MSG: Music to God’s Glory

This message was presented on April 7, 2013 as the first of four parts on Music and Worship.  This series is to celebrate the introduction of our new Associate Pastor of Worship and Arts.

Music to God’s Glory
1 Corinthians 10:31 

Why are we here? Some people go to church, because their family makes them. Some go, because they truly want to worship God.  Some go because there are economic benefits of looking good in the community.  Some go to find a good gal.  Let me read several passages that explain why we should come:

20 He [Abraham] did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, (Rom 4:20)

            Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus  
            Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and
            rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Rom 5:1-2)

7 Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. (Rom 15:7)

15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. (2 Cor 4:15)

11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phi 2:11)

                  19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  20
                  Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Phi 4:19-20)

An angel flying in heaven 7 saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, (Rev 14:7)

After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! (Rev 19:1)

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Rom 3:23)

31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor 10:31)


Did you know that there are over 15k radio stations? A visit to Grace note’s media database shows 97,206,484 songs in the database. Wherever you go, there is music.  It’s not a matter of if you will choose, but what you will choose to listen to.  So how can you make choices that will bring glory to God? Does it matter? Does God care?

We live in a time of humanism, relativism, individuality and pragmatism.  Humanism says it’s all about man. Relativism says there is no right or wrong.  Individuality says it’s all about me. Pragmatism says music is all about the masses so people can make money.  Does it really matter? Does it matter to God?

Right in the beginning with the first family, interesting actions by Cain and Abel are judged by God.  It seems God makes a clear decision that one sacrifice is accepted and one is not.  In Gen. 4:3-5

3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. 4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering,  5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. (Gen 4:3-5)

Why did God accept Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s?  I could walk through the concept of the blood sacrifice, etc., but all I want you to note is that both offered a sacrifice, but God did not accept one.  Why? It mattered to God.  Does music matter to God 

1)      Music matters to God

a)      Music is instrumental in worship 1 Chron. 23:2-5

Now, we know that God cares about what we give.  There are over 2200 references to money in Scripture.  Did you know that there are over 1200 references to music, let alone the whole book on Psalms is about music. There are work songs, war songs, love songs, songs for entertainment, and songs of mourning.

2 And he gathered together all the leaders of Israel, with the priests and the Levites.
 3 Now the Levites were numbered from the age of thirty years and above; and the number of individual males was thirty-eight thousand.
 4 Of these, twenty-four thousand were to look after the work of the house of the LORD, six thousand were officers and judges,
 5 four thousand were gatekeepers, and four thousand praised the LORD with musical instruments, “which I made,” said David, “for giving praise.” (1 Chron.  23:2-5)

In David’s time, there were 38,000 Levites and David appointed 24,000 to be take charge of the temple work, 6,000 were officers and judges, 4,000 were gatekeepers, “and four thousand praised the LORD with musical instruments, “which I made,” said David, “for giving praise.” (1Ch 23:2-5)  Any significance?  Only Levites were allowed to be a part of this group and they were for giving praise.

Then note 1 Chronicles 25. The whole chapter is devoted to David’s directions on giving praise.

Moreover David and the captains of the army separated for the service some of the sons of Asaph, of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, stringed instruments, and cymbals. And the number of the skilled men performing their service was: (1 Chron. 25:1)

All these were under the direction of their father for the music in the house of the LORD, with cymbals, stringed instruments, and harps, for the service of the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman were under the authority of the king. (1 Chron. 25:6)

We see David organizing his cabinet for temple worship, gatekeepers, Treasury, military and state officials.  Levite fathers trained their children. That’s significant.  What about the New Testament?

b)      Music proclaims truth Eph. 5:18-19; Col. 3:16

The New Testament clearly maintains the importance of music for worship. Paul writes, “be filled with the Spirit, 19speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” (Eph 5:18-19)  In Colossians, Paul writes, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Col 3:16)  The passages identify both vocal and instrumental music.  Note, truth is communicated by music.

When you sing, you communicate the importance of truth. When you don’t sing, you are saying you don’t have to communicate truth. When I was in college, I remember when my pastor rebuked us. He saw that during the singing, I was one of several guys who were tolerating the music, but we were not singing.  When the music concluded, before he began with the message, he rebuked those who chose not to sing.  Without calling us out by name, although I knew he was talking about us, he clarified for us why we sing and how it honors the Lord.  He explained that lack of singing was a proud and rebellious heart.  I got the message.

