Let's begin with a definition.
The Doctrine Of Music is a body of knowledge and principles based on Scripture that identifies the place that music had in worship services (e.g., Exodus 15: 1/1Chronicles 15: 16) in the ancient world, is having here the Church Age (e.g. Acts 16: 25), and will have in future dispensations (e.g.,Rev 5: 9) to come.
Music (and accompanying dancing) has been a part of "religious" and "spiritual" worship since the earliest recording of human history.
Spirituality and religion can overtly appear to be one in the same, which makes "religion", being Satan's alternative, such a powerful tool and weapon in the realm of spiritual combat (Ephesians 6: 12). Developing an edified soul structure sets the stage for an advancing disciple to discern the critical difference between what is religious (from Man) and what is from God, and therefore, to be a part of his post salvation spiritual life.
Such discernment is necessary when distinguishing when music is promoting "religious" concepts and when it is promoting the true Gospel Message and accurate post (after) salvation doctrine.
The Doctrine of Music also identifies how the devil will make an evil use of music to promote his alternative agenda. It is not unusual for the devil to take what God established for good, retool it, and then use it to accomplish his own objectives. In the retooling process, the devil leaves enough of what God has established in order to retain its appearance of spirituality in order to deceive those who cannot discern the difference between what is religious from what is spiritual.
Prayer, for example, was established by God to enable communication between He and His children, but the devil adds to this the false doctrine and practice of communication between the souls on earth, and the souls of departed human beings (saints).
According to Scripture, it is the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ (1John 2: 1) and God the Holy Spirit (Romans 8: 26) who intercedes and prays (communicates with) God the Father in our behalf in Heaven. The omniscient (all knowing) and omnipresent (God is everywhere) and omnipotent (all powerful) God does not need any assistance from ANY human soul who has passed or who is presently here on Earth.
The devil will use any device that he can to redirect the glory and function of God to others. God chooses to work through Spirit-enabled believers (Exodus 7:10/John 15: 5), but it is He who does the Work (1Cor. 3:7) and should be the One who receives the glory (Acts 14: 10-15/Isa. 42: 8).
Note that in the Exodus incident, the Egyptian wise men and sorcerers , "did the same with secret arts (Exodus 7: 11)."
The devil his forces of evil (Ephesians 6: 12) can mentally (Matt. 8: 28) and physically (Luke 13: 11) afflict human beings. Born again believers, being the Earthly temple of God (1Cor. 3: 16) can not be" possessed" by the devil, but can certainly be demonically influenced (Gal. 3: 1/1Timothy 4: 1). Ungodly music is among the devices that the devil will use to promote his agenda.
It is too much of a stretch to consider that the devil, who can impose and sustain physical ailments and conditions (Luke 13: 16), can also release the same souls from the mental and/or physical illnesses when in doing so, it would promote the teachings of false teachers? Is it a coincidence that the shrines and/or ministries where "faith healing" take place are also where the glorification of departed souls (saints) take place, rather than the worship of God?
In the ancient word, it was a common belief that one could receive relief from one source of evil by calling upon the name of a higher-ranking demon or god. The Lord Jesus Christ was falsely accused of performing His miracles being possessed and functioning under the power of Belzebul, the ruler of demons (Mark 3: 22).
Heb. 4: 15 makes it clear that the Lord Jesus Christ NEVER entertained ANY sin. If He had entertained this or ANY other sin (James 2: 10, He would have disqualified Himself as the "spotless" Lamb of God (John 1: 29), and God's plan of salvation would have been defeated.
We should not dismiss reports of miraculous activity, as God performs miracles every day. At the same time, we are not to assume that all miraculous (supernatural) activity comes from God (Exodus 7: 11 /Mark 13: 22).
The truth is that it is often beyond our human ability to know for certain which force (divine or evil) may be behind any one given event that produces supernatural activity. One would not want to attribute the work of God to an evil source, but one must also be aware of the ways and means of the devil.
