terms.  The worship movements and gatherings found within christendom are only superficial displays which play on the human thoughts, feelings, and emotions.  True worship is sourced in the heart and cannot be seen, but the expression of worship within these popular trends are deceiving christians into thinking it is true and Biblical worship.            
       Jeremiah 17:9 warns believers that their own heart is deceitful.  It is needful for all things to be brought before the Word of God, including our thoughts and intents, but in addition to that, our actions and the things we choose to involve ourselves with is to be brought before the Word of God.
        In Leviticus chapter 10, Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire before the Lord, which the Lord did not command and therefore did not and would not accept, in fact the consequences were quite deadly, literally.  The Bible does not tell us anything in regards to their motives and intents, but it is logical to since they wanted to offer sacrifice to the Lord, we can only rightly speculate that their motives were sincere.  However, they were sincerely wrong.....wrong in their actions.  Let's illustrate this with something I heard from my pastor and this is probably the best and clearest illustration to make this point.   A 5 year old girl wants to express her love to her mom and she knows that her mom likes roses and really wants to give her mom some roses.  One day she is outside playing and sees a bed of beautiful roses, but they are just over their property line in the neighbors yard.  Not knowing the boundaries, but only wanting to show her love to mom, she goes and picks a bunch of roses from the neighbors yard.  Upon giving them to mom, who could only be elated with joy at the heart (innermost thoughts, love, and devotion) of her 5 year old daughter, but also grieved that these flowers were from the neighbors yard, both sides need to be dealt with.  Yes, it is a heartwarming act of love, but it was wrong.  The motives were clearly sincere and heartfelt, but the outward expression was simply wrong and there are some corrections that need to be made.  It is understandable that this little girl did not know that she was crossing the line, but now those lines have to be explained to her so that this doesn't happen again.  If this child were to pick roses again from the neighbors yard, her mom wouldn't be very pleased.  The first time was done in complete innocence, the second time is in rebellion, though the motive may remain the same.  Now that the girl knows where the boundaries are, but still chooses to pick the neighbors roses, her mom will be displeased because there is rebellion mixed with her expression of love.  If that young girl truely loved her mother, that offering would be the purest and truest offering possible.
         The love and devotion a believer has towards God will result in that believer searching the scriptures to understand the way God desires to be worshipped, which we have noted is an expression of love.  The Bible points out in John 4:24 that worship needs to be in spirit and in truth, not just surface truth or what looks like it could be truth, but biblical truth, and as much of it as can be known.  

  God knows the hearts of his children and that is obviously between the believer and God, but the how to approaching God is a needful study.    

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

When is worship appropriate?

      A lot of Christians seem to only spend their worship time in church once a week.  According to the Bible, worship is involved in everything a believer does. The Bible commands the believer to worship in spirit and in truth.  Some may say that this is how a believer worships, not when.  A closer look at this verse will reveal that both concepts are addressed.

Why can God expect a continuous attitude of worship?

     In the book of Deuteronomy 6:5 is the command to love God.  This command seems impossible and no one that has ever lived, lives today, or in the generations to come will be able to properly obey this verse, except Jesus Christ.

                     "And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart,
              and with all thy soul, and with all thy might."

      God made man in His image and this verse speaks clearly to the three main parts that make up man.  Man is commanded to love God with every facet of his being.  Another great reminder is found in 1 John 4:19.  Believers love Christ because Christ first loved us.  Therefore our response to His love should be on His terms.

      An expression of our love to God is our worship of and service to God.  Worship is defined by Jesus in the gospel of John chapter 4 and the most literal rendering of verse 24 is as follows: "God is a spirit and the ones who are continually worshipping him must (it is necessary) continually worship in spirit and truth."  To worship in spirit and in truth is directed to the how of worship, but this verse is literally telling believers that the continual worshipping God is necessary.  The more that the Holy Spirit convicts a believer of their sin, the more that believer will realize the necessity of true worship.  It seems that worship is inate in man, and for the believer, it is imperative that the true God of the Bible is the object of that worship.  It is is easy to see in the world that unbelievers choose to worship earthly objects, and sometimes their devotion puts a lot of believers to shame.  They seem to understand this verse in John more than the Christ follower.  The life of the believer needs to be characterized by worship and devotion to the One and true God.  Worship is commanded, but is not contingent on the believer's thoughts, feelings, or emotions, but so often today the definition of worship is contingent upon the thoughts, feeling, or emotions of sinful, fallen man.  There is another passage in the New Testament that commands continual worship from the believer.  In the book of Romans chapter 12 and in the first verse, Paul beseeches, or summons his readers to present their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service.  There are a few key thoughts in this verse. This exhortation is from God.  Paul was only the human instrument used to write this God-inspired exhortation.  2 Timothy 3:16 states that ALL scripture is given by inspiration, of God, or literally translated, God - breathed.  There are at least 40 different human authors used by God, regardless of the human agent, God is the ultimate authority of His word.
        Secondly, our whole life is to be yielded as a worship service to God, but not just any service, holy and acceptable service.  It is very possible for a believer to get caught up in the busy-ness of serving that it becomes a routine and robotic.  All service and each time there is service being done for the Lord, that needs to be brought before the throne of grace.
         Lastly, it is only logical and reasonable for believers to present their lives as a sacrifice to God.  1 John 4:19 states the whole motivation of living for Christ.  The finished work on the cross was the greatest display of Christ's love toward sinners and no believer can reciprocate that act properly, however it is a privilege to have an opportunity glorify God in our lives!

