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Instrumental Music
in Worship
Under the NT
Part 1
The statement of Jesus to the woman at the well in Samaria must regulate all worship offered
unto the heavenly Father under the New Covenant:
God is a spirit: and they that worship Him
must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24).  
Without the correct attitude of heart and
soul, without a basis of love, worship is vain.  However, it is equally true that without the correct
action, without acting in accordance with the truth, worship is vain.

This idea of authority is emphasized by Paul in his epistle to the Colossians:
Whatsoever you
do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks unto the Father by Him
(Colossians 3:17).  
A primary principle of acceptable worship is authority.

Our Rule of Faith and Action

Within the pages of the book which we know as the Bible is revealed the Word of God.  As the
apostle to the Gentiles wrote to his young protege:
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, thoroughly furnished unto every good work (2 Timothy 3:16,17).
Everything which we need to know to be pleasing unto the Creator, every instruction necessary
for our correct action, everything -- is found in the pages of God's precious Word, the Holy Bible.  
If it is a good work -- if it makes the man of God perfect -- it is found in His inspired Word.

The wise man in Proverbs recorded:
There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end
thereof are the ways of death. (Proverbs 4:12)  
We cannot allow our feelings and emotions to
become our rule of faith and action.  It may seem all right in our eyes, but that doesn't make it
right.  The end of following what seems right may very well result in the death of the soul.  We
need to remember the words of the prophet:
O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in
himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps. (Jeremiah 10:23)  
These words ought to be
etched in the heart, mind and soul of everyone who wishes to approach unto the Father.  We
cannot direct our own steps; we must look unto our heavenly Father for direction.  Our rule of
faith and action cannot be found in our feelings -- in what seems right in our eyes; but, we must
turn to what God has revealed in His Holy Word, the Scriptures, inspired of God.

It is many times easy for us to fall prey to the comfort of tradition and the sweet sounding words
of men.  There is a feeling of comfort and safety in doing things the way we have always seen
them done or done them.  Change has a way of making us feel uncomfortable.  Whenever
something is different, we get uneasy.  But, just because that is the way we have always seen it
done, or it is the way we have always done it, does not make it right.  In the days of George
Washington it was traditional to bleed a patient to heal him; that did not make it right.  There can
be danger in tradition, especially in matters of religion.

It is easy to listen to and believe a good speaker, following him.  We tend to believe the fluent,
assuming that fluency results from knowledge.  We assume that education begets a smooth
speaking style.  Yet, a man can be ignorant and uneducated, knowledgeable man may be a very
poor speaker.  Especially in religion we must beware of believing and practicing something
because it is advocated by a smooth speaker.  As the apostle of our Lord cautioned:
lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the
rudiments of the world, and not after Christ (Colossians 2:8).


The Law of Silence

Authority must be of primary consideration.  The acceptability of any item of worship is not
determined by what man likes or dislikes; but, by what God has said.  As the sixteenth century
Vindication, penned by Dirk Phillips, stated:  "It is evident that whatever God has not
commanded and has not instituted by express commands of Scripture, he does not want to be
served therewith, nor will he have his Word set aside or made to suit the pleasure of men."

This principle we label as
THE LAW OF SILENCE is illustrated in the account of the divine
deaths of Nadab and Abihu.  The inspired history records:  
And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of
Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered
strange fire before the LORD,
which he commanded them not.  And there went out fire from the
LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. (Leviticus 10:1,2)

Surely, no one can read this acount and say that God was pleased with being served with what
He had not commanded.

Not only in the Old Testament do we have an example of this law, but also in the New
Testament.  When a controversy over circumcision arose in the city of Antioch among the
brethren, they took the question to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem.  This was an appeal
to inspiration.  The letter sent back to Antioch speaks of this inspiration as it states:
For it
seemed good to the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:28).  
Elsewhere in this letter, these inspired men
correct the Judaizing teachers who attempted to bind circumcision and the law upon the
brethren saying --
to whom we gave no such commandment (Acts 15:24).  The silence of
revelation upon the subject meant it was not to be done.

The Commands to Sing

The commands for music in worship under the New Testament are found in the epistles of
Paul, the apostle.

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking one to
another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the
Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus
Christ; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:18-21).

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in
psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Colossians

The commands demand singing.

To the Ephesians Paul contrasts the drunken revelry of the heathen to the intelligent, reverential
worship of the saints.  The heathen would fire up their animal spirits with booze; the saints
would find their inspiration in the Spirit of the Lord.  The saints would intelligently communicate
in their singing, while the heathen would grow thicker tongues in their excess.  The heathen
would delight in the meaningless sounds of the instruments of music which would stir the
animal emotions of their spirit; the saints would make melody in their hearts, allowing the pure
emotions of the soul to produce the sweet sounds which they offered unto their heavenly Father.

Paul's command to the saints at Colossae is found in the midst of instructions in
righteousness in contrast to the ways of the world which were to be put away
 In contrast to the fleshly passions which motivated the world, Christians were moved by
the indwelling of Christ's teaching.  Thus, the grace which was present in their hearts would
produce the praise and thanksgiving upon their lips.

Instruments Not Mentioned

Nowhere in these commands to sing do we find an instrument of music (other than the lips of
man) mentioned.  The commands are to sing, not to play an instrument of music.  The melody
is to be produced in the heart, not upon a piano, organ or any other mechanical instrument of
music.  There is none in Ephesians 5:19.  There is none in Colossians 3:16.

Remember why Nadab and Abihu were destroyed by fire from the Lord?  They did that
God commanded them not.  
Remember why the Judaizing teachers were wrong?  There was
no such commandment.  Now what of instrumental music in worship under the New
Testament?  Has God commanded it?  Is there any such commandment?  If not, can God be
pleased with it?  

The unity of congregations has been broken by the introduction of the organ and other
instruments.  Those who would otherwise welcome one another into fellowship as brethren are
separated by its use.  Do we unite on what the Bible says, or on what it does not say?  Does it
say to use it?  Then who causes division contrary to the doctrine
(Romans 16:17)?

Without being mentioned in the New Testament, which is the safer ground upon which to
stand?  Is it safer to do that which is not mentioned?  Or, is it safer to do that which is
mentioned?  Should we not be safe (i.e., choose the safer ground) when it is our would which
we are gambling with?

The apostle of love said:
Whosoever transgresses, and abides not in the doctrine of Christ, does
not have God.  He who abides in the doctrine of Christ, he has both the Father and the Son (2
John 9).

We cannot transgress (i.e., go beyond) the teachings of Jesus (i.e., that which He taught while
here upon the earth and/or delivered unto His apostles and prophets as recorded in the New
Testament) and have fellowship with the Father.  We cannot abide (i.e., remain in, continue in)
anything else other than the teachings of Jesus and have fellowship with the Father.

Are instruments of music found in the doctrine of Christ?  Or are they beyond it?  If they are not
in it, they are beyond the doctrine of Christ and to utilize them is not to abide in the doctrine of

Go to Instrumental Music in Worship Under the New Testament 2: A LATER ADDITION TO