Both God and the devil (to the extent that God allows) will perform signs and wonders to establish credibility to the message(s) they convey. A healing or other beneficial act may actually take place, but not all "blessings" come from God, nor do they all serve His purposes.
Why does God allow the devil to promote evil deceptions?
Because God wants His followers to choose to believe what He has to say. If there were no "alternative" choices, our devotion and worship of God would be robotic and void of the free will that God has given to each one of us for His glory.
Some may try to excuse themselves on the basis of ignorance, but ignorance in the spiritual realm is a choice that we make and/or reinforce every day. At least here in the USA, each and every we choose to accept or reject God's standing invitation to spend time in His Word.
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Secular studies concur that the lives of many who receive the great amounts of tangible prosperity have been destroyed. Contrary to what human viewpoint has to say, enduring the test of prosperity can be a great challenge. Where, on what, and on whom we spend our time and our money and speaks volumes of where we truly stand in our relationship with God.
"For where your treasures is, there will be your heart be (Matt. 6: 21 NASB)."
In the end times, Scripture reveals that the devil and the forces of evil will provide, "...signs and wonders, so as to mislead , if possible, even the elect (Matt. 24: 24 NASB)." Here, the "elect" refers to the people of God present on the Earth at that time.
Accordingly, when considering the source of miraculous activity, the first question that needs to asked and answered is what is the m-e-s-s-a-g-e that the miracle-worker is promoting. One may not (this side of Heaven) be able to either confirm or to dispute the reality of a reported miracle having taken place, but with an edified soul structure, an advancing disciple can either affirm or revoke the veracity of the message that a miracle worker produces.
Like a magician, the devil is often successful by distracting our attention with one hand while accomplishing his true objective with the other hand. Miraculous (supernatural) activity, real or counterfeited, will draw the attention of the human souls.
Playing traditional hymns in the background while promoting evil activities is a part of the deception that the devil will use to attract the attention of those he desires to deceive. The Bible acknowledges the degree of success that the devil has had via deception. It began in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3: 13)and has (Gal. 3: 1)and will continue on throughout every generation of Man (Rev. 12: 9) in the course of human history.
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Prayer was/is for the purpose of communicating with God.
Scripture (e.g., Deut. 18: 10, 11) prohibited attempts to communicate with departed souls during the Old Testament period, and there is no Biblical evidence that God has changed His mind here in the Church Age.
Furthermore, even if personalities outside of the Trinity could hear and respond to prayer, there is NOTHING that such prayers or the recipients of such prayers can accomplish that God would not do on His own, p-r-o-v-i-d-i-n-g what is being prayed for was/is truly the will of God in the first place.
According to Scripture, Church Age prayer is to be directed to God the Father (Matt. 6: 9), in the power of God the Holy Spirit (John 15: 5), and in the name (authority/agenda) of God the Son, Lord Jesus Christ (John 14: 13). Many prayers and prayer requests have been the subject matter that has been out to put to music.
See the Doctrine of Prayer for more details.
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The construction and use of musical instruments (drums, wind, and stringed instruments) for false religious activity (Psalms 96), as well as for the worship of the one true God, date far back into recorded history. This point in of itself demonstrates that it is not the music itself, but how it is used that determines its spiritual worth.
Many of the ancient peoples did not have the means to document the melodies of the songs they produced. Music, in the written form with such things as staffs and notes were not invented until thousands of years after "music" became a common part of the human experience. Such melodies were passed along from generation to the next generation, learning to sing or to play the songs "by ear."
Many of the Psalms of the Old Testament are perhaps among the oldest documented "lyrics," but the original music that accompanied these psalms were not preserved for posterity. The subject matter of the lyrics found in many Christian Hymns have their roots in the Psalms of the Old Testament Scripture.
The type of vocal (solo, group, choir, etc.) and musical instruments that were, are being, or will be incorporated into the corporate worship services has changed and will likely continue to change throughout the course of the Church Age and beyond.
There is a false, but popular assumption that what goes on in the worship services of our day has always been the case, but this is not so.
