The Beauty of Holy Worship
“Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.”1 Chronicles 16:29
In our text today we have this incredible Psalm [or song] sung to celebrate the return of the Ark of the Covenant which was placed in the tabernacle which David had erected in Jerusalem.
It is quite an inspiring Psalm and fitting of the occasion.
It is rich in history and doctrine: as well as exalting the Lord and extolling his wondrous deeds.
In verse 29 [or at least] part thereof, there is a phrase which has at times held a particular fascination for me throughout my Christian life and it is this phrase: “…worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness”:
The scripture that I am expounding today deals very specifically with God’s standard with regards to worship. It is a controversial issue within church circles; nevertheless we don’t run away from controversy.
“Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” 1Chronicles 16:29
With regard to music [the Psalms were of course put to music] we know that it is a powerful medium. And it’s interesting as I learnt a few years ago: together with language and mathematics music exists universally.
We begin to understand this [universality] particularly in the context of our biblical view of creation in which we see a universe spoken into existence; hence the concept of language takes on a special significance.
This significance is further highlighted as see music and mathematics jointly expressed and brought to Job’s attention as the Lord speaks to Job and retells what happened shortly after the creation of the world:
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?Job 38:4-7
And since music has been with us from “the beginning”: Music as it relates to worship is an important component of our faith. After all we are commanded to “… offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”
From God’s perspective: the Lord knows that words put to music are easily remembered which is why he commanded Moses to teach the people the song in the book of Deuteronomy chapters 31&32 saying: “that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel”.
It’s not some warm fuzzy piece, but a stark contrast between the holiness of God and the wretchedness of man.
In view of verse 29:
The question that must come to mind is this: What does it mean to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness?
Today’s message is particularly relevant in regards to what distinguishes us as an Independent Baptist Church: by this I refer to the singing of hymns rather than Contemporary Christian Music [CCM].
I believe this is an important [if not controversial] message [and something dear to my heart] especially considering the times in which we are living; the apostasy of the last days.
It is because music is a powerful medium that we need to be discerning; testing the spirits as it were; whether they be of God.
Since music is by nature, a proclamation: we must be discerning because many false prophets have gone out from among us. Those who write contemporary music consider themselves [in many respects] to be prophets. They certainly claim to be inspired by God.
In view of the apostasy of the last days it’s important to note that the scripture says those who have separated themselves from the truth are in error. And yet by virtue of our position on worship we are seen as divisive.
The reason we choose to sing hymns is not because we wish to be divisive.
The reason we choose to sing hymns is not because we desire to be or have a preference for things which are old fashioned.
The reason we choose to sing hymns is not because we desire to be different for difference sake; although the Lord desires a peculiar or unique people [separated from this world].
The reason we choose to sing hymns rather than Contemporary Music is because they are understood to fulfill [as best as we can discern] the criteria of HOLY WORSHIP.
I made a personal decision when I was first saved; NOT to listen to secular music but more recently I have also severed ties with Contemporary Christian Music.
As I expound this verse today: I pray that you will gain a greater appreciation of worship generally and also an understanding of our position in regards to our worship at Hope Baptist Church.
The Attributing of Greatness:
“Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name:…”
Glory is one of those words which has unfortunately become jargon in the Christian-ese dictionary. Sadly it is for this reason that the true concept of glorifying God has been trivialized. In charismatic circles it is generally an exclamation in response to an emotion; almost to the point of blasphemy and even idolatry where the worship [itself] is the object of worship and NOT the Lord.
But if we are to give glory to God we need to ask ourselves.
How do we define the word glory?
1.High renown or honour won by notable achievements.
2. Magnificence or beauty.
It is in the context of the first definition that we glorify God through our worship.
Yet when we speak of his glory we speak of his magnificence.
When you read through Psalms [and indeed the entire bible] you cannot help but be confronted with the notable achievements which have been attributed to the Lord: Both personal [the lives of individuals] and in relation to the nation of Israel.
Delivering of victory to the people of God
The re-telling of events in Israel’s history
The revealing [and even expounding] of biblical truth and future events [particularly Messianic prophecy]
Confession and forgiveness of sin
Prayers of thanksgiving
Personal petitions and answered prayer
Receiving comfort in times of despair
These are all reasons to give unto the Lord the glory due to his name. And it is to HIS name and not some generic god that we give glory. When we refer to God we specifically refer to the God of the Christian bible.
[Our passage today makes this clear]
“For all the gods of the people are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.”
