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The Christian And His Music!
On a Forum some time ago a Sister in Christ asked me as to what constitutes true worship. She wrote – “I know that many only worship with Psalms, but the scriptures say “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs – making worship in your heart to the Lord.” My husband and I usually worship the Lord with some of Gadsby’s Hymns, though I am unable to sing. It would be interesting to see what others believe is True Worship.
Pasted below is the answer the Lord led me to write –
The question which you have raised is indeed an important one for the Christian. If you had asked me this question in your living room over a cup of tea, my answer would have been plain and simple and straight to the point. This is because you are already for the most part established on what God’s will is for the Christian with regards to music. I praise God for that.
But since you have raised this question on a ‘Forum’ the answer cannot be given in a word, for there are many who visit a forum who have no idea what Christian music is and whether God is concerned as to the kind of music we listen to and sing in His honour.
So please bear with me if I go a little bit into detail and mention things in this post that may not even be relevant to you. But trust me, it will be relevant to many and be a blessing to many more.
First we must begin by correcting a few false notions which exist in the mind of many Christians regarding music. One of them is that “All the music is neutral only the words matter.” In fact the entire ‘Contemporary Christian Music’ (CCM) is built on this one massively deceptive pillar!
The other lie that is prevalent among many so called Christians today is that–”the Bible gives no instructions on the type of music for a Christian to listen to. It’s all a matter of preference and culture.”
As we shall see, this is not true. Let their be no doubt. . .
Music is not neutral. Has never been neutral. Nor ever will be neutral!
Do you remember that when king Saul was troubled by an evil spirit, they did not go around looking for a doctor or a soothsayer but a musician! And the scripture records – “And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him”. [1sam 16:23] Saul’s men knew the power of music. They knew music had inherent powers! They knew music wasn’t neutral!
Ask any composer who is asked to compose music for a play or a movie. The music is not the same for a happy scene as it is for a sad one. Because music has an effect on both the mind, (emotions) and the body.
One more fact to bear in mind while discussing Christian music is that the purpose of Christian music was NEVER meant to evangelize the lost! Many contemporary ‘Christian’ musicians and compromised ‘Churches’ which allow Christian Rock and Christian Rap music in their assemblies justify it by saying that they are doing it to ‘reach the lost’ who come to their services.
God’s only method of reaching the lost is the preaching of the Word of God. Not aping the world and using their music! ‘For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe”! [1Cor 1:21]
How to discern music?
Many sincere Christians when it comes to music usually ask –“What about such and such a group or such and such a singer, can we listen to him or use their songs to worship the Lord”?
The best way to answer that question is to give them guidelines as to what godly music is in the first place and let them make the judgment. As the scripture admonishes – “test all things, and hold fast to that which is good”! [1Thes 5;21] Does the Bible give us any indication to the type of music we should sing? Did the Lord God who made heaven and earth, who created music and sound, who put so much emphasis on music in His Word forget to tell us what is Christian music?
Not hardly. Thank God — He has given us instructions for our music.
“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making MELODY in your heart to the Lord”. [Ephesians 5:18-19]
Let us start with a word of reproof to those who use Rock or Rap music to ‘worship’ the Lord.
We need to understand that Music is composed of three main components; melody, harmony and rhythm. If these ingredients are not present, then it’s not music, but noise. Though there is a lot of harmony and some rhythm in Rock and Rap music, there is hardly any melody. Because of that, rock is unlike any other music. In other music, the melody is the main component, but in rock – the rhythm or the beat literally takes over the music.
“Perhaps the most important defining quality of rock and roll is the BEAT, . . . Rock and roll is different from other music primarily because of the BEAT.” (Charles Brown, The Art of Rock and Roll, p. 42)
And it is that BEAT that the FLESH loves!
When secular rock-star, Michael Jackson was asked why he did the filthly-sexual, hand gestures on stage, he replied:
“It’s the music that COMPELS me to do it. You don’t think about it, it just happens. I’M A SLAVE TO THE RHYTHM.” (The Evening Star, February 11, 1993, p. A10)
So ask yourself, can one use Rock or Rap music to worship the Lord?
Here is a quote from Rock star David Bowie (sodomite) – “Rock has always been THE DEVILS MUSIC . . . . I believe rock and roll is dangerous . . . . I feel we are only heralding something EVEN DARKER THAN OURSELVES.” (Rolling Stone, Feb. 12, 1976)
Some country Gospel songs were written and sung in the right spirit. But sadly not all. Much discernment is needed in determining whether a particular country gospel is Christian.
MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS IN WORSHIP
There are those who would forbid all musical instruments in worship. But I would have to disagree. Because the Scripture does not forbid it!
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.etc Psalms 150:3-5
With all the many references to musical instruments, there is one instrument that is NEVER mentioned! The DRUM! Why is that? The drum was a very common instrument in Egypt and the lands around Israel. And yet the DRUM is NEVER mentioned in a King James Bible.
Did the Lord just forget to include the DRUM or is there another reason?
Is it because — drums are associated with voodoo, shamanism, paganism and magic rituals?
“[Drums] represents the beat of the heart and is played to summon up magic powers.” (Miranda Bruce-Mitford, The Illustrated Book of Signs & Symbols, DK Publishing, 1996 p.80)
“The shaman was the original ‘long hair’, the first rock star draped in leather, dancing POSSESSED to a rhythm banged out on A DRUM.” (Danny Sugerman, Appetite for Destruction, p. 208)
In Siberia, in northern Asia, drums are used in shamanic rituals to heal people. It is believed that the shaman can communicate with the spirit world THROUGH DRUMMING. (Louise Tythacott, Musical Instruments, Thomas Learning, 1995, p. 37)
“Pagan dances and rituals are always accompanied by the incessant BEAT of DRUMS. Rhythm plays a major role in these demonic activities.” (Hart, Lowell Satan’s Music Exposed, Salem Kirban Inc., 1980 p.71)
The DRUM has always been associated with the paganism and the devil. In fact, a little more than a hundred years ago, drums were forbidden (exy th for the military) in America!
“The arrival of African slaves has had one of the strongest influences on North American music. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, millions of African people were taken as slaves to the U.S. to work on plantations in the South. They brought many of their own traditions with them but were forbidden to play their DRUMS.” (Louise Tythacott, Musical Instruments, Thomas Learning, 1995, p.19)
Do you know why New Orleans is the voodoo capital of the U.S, and also the birthplace of jazz? Because drumming was forbidden in the U.S. – except in New Orleans!
When the first blacks from Africa were converted to Christianity they knew the power and evil influence of DRUMS. And the converted blacks strictly forbid the use of drums! They referred to the drums as “the Devil’s drum”. (Martha Bayles, Hole in Our Soul: The Loss of Beauty and Meaning in American Popular Music, p. 138)
One simple guideline for Christian music is NO DRUMS!
CHRISTIAN MUSIC SHOULD FEED THE SPIRIT — NOT THE FLESH!
CHRISTIAN MUSIC SHOULD EMPHAZIE THE MELODY — NOT THE BEAT!
So much then for a general statement on music, and now to particularize:
CHRISTIAN MUSIC SHOULD PRAISE THE LORD JESUS CHRIST — NOT MAN
Now, you would think this point is unnecessary for CHRISTian music. After all, CHRISTian means “a follower, believer of Jesus Christ”. And if it is truly Christian music, it should testify, praise and sing about the Lord Jesus Christ.
The PURPOSE of Christian music is to PRAISE the Lord.
“I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to THY NAME, O thou most High” [Psalm 9:2]
“Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: so will we SING and praise THY POWER” [Psalm 21:13]
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my SONG will I praise HIM” [Psalm 28:7]
“Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise” [Psalm 33:2-3]
When someone truly gets saved, God puts a NEW song in their mouth. And that song is “PRAISE unto our God” — the result of salvation is — praise unto our GOD! And it’s not something we work up, or “fake”, or just do — but it’s something God “puts”! Christian music is “praise unto our GOD“.
“He hath PUT a NEW SONG in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD” [Praise 40:1-3]
Sadly, much of what goes by the name CHRISTian Music today is NOT CHRISTian. It does NOT testify, praise or sing about the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, a great deal of it does not even mention the Lord Jesus Christ. Much of today’s Christian Music goes out it’s way to avoid the name of Jesus Christ – or any Christian content whatsoever.
CHRISTIAN MUSIC IS FOR THE LORD — NOT THE WORLD.
A Christian’s music is sung to the Lord. It is not for the world.
“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart TO THE LORD” [Ephesians 5:19]
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. Colossians 3:16
Sing praises TO THE LORD, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings. Psalm 9:11
Isaiah 12:2 sums it up wonderfully, “. . .for the LORD JEHOVAH is . . . MY SONG . . .”:
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and MY SONG; he also is become my salvation.” [Isaiah 12:2]
The ONLY way Christian Music can appeal to the world is make it UN-Christian — which is exactly what CCM does. Most CCM artists “remove” or “redefine” the Lord Jesus Christ. They replace the Lord Jesus Christ with the pronouns; “he”, “him”, “you”, “I”, et. al. They also “redefine” the Lord Jesus Christ as a “politically-correct” “tolerant”, “lovey-dovey”, non-judgemental, “partying”, “hip-hop”, “rapping-rocker” that appeals to the world. Songs such as, dc Talk’s “Jesus Freak”, Messiah Prophet Band’s, “Master of the Metal”, et al. clearly describe “another Jesus” than the Jesus Christ of the Bible. In 2 Cor. 11:4, the apostle Paul warns of “another Jesus”.