For example, "Christmas" services without the inclusion of traditional Christmas carols would seem awkward to most Christians of our day, yet these well known songs were not even composed until more than 1,000 years of Church history had already come and gone.
Due to the political influence of the Puritans in the 1600's in England, the Christmas "carols" were not allowed to be a part of worship services, partly due to the connection that "carols" had with pagan practices. "Carols" were sung by pagans while dancing around in a circle, celebrating the Winter Solstice holiday. Winter Solstice is an annual astrological event in the natural realm, but was incorporated into pagan religious celebrations taking place around December 22 each year.
The Christian Community, defiantly going beyond what can be substantiated in Scripture (Prov. 30: 6), established December 25th as the day to celebrate the First Advent. The time of year and other similarities with the pagan celebrations during the Winter Solstice, raised some serious objections and reactions within parts of the Christian Community. Among the results was the banning of Christmas "carols" and the bringing of mistletoe into the house(s) of worship.
The Jewish Community and the Christian Community have a history of taking what had been a pagan custom and converting it into their own practices and traditions. Among these were physical circumcision, divination, water purification and/or induction ceremonies, lighting of candles when seeking favors from the gods, setting up mini-altars and shrines within the home, making prayer requests to intermediators (outside of the Trinity), and wearing pieces of jewelry to ward off evil. Some of these activities were authorized by God, whereas others were not. Some were clearly forbidden. Again, one can see the need to discern between what is religious (Mark 7: 7) being instituted by Man, and what is spiritual, coming from God.
Worshiping the sun (or who/what it was believed to represent) was a common practice among ancient religions. There were variations as to what god was being worshiped during the Winter Solstice annual event, but basic elements of the holiday was celebrated by many cultures throughout the ancient world.
The concepts of there being an end or death to one thing and/or the birth or "dawning" of something new was dominant.
In the ancient world, the rising of the sun called for the celebration of a spiritual birth, either of a divine being or to commemorate the rebirth experienced by the individual followers.
It was also the time that, according to ancient beliefs, a divinely ordered birth with a divine purpose (e.g. a savior) would come into the world. Different religions and cultures identify this event as being the time in which various divine beings entered the human environment.
In Egypt it was the birth of the ancient god Horus. In Persia, it was the birth of the sun god Mithra. Many different cultures came to acknowledge the Winter Solstice as being the day on which their god(s) were born or came into the world in one bodily form or another. When the Christian Community set December 25th as the day to celebrate the First Advent, it was the day that the Christian Community was to set aside to celebrate the birth of Christ.
On a lesser scale, All Saints Day became a Christian event, partly due to offer an alternative to celebrating Halloween in the ways and means it was celebrated in the pagan world that acknowledged demonic activity.
The lighting of candles on birthday cakes, the wearing of certain pieces of jewelry and religious medals with emblems of departed "saints" and setting up "shrines" in the private homes, and praying to intermediators (outside of the Trinity) are among the MANY pagan practices that became a part of the Christian Community over the course of the Church History.
Music and dancing, as in virtually all cultures, played a key role in the Winter Solstice celebrations. When some sectors of the Christian Community sought to separate themselves from identification with the pagan practices celebrated during the Winter Solstice, the banning of some forms of music (carols) and dancing became prohibited acts.
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A church service without a choir would seem awkward to those who are accustomed to this form of music ministry.
An electric guitar instead of a pipe organ would raise some eyebrows in the more conservative local assemblies to this very day.
Many forms of contemporary music would/will not be "welcomed with open arms" in worship services that more traditional, or that are under the thumb of denominational control. Such music would be considered too worldly or otherwise "inappropriate" for inclusion in worship services.
Music clearly has its generational identification.
Failing to continue to include the type of music that the former generation were accustomed to, and/or failing to include the type of music that appeals to the upcoming generations can be used of the devil to divide and conquer what was formerly a unified congregation.
Fellowship among different generations calls for consideration being mutually exercised by all.
The music, like ANY other activity taking place within a local assembly or ministry, must praise and/or glorify God. No one else.