As well as attributing greatness to our Lord because of the things he has done, the Psalms are also doctrinal; they speak about who God is [his personal attributes: grace, mercy, goodness loving kindness, faithfulness]. And the way he works in people’s lives: bringing them to an understanding of salvation and sanctification.
As well as attributing greatness to God, the Psalms also attribute wretchedness to man who is in desperate need of God’s grace. And this is an important point to realize: there is an infinite difference between a holy God and sinful man. And the more we realize this the greater our estimation of God is.
Any music that doesn’t truly expose man for who he is [wretched and helpless] doesn’t truly glorify God.
“But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” Psalm 22:6
And Job also after receiving more than a stern rebuke for the Lord answers thus:
Then Job answered the LORD, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Job 40:3-4
The ONLY position we have to fall back on in terms of wretchedness is that we are “accepted in the beloved”: and only in the beloved. Because of what Jesus has done for us.
When discerning the music we listen to, this is just ONE criteria which should serve as a guideline.
Any music which promotes or elevates man without clearly stating how undeserved we are is NOT worth singing.
Any music which promotes or elevates man without CLEARLY stating what Christ did for us [our changed eternity] is NOT worth singing. The self-esteem message in CCM is incredibly subtle but I find when I listen to certain songs, I actually begin to feel depressed. The reason for this is because they subtly teach a process of sanctification through our own efforts; the flesh is totally unredeemable.
Despite a song being perfect lyrically, it is still possible to err in this point. Jesus exposes the heart of religiosity and says this [quoting Isaiah] in reference to the Pharisees.
“Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.”
With the accessibility of contemporary worship music [and even hymns to a lesser degree], it is very possible to become blasé about worshipping God. We play them in our car, we play them on our devices, we play them ad nauseam.
This is especially true of modern worship songs because of the popularity of the artists, the catchy tunes, and also the popularity of churches to which they are connected: We know who they are.
And because of the popularity of the artists; more often than we care to admit: we give glory to the artist and worship the worship and NOT the Lord. The fame of bands such as DC Talk, News Boys, Third Day etc reaches idol status and seriously compromises any integrity that the songs or artists may have.
The compelling thing in regards to the hymn writers is that but for a handful they are virtually unknown; it would be very hard to idolize someone under these circumstances. When you consider the volume of writing that these people composed [8,000+]; their fame should exceed the modern song writers…But it doesn’t.
Notice also in our text that the scripture says “GIVE” glory and not “GET”. So often people are taught in modern churches in regards to a WORSHIP EXPERIENCE: believing they will automatically receive something from the Lord if they worship him intensely enough.
NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH
If anything is to be gained from worship it is a greater understanding of who God is and thus who we are; this should automatically lead to humility and not to boasting about how great the worship was as if it was some transcendental experience.
The bible gives us numerous examples of individuals who failed to give glory to God; instead demonstrating pride. And we know that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Three that come to mind instantly are:
Pharaoh [in the book of Exodus]: After numerous plagues and opportunities to obey God; Pharaoh is asked of the Lord: “How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me?
Nebuchadnezzar: glorified himself in regards to the greatness of Babylon saying:
Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?
No sooner had the words come out of his mouth, that the prophecy foretold by the angel was fulfilled and he was given the heart and mind of a beast and made to live out in the elements and eat grass for a period of 7 years before repenting and giving God the glory due unto him.
Herod Agrippa: accepted the accolades of the people who gave a shout:
“…saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost”.
The Lord knows how to abase the proud and for this reason we ought to fear God [And as we read in verse 25 of our text].
“For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods.” 1Chronicles 16:25
In regards to contemporary music especially [and its perceived gains]: [Again] the mistake that people make is that worship per se:TRANSFORMS YOUR LIFE
Simple fact: It does not:
But rather: it is the transformed life that compels the individual to worship God because of his understanding of who God is and what he has done in his life. This transformation begins at conversion and it is in regards to our own salvation that we first give glory God.
Remember we are saved by grace through faith and NOT because of any great deed or accomplishment that we have done: LEST ANY MAN BOAST
There are 2 prayers highlighted by Christ in the gospel of Luke:
The prayer of the boastful might go something like this:
“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.” Luke 18:11-12
Whilst the prayer of the humble is akin to this:
“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” Luke 18:13
There is nothing good in us and if we are to glory it is in the Lord.
