Erasing Arguments For Using Instrumental Music in Worship: "It's Just an Aid"
As we begin our study on the topic of Instrumental Music in the Lord’s church we need to understand that there are basically 4 main arguments that people use to try to explain why they believe it is ‘okay’ to use a mechanical instrument in worship to the Lord.
They are as follows:
- It is a matter of expediency/choice- it's an aid.
- Instruments were used in the Old Testament
- The word “Psallo” in the New Testament allows for its usage
- The argument from the book of Revelation (Instruments in Heaven)
We shall deal with these four over the next few months. If you have not yet, please go back to read our series on "The Bible: Our Authority."
- The Bible: Our Authority (Part 1)
- The Bible: Our Authority (Part 2)
- The Bible: Our Authority (Part 3)
Let us now consider the first option. Is the usage of Instrumental Music simply a matter of opinion/expediency?
When the instrument was first introduced, there was no authority really sought. The main argument was that it was simply an expedient. That a person could use the mechanical instrument as an aid to singing.
Before we discuss this topic we need to take note of a couple things.
- If it is an expediency, it is not a command. That means that in the New Testament God nowhere says that that we are to use a mechanical instrument.
- If it is an expediency, it is not a necessity. That means it is not necessary. A person might or might not be use them depending upon the congregation’s preference.
We will notice a few more things about expediency specifically we will notice some principles upon which expediencies must be based.
Expedients and Bible instruction:
In order for something to be expedient it must be ‘lawful.’ It must be within the authority of that which is according to God’s Word.
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (1 Cor. 6:12)
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. (1 Cor 10:23)
We see then that expediency must come within the realm of that which is lawful. If there is no command, approved example or necessary inference in the scriptures, then there is no authority for it. If there is no authority for it, it is deemed unauthorized.
We also conclude that things which are unauthorized are also unlawful.
Those things then, are prohibited by Divine authority and it is therefore, sinful. When one goes beyond the doctrine of Christ he has transgressed God’s law.
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. (II Jn 1:9-11)
We learn from scripture that, the doctrine being discussed is the same as ‘the faith’ which is mentioned in the book of Jude.
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (Jude 1:3)
It was that Faith that was one time delivered- This “doctrine,” and this “faith” are exactly the same thing.
We then must ask, can we today have that faith? Can we still abide by this doctrine? The answer is a resounding YES! But then how do we?
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom 10:17)
For we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7)
In order for our faith to please God it must be done according to his doctrine- his teachings. For without faith it is impossible to please him. Therefore, it is appropriate to conclude that to practice something which God has not authorized displeases God.
For something to be considered an expedient, it must not be specified.
When God specifies something, there is no choice about the matter. The only option is to obey or disobey what God has said. In matters which have been specified, faith demands obedience.
This is key: Expediency in human wisdom involves the human right to choose within the realm of those things only included in what God has authorized
For example, God has told us to go and teach, but he has specified what we are to teach. That is - only that which he has commanded (Mt. 28-18-20)
Expediency says that I am at liberty to go in the fastest and/or most expedient way if I so choose.
However, I am not at liberty to change the message of what I am teaching. While one of these allows for the usage of expediency, (the going) the other (what is taught) does not. The type of ‘going’ was not specified, but the type of ‘teaching’ was. Therefore, one may not add to or take from that which has been specified.
To go beyond that which is specified or offer a substitute therefore is to ADD to what God has said instead of aiding/expediting obedience to His Word
Another example: God commands to dip/immerse (baptizo), bury (Rom. 6:4) a person in baptism. Sprinkling therefore, is not an aid to carry out the command. It does not expedite the carrying out God's command, but is a substitute for what God said do.
On the other hand, a baptistery might expedite and, therefore, aid in obeying God's commandment, yet it does not add to the command. If we did not have a baptistery the congregation might have to go out to a lake or river and dip someone. But for those who have chosen to use a baptistery, they are able to do exactly what God says, in an expedited fashion. (It will not take quite as long as everyone going to the river to accomplish the command of God.)
