"For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake." 2 Corinthians 4:5
PART ONE: TO DO ALL TO THE GLORY OF GOD
All our works, both musical and written, must produce a high view of God-with our chief aim being to glorify God and worship Him forever. (Job 40:6-41:34; Psalm 29:1-2; Jeremiah 9:23-24)
This means we are to represent God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit in fullness of Trinitarian character and attributes revealed through the scriptures. (Romans 11:33-36; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; Revelation 5:12)
This is paramount-for it brings glory to God to reverence Him in the totality of His worth and works. It elicits holiness and obedience in the life of the believer. (Psalm 96:9; 103)
Even in God's redemptive plan for man.…salvation never begins with man and his need but with God and His glory. And no one ever lives greater than his or her view of God. (Ephesians 1:3-14; Hebrews 11:6; 1 John 1:7)
"Whether, then, [we] eat or drink, or whatever [we] do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31)
We fail to glorify Him when we praise the servant through awards and accolades rather than exalt the Master. "I was but a pen in God's hand and what praise is due a pen?" (Baxter) God will not share His glory with another. (Psalm 115:1; Isaiah 42:8)
We fail to glorify Him when we speak of God out of our own vain imaginings or recreate Him in our own image; instead of honoring Him by how He revealed Himself through His holy Word. (Psalm 50:21; 1 Corinthians 2:13-16)
We fail to glorify Him when we make money a prerequisite for ministry; some, to their own destruction, teach that godliness is a means to financial gain. "Freely you have received; freely give." (Matthew 6:24-34, 10:8-10; Acts 3:6; Acts 20:33; 1 Timothy 6:5)
We fail to glorify Him when we publicly honor with Him with our lips, but privately have hearts that are far from Him. (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:7-9)
God cannot be glorified where sin is pacified; and He cannot be extolled where sin is entertained. To live in and tolerate unrepentant sin is to write Ichabod across the doorpost of our lives and industry- "the glory of God has departed." ( 1 Samuel 4:21-22; 1 Corinthians 5:1-8)
We fail to glorify Him when pride struts like Nebuchadnezzar across the Babylonian palace of our accomplishments thinking our own hand has made us, our own hand has delivered us, our own hand has provided for us, our own hand has promoted us and our own hand has saved us. (Daniel 4:28-37; James 4:6)
We fail to glorify Him when we strive to please man rather than to please God. (Galatians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:4)
We fail to glorify Him when we speak and sing of the benefits of the gospel, but fail to proclaim the Gospel itself. (Matthew 4:17, 7:13-27, 9:13, 16:24-26; Luke 14:26-33; John 1:12-13; Acts 20:27; Romans 3-5, 10:9-10; 1 Corinthians 2:2, 9:16; 2 Corinthians 4:5, 7:10; Galatians 1:6-8; Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews 2:9-18; 1 John 2:22-23, 4:1-4, 5:1-3)
PART TWO: The authority and sufficiency of scripture-the hymnbook of Heaven
The highest worship of God is the preaching of His Word. (Luther) We cannot honor God more than listening to his Word with an obedient life. Music that is saturated accurately with the truth of God's Word is worthy of worship to the Lord. (Romans 10:14-17)
There is only one inspired, infallible rule and authority for all matters of life and godliness and it is the sufficient, pure, perfect, inerrant Word of God. (Psalm 19:7-14; 2 Timothy 3:16)
For God has even "exalted His Word above His name." (Psalm 138:2)
God's Word is His ultimate revelation and is thoroughly accurate, comprehensive and exhaustive in all its parts, even as it speaks to theology proper (the doctrine of God), doctrine, ethics, religious practice, science, geography, history (redemptive and actual), or any other topic. (Psalm 12:6; 119:160; John 17:17)
All Scripture must harmonize (agree) with itself and thus interpret itself. Therefore, the greatest commentary and interpreter of Scripture is Scripture itself. ( 2 Peter 3:15-16)
Theology (the Word of God) and doxology ( a word of glory, a note of praise, or a saying ascribing worth) are inseparable. As David says, "Thy statutes are my songs, in the house of my pilgrimage." His Word is our music, His lawbook is our songbook, and His statutes are our songs. (Psalm 119:54, Psalm 119:172)
Scripture speaks to all of life-therefore, our music may speak to every aspect of living. However, it must be based upon and not contrary to God's Word in principle, ethic, content and conduct. (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3-4)
For instance, Esther and Song Of Solomon are the only books in the Bible that never mention the name of God. Yet, they speak with absolute clarity about the sovereignty of God in the political arena and of the beautiful expression of physical intimacy between a man and a woman in the context of a faithful, committed marriage.