         In order to really know the love of Christ, all one has to do is believe that Christ died for their sins and they shall be saved.  The same love that Christ displayed on the cross of Calvary for the world is also made available to each one that believes.

 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  John 3:16

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Some brief conclusions. ..

Music Verses and applications

General application to the Christian Life: 

Ephesians 5:17—Be wise 

Ephesians 5:18-19—A Spirit-filled Believer will be encouraged by Godly music AND 
enjoy being taught.

Ephesians 5:20—A Believer will be thankful  for Godly music

Colossians 3:15—A Believer will only allow things that condone a peaceful connotation into their life.

Colossians 3:16—Godly music is evidence of being Spirit-filled AND a Believer that lets the Word of Christ dwell. 

Music and Singing are to be UNTO God:

Psalm 43:4—With the Harp will I praise thee…

Psalm 66:1—Make a joyful noise…

Psalm 68:4—Sing unto God…
…and many other verses in just Psalms…

Music and Style:

Psalm 69:12—There is a song of the drunkards.

Isaiah 23:15—They sang as an harlot.

Ecclesiastes 7:5—“It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.”

Exodus 32:15-18—There are such songs that are as a “noise of war” or chaos.

Amos 8:3; 1 Chron. 25:7—There are such songs as “songs of the temple”; “Songs of the Lord


Worship:

Psalm 29:2—Worship in the beauty of Holiness

John 4:24—Worship [must be] in Spirit and in Truth

Hebrews 12:28—“…serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:”

Romans 12:2—“…that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Ephesians 5:10—“Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.”

Philippians 1:10—“That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;”

Distinction to be remembered:

Worship is not always music and music is not always worship.




Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The warnings of contemporary worship...

This was an article that was brought to my attention.   This brings to the front the underlying, deeper dangers of listening to christian contemporary worship and praise music, and admiring the musicians.  You can read here.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

What does the Bible say about WORSHIP?

         First, we will look at the different words that are translated worship in the Bible. (KJV) I will also be using the Strong's concordance for the definitions.  Following this will be some acccounts of worship from the New Testament and Old Testament.  Finally some additional principles will be looked at briefly. 

Old Testament:

H7812 – (used 171 times) shachah—Translated as “bowed [down] himself[themselves][himself][herself][ourself]” “worship[ed]” “bow down”  “made obeisance” “bow down ourselves” “did obeisance” “bow down thyself” “fell flat” “crouch” “did reverence” “humbly beseech” “fall down” “stoop”  BY FAR THE MOST COMMON

H5457 – (used 17 times in Daniel)sgid (segeed) [Aramaic]—From the root word (H5456 (4 times in Isaiah)sâgad{saw-gad'}meaning; to prostrate onself)  Translated as “worshipping” “worship” “worshippeth” “” …etc… Exclusively used in the book of Daniel

H6087 –(used 17 times)– atsab – Translated as “grieved” “displeased” “sorry”…etc


New Testament:

G4352 - proskuneō -(used 60 times) Translated as “worship[ed][ing]” (to fawn or crouch to, that is, (literally or figuratively) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore): - worship.)

G4576 – sebomai –(used 10 times) Translated as “worship” “religious” “devout [persons]” (presentation; concretely an oblation (bloodless) or sacrifice: - offering (up).) 

G1391 – doxa – (used 168 times) Translated as “glory[ious]” “honour” “praise” “dignities [2 Peter 2:10: Jude 1:8]” (From the base of G1380; glory (as very apparent), in a wide application (literally or figuratively, objectively or subjectively): - dignity, glory (-ious), honour, praise, worship.)

G3000 - latreuō - (used 21 times)Translated as “serve” “worship[ed][ers]” (From λάτρις latris (a hired menial); to minister (to God), that is, render religious homage: - serve, do the service, worship (-per).)

G2151 - eusebeō - Translated only twice as “worship[Acts 17:23]” “to shew piety [1 Timothy 5:4]” (From G2152; to be pious, that is, (towards God) to worship, or (towards parents) to respect (support): - show piety, worship.)

