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Pauline Principles Of Church Music In Verses XVI And XVII Of Colossians 3


There are four principles deduced from the New Testament worship which, if applied, will help produce a God-honouring music and worship ministry. These are found in Colossians 3:16,17 and they include the memorandum or message of music; means of music; medium or matrix of music and the motive of the musician.


The message of church or sacred music must be solidly based on the Word of God (Col. 3:16a). Musicians should be filled with an understanding of the Word of God and then communicate a biblically based text though their music. God’s Word must not only fill our hearts but must permeate the lyrics of the songs we use to worship God as well. Thus, in evaluating music for use in church, we must ask ourselves, ‘is the text of this song consistent with Biblical truth?’ The theology of suffering, for instance, is reflected in song. In the 1970s, most choruses sung emphasized personal confession of one’s faith in Christ and the willingness to take up the cross and identify in the fellowship of His suffering. Today, many messages identify suffering and sin or lack of faith. The chorus ‘Mi a nor go sufa, a nor go beg for bread; God of mirakul, na my Papa O” (“I will neither suffer nor beg for bread because the God of Miracles is my Father”) is very popular. It must be emphasized that even though it would be wrong to crave for or go in search of opportunities to suffer, biblical theology supports the view point that a Christian is a spiritual athlete and suffering is an inescapable part of the training programme.

Another important aspect of this principle involves the quality of God’s Word in the musician (‘richly dwell in you’). The Word of God must inhabit and become a part of our being. It should be the controlling aspect of every Christian musician’s disposition. The world teaches musicians to do their thing (aspire for acceptance) and to strive to be ‘great musicians’. For the Christian, however, the Word of God should be his regulation.

The message or memorandum of the music (‘the Word of God) is also evident in our lives ‘with all wisdom’. This refers to our ability to discern between right and wrong, proper and improper, ethical and unethical in our selection and use of music. The Christian musician needs the wisdom of God to know what song to use, how to minister (and not perform) it, and what innovations (if any) are appropriate in worship.


Music should focus on a two-fold method of ‘teaching and admonishing one another’ (Col.3:16b). To teach means to instruct, explain and direct. Thus, music directed to God should be far more than entertainment or personal enjoyment. It should be a tool for biblical instruction and training. A common song, ‘Read your Bible pray every day if you want to grow’, is a very clear biblical instruction. Many people have been able to remember the books in the Bible as a result of music being applied to this list of sixty six ‘titles’. This is one of the reasons why music is so important in the ministry of Christian education. Music in the church should be more than the prelude to the Bible lessons or sermon. The right kind of music can be used powerfully to teach the truth of God’s Word. Many of the great hymn writers such as Martin Luther, Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley realized the power of music to teach and that was why they wrote hymns rich in doctrinal truths. Music can also be used to help people know the very words of Scriptures, especially those which seem difficult to memorize. Many choristers know the piece, Rejoice in the Lord Always, even before realizing that the entire rendition is recorded in Philippians 4:4-7. ‘Admonish’ means to invite, encourage, shape and mold. A Scriptural music ministry provides opportunity for musicians to encourage, built up, and spiritually nurture fellow believers. Christian musicians have a responsibility to teach and to train people to understand and perform God’s work. All believers are to be involved in the ministry of music regardless of their musical skills. God desires for us to minister to Him and to one another with our sacrifice of music. No one is to be merely a spectator in the music programme of the local church.


Paul instructs us to use “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs”. This illustrates that there should be variety in church music. A church which only sings only one set would not be fulfilling Scripture according to this passage. Canticles and choruses could fall under psalms. A popular canticle rendered at wedding ceremonies is Beati Omnes or Psalm 128. Everyone who fears God is regarded as blessed and such an individual would eat the work of his or her hands. The wife is pronounced as a fruitful vine and the children like olive plants around the table. Seeing one’s grandchildren is regarded as a blessing. The chorus ‘I will bless the Lord at all times’ is taken from Psalm 34:1-2. The psalmist proclaims that he’d bless God at all times and would boast in Him. David thanks and praises God for deliverance from the Philistines. Other songs are classified as spiritual songs. Probably this would be a convenient portion to classify gospel songs. It is evident that God admonishes to use different kinds of Christian songs to praise the Lord.


The musicians must have the proper motives in their music – “Singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (v.17). Misguided motives and selfish ambitions have hindered many gifted musicians from communicating the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no room in the service of God for musicians with arrogant, self-righteous, condescending, or self-serving attitudes. For our music and worship to be acceptable to God, it must begin in our hearts. God is more concerned about the music in our hearts than that on the lips. God is in the business of changing hearts – molding, strengthening, developing and sanctifying them for His glory. Music is a means of communicating outwardly what God is doing inwardly. The Christian musician should not aim just drawing attention to his own gifts but to bring praise to God. As we minister to God through music, God will minister to us. Many Ministers of Music, music groups, soloists or instrumentalists have been fooled by Satan into thinking that God is impressed with abilities, talents, technology and ego and that He will bless us according to the level of the compliments we receive for our performance. An old saying paraphrased says, ‘the musical talents you possess are God’s gifts to you. How you develop and use those musical talents are your gifts to God’. Do we use musical gifts to glorify the name of the Lord or for personal gain? Do we concentrate on lifting the name of the Lord with a Christ-like life style or do we exhibit lax moral standards and rely on our musical gifts. Amos 6:23-24 clearly warns us to “take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy voils. But let judgment run as waters and righteousness as a mighty stream”.
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Tue, October 2 2012 » News And Society

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