Just as the lost world is not interested in a “Bible-believing” church that preaches the word of God, the world is not interested in music that openly praises the Lord. The lost world is NOT going to praise the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible is CLEAR — “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God”!
After Babylon captured the children of Israel, Babylon requested Israel to sing, but Israel refused to sing “the Lord’s song in a strange land”. Notice, it is “the Lord’s song” — NOT the world’s song or even Israel’s song.
“How shall we sing the LORD’S SONG in a strange land?” [Psalms 137:1-4]
CHRISTIAN MUSIC IS A NEW SONG — NOT AN OLD SONG
Just before I got saved, I loved rock ‘n’ roll. Nothing – but nothing, was more important to me than rock music!. I played rock guitar – day and night! I did not have a dream or goal besides rock music. And when I got saved in November 1986, at 19 years old, I had NO intention to stop listening and playing rock music. But something changed. . .
I didn’t know it then — but “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become NEW” and that included my music!
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become NEW.” [2 Corinthians 5:17]
I didn’t change intentionally — but within a few months, the ONLY music I wanted to listen to and play was real Christian Music. Music that praised my Lord and Savior! My desire and love for rock music was replaced by a NEW SONG — even PRAISE unto our God!
Fanny Crosby is the greatest hymn writer that ever lived, writing over 9,000 songs! Before Fanny got saved, at 45 years old, she wrote many secular songs. But after she got saved — things were different. . . Here’s what Fanny said about mixing Christian and worldly music:
“Sometimes I need to reject the music proposed for my songs because the musicians misunderstand that the Fanny Crosby who once wrote for the people in the saloons has merely changed the lyrics. Oh my no. The church must never sing it’s songs to the melodies of the world.” (Danny Castle, video “What’s Wrong with Christian Rock”)
And do you know why Fanny Crosby said that — because Fanny got saved! And God “hath put a NEW SONG in my mouth, even PRAISE unto our God” inside the NEW Fanny Crosby! Fanny Crosby wrote over 9,000 songs to the Lord! Fanny used over 200 different pen names because she wanted to make sure God got the glory and not her.
CHRISTIAN MUSIC’S MESSAGE SHOULD BE CLEAR — NOT VAGUE OR DECEPTIVE
The Bible says in 1 Cor 14:15:
“I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the UNDERSTANDING also” [1 Cor. 14:15]
The message in Christian music should be clear, not vague, or unclear. Christian music should praise the Lord and — the listener should clearly understand the message.
The apostle Paul didn’t try to “trick” anybody, he wanted to make sure he was understood:
“Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great PLAINNESS of speech” [2 Cor. 3:12]
“And my speech and my preaching was NOT with ENTICING words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” [1 Cor. 2:4]
Paul warns against “enticing words”, such as CCM does:
“And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with ENTICING words” [Colossians 2:4]
Martin Luther, the German Reformer, also avoided any worldly influence and wanted the message clear:
“But I would like to avoid any new words or the language used at court. In order to be understood by the people, only the simplest and the most common words should be used for singing; at the same time, however, they should be pure and apt; and further, the sense should be CLEAR and as close as possible to the psalm.” (Martin Luther, “To George Spalatin,” Letters II, p. 69)
Look how clear these songs praise the Lord. And literally thousands of examples could be given:
- “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine” by Fanny Crosby
- “My Jesus I Love Thee” by Adoniram Gordon
- “Wonderful, Wonderful Jesus” by Anna Russell
- “Victory in Jesus” by E.M. Bartlett
- “Jesus Is All the World to Me” by Will Thompson
- “Jesus Is the Sweetest Name I Know” by Lela Long
CHRISTIAN MUSIC SHOULD EMPHASIS THE MESSAGE — NOT THE MUSIC, NOR THE MUSICIAN
Christian music should give ALL the attention and praise to the Lord — and NONE to the music, or the musician, or the singer. The Lord should get ALL the praise, ALL the glory, and ALL the honor. Spiritually speaking, the Christian musician should be heard but not seen — the Christian musician should be hidden in Christ.
“Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious.” [Psalm 66:2]
Christian musicians today are so caught up with their “music” and just the “right-sound” that the message takes a backseat. A lot of Christian music (especially with the “canned” accompaniment tapes) is a “performance” rather than a message. When that happens, the “performance” completely destroys the message by pointing all the attention to self or the music. Consequently, the musician “robs” the Lord of any praise and from a Christian perspective, it’s fruitless.
Sadly, many musicians (and not just limited to CCM) are like the chief rulers that the Lord Jesus addressed in John 12:
“For they loved the PRAISE OF MEN more than the praise of God.” [John 12:43]
Much of Christian music today is more entertainment than ministry. A lot of Christian musicians (and not limited to CCM or Christian Rock) are far more interested in impressing their audience and “flaunting” their musical talent than ministering to the Lord. You can not sing to “please men” and sing unto the Lord. It’s one or the other.
“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should NOT be the servant of Christ.” [Galatians 1:10]
Christian music is not entertainment. Christian music is spiritual “food”. Real Christian music admonishes [reprove mildly], while praising the Lord.
“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.” [Colossians 3:16]
Christian music is from the heart, not just the voice. Beautiful voices are a “dime a dozen”. But beautiful hearts are “more priceless than gold”. I can’t remember the times I’ve watched a Christian musician, flaunt, pomp, articulate, get every note and vibrato perfect — and yet God was nowhere around. And yet, I’ve seen several times, when the singer may not hit the right notes — and yet God was all over them — and it showed!
A church we once attended had a man, named “J.C.” Brown. “J.C.”, by the world’s standards “wasn’t all there” — but “J.C.” and the Lord “was all there”. When “J.C.” would sing, he didn’t know all the words, he wasn’t musically “in tune” — but he was spiritually “in tune” with the Lord. And when “J.C.” sang, hearts were moved, tears would flow and you knew God was there. Why? “J.C.” was “in tune” with the Lord.
Christian music is not entertainment, not a talent show, not a performance or a concert — but a SERIOUS ministry to the Lord.
Augustine once stated:
“When I am moved by the voice of him that sings more than the words sung, I confess to have sinned”. (Oliver Strunk, Source Reading in Music History, Vol. I, p. 74)
CHRISTIAN MUSIC IS IN THE LOCAL CHURCH — NOT CONCERT HALLS, NIGHT CLUBS.
God’s place of worship and fellowship is the local church.
“Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the CONGREGATION of saints.” [Psalm 149:1]
“I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the CONGREGATION will I praise thee.” [Psalm 22:22]
“Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the CHURCH will I sing praise unto thee.” [Hebrew 2:12]
While I realize there are exceptions, the primary place for Christian music, (excluding tapes, CD’s and other recordings) is the church. CCM’ers justify their performing in worldly concert halls, auditoriums, et. al. as “trying to reach the lost“. Of course, at the same time they charge $15 – $20, rarely mention Jesus Christ and never, never, never — mention hell, judgement, sin or enough “salvation doctrine” to get anyone saved!.
CHRISTIAN MUSIC SHOULD FEED THE SPIRIT — NOT THE FLESH
The Christian life is a spiritual life.
A Christian is born-again of the Spirit.
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” [John 3:6-7]
A Christian is to walk in the Spirit:
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” [Galatians 5:16]
God is a Spirit — and you “MUST worship him in spirit”.
“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him MUST worship him in spirit and in truth.” [John 4:24]
And a Christian’s music should be spiritual — not carnal.
“I will sing with the SPIRIT, and I will sing with the understanding also.” [1 Cor 14:15]
ROCK MUSIC AND CCM IS FLESHLY MUSIC!
LASTLY AND MOST IMPORTANTLY CHRISTIAN MUSIC SHOULD BE RICH IN THE WORD AND DOCTRINE.
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. Colossians 3:16
This is one reason why many older saints stick to the Psalms in their singing. Because when you are singing the Psalms you cannot be singing anything else other than the Word.
But even the other hymns and spiritual songs which we sing should be judged by how rich in the word and scriptural they are and how doctrinally right they are. Not all the hymns in the Hymn book (whether Baptist or Presbyterian) were written by holy men of God as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Some of them are obviously erroneous and while others are not easily discernable to the simple. So it behooves the Christian to examine every hymn and spiritual song in the light of God’s word before he lifts his voice to sing them.
Let me close with a good rule of the thumb for determining if the Christian music we use is biblical:
(1) Can I hum the tune after hearing it?
(2) Can I understand the words?
(3) Do the words conform to sound biblical doctrine and truth?
