INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC IN WORSHIP
Music is one of the great arts which gratifies an esthetic
desire in man. Someone has said, Music has the power to lift
the veil and let the spirit look and listen; it marks a dividing
line between beasts and men; it compels mankind to put away
selfishness, greed, and hate, and to discover the pathway to the
soul. Singing as one type of music is the one great art by
which man is linked with eternity since Job says, The morning
stars sang together for joy before the creation of the world.
John, in the book of Revelation, wrote of the 140,000 singing
praises to the Lamb of God in heaven.
GOD PLACED MUSIC IN WORSHIP
It is a small wonder that in both the Hebraic and Christian
traditions music has a very definite place in the worship of God.
The Psalms of David make up the longest book of the Bible. He is
known as the sweet singer of Israel. In the book of
Matthew, singing is mentioned in connection with the institution of
the Lords supper in the upper room (Matt. 26:26-30). One night
about midnight in Philippi the intrepid preachers, Paul and Silas,
were singing in prison with their feet and hands bound. Later their
jailor decided he wanted the brand of religion which enabled its
adherents to sing after being cruelly scourged and placed in a
dungeon (Acts 16:25-34). The same Apostle Paul, in Ephesians 5:19,
commanded Christians to sing and make melody in their heart to the
FOUR KINDS OF WORSHIP IN NEW TESTAMENT
That music has an important part in the worship of
Almighty God in the Christian age, no informed person would deny.
However, there is a difference of opinion as to the kind of
music which is pleasing to God for worship. We might ask the
larger question, What kind of worship is pleasing to God,
since music is but one item of worship? In every age, mans
deviation from Gods order has been due to the fact that man
sought to please himself and not God. Paganism and idolatry of
every description is a result of mans trying to please a god
fashioned in his own image -- and thus of trying to please himself.
Cain was the first to try this and his worship was rejected. John
Milton once said, True religion is the true worship and
service of God learned and believed from the word of God only. No
man or angel can know how God would be worshipped and served unless
God reveal it; he hath revealed and taught it to us in the holy
scriptures by inspired ministers, and in the gospel by his own Son
and his apostles, with strictest command to reject all other
In order to appreciate the kind of music we should have
in Christian worship, we must understand that it is music as
worship and not music as an art we are thinking
about primarily. Music for its esthetic value is to be judged just
like any other art, namely, whether it is pleasing or displeasing
to the human senses. But music as worship, as is true of everything
else used as worship to God, must be pleasing to God first -- then
to men. In Christianity we walk by faith, not by
sight (II Cor. 5:7), and without faith it is
impossible to please Him (Heb 11:6). In Christianity,
God is set forth as the One to be pleased -- not the worshipper.
The Lordship of Jesus Christ in every department of our thinking
and acting is basic to our faith.
Only four kinds of worship are mentioned in the New Testament
-- four and only four. Let us examine them.
MUST GOD SAY NOT DO IT FOR A THING TO BE WRONG?
1) Vain Worship. Jesus said in Matt. 15:9,
But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the
commandments of men. Vain means empty",
without meaning. The Pharisees were charging the
disciples with violating the law of Moses by not washing their
hands before eating when the ceremonial act of washing hands was
but one of the traditions of the Jews -- a precept of man. Jesus
not only condemns them for so doing but says that anything in
worship taught as doctrine that comes from the commandments of men
is worthless. Lovers of God today must therefore studiously and
prayerfully avoid offering, as worship to God, that which has no
higher authority than the precepts of men, even though there may be
nothing wrong with the act itself (such as washing hands), such is
2) Ignorant Worship. In Acts 17:22-23 we read,
Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars hill, and said,
Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too
superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I
found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom
therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
These people were worshipping, but, due to a lack of
knowledge, they were worshipping ignorantly. Only God can judge one
who is worshipping Him ignorantly (through no fault of his own),
but if one is willfully ignorant, then there is no
excuse. He that turneth away his ear from the hearing of
the law, even his prayer is an abomination (Prov. 28:9).
The ignorant worship of the Athenians was no longer acceptable
because Paul said, And the times of this ignorance God
winked at; (overlooked) but now commandeth all men every
where to repent (Acts 17:30).
3) Will worship is described in Colossians
2:20-23. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the
rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye
subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which
all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and
doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in
will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any
honour to the satisfying of the flesh. The expression
will worship comes from a single original word which
signifies that which has its origin in the will of men. It might
even indicate greatest determination to be religious, but when not
governed by the humble desire to learn and do exactly as God has
decreed, it becomes utterly unacceptable.
