Church Instruments A Bible Answer to Anti-instrument Theology
By Paul Norris
Some people are always changing their mind. Some days they like this and on some days they like that. God, however, is usually thought to be unchangeable especially in view of such scriptures as Num 23:19; Heb.13:8; and James 1:17. Thus it seems hard to believe that God would like music so well in the OT that he inspired psalm after psalm encouraging people to worship him with mechanical instruments and then suddenly drop the whole thing.
It is not hard to imagine that God used types and shadows of some things which people could not yet receive or understand and there later when the more perfect thing came do away with the imperfect. Psalm 150, however, exhorts us to worship God on almost every instrument; and the New Testament no where designates this as a type or a shadow.
Could it be that God overdid it in the Psalms? Could it be that he commanded so much music that the noise got the best of him so that he had to put a stop to it as the cover illustration suggests? If this is really true then one would think that there would at least be a hint of this change somewhere in the New Testament. If the New Testament is really our authority for worship, and musical instruments are wrong, then we would expect at least a “shhhhhhh” somewhere in its pages. Why is the NT silent in its condemnation of an error (i.e. mechanical music) so entrenched in the worship of men? ? ?
Mechanical instruments are one of the greatest blessings God had allowed man to discover. There are those who would deprive us of this blessing and leave us only with the twang of the pitch pipe. These people while they claim mechanical music as an aid to worship is not authorized use practically every other Mechanical device invented by man to aid and assist them in worship. This little book is about why they might do this and why it is fitting for us to rise up in protest against this attempted enslavement of our Christian liberties!
Seven Reasons why it’s Alright to Use
Mechanical Instruments in Our Worship
1. It is commanded in the NT.
I Thessalonians 5:21 instructs us as follows:
“Prove all things. Hold fast that which is good. ”
Psalms 92:14 reads as follows:
“It is a good thing to give thanks to Jehovah and to plunk away to your name O Most High. To declare in the morning your binding loyalty and your truth in the nights. Upon an instrument of 10 (strings) and upon a guitar with sounding music upon a lyre.”
The Greek word for “prove” is dokimazo. According to Bauer’s lexicon this means to “prove by testing.” (p. 201) We are to try them out to see if they work and really edify worship and then if they do it will be all right to use them. I Thessalonians 5:19, 20 talk about quenching the Spirit and prophesying. This indicates that we are in a context which is discussing forms of worship.
If all Scripture is given by inspiration of God (II Tim. 3:16) then Ps. 92:1-4 must be true. It must be a good thing to worship God on an instrument of 10 strings. If it was good in David’s day, it must still be good unless someone could give Bible, chapter and verse where it ceased to be good. We do not offer up burnt offerings because the NT in Hebrews 10 tells us that they were ineffective. We do not keep the food laws because the Bible tells us it is all right now not to (I Tim. 4:4) We don’t keep the Sabbath now because the NT tells us that this was a type of something in the NT (Col. 2:16, 17). But nowhere in the New Testament does it tell us that instrumental music is ineffective. Nowhere in the New Testament does it tell us that it is wrong to use them. Nowhere does the NT say that instrumental music was a type or shadow of something now fulfilled. Thus instruments are still A Good Thing!
2. Paul told the Colossian church to teach and admonish one another with songs accompanied by a musical instrument.
Note Colossians 3:16-
“…teaching and admonishing yourselves with songs accompanied by an instrument.”
Note also Eph. 5:19-
“Speaking among yourselves in songs accompanied by musical instruments and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and plunking away heartily to the Lord.”
The word here translated “song accompanied by a musical instrument” is the word
“psalmos” from which our word “psalm” comes. The word “psalmos” come from a Greek word “psallo”. According to Bauer’s lexicon (p. 899) “psallo” means “sing (to the accompaniment of a harp)”
Note that where the King James reads “in your hearts” we have translated “heartily”. This may be compared to Matt. 22:37 “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. . .” This is what in Greek is called an “instrumental of manner”. It describes the manner in which the singing or loving is to be done. The words “With your hearts” in Matt. 22:37 are the same as the words “in your hearts in Col. 3:16. They do not mean that God is only to be loved inwardly but heartily.
If the words “in your heart” in Eph. 5:19 mean that the only way we can make a melody is inwardly, then the same words “singing in your hearts” in Col 3:16 means that the only Scriptural singing is inward, silent singing. If vocal singing is to be permitted, then instruments are also permissible.
It is not reasonable that God would allow the praising of Himself by vibrating vocal cords and make vibrating strings on instruments illegal! A minister once questioned an anti-instrument preacher about this. He inquired as to what the difference was between vibrating vocal cords and vibrating cords on a piano. “O, “said the preacher, “That’s mechanical music.” “Well”, said the preacher “Some of the sounds I’ve heard your folks make sounds pretty mechanical to me!”
3. Musical instruments are never forbidden by the New Testament.
Romans 4:15 tells us that “where no law is, there is no transgression.” No one can possibly condemn us for playing an instrument unless he can find a Scripture against it. No one can be arrested for running a stop sign where there is no stop sign in the first place.
