Instruments in Worship

One of the biggest differences between the manner in which we worship and those in denominations is that we do not use instruments in our worship service. We all know and would defend that instruments are not to be used in our worship, but how many of us know or remember how to prove it? Moreover, how many of us know how to show someone the truth when they look to the Greek language as proof to use instruments in worship?

Commonly, when someone believes that instruments can be used in worship, they will turn to Old Testament passages as their evidence. For example, they will point to Psalm 149:1-3: “Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, and His praise in the congregation of the godly ones. Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King. Let them praise His name with dancing; Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre.” However, we all know that if we are going to apply one part of scripture, then we must apply all parts of scripture, and if you continue on in this chapter, verses 6-7 say, “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations.” This would mean that we’d have the authority to be violent to those who don’t believe. This clearly contradicts other passages such as Matthew 5:44 which says to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Furthermore, as a Christian, I am not bound to the Old Law. Paul speaks of Christ and the Old Testament in Ephesians 2:14-16: “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.” The two groups mentioned are the Jew and the Gentile; they have been brought together by abolishing the Old Law which separated them and made them into one person —a Christian. If the Old Law is abolished, then why must we follow it? We can’t; the only one with the authority for us to follow in Christ.

Speaking of the authority of Christ, nowhere in the New Testament is found a command, example, or inference of musical instruments being used in worship. If there is no command, example, or necessary inference expressed in a subject, then we cannot take liberty in that subject. Revelation 22:18-19 gives a very stern warning: “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

However, some in the denominational world will point to the Greek in Ephesians 5:19 where it says, “… making melody” and say those words mean “to pluck,” therefore plucking an instrument is okay. They are not wrong, the Greek in those verses does mean “to pluck;” however, once again if we accept one part of a scripture as truth, then we must accept all of it as truth, and it must fit within the context. So looking at the whole verse, it says, “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing making melody in your heart to the Lord.” This means, fitting in the context, making melody (or “to pluck”) is connected with the heart, so putting in the Greek would read, “… singing and plucking the strings of the heart to the Lord.” It is not making a separate point of plucking instruments, rather showing that our singing to God is emotional and comes from the heart.

There is evidence in the Old Testament of the use of instruments in worship. However, the evidence is only found in the Old Testament, which we do not follow. There is no authority for the use of instruments found in the New Testament; and if there is no authority for it, then it cannot be accepted in worship. Finally, looking to the Greek still does not justify the use of instruments because fitting in context, it has nothing to do with instruments; rather it pertains to the heart.

Oren Caskey

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