Tim Johnson, editor
June 22, 2008
Reason for the Hope
Music for the Soul
Music not only has the power to soothe the savage beast, but also to move, inspire, educate and mold the thinking of man. Ancient Greek philosophers, such as Plato, believed that music was one of the most important facets of education. But our all-wise Father knew this before men did, and so He ordained singing to be an integral part of the life of a Christian. Through singing we can both "teach" (educate) and "admonish" (encourage, counsel, reprove). In Colossians 3:16 we're told: "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."
To Whom Do We Sing?
In a sense, all that a Christian does should be done "to the Lord" (Romans 14:8; Ephesians 6:7-8). This would certainly apply to our singing (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19). Many of the Psalms of the Old Testament were addressed directly to the Lord. But even when a Psalm was addressed to "all peoples...all inhabitants of the world" or an "evil...mighty man" (Psalms 49 & 52) is there any doubt that it could still be sung to the honor of the Lord? It is to Him that all worship is to be offered.
As Christians, we are also to sing (or speak in song) "to one another", but this does not preclude singing in the presence of those who are not Christians. In prison, Paul and Silas were "singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them" (Acts 16:25). Paul later expressed his concern that the "uninformed" and "unbelievers" understand the songs and prayers offered in an assembly of the church (1 Corinthians 14:16, 23). In fact, since we are commanded to sing Psalms, and some of the words of the Psalms are addressed to all the inhabitants of the world, it seems clear that we are to "teach and admonish" both believers and unbelievers in song. But it is the believers who will be most receptive to the songs, for their hearts and lives are attuned to them.
Melody in the Heart
Everyone knows that certain kinds of music seem to go along with certain kinds of activities or life styles. March music just somehow fits the activity of a marching band or a military parade. Country music, rock music and classical music each seem to go hand in hand with certain life styles - so much so that it is sometimes difficult to tell whether the life style created the music, or the music created the life style. That is exactly the function of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs in the life of a Christian. Such music strikes a respondent chord in the soul of the Christian. As you sing and are sung to, there is to be "melody in your heart" (Ephesians 5:19). We pluck the heart strings, and music is made in the soul which corresponds to the spiritual lives we are living.
We are deluged in our society with music. Radios, TV's, CD and MP3 players are everywhere. While some of what is played is wholesome, much of what is played SHOULD NOT make melody in the heart of a Christian. Songs which encourage revelry, drunkenness, drinking parties, adultery, fornication, vengeance and other sinful actions and attitudes just do not harmonize with living for Jesus.
Don't deceive yourself; the music you listen to is powerful. Let your music be the kind that harmonizes with the life you are striving to live. Especially emphasize the singing and hearing of spiritual songs. You will find that the power of music will lift your soul.
The apostle Peter charges the Christian in 1 Peter 3:15: "But sanctify in your heart Christ as Lord, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." Peter did not say that the Christians should answer every man or every question, for some deserve no answer. He did, however, tells us to be ready always to give that answer.
Every Christian who is on the firing line will be confronted with questions about his hope. Many times he will be asked why he is what he is. On these occasions he must be ready to rise to the forefront to give his reason.
Just any reason will not suffice. The very familiar "because this is what I've been taught" or "this is what Mother believed" do not express Bible reasons. Both of them, in fact, set aside the authority of the text and exalt other authorities. The reasons we give must be able to convince the gainsayer, and only those that the Lord has supplied in His Word can do so.
Every child of God, therefore, must be a student of the book in order that he might become an able apologist or defender of the faith of the gospel. Let us note some other passages that enjoin the same responsibility:
Jude 3 - "contend for the faith"
Philippians 1:17 - "set for the defense of the gospel"
From these we can see that the Christian must be equipped to defend the faith. Only from the Bible itself can we really find the equipment that he needs in this defense. To go elsewhere is to risk faulty or inadequate equipment. Books and articles written by men are always susceptible to human error, whereas "all scripture is given by inspiration of God." Paul's description of the battle armor for the Christian indicates that its every part is either the Word or that which the Word supplies. Well does the song admonish: "Soldiers of Christ arise and put your armor on; Strong in the strength which God supplies, Strong in the strength which God supplies, Through His beloved Son." Let us therefore busy ourselves in a study of the Book.
If we will familiarize ourselves with the Bible, we will have no foe so formidable that we cannot overcome him. We will be able to combat every false idea, to abate every attempt of Satan, and to see through the cunning craftiness and sleight of men whereby they wait to deceive the uninformed and thus unstable soul. After we have familiarized ourselves with the Scriptures, let us apply ourselves to a steadfast use of the Word. In so doing, we can join our hearts and hands in defense of the cause of our king, who once so ably defended ours. Then at the close of day, we can claim the victor's crown and the other rewards that the Lord has promised to those who overcome.