In the book of Revelation we see the darkness of the day of the Lord contrasted with the light heavenly worship:
And before theRevelation 4:6-11
thronethere was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf,and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him ; andthey were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
The very act of casting their crowns before the throne of God clearly says that any reward which was due to them [in the form of a crown] is seen as completely undeserved; given that it was only because of his grace that they were in any position to serve him in the first place.
Therefore our entire lives should glorify God: BECAUSE HE IS WORTHY
Approaching with a Sacrifice:
“bring an offering, and come before him:”
For the discerning worshipper [in the Old Testament specifically] the offering of a suitable sacrifice was duly made. But it was also understood that the Lord desired mercy and NOT sacrifice. Therefore it was not the sacrifice per se which was the primary importance but the state of the heart behind the offering [one that understood his sinful condition]; notwithstanding the suitability of the sacrifice revealed the heart.
The book of Malachi reveals this and we ought to be challenged by it knowing that we are to bring a perfect sacrifice.
A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then IMalachi 1:6-9
bea father, where is mine honour? and if I bea master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts. And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? saith the LORD of hosts.
If we understand the sacrifices in the Old Testament as being representative or as a shadow of the perfect sacrifice which Christ made on the cross…
“Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.”Hebrews 10:5-6
…then we also understand our duty or obligation as believers in regards to our own worship.
And that is to offer a perfect representation or understanding of who Christ is and to live lives which reflect this.
As beneficiaries of the new covenant and by virtue of our position in Christ all believers are now considered by God to be priests.
“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house,1 Peter 2:5
an holypriesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”
We dishonour and despise his name and regard his grace and mercy with contempt when we fail to worship God appropriately: daily taking up our cross and living lives that are worthy of our calling.
If Jesus is the spotless Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world: we ought to worship him as such.
If Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah coming to judge the living and the dead: we ought to worship him as such.
If Jesus is our Great High priest who offered his own blood; entering into the holy of holies: we ought to worship him as such.
If Jesus is our advocate and mediator by which we come with boldness before the throne of grace in time of need: we ought to worship him as such.
Nothing taints our worship more than a false view of Christ and the deceit of accepting or receiving “another Jesus” and “another gospel”.
We should take exception to worship music which paints Jesus in a romantic light and reduces worship to some vague love song.
For this reason scripture makes a serious charge against those that deceive others:
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”Galatians 1:8
Worship of course is more than singing songs; we understand that we worship and serve God with our whole lives:
As we read
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”Romans 12:1
Our worship of and love for God is expressed in obedience [actions] and not feelings. Our verse states: “…come before him”.
This was true in Old Testament times [coming into the temple] but the reality is that we live our entire lives in FULLview of God and he deserves our best. Whilst there are times we would probably like to hide; we also know that there is forgiveness with God and grace in times of need. It is only by God’s grace that we can give our best and be our best.
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have notHebrews 4:14-16
an highpriest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us thereforecome boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
This is where we [as believers] come before the Lord and it is where we can have our most intimate times of worship. It is only because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross that we can truly approach God. It was Jesus who, as our great high priest, entered into the holy of holies in heaven; presenting his own blood on behalf of our sins.
Therefore when we stand before God, we MUST be mindful of this. And this is why celebrating the Lord’s supper is a particularly solemn occasion.
The Ascribing of Worth:
“…worship the LORD…”
The word worship is derived in the English from a compound word “worth-ship” and so the word itself is primarily connected to the ascribing of worth. It therefore compels the believer to actually put value on the object of that worship; which of course is God.
I pray that the word “WORTHY” would take on a greater significance as we read our bibles and that we would see it in the context of worship.
“I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.”2 Samuel 22:4
It seems absurd that we need to be reminded of God’s worth but at the same time our own dignity and worth is measured by the cost of our salvation: “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…”
What we do have in scripture are the commandments which remind us of the place which the Lord should hold in our lives [verses 12-17 of our text refer heavily to these]: The commandments are a measure of God’s worth since it is only the Lord who [as the Law-giver] is in a position to enforce those commandments:
And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any gravenExodus 20:1-7
image,or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
If we add to this the words of Christ in expounding the commandments:
“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”Mark 12:30
Clearly our worship of God shouldn’t be anything but whole-hearted.
Worshipping goes hand in hand with glorifying God: We ascribe worth to that which we attribute greatness. God is worthy because of his greatness.