There are many passages of the New Testament that were set to music.  Examples include Philippians 2:6-11, 1 Tim. 3:16, 2 Timothy 2:11-13, John 1:1-18, Ephesians 1:1-11, 2:14-16, Colossians 1:15-20, and Hebrews 1:3.

c)      Music addresses our passions 1 Sam. 16:23; Jam. 5:13

In 1 Samuel 16:23, David was called upon to play music for King Saul.  Saul was greatly distressed and the music restored his thinking, although it did not lead him to repentance.

And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him. (1 Sam. 16:23)

Paul and Silas were in prison, but at midnight, rather than being discouraged, they sang songs to lift their spirits,

24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
 25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. (Acts 16:24-25)

James addresses the importance of singing for helping others,

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. (Jam. 5:13)

d)     Music expresses the beauty of God  Ps. 19:1

Music is used over and over in Scripture to accentuate the beauty of God. In Psalm 19, it reads, “To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.” (Ps. 19:1)  David used music to declare God’s handiwork in the heavens.  We ought to also recognize that beauty is not in the eye of the beholder.  There are preferences, but true beauty is what God describes.  Music is one way to express the majesty of God’s creation and God’s character.

Therefore, music is not incidental to God.  IT matters. This is why we sing to God in corporate worship.  It is not something to be skipped.  For example, if you’re in the cafe, the music begins for the worship servoce and you think, “Oh, I still have 20 minutes before I need to be in the service for the message.” That’s how Cain would think.  It’s about me.  Cain said, “I’ll offer what I want to God.” We might say, “I’ll join the corporate service when I want to join.”

Martin Luther said this about music,

We have put this music to the living and holy Word of God in order to sing, praise and honor it. We want the beautiful art of music to be properly used to serve her dear Creator and [His] Christians. He is thereby praised and honored and we are made better and stronger in faith when [His] holy Word is impressed on our hearts by sweet music.  Martin Luther (1483-1546)

John Calvin wrote,

And in truth we know by experience that singing has great force and vigor to move and inflame the hearts of men to invoke and praise God with a more vehement and ardent zeal. Care must always be taken that the song be neither light nor frivolous; but that it have weight and majesty, and also, there is a great difference between music which one makes to entertain men at table and in their houses, and the Psalms which are sung in the Church in the presence of God and his angels. John Calvin (1509-1564)

And Jonathan Edwards said,

The best, most beautiful, and most perfect way that we have of expressing a sweet concord of mind to each other is by music. Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

Most people say music is important, but some often say the style is merely preference.  Comments are often made that Scripture doesn’t specifically address what kind of music is appropriate, so therefore any kind of preference is okay.  Why do people say that music style doesn’t matter?  Is music in the ear of the beholder?

So far, all I’ve said is “Music matters; music is important.”  Let me first address that Scripture is sufficient to guide us into choosing the kinds of music to use for the glory of God.  Beginning next week, we’ll begin to look into what Scripture says to guide us into what choices matter.

2)      The Bible is sufficient to guide what matters 2 Tim. 3:15-17

a)      Scripture is sufficient for salvation 2 Tim. 3:15; Eph. 2:8-9.

Paul writes,

…and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim. 3:15)

Paul declares that Scripture would make Timothy wise for salvation.  Paul explains how,

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Eph. 2:8-9)

In another passage, Jesus explains how Scripture is sufficient for learning about salvation. “And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the [word]? What is your reading of it?” (Luke 10:25-26)  All you need is found in Scripture.  In Luke 16, the rich man asks Abraham to send someone to tell the gospel to his brothers who are still alive and Abraham says, “They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.” (Luke 16:29).  In other words, they have the Word and that is sufficient to help them understand the gift of salvation. The Word is sufficient.

b)     Scripture is sufficient for life 2 Tim. 3:16, 17.

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

There are two major truths to see from this passage.  First, the Bible is God’s authority for life, i.e. it is inspired by God or  “God–breathed.” Secondly, Scripture is profitable (sufficient) for every truth for life (every good work).