In this Biblical world-view where are those like St. Paul, engaging the unsaved on Mars Hill, explaining "The Unknown God" in the midst of worldly philosophy and beliefs? That requires wisdom, integrity, cognitive reasoning, and a profound understanding of God's Word and unwavering courage to communicate the truth in love. (Acts 17:16-34)
As artists we have a tremendous responsibility to exegete the times. We are teachers of God's truth, through the arts, that are deserving of a more strict judgement. (Colossians 3:16; James 3:1)
Paul soberly proclaims, "we are not like, as so many, peddling the Word of God for profit…." (2 Corinthians 2:17a) To peddle means to make retail of, to huckster or to pawn something off as merchandise.
Isaiah 1:22 uses the same Greek word in the LXX as Paul uses for "peddling" when saying, "Your silver has become dross and your wine mixed with water." Those who mix wine and water did so to cheat the buyer. It resembled real wine and had the aroma of real wine, but in actuality was nothing more than a watered-down substitute- a cheap imitation.
Paul sternly warns that there are many con men who by slick eloquence and deceptive speech huckster or corrupt the true Word of God as retail merchandise; they dilute its truth to suit itching ears, while representing it as genuine, to purposely deceive and cheat the recipient for the sake of financial gain.(2 Corinthians 4:1-2; 2 Timothy 4:3-5)
As Paul admonishes he also affirms, "but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ." (2 Corinthians 2:17b)
We have been given a sacred trust and holy privilege to be a steward of the mysteries of God in music ministry. If our music does not square with the truth of God's Word, it must be rejected and cannot be embraced as profitable for godliness, beneficial exhortation to the church or as an effectual proclamation of the gospel. Dare we take it flippantly? (1 Corinthians 4:1f; 2 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:13)
Artistic license may be enjoyed when describing personal testimonies or life experiences, but our music must conform precisely to Biblical truth when addressing the person of God and His character, the gospel of Jesus Christ or the working of the Holy Spirit. (Psalm 50:16-23; 1 Timothy 6:3-5)
We need artists who will balance their zeal with knowledge to invest their lives in the daily discipline of Bible study, and then, to write with the fire, passion and enthusiasm which that study has illumined to communicate the glorious language of the church-the holy Word of God. (Psalm 1, 119)
For if in our worship we pervert His Word, we pervert the truth about God. If in our music we distort His doctrine, we distort a right view of Him. If in our song we misrepresent the Scriptures, we misrepresent the Savior. And if in our ministries we twist His truth, we dishonor His character. (2 Timothy 2:15)
Failure here is costly-for it is tantamount to breaking the third commandment: "do not take the name of the Lord God in vain." (Exodus 20:7)
We are to crave the Word (1 Peter 2:2); have a delight in, a longing for and love of it (Ibid.); preach, admonish, exhort, and teach its truth (2 Timothy 4:2); take it as our song (Psalm 119:54); hide it deep in our hearts (Ibid. 119:11); meditate upon it (Ibid. 1:2); obey it (John 14:15); proclaim it (Matthew 4:23); guard it (1 Timothy 6:20); hope it (Romans 15:4); be sanctified by it (John 17:17); desire it more than all the world's delicacies and treasure it more than all the world's riches (Psalm 19:10); to be hearers and doers of it (James 1:22); contend for it (Jude 3); rightly divide it (2 Timothy 2:15); never add to it or take away from it (Revelation 22:18-19); for it is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean and true (Psalm 19:7-9).
