Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Sound of Silent Music

nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.
(1 Timothy 1:4 – ESV)

You might be looking at the verse above and wondering what this has to do with music. Well it is a verse that in context is one of many sections where Paul admonishes church leaders to keep sound doctrine at the fore. When observing and studying the “pastoral epistles” of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, we see that Paul continually speaks of sound doctrine, of correction, rebuke, exhortation, public reading of scripture and truth before feelings. They seem to be silent on the style and content of music. In searching through the pastoral epistles you will notice he doesn’t tell Timothy (or Titus) to make sure they have a great praise band!

So Paul wasn’t concerned with music. Or was he? Indeed he was; if Paul continues on and on about doctrine, then the means of which it is delivered must also adhere to his strictures. By his silence Paul isn’t saying anything goes, especially if it is loving, has a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. No he is saying that good doctrine will lead to those qualities in truth, which would lead to good music choices. He isn’t saying anything goes he is saying anything that goes must go according to his doctrine. When he says doctrine he means Gospel.

He isn’t implying that music isn’t important but he is obviously intending to say that music is secondary, it is an instrument for doctrine, doctrine first, and music as a means of delivery of doctrine. By concentrating on doctrine Paul doesn’t say don’t do music he is saying that all our music should be doctrinal leading to devotional. Right devotion is informed by right doctrine.

Music teaches us something, not just by what it says but also by what it doesn’t. If it is only fluff with no meat it is teaching us that doctrine doesn’t matter. It obviously does to Paul and to God since the NT focuses on teaching, and so obviously the content of our songs of worship must be doctrinally rich if they are to be biblically sound. Paul doesn’t downplay worship with music; he exalts it by exalting the Bible! First things first: in keeping his students focused on doctrine, he is keeping them focused on the content of their worship. It isn’t that “worship” is unimportant, but that it is, so much so that it needs to be seen in the right order. Focusing on the Bible will help us to focus correctly in worship.

24 comments:

donsands said...

Many pators today try to have cutting edge music to attract the unbelievers. It's a man-centered scheme, and it's wrong.

Worship is for the saints to come before God with thanksgiving and praise and adoration.
It's all about God, and extolling Him in all that He is, and has done, and will do.

Thanks for another good teaching JD. Keep um comin'.

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mark pierson said...

"...it is an instrument for doctrine, doctrine first, and music as a means of delivery of doctrine."

Thanks for that.

Mark

Even So... said...

The pun of "instrument" was intentional, because music is instrumental in delivering sound doctrine...there I go again, but it is true...

Jim said...

Considering how much music influences our thinking, it is vital that the songs we sing as the body of Christ reflect the truth of God's word.

If we simply focus on the surface issues and fail to incorporate the broader aspects of the christian life, we will miss out on a valuable tool to teach truth.

It is great to sing about our salvation but we need to go deeper. Songs that focus on the cross centered life, denial of selfish desires, purpose of God in eternity, etc will go a long way to solidify the teaching of the Word.

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking......why does the church use "things of the world/worldly ideas and concepts" to "draw" people to Jesus and His church? It seems to me a contradiction.

Anonymous said...

Me again...like the other day I was told there's a church that allows people to use the "cannon-ball" position when they get baptised......come on....that just seems wrong.

Craver Vii said...

Cannonball baptisms??? Well, that's um... different.

May I throw in my two cents about "the things of this world" and "contemporary praise music?" Why give them (worldly people and or systems) something that's not really theirs?

I am reluctant to call any type of sound "worldly" because it sounds to me like a little league team claiming McDonalds as their own because they go there a lot. Hey, the church is free to go to Mickey-Dee's too. The talent that worldly musicians use to get rich and sleazy comes from God. But the perversion of the ability or showcasing of one's skill does not necessarily poison the ability God has given to others.

Music, even popular sounding music, does not belong to the world.

There are some styles that I do not like. My style may not be yours, and your style may not be mine, but I do not think God measures style or enjoys music by the same standards that we do. Except for this: When we sing, Great is Thy Faithfulness, or A Mighty Fortress is Our God, we better not sing them like lullabies. If we are in agreement with the lyrics, we ought to sing them like our hearts are in it!