G1479 - ethelothrēskeia – Translated as “worship” only once in Colossians 2:23 (From G2309 and G2356; voluntary (arbitrary and unwarranted) piety, that is, sanctimony: - will worship.)


          The main thrust of worship as defined in the Bible is the bowing down, either physically or (always) spiritually.    

A few references: H7812

Gen. 22:5; 24:26, 48, 52
Ex. 4:31
2 Chron. 20:18

True worship involves bowing down in complete humility and lifting up the Lord, abasing self and exalting the Lord.  Worship is the proper heart response of the believer to who God is; followed with the outward expression of praise, adoration, and honor to God, the joy in knowing God of our salvation (Habakkuk 3:18), and in awe and fear of God's infinite power.  Yes, worship does involve feelings at times, but not exclusively.  

Examples/Elements of Worship as revealed in the Old Testament

--Complete Obedience (Account of Abraham offering Isaac-Genesis 22) {H7812}

--Fear and reverence (First act of Noah after getting off the Ark-Genesis 8:20) 

--Humility (Account of Job-Job 1:20-21) {H7812}

--A command for Holy worship (1 Chron. 16:29; Psalm 29:2) {H7812}

Let's look at these passages a little closer.  In Genesis chapter 22, God commands Abraham to offer his only son Isaac as a burnt offering unto the Lord.  Every father has a love for their child that is beyond compare and it is unimaginable the feeling of emotional torment when the Lord gave this command to Abraham.  True worship is far from the mere feelings of our flesh, but this is a trend going on in today’s worship scene and right away can be classified as unbiblical. In this passage in Genesis, we can see that true worship is absolutely void of Abraham’s feelings.  Many Christians may associate worship with whether or not they feel like they are worshipping the Lord.  Verse 5 in this chapter tells us that Abraham associated sacrifice with worship.  Abraham was like any other human being and I’m sure that he had all types of things going through his mind on the way to Moriah.  Abraham yielded everything he had, including his feelings, to worship and submitted his only son to his God.  Worship is far from feeling like it is worship.  Complete obedience to the Lord is worship.  

Earlier in the book of Genesis is the account of the great flood that destroyed all the earth and everything in it, except for Noah and his family.  There was nothing left on the face of the earth.  All the friends Noah had, the industries he was involved in and the different cities of the world, were gone.  All Noah had when he finally came out of the ark was his family.  In chapter 8 verse 20, it says “And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD;” There was nothing left on this earth and instead of finding shelter or food or ways to restart life on earth, Noah chose to worship God.  Noah saw that God destroyed everything upon the earth and therefore was fearful.  Noah had never ever seen rain before the flood and just by using water, he saw that the almighty and powerful God could destroy everything.  Noah was fearful of God and worshipped God with fear.There is another account of worship in the Old Testament.  The Lord gives permission to Satan to take away all of Job’s possessions, his sons and daughters, servants and cattle.  Later on, Job’s wife turns against him also and tells him to curse God and die.  Verse 20 is probably one of the greatest attitudes and expressions of reverent humility to the Lord.  All of Job’s belongings and all of his life’s work had been taken away and yet Job “…fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,…”  Job completely submitted himself and his life to the will of the Lord.  Complete submission to the Lord is worship.  


Examples/Elements of Worship as revealed in the New Testament

--Fearful worship (Man with unclean spirit-Mark 5:6) {G4352}

--Sacrificial worship (Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet-Luke 10:39)

--A command to serve/worship (Hebrews 12:28; Acts 7:42) {G3000}

-- Spiritual and Truthful worship (John 4:24) {G4352}

The example of Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet to listen to what he had to say is a powerful example of humility in action.  Also in this account, Mary washed the Lord’s feet with perfume.  This wasn’t just any bottle of perfume, but was very expensive.  John 12:5 tells us 300 pence worth, or a years salary in that time.  This form of worship involved both sacrifice and humility.  Mary not only wanted to sit and listen to Jesus, but also give all she could.  In the gospel of Mark chapter 5 is the account of the man with the unclean spirit.  When Jesus walks off the boat, a man that was living in a cemetery ran up and worshipped, or prostrated himself to the Lord.  The word "worshipped"(G4352) is only used in Mark’s account, but in Luke, the Bible says that he "...fell down before...", using a similar Greek word. (G4363) This man prostrated himself to the Lord in awe and reverence.  The passage referenced above in Hebrews and the Gospel of John are commands to the believer.  The Greek words that are used in the command in John actually have the connotation of a necessity and continuation of worship in Spirit and in truth.

 Among the various accounts of how worship was conducted throughout the Bible and the principles that can be gleaned from both the New Testament and Old Testaments, there are also important principles for worship found in the N.T.  In Hebrews 10:19-22, we see that the Lord sets forth prerequisites for heart worship.