4) True worship. In John 4:24, we read
God is a spirit; and they that worship Him must worship Him in
spirit and in truth. To be in spirit we must
be conscientious and sincere. That rules out hypocrisy and
meaningless forms. To be in truth we must do as the word
of truth directs. If we do what the Word says to do, but in a
grudgingly or hypocritical manner, it is unacceptable to God. If we
are deeply sincere, but fail to worship as Gods word directs,
that is also unacceptable. Jesus said in John 17:17,
Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth.
Thus, for our worship to be acceptable to God, we must have the
right spirit and we must worship as the word of truth teaches -- no
more and no less.
We walk by faith and not by sight (II Cor.
5:7) is the same principle as true worship restated. In Romans
10:17 we read, Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the
word of God. To do a matter in faith we must
have a thus sayeth the Lord. But many have left the main
line of faith in their worship and have gone off on the bypaths of
opinion. Some believe that a thing is all right for worship unless
explicitly forbidden. The Bible states in II John 9,
Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of
Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he
hath both the Father and the Son.
MUSIC IN OLD TESTAMENT WORSHIP
Suppose I were to bring an animal sacrifice to church next
Sunday. The preacher would say hold on, that is not authorized
in Christianity. You dont have Gods approval in offering
that as worship. He would be exactly right, even though the
New Testament does not say you cannot offer animal sacrifices.
Why do we have the Lords supper as worship? Because
of tradition? No, its because Jesus said, this do in
remembrance of me. Have you ever stopped to think why we have
the fruit of the vine on the Lords table instead of sweet
milk? Who started it? The Lord Jesus did in Matthew 26. He
specified the kind of beverage to be used and he didnt say,
Thou shalt not use sweet milk. But all agree to use it
would be to go beyond the teaching of Christ -- beyond faith into
opinion. This should throw light on the non-use of instrumental
music in Christian worship. Did God specify music? Yes. Did he
specify a particular kind? Yes. He specified vocal music in
Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16.
Some say, Since David used instrumental music to praise
God, isnt that sufficient authority for our doing so
today? If so, on the same basis we could bring in the
dance as an item of worship because David said,
Praise Him with psaltery and harp, praise Him with timbel and
dance; praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe
MUSIC IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Is it acceptable to pick out of Jewish worship just what
we want, leaving the rest, or rather should it not be to find out
what God has seen fit to continue and sanction for Christian
worship? Prayer was a part of Jewish worship, as was the
burning of incense and animal sacrifice.
Christians today rightly continue prayer as an act of Christian
worship and reject the burning of incense and animal sacrifice on
the principle that we are now living under the law of Christ in
which prayer is commanded and exemplified. Burning incense and
animal sacrifice are not sanctioned in Christian worship, and the
New Testament is just as silent on the use of instruments of music
Under the Old Testament law were many things not in
Gods original plan, nor were they continued in the New
Testament. Hebrews 7:19 says the Ten Commandments and the entire
law of Moses made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better
hope did. That better hope is Jesus Christ and the New Testament
whereby we draw nigh unto God.
Christians are not under Old Testament law which permitted
instruments of music. Were under a new law. Regarding the Old
Law, we learn from Colossians 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.
God says that those who try to justify something today
because it was in the Law of Moses, though not in the New
Testament, are fallen from grace. Christ is become of no
effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are
fallen from grace (Gal. 5:4). Hence, if we try to
justify any religious practice today by the Old Testament law, when
Christ has not authorized it in His new law, it becomes a certain
way to fall from grace. Those who say it is wrong to eat pork
today, base their conclusion on the law of Moses, not the law of
Christ. Paul says these are fallen from grace. Those who would put
us back under the seventh day Sabbath law today, the Holy Spirit
says, are fallen from grace, and he warns: Let no man
judge you...in respect of a feast day, or a new moon, or a sabbath
day, which is a shadow of things to come (Col. 2:17).
If we rightly divide the Word of Truth, we must understand
that the Old Testament Law (that is, the Mosaic law, including the
Ten Commandments) ...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
The beautiful lesson of the Transfiguration teaches us
that Christ is the only begotten son of God and to hear
him. We do not practice circumcision as a religious rite
because we are to hear Christ, not Moses. We do not use mechanical
instruments of music in worship because we are to hear Christ, not
David. David had eight wives, danced in worship, did not observe
the Lords supper, and did not pray in the name of Jesus -- yet
he was living up to the demands of the Law of Moses in so doing.
