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The Power of Music

We know that, as a child, Jesus sang,
because it was the custom of Jewish children and families.  We also know that He sang with His
disciples.  “And when they had
sung an hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives.”
  (Matthew 26:30) Jesus and His disciples
were gathered together in the upper room for the institution of the Lord’s
Supper.  This would be the last
time He gathered with His disciples during His earthly ministry.  Jesus blessed the broken bread and the
fruit of the vine.  Then He passed
the bread and juice to them.  At
the end of this heart-wrenching time, they parted by singing a song of praise
to God.
Soon the Son of God would suffer as no
human being has ever suffered. 
Soon He would be declared guilty by His own Father for every sin
committed by mankind.  He willingly
accepted His fate, including the excruciating pain that His body would soon
face.  He experienced terrible separation
from His heavenly Father as well as the suffering of the humiliating torments
of Hell.  In the midst of it all,
He wanted to sing.
Ephesians 5:18-20 says, “And be not
drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to
yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody
in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the
Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…”

The preceding passage of Scripture
gives us a clear exhortation to abstain from liquor and a clear command to
be filled with the Holy Spirit. 
Then, as a result of being separated from the world and being separated
unto the Holy Spirit, we will find ourselves singing to ourselves.  What will we sing about?  The Bible says we will sing psalms,
hymns, and spiritual songs.  We
will sing these songs and make melody in our hearts to the Lord.
Genesis 4:21 tells us, “Jubal…was
the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.” 
Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell
in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and
hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”  
It is clear from the Word of God
that God gives music to man as a blessing.  God delivered Moses and the children of Israel from bondage,
and they began to sing.  The song
they sang is recorded in Exodus 15:1-9. 
Job 38:7 says, “When the morning stars sang together, and all the
sons of God shouted for joy?”

In II Chronicles 5:12-14, God gives us
the story of a choir that consisted of thousands of Levite instrumentalists,
which included 120 Levites playing trumpets.  A great congregation was assembled for the dedication of the
temple. This gigantic crowd was all in one place at the east end of the altar,
dressed in white garments.  These people
had so rehearsed their presentation that they gave one sound in praising
The Scripture says, “They
lifted their voice with the trumpet and cymbals and instruments of musick.”

This mass of people, along with their awesome sound, gave praise to their God
in song.  God was so pleased with
their music that the shekinah glory filled the house of the Lord.  It was so overwhelming that the priests
were unable to stand to minister. 
That was some choir special!
David was the human pen for the
majority of the Psalms.  The book
of Psalms is called the “hymnbook of the Bible.”  The Psalms were songs given to men in the midst of their
struggles, their suffering, and even their victories.  The Bible speaks of singers, musicians, and musical
instruments more than five hundred times.  
When we make the Bible the center of our lives, Jesus will become the
central figure of our lives.  The
result will be Jesus becoming the “theme of our music.”  His message with Him as the Messenger
must be the catalyst of our songs.  
When choir members, special singing groups, soloists, and orchestra
members are in tune with Christ and with each other, their music can bring about
or enhance a spiritual event.  The
music in our churches should reflect support for the soul winning of the local
church.  The music in our churches
should reflect support for the pulpiteering of the Preacher.  
The music in our churches should
reflect support for the standards of the Bible, and the music in our churches
should reflect the warmth of a caring church.
I Samuel 16:23 says, “And it came
to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp,
and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil
spirit departed from him.”
Depression seemed to be a rather regular
occurrence with King Saul.  The farther
away from God he went, the deeper his depression became.  King Saul was backslidden, and as a
result, I Samuel 16:15 states that he was troubled by an evil spirit.  
When his servants noticed Saul’s
condition, they recommended a solution in I Samuel 16:16.  “Let our lord now command thy
servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on
an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee,
that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well.”
  To soothe the evil spirit, they sent
for David.  He came into the
presence of Saul.
Notice that when the evil spirit came
to trouble Saul, David did not sing. 
David did not utter a word. 
He simply took his harp and played it for King Saul.  The music refreshed Saul. Someone
wisely stated that music is not neutral. 
It can bring out the best in a man, or it can bring out the worst in a
man.  Music is an invisible
reality.  Thus, God’s people must
be careful in both their private and public choices of music.
Obviously, if David could create a
sound from the harp that calmed a depressed King Saul, then music is a reality
that cannot be ignored.  The late Dr.
Jack Hyles, in a sermon on music, pointed out that Plato said, “Let me make the songs of a nation, and I
care not who makes the laws.”  
believed that if you listened to music that reflected a certain mood, you would
experience that same mood.  He
said, “In short, if one listens to the wrong kind of music, he will tend to
become the wrong kind of person; but, conversely, if he listens to the right
kind of music, he will tend to become the right kind of person.” 
There is a term that is well known to
musicians.  It is the term “moods
of music.”  To play a piece correctly,
it is necessary for a musician to discover the “mood” of the piece.
Pastors across the nation are in
search of music that is vibrant, alive, heartwarming, and evangelistic.  Never has there been more of a need in
the area of music than today.  We
develop appetites that are worldly, and the effects are as damaging as an NIV
Bible. If one type of music can calm you, then it stands to reason that another
type can provoke you.  
Many a
church split was first a mood created by selfish church music sung and played
by selfish church members.  If our
churches are to be all that God intends them to be, we must find the Biblical
position for church music.  The
extremes are found in having either a formal, dead church service with studied
classical, or a barnyard hoedown, with warmed-over Oak Ridge Boys specials.
Music affects us in three ways:
physically, mentally, and spiritually. 
Music also has three primary parts: melody, harmony, and rhythm.  Melody comes from the Greek word meloidia, which means “choral sing.” Meloidia is derived from melos, “tune,” plus aoiden, “to sing.” 
Thus, the musical term melody,
which follows the Bible command to be filled with the Spirit, is teaching us
that music and the fullness of the Holy Spirit are related.
Our mind responds to harmony, the
intellectual part of music.  The
word harmony comes from the Greek
word for joint, which implies the
concept of fitting together. Thus,
the harmony joins the melody and the rhythm together.  Our body responds to the rhythm.  Rhythm is the Greek word rheo,
which means “to flow” or “to pulse.” Rhythm, then, is the physical part of
music.  Remember, music can be evil
or good, depending upon its usage.
The melody must dominate the music of
the Christian.  The harmony must
follow the melody in the supportive role in the music.  Last of all, the rhythm must be under
strict control in music.  In
essence, this is a picture of the Christian with his body and its desires under
strict control.  
Romans 8:13
explains, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through
the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”
I Corinthians
9:2 says, “If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you:
for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.”