PART THREE: The Character of Christian Music
Our Creator God has given us music-psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to use for praise and worship, the proclamation of His name and attributes, to teach and admonish one another unto holy living and to provide thanksgiving for His worth and works ( 1 Chr. 16:7-36)
Genuine Christian music has as its ultimate aim the glory of God. Anything less than this will at the end bear the fruit of self-glory and is music not honoring to the Lord. "Blessed is he who sings when no one is in the auditorium"-for that checks motive (Miller) (Psalms 18:1-6; 105:3)
Music is used according to the Apostle Paul in Colossians 3:16 to encourage council, warn, correct, comfort and teach the Biblical truth. According to David in Chronicles 25:1-5 the Levites used music to prophesy, give thanks and praise to the Lord. It was music rendered in the house of the Lord for the service of the house of God.
The first song ever recorded in Scripture is in Exodus 15 as a song of deliverance written by Moses after God had delivered them out of Egypt and destroyed Pharaoh's army at the Red Sea. It describes God's glorious deeds, His inscrutable ways, His attributes and character, His preeminence as the only true God and His eternal reign as Sovereign Lord and King. (compare, 1 Chronicles 16:8-36)
Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs flow from a life where His Word richly dwells and out of the life that is filled, or controlled, by the Holy Spirit. (Col. 3:16-17; Eph. 5:17-20)
Life in the Spirit and life in the Word are identical bearing the fruit of godly music honoring to the Lord. ( 1 Tim. 1:18-19)
Authentically Christian music was never intended for casual use or purely for entertainment. (1 Chronicles 23:5)
Christian music, originally called Jesus Music, once fearlessly sang clearly about the gospel. Now it yodels of a Christ-less, watered down, pabulum-based, positive alternative, aura-fluff, cream of wheat, mush-kind-of-syrupy, God-as-my-girlfriend kind of thing.
Christian music today lacks the power and authority that it once enjoyed for it has lost its identification with the Lord Jesus Christ. As Moses has said, " The Lord is my strength and my song" (Exodus 15:2)
We are to sing a new song to the Lord. It is a song of the redeemed people of God. This new song is a different and distinctive song, a more glorious song, a purer, truer and more beautiful song than the world can ever sing. (Psalms 33:3; 96:1; 149:1; Rev. 5:9-10)
"In scripture, the word new is used more frequently in relation to song than to any other feature of salvation." (MacArthur) New is not used to mean new in time, but new in character or of a different nature compared to what was old. (Isaiah 42:10)
Christian music stands separate from the world's music for by definition it is Christ-centered music. Even the style is not neutral and music in and of itself is not amoral, but it is "the incarnation of the message." (Horton) Both must honor and bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Chronicles 15:16)
Therefore, when Christian artists today take the old song of the world, dress it up, modify it and say it now represents the person of Jesus Christ, a Christian message or describes the character of God, they fortuitously assault the gospel and diminish the gift that has been entrusted to them. This is inappropriate at best and sacrilegious at worst. We cannot pour new wine into old wineskins. (Psalm 137; Mark 2:22)
Music can be appreciated and used in two wonderful, yet unique ways: creatively and redemptive. (Psalms 150:96:9)
Creatively, it is enjoyed as part of God's creation, celebrated and shared by Christians and non-Christians alike under God's common benevolence- "the rain falls on the just and the unjust." (Matthew 5:45)
Redemptively, it is used in the church corporately and individually as part of the totality of worship and praise to the One Triune God. (1Chronicles 25:1-8)
While God has created many expressions to communicate His truths, music is unique. It is the only art that has a place in heaven and will endure for eternity. The angels sing, the elect saints sing and someday, we will hear the Lord Jesus Christ Himself "sing praise in the midst of the assembly." (Hebrews 2:12; Revelation 15:3-4)
Christian music is unlike the music of Babylon, the world, which near the end of the age will cease: "The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters, shall not be heard in you anymore." (Revelation 18:22)
God promises to silence the song of the ungodly. "I will silence the sound of your songs, and the sound of your harps will be heard no more." (Ezekiel 26:13)
Beloved, as Christian artists, may we sing of that which endures for eternity.