When we were blessed by the Lord to have a daughter, I was responsible to raise Katy, but most was delegated to Barbara.  I didn’t tell Barbara what food to give her, but that she be fed and fortunately God provided much of that in the beginning through nursing.  I didn’t tell her how to clothe Katy, but that she be clothed.  I gave her money to insure she was clothed. I didn’t tell her when to bathe Katy, but just that she be kept healthy.  As we raised her, we had the joy of raising a precious life to influence more lives today. Did it matter to me whatKaty ate during the week? No and yes. Did it matter what pajamas she wore? No, just that she did. Did it matter what happened during bath time? No and yes.  She just needed to make sure the water was the right temperature and Katy didn’t fall over and drown.  Actually, Barbara was well ahead of me on that stuff, but I had responsibility.  The point is, she had sufficient wisdom on what to do to raise our daughter Katy in a safe and growing environment and Scripture guided in all areas of child rearing.

c)      Does music style matter?

i)        We need discernment Gal. 5:19-21

Galatians 5:19-21 is a representative list of deeds of the flesh.  It is not the whole list.  If the deed of the flesh is not listed here, does that mean it would not be a deed of the flesh? Does God give guidance for us to learn discernment or does He give every specific rule we need to know?  God wants us to use discernment as we see in Hebrews 5:14, “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

ii)      We need training

I painted a bookshelf unit for our daughter Katy when she was about one-year-old.  From a catalog, Barbara cut out pictures of each of the toys so that Katy would learn where to put the toys and keep them neat and orderly.  When we moved to Indianapolis, we didn’t tell Katy how to pick up her toys, because she had the idea of what we wanted and she took care of it.  The Bible is not a list of commands and prohibitions.  It does not contain every instruction for what we are to do.  God wants us to be dependent on Him always seeking to live a more holy life, which comes through dependency on Him.  The Bible doesn’t tell me whether I should buy a Ford or a Chevy.  But it does tell me about handling money and not to co-sign for others, unless I’m ready to lose the money. 

Scripture gives me hundreds of commands and prohibitions from which I can draw principles for everything and profit for every good work.  Scripture does not prescribe everything, but it provides principles for discernment.  What does Scripture say about driving your car? Nothing and everything. What does Scripture say about what to eat at O’Charley’s?  Nothing and everything. What does it say about going on vacation? Nothing and everything.

God wants us to continue to train, so that we’ll be able to discern.  Paul writes in 1 Timothy 4:7, “…exercise yourself toward godliness.”  The word for “exercise” is Gumnazo-, which means to exercise diligently. This means we have to make decisions regarding life choices.  Again, Paul writes, “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.” (1Tim. 6:11) 

We often get to a point in our walk and get comfortable. For example, if you want to be able to play euchre, you could know what I know. If you want to play like the masters, you have to know it like some of the card masters like Rick Storm, Mike Monfreda or Larry Cooney.  If you want to understand which translation to use, you need to understand the history of translations and the philosophy of each version.  If you want to make a decision on whether you should have alcohol as a beverage, you need to understand the nature of alcohol and the culture in which Scripture was written.   The same is true for music.  You don’t need to understand music like Rich or Gabe, but you’ll need to understand the way music communicates if you are going to apply biblical principles to it. Come next week and we’ll begin to address that. 

Let’s use music to glorify the Lord! 

Many people ask the question, What wrong with this music? The question we should ask is, “What’s right with this music?” Does it glorify God?  How can you tell?  Come next week.


Message Based Discussion Questions

1)       Did you ever take music lessons?  What kind and for how long?

Digging deeper:

2)       According to John 4:24, how are you to worship God? ___________________ As you look at John 4:21-26, what principles can we apply from this passage to music and worship?

3)       Note Leviticus 10:1-3. What happened to Nadab and Abihu? _______________ How or what principle can you apply to music and worship from this?

4)       How would you describe the worship in Malachi 1:6-14; 3:7-14?  __________________ How should principles from these verses apply to both the instrumentalists as leaders and/or the congregation as participants?

Making application from the passage to life:

5)       What are ways that music communicates truth?  What are several specific examples?

6)       Why is having a list of things to do, in any field, a dangerous thing?

7)       Based on the passage, regarding music, what conclusions can you note regarding preferences of music style?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s