Sound is produced the vibration of any element(solid, liquid or gas). This vibration is measured in hertz per second, and every frequency of vibration per second produce sounds. When sound and silence are arranged in time, it is called Music.
Music should be pleasing to the ear, and that means a whole lot of things to different people. People tend to prefer and appreciate different styles and forms of music according to their personalities and experiences.
Music is the art and science of arranging sounds (or the study of those sounds) and silence in time. If I play a flute, a guitar or a drumset or I just hum a tune to a particular timing/beat/rhythm, it is music, even without words.
Music is a core component of creation. Right from the beginning, when God laid the foundations of the world “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy…” (Job 38:7), to the apocalypse in the book of revelations where every major event as seen John is followed a song.(Revelation 4.11, Revelation 5.9-10, Revelation 5.12 ,Revelation 5.13b)
Music didn’t originate from this realm, however it’s a major part of the wiring and configuration of creation!
Music as we know it, wasn’t really created. I personally believe that music is an extension of God’s personality and is expressed in all of his creation. The whole earth literally makes music. The rivers clapping their hands and the singing together for joy (psalms 98:8) aren’t just figurative expressions in the Psalms. Creation literally makes sounds and it has been scientifically proven.
The primary nature and power of music in itself is that it is able to directly affect or influence the intangible dimension of man; the soul.
Research has shown that music affects all these features of the soul directly or indirectly. Music especially influences the emotions and imagination greatly.
There are different kinds of music and songs as recorded in the Bible:
The purpose of the expression of every component of creation design is to glorify God and please Him, and that includes making music. However, just as with every other expression of creativity, mankind has evolved in the appreciation and use of music. Music has been expressed progressively in different forms according to the cultural and religious orientation of different territories.
Generally speaking, there are many types of music according to their purposes, some are:
We all have been close to tears before or even cried when we listened to certain songs. I can play certain tunes with particular instruments that will make the listener moody after a short while.
In the same way, I can play certain tunes that will make the listener feel happy, even without saying or singing a word. This is what makes music powerful. It can influence the unseen man, and in reality, the unseen man is the real man. The body is just a container. Proverbs 23:7 says “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he”.
Putting words into this entity called music takes advantage of its inherent power to influence the minds of men. Almost anything can easily be accepted when it is in a song. You hear some people say they don’t really listen to the lyrics, they just like the beat.
They may be sincere about it, but over time those words will get into their subconscious mind and once it settles there, they will unconsciously begin to live out the content of their minds.
Remember I said music greatly influences emotions and imagination. If I want you to think about war, I can just play a song that has to do with war and conflict. If I want you to think of love, a love song will do the trick.
This is why many times you go for weddings and end up feeling like getting married yourself, because the music creates an atmosphere for the unseen man that channels his imaginations (thoughts) and emotions towards the subject of the musical piece. It is not surprising therefore, why immorality, lust, drugs, and other vices are quite rampant among certain circles, especially youthful circles- check the songs they listen to!
Specific types of music, like classical music are very effective at lowering the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Music, especially the ones without lyrics are most suitable for this, because they don’t engage the brain’s language centre and the ones that aren’t regular in their progression saves the brain the work of predicting the progression.
This is best for listening while at work and during meditation as it enhances concentration and can also improve performance on a range of academic tasks.
Professional sound healers use percussive beats and chants to treat problems like chronic pain, sleep disorders, anxiety, and PTSD. Despite some skepticism from the scientific community , the use of repetitive sounds and chants to heal the sick is a practice that’s been around for thousands of years—it dates as far back as the ancient Egyptians and Australia’s Aborigines (read more here)
Also, Music has become a major tool for influencing culture, consumers’ purchasing behavior(you’re likely to grow an affinity for the brand that is associated with a music you like) music is also used to determining the trends(fashion, values, and even language
slangs). Music truly is powerful!
Considering all of these, Music in the hand of a man or woman who does not know and fear the Lord can be a destructive tool.
I personally don’t like to separate music into secular and gospel or sacred because it isn’t the music that determines that, it’s rather the person expressing it. There are people who do ‘Gospel music’ that aren’t even born again yet, what do you call that?
The ministry of reconciliation God through Jesus Christ, which has been committed to man the ministry of the Holy Spirit (2Corinthians 5:19) was and still is a mission to restore man back to being like God in image and function.
Therefore a regenerated human, born of the incorruptible seed; the word of God (1 Peter 1:23) the Spirit of God should understand the purpose and power of music, develop his or her skill to be excellent and expressing music in its true form, especially as a tool for influencing systems and cultures with the life, power, value system and character of the kingdom of God!
If we must do this effectively, we truly must allow the word to transform us His Spirit (Romans 12:2), so we can really become like Christ functionally.
Understanding the nature and power of music then, I can go on to define “Good music”. Remember music influences the soul of man- his thinking faculty.
Philippians 4:8 gives a guideline to what a healthy thought system should be.
It says “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things” (NIV). There you have it!
If music channels your thoughts to the subject of the musical piece, then good music will be ANY musical piece that channels your thoughts in a direction that satisfies the scripture I quoted; ANY musical piece- gospel or secular.
I feel majority of believers are yet to understand this power of music and as a result, we have greatly neglected using music as a tool to intentionally influence the minds of men with the mindset and value system of the Kingdom.
We have frowned at any song that is not exclusively “churchy” in nature and when a believer dares to express such songs, we make the person feel like he/she has backslidden and is not using his/her gift to “glorify” God. The problem is ignorance.
There are two dimensions of the music ministry.
There is the ministry to God, and the ministry to people. Ephesians 5:19 makes this clear. It says “Speaking to ONE ANOTHER with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs…” This refers to our ministry to people.
The second part says “Sing and make music in your heart TO THE LORD”. This refers to our ministry to God.