The music can include songs that promote the external or the internal parts of the Great Commission (Matt. 28: 19, 20). The external part involves the presentation of the true Gospel Message to unbelievers, and the internal part involves the making of disciples (students and appliers of the Word of God) out of those who have been born again (John 3: 5, 7).
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The American Society is clearly in a state of moral decline.
Music, in general, expresses the thoughts and feelings that are commonly shared by the generation that produces it. An examination of the music (especially the lyrics) that any given generation (or individual) produces or promotes is a good indication as to where they are in their relationship with the Lord.
To the extent that the thoughts and feelings of the generation (as a whole) are ungodly, so will be the lyrics of the music that the generation produces. To the extent that the thoughts and feelings of a generation (as a whole) is godly (in line with the, "...mind of Christ (1Cor. 2: 16 NASB)", so will the lyrics of the music that it produces.
Both edifying and ungodly music, especially in the lyrics, can be found in virtually ever genre of music that is out there.
By "ungodly," I am referring to principles that run contrary to what the, "mind (thinking) of Christ - 1Cor. 2: 16 NASB italics mine)," has to say about any given issue. By this definition, there are "ungodly" songs being promoted in various sectors of the Christian Community that can be detected by an edified soul structure of an advancing disciple.
The same tongue and vocal chords that can be used to worship God can be used to spread the fire (destruction) of Hell.
Believers are warned in Scripture to be careful about how and to what we choose to listen (Mark 4: 24/Luke 8: 18). What we choose to listen to influences how we think. How we think determines who and what we are (Prov. 23: 7).
Pastors , or music directors who have been given delegated authority, are responsible for the message(s) that the music that is include in worship services.
Human viewpoint will find that a singer with a great voice, accompanied by great musicians will draw and retain a following, whereas singing off key, or being accompanied by unskilled musicians can be a great distraction. God, however, listens to heart of the performer and the content of the message being promoted.
Almost everyone listens to music of some kind. If you don't think that the lyrics of the music one listens to is not becoming a part of his own soul structure, consider how many lyrics of the songs that are played in the background or that we choose to focus on that we have unconsciously committed to memory without even trying.
Ever notice how a song can be heard or recalled, and then have it "stuck" in your mind all day?
If you think you can load your mind with thoughts that promote human viewpoint that appeals to the sin nature in all of us, and then not have these same thoughts and concepts influence your choices of behavior, you have been deceived.
As example, listen to enough songs that promote vanity, violence, drug/alcohol abuse, illicit relationships, or rebellion and you will find that you will be desensitized and more vulnerable when (not if) related temptations come your way.
Just as God the Holy Spirit will bring to the conscious mind the principle(s) of a relevant passage of Scripture so that we can make the right choices, so will the devil (or those who do his bidding) bring to our conscious minds the trash that we have chosen to become a part of our thought processes. Ungodly lyrics can be a part of the trash that we choose to accumulate.
The lyrics of virtually EVERY song communicate or reinforce principles that favor or oppose either the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Darkness. There is no neutrality in the spiritual realm. Failure to see the spiritual issues being promoted or attacked is an indication that one has a weak soul structure. A weak believer (without an edified soul structure) is an easy target in the realm of spiritual combat.
Lyrics that promote the true Gospel Message or a principle of accurate doctrine can be the means to evangelize or edify ourselves and others. Many souls have been evangelized and/or edified via such music and performers. One can be evangelized (presented with the Gospel Message) or edified (presented with a principle of doctrine) via godly music, regardless of the genre of music or where it is that the music in being heard.
The selection of music can be used to promote or influence the environmental mood of the congregation when attending worship services.
Without lyrics that can be heard, distinguished, and understood, there can be no edification taking place, nor can God be truly worshiped.
There are many "religious" songs that contain beautiful melodies, but upon further inspection, can be found to promote false teachings and practices of "religion." Such "religious" music appeals to the spiritually ignorant, but amount to nothing (Matt. 15:9/Isa. 64: 6) or worse (Isa. 64: 6)) in the eyes of God.
"But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of Men (Matt. 15: 9 NABS)."
