Season 3, Episode 4
For Friday, February 12, 2016
“Three Reasons Why We Don’t Use Mechanical Instruments Of Music In Worship”
HOST: Wade Webster
One of the best-known distinctions between the Lord’s church and the churches of men has to do with the music that is used in worship. The Lord’s church sings without the accompaniment of mechanical instruments of music in worship. Why don’t we use them? Is it simply a matter of preference, human tradition, or economics? Is it a matter of doctrine? In this podcast, we will see three clear reasons why we don’t use mechanical instruments of music in our worship. We will see that we do not use them out of faith, fear, and fellowship.
Imagine that your child was lost in a shopping mall. To help locate your child, you would describe your child to a store clerk or to the mall security so that they could identify your child among the many children at the mall. No doubt, you would give identifying marks like their hair color, eye color, height, and what they were wearing.
In like manner, when we are looking for the Lord’s church, the one true church, among thousands of religious organizations in the world today, identifying characteristics are very helpful. One of these best known identifying marks has to do with the music of the church. Most people know that churches of Christ do not use mechanical instruments of music. However, many have never been given a clear and concise explanation of why they are not used. Some may assume that it is simply a matter of preference, human tradition, or economics. I assure you that it is none of these things. Why then do we not use them?
First, we don’t use mechanical instruments of music in worship because of FAITH. The New Testament makes clear that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). To do something by faith is to do it by the instruction and the authority of God’s word. When we read that someone did something by faith, we know that they were doing it by the word of God. For example, in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, we find that “by faith” Noah prepared an ark (Heb. 11:7). We can go back to the book of Genesis and find where God commanded Noah to do this (Gen. 6:14). Today, when it comes to music, what can we do by faith or by the word of God when it comes to music? We can sing by faith. The N.T. commands it. We cannot play a mechanical instrument by faith. The N.T. doesn’t authorize it. Consider two N.T. passages – Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16. First, let’s consider Ephesians 5:19. Paul wrote, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Please note the command – singing and making melody. Singing is self-explanatory, but making melody may need some explanation. “Making melody is from the Greek word psallo. It refers to the plucking of a string or a line. For example, it can be a bow string or a carpenter’s line. So we are to sing and pluck a string. Although this might initially sound like a mechanical instrument, it isn’t. In fact, the instrument is named in the passage – the heart. Please notice the passage “making melody in your heart.” We are to pluck the strings of the heart. We are to sing and pluck the strings of the heart. Now, consider a parallel passage –
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.” This is a parallel expression to what we noticed in Ephesians. Singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord parallels singing and making melody in your heart. “Making melody” (Eph. 5:19) is replaced by the words “with grace” (Col. 3:16). By definition, grace is unmerited or undeserved favor. Therefore, to pluck the strings of the heart is to sing with great emotion or feeling. It is to sing out of great gratitude. Because God specified the instrument as the heart, all others must be rejected because they can’t be offered by faith. In the Old Testament, when God specified gopher wood as the wood for the ark, He ruled out other kinds of wood. In like manner, when God specified the heart, he ruled out other instruments.
Second, we don’t use mechanical instruments of music because of FEAR. I don’t mind telling you that we don’t use mechanical instruments of music in worship out of fear. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31). It is a very serious thing to tamper with the worship of God. Please consider the Old Testament example of Nadab and Abihu. We read, “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” (Lev. 10:1-2). Please note that they offered strange fire which the Lord commanded them not. Mechanical instruments of music are the equivalent of strange fire today because God hasn’t commanded them. Although fire isn’t going to come down immediately upon men today when the change God’s worship, fire is going to eventually come. Christ is going to come in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not obey the gospel (2 Thess. 1:8). These individuals will be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His power (2 Thess. 1:9).
Third, we don’t use mechanical instruments of music in worship because of FELLOWSHIP. If we want to continue to enjoy the fellowship of God and faithful brethren, we must abide in the doctrine of Christ. John wrote, “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. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 9-11). We cannot abide in the doctrine or teaching of Christ and use mechanical instruments of music in worship. Using mechanical instruments in worship is transgressing or going beyond the doctrine of Christ. By definition, transgressing the law is sin. John wrote, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). Sin will cost us the fellowship of God now and in eternity. Isaiah wrote,
“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:1-2).
As we get ready to worship this week, it is good to remember why we don’t use mechanical instruments of music in worship. It is one of the distinctive characteristics of the Lord’s church that those who visit our services are sure to notice.
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