PART FOUR: The Character of the Christian Musician- Personal Integrity and Holiness
The Biblical model of the musician originated from the Levitical priesthood, as musicians were appointed by the Levites under King David's command, to proceed in worship, with the priests, before the ark of God. It's nature was prophetic to Israel and ecclesiastical in role, i.e., used in temple worship. (1 Chronicles 15; 16; 23:5; 25:5-6)
They were able to teach and were skillful in craft. "The chief of the Levites was Chenaniah, the master musician, who gave instruction to the singers because he was skillful". (1 Chronicles 15:22)
They served in the context of temple worship. "Of the thirty-eight thousand Levites who ministered in the Temple, four thousand were appointed to lead in worship, thanksgiving, and praise of the Lord." The model is clear. Pastoral charge over the arts is essential. (1 Chronicles 23:5)
Those calling themselves Christians are characterized by new life in Jesus Christ-old things pass away, all things become new.(2 Corinthians 5:17)
The Christian singer has a triumvirate charge of service to the Lord Jesus: Sound doctrine, Christ-centered worship and holy living. These three pillars elucidate the foundation of true Christian music and ministry and godly character. (Psalm 119:54, 172)
Take away any one of theses pillars and the structure topples. For example, an obedient life given in worship to Christ absent of sound doctrine will be empty praise and on the path to error. (Colossians 3:16)
Secondly, the sound theology sung out of the beauty of holiness but lacking in heartfelt worship to Christ leads to pride or self-glory and the chastisement of the Father. (Hebrews 12:5-11)
Lastly, a powerful doctrine sung in glory to Christ with an impure life is noise to the ears of our holy God. Submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the obedience to the Word of God are marks of the worthy walk of faith. However, when Biblical standard are dishonored and unrepentant sin persists we must adhere to the instruction of the Word-stop the music until life is right. (Amos 5:23-24)
Godly character exhibited in response to sound doctrine is paramount in serving the Lord. To live privately what we proclaim publicly is the manifestation of genuine faith. That is why from the stockroom to the stage Christ-likeness should evidence our behavior. God has not called us to be successful but faithful. (2 Corinthians 6:3-10)
PART FIVE: Guarding The Trust- Accountability to The local Church
Music, by Biblical definition, is a ministry. (1 Chronicles 16:37,42)
Ministry is defined as service to God and His creatures as we employ our Spirit-given giftedness, according to the instruction of Scripture as good stewards of the manifold grace of God for the advancement of His Kingdom; that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 4:10-12)
God has designed genuine ministry to be inseparable from the life and leadership of the local church. Any ministry that does not strengthen one's commitment to the local church is inconsistent with the purpose of Christ. (Acts 2:42-47; Hebrews 10:23-25)
There are five reasons why we should love and serve the church: Firstly, Jesus Christ promised to build the Church- therefore, my commitment should be to it. (Matthew 16:18; Acts 2:39-47)
Secondly, He purchased the Church with His own precious blood-therefore, I love those for whom He died. (1 Peter 1:19; 1 John 3:14-16)
Thirdly, the church is the predominate agency through which God's will is manifested on earth-therefore, it is the community with whom I labor. (Ephesians 1:9-10; Colossians 1:28-29)
Fourthly, the Church is the only earthly expression of heaven-therefore, we must daily grow together in conformity to the fullness of Christ.(2 Peter 3:10-14; Revelation 4:4-11; Ephesians 4:12-13)
Fifthly, the gates of Hades will not prevail against the Church-therefore, in light of the assured victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, our worship and toil is not in vain. (Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 15:54-58)
In response to these truths and to insure a life of godliness and holiness and to guard against blind spots in personal issues, vocation and theology-submission to the plurality of godly leaders within the church is essential. (1 Timothy 3:1-7)