However, if we try to take him as an example in worship by bringing
in instruments of music and other shadows of the law, we are
hearing Moses, not Christ; and for so doing we will be severed from
Christ and ultimately lost.
Moses, with all his moral excellence, unfeigned piety, and
legislative dignity, fell short of Canaan. All who cleave to him or
his law today will come short of the heavenly rest. His mortal
remains were buried by the Almighty in secret, and yet we will not
suffer his ashes to rest in peace! He came down from heaven to give
place to the Messiah, to lay down His commission at his feet; and
we will not accept it! (cf. Matt. 17). Strange infatuation! Equally
strange is the infatuation which will cause one to drag Davids
instruments of music into Christian worship, and leave off his
animal sacrifices, completely forgetting that Christ fulfilled the
law. God said, He takes away the first that he might
establish the second (Heb. 10:9), and, ...ye
also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye
should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the
dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God (Rom.
We worship according to the risen Lord, not the entombed
David or Moses. When we sing in worship we give honor to Christ;
when we play instruments in worship we give honor to the traditions
and commandments of men.
Let us now turn to the New Testament to see what Christ, our
lawgiver has said on music in worship. Since God said, Hear
him, anything Christ or His inspired apostles authorize in
Christian worship, we must use. Anything without authority in the
New Testament for Christian worship must be excluded from our
worship because of the silence of the Scriptures on that item.
Following, are all of the New Testament Scriptures on music in
worship. Open your Bible and read them candidly and prayerfully.
ORIGIN OF INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC IN CHRISTIAN WORSHIP
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out
into the Mount of Olives (Matt. 26:30; Mark 14:26).
And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang
praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them (Acts
Sing unto thy name (Rom. 15:9).
...I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing
with the understanding also (I Cor. 14:15).
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and
spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the
Lord (Eph. 5:19)
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 (Col. 3:16)
...In the midst of the church will I sing praise
unto thee (Heb. 2:12).
Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any
merry? let him sing psalms (James 5:13).
In these eight passages, the kind of music God
specified is vocal music. Whatever might be said in favor of
instrumental music, no one doubts that we are worshipping God
in truth by simply singing and making melody in our
hearts to God. In so doing we are allowing the Scriptures to
furnish us completely unto every good work (II Tim.
3:16,17) and are not going beyond the things which are written
(I Cor. 4:6). The voice of inspired writers says one is walking in
truth by singing in worship and leaving off the instrument. The
early church fathers testify that in so doing we are adhering to
the kind of music the church, for several hundred years, practiced.
Religious reformers like Luther, Calvin, and Wesley bear witness
that singing is the kind of worship prescribed in the law of
Christ. Today, when many like to think they are liberal
in religious thinking, those who use mechanical instruments of
music in worship must admit that users of vocal music alone occupy
New Testament ground in this respect, and are safe, to say the
In Colossians 3:17 we read, 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. Singing, or vocal
music, exalts the human voice, the instrument God made and Christ
authorized for worship. This can be done in the name of
Jesus or by His authority. Instrumental music exalts a
machine, a creation of man, in an attempt to worship our Creator.
This is the basic fault of idolatry which continually kept the Jews
in difficulties. In the New Testament, vocal music is by the
authority of Christ. Since it nowhere authorizes mechanical music,
such must be by the authority of men.
In order to find out where instrumental music originated in
Christian worship, we must go to history outside the Bible since
the practice started hundreds of years after the writing of the
Bible had been completed.
Here are two quotations from reputable encyclopedias on
The American Encyclopedia, Vol. 12, page 688,
Pope Vitalian is related to have first introduced organs into
some of the churches of Western Europe about 670; but the earliest
trustworthy account is that of one sent as a present by the Greek
emperor Constantine Copronymus to Pepin, king of Franks in
Chambers Encyclopedia, Vol. 7, page 112, says:
The organ is said to have been introduced into church music by
Pope Vitalian in 666 A.D. Thus historically and scripturally,
instrumental music in Christian worship represents a departure from
the faith and practice of the New Testament church.
We need to remember that music in Christian worship is not
for the purpose of entertaining, but for teaching and exalting. We
should have no trouble seeing why God demanded vocal music and left
out instrumental music.