BOLDNESS IN APPROACH TO A HOLY GOD:


The first principle: Hebrews 10:19 – Boldness in our approach

Hebrews 10:19 “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,”

Hebrews 10:20 “By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;”

          This boldness does not necessarily refer to singing in front of people or to public worship expressions, in general.  There is a boldness (or confidence) in approaching God, confidence to know that a person is right before God and that all sin is confessed at that time.  God does not regard a believer when there isknown sin in their life.  Isaiah 59:2 states clearly that that our iniquities have separated the believer from God and that he will not hear.


CONFIDENCE IN WHO GOD IS:

The second principle: Hebrews 10:21 – Confidence in God


Hebrews 10:21 “And having an high priest over the house of God;”

Hebrews 10:22a “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,”

           It is only by God's unending grace that believers have the privilege to approach such a God.  This verse reminds believers that God is our high priest and that it is God is the One that makes atonement for the believer.  All throughout scripture, it is clear that the flesh is evil and that no good things dwells within.  Romans 7:18 is Paul's declaration of this fact and that context is clear about the struggles of the Christian life.  We are not even remotely good enough to approach God.  God is the only way that it is possible for us to approach him.  

A PURE HEART BEFORE GOD:

The final principle: Hebrews 10:22b. – A pure heart

“…having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”  (“evil”=diseased)

          This principle is somewhat close in meaning of the first first principle in this section.  Comparing this verse to Jeremiah 17:9, the believer can know that our heart is evil, or diseased.  In fact, the english words "desperately wicked" in this verse can quite literally be translated, incurably sick.  God is the only one that can cleanse the wicked heart of the believer and therefore has made it possible, only by His grace, for the believer to approach Him.  


"Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness."  Psalm 29:2

Saturday, March 1, 2014

We Sing Junk

Part 9 of RELIGIOUSAFFECTIONS.ORG blog series The Tozer Collection: Worship Music

We Sing Junk

Compare the Christian reading matter and you’ll know that we’re in pretty much the same situation. The Germans, the Scots, the Irish, the Welsh, the English, the Americans and the Canadians all have a common Protestant heritage. And what did they read, these Protestant forebears of yours and mine? Well, they read Doddridge’s The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul. They read Taylor’s Holy Living and Dying. They read Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and Holy War. They read Milton’s Paradise Lost. They read the sermons of John Flavel.

And I blush today to think about the religious fodder that is now being handed out to children. There was a day when they sat around as the fire crackled in the hearth and listened to a serious but kindly old grandfather read Pilgrim’s Progress, and the young Canadian and the young American grew up knowing all about Mr. Facing-Both-Ways and all the rest of that gang. And now we read cheap junk that ought to be shoveled out and gotten rid of.

Then I think about the songs that are sung now in so many places. Ah, the roster of the sweet singers! There’s Watts, who wrote “Oh, God, Our Help in Ages Past,” and Zinzendorf, who wrote so many great hymns. And then there was Wesley, who’s written so many. There was Newton and there was Cooper, who wrote “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood,” and Montgomery and the two Bernards—Bernard of Cluny and Bernard of Clairvaux. There was Paul Gerhardt and Tersteegen, there was Luther and Kelly, Addison and Toplady, Senic and Doddridge, Tate and Brady and the Scottish Psalter. And there was a company of others that weren’t as big as these great stars, but taken together they made a Milky Way that circled the Protestant sky.

I have an old Methodist hymnal that rolled off the press 111 years ago and I found forty-nine hymns on the attributes of God in it. I have heard it said that we shouldn’t sing hymns with so much theology because peoples minds are different now. We think differently now. Did you know that those Methodist hymns were sung mostly by uneducated people? They were farmers and sheep herders and cattle ranchers, coal miners and blacksmiths, carpenters and cotton pickers—plain people all over this continent. They sang those songs. There are over 1,100 hymns in that hymnbook of mine and there isn’t a cheap one in the whole bunch.

And nowadays, I won’t even talk about some of the terrible junk that we sing. They have a little one that is sung to the tune of “There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight,” which goes like this:

One, two, three, the devil’s after me,

Four, five, six, he’s always throwing bricks,

Seven, eight, nine, he misses me every time,

Hallelujah, Amen.

And the dear saints of God sing that now! Our fathers sang “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” and we sing junk.

This tragic and frightening decline in the spiritual state of the churches has come about as a result of our forgetting what kind of God God is.

— The Attributes of God


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Morality or Neutrality

The Morality or Neutrality of music?

To be honest, I've always felt a little uneasy with the whole premise of that music is moral arguement. I have never been able to put my finger on it, until recently, while listening to messages from Tim Fisher from his "Noise in the Camp" series (found at smsrecordings.com.....link on right hand side). I thought long and hard after listening to him explain it and did some research. After finding that it is consistent with scripture, I am more convinced of the term neutrality of music rather than morality of music. In this post, you will find some Biblical evidence and some helpful analogies.

