WHAT ARE THE OBJECTIONS FOR INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC IN WORSHIP?
In support of the use of instrumental music some say, “It was used in the Old Testament.” In answer to this objection, it should be pointed out that men are no longer amenable to the Old Testament. Paul wrote, “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” (Colossians 2:14). If men were still subject to the Old Testament, they would be under obligation to obey “the whole law.” (Galatians 5:3) Hence, there would be the duty to offer such things as burnt offerings (Psalms 66:13), which involved the offering of animals. (Psalms 66:15) Many things were practiced under the Old Testament law, which were never commanded or endorsed in the New Testament.
When Christ died upon the cross, He abrogated the Old Testament law and gave His last will and testament. (Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:15-17) The authority for that which is to be practiced in work and worship in the Christian age is found in the New Testament and it is silent as to the authorization of instruments of music.
A frequent argument made in favor of the instrument is this: “The Bible does not say you cannot use it.” We are not told not to put milk and cornbread on the Lord’s table, but they are excluded because the elements to be used are specified. We are not told that it is wrong to count beads as a religious service, but this practice is excluded because Christ is our mediator.
There is not a passage in the Bible that says a man could not be the head of the church. But since Ephesians 1:22-23 teaches that Christ is the head of the church, that would exclude anyone else. There is not a verse that says, “Thou shalt not use mechanical instruments.” But by the fact that singing is specified (Ephesians 5:19), playing an instrument is excluded.
Someone may say, “There will be instruments in heaven, so why not have them in the church?” First of all, Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 15:50 that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” And as there will be no literal bodies in heaven, why should we think there will be literal instruments of music there? This particular argument is based on Revelation 14:2-3. “And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and the voice which I heard was as the voice of harpers harping with their harps: and they sing as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four living creatures and the elders: and no man could learn the song save the hundred and forty and four thousand, even they that had been purchased out of the earth.”(ASV) Was it thunder, which was heard? No. It was a voice “as” thunder. This signified volume. Was it many waters, which was heard? No. It was a voice “as” many waters. This signified rhythm. Was it harpers, which was heard? No. It was a voice as harpers harping with their harps. This signified melody. That which John heard was “a voice” and that voice was “singing a new song.”
Still another defense that is made is that “it is just an aid to worship like a songbook, tuning fork, lights, or a meetinghouse.” When a songbook is sued, you are still only singing. When a tuning fork is used to pitch a song, you are still only singing. The command to assemble necessitates a place to assemble. And thus, if a building is bought or rented for the purpose of worship, you are only obeying the command to worship. When a mechanical instrument is used you have added an element to the worship. Playing has been added. A mechanical instrument constitutes an addition rather than an aid.
But we are told, “The word psallo in Ephesians 5:19 means to pluck the strings of an instrument.” One hundred forty-eight of the world’s finest scholars in translating the Greek into our English New testament rendered the word “sing.” The word psallo means to pluck, to touch, to cause to vibrate, but Paul says to “psallo with the heart.” There the instrument is named – the heart. If psallo means to play a mechanical instrument, then we must all equip ourselves with some instrument or else be in disobedience to God.
Man must be content to worship God in song. God has spoken. Man must obey.
May the Lord bless you and keep you!
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