The worth-ship of God is plainly understood in the context of two principle facts:
WE WORSHIP GOD AS CREATOR AND WE WORSHIP GOD AS REDEEMER
In the context of salvation; we know that we were bought with a price [we are a purchased possession]
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which1Corinthians 6:19-20
For reasons that will never be known this side of eternity, God placed an enormous value on mankind and our salvation…and was prepared to pay that price:
“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:”1Peter 1:18-19
In regards to God as Creator:
“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thyRevelation 4:11
pleasurethey are and were created.”
These are the reasons we worship God: DO WE NEED ANY OTHER…
The Principle of Perfection:
“…in the beauty of holiness.“
In our text today are instructed to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
The phrase or verse “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” does appear in 2 other verses in the bible and so [biblically speaking] it is not a completely obscure thought:
We also see this phrase mentioned:
“Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.”Psalm 29:2
“O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.”Psalm 96:9
But what is BEAUTY and what is HOLINESS.
Firstly we are commanded to be holy, just as the Lord is holy:
“Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”1Peter 1:16
Holiness is an attribute of God and is closely aligned with his perfection since we are also commanded to be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect. Holiness is also intrinsically connected to truth; again the Lord being described as: HOLY and TRUE.
PERFECTION IS ALSO AN ATTRIBUTE OF GOD:
He is perfect in knowledge [Job 36;4]
His way is perfect [2Samuel 22:31 & Psalm 18:30]
His love is perfect [1 John]
His word is perfect [
“…the beauty of holiness” or the beauty of perfection indicates a form of worship that is aesthetically pleasing to the Lord. Worshipping as such should be an expression of who God is [The woman at the well: Ye worship what ye know not]. Nobody likes to be misrepresented; least of all the Lord.
Despite our restored relationship with the Lord through the shed blood of Jesus, God is still holy. And any worship that promotes familiarity is anything but holy. The bible speaks about presumptuous sins; this would be one of them.
In regards to perfection, how do we define perfection in regards to music:
As well as embodying the previous points in our message today we would also expect it to be:
Remember that the book of Psalms is a book of songs and were sung as songs. And although it is impossible to perfectly recreate the music that went with the words: we do know that they were written in metre or timing [tempo or beat].
Despite not having knowledge of the music itself: there are certain principles which we can and must draw from his word. I find it hypocritical that all churches claim that the bible is the final authority on all aspects of faith and practice and yet claim that the bible has NOTHING to say about principles of worship.
Yet if we care to read our bible we would see that we have these 3 passages which underline the clear understanding that worship had a specific set of principles to adhere to.
“And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel.”Ezra 3:10
“Also Jehoiada appointed the offices of the house of the LORD by the hand of the priests the Levites, whom David had distributed in the house of the LORD, to offer the burnt offerings of the LORD, as it is written in the law of Moses, with rejoicing and with singing, as it was ordained by David.”2 Chronicles 23:18
“And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the LORD began also with the trumpets, and with the instruments ordained by David king of Israel.”2 Chronicles 29:27
The bible deliberately makes note in the above verses that the worship was ordained by David. The bible describes David as a man after God’s heart and the sweet psalmist of Israel. Surely this would qualify him to set the worship in order. He also arranged the priestly duties in a set order prior to the building of the temple[which incidentally saw Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist performing his duties when he did].
With regards to worship: if God ordered [with incredible detail] the pattern of the tabernacle and then temple [3x] through Moses, Solomon and Ezekiel…
Wouldn’t it make perfect sense that everything that happens inside the temple should also follow some order [See 1 Corinthians].
When we look at worship and in particular the worship accepted by the Lord:
WE HAVE TO LOOK TO HIS WORD
There are many that would say that God accepts ALL worship and there is nothing prohibited within reason so long as it is SINCERE; nothing could be further from the truth and we see this in scripture.
WE ARE EXHORTED TO WORSHIP IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH: NOT SINCERITY
There are also those that would refute proof texts [such as these] based on the notion that because it is in the Old Testament it has become superseded: Do these same individuals believe that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.
We see as a biblical principle that ordinances were commanded for a reason: because they taught the people something in regards [either] to the nature and character of God or as a foreshadow of Christ.
Through them the Lord would be sanctified or declared holy. The various ordinances were to be taken seriously and we see with dire consequences what happens when individuals take it upon themselves to corrupt the word of God.
And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from theLeviticus 10:1-3
LORD,and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that comenigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.
The burning of incense as a form of worship had a prescribed method. And although we don’t know exactly what Nadab and Abihu did wrong; we know they offered worship which wasn’t ordained by God…and with serious consequences.
