Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness,
examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Acts 17:11 ESV
Some of the Christian music I listen to is for worship and some of the other Christian music I listen to is for clean entertainment. This article is not intended to help us distinguish between these two, though that would be a useful article. The intent of this article is instead to encourage us how to make a distinction between that which calls itself Christian and that which merely has the Christian label attached to it but fails to be so.
I will be completely honest, if you look at my digital music library you will find worship music like the Getty’s, “In Christ Alone”. However, you will also find contemporary Christian music like Toby Mac and NF, artists which many of you have never heard. I even have an album by Johnny Cash, all because I wanted his song, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”. A great song about Johnny’s own sinful lifestyle, God calling him out of that life, and to call others out of that life to come to Christ. These last few artists I would consider to be music entertainment rooted in a Christian worldview. So, I am not coming from the perspective that all contemporary Christian music is bad. Yet, there are music artists that are being played on contemporary Christian radio, that at best, reject essential Christian doctrine, and at worst, are not even Christian. Philips, Craig, and Dean are a trio who oddly enough reject the Trinity, Pentatonix is a talented group but have members who are openly homosexual, and Matt Maher is not only a practicing Catholic but leads worship and teaches as a minister in the Roman Catholic historic tradition that is directly opposed to the gospel. These are only a few of the popular artists that come to my mind who have been regularly played on Christian radio for years.
Most recently in the news is Lauren Daigle, a woman bearing the Christian label, and has a recently sky rocketing career not only in Christian circles but also in the secular music world. Her music is sung every Sunday morning in churches around the world. Her recent album debuted at number 3 on the Billboard 100, she appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and was on the Ellen Degeneres Show. Some Christians are celebrating her being welcomed by the world with open arms. What some are now concerned about is her recent response to a question on a radio show. The host asked, “Do you feel homosexuality is a sin?”
“I can’t honestly answer on that. In a sense, I have too many people that I love that they are homosexual. I don’t know. I actually had a conversation with someone last night about it. I can’t say one way or the other. I’m not God. So, when people ask questions like that…that’s what my go to is. I just say read the Bible and find out for yourself. And when you find out let me know, because I’m learning too.”
The Bible is clear on homosexuality being a sin (Genesis 19:1-24; Leviticus 18:22, 20:13; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Romans 1:26-28, Jude 7). The Bible is also clear that Christ died for sinners, including the homosexual, who if like other sinners acknowledges their sin, repents and believes on Christ they are saved (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Notice, by Daigle’s response, it is not that she hasn’t thought about it, she has, and she has even had discussions about it. Her go to response is that she is, “not God”. Well, thanks for clearing that up. Can she call murder, stealing, or adultery sin? She should be able to do so and probably wouldn’t hesitate. Would she be in the place of God if she did? No. She would merely be affirming what God tells us is indeed sin. Quite frankly, her answer is a lame cop-out. There is no more excuse in this day and age for one who is in public ministry to claim ignorance on what God’s Word has to say about this issue. If Lauren Daigle doesn’t know if the Bible calls homosexuality a sin, she ought not be in a public Christian ministry like Christian music.
One of the bands I liked listening to when I was younger, because they came from the reformed Christian perspective and yet played the contemporary style of music with a little folk mixed in, was Caedmon’s Call. One of my favorite songs of theirs was “Thankful”. In this song Scripture was paraphrased from Romans 3:10-11 concerning the condition of man, “There is none righteous, not one who understands, there is none who seek God, no not one”. Now, Derek Webb, the previous lead singer says that he believes, “God made people good and the fall didn’t fundamentally change that.” This problematic statement has all sorts of ramifications on the gospel. He has come out, it seems, in support of the LGBT+ community and went on tour with Jennifer Knapp, an open lesbian who claims to be Christian. He also believes that human sexuality is non-binary, meaning there are not only two sexes man and woman and that those sexual relationships are not confined to be between man and woman only. Finally, he now calls himself an unbeliever.
With all the Christian artists out there it is impossible to know where they all stand theologically. But, make no mistake, their theology does inform their ministry, it comes out in their music, their interviews, and with whom they partner and support. Whether we like it or not, their fans are influenced by these artist’s ministries. Also, the world is either being encountered by the gospel through faithful music ministry or the world in its sin is being affirmed by their false ministry. So, what do we do?
We need to be a discerning people. We need to examine the messages we listen to with the Scripture. That applies to the music to which we listen, to the sermons we hear, to shows and movies we watch, to the books we read, to the conversations we have with others. We are constantly being bombarded with messages and you, I, our families and our culture are being influenced by the worldview in these mediums. The believer has always been called to discernment and it is necessary as you faithfully follow after Christ. Here are some passages to consider for how we ought to respond to the messages and messengers we hear. 1 John 4:1; Philippians 1:9-10, Hebrews 5:14; Romans 12:1-2; James 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; Colossians 2:8; Proverbs 2:1-5; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; 1 Timothy 4:1; Matthew 24:24
DRESS TO ACCENTUATE!
It is interesting that Peter spent much time writing about submission in all areas of life and then shifts in 1 Peter 3:3-4 to external versus internal dress. So, the focus of this passage is on submission to the husband, even an unbelieving husband with the hopes of God brining the husband to salvation in Christ. The wife’s behavior is to be such that the husband is won by their fear, or respect, and chaste conduct, or pure conduct as stated in verse 2. What comes next are these very things being fleshed out in the behavior of the wife, a purity in her heart that extends from the inward person even to the outward dress. She not only submits to her husband, but she also places her value not in the external dress but the inward person of the heart. However, the inward person of the heart effects how she adorns herself externally. For this, let’s consider 1 Timothy 2:9-10, which describes for us how a woman’s godliness bears fruit in how she adorns her body.