"And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment (Isa. 64: 6). Note that is is not our "bad" deeds, but it is our "righteous" (religious) deeds that are in view.
Believers without an edified soul structure can no more detect the devil's alternatives being communicated via music than they can detect false information coming verbally from any given pulpit. In the case of weak believers, all the devil has to do is to provide the right appearances, and his targets will take the bait, hook, line, and sinker. Again, a "weak" believer is one who chooses not to build an edified soul structure. Such a believer can be well educated in the secular and or "religious"realm, while remaining quite ignorant in the spiritual realm.
Many seminarians graduate with a high degree of education and with the skills to perform the "religious" rituals of the denominations they will serve. Yet, such clergy do not have what it takes (2Pet. 3: 18/John 15: 5) to evangelize or to edify anyone. The Mission of the Church that God designed was/is to proclaim the true Gospel Message to unbelievers and to make disciples (students and appliers of the Word of God) out of those who have been born again (Matthew 28: 19, 20). Like runners in a torch-relay race, one can NOT be used of God to pass along to another anything that he has not first secured for himself. This is why "religious" clergy and "religious" members of a "religious" congregation can attend "religious" services and go through "religious" activity and rituals on a regular basis, but still be spiritually dead and/or without an edified soul structure.
When the false concepts are being promoted by the pulpit, the primary target group is the congregation of the local church or ministry. When false concepts are being promoted via music, the target group widens considerably, as it can include any setting or environment in which music is being played!
Many traditional hymns, like most prayers, end with "Amen." Amen means, "so be it."
The spiritual issue is how can (or should) one applaud, say, or sing "Amen" (meaning, "So be it!) at the end of a prayer, or the singing of a hymn, or statement being proclaimed if he/she did not understand and concur with the message being communicated.
The devil promotes ungodly (as previously defined) music and the musicians or singers that produce/perform it.
Providing the lyrics of the music accurately reflects the mind of Christ (1Cor. 2: 16, the type of music accompanying the message is more of a matter of personal or congregational preference. But without having the knowledge of what the mind (thinking) of Christ is on any given subject, how can one discern rather or not the lyrics is supporting or opposing it? The simple answer is that one can not.
The different types of music that become a part of worship services will continue to come and go, but the message(s) they should be communicating should not.
We are creatures of habit, and it is not easy to deviate from what we have experienced and found appropriate in the past. The older we get, the more difficult it is to change, especially concerning things that have always been a significant part of our lives.
The longer we have repeated or have been exposed to something being repeated, the deeper the roots have grown. To the extent that one is deeply rooted in the truth, this is a good thing. But to the extent that one is rooted in falsehood, these deep roots can cause one to be unteachable, obstructing what should be the ongoing process of edification.
The selected background music should accommodate the activity taking place. Music can be an audible aid, but can also be a distraction.
Music, prior to the start of the service, for example, should be promoting an environment in which those present can conduct a 2Cor. 13: 5 self examination, and if necessary, entertain the 1John 1: 9/John 8: 11 procedures in order to be prepared to worship God and He desires to be worshiped (John 4: 23 This is especially true when the celebration of the Lord's Supper (Communion) will be a part of the worship service (1Cor. 11: 28).
There is a category of music that would be appropriate during the celebration of the Lord's Supper (Communion) part of the service, reflecting what the Person and the Work accomplished while on the cross. Bringing into remembrance (conscious thought) is the stated (1Cor. 11: 24, 25) purpose for celebrating the Lord's Supper (Communion) during worship services on a regular basis.
There is a part of the worship service in which the Lord is being praised and should call for the type of music that reflects that objective. There are times for inspirational music that stirs the soul and should motivate the believers to apply the principles that (should) have been expounded on during the homily or sermon.
The music ministry is an important element in *most corporate worship services. I do not include music in most of the presentations that I produce here at BATMQ.NET. BATMQ is primarily a "teaching ministry" in which a distraction-free environment is preferred, just as is the case when a sermon or homily is being presented in a traditional setting.