(4) Do the words, and the tune, honor the Lord rather than pander to the flesh and the physical?
(5) Does the song emphasize grace, salvation, eternity, etc.? (6) Does it simply sound like a “love song” that has a romantic tinge to it, rather than proper spiritual love?
(7) Is the song loud and blaring in order to bring on an emotional response?
(8) Is it a mantra with empty repetition (Praise God, praise God, praise God, praise God)?
(9) Can both old and young understand the song and be equally touched by it?
I trust the above was of some help in discerning what constitutes TRUE WORSHIP.
[Much of the above is taken from Jeff Godwin’s ‘Bible Guidelines for Christian Music’]
Still Looking For True Christians In Dead Churches?
by Michael Jeshurun
‘Why seek ye the living among the dead?!” [Luke 24:5]
Even though this Scripture has reference mainly to our Lord’s resurrection, I believe that there is a spiritual message in it for God’s children as well.
The lament of many of God’s true sheep around the world is that they cannot find a Church to fellowship where the truth is preached and the Lie (and the Liars) are hated and exposed!
They weep – “Oh just when I thought I had found a true Church to fellowship with, my heart has been grieved with the messages being preached from the pulpit. Sermons which deny the truth of the Original Sin, the ‘Total Depravity of Man’ and God’s absolute sovereignty in our salvation; messages advocating the pagan practice of Christmas and Easter, and the big lie that “doctrine does not matter, all that matters is love!” And last Wednesday during our Bible study, the pastor announced that there would be no evening service this Sunday, because there was a ‘ball game’ on the television and no one would come anyway!”
“I am beginning to wonder if I am sitting amongst goats who have learnt how to bleat like sheep!”
WHY SEEK YE THE LIVING AMONG THE DEAD?!
The Master told the Church of Sardis, “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead!” [Rev 3:1]
Along the same lines, the Apostle warned, “the TIME WILL COME when they WILL NOT ENDURE SOUND DOCTRINE; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, HAVING ITCHING EARS; And THEY SHALL TURN AWAY THEIR EARS FROM THE TRUTH, and shall be turned unto fables!” [2Tim 4:3,4]
ALAS! That ‘TIME’ which the Apostle speaks of came even back when Philpot and Pink were preaching more than a hundred years ago! Imagine the state of professing Christendom NOW! Because things do not get better, spiritually speaking but rather worse! (2Tim 3:13) The Lord said “when the Son of man cometh shall He find faith upon the earth?” [Luk 18:8] Except for a few small groups of faithful disciples who gather in houses all over the world, THE WHOLE OF CHRISTENDOM WILL BE THOROUGHLY APOSTATE– which is why He says, “COME OUT OF HER, My people, lest you share in her sins and lest you receive of her plagues”. [Rev 18:4]
Yes, if we can find other believers who love the truth and holiness and are against all that is erroneous like Free Willism, Roman Catholicism, Christmas, and the Prosperity Gospel etc, then it will be our joy to join with such believers and break bread.
But I speak from 27 years of personal experience that such Churches are one in a thousand and they usually meet in homes. The Master called His sheep ‘little-flock’ (Lk 12:32) because compared to the multitudes that throng the nominal churches, they are VERY SMALL in number. If you are yet a member of one of these HUGE ‘churches’, it will not be long before the Spirit opens your eyes to the fact that you are sitting amongst goats. That is provided you are one of the Lord’s sheep!
In our day the Lord’s true sheep who love the truth are so few in number that for a preacher to be a FULLTIME SALARIED MINISTER he has to NECESSARILY BE AN AMUSER OF GOATS AND AN ENTERTAINER OF RELIGIOUS HYPOCRITES. If a preacher has gathered enough members to support him fulltime and build him a church building then 99% of those who are part of his ‘Church’ have to NECESSARILY be religious goats! I am sorry but this fact I have experienced through my own experience!
Incidentally, you don’t have to ‘go to church’, or ‘go’ anywhere for that matter! If the Lord leads you to a group of true believers then great. Please make every effort to fellowship with them at every given opportunity and do your part to edify them.
But remember this – if whichever group you have decided to be a part of is growing to a number where you have to purchase or rent a building for your gathering, then 99% chances are that the preacher there is not preaching the whole truth!
“Any thing which is endured today in the religious world CANNOT be sound doctrine; anything which is approved of, well-attended, popular, is not sound ‘doctrine’. When God raises up His servant, equips him and sends him forth to preach, that servant will necessarily preach the WORD, and DENOUNCE all that is opposed to the world: hence his message is BOUND to be UNPOPULAR, in fact HATED by all who are not regenerated”.