Morality.

There are plenty of Bible passages that support the fact that morals are associated with music.

Bible references

Isaiah 23:15. Sing as a harlot

Psalm 69:12 Song of the drunkards

Lamentations 3:14 Song of derision

Proverbs 25:20 Songs to a heavy heart

Ecclesiastes 7:5 The song of fools

Even instruments can have good morals associated with them.......Psalm 81:2- the pleasant harp

Cleary these references indicate that there are moral associations tied to certain music, but since we have no idea what this particular music sounded like, one can only speculate what type of music goes with these different styles. It is very likely that most all of the music in existence today, was not in existence when these passages were written. The morality found in these passages is not sourced in the music itself, but in the people that sang or played these songs. Music is only as moral as the original composer of that song (or genre) and that, that morality, in some cases, may only last for a few moments.  The music most often determines moral behavior for that few moments. In other words, the well composed and calm behavior of classical musicians may ony last for those 4 or 5 minutes of the piece. Who knows what those musicians are like under different circumstances. This is easiest seen in some examples. Note the behaviors of the artists in these examples.

Example 1.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6P3cIJHWjw

Jean Sibelius wrote beautiful music. The genre that he wrote in (I'm not sure who created the genre of classical music) was beautiful and elicited good emotions. This musical genre was written to produce good morals in the behavior of those who play it. Notice the behavior of the orchestra and the restraint displayed. This music also allows the listener to think and wonder about the music and where it will go.

Example 2.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=christian%20metal&sm=

I am not sure who created the genre of rock, but as you can tell, it is not eliciting good emotions, which are being expressed so evidently.  There is no restraint displayed by the ones performing and there is no way the listener has room to think of where the music is going, in fact the listeners are most likely acting in the same, unrestrained way. The music doesn't "take" you anywhere, but sticks with the same rhythms and melodies. I realize that this is an extreme example, but using extreme examples make the points more clear.

The point remains the same, that the music is only as moral as the original composer. The group, COLLAPSE, may be the lyricists of this song, and may have even wrote the music arrangement of that song, but they are not the original creaters of their genre. in fact, any song found within the realm of todays popular christian bands, is not an original genre. Within that piece of music, is found the morality of the original composer/creator.

Neutrality.

Music notes, in and of themselves, are not moral. I can not play a Bb or a G and know if it is good or bad. It is just a note. This is also understood better with the aid of examples. For this example, however, we will not use music, but a somewhat extreme example that undoubtedly makes the point clear. Most stores have a magazine rack. At the counter, unfortunately, one of the magazines is of the pornographic genre, but all that magazine is, is colors of ink on white paper. There is not anything inherently sinful about colors or ink. They are neutral. The morals start to come into perspective when a person, a moral agent, picks up that magazine and looks through it. The nonmoral ink in that magazine now enters into a moral agent, whos thoughts and intents have become evident. Another simple analogy is the alphabet. There is a letter "e". There is nothing inherently sinful or morally good about the letter "e". It is neutral. The morality starts when that letter is put next to other nonmoral letters. Perhaps, some would write the word "love", in which case, there are morally good things that are associated with love. Someone else may write "hate", in which case, there are morally bad things that are associated. In the same way, music notes are not inherently sinful and do not elicite any type of emotion or morality. They are neutral.

However, when played with other notes, the morals of the original creator of the type of music that is produced can be seen in the moral agent(s) it enters. The above examples show the morality of the original creator of that type of music.

In reading the passages of scripture that describe false worship, like the account of Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego, we have no way of knowing what type of music the King commanded to be played, we know that it contained various instruments so it was most likely loud, but that is all we can know about this passage, and others. King Nebuchadnezzar's music could have been the classical music of his day. We saw above that the Bible does make a distinction among different styles. (the song of a harlot,

Songs of the drunkards, etc) We know from modern day examples what some of those look and sound like, and the song (genre) is only as moral as the original creator and, obviously, by the intent (Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego).

With all the access to information today, anyone can go to any one else's website and find out an abundance of information. Most all christian bands post on their website their mission or vision for their music, but their music is not an original genre.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Hymn books and devotions

Part 8 of RELIGIOUSAFFECTIONS.ORG blog series The Tozer Collection: Worship Music

The Hymnbook and the Devotional Life

In order to express myself more freely on a matter that lies very near to my heart, I shall waive the rather stilted editorial we and speak in the first person.

The matter I have in mind is the place of the hymnbook in the devotional life of the Christian. For purposes of inward devotion, there is only one book to be placed before the hymnal, and that of course is the Bible. I say without qualification, after the Sacred Scriptures, the next best companion for the soul is a good hymnal.

