FOF-08 - Instrumental Music
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FUNDAMENTALS OF FAITH
To the church in Ephesus, as it related to their worship, the apostle Paul said,
“Speaking to one another in Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making
melody in your hearts to the Lord,” Ephesians 5:19.
Welcome to our study of fundamentals of the faith. Today we think about the
fundamental subject as it relates to worship and Christian singing. What does God want
in singing? What does God want in music? Does God want of a large band? Does He
want lights and a show and fog and smoke and all that stuff? Is God looking for an
organ or piano or somebody who plays a guitar? What about singing as we read in the
Bible? And more importantly, what does the Scripture say? Romans 4:3.
Today, we're going to be thinking about the fundamental subject of singing and
whether or not God asked for mechanical instruments of music in the New Testament.
Friend from the outset, we want to recognize that our authority in worship today is from
the words of the New Testament. The New Testament clearly teaches we must do that
which God has asked us to do and that which is authorized in the New Testament.
Jesus said in Matthew 28:18, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on
earth.” From the outset, we asked the question: who is it that has all authority as it
relates to worship and as it relates to singing today? The answer is: Jesus Christ.
Whatever Christ wants us to do, that's what we must do. We must follow His words and
His guidance because He, not me and you, not somebody in some other part of the
world, not some religious leader somewhere, Christ has all authority. He is the head of
the church, Ephesians 1:22-23. That head has not been decapitated. He is reining from
heaven itself, Psalm 119:89 and Hebrews 1:3-4.
As we think about following Christ's teaching and following His authority in
worship, there was a great statement made that I hope you'll think about with me from
John 2:5. Jesus' mother, when she realizes Jesus is going to perform the miracle of
turning the water to wine, she looks at the servants. She says, “Whatever He, Jesus
says, to you do it.” As we think about worship, as we think about living for Christ, could
you find a better motto than that? “Whatever,” if He has all authority and He's head of
the church, whatever Jesus says to us, we want to do that. Colossians 3:17 says,
“Whatever you do in word or in deed, do all in the name the Lord Jesus giving thanks to
God the Father through Him.” In word, what I speak. Indeed, in my actions. Everything I
do must be done in the name of which means by the authority of our Lord and Savior
There's a passage I want to remind you of, as we think about Bible authority that
is so important. And I want you notice this one with me. It comes from 1 Corinthians 4.
Paul has been teaching the church in Corinth to put their trust in God and to follow his
word. God will eventually give the increase. Notice 1 Corinthians 4:6, Paul uses this to
kind of illustrate we say and says, “Now these things brethren I figuratively transferred
to myself and Apollos for your sake,” and here's the lesson, “though that you may learn
in us,” don't miss this “not to think beyond what's written.”
As we think today about a subject that may be new, maybe an idea you've not
heard, maybe is even idea that you have some questions about, here's all that we ask:
let's let Jesus be the final authority. Let's take Christ at His word. Let's put our faith in
Him. Remember 1 Corinthians 4:6, “Don't think beyond what's written.” Somebody says,
‘well the Bible doesn't say not to.’ No, I don't think beyond what's written. If God has
defined how He wants us to worship, within the pages of this book, let's stay within the
pages of God's revealed will. That's the safe way. Revelation 22:18-19 the Scripture
says, “We’re not to add to nor take away from the word of God.” If God asked us what to
do, that's what He wants us to do. He doesn't want us to go beyond that. He doesn't
want us to take away from what He said. He doesn't want us to add to or put our ideas
in it. Proverbs 30:6 the writer said, “Do not add to God's word lest he rebuke you and
you be found a liar.”
Now as we think today about this idea of Bible authority, it's also essential for us
to realize that God's law in the New Testament is our authority today. In the Bible there
are two major divisions. There is the Old Testament, which is Genesis through Malachi,
and then there is the New Testament, which is Matthew through Revelation. Which law
are Christians going to be judged by today? As I read the Bible, Colossians 2:14 and
Ephesians 2:14, clearly teaches that the Old Testament law, the law of commandments
contained in ordinances, was nailed to the cross. And that that wall was broken down
between Jew and Gentile. Thus the old law, Romans 7:1-4, which said, ‘do not murder,
do not commit adultery, and do not covet.’ Romans 7:1-4, Christians are dead, the Bible
says, to that law. That law was written to the people of Israel. It is a law that I cannot
break, nor can I keep, because it's not written nor does it apply to me.
