Know Your Bible
Mechanical Instruments of Music
In the discussion of any Bible topic it is extremely important to keep emotions out of the way and under control. Phrases such as "I feel" and "I think" should never be the basis of an argument. The Bible should and must be the only basis. Why? "All scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." ( I Tim. 3:16,17) Since the Bible perfectly and throughly furnishes unto all good works, why is there a need for anything else? Feelings and opinions lead only to "heated" arguments in which the truth is never revealed.
"God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (Jn. 4:24) In order to worship God in "truth" we must worship Him by His word. "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth."(Jn. 17:17) So, what do the scriptures reveal concerning singing and/or playing musical instruments?
I Cor. 14:15 "What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also."
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 "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 you hearts to the Lord."
These three verses teach that singing is an acceptable and required act of worship unto God, but what about playing musical instruments? Nowhere in the New Testament is there any mention of playing musical instruments as being an acceptable form of worship. So, where is the authorization to use them in worship found? To find this authority on must resort to the creeds and opinions of man. "But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."(Matt.15:9)
Under the Old Testament, worshiping God with mechanical instruments of music was permitted (Psa. 33:2,3). However, it must be understood that the Old Law is no longer binding or in effect today but is rather "for our learning."(Rom. 15:4)
Col. 2:14 "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross:"
Gal. 5:24,25 "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster."
Gal. 5:1 "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
God has revealed His perfect will in the Bible and it is up to man to follow it. "O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." (Jer. 10:23) It is when man becomes "bored" with God's will and changes it to fit their own will that they pervert the gospel. "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."(Gal. 6:6-9)
Many churches today have what they call "special singing". What is meant is that they are going to have anything from a soloist to a choir to be doing the singing. While the New Testament authorizes "singing" in worship to God, can this singing be done by a select few while others look on and listen?
We read in Ephesians 5:!9: "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." In Colossians 3:16, we read: "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." The "teaching", "admonishing", and "singing" spoken of in these passages are not separate, unrelated activities. All three show how we are to "let the word of Christ dwell in you richly". When Christians assemble and engage in singing TOGETHER, they are teaching and admonishing "ONE ANOTHER".
The New Testament is very specific with regard to singing. In addition to authorizing only congregational singing, we are restricted in the KIND OF MUSIC. While we know there are different kinds of music, namely vocal and mechanical, the New Testament only authorizes VOCAL when it says "singing". We are also restricted in the STYLE OF MUSIC. While there are bluegrass, classical, rock, country, and etc. that are recognized as different styles of music, the New Testament only authorizes "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs". When it comes to singing there can be any number of things that serve as the OBJECT OF MUSIC. It might be a wife or husband, girlfriend or boyfriend, parents, places, and etc. However, the New Testament has restricted the object of our music to singing "TO THE LORD". The New Testament also has restricted the ATTITUDE OF THE SINGER when it teaches that we are to be "singing with GRACE"; that is, we must have gratitude when we sing. Also the New Testament has restricted the INSTRUMENT INVOLVED in singing. We are to sing using our "HEARTS".
When we sing we are "speaking to yourselves" and "teaching and admonishing one another". "One another" is a reciprocal pronoun which simply means that the action being done is mutual or done by all. I cannot ‘teach and admonish' you unless I am ‘speaking'. Neither can you ‘teach and admonish' me unless you are ‘speaking'. Singing, in these two passages, teaches ourselves and everyone else who participates.
Those who wish to change singing in worship to using a soloist, duet, trio, quartet, or choir want to put the emphasis on "LISTENING". Yet, neither in Ephesians 5:19 nor Colossians 3:16 can you find the word "listening". The truth in the matter is this: LISTENING TO OTHERS SING, WITHOUT JOINING IN THE SINGING TOGETHER, IS UNAUTHORIZED; THUS UNSCRIPTURAL!
In reality, why would a church want "special music"? Why set apart a specialized person or group of singers who perform on their own in the assembly? There can be no doubt that the real reason is because there is a great desire to want to be entertained in religion rather than worship God as He directs! God seeks us to "worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). "In truth" would be according to His Word because God's Word is truth (John 17:17). To worship "in spirit" is to worship Him with our minds consecrated upon worship directed TO GOD.
May God help us to resist the hype and glitter that is characteristic of our day and age. Let us not be fooled by the emotionally-stimulating distractions that only create an artificial sense of spirituality.
---E.R. Hall, Jr.
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