The marching beat of a good soldier of Jesus Christ

2 Tim 2:3“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

Are you a soldier for Jesus Christ?

If you have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, God has made you His child. But He wants you to grow in grace and in your faith so that you will be fit to be a soldier as well. Now Paul writing to Timothy challenged him to be a soldier, but more than a soldier – a good soldier. A soldier will march, but a good soldier marches to the right beat. A good soldier marches to the beat of his captain. All music has a beat and a good soldier of Christ should be listening to music with the right beat.

What does the Bible say about Christ honouring music and the kind of beat that should be in music?

Remember, the Bible is the sole authority for faith and practice. It governs everything that we do. When we say this, we are establishing Christ as the head of the church and getting all our procedures from the Captain of our salvation.

What does the Bible say about the music of a good soldier?

It has a marching beat.

Now do you know what a marching beat is?

  • It is a serious beat for serious soldiers.
  • It is a beat that stirs you into action without getting you tangled up in the world.
  • It does not excite your flesh, but moves your soul.

The Marching Beat

A marching beat puts the accent on the first beat and the third – the third being a bit weaker. So we get the rhythm – hup two three four, hup two three four. You have maybe seen a company of soldiers on parade. This is the same beat to which they march. That is the same rhythm the hymns employ and that “hup two three four” 4/4 time is often used in the songs about the army of God.

  • Soldiers of Christ, Arise
  • Hold the Fort
  • The Banner of the Cross
  • Onward, Christian Soldiers

The Fleshly Beat – the World’s Beat

But there is a beat that stirs up the flesh and is not the beat of a soldier. It is more the beat of a dancer.

  • This fleshly beat has an emphasis on the second and fourth beat – it is called a syncopated beat.
  • It is a beat that stirs up fleshly passions and can even be hypnotic.

This beat pervades the music in rock and roll and also the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) of today.

“The rhythm in rock is the dominant part of the sound. The heavy emphasis on the BEAT is what distinguishes rock from every other type of music.” (Frank Garlock, Music in the Balance, p. 32)

“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!

“Rhythm is the element of music most closely allied to BODY MOVEMENT [fleshly, carnal], to PHYSICAL action. Its simpler patterns when repeated over and over [which is exactly what rock does] can have a hypnotic effect on us.” (Joseph Machlis, The Enjoyment of Music, p. 19)

Larry Norman, in his song, “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music”, sings about the FLESHLY and PHYSICAL response (moves my feet) of the BEAT of rock.

I ain’t knocking the hymns,
Just give me a song that has a BEAT.
I ain’t knocking the hymns,
Just give me a song that moves my feet.

1 John 2:16“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” Music that stirs up the flesh is of the world and not of God.

Gal 5:16“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” The Christian soldier in his battle with sin will always lose when giving in to the lusts of the flesh. But when we walk in the Spirit, the flesh cannot win the battle. The rock beat stirs up the flesh, feeds its lusts and pulls us into sin. The syncopated beat can stir up the flesh so much that it controls our actions.

When secular rock-star, Michael Jackson was asked why he did the filthy 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)

How much beat?

Now how much emphasis should the beat have in music? Should we even have a beat in our music? Does God-honouring music have a beat?

To answer this you must understand that there are three parts to music:

  1. Melody
  2. Harmony
  3. Rythm

In the Bible, the melody is always emphasized in music.

Isa 23:16“…make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered.”

To make melody was synonymous with singing songs.

Isa 51:3“…joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.

Amos 5:23“Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.”

Eph 5:19“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;”

The Lord God refers to music as MELODY!

According to God the emphasis of Christian music is the MELODY not the BEAT!

The Contemporary Christian Music world keeps saying “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.” That simply is not true. The Bible has much to say about the music, not just the lyrics. It is clear from scripture that the melody should predominate in our music.

What is Melody?

Webster’s Dictionary defines melody as: 1. Sweetness of sound; music 2. The chief theme of a musical composition. 3. A tune; song (The Grosset Webster Dictionary, p. 372)

  • Melody should be the most prominent part of music.
  • Melody is the theme of the tune.
  • Without the melody line, there is no music.
  • Melody is the horizontal line the notes follow on the music score.

