Instrumental Music In Worship

The Community church of Christ in Hendersonville, Tennessee began using it on special occasions -- via a CD recording. The Norway Avenue congregation in Huntingdon, West Virginia first started using praise teams to "capture the attention and imagination of young people" but has now moved to the use of instruments in order to "adapt appropriately to culture." The Max Lucado-led Oak Hills church in San Antonio refrains from the use of instruments on Sunday morning because of "the absence of instruments in New Testament churches," said Vic King, church minister of missions. Oak Hills, however, uses instruments on Sunday nights and other occasions.

These three congregations are indicative of a trend among progressive churches catering to cultural demands. It is not limited to these three or only to those seeking membership in trendy groups. I would encourage every gospel preacher to re-study this important question and address the subject with seriousness and resolve. It is not going to disappear but will become an issue that will disturb and divide brethren all over again. Could it be that we see a generation bearing the fruit of weak convictions because of a failure to sow the truth on this important subject?

 

The Key Issue:

Have you tried to buy a gift for someone but had no idea what to purchase? You have two options: 1) you can pick something you like (no guarantee they will like it) or, 2) you can seek the advice of others with insight into the expressed will of the recipient. There is a big difference in the two approaches. We either buy what we want or we buy what they want. The same principle works when we offer gifts of praise to God. What is it that God wants?

After having read much of the current lines of argumentation justifying the use of mechanical instruments of music in worship, it is apparent to me that it comes down to the age old issue of selfishness. As one person said, "I want it because I like it." The me-first generation has spoken.

Six Essential Scriptures:

1Corinthians 2:9-13 It is impossible for you to know the mind of God unless it has been revealed. All of which means we must dispense with the "I think..." and focus on what the Author has expressed.

Ephesians 3:1-4 God spoke, the apostles wrote, and we can read and understand. All of which means: if the apostles didn't write it and we can't read it, God doesn't want it. That's true whether you are discussing infant baptism or instrumental music.

1Corinthians 14:15 Written in the context of a worship assembly, Paul addresses two important parts of man's worship: praying and singing.

Ephesians 5:17-19 Paul addresses the WHO: "speaking to one another" -- everyone is involved, the WHAT" "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" -- not popular and pop songs, and the WHERE: "singing and making melody with your heart" -- the melody making instrument is specified.

Colossians 3:16 We are to lift up our voices and sing with thankfulness.

Hebrews 13:15 God tells us what He wants -- "the sacrifice of praise...the fruit of lips that give thanks..."

How anyone can read these verses and conclude that music in the early church was anything other than congregational and vocal is beyond my understanding. Did Paul make a mistake by not saying we should play with the understanding? Or did he accurately convey what God wanted?

 The Principle Of Silence:

I believe religiously minded people understand the principle of silence -- when they want to. If I propose to a nearby Christian Church that they add fish to the Lord's Supper because 1) the fish symbol reminds people of Jesus, 2) there is nothing inherently wrong with fish, and 3) the Bible doesn't specifically prohibit it, the arguments they would make against adding fish would be the same arguments I would make against adding play to sing. It is not any different. If you can "add" play to sing, I can "add" fish to the Lord's Supper.

Those who argue in favor of its use via Old Testament teaching display a Sadducean misunderstanding of Scripture (Matthew 22:29). By what authority (not to speak of logic) does one choose flutes and harps (electric guitars and drums?) to the neglect of animal sacrifices and incense burning? Who gives you the right to pick and choose--unless...it really is all about me?

There is no instrument like the human voice. When saints gather and sing, as they ought, it produces a sound unequaled by any symphony. Shall we bring forth a mechanical reproduction or the real thing that God desires to hear? Will we worship as we will or as He wills?

Biblical Insights, July 2006

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