For example, I'm a citizen of the United States of America. Can I break or keep
the laws of Canada right here living in the United States? Nope, those laws don't apply
to me. I'm not a citizen of Canada, and their laws have no effect or bearing on me while
I'm right here in the United States. Friend, the same is true for Christianity. I'm not living
in Old Testament Israel's time. I'm not under that law. I'm not following the teaching of
Moses. But here's what the Bible does say, the Bible clearly teaches our authority is the
New Testament. Do you remember John 12:48? Listen again to the words of Christ.
Jesus said, “He who rejects me and does not receive my words has that which judges
him.” What is it? “The word that I've spoken will judge him in the last day.” Beginning
with the words of Christ and following that through the New Testament to the very last
revealed word in the book of Revelation, that's the law Christians are under today. It's
the perfect law of liberty, James 1:25. As we think about following God's law just in
basic principle, let's realize that God has always expected His people to do what He
says without adding to without taking away. God just simply wants us to obey His will.
Now let me give you a couple of examples of that, just in general, from the Bible.
The principle that God wants us to follow His law regardless of who He’s speaking to, is
seen throughout the ages. Leviticus 10 might be an example. I want you to notice what
happens in this context. Leviticus 10:1-2, we learn the basic principle of following
exactly what God says. The Bible says beginning in verse 1, “Then Nadab and Abihu,
the sons of Aaron, each took his censer put fire in it, put incense on it and offered
profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them.” The Bible says, “So
fire went out from the presence of the Lord and they and the Lord devoured them and
they died before the Lord that day.” What exactly happened in this context? They
offered a strange, or some versions will say an unauthorized fire, which God had not
commanded them. Well God had asked for it, but they thought we might do it anyway.
How would, how did God feel about that? You'll recognize very well God was not happy
with that. Fire rained down from heaven and devoured those two men. Why? They did
something God had not commanded, that which was not asked for, that which was not
authorized. The basic principle I learn is, God wants men and women, under the law
they're living under, to do what He says.
Let me give you another example. You read in 2 Samuel 6 the events that go on
there with David bringing the ark back. In 2 Samuel 6 you've got two men, Uzzah and
Ahio, driving the ark. They're bringing that ark back on a new cart. And as they reach a
place called Nachon's Threshing Floor, the ark hits what we might think of as a pothole
in essence, a bump in the road. The ark looks like it's going to tip over and so Uzzah,
because he loves God, and he recognizes the importance of the Ark, he reaches out to
stabilize it. The moment he touches that Ark, he drops dead. Trying to do the right thing
it looks like, trying to protect the Ark. He drops dead right there. David doesn't know
why. The people really aren't sure why. He begins to get a little angry. What's going on
here? Why did this happen? We thought this is what God wanted us to do. And then we
get the rest of the story, which again illustrates that God wants men and women to
follow exactly what he says. You'll notice from 1 Chronicles 15, there is an update on
why these events happened to Uzzah. Listen to the Scripture in 1 Chronicles 15:13,
concerning the event where Uzzah touched the ark. David said, “For because you did
not do it the first time the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not
consult Him about the proper order. So the priests and the Levites sanctified
themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel and the children of the Levites
bore the Ark of God on their shoulders. By its poles,” listen now, “as Moses had
commanded according to the word of the Lord.” What went wrong in 2 Samuel 6? There
wasn't to be a new cart. Uzzah and Ahio had no right to bring that back. God had told
His people way back in the book of Numbers, ‘there are rings on the side of the ark, and
you run poles through that you don't ever touch it, you run poles through it.’ Then the
Levites were to bear the ark by those poles placed on for the Levites shoulders, a one
on each side. David said, and these are the words. I want you to listen real carefully to,
‘God's wrath broke out against us, listen now, ‘because we did not consult Him about
the proper order.’
Things always go south, as it relates to Bible authority, when we stop consulting
God, and put men's ideas, men's feelings, what some religious leader somewhere says,
is the best thing we ought to do. We spent a great deal of time talking about Bible
authority because it's such a fundamental idea to understanding how to receive God's
message, and how it is God wants us to respect His authority. God wants me in the
New Testament, just simply to do what He says. Don't add to. Don't take away. Don't
say, ‘well it seems like we ought to do this or this would make a lot of people happier.’
Just do what He says. John 2, ‘What Jesus says to you, do it,’ John 2:5.