For the child of God, the Bible is the book of all books, to be reverenced, loved, pored over endlessly and feasted upon as living bread and manna for the soul. It is the first-best book, the only indispensable book. To ignore it or neglect it is to doom our minds to error and our hearts to starvation.

After the Bible, the hymnbook is next. And remember, I do not say a songbook or a book of gospel songs, but a real hymnal containing the cream of the great Christian hymns left to us by the ages.

One of the serious weaknesses of present-day evangelicalism is the mechanical quality of its thinking. A utilitarian Christ has taken the place of the radiant Savior of other and happier times. This Christ is able to save, it is true, but He is thought to do so in a practical across-the-counter manner, paying our debt and tearing off the receipt like a court clerk acknowledging a paid-up fine. A bank-teller psychology characterizes much of the religious thinking in our little gospel circle. The tragedy of it is that it is truth without being all the truth.

If modern Christians are to approach the spiritual greatness of Bible saints or know the inward delights of the saints of post-biblical times, they must correct this imperfect view and cultivate the beauties of the Lord our God in sweet, personal experience. In achieving such a happy state, a good hymnbook will help more than any other book in the world except the Bible itself.

A great hymn embodies the purest concentrated thoughts of some lofty saint who may have long ago gone from the earth and left little or nothing behind him except that hymn. To read or sing a true hymn is to join in the act of worship with a great and gifted soul in his moments of intimate devotion. It is to hear a lover of Christ explaining to his Savior why he loves Him; it is to listen in without embarrassment on the softest whisperings of undying love between the bride and the heavenly Bridegroom.

Sometimes our hearts are strangely stubborn and will not soften or grow tender no matter how much praying we do. At such times, it is often found that the reading or singing of a good hymn will melt the ice jam and start the inward affections flowing. That is one of the uses of the hymnbook. Human emotions are curious and difficult to arouse, and there is always a danger that they may be aroused by the wrong means and for the wrong reasons.

The human heart is like an orchestra, and it is important that when the soul starts to sound its melodies, a David or a Bernard or a Watts or a Wesley should be on the podium. Constant devotion to the hymnbook will guarantee this happy event and will, conversely, protect the heart from being led by evil conductors.

Every Christian should have lying beside his Bible a copy of some standard hymnbook. He should read out of one and sing out of the other, and he will be surprised and delighted to discover how much they are alike. Gifted Christian poets have in many of our great hymns set truth to music. Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley (possibly above all others) were able to marry the harp of David to the epistles of Paul and to give us singing doctrine, ecstatic theology that delights while it enlightens.

—We Travel an Appointed Way

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Hymns are Musical Echoes of His Voice

Part 7 of RELIGIOUSAFFECTIONS.ORG blog series The Tozer Collection: Worship Music

We can come and sing hymns in this church and only enjoy the dignity of the music as a relief from rock’n'roll. (Sermon, “Doctrine of the Remnant,” Chicago, 1957)

—Tozer on Worship and Entertainment

Just as the book of Psalms is a lyric commentary on the Old Testament, set to the music of warm personal devotion, so our great Christian hymns form a joyous commentary on the New Testament.

While no instructed Christian would claim for any hymn the same degree of inspiration that belongs to the Psalms, the worshiping singing soul is easily persuaded that many hymns possess an inward radiance that is a little more than human. If not inspired in the full and final sense, they are yet warm with the breath of the Spirit and sweet with the fragrance of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces.

In the hymns all the basic doctrines of the Christian faith are celebrated. Were the Scriptures to be destroyed or made inaccessible to the Church, it would not be too difficult to extract from our hymns a complete body of Bible doctrine. This would, of course, lack the authority of the inspired Word, but it might well serve in a dark hour to keep alive the faith of our fathers. As long as the Church can sing her great hymns she cannot be defeated; for hymns are theology set to music.

Hymns do not create truth, nor even reveal it; they celebrate it. They are the response of the trusting heart to a truth revealed or a fact accomplished. God does it and man sings it. God speaks and a hymn is the musical echo of His voice.

—The Warfare of the Spirit

There fell into my hands some time ago a new hymnbook. It came from a far country and looked inviting. I opened it eagerly with the hope of finding some rare psalm or hymn or spiritual song that I had not known before, but my hope was short-lived. The book was published by a Christian group of the sand-counting school of doctrine and I soon discovered that each hymn was a prosaic lesson intended to indoctrinate the user in a narrow, one-eyed view of Christianity. The breath of sacred poesy was absent from the book. It did not mount up on wings as an eagle but walked solemnly and awkwardly along the ground. What original songs it contained were stuffy, joyless, unlovely and weighed down heavily with the half-dozen doctrines this particular group has chosen for constant and monotonous emphasis. Worst of all, many of the old favorite hymns were there but so mangled and emasculated as to be almost unrecognizable. The editors did not play on David’s harp; rather they used it as a sledge to hammer hard, angular doctrines into the heads of their followers. They did not intend that the hymns should give the singer joy, only that they should bring him into line and make him correct in his doctrinal position.