A honest study of both history and Scripture will convince you that the Church in EVERY GENERATION is a called out one. No such thing as a SECOND GENERATION CHURCH. In every generation the church of Jesus is made up of the CALLED OUT ONES (Ecclesia).
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ‘SECOND GENERATION CHRISTIANS’.
GOD HAS NO GRANDCHILDREN, ONLY CHILDREN.
The second generation “Did not know the Lord” [Judges 2:10]. When the generation that is called by the Lord is misled into building church buildings, then the children born into that church are forced to ‘play church’ though in most cases they have not been called of God. When the spiritual life of a church declines and dies, a building calls for the organization to continue. Thus many “dead churches” continue to exist all over the world. The pastor is still paid, many people still dutifully attend the services, the club goes on, BUT THE LIFE HAS GONE! A SKELETON REMAINS! What a pity it can’t be buried! If there were no buildings, “dead churches” would have taken a natural demise long ago. They would not have been left to continue as a hindrance to the Kingdom of God.
But you might ask, does not God use these big denominations and Christian organizations? Brother, God uses EVERYTHING, including the devil and his demons. He uses these denominations and Christian organizations to make His name known among the nations and to prepare His elect for salvation. As the apostle said, “What then? Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice” [Phil. 1:18].
Speaking of the religious organization of His day the Lord said, “LET THEM ALONE!” [Matt. 15:14]. So if one seeks to truly follow Christ as a DISCIPLE he MUST STAY OUT of such dead churches and pray that the Lord leads him to a group of true Christians, and if he cannot find one in his city, then better just stay at home and worship God, rather than dutifully attend a dead Church which has ICHABOD (the glory has departed) stamped on it! [1Sam 4:21]
I preach separation from false churches as IMPERATIVE! Ever since I left the Apostate Churches and started out independently, the Lord has gradually shown me little by little that the existing Christendom of our day is IRREMEDIABLY APOSTATE. We are living in a day when ‘Christians’ have no regard for sound doctrine or a hunger for true holiness. Even most who prate about their orthodoxy in sound doctrine do not demand holiness from the flock entrusted to them.
Most preachers in our day desire to have a ‘ministry’ to show the world what they have accomplished for Christ. But I know from EXPERIENCE that any preacher who faithfully preaches the WHOLE counsel of God, which means not just preaching the truth but exposing the lie (and the liars who masquerade in Jesus’ name) and demanding separation from the world and all its ideals, standards, styles, fads, fashions, craze and customs etc, I believe such a preacher WILL be left WITHOUT A ‘MINISTRY’, for he will soon begin to see that the elect of God who sincerely seek to follow the Lamb by denying self, sin, and the world are only a mere HANDFUL.
“Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without (outside) the camp (of nominal Christianity), bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come”. [Hebrews 13:12-14]
“Those who are “poor in spirit” have nothing in common with the self-satisfied Laodiceans. And how “distressed” in soul are they over the worldliness that has come in like a flood, over the crowds of unregenerate members, over the utter absence of any scriptural discipline? And what is to be the attitude and actions of God’s grieved children toward those having nothing more than a form of godliness? This “FROM SUCH TURN AWAY” (2 Timothy 3:5). Identify yourself with Christ on the outside; walk ALONE WITH HIM”! [A.W. Pink]
God’s Hardening Of Men’s Hearts – Sovereign Or Judicial?
by Michael Jeshurun
The truth of reprobation has always been a thorny subject for Christians. Even those who deem themselves Calvinists and believers in the absolute sovereignty of God shy away from this truth which God has chosen to reveal in the Scriptures. And sadly, those who should know better for the most part ‘explain it away’ in such a manner that it does not stir up any controversy or awe, and neither raises the question which the Apostle anticipated; i.e. “WHY DOTH HE YET FIND FAULT? For who hath resisted HIS WILL”? [Romans 9:19]
The Bible speaks of men hardening their hearts against God! And this hardening is spoken of as both Judicial and Sovereign.
Judicial hardening is God hardening the hearts of men because they have rejected Him and His Truth, while Sovereign hardening, like election finds its cause only in the good pleasure of Him who doeth all things after the counsel of His own will! Or as the Master said, “Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in Thy sight”! [Matt 11:26]
While the average Calvinist or Reformed preacher is only too happy to expound and preach profound sermons on Judicial hardening, he is for the most part silent on Sovereign hardening and Sovereign reprobation! And the reason is not too far to seek. Judicial hardening raises no eyebrows nor offends the nominal ‘Christian’ who comes Sunday after Sunday to warm the pew and pay his tithes and offerings to keep the ‘ministry’ running; while sermons on Sovereign hardening, or the fact that God does not love EVERYBODY, or that CHRISTMAS IS PAGAN and the like would soon clear his Church and leave him without a ‘ministry’!