The human voice is capable of doing everything God
commands us to do as music in worship, whereas the instrument is
incapable of doing anything required by music in Christian worship
except make melody, and it does not do that in the right place --
the human heart (cf. Col. 3:16: Gal. 5:19). Which is the right
course? To do the thing which all admit fulfills the Scriptural
requirements and pleases God or the thing that does not fulfill the
Scriptural requirements and merely pleases man?
Suppose one were to take a pencil and paper and draw a
line down the center of a blank page and label the column on the
left Commandments of God and label the column on the right
Commandments of Men. Now, with the Word of God as the guide,
classify a dozen or so things which are practiced in religion
today. Where would preaching be placed? Under the
Commandments of God. How do we know? Because this is commanded in
II Timothy 4:2. What about prayer? Taking the
Lords Supper? Baptism? Feeding the poor? Any Bible
student can readily find book, chapter and verse for such
practices, proving that they are commandments of God. But what
about counting beads in worship? That would have to go
under commandments of men. It is unheard of (not authorized) in the
New Testament. What about holy water or worshipping
images? These are mere commandments of men and constitute
vain worship. In all frankness, where would we have to place
instruments of music? Since there is no command, example or
implication of their use anywhere in the New Testament, we would be
obliged to place it under the heading of Commandments of Men. It
was the Lord Jesus Christ who said, But in vain they do
worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men
It was not an oversight on the part of God that he left
instrumental music out of Christian worship. God makes no mistakes.
Why He left it out is none of my business. The fact is, He left it
In II Peter 1:3, we read, ...his divine power
hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness,
through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and
virtue. Instrumental music doesnt pertain to life
and godliness, else it would have been included in the things
In II John 9, we read, Whosoever transgresseth,
and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that
abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the
Son. To preach the word, pray, or sing is to abide in
the teaching of Christ, but to play an instrument in worship is to
go onward and abide not in the Teaching of Christ, and
thus in that one thing, the beloved apostle John says God is not
In Romans 10:17 we read that faith comes by hearing the
word of God and we walk by faith, not by sight
(II Cor. 5:7). By using the instrument in worship, it cannot be
said that we are walking by faith, since the word of God
doesnt authorize it.
Casting aside all prejudice, cant we honestly say
that the reason churches have instrumental music today in worship
is because of tradition and a desire to do what we like
rather than what the Lord commands? King Saul was rejected as king
because he attempted to do, as service to God, what he had not
commanded (cf. I Sam. 15). Nadab and Abihu were destroyed for
offering strange fire -- fire which God had not commanded (Lev.
10:1-2). In the light of such examples, can we afford to tamper
with Christian worship?
Savonarola said when he preached the doctrines of human
invention he pleased an impatient and fickle people but when he
turned to the Bible, he shook mens souls. Surely it is safe
and right in time and in eternity to worship just as it is written
in Gods Word -- without addition or subtraction. For these
reasons churches of Christ throughout the world do not use
mechanical instruments of music in worship and plead with those who
love the Bible to return to apostolic practice in Christian
--Author unknown, edited by
Table of Contents
THE USE OF MECHANICAL INSTRUMENTS
OF MUSIC IS SINFUL
Garland M. Robinson
Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6),
for whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Rom.
14:23). The injunction of II Cor. 5:7 is that we walk by
faith, not by sight. Since faith comes by hearing
Gods word (Rom. 10:17), we therefore live according to his
word and not what may appear right in our own eyes (Jer. 10:23).
Many ways may seem right to men, but they are the ways of death
(Prov. 14:12). We are to walk in the light of
Gods word (I John 1:7). When we step out of Gods
searchlight of truth, we place ourselves outside of Gods
approval. Unless we live according to his word (walking by faith),
we are not pleasing to him and are guilty of sin. Sin separates us
from God (Isa. 59:1-2) and separation from God leads to eternal
torment (Matt. 25:46). Therefore, whatsoever ye do in
word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus
(Col. 3:16). To do a thing in his name simply means to do it
by his authority or command.
In respect to mechanical instruments of music being used
in worship to God, the New Testament does not give any authority
for it. It is NOT walking by faith to employ its use and if we do
not walk by faith, we sin against God. Notice these plain facts
about it. CHRIST never COMMANDED it, the HOLY SPIRIT never
AUTHORIZED it, no APOSTLE ever SANCTIONED it, no NEW TESTAMENT
writer ever ENDORSED it, and no NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH ever EMPLOYED
it! The use of it is SIN!! It is a sin because we cannot use it in
faith and obedience to God.