—God Tells the Man Who Cares

Religious productions which come into being during times of great spiritual blessing are to be valued above those which appear during times of spiritual decline. Especially is this true if the production is a fair reflection of the spiritual state which prevails at the time it is written.

Examples are not hard to find. Take for instance the hymnody that sprang up around the Methodist revival of the nineteenth century. One hymnal put out by the Methodists lies at hand as we write. It was published in the year 1849. It contains 1,148 hymns, 553 of them written by Charles Wesley, and the amazing thing about the book is that there is hardly an inferior hymn in it. One quality which marks the hymns is the large measure of sound doctrine that is found in them. Quite a complete course in theology could be gotten from the hymnal alone without recourse to any other textbook.

The Holy Spirit was upon the Methodists in fullness of grace, and they sang of God and Christ and the Scriptures and of the mysteries and joys of redemption personally experienced. The hymnal is lyric theology, a theology that had been strained through the pores of the men and women who wrote and sang their joyous songs. The hymns are warm with the breath of worshipers, a breath that may still be detected fragrant upon them after the passing of a century.

Lay this hymnal beside almost any of the productions of the last fifty years and compare them. The differences will be found to be pronounced, and to the devout soul more than a little depressing. The last half-century has been for the most part a period of religious decline, and the hymnody which it has produced has expressed its low spiritual state. With the coming of the great religious campaigns, with their popular evangelists and their mass appeal, religious singing started on a long trip down, a trip which from all appearances has not yet ended. Experience took the place of theology in popular singing. Writers became more concerned with joy bells than with the blood of sprinkling. Ballad tunes displaced the graver and more serious type of melody. The whole spiritual mood declined and the songs expressed the mood faithfully.

At the risk of being written off as hopelessly outmoded, we venture to give it as our studied opinion that about the only good thing in the average modern songbook is the section of great hymns which most of them carry in the back—hymns which for the most part were written when the Church was at her flood and which are included now as a gesture of respect to the past, and rarely sung.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

We must get the message out......but in the Biblical way

Part 6 of RELIGIOUSAFFECTIONS.ORG blog series The Tozer Collection: Worship Music

The Problem of Numbers

The question of numbers and their relation to success or failure in the work of the Lord is one that disturbs most Christians more than a little.

On the question there are two opposing schools of thought. There are Christians, for instance, who dismiss the whole matter as being beneath them. These correspond to the lovers of high-brow music who firmly refuse to admit that there is anything of any real value other than that composed by Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. They know they are in the minority and glory in the fact, for in their opinion it is a very, very superior minority and they look down their noses at all who enjoy anything less complicated than a symphony.

Of course this is cultural snobbery and tells us a lot more about such persons than they would care to have us know. They remind one of the un-learned of whom Colton wrote,

So much they scorn the crowd that
if the throng
By chance go right, they purposely
go wrong.

Now among religious persons I have met a few who are guilty of a kind of spiritual snobbery of which they are doubtless wholly unaware. These have recoiled so violently from popular, cheap-Jack Christianity that they simply have no longer any sympathy with crowds. They prefer to sit around the Lord’s Table in a select and tight little circle, admiring the deep things of God and, I very much fear, admiring themselves a wee bit also. This is a kind of Protestant monasticism without the cowl and the beads, for it seeks to preserve the faith of Christ from pollution by isolating it from the vulgar masses. Its motives may be commendable, but its methods are altogether unscriptural and its spirit completely out of mood with that of our Lord.

The other and opposite school is the most vocal and has by far the largest following in gospel circles today. Its philosophy, if it can be called a philosophy, is that “we must get the message out” regardless of how we go about it. The devotees of this doctrine appear to be more concerned with quantity than with quality. They seem burned up with desire to “bring the people in” even if they have not much to offer them after they are in. They take inexcusable liberties both with message and with method. The Scriptures are used rather than expounded and the Lordship of Christ almost completely ignored. Pressure is exerted to persuade the people (who, by the way, come to the meetings with something else in mind altogether) to accept Christ, with the understanding that they shall then have peace of mind and financial prosperity, not to mention high grades in school and a low score on the golf course.

The crowds-at-any-price mania has taken a firm grip on American Christianity and is the motivating power back of a shockingly high percentage of all religious activity. Men and churches compete for the attention of the paying multitudes who are brought in by means of any currently popular gadget or gimmick ostensibly to have their souls saved, but, if the truth were told, often for reasons not so praiseworthy as this.