Lord also lays this charge on Moses also:
Because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel. Yet thou shalt see the land beforeDeuteronomy 32:51-52
thee;but thou shalt not go thither unto the land which I give the children of Israel.
We know the story:
It was on the second occasion that the children of Israel complained for lack of water and Moses was commanded to speak to the rock. Foolishly he ignores the specifics of the command and in anger and pride he strikes the rock.
We know that this is a picture of Christ who was smitten once for our transgressions and that the failure to comply with the command tarnished that picture for us; and as a consequence Moses was prohibited from entering into the Promised Land.
As part of the ordinance concerned with worship music [and the perfect execution thereof] we can look at several things:
The instrumentation in regards to worship is one place to start. And since that ordinance was instituted [by divine inspiration] through David we should study what the psalms say in regards to this:
“Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.” Psalm 33:2
“With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.”
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD. Psalm 150:3-6
In looking at the instrumentation: of all the instruments mentioned, we clearly see that we are not asked to worship God with DRUMS: I don’t think this was an over-sight on God’s behalf…AND FOR VERY GOOD REASON.
Despite this: we see the use of drums in contemporary worship
I know people would argue that it is wrong to celebrate birthdays based on this logic [but that’s a separate discussion].
Drums in the bible were typically associated with pagan worship; and particularly the sacrifice of children [to the pagan god Molech] in the “VALLEY OF SLAUGHTER”.
The use of drums in worship CLEARLY compromises the perfection expected because it merely imitates the music of the world; which is completely antithetical to God. And not only in the use of drums but also the structure and rhythms.
I’m no expert in music theory but what I do know is that this:
Both secular music and Contemporary Worship are produced in such a way as to appeal to or feeding our flesh: to create a physical and emotional response; even causing you to sway or worse still; to swoon.
Remember as born again believers we have 2 natures within us [our flesh or sin nature and our spirits] and that there is NO GOOD THING in us [referring to the flesh]. Rather than feeding the flesh we are to CRUCIFY it. If the flesh lusteth against the Spirit why would we indulge in something which feeds and strengthens its influence in our lives.
It is almost impossible to convince someone caught up in this music, that they aren’t having a spiritual experience. In many respects they are…but of the wrong spirit. The addictive nature of this music is also testimony to its imperfection.
Further to the principle of perfection [ This in regards to the temple worship]:
“Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.” Ezekiel 22:26
In this passage we see two contrasts or opposites:
Holy and profane
Clean and unclean
Something which is profane is common or unholy. In profaning the holy things of God, the priests treated them as if they were common place. We profane God’s name by treating it like any other word and we profane the sabbath by treating it like any other day.
The Lord expects us to separate ourselves from things of the world and not to associate these things with our worship of him.
Can I ask you:
WHAT FELLOWSHIP HAS JESUS WITH THE DEVIL
You might think this somewhat of an extreme example but I see a comparison with the abomination of desolation. It is sacrilegious to use this style of music to worship the Lord.
One thing you should also realize that Contemporary Christian Music is a recent phenomenon; we can trace its origins back to the Jesus Culture of the mid 70’s. Those responsible for its introduction were less than holy people and some even found to embrace a certain life-style.
People might be tempted to think that because God hasn’t sent down fire as in the case of Nadab and Abihu, that they haven’t transgressed God’s ordinance.
It is perfectly clear that it is only because of his long-suffering that he has not done so. Nevertheless if what I say is true, there will be consequences and the Lord will hand you over to the consequences of your disobedience.
Alan Bloom gives an interesting analysis of modern secular music in “The Closing of the American Mind”; he is certainly right in stating that modern music leads to immorality and is part of our intellectual decline.
WHY then would we listen to Contemporary Christian Music that merely imitates worldly music; particularly when we are expressly taught NOT to love the world and its lusts.
When I stopped listening to Contemporary Worship my moods were more even and my mind was much clearer. The bible tells us to memorize scripture and not the words of songs; when I became aware of this, I realized how hard it was to get these catchy tunes out of your head and focus on scripture.
When we speak of the perfection: we refer to lyrical content and also structure and doctrine. The doctrinal soundness of hymns is unquestionable. Hymns are rich beyond measure and consequently they are also complete thoughts which show a logical progression from verse to verse.
Hymns are musically sound and follow a rhythm which is sympathetic or harmonious to our spirits. They are not sensual and enticing to our flesh; causing us to move or sway. Some people might say this is comforting but it is the scriptures that were written for our comfort and NOT sensual music.
