The Scripture Speaks
Bible Study: 10:00 AM
Worship: 11:00 AM
Evening Worship: 4:00 PM
Wednesday Bible Study
9871 Big Creek Road
Ellijay, GA 30536
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I wish in this article to discuss the use of instruments in the worship of the church. I wish to raise and answer this question: Does God authorize the use of instruments in the worship of God? Most religious bodies use instruments in their worship of the Creator. These instruments vary from group to group. Until recently, religious bodies used either the organ or the piano. But the use of instruments is no longer restricted to those two alone. As you are aware, we in the church of Christ do not use the instrument. Oftentimes, we are asked for a reason as to why we do not use them. We have even been criticized because we do not use them. I wish to explain to those of you who read this article why we do not use any type of instrumental music in our worship of God.
First, let me say that we do not use the instrument to be different. As I have stated in articles that have been printed before, we in the church of Christ want scriptural authority for everything that we do. A passage of scripture to which we occasionally refer states, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Matthew 7:21. Jesus stated, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." John 7:17. Two principles are clear in these two passages of scripture. One, a person must do the will of God to be saved. Second, the will of God can be known. In the second passage of scripture, Jesus stated that we could know whether the teaching was of God or of Christ. I conclude therefore, that one can know whether the teaching be of God or of man. Are instruments of music in worship the teaching of God or are instruments of music in worship the teaching of man? If we follow the teaching of man, then our worship is in vain. This principle is taught by Jesus. "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Matthew 15:9. Because there are an abundance of doctrines taught and practiced in the world of religion, we must test every doctrine. "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try (test) the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." I John 4:1. The standard by which we test every teaching is the Bible, which is the word of God. Therefore, we raise the question again: Does God authorize the use of instruments in the worship of God?
As we discuss this question, I will not consider any passage from the Old Testament. What is stated in the Old Testament does not apply to us in this the Christian age. The church of Jesus Christ is governed by the new covenant of Christ. "And for this cause he (Christ) is the mediator of the new testament..." Hebrews 9:15. Neither will we consider the question of what or what will not be used in heaven. That discussion has nothing to do with the worship of God here upon the earth. What does the Bible teach about New Testament worship?
First, the worship of God is to be "in spirit and in truth." John 4:24. To worship in spirit has nothing to do with physical elements, but rather the disposition of the heart. To worship in truth means that we follow the directions of the New Testament. In no passage of scripture in the New Testament can one find the authority to use an instrument of music. We know from several passages that singing was the prescribed method of worship. The epistle of First Corinthians is a discussion of New Testament worship. In chapter 14 and verse 15, the Bible says, "I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding." This scripture is in accord with Jesus' statement about worship. Worship in spirit; sing with the spirit.
Consider with me one passage of scripture. Colossians 3:16: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." First, the passage refers us to the word of Christ. This is the authority. How I feel; what I want; what I think to be better makes no difference. Christ says that the word must dwell in us. Second, spiritual songs are mentioned. Again, the worship must be in spirit. The passage also refers to singing, not playing. An instrument cannot sing. An instrument does not produce grace. Grace comes from the heart, which is the spiritual element of worship. Singing is to teach and admonish. Can an instrument teach and admonish? I believe that only the voice can teach and admonish. My honest and sincere conclusion is that the word of God gives no authority for instruments of music in the worship of God.
The following passage states, "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." Let us, you and me, follow the authority of God and do only what can produce thanks unto Him.
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