The Spiritual Gift of Holy Music[1]

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Alison playing her David’s harp at Ein Gedi.

My favorite Spiritual Gift of all, one I enjoy in others while not possessing in the slightest, is the gift of Holy Music.  It is not specifically called a Spiritual Gift, but look how one of Saul’s servants described David to him:

Look, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the Lord is with him, (1 Samuel 16:18, NKJV, emphasis mine).

Here King Saul was suffering from a tormenting spirit, and 1 Samuel goes on to describe how David was able to play music that actually drove the evil spirit away.  Even the denominations that are against playing music in church don’t deny that David’s Psalms are Holy Music.  David had a supernaturally empowered Spiritual Gift of Holy Music.

When you hear the words: praise and worship, what comes first to your mind?  I think that most of us would say music.  And I don’t think that’s necessarily wrong.  Of course it is possible to worship God without music, just as it is possible to reach Kansas City on foot.  Music is the vehicle that will transport you into an atmosphere of worship more efficiently, just as a car can get you to Kansas City more efficiently.  There is something about music that reaches deep into the soul and spirit—for good or for bad.

And not only that, but worship using music is one of the very few ways I know of to bring a person’s whole self into spiritual alignment by engaging the body (through playing an instrument or singing), the soul (your mind focusing on the worshipful lyrics), and the spirit (which, if redeemed, is always ready to worship God).

In 2015 I wrote about a couple of YouTubers who had made videos about the evils of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM)[2].  They were most likely pastors from the above-mentioned denominations that don’t allow music in church.  They dismissed our worshiping with music as nothing more than emotionalism.

Of course we become emotional!  God is emotional, and we are created in His image.  Plus, I never want to contemplate the Cross with a cold heart.  I also never want to sing about the Cross mechanically, as if it was an ordinary thing.  The Cross is not only life-changing, it’s eternity-changing.  That’s something to get emotional about.  It’s a reason to sing and shout, tear-up and get emotional, and jump and run and tell the world about Jesus.  I am unapologetically emotional in my love for God.

They also dismissed CCM as not really being Christian because it is entirely possible for a person to use the music to worship any god, even self.  They say this because often the lyrics don’t name Jesus by name, using “Lord,” instead.  The danger of this, they claim, is that satanists can use CCM to worship the defeated enemy.

Using that logic, I tested some songs, including a few older worship songs to see if it’s true.  The hymn We Exalt Thee fits this line of thinking, since it only uses “O Lord,” instead of naming Jesus.  But as I sang it, trying not to direct it to God, my heart ended up worshiping anyway and tears sprang to my eyes (for me this is often a sign of the Holy Spirit’s anointing).

The defeated enemy is incapable of creating anything, but we, as God’s image-bearers, are endowed with the capacity to create.  It is said that the defeated enemy was once the worship leader in Heaven—in God’s very throne room.  Being so close to all the worship and adoration, he decided that he wanted it for himself.  Is it possible for him and his minions to hijack Christian worship music?  Of course it is!  But that doesn’t diminish its power in worshiping God.  Nor does that make it something to avoid in worship.  The defeated enemy doesn’t hijack things that are useless or without power.  That’s why he has twisted prayer into incantation and spells, symbols like the Cross are turned upside down, and music is used to inflate his own ego.

Since about the mid-90’s I listen almost exclusively to Christian music, and since discovering them a few years ago, I started also listening to Contemporary Jewish groups like Six13 and Maccabeats.  Often I will be doing a mundane task like doing the dishes, making beds, or traveling on a long flight, but my heart is soaring in the heavenlies, praising my Savior.  The task gets done and I end up feeling grateful and not stressed.

Do all of these musicians and singers have the Spiritual Gift of Holy Music?  No.  But then again, a lot of the worship leaders in many of the churches I have visited don’t, either.  The Spiritual Gift is not required in order to do an able job of leading worship, but when it’s present, oh what a difference it makes.

For the past five years I have opened my home, operating in hospitality, without the Spiritual Gift of Hospitality.  In fact, on the Spiritual Gifts test, I scored only one out of ten for Hospitality.  My Spiritual Giftings are Encouragements (ten out of ten), Teaching (nine out of ten), and Prophecy (eight out of ten).  You don’t have to have the Spiritual Gift in order to operate in these things.  In fact, many of these things are things that every Christian is commanded to do, like having faith.  We aren’t all George Mullers, but we are all called to have faith.  We are all called to give to the work of the Kingdom, but few have the Spiritual Gift of Giving.  I know people who gladly live off the ten percent and give ninety percent of their income to the work of the Kingdom.

I know a couple of people who have the Spiritual Gift of Holy Music to an extraordinary degree:

Cynthia is my pastor’s mother and the founding pastor’s wife.  She writes worship music based on Scripture that is both beautiful and anointed.  I don’t know how many original songs she has written, but I know that she’s prolific.  I have often seen Cynthia begin to play a worship song that brings the atmosphere of Heaven right into the Sanctuary.

Another is Alison, a Messianic believer.  In addition to leading worship, Alison plays spontaneous soaking music[3] as led by the Holy Spirit.  Her music is powerfully anointed.  And I believe that the resistance and opposition to her music is a result of this anointing stirring up the defeated enemy’s forces.  After all, Jehoshaphat was instructed to put the musicians on the front lines of the army before the fighting men.  Alison’s music destroys spiritual strongholds.

And there are several others that I know: singers, harpists, violinists, guitar players, keyboard players[4], drummers, bassists, saxophonists, trumpeters, trombone players, and of course shofar players.  Each of them I have seen used by the Holy Spirit to create an atmosphere of worship through music.

I recently saw a video interview in which there was a man who went to Heaven.  He said that he heard church music in Heaven and said, “Hey!  That’s our music!”  God told him that all sacred music is composed first in Heaven.  I believe it because it’s the same with the Spiritual Gift of Holy Writing, which is a gift I believe that I have[5].  When the anointing is upon me to write, it feels like I’m just taking dictation.  I have heard Spiritually Gifted songwriters say the exact same thing.

All of this is not to say that Spiritual Gifts are to be exalted.  But the Holy Spirit generously gives the Spiritual Gifts in order to worship and exalt our wonderful God, and to edify the Body of Christ.  The Lord told me in 2011 that the Spiritual Gifts are simply more of Him.  This is precisely why we are encouraged to seek Spiritual Gifts[6], especially prophecy.

So if you don’t know your Spiritual Gift, you should get out there and try them out, take a gifts test, and ask God to show you your Spiritual Gifting.  Don’t neglect this, it’s important.  This is the key to living a fulfilling life in Jesus Christ.  It’s also loads of fun.  God is good!

[1] Continued from A Closer Look at Spiritual Gifts.

[2] See Bad Music.

[3] According to Wikipedia: “Soaking Music otherwise known as Soaking Prayer music or Soaking Worship music, is a subgenre of Christian Music, and is commonly used to denote songs that are used during contemplative prayer in prayer houses and other “soaking” Christian meetings.”  For more, see: The Purpose of Soaking Music.

[4] Which includes both pianists and organists.

[5] Another of the unnamed, but implied Spiritual Gifts.  Each of the writers of the Bible had this gift.

[6] 1 Corinthians 12:31.

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