Now the serious Christian wants to escape both extremes. Yet he is much concerned about the whole matter of numbers and is eager to find the will of God for his life and ministry. Should he go out for larger crowds or accept smaller ones as the will of God for him? Does success in the Lord’s work depend upon numbers? Is it possible to make up in quantity what is lacking in quality and so accomplish the same result?

Perhaps an illustration or two might help. If our country should be visited by a famine and you were put in charge of feeding the starving in your section of the city, would numbers matter? Most surely they would. Would it not be better to feed five hungry children than two? Would you not feel obligated to feed hundreds rather than tens, thousands rather than hundreds? Certainly you would. Or if a ship sank and your church were given a rescue boat, would numbers mean anything? Again the answer is yes. Would it not be better to save 10 than two, 100 than 50?

So with the work of God. It is better to win many than few. Each lost one brought home increases the joy among the angels and adds another voice to the choir that shall sing the praises of the Lamb. Plainly Christ when He was on earth was concerned about the multitudes. And so should His followers be. A church that takes no interest in evangelism or missions is subnormal in every way and desperately in need of revival.

Our constant effort should be to reach as many persons as possible with the Christian message, and for that reason numbers are critically important. But our first responsibility is not to make converts but to uphold the honor of God in a world given over to the glory of fallen man. No matter how many persons we touch with the gospel we have failed unless, along with the message of invitation, we have boldly declared the exceeding sinfulness of man and the transcendent holiness of the Most High God. They who degrade or compromise the truth in order to reach larger numbers, dishonor God and deeply injure the souls of men.

The temptation to modify the teachings of Christ with the hope that larger numbers may “accept” Him is cruelly strong in this day of speed, size, noise and crowds. But if we know what is good for us, we’ll resist it with every power at our command. To yield can only result in a weak and ineffective Christianity in this generation, and death and desolation in the next.

— The Size of the Soul


Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Double-Edge of Beautiful Music

Part 5 of RELIGIOUSAFFECTIONS.ORG blog series The Tozer Collection: Worship Music

The Double-Edge of Beautiful Music

The created world is to be prized for its usefulness, loved for its beauty and esteemed as the gift of God to His children. Love of natural beauty which has been the source of so much pure music, poetry and art is a good and desirable thing. Though the unregenerate soul is likely to enjoy nature for its own sake and ignore the God whose gift it is, there is nothing to prevent an enlightened Christian who loves God supremely from loving all things for God’s dear sake. This would appear to be altogether in accord with the spirit of the psalms and the prophets, and though there is less emphasis upon nature in the New Testament much appreciation of natural things may be found there also.

—The Set of the Sail

I want to warn you against the religion that is no more than love, music and poetry. I happen to be somewhat of a fan of good music. I think Beethoven’s nine symphonies constitute the greatest body of music ever composed by mortal man. Yet I realize I’m listening to music; I’m not worshiping God necessarily. There’s a difference between beautiful sounds beautifully put together and worship. Worship is another matter.

—  Worship, the Missing Jewel

I am of the opinion that much in our Christian ritual and liturgy does not come to grips with its basic meaning. I have listened to the great musical renditions of Bach, Beethoven, Handel and others. The music written for use in services such as the mass is sublime and the language beautiful. But I cannot escape the feeling that something is missing. The prayers and the appeals are there—”Lord, have mercy!” “Christ, have mercy!” They are voiced again and again.

Could it be that this prayer, this appeal to God for mercy, is but the shadow of the truth? Do these prayers never approach to the reality of saving faith and confident assurance in God’s promise and provision? There must come a time when petition becomes reality and we shout, “It is done! The great transaction is done! I am my Lord’s, and He is mine!”

—Jesus, Our Man in Glory

In the light of this it will be seen how empty and meaningless is the average church service today. All the means are in evidence; the one ominous weakness is the absence of the Spirit’s power. The form of godliness is there, and often the form is perfected till it is an aesthetic triumph. Music and poetry, art and oratory, symbolic vesture and solemn tones combine to charm the mind of the worshipper, but too often the supernatural afflatus is not there. The power from on high is neither known nor desired by pastor or people. This is nothing less than tragic, and all the more so because it falls within the field of religion where the eternal destinies of men are involved.

To the absence of the Spirit may be traced that vague sense of unreality which almost everywhere invests religion in our times. In the average church service the most real thing is the shadowy unreality of everything. The worshipper sits in a state of suspended mentation; a kind of dreamy numbness creeps upon him; he hears words but they do not register, he cannot relate them to anything on his own life-level. He is conscious of having entered a kind of half-world; his mind surrenders itself to a more or less pleasant mood which passes with the benediction leaving no trace behind. It does not affect anything in his everyday life. He is aware of no power, no Presence, no spiritual reality. There is simply nothing in his experience corresponding to the things which he heard from the pulpit or sang in the hymns.

— The Divine Conquest, The Spirit as Power