We are to obey, honor, and pray for the faithful pastors in the church who have been given this sacred trust. They are those who are instructed by the Lord to keep watch over souls as ones who will give an account. Woe to the shepherds who do not take their responsibility to shepherd the flock of God seriously. They dishonor the Savior. They disobey the Scriptures. They diminish their office and defame their calling. (Hebrews 13:7, 1 Peter 5:1-4)
In the case of a Christian being overtaken in sin, proper discipline must be exercised within the church to bring restoration and reconciliation (as prescribed in Matthew 18:15-20; Galatians 6:1-2; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15). This is to confirm repentance and to guard the purity of one's life personally as well as the entire body of Christ corporately.
PART SIX: TO NOT BE UNEQUALLY YOKED WITH AN UNBELIEVING WORLD
The CCMI has committed spiritual adultery in joining itself with the wayward world in trying to forward the message of the gospel. This has and will prove to be fatal for Gospel music, as we know it today. (Deuteronomy 32:22-24; Psalm 1; Jeremiah 17:5-8)
We cannot partner with the believing world in common spiritual enterprise or ministry. To harness unbelievers and believers in a Christ-centered endeavor is to be unequally yoked. (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)
We must be separate from non-Christians in positions of ownership, authority or influence in the advancement of the gospel. (Ibid.)
The kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness are two mutually exclusive worlds; two opposing societies; two converse communities that are incompatible and incongruous with each other in regards to the faith. (Ibid.)
One is characterized by righteousness. Light, Christ, believers and the temple of God. Lawlessness, darkness, Belial, unbelievers and the temple of idols distinguish the other. One is based on God's truth-the other on Lucifer's lies. In matters of Christian faith and belief no partnership does or really can exist between these two realms. (Ibid.)
"To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work." (Titus 1:15-16)
God is our Father and we, as His children, must disavow all praetorian religious and spiritual alliances with sin and Satan or we will forfeit the joy and blessing that flow from obedient fellowship in the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Cor. 4:17-18)
Satan's number one assault on the church is to infiltrate with error. He doesn't want to fight the church-he wants to join it. (John 8:44; 2 Cor. 11:12-15; 1 Timothy 4:1)
Undiscerning believers think it a profound ministry strategy to join forces with unregenerate people in forwarding the gospel. Unwittingly, they harness Jesus Christ, the Worthy One, with Belial or Satan, the worthless one, in an unholy alliance-the very essence of being unequally yoked. (2 Corinthians 6:15)
"Ephraim is joined to idols. Let him alone" (Hosea 4:17)
We are not, however, called to isolationism. We are called to be salt and light in the world. We are to be faithful witnesses of God's mercy, love, and grace to the lost and dying. We are to cultivate personal relationships with unbelievers, love our neighbor and our enemy, serve them and share our faith with them. (Matthew 5:13-16; 40-44)
We are to be in the world but not of it-and this is our greatest challenge. Separation is not being divorced from our contact with the world, but from complicity and conformity to it. (1 John 2:15-17)
For instance, it is not unBiblical to consult non-Christian experts in matters of business, craft or trade (though whenever possible, Christian experts respected in these fields are preferable because of shared integrity), but we can never engage in intimate binding-indissoluble relationships, alliances, or partnerships that result in shared responsibility or authority for ministry purposes. (Deuteronomy 22:9-11; Philippians 2:14-15)
The promise of increased financial resources, wider distribution and a larger audience is not justification for the surrender or our spiritual autonomy. (Luke 4:4-12; Ephesians 5:8-12)
It is impossible for God to fully bless and use His children who are in compromise with non-believers. (Romans 8:7-8)
"Adulterers and adulteresses. Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (James 4:4)
PART SEVEN: TO BE ABOVE REPROACH IN ALL BUSINESS ACTIVITY
If true reformation in CCMI occurs, it will mean that every facet of music ministry will ultimately be affected and undergo godly transformation. The need to recapture "the economy of God" in our daily business activities is not optional, but essential.