Contemporary Music on the other hand:
Is doctrinally questionable and is structured in such a way that the songs lend themselves to being repeated over and over like chants [like anthems]. Because they are anthemic in nature they have been adopted by the vast majority of modern churches and have in effect become vehicles of ecumenism and the apostasy of these end times.
But what does the Lord say in regards to this:
Music is akin to prayer and the bible is very clear about prayer also.
“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” Matthew 6:7
If the use of vain repetitions is frowned upon in regards to prayer, I suggest that it applies to worship also.
And yet these choruses are repeated over and over to encourage the worshipper to enter into an experience that is anything but godly under the premise of encountering God.
You cannot conjure up or invoke the presence of God through worship.
The manifest presence of God [Shekinah glory] does not exist anymore. The modern worshipper is unwittingly seeking to manufacture an emotion not unlike someone at a music concert. The emotion is the same and so is the means. Sadly it is encouraged and promoted as being desirable and accepted as being normal.
Man is the dwelling place of God; the bible teaches us that this was always the intent of God: to indwell the believer. He completely fills the believer from the inside and not from the outside. You cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit through worship; this is dangerous doctrine.
In many ways the invoking of the Holy Spirit is akin to witchcraft [not unlike the prophets of Baal]
“And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.” 1Kings 18:26
“And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.” 1Kings 18:28
Look at the effort that these people took in invoking their FALSE gods. They jumped up and down and cut themselves…and they prayed over and over repeatedly.
This form of worship opens the believer to seducing spirits.
And in this ALTERED STATE a person will accept all kinds of heresy [if not something worse]
If hymns reflect sound doctrine there are false doctrines associated with Contemporary Worship Music.
Firstly there is a false belief that the Lord is actually present in the music through the agency of the Holy Spirit. It is derived from a false interpretation of this verse:
“But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” Psalm 22:3
Combined with this false idea is the belief that through worship a congregation can invoke the presence of God [the Shekinah Glory].
The ignorant believer has an uncanny ability to be able to pick and choose what to throw out and what to keep in regards to the Old and New Testaments. Such a pity that believers aren’t taught to rightly divide the word.
In 1 Kings we have this account and for reasons of not comprehending sound doctrine and rightly dividing the word of truth we have this perverse interpretation in which it is believed that through fervent worship the presence of God actually fills the place of worship.
All I can say is that this stretches the word of God to dangerous extremes of an occult or mystical nature. And this is what they are hoping to achieve:
[Turn to ]
And it came to1 Kings 8:10-11
pass,when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.
What these people fail to realize is that a greater presence indwells the believer: The scripture doesn’t speak in vain when it says: Christ in us, the hope of glory.
For all these reasons Contemporary Worship destroys the perfection of the aforementioned principles.
Sadly I have heard Fundamental Believers being labelled as cold life-less Christians. But let me say [and I know you agree]: Yes he is worthy of our praise and we have so much to be thankful for. We worship him daily as we surrender our lives and our days to him and present ourselves a living sacrifice [Romans 12:1-2].
He has already given us everything and more. Our treasure is in heaven; it is the Lord himself. As I said, worship does not change or cause growth in the believer. Yet the word of God is promised to do just that; transform our lives from the inside out.
The purpose of worship is to declare who God is and likewise the purpose of our lives is to declare who God is.
“Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvellous works among all nations. For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the people are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.” 1Chronicles 16:24-26
We are to be his witnesses in this world and unless we truly know who God is and growing in that knowledge then our efforts will be fruitless.
I do not think it is a coincidence that Contemporary Worship as a vehicle of the apostasy of these last days; reared its ugly head within 100 years of the corruption of God’s word: I refer to the Revised Version of 1881.
And I don’t think it is a coincidence that in these last days that something which was purposed to declare who God is…has been tainted and become vague.
Remember there is someone else who desires our worship and it was he who challenged and corrupted the word of God in the Garden of Eden.
At the end of the day: most modern believers are unwilling to submit to the word of God and the principles contained in our passage today.
We should worship him and expect nothing in return; especially not a euphoric experience as some would encourage us erroneously to “enter in”.
In departing from the word of God and sound doctrine we are fulfilling the predictions of Karl Rahner who said:
The Christian of the future will be a mystic or he will not exist at all.Karl Rahner
This is a frightening prospect for the world as we await the immanent return of our Lord and the revealing of the man of sin.
Remember that the Lord wants worshippers to worship in spirit and in truth. And it is incumbent on the believer to know what that truth is.
It begins with an understanding of what it means to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.