Tag Archives: Music

CCM is the “new cart” of 21st century Christianity; but is it right?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Daily reading assignment: 2 Samuel 5-9 (1 Chronicles 13)

Today’s devotional commentary is published in two-parts, the first will repeat a portion of a blog I first published March 2015.   “Beware of New Carts” is an application of a lesson taken from 2 Samuel 6 and David’s disastrous decision to build a “new cart” for transporting the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.  It is a challenge to the 21st century church and believers to not trifle with that which God has declared to be holy.

Seven and one-half years after the tribe of Judah crowned David as king, all the tribes of Israel assembled in 2 Samuel 5 and acknowledged him as God’s chosen ruler of His people (5:1-5). David’s first act as king of a unified Israel was to establish Jerusalem as the nation’s capital (5:6-10) and build a palace fit for a king (5:11-16).

2 Samuel 6 reminds us David was a man who loved the LORD and, remembering the Ark of the God was the symbol of God’s presence among His people, David set his heart upon bringing the “ark of God” to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:1-2).  David and all Israel celebrated the return of the Ark (6:3-5); however, it was a celebration cut short by a tragic event.

Because the Ark represented God’s presence in Israel and symbolized the throne of God in heaven (Psalm 80:1; 99:1), it was a holy vessel.   Shrouded under a cloth and carried by “staves” or poles (Numbers 4:5-6), the Ark was never to be defiled by man.

In spite of the best of intentions, the consequences of David’s failure to seek the will of God and his ignorance of the means to transport the Ark soon turned to tragedy when we read, “Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. 7  And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God” (6:6b-7).

It is my observation that the majority of churches, pastors and Christian leaders are employing a lot of new carts in our day.   A “new cart” looks attractive, draws a crowd that applauds the motive and gives an appearance of success.  However, the test of a “new cart” is not how successful it looks, how attractive it appears, or whether or not it draws a crowd.  I have grown weary hearing believers defend their choices on the basis of whether or not they have “good intentions”.

Friend, right is right and wrong is wrong and your “good intentions” are nothing more than a hollow defense of the indefensible!   Having right motives and the affirmation of a crowd does not justify personal choices or ministry methodologies that detract from God’s holiness and depart from His instructions.

It is my observation that many of our Bible believing churches; Bible colleges, universities, seminaries, and organizations are led by men who are pragmatist rather than men of principle!

David and Israel had admirable intentions in bringing the Ark to Jerusalem; however, they violated three spiritual principles.  The first, never treat as common what God has declared holy.   Uzzah had lived in the home where the Ark was stored and would have known the reverence the Ark of God not only deserved, but also demanded (1 Chron. 13:3).

The second, violating God’s precepts [laws; guidelines], regardless of one’s motive, is never acceptable to God!  The Law of God was clear—touching the Ark was a violation of God’s law  (Numbers 4:15).

The third principle: Employing worldly means to accomplish a virtuous end is unacceptable before a holy God.   We read in 1 Chronicles 13:3-4 that David’s desire to bring the Ark to Jerusalem was “right in the eyes of all the people” (1 Chronicles 13:3-4).  In other words, David had the right motive; however, the method he employed was wrong for “they carried the ark of God in a new cart” (13:7a).  Where did the idea of employing a “new cart” arise?  It was the means the Philistines used when they returned the Ark to Israel (1 Samuel 6:7-8); however, that was not God’s will or way for His people.

I close with an observation: A “new cart” was introduced into Christian homes, churches and schools in the late 1970’s under the guise of being culturally relevant.  Adopting and adapting the rock music style of pop culture, historically Bible fundamental churches, colleges, and universities are falling victim to the pragmatic use of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM).

I challenge my pastor peers and the professors of our Bible colleges and universities to recognize that CCM is the 21st century “new cart” of the Philistines that has no place in our homes, churches and schools.  You might salve your conscience with the affirmation it is “right in the eyes of all the people” (1 Chronicles 13:4), but that is a pragmatic, not a principled defense of your motive or method.  I close with a quote I often heard in college:

“It is never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right!”  -Evangelist Dr. Bob Jones, Sr.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

A Cauldron of Carnality

ImageThere is an oft-used story of a frog that was placed in a shallow pan of cool water out of which he could have easily jumped. The pan was placed on a stove and the temperature of the water gradually increased, all the while the frog contented himself with floating in the water—oblivious to the rising temperature…until he was boiled to death. The frog could have jumped out of the pan, but the rise in temperature was so gradual that he did not notice the danger until it was too late.

I see that same thing happening in Christian homes, Bible-preaching churches, schools, and colleges.  Christians have been comfortable in America’s pan of water and lulled into a sense of security, failing to recognize the water of secular humanism is coming to a boil and its prodigious effect influencing our families, churches, and institutions.

