God's Wrath was Satisfied

God's Wrath was Satisfied
Preach the Word!!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Modern – Day Gospel Music. Part 3: Do not be conformed

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2).

Conformity is the idea of something being pressured so that it changes its original shape. The catching word is pressured. When you place an egg in your hands and compress it, it will crush. It breaks and takes a different shape because of the force you have exerted on it. The pressure that you apply is coming from outside the egg and not inside. Same applies to the world. The world’s pressures (fame, power, wealth, success, and acceptance) are outside us. Because of man’s sinfulness these pressures are a natural attraction. We can then paraphrase by saying that the gospel artists must not be pressured by the world to change their shape of music. The world (an organized system that is contrary to God’s will) has a certain way of doing things which suite them. The world loves things that are contrary to God’s will because they are not Christ centered. On the other hand the believer is expected to do things in accordance to God’s will. When the believer does things to please God, he will be hated by the world because those things will be Christ centered. Look at this, If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” John 15:19. We can get a principle that we can apply to music and it is this: if you go and sing in a bar and the world (the unsaved) are not moved to think about their sin but instead rejoice at the sound of the music then there is a serious problem. Does the world love or hate your music? Remember; if you belonged to the world, it would love you.  When you sing, does the world agree with it and want more of it? If so, then be assured that you are conforming to the world. It doesn’t matter whether your aim is to spread the gospel. The fact of the matter is that you are conforming to the world and doing so is sin. Sharing the gospel must not be sinful. Remember; do not be conformed to the pattern of this world.

 The artist must also not conform to the pattern of this world by being transformed (becoming more like Christ). We need again to understand transformation. While conforming is as a result of pressure from outside, transforming is as a result of pressure from the inside. The believer gets changed from the inside through the work Holy Spirit. I remember some few weeks ago I was cooking some maize. Someone once told me that for it to cook well you need to place a plastic bag on top so that the vapor does not escape. I pressed the bag on top which fitted well in the pot and then placed the pot on a heated stove. Within a few minutes the vapor began to push the bag outward. In my ignorance I tried to push the bag back into the original form. Honestly, I don’t remember the last time I screamed so loud. Thank God for the sense of feeling which helped me realize I was going to burn my hand if had not removed it from the bag. I was defeated. I could not press the bag downward anymore because of the heat that was inside. This is exactly what is meant by transformation. I was the world, the plastic bag was another person and the vapor represented the Holy Spirit. Just like the world, I was able to press the bag into the shape that I wanted by the force I exerted. However, to do the same thing a second time with the vapor present was difficult. It was hard because there was something inside the bag that was stronger than me and it was pushing the bag outward. In like manner, the Holy Spirit helps the believer push the pressures of the world away. Notice that the steam does not just come up. It is produced when heat is applied. Same applies with transformation. It just doesn’t happen when the believer is idle. You need to apply the heat. This heat is the word of God. The Holy Spirit transforms the believer through the abiding and living word of God. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 3:18. Remember: be transformed.

Based upon the above analysis, the artist must then be able to ask himself a few questions: Do I walk in the Spirit? Am I being transformed? Do I understand God’s word with correct interpretation? If so then how am I using this to produce music that will not conform to the pattern of the world? Remember that transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit and since transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit then only a genuinely converted person is able to become Christ-like hence not conform to the pattern of the world.

The artist must also be able to know God’s perfect will. He must be able to discern God’s will. Again discerning spiritual things is not done by ordinary people. It comes through the aid of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10-15). Proving God’s will comes as a result of transformation through renewing of the mind. God’s good, acceptable and perfect will is when one reaches a point where he says, “I love what I am doing because it is what God wants me to do. His will for me is good, acceptable and perfect.” And surely, God’s will, is not one which will conform to the pattern of the world. Remember; Know God’s will.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Modern-Day Gospel Music. Part 2: Be careful.

Be sure to have read part 1 before reading this.

In part one I said gospel music must be enjoyed. It must have words ( a message), tune and beats that will influence someone to be Christ-like. In this second part what I am about to address is that both the listener and producer of the music must be very cautious. Cautious about what? You need to ask questions like: When I am singing, do my music influence people to be Christ like? Does the music I am listening to help me become godly? Is the music I am singing pointing people to Christ?  Are the Words Christ centered and do they deliver the gospel in a pure way? Is the message about God clear and accurate? Is it in accordance to sound doctrine? I am sorry to mention but much of today’s gospel music does not reach this standard. Why is it so?

Let me address this by looking at the issue of influence. If you agree that music does have influence and that your music is Christ centered then how possible is it that a person who is drunk wants to drink more beer and afterwards commit sexual immorality while you sing or after you sing? Is this what we call persuading someone to think and act biblically? I don’t think so.  

