JESUS IS THE ANSWER TO SINGING
The New Testament is the pattern for worship today. 2 Corinthians 3 informs us that the Old Testament was “abolished.” (Verse 13). That included the moral and ceremonial parts of the law. (Colossians 2:14-16; Luke 2:21-24). The churches of Galatia (Galatians 1:2) were reminded that they had been removed from the gospel which they had been given and had espoused. (Galatians 1:6-9). They were told that they had been turned to “another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. (Verses 6, 7). Neither apostles nor angels had a right to change the word of God. (Verses 8, 9). “False brethren” were the problem. (Galatians 2:4, 5). They were told, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Verse 16). Read the entire book of Galatians, noting the passages showing salvation to be in Christ through the New Testament, and not by the law of Moses.
Having seen and understood the foregoing, let each reader see what the New Testament says of Music. Please take a few minutes to read the following verses, all the New Testament says about music: Matthew 26:30, “And when they had sung a hymn,….”; Mark 14:26, “And when they had sung a hymn,….”; Acts 16:25, “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises to God:….”; Romans 15:9, “I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and I will sing unto thy name.”; 1 Corinthians 14:15, “I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.”; Ephesians 5:19, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”; Colossians 3:16, “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.”; Hebrews 2:12, “In the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.”; and James 5:13, “Is any merry? Let him sing psalms.” Write what each verse said, whether sing, sang, sung, singing, playing, or playing and singing. What do you have? If you do not add or subtract from what God says (Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18, 19), what will you do? If you do other-wise, have you added and/or subtracted?
Some claim that the book of Revelation has additional statements concerning the music God accepts, and that mechanical instruments of music are authorized. For example, one says, Revelation 1:10 says John heard a trumpet, and if such is to be in heaven, it must be OK in the church. Another affirms that Revelation 14:2 speaks of harpers harping with their harps, thus implying that it is fine to use such in worship to God. Please read these vers-es again. What did John hear? “A great voice” (1:10) and “a voice” (14:2). The voice of 1:10 was “as of a trumpet”, and it spoke to him, “saying,…And I turned to see the voice that spake unto me….” The same was heard in 14:2. The voice heard was described as “many waters…great thunder…harpers harping with their harps.” In other words, the voice, not mechanical instruments of music, is what John heard. The voice was loud, piercing, powerful, and clear, yet as pleasing as the sound of a harp. Instruments cannot speak. A voice, which John heard, can speak. A number of denominational preachers of the past raised their voices against the use of these mechanical instruments of music in worship of God. Albert Barnes, noted Baptist commentator, in his commentary on Revelation, said of Revelation 14:2, “It was like the sweetness of symphonious harps.” When all is said and done, John heard a voice, not thunder, waters, a trumpet, or harps. “They sung as it were a new song before the throne….” (Verses 3, 4).
What proves too much proves nothing! If Revelation 1:10 and 14:2 prove that we should use mechanical instruments of music, it also demands that each worshipper play one, and that, a harp, not some of the other mechanical instruments used. What about those who cannot play a mechanical instrument? It would also demand that each player play before the beasts, and elders, and that each player be one of the 144,000, which were redeemed from the earth, because no other man could learn the song. How does one decide what is necessary, and what is not? Also, the song played would have to be a “new song”, sung before the throne, with only virgins doing the playing and singing, and other stipulations. Read on. What does one accept, and what does one omit?
Speaking as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11), without addition or subtraction, can one who sings without the accompaniment of mechanical instruments of music go to heaven? All would surely answer in the affirmative. If so, why would one want to gamble with his/her soul? You can stand before the Great Righteous Judge and know assuredly that you will be saved if you sing. Can you go to the judgment with such assurance, thinking mechanical instruments are acceptable? Those who sing as the verses stated herein say, without humming, clapping, adding mechanical instruments of music, or imitating such with the mouth, have no reason to wonder what the outcome will be when that great day comes as far as music is concerned. Why gamble with your soul? Why follow man-made things, when it is so easy to follow the teaching of the Christ? Cf. Matthew 15:7-9.
A thought for you to consider. It is rare for one to try to justify the use of mechanical instruments of music using the New Testament. Most practitioners of such go to the Old Testament to justify their use. Question: Is this an admission that they cannot be justified by the New Covenant? Many things were done under Old Testament law which are not done today. For example, Sabbath Day worship (Exodus 20:8) is not the day of worship for the Christian. (Galatians 2:14-16; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2; Revelation 1:10). The priestly system under the first covenant (Book of Leviticus) has been replaced by Christians who are priests of God. (Romans 12:1, 2; 1 Peter 2:9). Colossians 2:16 is a short list of things no longer binding on people. Read Hebrews 8:6-13.
The use of mechanical instruments of music comes too late. They were not used by the first century church. According to various historical records, these instruments were not used prior to 606 A. D. in the church. It is true that David used them in the Old Testament. However, Amos 6:1-5 indicates that they were never accepted by the Creator of man. There were some things God tolerated under the first law (Acts 17:30; Matthew 19:1-9, especially verse 8). However, there is no indication that God will do the same under the new law. (Ibid). If so, where are such statements?
Briefly, what is the purpose of singing in worship, and how should it be done? First, singing shows one’s joy. (James 5:16). Second, singing is to teach and admonish. (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Third, it is an opportunity for Christians to introduce God to the lost. (Romans 15:9; Psalm 18:49). Fourth, Paul taught the need to sing with the spirit and understanding. (1 Corinthians 14:15). This is in harmony with John 4:24, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Compare Joshua 24:14, “serve him in sincerity and in truth.”
Many years ago, this penman was talking with a retired Baptist preacher. The preacher, knowing what the writer believed about mechanical instruments of music in worship, asked, “Why are you taking guitar lessons?” When the scribe answered, “To entertain self outside of religious services”, the aged preacher responded, saying, “I wish we did not use instruments in our services. Acapella music is the purest form of music there is.” He went on to express his fear that their services were becoming nothing more than entertainment programs. Look around you at the bands, orchestras, and such like, that permeate what is supposed to be a kiss toward God, worship. May all flee things being done to draw crowds, because it is pleasing to self and others, the majority is doing it, and return to God’s simple plan. See the writer’s web page for a more detailed study.