Mechanical instrumental music is a SIN because:
It rejects New Testament authority. Jesus has
all authority in heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18) and he did not
instruct the apostles to use it. The Holy Spirit led the apostles
into all truth (John 16:13) and he did not lead them to use it. God
tells us what he wants and when we reject what he says we reject
his salvation, for salvation only comes to those who obey him (Heb.
It goes beyond that which is written. We are
not to think above that which is written (I Cor. 4:6). We must not
add to or take away from Gods word (Rev. 22:18-19). We must
not go beyond the doctrine of Christ, for if we do so we no longer
have fellowship with God and Christ (II John 9-11). To teach and
practice another gospel than what God has given is to invoke the
wrath of God upon us (Gal. 1:6-9).
It violates scriptural worship. Our worship
must be in spirit and truth (John 4:24). To worship in
truth is to worship according to the truth. Gods word is truth
(John 17:17); hence, we must worship according to the instructions
of the New Testament. When something other than the human voice is
employed, we violate Gods specified plan of worship and no
longer worship according to the truth.
It causes division. God hates division and
those who cause it (Prov. 6:19). Jesus prayed for unity (John
17:20-21). The apostles taught and commanded unity (I Cor. 1:10).
Those who cause division are to be marked and avoided (Rom. 16:17).
Who is causing division, the one who introduces its use or the one
who opposes its use? It is not difficult to figure out who has
violated Gods instructions. The one who adds to what God
commanded is the one who causes division, not those who contend for
what God authorizes!
The use of mechanical instruments of music is an
innovation of man that is totally without Bible authority and
constitutes VAIN WORSHIP. Vain worship brings the curse of God upon
it (Matt. 15:9). It is a plant God has not planted and will be
rooted up (Matt. 15:13).
Leroy Brownlow gives four logical arguments as to why
mechanical instruments of music cannot be used in worship to God.
(Why I Am A Member of Church of Christ, pp.178-179)
(1) Every Scripture is given that the man of God may be
furnished unto every good work (II Tim. 3:16-17).
(2) No Scripture authorizes instrumental music in the
worship today (cannot be found).
(3) Therefore, instrumental music in the worship today
is not a good work.
(1) It is a violation of the Lords will to go
beyond the things which are written (I Cor. 4:6).
(2) Musical instruments in New Testament worship have
not been written (cannot be found).
(3) Therefore, those who use musical instruments in the
worship today violate the Lords will.
(1) So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the
word of Christ (Rom. 10:17).
(2) The word of Christ does not give us musical
instruments in the worship (cannot be found).
(3) Therefore, instrumental music in the worship is not
an act of faith.
(1) God has given us all that pertains to life and
godliness (II Peter 1:3).
(2) What God has given does not mention instrumental
music in New Testament worship (cannot be found).
(3) Therefore, instrumental music in the worship today
does not pertain unto life and godliness.
A number of years ago I was talking to Jeff Walling and
asked him if he believed it was a sin to use mechanical instruments
of music. He tried to get around the question the first three or
four times I ask him. But, I listened carefully and patiently and
he never answered the question. So, I would ask it again. Finally,
in frustration, he replied, No, I don't believe it's a sin because
the Bible does not say it is a sin.
It's simple question. Instrumental music is either
a sin or it is not a sin. If it is not a sin, then I am sinning by
refusing its use. If, on the other hand, it is sinful to use it,
then those who use it and/or allow its use are sinning.
Where do YOU stand?
Table of Contents
SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT MECHANICAL INSTRUMENTS OF MUSIC IN WORSHIP TO GOD
Roger D. Campbell
Some time ago, I was asked some questions about the use of
mechanical instruments of music in worship. In the past I have
written articles and a tract on this subject. Some of that material
is available on the internet. From the sound of the inquirers
letter, it appears that somewhere he has read something that I
wrote about instrumental music. Because people often ask why the
Lords church does not use instrumental music in worship, and
because those who ask about it often try to present arguments in
favor of such a practice, I am sharing below this persons
questions and my answers. [For convenience, I numbered the
questions in my response].