Let's think for a few moments about what the New Testament does say
concerning singing. As we think about how does the New Testament, what does Jesus
say, what do His disciples teach, the Holy Spirit teach, in the New Testament about
singing? Acts 16:25, we learn what Paul and Silas were doing. The Bible says, “But at
midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the prisoners
were listening to them.” What were these Christians doing? They were singing hymns to
God, very simple, very plain. That's what we find in their example. Another passage,
Romans 15:9. We have these words recorded about singing in the New Testament. The
Scripture says in verse 9, “and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is
written for this reason, I'll confess to you among the Gentiles and sing to your name.” So
Paul and Silas were singing. Here God says they're to sing to your name in the
Scriptures. So far, we see singing.
Then we come to 1 Corinthians 14:15 and we learn a great lesson about singing
here. The Bible says, “I will sing with the spirit and I'll sing with the understanding.” How
am I to do that? What am I to do? First of all, I'm to sing. How do I do that? With the,
that's my interbeing, that's my emotion, that's heartfelt generated by love, motivated by
appreciation for God with thankfulness. I'll sing with the spirit and with understanding.
Am I to just mouth some words that I have no clue what they mean? Of course not! I'm
to sing with the spirit and with the understanding. Now two passages especially that we
want to direct your attention to. Look in Ephesians 5:19? What else do we know about
singing as it relates to the corporate worship in the assembly of the saints? Look in
Ephesians 5:19. The Bible says, “We're to be speaking to one another in Psalms,
hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Well
what specifically are we to do? Speak to one another. We're to teach and admonish one
another. We're to sing and make melody where? Not on a piano, not on organ, not on a
guitar, not a big rock band, not with smoke and lights and fog, that's not what God
asked for. ‘Sing and make melody in your heart,’ goes hand-in-hand with 1 Corinthians
14:15. I'll sing with the spirit. And I'll sing with the understanding. What is it God wants
me to use to make melody? The heart. Do I use the voice to speak? There's no doubt
you do. But our heart, it's not some wrote words that we say, that we have no clue we
just utter, we don't know what they mean; true singing is motivated from the heart. We
sing and make melody out of appreciation from our heart to God, who's asked us to do
You'll notice speaking, singing, making melody in your heart, no mention
anywhere so far of mechanical instruments of music. Look in Colossians 3. And I want
you to notice what Paul says to the church in Colossae here. Colossians 3:16, the
apostle Paul says, “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.” What does Paul tell the church in Colossae to do? To teach,
to admonish one another. Well Paul, how do you want us to do that? Psalms, hymns,
spiritual songs, singing, and making melody in your heart, teaching one another and
doing that again unto the Lord. We're to teach, sing, speak Psalms, hymns, spiritual
songs; those are the content of what we may use. We may sing one of the Psalms
found in the Old Testament, hymns that some have written based on Scripture, spiritual
related songs all of those will be acceptable to God and their content. But, we do that
again by teaching, with the voice by admonishing. And we speak one unto another, the
reciprocal idea of all singing together is surely found in these words.
Another passage that we find in the New Testament, and we want to emphasize
these, Hebrews 2:12. The Bible records these words, God is seen as saying, “I will
declare your name to my brethren,” listen now, “in the midst of the assembly, and I will
sing praise to you.” James 5:13, “if anyone's happy let him sing psalms.” Matthew
26:30, Jesus and His disciples sang a hymn and went out. Now we ask you this, if we
have thought about the verses in the New Testament related to singing for Christians in
the church, here on earth, here's what we've seen: sing, speak to one, another teach
one another, admonish one another, sing and make melody in your heart. All over and
over again, the idea is that of singing. It's not playing. It's not picking. It's not blowing on
some kind of instrument, a flute or playing on a harp. You don't find that in the Bible.
God's asked me and you to use our voice, to use the heart to make melody unto Him
that which is supreme to anything that man himself might make.
This is a very important part of worship. John 4:24, Jesus said, “God is spirit and
those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” If I'm to worship God in spirit
and based on truth, can I worship God with a mechanical instrument of music? When
that's not what God asked me to do for the law I'm living under in the New Testament
day and age? Friend as we think about, why it is the case that Christians do not use
instrumental music today, we want to again remind you of these principles. Why don't
we use mechanical instruments of music today? There's no authority for it God has told
us what to use and there's no guidance in the New Testament ever given on using
mechanical instruments of music. Colossians 3:17, we do all by the authority of Christ.
What has Christ authorized us to do? We don't add to nor do we take away from the
words found in the New Testament. Can you use a mechanical instrument without
adding something to the teaching of the New Testament? They're not found in there.
They're not mentioned specifically in Scripture. Thus, you would have to be adding to do
that. Let me mention this as well, even many, by many we mean a good host, even
many denominational leaders recognize that instruments of music mechanical
instruments of music, were not authorized by Almighty God.
