Singing, Col 3:16


Today’s message is on singing.  We are comparing modern so-called “Christian” music to the psalms and hymns and spiritual songs mentioned in Col 3:16 and Eph 5:19.  The purpose of this broadcast is to show you the contrast between the scriptural music of the Bible and this modern worldly music that you find in contemporary churches and in the contemporary services in some more traditional churches.

Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs are:

Scriptural – when you sing these songs, the word of Christ dwells in you.  Certainly, this is the case in the Psalms because they are scripture.  But it is also true of hymns.  Consider “Jesus is Coming Again.”   We sing about Jesus, the King, who said he would come again [Jn 14:3], all earth and heaven will proclaim [Ps 148] and we will stand before him and cast our crowns at his feet [Rev 4:10-11; 5:8-10].  Consider “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth.”  This song covers Job 19:25-27, 1 Jn 5:11, Jn 1:16-17, Matt 28:18, Ps 77:8, Matt 24:35, Jn 14:2, Jn 14:3, 1 Pet 5:7, and 1 Thes 4:16-17.  These hymns actually cause the word of Christ to dwell in us richly.

Wise – “in all wisdom,” Col 3:16 says.  If you meditate on the words, you see a depth and richness in the choice of words and in the way they are ordered.  The verses build like a sermon and develop to the glory of God.  Consider “One Day” or “When We See Christ.”  These aren’t lyrics that were just thrown together to come up with something for the music; these are lyrics that come from the wisdom of God.

Instructive – “teaching… one another.”  When the hymns are sung, you are able to learn about the Lord and tell others about the Lord because they are instructive.  “It Is Well With My Soul” and “How Great Thou Art” and “Amazing Grace” and “The Old Rugged Cross” are great examples of songs that, when sung as congregational hymns, teach those in attendance about the greatness and wonder of our Saviour, his grace and his cross.  The psalms are particularly instructive because they deal with so much history and prophecy.  Consider the great songs of the Bible in Ex 15:1-19, Deut 32:1-43, Jud 5:2-31, 1 Sam 2:1-10 [a prayer], and 2 Sam 22:2-51.  These are all about the majestic works of God on behalf of his people and they are loaded with prophecy.

Persuasive – “admonishing one another.”  There are many warnings in hymns and in the psalms that urge you to Christ.  Tat’s why hymns of invitation are so beneficial.  Consider “Almost Persuaded” from Agrippa’s response to Paul’s testimony in Acts 26.

Christ-honoring – in other words, they lift him up and glorify and exalt him.  Consider “Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned” or “I Sing The Mighty Power of God” or “Ivory Palaces” or “What A Wonderful Savior.”  These hymns, like the psalms, don’t bring him down to our level, they lift our hearts in praise to him seated by the right hand of God exalted.

Contemporary Songs, by contrast, are:

Personal – they are, most of the time, sung by “me” to “you.”  The references to God are always “you” and the references to the person singing are “I.”  They are a personal testimony of an experience with “you” [presumably God] usually from a person who is hurting, weak, down, and sad.  This is to create the feeling of intimacy between “you” and “me.”  But the songs don’t lift up Christ.  They bring him down to earth.

Sensual – since “you” and “I” aren’t identified, they sound very much like a love song between lovers here on earth.  The result of the experience between “you” and “me” is usually to make the person “feel” better, to have a stronger self-esteem, to feel empowered and to be encouraged to face another day in this sad and lonely life.  The feeling you get is not the Holy Spirit.  It is sensual [Jas 3:15].  The men singers don’t sound manly; they sound weak and passionate.  That’s part of the act.

Shallow – there is no depth or wisdom in the words at all and they are rarely ever scriptural.  They are words with “feeling” that work with the music so that the singer can make music with his voice that goes along with the music that is being played.  So, you hear a lot of moans and sighs in the vocals.  The vocals become like another instrument.

Cultural – they are written to appeal to young people in this generation.  You hear Pop and rock and the musicians are “pushing the music.”  That is, they are taking it to new levels.  Contemporary music is only going to get further removed from the Lord with more time.

Performed – this music is designed to entertain.  That’s why it is always sung by praise and worship bands.  There is no way to sing this music a capella.  People who have tried just sound awful.  This music is designed to elicit the “feeling.”  It is all about the experience.

Humanistic – the bands look like the world’s bands.  The music sounds like the world’s music.  These are men using the means of men to get up a crowd.  The music is written, in part, to make the musicians money.  And like the Corinthians, you end up following men, not the Lord.

Conclusion: There is a vast difference between the characteristics of the contemporary music of the modern churches and the psalms, hymns and spiritual songs of the Bible.  They are not the same and you should examine the lyrics for yourself to see that what we have written is so.