But thanks be to God for those preachers who can say with the Apostle –“I have not shunned to declare unto you ALL THE COUNSEL OF GOD”! [Acts 20:27]
Let us consider God’s SOVEREIGN HARDENING as it is revealed in Romans 9.
“Therefore hath HE mercy on whom HE will have mercy, and whom HE will HE hardeneth”! [Romans 9:18]
This passage in Romans 9 is the clearest of all! The whole chapter is concerned with God’s sovereignty as it relates to Israel. First God showed His sovereignty in connection with Abraham’s seed [vs 7] in passing by Ishmael and calling Isaac. Second God showed His sovereignty in connection with Isaac’s sons [vs 10-13] in loving Jacob and hating Esau. Third the question is raised: “Is there unrighteousness with God”? [vs 14] Is it not unjust for God to show ‘PARTIALITY’? The answer is-certainly not, or “God forbid” – God CANNOT deal unjustly!
But He can and does bestow His favor on whom He pleases, for He is sovereign, saying- “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy’ etc [vs15]. Fourth, in vs 18, this solemn truth is pressed one step further: not only does God have mercy on whom He will, but “WHOM HE WILL HE HARDENETH”, and it FROM THIS POINT ONWARDS TO THE END OF THE CHAPTER that most preachers are radically unsound!
What even the majority of those who deem themselves ‘Calvinists’ say concerning this is – “What is in view here is ‘Judicial hardening’ i.e. a forsaking by God, because these subjects of His judicial hardening first forsook Him, rejected His truth etc. In support of their contention, appeal is made to such scriptures as Romans 1:19-26 – ‘God gave them up’ i.e. “those, who when they knew God, glorified Him not as God” [vs 21]. Also 2Thes 2:10-12 is quoted to buttress their view. That these last two quoted passages refer to judicial ‘hardening’ we will allow, though the word ‘harden’ occurs in neither of them. But our objection is that neither of them are in anywise relevant to the point raised in Romans 9:18, which to our mind has no reference at all to ‘judicial hardening’!
Clearly in Romans 9:18 the Apostle is not speaking of God hardening those who had first turned their backs on His truth, but instead, is insisting that in ‘hardening’ (as much as in showing mercy) God is exercising His own sovereignty! Note, beloved, the precise wording of verse 18, (so different to man’s glosses upon it) – “Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will (not all who have rejected His truth) He hardeneth”! the ‘therefore’ which begins verse 18, in our judgment points back, particularly to verse 17 where Pharaoh is mentioned as a sample case of God’s sovereignty in “hardening whom He wills.”
The case of Pharaoh is clear enough though man has done his best to hide the truth. True, we read both of Pharaoh hardening his own heart, and also of God hardening his heart. But WHICH IS MENTIONED FIRST? See Exodus 4;21 where the word occurs for the first time in connection with Pharaoh. Man always reverses God’s order. PHARAOH HARDENED HIS HEART BECAUSE GOD HAD FIRST HARDENED IT, AND NOT VICE VERSA AS WE ARE ASKED TO BELIEVE!
The passage in Romans 9:18 of God’s sovereign ‘hardening’ of sinner’s hearts in contradiction to judicial hardening (because of truth rejected) – is not alone! We quote now one other passage in the New Testament, i.e. John 12:37-40 – “But though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they COULD NOT BELIEVE, (why?) because that Esaias said again, HE HATH BLINDED their eyes, and hardened their heart; (why? Most preachers say because they refused to believe on Christ etc. but how different the solemn Word of God which follows) THAT THEY SHOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES, NOR UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED, AND I SHOULD HEAL THEM”!
Now beloved it is just a question of whether or not we will “believe” what God has told us in His Word! IT IS NOT A MATTER OF PROLONGED SEARCHING OR PROFOUND STUDY, BUT CHILDLIKENESS THAT IS NEEDED!
Returning now to Romans 9:19, another difficulty or objection is now faced: “Thou will say then unto me, then why doth He yet FIND FAULT”?! Now beloved, we ask you, what do, or what can, these words mean? Answer yourself before you read ours. Can the force of the Apostle’s question be any other than this: “If it is true that God has “mercy” on whom He wills, and ALSO “hardens” whom He wills, then we are no more than PUPPETS and in such a case it is UNJUST for God to find fault with His helpless creatures! Such, we take is the real force of the objection.