I had occasion to visit another church recently, and they sang, When We All Get To Heaven, What a Day of Rejoicing That Will Be... I personally, don't like that song. Not because it's old-fashioned, or whatever, but because not all of us who sing it are going to heaven. But of course, it doesn't sound as celebratory or victorious to sing, "When some of us go to heaven..." Again I stress, this was a doctrinal issue over the words, and it had nothing to do with beat or melody.

Even So... said...

Funny, that...I actually love that hymn, but I do make sure (as pastor or preacher I have that privilege) to explain to people to think about whether or not they can actually sing this from their heart, for it is a song for Christians...and then I say...

You see, we are all born into the kingdom of men, but we must be born again into the kingdom of God (Galatians 3:26)...only then can we sing this song and mean it in truth...

Even So... said...

It certainly is about substance not style, and to focus correctly on doctrine and loving God and His Word as foremopst in our minds, this will alleviate the need for that battle in most cases, thus the post, and the supposed lack of muscial direction in the NT...

Even So... said...

Craver that thing about the hymn is a very true story, and I understand your reticence, but I am able to use it as an evangelistic tool, and then we sing it with white hot fervor...I love to do it at funerals as an add lib, and have seen people come to Christ at funeral serices I have officiated...all glory to Him...

It is perspective, yes, but our perspective being upon Him helps us with each other and our preferences...

Even So... said...

BTW, your two cents worth here at this blog is always a sweet offering I enjoy immensely...

Craver Vii said...

Well. Sure, if you put it that way...
;-)

Anonymous said...

Sorry Craver, I guess I kind of got off track. I was thinking about what Don Sands was saying about "attracting" unbelievers. It just saddens me that we think we have to "attract" people and the avenues we go down to do that.

Anyways, sorry for rabbit trailing.

Craver Vii said...

Chris, part of me wants to hang around and make jokes about Don Sands being old. But I won't do that, because right now, I need to hit the road to do what I can to attract believers to my church... prayer meeting, that is. And there, I will pray that the Lord of the harvest send out workers.

Peace.

Anonymous said...

Craver, Ah,yes.....prayer......now that's "attractive".

I'm older than Don....so what are you saying??? :)

Even So... said...

I was gonna say that Chris, but I figured it might not be the right style...

Anonymous said...

Come on preacher-man.....since when did you become shy about telling it like it is??? That's the only reason I stick around for the "bonus" minutes. :)

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

you guys are so funny - actually, music is vitally important to me. it is my primary means of worship and I love it when it is based on scripture. i think that is one reason I love some of Rich Mullins music so much - eg the Disciples Creed put to music.

Christopher Cohen said...

Chris - So your saying that your glad that your church's music isn't good enough to 'attract' anyone, so if they come, it is because they desire to really be there.....by the grace of God?

Just Kidding.

I just thought that was funny. You all are very right. The lack of true doctrine in songs has been a heartache for me, because songs I used to really enjoy singing.... were really just bad!

Now, there are some that I squirm when I hear, because the lyrics are so man centered, and downright self-righteous. The JOY FM has become notorious for playing these, as well as a becoming a megaphone for the emergent church. (Sorry for the tangent...I've just been burnt up on that for a while)

I thank God for opening my heart to love Him and placing the desire there to sing songs to Him! I desire to have my music be one instrument I use to worship God, and the other instrument be my life.

Christopher Cohen said...

My oh so favorite set of song lyrics I ponder as I repent:

I regret the hours I have wasted and the pleasures I have tasted that you were never in. And I confess that though your love is in me, it doesn't always win me when competing with my sin.

It sure beats 'I'm giving it up for You'.

Even So... said...

I am blessed of God to have you both with us...

Anonymous said...

"I regret the hours I have wasted and the pleasures I have tasted that you were never in. And I confess that though your love is in me, it doesn't always win me when competing with my sin.

It sure beats 'I'm giving it up for You'.

Amen, Christopher.....Sad to say, I have wasted more years than you are old!

On the JOY FM......I can't figure out if they've wandered down the primrose path or if they've always been like they are and I'm just "wise" to it now.

Anonymous said...

BTW Chris(topher)...thanks for including some old hymns (with the old beat) in our worship......it makes this old heart merry!