So songs do not necessarily have to be to God alone- we can sing to people! When we sing to God, we sing our hearts to Him. When we sing to people, we sing God’s heart to them. That’s how it should be.
The ministry to God is not a problem for the church. But the ministry to people is where a lot of misunderstanding lies.
The ministry to people is also in two dimensions: to the church and to the world.
The ministry to the church involves the ministry of Worship leaders, who lead believers in corporate gatherings to collectively express their worship to God and also edify one another through songs.
This is what most members of the church are familiar with and we love, celebrate, and embrace the ministry of worship leaders with all our hearts. The ministry to the church also includes recording and releasing songs that can be used to serve the same purposes I stated earlier i.e. to help believers express worship to God in songs and to edify the believer.
But we have greatly ignored the ministry to the world and even frowned at it, tagging it “secular”.
The unbeliever doesn’t need worship songs. He doesn’t need our chants, tongues, and other expressions in music that only believers can relate to. So does that mean that music ministers cannot reach out to the unsaved through our music? Definitely not!
Our songs should go beyond the praise and worship songs we have become accustomed to and truly speak messages that EVERYONE can relate to. Does that mean we should take Jesus out of the equation? No.
He remains the epicentre of our message and even if we are simply smiling into the camera, we should be so full of Him that His heart and nature can be communicated even through that smile.
“Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs”; these are the musical tools the bible says we should use to “speak” to ourselves. We’re quite familiar with psalms and hymns but there is a lot of confusion as to the meaning of spiritual songs.
Jesus said that whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:6 “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit”. It simply means a spiritual song is a song that is born of or inspired a spirit, in this case the Spirit of God. Don’t be fast to conclude that this means only religious songs can be inspired the Spirit.
Remember Songs of Solomon? It is a book in the bible that contains love songs- yes, LOVE SONGS!
Some people have interpreted it in a bid to relate with the content while being “spiritual” as the love between Jesus and His bride, the Church. This is a good interpretation, but we all know who Solomon was. The book of Love songs was written with a man-woman relationship in mind.
2 Timothy 3:16 says that “ALL scripture is inspired God and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness…” This means that the Holy Spirit inspired Solomon to write love songs- if it were not so, it would not be in scripture!
Interestingly, God is not mentioned once in the book of Love songs. This means it is possible to write a song that was inspired God without it directly mentioning God but it would still carry the breath of His essence and do what 2 Timothy 3:16 says is the character of scripture- teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
The next verse, 2 Timothy 3:17 says “so that the man of God (that is you and I basically- every person that is of God) may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Emphasis on EVERY good work.
So the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is meant to birth spiritual tools that will equip us for EVERY good work. Applying this to music, spiritual songs are meant to equip us for EVERY good work, not just for praise and worship sessions alone.
How well have music ministers received and shared songs from the Holy Spirit to equip believers for things like love, sex, friendship, money, influence, politics, death, sorrow, heartbreak, peer pressure, drugs, family life, etc?
You see that we have greatly limited the flow of the Spirit through our songs because most of us are afraid to step outside the status-quo. The Holy Spirit has inspired so many people to write songs along these lines but we “rebuke that spirit” thinking it is carnal to create music that is not exclusively churchy in nature.
But there’s so much more we can do in our ministry to the church and the world.
SECULAR IS NOT SINFUL. We must understand this. That something is secular does not mean it is wrong. Secular CAN be sinful, but something is not sinful JUST because it is secular. By secular I mean something that is not exclusively “churchy” in nature. I’ll ask a question to make this clear: “Is the national anthem a secular or gospel song?” I believe you get the point now.
We must understand that as much as we need praise and worship songs to help us relate with God really intimately, not everyone would be inspired to write praise and worship songs.
Some song writers have rebuked the Holy Spirit when He inspired them to write a love song, or a song addressing specific struggles people face in life, thinking it was a demonic idea.
We need to start teaching the principles of Jesus, while revealing His person and declaring the message of salvation, showing His compassion and letting men experience His comfort and love, it’s a whole package in one. It’s rather unfortunate that society in our day get their definition for success, love, marriage, sex and even God from people who don’t have the mind of Christ!
They teach all manner of things that become strong holds in the minds of their audience that leads them to live terrible lives and remain in the bondage of the devil except for the mercy of God.The words and sounds that we sing and play are spirit and they are life (John 6:63); the very life and power of God would bring conviction to the unbeliever who is exposed to our music even if there’s no ‘Jesus’, ‘God’ or even repent in the lyrics of the song.
We need to stop focusing on lyrics alone, because “The letter in itself kills, but the Spirit gives life ” (2 Corinthians 3:6) and “whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world…”(1 John 5:4). Rather pay attention to both lyrics and your relationship with the real influencer, the Holy Spirit who gives us access to genuine power for transformation. Then we can be true witnesses of the gospel.
So I encourage whoever is reading this: If you are a musician and you are inspired to write songs that are not praise and worship songs or do not have a glaring “church vibe” in it, please go ahead.
Don’t be under pressure to conform to what is popular. A new breed of ministers are rising who will minister accurately and without restraint first to God, then to the church, and finally to the world.
We will present the value system of our King and the Kingdom we represent via songs. The excellence of our music in terms of skill, presentation, creativity, and soundness of our lyrics will be mind-blowing.
Men will listen to our songs and exclaim in wonder “This is not from here! This is divine! This can only be God!” You see that’s how God is glorified. It not just singing “Be thou glorified”. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world… let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and GLORIFY your Father which is in heaven” Matthew 5:14,16.
Let us let our light shine so brightly before men, that they may hear our good songs and GLORIFY our Father who is in heaven.
I appreciate GCB for the privilege of sharing on this subject.
I really appreciate the honour, God bless you ma!
And you really inspire me!