The key word for music is
balance.  Rhythm must not be
forsaken.  It needs to be in a
proper relationship with the harmony and melody.  Calvin Johansson’s book Music & Ministry says: “A
like principle is at work in the created order, for God has set man over the
world and God is over both.  We see
this principle at work in government, church, and family life.  Not everyone can be a chief! 
shows universal truth as it adheres to this principle of dominance.  Not every note, rhythm, or harmony can
be in the foreground.”  Beethoven
shed more light on the need for balance in music when he said, “Music is the
mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.”
In this day and time, the melody
(spiritual) and harmony (intellectual) are not just being overpowered; they are
being dissolved by the overpowering, pulsating rhythm (physical).  America’s music, both in the church and
in the society, reflects an obsession with the physical. 
James 1:27 tells us, “Pure religion
and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and
widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
What makes worldly music?  Some
music, because of its identification with the world, could and should be
considered worldly.  If the
honky-tonks, nightclubs, lounges, etc., where the world congregates to feed
their flesh, use it, it would make sense to label it worldly music. 
This is interesting…what if the
lounges started playing “The Old Rugged Cross” or “Amazing Grace”? The
musicians would probably be booed, and most of the customers would leave.  Why? Because the music does not match
the setting!  Then why do so many
pastors and Christians think lounge or honky-tonk music belongs in the church house?  
The truth is, God’s music is meant to
bring praise to God, not to entertain man.  In his book Music in the Life of Man, Julius Portnoy
says, “The Christian musician is a member of two worlds, the spiritual and the
material.  The choice is his: to create
sacred music that is pleasing to God because it ennobles character or to defile
the miracle of creation and produce secular music which arouses lust and
There are several characteristics of a
worldly sound.  The first is a
vocal “slide.” Charles Brown, who wrote The Art of Rock and Roll, states,
“Some people have characterized these vocal slides as sexual utterance.”
The second characteristic is flipping
above and below the actual written line of melody.  One man wrote, “The classically trained singer has an
ingrained respect for any written melody and hesitates to tamper with it.  The modern singer, on the other hand,
looks on written melody as simply a convenient starting point for his variations.”
The third most obvious characteristic
is the ingredient of a whispering, breathy, and airy voice.  In The Art of Rock and Roll, Mr.
Brown speaks of a trick used vocally by Elvis Presley.  He writes, “By softening his voice for
certain passages, he could create a personal effect, which made the women in
the crowd feel that he was singing directly to them.”

There is a sound that the world’s music gives
out.  When music is heard, the mind
immediately forms an image because of the sound that is heard.  I can only imagine what image comes to
mind when bar room music or honky-tonk music is heard.  I wonder what image people get when
they walk past our churches and hear our music.  Do they hear Christians who have copied the sensual tone of
voice while singing decent songs with decent words, trying to do the work of
the Holy Spirit and to bring their own brand of conviction?  Christian, what image are you
projecting from your car or in your home? Do not forget, there is a direct
correlation between the power of God and the music of God. 

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