Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Responsibility of Christian Musicians

Christian music, just like church, is only for the sheep. It is only for CHRISTIANS!!! Those who believe!

Take a moment to let that sink in.

Christian musicians who desire to be mains tream in an attempt to reach the unsaved obviously have a lack of understanding about what their Bible teaches. Christian music, just like church, is only for the sheep—the believers. If a Christian musician wants the goats to enjoy their music, first lead them to Christ and then when they are born again from above they will enjoy the Christian musician's music. By trying to do it in reverse, the Christian musician ends up watering down their message and taking baby steps into darkness where they will end up loving the world and the things of this world. The purpose of Christian music is three-fold:
  1. To exalt (glorify) God,
  2. To edify (build up) the believers, and
  3. To evangelize the lost.
If the Christian musician's music is void of a clear and precise message of Christ Jesus and Him crucified, how can the Christian musician expect to lead the unbeliever, who might end up listening to their music, to Christ? There are only two ways in which an unbeliever can and will enjoy Christian music:
  1. Preach the Gospel to them and pray that God would save their soul, or
  2. Through the clear and precise Gospel message contained in the lyrics of the Christian musician's songs.
If the Christian musician chooses to use the first method, their music still needs to exalt God and edify the believer, which means the Gospel message must still be present in their lyrics. The moment the Christian musician's music ceases to speak of Christ and Him crucified is the moment their music ceases to be Christian, whether or not they themselves are truly Christian, and becomes secular. When I listen to Christian music, I want to enjoy the rhythm and beat while also worshiping my Lord and Saviour. I want to be preached to while enjoying the sound. That is the responsibility of the Christian musician. Their music must:
  1. Exalt (glorify) God,
  2. Edify (build up) the believers, and
  3. Evangelize the lost.
Romans 10:14 says, "How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?" The Christian musician's music might be the only "Bible" that a lost person ever "reads" or listens to. The Christian musician might be the only "preacher" they ever hear. The Christian musician's music is their ministry, with which their first objective goal should be to glorify God. If their lyrics never speak of Christ Jesus and Him crucified, how can the musician call themselves "Christian" or their music "Christian"? If I take a professing "Christian" musician's music and play it in a downtown club and nobody recognizes it as being Christian, demanding that it be turned off, how can that musician call their music "Christian"? The world hates Christians. Christians will never be accepted by the world (John 15:18-19). There is a vast difference between being a musician who may be a Christian and being a Christian musician. The latter seeks to glorify God while the former seeks acceptance and popularity with the world; and we all know what the Bible has to say about the former (1 John 2:15-17). To be an musician who may be a Christian means that you may or may not be Christian, but whether or not you truly are, your music simply is not. To be a Christian musician means that you are a Christian and your music reflects and reveals it. The term "Christian" characterizes both you and your music.

We can all agree that just because someone says that they are a “Christian” does not make it so. Likewise, just because something is labelled as “Christian” does not make it so. So how can we determine what is and what is not Christian music? For anything to be called “Christian”, it must follow these principles as set forth in God’s Word:
  1. Music must bring praise, honour and glory to God’s name (Ps. 9:2; 61:8; Heb. 2:12).
  2. Music must direct the listener toward God (Col. 1:18), both saved and unsaved.
  3. Music must be edifying to the listener and build the listener up (1 Cor. 14:26; Eph. 5:19-20; Col. 3:16) by drawing the listener closer to God.
  4. Music requires understanding (1 Cor. 14:15; Ps. 47:7) and must not be confusion (1 Cor. 14:33). In other words, its message must be clear and precise.
Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 do not define the style or mood of Christian music; they speak of the purpose and content of Christian music. Christian songs should help us focus our thoughts on God and God’s truth (scripture and scriptural principles). In other words, the content of Christian songs will speak about God, Christ Jesus, salvation, the Bible, Christian doctrine and principles, our personal testimonies of how God saved us, and Christianity in general. For example, if a song says "I love my wife, I'll do anything for my family, we can make it...", you can easily identify it with biblical principles. Examine the hymns we sing and you will see that they follow these principles. The reason why Petra was such a great band, and the reason why rappers such as Cross Movement, Flame, Lecrae, Shai Linne, Timothy Brindle, Trip Lee, and Voice (to name a few) are great, is because their music follows these principles and they are not ashamed of Christ Jesus. Their music, while put to different styles, resembles what we witness in our hymns. They proclaim Jesus and His truths boldly and clearly. If an unbeliever comes across their music, there will be no mistaking the content of their messages. To call oneself a Christian musician and have obscure lyrics, desiring to be "main stream" by being acceptable to and popular with the world, reveals that these professing "Christian" musicians are ashamed of Christ Jesus (Mark 8:38).

If a musician is truly a Christian musician (as opposed to a musician who may be a Christian), they should be putting the Word of God to music in order to edify the believer and evangelize the lost. Martin Luther once said, “Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. The gift of language combined with the gift of song was given to man that he should proclaim the Word of God through music.” That this is true is evident from Psalm 119:54: "Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage." We evidence this in our hymns, we evidence this in the music of Petra, and we evidence this in the music of such rappers as Cross Movement, Flame, Lecrae, Shai Linne, Timothy Brindle, Trip Lee, and Voice (to name a few). The Great Commission says to "Go and make disciples" (Matt. 28:19). How can a professing "Christian" musician do this if their lyrics never mention Christ Jesus or speak of biblical principles?

When looking for genuine Christian musicians, one should ask: Do they have a “look at me” attitude or a “look at God” attitude? Do they appear to be seeking fame, money and self-glorification or do they glorify God and His Kingdom? Do they portray pride and arrogance or meekness and humbleness? Do they claim to know God but never sing about Him, His Kingdom and values? Is the musician pointing their life, ministry and performance to Christ? Anyone can say they are a Christian, know God and sing Christian songs, but does their life reflect Christ (1 John 2:6)? Hell will be full of people who honoured God with their lips but whose hearts were far from Him (Matt. 7:15-23; 15:8). If a musician's life is not in step with the Holy Spirit and characteristic of what the Bible declares a Christian to be, then they are not a Christian musician.

When listening to artists who are labelled as “Christian,” one should ask: What does the song say? Is the message clear? Can I understand it? Can I tell the group is singing about God and God’s truth (scripture and scriptural principles—God, Christ Jesus, salvation, the Bible, Christian doctrine and principles, our personal testimonies of how God saved us, and Christianity in general)? Does it draw me into a closer relationship with God and provide a desire to know more of Him? If it is lacking in all of this, it clearly is not Christian music. If people cannot identify the musician as being Christian from their music, then they are not a Christian musician, although they might be a musician who may be a Christian.

If you claim to be a Christian musician, then step up and man up. Preach Christ with boldness, conviction, and clarity, being unashamed. If you truly love Christ Jesus, then demonstrate it for all to see. Salvation is the greatest gift that you could have ever received, yet you feel the need to obscure this from the world. Quit straddling both sides of the fence and pick a side. If you want to be "main stream" and be accepted by and popular with the world, then put both feet in. Quit pretending to be a Christian while being in love with the world and the things the world has to offer. If you want to glorify Christ Jesus, then put both feet in. Let Him be proclaimed in and through your music so that both the saved and unsaved are directed toward Him. If I purchase a CD from a musician who labels themselves as "Christian," I expect to hear about Christ somewhere in the lyrics. If Christ and His truths are not present, it simply is not Christian music.

To hear a song that has the same concerns I have, you can listen to it here.