9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel,
with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or
costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess
godliness-- with good works. (1Timothy 2:9-10 ESV)
One of the first descriptions given for the external adornments of dress here is respectable. When this word is applied to people it means disciplined, honorable, or respectful, and when it is applied to clothing it means dress that is characterized by respectability, modesty, and sensibility. The next word applied to clothing in our passage is modesty. This has to do with dress that is modest with a self-respect, but also a regard and respect for others. The third word applied is self-control. This word means a quality of life characterized by the ability to restrain passions and impulses. Finally, in verse 10, we have the word proper. This word means clothing is to be appropriate, fitting, and right for a woman professing to know Jesus as her Lord and Savior.
Now notice there are not measurements given here for how long or short, how tight or how loose each piece of clothing ought to be. No, instead because how we dress our bodies is an issue of the heart, as each of these are issues of character. So, let’s bring all these matters of character together now. God desires that His daughters dress their bodies respectfully, modestly, with oneself as well as with others in view, with a self-control to restrain passions, and properly with consideration that you profess yourself to be a child of the King.
When you go into
our closet to pick out what you are going to wear for the day are you dressing your
body or are you dressing your character? In other words, are you dressing to accentuate your body or are you
dressing to accentuate your godly character? You see all around you clothing that is designed to accentuate the body
but as one who professes godliness you are to intentionally dress in such a way
that God is glorified in the accentuation of God’s character being formed in
you. This means that you are not
comparing your dress to those around you as to being less tight, or less
exposing. Instead, you are comparing
first, your hearts attitude before God and are to see that it is bearing the
fruits of a godly character as described above in how you adorn your body.
Some simple questions to ask yourself from this passage when you are shopping and getting dressed:
Is what I am wearing glorifying to God by accentuating my godly character?
Is what I am wearing respecting myself as a woman of God?
Is what I am wearing respectful and considerate of others?
Is what I am wearing a potential to stir up my own or others sinful passions?
Is what I am wearing proper for one in whom Christ dwells?
Dress to the glory of God by dressing to accentuate the godly character He is forming in you.
Grace and Peace,
Head, Heart, & Hands: Will The Church Survive the 2016 Election Intact?
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you,
for the glory of God. (Romans 15:7 ESV)
There are matters of faith and practice that are worth dividing with others over. For example, we would divide ourselves from those who profess themselves to be believers but would deny the deity of Christ, Christ’s death, and Christ’s resurrection. These are essential teachings of our faith such that we are unable to relinquish, and we believe denial of these doctrines would mean one has denied the faith. However, there are disputable matters of which we are not to judge each other or cause one another to stumble. Andy Naselli shared some disputable matters within the body of Christ in a message he preached.
“Can Christians work on the Lord’s Day? What does it mean for women to dress modestly? Should we boycott progressive businesses? Is it better to educate our children using public schools, private schools, private Christians schools, or homeschool? Should we drink alcohol in moderation or should we completely abstain? Should marriageable couples practice dating or courtship? Is it okay to use lethal force to defend your family? If the two presidential candidates this fall are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, should we …. vote for Trump, vote for somebody else, or not vote?”
Romans 14 speaks of three disputable matters of which some weaker conscience believers were tempted to judge others for their liberty, while those with stronger consciences were tempted to abuse their liberties before the weak in faith. The three matters of dispute are over eating meat, days of observance, and drinking wine. Paul’s instruction to each in the matter of meat is found in verse three, “Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.” (Romans 14:3 ESV) Eating meat was not a sin, the one who has liberty in Christ to eat meat, the strong, are not to despise (looking down on them for lack of liberty in Christ) those who are weak such that they would offend their consciences by eating meat. On the other side, Paul instructs those weak (those who felt they would be sinning by eating meat) to not judge as sinning those who have liberty to eat meat. Why should the stronger and the weaker believer respond this way to one another, “for God has welcomed him”. God has welcomed both people on each side of these disputable matters and so should we.
God saw fit to give us another reason to not despise or judge one another on disputable matters in verse ten, “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;” (Romans 14:10 ESV) On disputable matters, we are not to respond in such ways to fellow believers who vary with us because we all will stand before God and give an account to Him, not each other (v11-12). Rather than walking by looking down our nose on the weaker or in judgment at the stronger, we are to walk in love. “14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” (Romans 14:14-19 ESV)
This informs both sides, those who recognize their liberty in Christ and those whose consciences do not allow them to walk in those liberties, how to think about and behave towards one another. Do we have differences on disputable matters that need informing by Romans 14-15:7? I know I have been rebuked and encouraged by considering this as I think about some of the differences I have with believers within my circles of family and friends. I needed the Word of God to inform me on disputable matters such as drinking, Bible translation, worship music, entertainment, and yes, even voting.
So, will the church survive the 2016 election intact? Yes, the gates of hell will not prevail against Christ’s Church. (Matthew 16:18) The better question is, will your Christian relationships survive disputable matters? If you correctly apply Romans 14-15:7, for your part they will. Much more can be drawn from this passage and I encourage you to read this article by Andy Naselli, “Can You Vote for Donald Trump with a Clear Conscience?”, and this message by him as well at https://vimeo.com/167773477 .
Grace and peace,