Someone will say, “It’s still OK because Jesus preached to sinners.” Yes he preached to sinners he did not sing to sinners. The point where many miss it is comparing singing to preaching. In as much as the two may contain a similar message, they are very different. When someone is preaching people listen attentively and don’t do anything else apart from taking down notes. Preaching again has no melody and beat to it. It is simply a voice of someone speaking.  Music on the other hand contains words, melody and beat. Music is an art. Someone can be singing and dancing at the same time. Not so with preaching. Someone can be singing and at the same time the people in the audience are dancing. Not so with preaching. Have you ever shared the gospel with someone? Did the person or people you spoke to dance or sing while you talked? You can’t even think of it can you? It’s not normal. It would actually be sending you a message that he is not interested in your words. Remember music is words, tune and or beat. There is nowhere in Bible where you find Jesus singing to sinners at an Orgy (Drinking party).  It is true we must preach and share the gospel but we must be careful to do it the right way. Nowhere in Scripture do you find the apostles sharing the gospel at a drinking party. Paul in many passages condemns orgies (drinking parties) and tells believers to not associate themselves with such parties (Galatians 5:21, 1 Corinthian 6:10, Romans 12:13 and 1 Peter 4:3). Orgies were sinful. Notice he was not condemning parties but drinking parties. I want you to look carefully at 1 Peter 4:3-4. It says, “3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you.” Notice what comes out in these verses is that these Christians once lived as pagans but are now changed and have nothing to do with the past (drinking parties). Not that they could not share the gospel but that they were to win those who were still living in a pagan lifestyle by being different. It actually says, “They are surprised that you do not join them…”  Be careful what you listen to and be also cautious how and where you sing.

The other reason modern-day gospel music is not pointing people to godliness is the motive for singing. You need to ask yourself, “what is my purpose for singing?” Be sure that your motive for singing is biblical. We are told that “whether therefore you eat or drink or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God” 1 Corinth 10:31. When you search your heart, can you honestly say “my aim is to glorify God?” Or is it, “how much money will I make from this? Or “how popular will I become?”  If the motive is wrong then you are better off not singing. Otherwise you will be like one who already has his reward because his heart is not right with God.
Lastly, much of today’s gospel music is sung and produced by people who love the world. They compare themselves to the world. The believer (singer or not) must not compare himself to the world. What do I mean by this? The believer must not say “if Christians can listen to secular music then what’s wrong with singing gospel music at an orgy?” Remember what I said in my preamble in part one? I mentioned that we are sinners saved by grace. The fact that a Christian would want to participate in worldly stuff shows his sinfulness. The fact that you are saved does not mean you are free from sin. You still have the fallen nature in you so you are prone to wonder. “For by grace you have been saved through faith…” Eph 2:8. It is possible that you can use the good for evil. You are not perfect until Christ returns. And many fall into sin because they think too highly of themselves. So the Christian will find himself falling short but this is not a leeway to conform to the pattern of the world.  What is to conform to world pattern? How can the Christian (both singer and listener) who love music not conform to the world? This is what I seek to address in part 3

Modern-Day Gospel Music. Part 1: Enjoy the Music

Music was created by God. It must be enjoyed. Scripture tells us of men and angels singing to the Lord in heaven (Rev 5:9).  Human beings as well sing. However, we must remember that we are not like angels. We are fallen creatures, sinful creatures. We have in us what we call the flesh and the desire of the flesh is to live contrary to God’s will. Therefore, what is meant for good can be used by fallen men for evil because of man’s sinfulness. Take, for example food. It was meant for our good but people abuse the privilege and become gluttons. Same applies to music. Music can be so beautiful that you can even wish you were in heaven. On the other hand it can lead you into the most sinful acts. In as much as music should be enjoyed, let us be careful not to sin against God.
Before I begin talking about the issue at hand (Modern-day gospel music) let me address some things about music. The first is that the Words of the music are important. Words are meant to convey a message. They are a way of communication just like God the Father was conveying a message to the world through his Son, who is the Word (John 1:1). Yes, it is true that the wording will differ depending on the language being spoken. Nevertheless, a message is still being delivered.

Secondly, the tune of the music is equally significant. This I must mention that it goes with the instrumentals or beats which accompany the music. Some tunes are touchy (emotion centered). Playing certain music makes some people emotional.  Some melodies are also danceable, they are accompanied by a danceable beat or instrument. I was in a bus one time and this song started to play. Within five seconds the lady next to me started tapping her leg and moving her body. What caused that? It was the music. She suddenly felt like dancing. Some beats are also noisy and some are sexually enticing.

Thirdly, is that music has the power to influence. Since music can steer emotions then surely it can influence. I remember some years back a certain boy (by then) started listening to a kind of music. Before long his dress code changed. His speech was different. The young lad also changed his hairstyle. From the look of things he was a “good boy” gone “bad.” Any person who loves music will agree that music does have influence.  I am also reminded of soldiers in the army. When doing their workouts in preparation for battle or whatever, they sing certain songs. The songs they sing contain words and tunes which are as if to say “Go on! Come on, you can do it!” The songs are meant to persuade the combatants to keep at it. Yes music does influence.

Therefore based upon the above facts, we can conclude that gospel music must have pure Words, words that are Christ centered. This is so because the gospel is about the good news of Jesus Christ. The gospel is about the life, death and resurrection of Christ. He was born in the flesh, crucified on the cross and rose again in order to save men from their sin. This is the true gospel. Apart from this everything else is false.  

 Secondly, proper gospel music must have a tune that will emotionally move someone to Christ or worship of God.  When you combine Christ centered words and a tune (instrument and beats), they must be able to influence someone to think and act biblically because music does have influence. It must persuade someone to want to live worthy of the gospel of Christ. 

Therefore, enjoy true gospel music. Let it speak of God’s goodness, love, faithfulness, grace, compassion and so on so forth.

Look out for part two!!