The role of the evangelist and the pastor teacher overlap, as both present the Gospel Message and deliver Bible-based presentations. The primary mission of the evangelist (e.g. Billy Graham) is to proclaim the Gospel Message for the salvation of unsaved souls. Accordingly, the primary target group of the evangelist are the unsaved souls who are not (yet) members of the Church. The primary mission of the pastor teacher is to reiterate the Gospel Message, while providing those who have already been born again with what they need to identify and to execute the true post (after) salvation spiritual life.
It is through the evangelists, the pastor teachers, and the advancing disciples that the mission (Matt. 28: 19, 20) given to the Church that God designed has been and will continue to be fulfilled.
While not making music a part of the Biblical Answers To Man's Questions ministry, spiritual music is an important part of my personal time with the Lord. I play the violin and mandolin. I often experience and appreciate the positive influence that godly music can provide.
Especially in the ancient world, the next generation of musicians were taught and trained by the musicians of the existing generation with little room for introducing any major changes. In many cultures learning to "play by ear" was the most popular method. To this day, there are many "musicians" and vocalists" in many different cultures who can't read a single note of music, but never-the-less are among the world's greatest musicians and/or singers.
Music is one of the means of communicating concepts of thoughts and emotions. Music is said to be the "International Language". Music can provide an environment of rest and contemplation, but can also provide an environment of excitement and/or inspiration. There is a time and a place for all of these environments in life of an advancing disciple, and in the corporate worship services of the Church Age.
Many denominations have a specific procedure governing what music is and is not to be included in the worship services. Such scrutiny can be a positive thing when it filters out the introduction of false concepts, but it can also be a negative thing when it denies the congregations the benefits that godly music has to offer.
The bottom line, here, should not be so much the genre of music, but what message is that the lyrics communicate.
For many believers, songs that are sung in languages that they personally do not understand may be entertaining, but do nothing to edify or inspire. Paul applied this same principle when addressing the issue of speaking in tongues in a worship service (1Cor. 14: 11).
With some forms of music, the lyrics can be hard to hear above the music, again eliminating any edification. Its hard to applaud (when applauding is allowed) a performer what one does not know the contents of the message he/she was conveying in the song. One would be shocked if he/she could turn around and see the devil or his demons applauding the same material!
One of the greatest advantages of worshiping via remote means of communication (e.g, television, Internet) is the close captioned option that allows the viewer to read the lyrics and the words spoken. If the program was prerecorded, and one did not hear what was said or sung, he/she can rewind or reverse the program to clarify what was being communicated before continuing on with the program.
When not being used to worship, I can enjoy many forms of music in which contain no lyrics, but when worshiping, I need to know what the message is that the song is promoting and then be in agreement with it before I say Amen (So be it!) to anything.
The style of music is a matter of personal and/or corporate taste. Vocal "choirs" accompanied by a church pipe-organ is what "older" congregationalists would prefer, whereas the upcoming generations of the Church Age might prefer music played on electric guitars and drums and/or on devices not yet invented.
Others would prefer a "middle of the road" form that would involve a soloist or smaller group accompanied by a pianist or a violinist, while others would desire a full orchestra if one could be arranged.
The important thing to remember that the internal (inside) mission given to the Church was/is to make disciples (students and appliers of the Word of God) out of those (in the congregation) who have already been born again (John 3: 5,. 7). The worship of God is a post (after) salvation activity. Although we may be "entertained" by different musicians and vocalists, advancing disciples do not attend worship services to be entertained, but to be edified.
Many pastors desire to have the hymns or songs set the stage or reinforce the principles of the subject matter he presents in the sermon of the day.
There are some forms of music that some believers would deem inappropriate for worship services. There is body language and gestures that some performers use that some believers consider distracting and over-dramatic, whereas in other local assemblies such behaviors are welcomed.
Being a music director can be a challenging position in a diverse congregation.
As in ALL spiritual matters, evaluation is to be based on the fruit produced. The fruit of worship service is the degree in which God is glorified and the congregation is being edified. Godly music can contribute to the production of such fruit.