Here are a few quotes from famous musicians on melody:

“Melody is the main thing; harmony is useful only to charm the ear.” Joseph Haydn (Wordsworth Dictionary of Musical Quotations, p. 15)

“Melody is the very essence of music.” Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Wordsworth Dictionary of Musical Quotations, p. 16)

How is harmony different from melody?

Webster’s Dictionary defines harmony as: Agreeable proportion of sound. A succession of chords. (The Grosset Webster Dictionary, p. 281)

  • Harmony is when two or more notes are played at the same time. Harmony adds depth to the melody line.
  • Harmony is the basis for the formation of chords.
  • Harmony is the vertical line where the notes meet on the music score.

What is Rhythm?

Webster defines rhythm as: The pattern of tones with regard to their relative time value. (The Grosset Webster Dictionary, p. 490)

  • Rhythm is the movement in music.
  • Without rhythm, music would be one, long continuous sound, or an uncontrollable noise.
  • Rhythm or the beat is the “glue” that holds everything together.
  • The rhythm is an “unseen” but required component of the music score.

Let us summarize:

  • Melody is the main component of music.
  • Harmony adds to its beauty.
  • Rhythm is required because it keeps it moving. It is the beat of the music.

Someone has put it this way:

Melody – ministers to your spirit

Harmony – ministers to your mind

Rhythm – ministers to your body/flesh

So music must have a beat or else it cannot move. It is like the heart. No beat – no life.

But God-honouring music must have a controlled rhythm.

  • The accents must be on the right beat.
  • The beat must not be overpowering.

Like the heart, too much pulse and the body is sick.

So, how much beat should be in a song?

A good rule of thumb is to put the amount of beat in a song as you would salt in your food. You simply want to sprinkle some beat into the music to give it movement and form. Having about 5 – 10 % of the music as beat is adequate.

In Rock and Roll and some CCM music 50 – 75 % is beat.

The world famous composer and conductor, Dimitri Tiomkin said of rock music:

“The big beat is deliberately aimed at exciting the listener… There is actually very little MELODY, little sense in the lyrics, ONLY RHYTHM[beat].” (Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, Aug., 8, 1965, p. 9J)

“Rock ‘music’ has NO MELODY only fragments of melody endlessly repeated. Since there is no true melody, there is no real harmony. There is ONLY RHYTHM. And rhythm in and of itself is not music.” (Leonard J. Seidel, Face the Music Contemporary Music On Trial, pp. 46-51)

Even the secular, satanic rockers the Rolling Stones admit rock is NOT music but NOISE!

“It’s a NOISE we make. That’s all. You could be kind and call it music.” Mick Jagger, Rolling Stones (Roy Carr, The Rolling Stones – An Illustrated Record, p. 37)

Instruments and the Beat

Just think of the instruments that are used in a modern rock band. There are rhythm guitars, bass guitars and drums that pound out a lot of rhythm. The only instrument that plays melody is the lead guitar, which plays a type of screaming melody. Sometimes a keyboard is played which is the only instrument that plays the real melody. In the typical “band” there is 60 – 75 % rhythm and beat and the beat is even the wrong kind – the syncopated beat.

Churches today often use only a piano and organ with no drums, rhythm guitar or any other rhythm instrument. (You will not even find drums mentioned in the Bible). That insures the emphasis is on the melody where it should be and keeps that beat from stirring up the flesh, taking away from our worship to God.

John 4:24“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

Eph 5:19“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;”

Col 3:16“singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

This is why we don’t have drums, guitars and a lot of percussion instruments to accompany the music.

  • God is pleased when the melody is sung and the harmony/rhythm compliments the melody.
  • In God honouring music, the melody must be in the forefront.
  • The rhythm is just there to keep it moving and push it forward.
  • The accent of godly music is on the first beat.

The Bible does give us instruction about the music that honours the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us be good soldiers of our Captain by the music we choose.