Note the “THEN” used as an inference or a consequence drawn from what the Apostle has said in previous verses. And mark, beloved, that the APOSTLE READILY SAW THAT THE DOCTRINE HE HAD PRESENTED WOULD RAISE THIS VERY OBJECTION, and unless what we have written concerning ‘God’s sovereignty’ also raises the SAME OBJECTION, it proves that either we have not FAITHFULLY STATED the doctrine of Romans 9 or else human nature has CHANGED since Paul’s day!
Note further in verse 19, the SAME question is REPEATED, now in a slightly different form – REPEATED so that the Apostle’s meaning may not be misunderstood, i.e. “For who hath resisted His will”? Now mark particularly the last two words: “HIS WILL” It is a question of God’s will the Apostle is discussing, i.e. His sovereign ways, which confirms what we said concerning verses 17 and 18, i.e. it is NOT JUDICIAL HARDENING WHICH IS HERE IN VIEW, (that is hardening because of previous rejection of truth), but SOVEREIGN HARDENING, that is, for no other reason than that which inheres in the “will” of God!
Now how does the Apostle meet the objection raised (anticipatedly) in verse 19? Does he say the objection is pointless and groundless? Does he tell the objector that his inference is a false one, that his conclusion is unsound? Not at all. By no means. Instead he rebukes the objector for his impiety. He reminds the objector that he is merely a ‘man’, a creature – and that as such it is most impertinent and unseemly for him to ‘reply’ (to argue or reason) against God. Further he tells him that he is merely a thing that has been ‘formed’ – hence it is madness and blasphemy to rise up against the “Former” Himself.
Before passing to the next verses, we would call your attention to the last words of verse 20 – “why hast Thou made me THUS”? What can be its force in the light of the immediate context? Surely, why (like in the case of Pharaoh) hast Thou made me simply to “harden” me? Can it signify anything else, in the light of the context?
Lastly in Romans 9:21-23 the Apostle furnishes a full and final reply to the objections named in verse 19. First, he asks, “ Hath not the potter power” –a different word from that translated “power” in verse 22, where it can only signify His might; but here in verse 21, the “power” spoken of must refer to the CREATOR’S RIGHTS OR SOVEREIGN PREROGATIVES; that this is so appears from the fact that the same Greek word is employed in John 1:12 – “gave he “power” to becomes the sons of God’ which as you probably know, means, the right or privilege to become the sons of God.
“Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor”? Certainly He has, because He is God the Creator! Does He EXERCISE this ‘right”? Yes, as verse 17 clearly shows, “for this same purpose have I raised thee (Pharaoh) up” etc. Second the Apostle now tells us, why God acts thus – differently with different ones, having mercy on some and hardening others, making one vessel unto “honor” and another unto “dishonor.” Notice, in verse 22 the Apostle first mentions “the vessels of wrath” before he refers in verse 23 to the “vessels of mercy”! Why is this? Because it is the “vessels of Wrath” who are the subjects of the objection in verse 19!
Notice also that in verse 22 the Apostle does not say that these vessels of Wrath were “FIT for destruction” but rather “FITTED to destruction” which in the light of the immediate context means SOVEREIGNLY ORDAINED to destruction by the Creator!
“(For the children being not yet born, NEITHER HAVING DONE ANY GOOD OR EVIL, THAT THE PURPOSE OF GOD ACCORDING TO ELECTION MIGHT STAND, NOT OF WORKS, BUT OF HIM THAT CALLETH;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but ESAU HAVE I HATED!” [Romans 9:11-13]
Let us assert in conclusion that the only reason that we know that God “loved” Jacob is because He looked at him ‘in Christ’ (the sole reason why He loves you, me or anyone else whom He calls and saves); and that He hated Esau before he was born, was not because of any evil acts or even evil nature, but because Esau SINNED “IN ADAM” and thus provoked God’s holy wrath! It is lamentable how little the doctrines of ‘imputation’ and ‘representation’ are understood today even by eminent theologians!
[Paraphrased from A.W. Pink’s letter to his friend and publisher I.C. Herendeen, July 21st 1918]
Christ Died For The Ungodly
by Horatius Bonar
The divine testimony concerning man is, that he is a sinner. God bears witness against him, not for him; and testifies that "there is none righteous, no, not one"; that there is "none that doeth good"; none "that understandeth"; none that even seeks after God, and, still more, none that loves Him (Psa. 14:1-3; Rom. 3:10-12). God speaks of man kindly, but severely; as one yearning over a lost child, yet as one who will make no terms with sin, and will "by no means clear the guilty." <continued>