Know Your Bible

VOL. 12                                                                                                                          December 8, 2013                                                                                                                            NO. 41



One of the things I've been thinking about recently is Colossians 3:16: "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you with all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God."

We usually use this passage as justification for singing. However, that's usually as far as we take it. I want to point out what Paul said in the middle of this verse: "teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." Notice the emphasis of Paul's instruction. He defines the music by its content, not its style. He didn't say, "chants and rounds and four-part harmony" or something else to identify what *style* of music we sing.

There are two points we can draw from this "detail." First, we are, I believe, at liberty to use whatever style of music we desire in our worship, so long as it consists strictly of singing.

That said, the second point is a caveat to the first. Our emphasis is to be on the words we sing, not the music we sing. While I and other song leaders

may get up and do our best to make sure that a congregation sings correctly from a musical perspective (keeping in time, in key, etc.), the words are the vehicle for "teaching and admonishing one another." Because the emphasis is on the words, the music should not overshadow the words. 

While I am not, as a rule, opposed to songs written in the last 15-20 years, perhaps the majority of the songs that have been written in that time (I don't have any reliable statistic, just a feeling from what is popular among that music) leave me with a feeling like the words were a justification for singing a particular tune. That is, the goal was to achieve an effect, rather than edification.

For example, the song "The Greatest Commands." The song is essentially verbatim from the Bible (1 Jn. 4:7-8; 1 Cor. 13:7; Matt. 22:37), however, because all four parts sing different sets of words (alto sings from 1 Jn, bass from 1 Cor, tenor sings "God is love" repeatedly, soprano sings from Matthew), one can only catch snippets of what is being sung and is left with just a general feeling of the music. Yes, it's a beautiful song. Yes, it's scriptural. The question is, is the main attraction the words or the music?

There are other songs that have everyone singing essentially the same words, but incorporate some pretty "showy" musical effects (I've called such songs the creations of a music theory madman). Again, are we singing because of the words, or because we like the way they sound?

I'm not criticizing anyone for liking songs because of the music. There are a few songs in our hymnals that I like because of the music. I think, however, that we need to be careful not to spend more time appreciating the music than we do appreciating the words.

Incidentally, I should add that nearly all the songs that I have this particular problem with are songs written by members of the institutional churches. I say this because the liberal churches have started to move (especially the mega-churches) toward instrumental music. While most of them still adamantly oppose it, there are a few congregations that have incorporated instrumental music into some of their worship services. These songs, I believe, contributed to that decision. The songs have essentially replicated some of the musical features of instrumental music in a more acceptable form. It was only a matter of time before the dominance of these songs, in addition to the use of "praise teams" and such, led those congregations down that path. We should be careful to make sure that we don't follow them.

---Carl Peterson

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On television the other night, my wife and I watched a "biography" of Jesus Christ. It became quite apparent, early on, that the producers of the program were either atheists or, at best, skeptics. It was very obvious in their portrayal of Jesus and the Bible. We, as well as many others I'm sure, were upset at such a biography of Christ and the reducing of the Bible to a myth. It makes me to wonder how many "religious" people do not know or care what the Bible teaches. To get upset on one hand and not to care on the other seems to me to be inconsistent. If a person does not believe what the Bible teaches enough to do what it says, why should he get upset when someone suggests that it is a myth and should not necessarily be believed?

A popular statement among religious people is, "It doesn't matter what a person believes, just as long as he is sincere". The Bible does not teach such an idea. If this is a true statement, the Bible is not necessary. Each person becomes their own standard of authority in religion. Yet, some who believe this idea get upset when someone suggests that the Bible is a myth and should not be believed.

The Bible claims to be the Word of God and a complete guide for mankind. "All scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:16,17). "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son." (2 John 9). If the Bible does not deserve to be followed, it should be rejected totally. It is impossible to believe it and reject it at the same time.

Do you believe it is necessary to have Bible authority for all that is done? If not, part of the Bible is rejected (1 Thessalonians 5:21). The atheist says it should all be rejected. We have to give the atheist some credit: At least he's consistent! Let us not give lip service to God's Word. We either believe and do what it says, or we reject it. Which is it with you?

---E.R. Hall, Jr.

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When a little bird tells you something, make sure that bird was not a cuckoo.


Children should be taught more about the ROCK OF AGES, instead of the ages of the rocks.


God put the church in the world, but it is Satan who puts the world in the church.


The Christian's walk and talk must go together.


No amount of riches can atone for poverty of character.

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Know Your Bible" is e-mailed weekly by the church of Christ which meets at 112 Roberts Avenue in Wise, Virginia. If you know of others who might benefit from the articles contained in this bulletin, we would be glad to have you submit their e-mail addresses and we will include them in next week's mailing. If you are receiving this bulletin and do not wish to continue to do so, please e-mail us with your desire to be removed from the mailing list and we will remove your address promptly. Continue to the bottom of this page and further instructions will be given as to how you may contact us.

--- E.R. Hall, Jr.





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