Lyrics – The Worst Argument for Contemporary Worship Music
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. – John 4:23
The nameless woman to whom these words of Jesus were spoken is representative of the vast majority of mankind, all religious, but living in deceit and ignorance of the one true God and the one true religion which comes from Him through His Son. Whoever this man, she later thinks Him a prophet, she would gladly reap the benefits since there appeared to be no cost. A thing she found not to be true. There would be a price, an embarrassing price to pay, if she was to know this gift. This woman represents the masses of religious humanity who have not the slightest knowledge of true worship nor any real desire to know such. She represents those who have a party relationship; are members of a certain group who, like her, do not worship the one true god nor who possess a desire to do so. She represents those who are satisfied with their denomination or party and gives her loyalty to the same without a real concern for the worship required by her Creator.
Jesus gave to this woman, and to those of every age since, what is the nature and object of true worship. He says, “…the true worshipers shall worship the father in spirit and in truth; for such people the father seeks to be His worshipers.” The one object of all true worship is God. God, in Christ, has defined what is the nature of this worship. This worship is to be “in spirit and truth.” Now, the question is, what does this mean?
Is the word spirit to have a capital “S” meaning the Holy Spirit, or is it to be a small “s” as applying to the spirit in which a person worships?
Let me say that true worship indeed must involve the Holy Spirit who indwells every Christian, but here, the manner and the disposition of the worshiper is at issue. It is the spirit in which we worship that is important. True worship must involve the intellectual or mental part of man rather than the materialistic or carnal worship which consists of ceremonies, offerings and sacrifices. All of which even the heathen practice with great skill, and certainly so do the legalists of the day. Worship is internal before external. It is of the mind and the heart in glorious harmony. True worship, like prayer, must involve ‘a broken and contrite spirit.’ The Scripture is filled with false worshipers who pay the tithe (which for the Jew was 25 to 30 percent of his profit), who attend worship (see Amos 8:5,6) but their heart is far from God.
The last requirement of true worship is that it be in truth. What does that mean? It means that true worship must be in the way prescribed by the Scriptures and over against the way prescribed by and desired by men. It must be through Christ, the one way to God. It excludes the way of prophets, priests and animal sacrifice which ended with Christ being the perfect and final prophet and sacrificial Lamb of God on the cross. The ‘truth’ is the grace way, not the law way. Before Christ, men worshiped in types, shadows, emblems and figures presented in ceremonies. Before they worshiped out of legal, external duty; now, men, if they worship in truth, they worship in the full light of the Christian as set forth in the New testament. It is heart worship rather than legal duty.
God alone has the right to prescribe who and how He will be worshiped. To follow any other guide is to engage in a pseudo-worship that is an abomination to Him. He is a jealous God who forbids any gods beside Himself.
Contemporary ‘worship’ music in today’s local churches violate both the spirit and truth of the worship which Jesus has prescribed as the only nature and object of true worship.
Electric guitars, drums, ‘holy’ hip-hop and flashing concert lights on the same stage as a pulpit neither promote, nor are they evidence of, a broken and contrite heart. They are evidence of worldly lusts, of compromise and idolatrous sin. They are evidence, perhaps, even of an unregenerate heart in all who participate.
Contemporary ‘worship’ music is not true worship in spirit because it mimics the worldly lusts for fame, fortune and satisfaction of the flesh. It is not true worship in truth for the same reason.
Regardless of how doctrinally sound lyrics may be, it is the internal desire of ones heart and spiritual disposition that is the issue here. It is impossible and a self-deception, to behave like the world, attracting the world, all in the name of Jesus.
I have often been asked, “But did you read the lyrics? They’re doctrinally sound and biblically solid!” Indeed. Lyrics of contemporary ‘worship’ music may in fact be doctrinally sound, yet if they violate Jesus’ prescription of the nature of true worship, in spirit and truth, they are nothing more than a devils masquerade. Sadly, young professing Christians have made contemporary worship music their god. They will defend it at all costs because they love it more than Christ. The doctrinal soundness of lyrics may be the greatest deception in today’s ‘worship’ music. It is, without question, the worst excuse for its support.
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Unfortunately, many in the church today were born and bread within a contemporary worship church context. This is “church” to them. Their parents taught them this and did not teach separation from the world. Peter makes it clear that we as Christians are a “royal priesthood; a peculiar people; a holy nation.” Even the Queen of England was overheard to admonish her nieces that “royal privileges bring royal manners.” If that is true of earthly royalty then how much more is it to be the case among God’s people, especially in the worship of our God. Worship is expressed in words but also in manner. Holy words, holy motive and holy manner. There is nothing holy in “holy” hip hop, (or any other derivative of rock music for that matter). Having given myself to rock and roll as a musician in a rock band for a goodly stretch of my life before I was converted, I can say emphatically and experimentally that it and its hip-hop cousin are nothing but utter blasphemy.
Love this article! Isnt it something how people will defend their music in church during “Worship” but at a funeral the atmosphere is soooo different. Where is the music with great “lyrics” then???
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I like how you say that christian rock and hip how are “evidence of worldly lusts, of compromise and idolatrous sin. So by your logic, I could take a classic hymn, change the words to make it about sex and drugs and it still be a godly hymn? Of course not. You need to judge songs by their lyrics and meaning. Just because rap, as the world knows it, is generally perverse and secular, does not mean that christian rap should be identified as that.
Just because these different styles of christian music don’t reach you in a spiritual way, does not mean they dont reach anyone in such a way.
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funerals in New Orleans are done with marching bands and fun. funerals should be a happy time. Do Christians believe in life after death or not?
And let us be honest. The church has LONG been in the world. Do the have buildings, paychecks, stores, industry? yes. Oh, then they are in the world. Live like the poor, sell all your things, follow Jesus. Now you can say you aren’t of the world. I understand the theological concept of ‘the world’, but Christians use it mostly to feel better about themselves by putting others down. Pretty ‘worldly’ if you ask me.