Christians should have jumped out of the pan of water when the world began producing the fruit of carnality in our lives, homes, and families. Instead, we became enamored with the world; and our homes, churches, and institutions have become cauldrons of sin and worldliness.

Some are defending compromises in music, dress, and lifestyle by piously suggesting the essential focus of Christianity is the Gospel and we should not be divided over concerns they relegate to preferences.

A Christian not only bears a responsibility to share the gospel, he must also be dedicated to glorifying Christ with a life that is pure and holy.  Sadly, the gospel of pragmatism, at the sacrifice of Bible principles, is desensitizing Christians to the world, its pleasures and allure (1 John 2:15-17).

The apostle Paul, writing to Christians living in the midst of a society given over to sin and hedonism, wrote:  I beseech [urge] you therefore, brethren, by [in light of] the mercies of God, that ye present [dedicate] your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God [surrendering all your hopes, plans and aspirations], which is your reasonable service  [unto God]. 2 And be not conformed [patterned] to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind [saturated and controlled by the Word of God], that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

It is time for Christians to heed the mandate of a life that is holy and acceptable to God and get out of churches and institutions that make allowances for a pan full of carnality under the guise of spiritual piety, all the while sacrificing godliness, sanctification, and holiness.

We need to heed Peter’s challenge to first century Christians:

 “But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation” (1 Peter 1:15)

Beware of New Carts

I have given a lot of thought to the utilization of the “Pastor’s Blog” for Hillsdale’s website in recent weeks. My neglect of the blog and the opportunity it presents me to stay in touch with our church family and friends has been impressed upon me of late. After a lot of thought, I have decided to use the blog as a means to state in writing the principles I am teaching in church Sunday mornings and evenings. I hope this will prove to be a worthwhile investment of my time and yours.

Today’s Blog…

I am currently teaching two different sermon series. “Still Church”

is the title of my Sunday morning series. An affirmation of our commitment to see Hillsdale continue as an authentic, biblically fundamental New Testament Church…traditional in our worship and dedicated to the use of historical and modern hymns and songs of the faith that are timeless, not trendy. “Still Preaching; Still Passionate; Still Reverent; Still Hymns” are qualities we want to be true of our worship services.

I have returned to a biographical study of the Life of David on Sunday nights, a series from which I took a year hiatus, but that has covered all of I Samuel and, beginning this January 2013, II Samuel chapters 1-6 so far. This past Sunday night we focused on David’s first failed attempt to move the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:1-10 and 1 Chronicles 13:1-14). Those passages record the death of Uzzah who, in an attempt to steady the Ark of the Covenant, stretched forth his hand and touched the Ark to keep it from toppling off the cart. God immediately struck Uzzah dead for his irreverence towards that which God had called Holy.

The golden gilded Ark of God represented the presence of God among His people, while the lid, which was called the Mercy Seat, represented the throne of God. The Ark was the most sacred object in the Tabernacle and, except for when two golden gilded rods on the shoulders of the priest transported it, it was not to be seen or touched. It was kept in the inner most room of the Tabernacle known as the Holy of Holies.

There are too many lessons to be learned and too many applications to be made in this blog concerning God’s immediate judgment of death upon Uzzah [I invite you to hear the sermon in its entirety by clicking here; however, I would like to make a few observations:

1) Treating as common what God has declared holy invites His severest judgment. Uzzah had lived in the home where the Ark was stored and would have known the reverence the Ark of God not only deserved, but also demanded (1 Chron. 13:3).

2) Violating God’s precepts [laws; guidelines], regardless of one’s motive, is never acceptable to God! The Law of God was clear—the Ark was never to be touched (Numbers 4:15).

3) The hazard of using worldly methods–“And they carried the ark of God in a new cart  (1 Chron. 13:7). There is no question that David had the right motive and the Bible states it was “right in the eyes of all the people” (13:4). The problem was that David employed the wrong method“they carried the ark of God in a new cart” (13:7a). David had followed the pattern of the Philistines who had returned the Ark of God on a new cart; however, that was not God’s will or way for His people. God’s work must be done God’s way to enjoy His blessing.

It is my observation that a lot of churches, pastors and Christian leaders are employing a lot of new carts in our day. A “new cart” looks attractive, draws a crowd that applauds the motive and gives an appearance of success.  However, the test of a “new cart” is not how successful it looks or how attractive it appears; but is it God’s way to do His will.  Having right motives and the affirmation of a crowd does not justify ministry methodologies that detract from God’s holiness and depart from His instructions.

I close with a quote I often heard in college:

“It is never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right!” 

-Evangelist Dr. Bob Jones, Sr.