Watering the Tulips
August 7, 2013
“Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth” – Psalms 96:1
How often have you heard a minister take the pulpit and say, “Now is the time to worship”? Most of us have heard that numerous times. Or, how often has somebody said, “The music should never overtake the preaching”? Though there certainly may be some truth to both of these statements, they can be misleading. First of all, music IS worship. When we sing to the Lord, we are worshipping Him…or, should be. And certainly, the singing should never take the place of the preaching. But vice versa, the preaching should never take the place of the music. God ordained music as part of the worship service and it should remain a major part.
We live in a day and age in which music seems to be the dividing factor in many congregations. Some people demand hymns only. Others will allow Southern Gospel or bluegrass. Still, others prefer a more Contemporary Christian style. We all cannot be right, can we? Some churches have furthered this division by actually splitting a body in half by having one service for each musical preference. This seems to destroy the unity of a church by dividing in two what is to be “one body in Christ” (Romans 12:5).
Two times the New Testament declares that we are to sing “Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs”(Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). It’s not difficult to discern the meaning of “psalms” as there are 150 of them in the Old Testament. Now, some would declare that musical instruments in worship are forbidden in this dispensation. Yet, Psalms 150 mentions seven different types of instruments to be used to praise the Lord. It seems rather inconsistent for believers to be told to sing the Psalms but not to practice what they are singing, doesn’t it? In addition, we know musical instruments are used in Heavenly worship. That alone should be proof that they are not only OK but proper today.
We all know what is meant by hymns, right? I mean any of us could list “Amazing Grace”, “Are You Washed in the Blood”, “Come Thy Fount” and a host of other hymns. Yet, Paul had never heard of these songs when he was inspired to pen these words. In fact, many of the songs we call hymns today were initially rejected and considered liberal due to being a new style when they were released. Paul and Silas sang “hymns” when imprisoned in Philippi (Acts 16:25). We have some difficulty in ascertaining exactly what these songs were. But, we can be sure that they weren’t singing even one song contained in our modern hymn books. So, our present hymns would probably fall under the category of “spiritual songs”.
What of Contemporary Christian music? Simply, instruments like our mouths are morally neutral. They can produce a sound which seeks to glorify God or satisfy the flesh. That said, many modern Christian song writers have produced a plethora of songs which magnify the grace of God in salvation and exalt Christ as the only Savior of men. Songs like “Who Am I”, “In Christ Alone”, “All I Have is Christ”, “Amazing Love” and many others are certainly worthy to be sung in worship. These “spiritual songs” contain lyrics which rival even some standard hymns.
So, what are we to do today? First of all, church members need to put aside their own personal preference and seek to sing songs that glorify and magnify God. Even some of the songs in modern hymn books have lyrics which are questionable. Secondly, churches need to quit dividing over music and put their brother before themselves. Perhaps nothing is more divisive in a body than for a church to have one service devoted to one form of music and another devoted to another. We are to be servants of God primarily and servants of our fellow man secondarily. Self service has no part in the life of a child of God.
“Watering the Tulips” is brought to you by Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Northport, AL. For more information, please visit www.sovereigngrace.net . “Your App to the Gospel” is available in iTunes, Google Play, and the Windows Phone Marketplace. Please download it today!