#1: Are the instruments of worship used in the
Old Testament sinful if used in praise and worship? (Hymns and
Answer: II Chronicles 29:25 seems to indicate that
cymbals, psalteries, and harps were a part of the worship of the
Old Testament era, and they were used by the commandment of the
Lord. If something was authorized as part of Old Testament worship,
does that prove that it is also authorized as part of the worship
of the New Testament church? Of course the answer is No. We must do
all things by the authority of Jesus (Matt. 28:18,20; Col. 3:17).
We must abide in Jesus teaching, not the teaching of the Old
Testament era (II John 9). Since the New Testament gives no
authority to use any mechanical instruments of music in worship to
God, including those that were used in the Old Testament era, to
use them in the worship of the New Testament church is to act
without divine approval.
#2: The Bible says there will be harps and lutes
in Heaven. What makes them wrong if used in a service on
Answer: We have to remember that the Book of Revelation
is a book of symbols. In Revelation 5:8 we read, And when he
had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell
down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden
vials full of odours [incense, NKJV], which are the prayers of
Among other things, this verse mentions the
Lamb, harps, and incense. Where were these
items seen? Answer: Wherever the throne was (5:6). Where
was the throne? Answer: ...a throne was set in heaven
(4:2). I mention these facts simply to point out that I agree that
the Lamb, harps, and incense were seen in heaven.
Four brief thoughts come to mind in answer to this
First, if harps means literal harps in
Revelation 5:8, then Lamb should also mean a literal lamb
with wool and four legs -- in heaven. Are we ready to accept such
Second, verse 8 explains or interprets the odours/incense
to be the prayers of the saints. What was it that John
saw? He saw vials full of incense. But, as the text indicates, the
incense meant (symbolizes) the prayers of the saints. Again, if
odours/incense is a symbol of something else, and
Lamb is a symbol of the Christ, then the word
harps, which is located in the text between
Lamb and incense, would also be a symbol of
something else. What the harps symbolize is not indicated in the
Third, heaven is portrayed in the New Testament as a place
where corruptible things would be out of place (I Cor. 15:50-54).
Since a literal lamb, literal harps, and literal incense are
corruptible, then these literal objects/things would have no place
in heaven, which is an incorruptible, spiritual environment.
Fourth, what God authorizes for worship to Him in the
assembly of His church is not based on what righteous people did in
the days before the giving of the New Testament, nor is the worship
of the New Testament church based on what might be in heaven in the
future. The churchs worship is to be founded in the action
that the New Testament of Jesus authorizes for Gods children
on the earth.
#3: You have an interesting perspective about
using cake in worship. Bread was used in Old Testament worship and
feasts. (shewbread, etc.). Cake was not. Harps and lutes were used
in the Old Testament in worship. Pianos and drums were not. (And
were not mentioned.) So as the same for bread we can use in a
proper service harps and lutes.
Answer: If I properly follow your reasoning, it sounds as
if you are saying that cake was not used in Old Testament worship,
so using cake today in worship would be wrong. But, since bread was
used in the Old Testament (shewbread), then we can use bread in
worship in the New Testament era. And, the Old Testament does not
mention pianos and drums, so they would not be acceptable today,
but since the Old Testament does mention harps and lutes, using
them would be okay today. I am not trying to put words in your
mouth, just trying to express what I perceive to be the reasoning
that you are setting forth.
The truth is, use of the bread in the Lords supper
(I Cor. 11:23,24) is authorized (and required) in New Testament
worship, but not because it was somehow connected to Old Testament
worship. Bread is authorized for New Testament worship because
Jesus used and authorized it. As I noted above, the worship of the
New Testament church must be founded on and authorized by the
teaching of the New Testament, and it has nothing to do with what
was done in the Old Testament era, including the use of harps,
animal sacrifices, Feast of Tabernacles, and other matters. Jesus
abolished the Old Testament law and nailed it to His cross (Eph.
2:14,15; Col. 2:14). Thus, we are not under the teaching of the Old
Law. Its teaching is no longer in effect.
#4: I agree in todays world there is a lot
of foolishness in the church and we should be careful in every
step, but you should not assume harps and lutes were not used in
Christian worship. Im sure people combed their hair in the Old
and New Testament before worship. Since its not mentioned,
should we not comb ours also before going to service? Ties are worn
at services, this was not mentioned in the New Testament worship
and for a fact not even used during that time. Why does the Church
of Christ allow them? If you did not, I could understand the first
objection. As always, I praise you being in the service of our Lord
and do not want you in any way to think these questions are
presented in a harsh way. I find a vast amount of your writings on
the Bible very inspiring.