Honesty in business dealings, practice, relationships and all activities pursuant in our service to the church, the world and to the Lord Jesus is indispensable to effectively carrying out the calling and mission of Record Company Executives, Promoters, Agents, Managers, Artists, Publishers, etc. ( 1Peter 2:12-18)
To have a good name in the community-at-large is vital in handling of the lesser things: business, money, trade, etc., in order to be entrusted with the superior things: His word, the church and the souls of men. (Psalm 15:2-5)
To that end, we must purpose to have our yes mean yes and our no mean no. (Matthew 5:37)
To never sue a fellow Christian to resolve disputes, or risk damaging a witness or testimony to an unbeliever through civil litigation for requital. We will reserve the right to be wronged rather than wrong someone by demanding our rights. ( 1 Corinthians 6:1-7)
Exhaustive means to settle conflicts should be pursued through Christian arbitration as overseen in the context of the local church under duly recognized pastoral authority. (Ibid.)
We will purpose to keep personal relationships more important than business deals; family more valuable than commodities; and faith more precious than fortune. The struggle is maintaining an eternal perspective in the transitory moments. May our light so shine before men. (Psalm 90:12; Matthew 5:16; Ephesians 5:22-33; Philippians 2:1-5; 1 Peter 3:7)
PART EIGHT: Reclaiming Christian Music for Christ
To bring reformation to Christian music we must purpose, by God's grace, to do several things. (2 Corinthians 13:7; 2 Timothy 2:1; Titus 2:12-13)
Fast, mourn, weep, and pray over the sins of our industry, the church and our personal lives. (Nehemiah 1:5-11; Isaiah 6:4-39; Daniel 9:4-9; Ezra 9:6-15)
Return to our First Love. (Matthew 22:37; Romans 5:5; 1Peter 1:8; 1John 5:3; Revelation 2:4)
Remember how far we have fallen. (Luke 15:11-32; Revelation 2:5)
Repent of our sins. This is a complete, decisive change of mind and action. (Jeremiah 51:45; Luke 16:11; Revelation 2:5,16,22; 3:3,19)
Repeat the deeds we did at first. "It is a reversal of the status quo, a deliberate repudiation of former sins and a complete return to the standards and will of God" (Thomas) (Ephesians 2:10; James: 2:14-26; Revelation 2:5)
Reform or be removed. The Lord promises to remove the lampstand from its place -unless [we] repent. God's judgement always follows habitual, unrepentant sin. (2 Timothy 2:19;Hebrews 12:5-11; Revelation 2:6)
Renew your obedience to walk by, be-filled with, pray in, to not grieve or quench the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 5:18; Jude 20; Ephesians 4:30; 1Thessalonians 5:19)
Reconcile yourself to the local church. Place yourself, your family and your vocation under faithful pastoral instruction. (Hebrews 13:7, 17)
Pray for the leaders of every facet of our industry that they will honor the Lord Jesus with obedient lives in doing the right thing, consistent with Scripture, no matter what the cost personally or corporately. (Ephesians 6:18-20; 1Timothy 2:1-3)
Take a step of faith. Come away from the current industry model like Abraham venturing out into the wilderness with only the promise of God as his surety. Begin to build authentic Christian Music Ministry again. (Romans 1:17; Hebrews 10:38, 11:1, 6)
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