For something to be an expedient within the Lord’s body, it must edify, or build up the body of Christ.
Let all things be done unto edifying. (1 Cor 14:26)
If a thing is a matter of choice or expediency--human wisdom or judgment, and its practice tears down and/or destroys what God would have built up, then it is therefore sinful to practice.
When we ask ourselves if those who have brought the mechanical instrument into the Lord’s church have “built up” or “torn apart” the body of Christ, honest students will admit that it has torn apart the Lord’s body.
For something to be an expedient, it should not offend the conscience of a brother.
But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. (1 Cor 8:9)
Supposing that the instrument were actually an expedient, it must not offend others consciences. If a "method" of doing the Lord's work is a matter of expedience, we cannot force upon the conscience of others and cause them to commit sin
In order for something to be an expedient, it must not be an addition, or a substitution for obedience to God’s Word.
1 Cor. 11:25-28 Christ commanded, "Drink this cup." The cup is the fruit of the vine (Mt 26:27-29.) We have no choice as to the element, but we do have a choice as to how we distribute the Fruit of the Vine.
The type of liquid is the fruit of the vine. This is not to change, one cannot exchange soda, for the fruit of the vine, call it ‘expediency’ and all of a sudden claim that God authorized Soda as an expedient to the Lord’s supper.
How it is distributed is a matter of expedience. As long as it is taken and drank by the Lord’s children.
Heb. 10:25—The Hebrews writer expects the saints to "assemble." He did not specify as to how the place of assembly shall be provided, whether a house should be rented, or borrowed, or owned.
The command implies and includes within its authority, some place as an essential. But, where the congregation is to rent, or own etc… is a matter of expediency and to be determined by the Elders of the congregation.
Growing up I was shown this simple diagram. It has served me well throughout my life to help me understand this subject. I have NOT tested this upon EVERY single subject in life. So I do not say that it is ‘fail proof’. However, it is a very simple and practical way to determine expediency in some of the most important issues that have come upon the church.
A simple way to check it out and to see if something is an expedient:
First- if it has been explained HOW to do something, doing something different than that which is commanded- is Sinful.
Matters of Expediency
_________ +_________= ___________
If the thing commanded is “A” and the thing in question is “B” – if the end result is anything other than “A” it is an addition not an aid/expedient.
So it should look like this:
___(A)____ + _____(B)____ = ____(A)______
Partaking Unleavened Bread and Fruit of Vine
Cups and trays
=Fruit of Vine and Unleavened Bread
These are 'aids' to the command.
Partaking Unleavened Bread and Fruit of Vine
Ice Cream, Cake and Milk
= Fruit of Vine, Unleavened Bread, Ice Cream, Cake, Milk
These are additions to the command, and therefore are unauthorized.
The specified command is still being obeyed
=Singing and Playing
Playing does not expedite singing, they are two different actions all-together. It then becomes an addition, not an expedient.
I need to take the time to say this:
There are 3 types of music, God has specified one to the exclusion of the other two.
- Instrumental Only (Bach, Beethoven, etc…)
- A cappella Only (Vocal Music)
- Combination of these two (Rock and Roll, Country, Rap etc…)
God specified one, to the exclusion of the others. Please refer back to our lessons on Bible Authority, if you need more information about this.
One does not use instruments to expedite singing. It becomes an addition, not an expedient.
The principle stated in the Bible is clear. We are not to go beyond the things that God has written in His Word.
Now these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes; that in us ye might learn not to go beyond the things which are written; that no one of you be puffed up for the one against the other. (1 Cor. 6:7)
John writes in his final revelation:
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Rev 22:18-19)
In our next blog concerning this subject, we will delve further into this subject and explain the different “comparisons” that our ‘binding instrumental music brothers’ try to use, and why they do not work.