Answer: I certainly agree with you that there is a
lot of foolishness going on in the religious realm in our
time. Following the theories and commands of men turns people from
the truth (Titus 1:14) and makes worship vain (Mark 7:7).
You stated that I assume that harps and lutes were not
used in Christian worship. I try not to assume anything when it
comes to the matter of worship. We are duty-bound to do only those
things that the Lord authorizes in the New Testament (Col. 3:17).
We are commanded to speak as the oracles of God (I Peter
4:11). The use of lutes and harps in the worship of the New
Testament church is not speaking as the oracles of God. The
silence of the scriptures (that is, things that the New
Testament does not mention) does not provide authority or
justification for any action in worship. Again, the charge to speak
(and act) according to the oracles of God should cause us to do
things based on what the Bible does say, not based on
what it does not say.
In the matters of combing hair and wearing ties, those are
in the area of personal grooming, and do not constitute acts of
worship. The New Testament speaks about personal grooming in I
Timothy 2:9, where it is written, In like manner also, that
women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and
sobriety.... Christians are also told to demonstrate
honest conversation ["honorable conduct, NKJV] (I
Peter 2:12). This principle would include the need for saints to
conduct themselves, even in the realm of personal grooming and
personal hygiene, in a presentable manner and in such a way that
others would not be turned off by what we do. Again,
there is a distinction between the acts of worship of the church
and the personal grooming/appearance of those that engage in the
I hope my response has been helpful. Thanks for your
How Many Members Of The Church Are
Opposed To Mechanical Instruments of Music In Worship?
I have no idea what percentage of the members of the
Lords church are convinced it is unscriptural to worship God
in song with the accompaniment of mechanical instruments of music.
There are indicators which point to the reality that many brothers
and sisters in the Christ do not think that it is wrong to use them
in worship to the Lord. That is tragic indeed, because ones
attitude toward the use of them in worship reveals ones
attitude toward the authority of the Bible. And, ones attitude
toward the authority of the Bible is an indication of ones
attitude toward the Lord Himself.
Consider these thoughts: It is sinful to use
instrumental music in Christian worship because: It is utterly
without New Testament sanction since Christ did not authorize it,
no apostle commanded it, no inspired writer justified it, and no
apostolic church practiced it. Children of God are to walk by
faith, which comes from hearing Gods word. It is not possible
to use instrumental music by faith since the New
Testament does not command it (II Cor. 5:7; Rom. 10:17)
[Guy N. Woods, Questions and Answers:
Open Forum, Vol. I (Henderson, TN:
Freed-Hardeman College, 1976), p.28]
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IS THERE A PATTERN FOR THE KIND OF MUSIC TO BE USED IN WORSHIP?
Garland M. Robinson
Yes, there is a pattern for the kind of music to be
used in worship to God. This pattern is easily found in the New
Testament, though many try to make it out to be very difficult,
even to the extent to claim there is no pattern. But, for one to
say there is no pattern, isnt that a pattern itself? The point
would be that it is a pattern that there is no pattern? Does this
sound ridiculous? Youre right!
Many go to great lengths to circumvent plain passages of
scripture. All one has to do is simply read the New Testament to
see what Christians did in the first century. Every verse that
mentions anything about their worship in song ALWAYS involves VOCAL
MUSIC. There is a total absence of mechanical instruments of music
in first century worship. Notice these verses: Speaking
to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing
and making melody in your heart to the Lord
(Ephesians 5:19). 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 (Colossians 3:16). You may
also compare I Corinthians 14:15, Hebrews 2:12 and James 5:13.
What is the Lords pattern concerning the KIND OF
MUSIC He desires in worship? It is VOCAL MUSIC. Jesus never used or
commanded mechanical instruments of music to be used in worship.
The Holy Spirit never commanded their use. The apostles never used
or commanded them. The first century church never used them. They
were not introduced until hundreds of years after the time of the
apostles. There is no command, example or implication of their use
anywhere in the worship of the church! They are the invention and
introduction of man, not God. They are an addition to the Bible
which is condemned in Revelation 22:18.
The Lords pattern of music is SINGING PSALMS, HYMNS
and SPIRITUAL SONGS with the fruit of our lips from our heart!
Are you following the New Testament pattern or are you
following mans tradition and doctrine? I prefer to follow God,
not man. What about you?
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