Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Sermon Notes -

Appropriate Church Music According To Scripture
(1 Timothy 3:15 with Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 5:18-19 and Psalm 150 in light of 1 Corinthians 6:12a,b and 10:23-24)

Introduction: (To show the need . . . )

The influx of increasing flavors of "contemporary" music in many Gospel preaching, Evangelical Churches today has created a rising tide of concern for many Christians:

(1) Recently, a Christian friend who lives in Nebraska wrote to my wife expressing her concern and frustration over how "quickly" the music has changed in her Church into a more contemporary format. She really does not think the music she is hearing pleases the Lord, but she does not believe there is another good church in her area to attend as she does appreciate the ministry of the Word there.

(2) My mother recently moved into the San Francisco Bay area where she is attempting to make her home Church the body where some of her grandchildren attend; however, the contemporary worship music there is so loud that it inflames a physical condition she has, so she finds she has to stay out of the sanctuary until after the worship part is finished before returning to hear the pastor minister the Word!

(3) Not only in the Midwest or the Far West, but here in the Eastern part of the country we face the same problem: more than once has our Church Board discussed issues that have come up that center around what constitutes "godly" or "appropriate" Church music.

(4) This is issue affects churches all across America: in the April 2004 issue of The Berean Call, a believer wrote, stating: "I have been disturbed for some time by the praise and worship' music in my church -- even to the point of looking elsewhere. But I seem to find the same thing everywhere I go. So much of it seems shallow and repetitive. I long for the old hymns that had doctrinal content and really bowed me before the Lord in worship and filled my heart with praise to Him. Am I just old-fashioned? Help me."

Dave Hunt who authors the newsletter and is in touch with movements around the world replied to this letter by noting: "We are hearing this anguished cry from increasing numbers of people . . ."

Well, what about Church music -- does the BIBLE provide practical guideliness on what constitutes upright and ungodly music for the Church as GOD sees it? If so, WHAT are those guidelines, and WHY are they set the way they are?

(We turn to the sermon "Need" section . . . )