Now let me give you just a few that would say this. For example, those would be
and going all the way back in in history. Pope Vitalianus himself was the first to
introduce them, but even then they weren't accepted for over 1200 years. Thomas
Aquinas wrote, as he spoke to the Roman Catholic Church, he wrote ‘the church does
not use musical instruments such as the harp or the lyre when praising God in case she
should seem to fall back into Judaism, for musical instruments usually move the soul
more to pleasure than to create moral goodness.’ As far back as the year 416, the
Council of Carthage addressed the issue of instruments of music and declared on the
Lords Day let all instruments of music be silenced. You can look at leaders like a
Charles Spurgeon, you can look at leaders like those who established many religious
groups today, John Wesley, Martin Luther, and many of those will say instruments of
music weren't authorized by God himself.
As we think about this let's realize that instruments, they don't teach and they
don't admonish with words as we are taught. As we learn today, that's not something
God has authorized in the Scripture. Now friend, while we do think about using our
voices in song to God and that being which God is authorized us to use. Since that is
the case, let me mention a few things that are so important to do that effectively and to
do that in a way that God is pleased with it.
If singing is what God's authorized, I have to participate in singing. You can't sit
there like the proverbial lump on the log. You can't sit there and just listen to let
everybody else do the singing. This is a command of God, for his people. If I'm going to
worship God correctly, I must sing. I've got to use my voice and with everyone else,
bring praise to God. Sing to one another, speak to one another, those are not
suggestions or good ideas. That's something we've all got to do to be pleasing to God. If
we're going to worship in song correctly, sing out. But some will say, ‘I don't that I don't
have the best voice.’ We may not be opera singer, but friend that's not necessarily what
God's looking for. If I'm to make melody in my heart, not only does my voice play a part,
but I've got to think through that and be using my mind as well. That goes up as a sweet
smelling savor unto the Lord, according to Hebrews 13:7-18. If I'm going to sing in a
way that is pleasing to God, as we just mentioned, we've got to think about and
meditate on the words of the song. ‘Sing with the spirit and the understanding.’ You
know, when we sing songs, beautiful songs, like “The Old Rugged Cross,” what are you
thinking about? Lunch? What are you thinking about? What you're going to do that
evening? No! I want to be thinking about what Jesus did for me. When I sing songs like,
“How Beautiful Heaven Must Be,” I want to think about the beauty of that place in and
how that motivates me to want to go there, and how thankful to God I am for a plan of
salvation that that makes it possible.
Then we mention this, to really be effectively singing, we encourage you to sing
as though this is your chance to teach somebody. Colossians 3:16, ‘teaching and
admonishing one another.’ Do you realize, when you're singing other people are
listening as well as they sing? We have the opportunity, through that song, through that
medium, to teach and admonish one another. As they hear the words of that song, as
we blend our voices together, as the unison of that great message goes up in praise to
God, the words cannot be overlooked. How powerful they are! What a great opportunity
that is to teach and encourage others.
Today a fundamental message and a fundamental lesson is, in the New
Testament God wants us to sing one to another. I understand that under the old law
God had used instruments. And you find that in the Old Testament. But friend, listen
carefully, we've seen clearly work that law's been nailed to the cross. We’re going to be
judged by the words of Christ. We’re living in the New Testament age. And God's told
us, ‘sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, sing and make melody in your heart to the
Maybe you were raised using a mechanical instrument, maybe that's what you've
done all your life, maybe that just seems natural in some ways, friend we just simply ask
you today, does the New Testament authorize that practice? Is that something God has
asked us specifically to do? And if not, the words of Jesus' mother Mary, “Whatever
Jesus says to you,” we've got to be willing to “do that.”
Our encouragement and our hope today is that each of us will turn our attention
to the word of God, be guided by it, and that we'll truly worship God in spirit and truth as
Study Questions for: “Fundamentals of the Faith: Music”
1. Where should we make melodies according to Ephesians 5:19?
2. According to Ephesians 5:19, how should we speak to one another?
3. Who has the authority according to Matthew 28:18?
4. Who is the head of the church according to Ephesians 1:22-23?
5. What did Jesus’ mother tell the servants to do in John 2:5?
6. How should we do things in word or deed according to Colossians 3:17?
7. Should we think beyond what is written according to 1 Corinthians 4:6?
8. What must we NOT do according to Revelation 22:18-19?
9. According to John 12:48, what will judge us?
10. According to James 5:13, what should we do if we are happy?