Need: "With the debate that exists over the credibility of various forms of contemporary music that has come into many churches, does SCRIPTURE offer guidelines on what constitutes appropriate' Church music? If so, WHAT are they, and WHY are they set up?!"
  1. To see WHY God holds the view HE does on Church music, we must consider WHAT HE holds is the ROLE of the Local Church:
    1. God views the LOCAL CHURCH as the "PILLAR and GROUND of the TRUTH" of His Word, 1 Timothy 3:15 KJV in the context :
    2. Thus, God wants EVERYTHING in the Local Church's ministry to UPHOLD rather than DETRACT FROM its divinely established role of PROMOTING the TRUTH of God's WORD, cf. Phil. 2:16.
  2. Accordingly, God's VIEW of "APPROPRIATE MUSIC" for the LOCAL CHURCH is that it be music that PROMOTES God's WORD as OPPOSED to ANY OTHER EMPHASIS (as follows):
    1. Colossians 3:16a,b accordingly calls believers to "let the word of Christ" dwell in them RICHLY in all wisdom, a wisdom that both INSTRUCTS and ADMONISHES like a teacher or a pastor does!
    2. This music is to use Old Testament psalms (like "The Lord Is My Shepherd"), hymns (like "How Great Thou Art") and spiritual odes (like "Just As I Am") as music sung unto the Lord, Colossians 3:16c.
  3. Since the MUSIC is to PROMOTE Scripture as would a pastor or a teacher, it is to be performed in the Holy Spirit's ENABLING, and THAT DEEPLY effects its PRESENTATION (as follows):
    1. Ephesians 5:18-19 indicates this music is to be performed under the filling and thus control of the indwelling God the HOLY SPIRIT !
    2. Thus, the music God wants in a Local Church will express the CHARACTERISTICS of love, joy, peace, longsuffering , gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control as OPPOSED to hate, sadness, unrest, impatience, harshness, evil, unbelief, pride and a lack of self-control, cf. Gal. 5:19-21, 22-23!
  4. Regarding the INSTRUMENTS or music FORMS used, though GOD IDEALLY approves of ALL of them, due to MAN'S SIN and hence the ABUSE of the ARTS, GOD calls us to LIMIT the USE of our LIBERTIES in CHURCH MUSIC accordingly as follows:
    1. On the ideal level, every kind of instrument by which man can make music and even every kind of artistic format including the dance that man can perform is to be used to glorify the Lord, Psalm 150:1-6.
    2. On the other hand, man's abuse of the arts and how it has harmed man's consciences has led to the need to limit the use of instruments and/or forms of artistic expression as the situation may dictate:
      1. Any instrument in any kind of form may be used providing it Biblically edifies everyone in the audience, 1 Cor. 6:12a; 10:23:
        1. Paul held though he had liberty to eat meat that had been first offered to idols and then sold to him in the marketplace, he did not have the right to eat it IF his DOING so wounded a weaker brother's conscience, 1 Corinthians 10:23 with 10:24-28.
        2. Thus, any instrument in any music form may be used in the Local Church providing it edifies all present, so the selection of instruments and music forms and formats must SUBMIT to the weakest conscience of those present in the meeting.
      2. Any instrument can be used in any kind of presentation providing it Biblically edifies the PERFORMER HIMSELF, 1 Cor. 6:12b.
        1. Paul noted that though he could lawfully do many things, he was not to do that which would dominate himself, 1 Cor. 6:12b.
        2. Likewise, any musical instrument can be played in any form providing it does NOT come to control the performer!
Application: To please God in our Church music, (1) may we TRUST in Christ to become indwelt by the Holy Spirit (John 3:16; Rom. 8:9b). (2) Then, may we depend on the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18-19) and perform our music (3) with the selection of the instruments and presentation forms that edify ALL involved, be they the performers or the congregation, so that we teach and admonish one another in all wisdom regarding the TRUTHS of Scripture, and that with the Holy Spirit's blessed qualities.

Lesson: Church music must NOT exalt ITSELF, the PERFORMER or the PERFORMANCE or DETRACT FROM the TEACHING and ADMONISHING of SCRIPTURE TRUTH; RATHER, it must GLORIFY GOD by DIRECTING the audience to be TAUGHT and ADMONISHED from God's WORD as would a pastor or a teacher. Thus, music in the Church must be performed under the Spirit's control with His qualities of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control, and the performer is to select that instrument and/or its form of presentation (as the case may demand) that edifies EVERY person in the church audience where the performance occurs!

Conclusion: (To illustrate the sermon lesson . . . )

Sometimes, the best way to apply a sermon like this is to give a positive illustration of what to do to honor the Lord, and we have the following positive illustration that occurred in our own body:

Some years ago, a lady who is a member of our body in good standing held the belief that the saxophone was a "godless instrument" that a believer should not use it in the Church! She had only heard of unsaved people using it in a very sensual way to promote ungodly music that did not honor the Lord, so she felt the Church was no place for the saxophone.

Well, one Sunday, as she entered our sanctuary, she heard Phil Giramonti and Todd Baldwin respectively practicing their alto and tenor saxophones before the worship service where they were to perform, and she was surprised to see how pleasing the music sounded! They were playing one of the old hymns of the faith we have in our hymn books, producing soft, mellow tones in harmony in a very decent way, not in a blaring, sensual and foot-stomping manner. It changed her view on the viability of the saxophone in the worship service!

That response should be the goal of every person who sings or plays an instrument in the Church! When the performance causes us to be alleviated form any sense of evil, but rather urges us to exalt God and His truth with the attitudes of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control, our Church music will be found to be pleasing unto the Lord!

May we then USE our musical instruments and musical presentations to EXALT the TRUTH of God's Word this way, and that under the Holy Spirit's leading and enabling!