Anti-instrument preachers, however, say that since Christ did not teach it then we are going beyond Christ’s teaching in introducing them. They say vibrating Mechanical instruments are wrong. We cannot use the vibrations of mechanical instruments to accompany our singing. Yet the same preacher will speak into and sing into a microphone which will change his singing into mechanical vibrations. Surely Christ did not teach about public address systems and did not even use them. Christ gave no authority for their use. The same preacher will begin the singing by taking out a pitch pipe and lightening quick sin a little bit by blowing it. Then, of course he hides his sin as fast as he can and congregation and preacher go on as if nothing had happened.
Anti-instrument preachers act as if we had to get the authority from Christ about what color to have the color of the covers on our hymnals on the one hand and on the other they include a myriad of things in their worship which Christ said nothing at all about. Note some of the following: steeples, pews, pulpits, air conditioners, pitch pipes (!), offering pans, offering envelopes, film projectors, public address systems, programs, song books, choirs, choir robes, and many other man-made mechanical devices.
To be consistant with their theory that we cannot use things which were not discussed by Christ they should be like certain Amish and only ride donkeys. They should avoid mechanical devices such as electric lights and furnaces and warm them-selves over the coals like Peter did.
Actually we do not go beyond the doctrine of Christ when we do not disobey his specific teachings. We cannot reject the authority of Christ when we do things which were never made an issue of by Christ. Otherwise we, for example, could not eat sardines because Christ never authorized the eating of sardines.
Instrumental music played a great part in temple worship, According to Unger’s Bible dictionary, p. 566 there was a whole orchestra in the temple consisting of harps oboes, lyres, and cymbals. (According to the International Standard Bible Enc. there were also wind instruments used, p. 2099) Why did Jesus not throw the orchestra out of the temple when he threw out the money changers if this were not an acceptable form of worship.
Since music was used in the temple and in many pagan feasts, surely some of the converted pagans and Jews would want to use it in worship. Why did not the apostles ever speak out against its use? Why do we find no condemnation of the use of musical instruments in the temple worship?
No! We do not challenge or go beyond the authority of the United States government when we eat garlic with sauerkraut, topped with peanut butter just because President Nixon never said we could!
4. There will be musical instruments in heaven.
Rev. 5:8 “Having each one (of the 24 elder) a harp. . .”
Rev. 14:2 “I heard what sounded like harpists really playing a lot on their harps.”
Rev. 15:2 “And saw…. those who overcame the beast . . . having harps of God.”
Thus the saints in heaven will worship throughout endless ages with musical instruments; Surely they did not have these harps to scratch their heads with!!! Anti-instrument preachers imply that the use of mechanical instruments in worship is worship which is not on a high spiritual plane. Yet here we have the highest spiritual plane of all, heaven itself, and we are told repeatedly in worship contexts that they had mechanical instruments.
In fact we have seen that God was pleased to be worshipped by mechanical instruments in every age. Yet we are told that although God said it was good to worship him with all kinds of instruments in the OT (Ps. 92:1-4), and although we will do it in heaven„ that it is now forbidden and we are not to do it!
If we are going to get mechanical instruments when we get to heaven and play in the heavenly band, what would be wrong with tuning up down here??? Is not this the place where we are to get ready for heaven??? Is not New Testament worship patterned after things in heaven?
5. Mechanical Instruments will drive the demons away. Most anti-instrument preachers are quick to admit that demons are working now and that they even at times are performing miracles through Pentecostal “deceivers”. Would it not be helpful to use mechanical instruments To Combat These Evil Forces.
Note the following Scripture-
“And it came to pass that when the evil spirit was upon Saul that David took his lyre and plunked it in his hand and thus relief came to Saul and he was OK because the evil spirit departed from him. ”
(I Sam. 16:23)
We come to understand through this verse that demons hate to hear sacred music played on a mechanical instrument and they do not stay around long when a true saint of God worships in this manner. This is one reason why Ps, 92:1-4 says that worshipping God with mechanical music is a good thing. Perhaps it may be if anti-instrument preachers are right that the poles have been reversed and God now does not like musical instruments and the devil now likes them!
It may, however, be closer to the truth to state that the devil still hates them just as much as he ever did and is now doing something about it by deceiving people into thinking they are wrong. People with demons in them will never be very fond of the use of mechanical instruments in worship! (No names mentioned naturally)
6. They will bring the blessings of God in the service.
Note well the following Scripture: (Elisha is speaking)
“Well now get me somebody that knows how to play an instrument. And so it was that when he was plunking away at the guitar that the hand of Jehovah came upon him.’ and he started prophesying.”
(II Kings 3:15)
If anti-instrument preachers were right the hand of Jehovah should have come upon him and thrown him out Music brought the power then and it still does. This is just another reason why Ps. 92:1-4 says it’s a good thing to use instruments in our worship. It is also a reason why their are certain vested interests who desire for a very good reason to stamp out these of instruments in worship. There are some who very definitely profit when the power of the Lord does not fall. And is it merely a co-incidence that the same preachers who oppose mechanical music also oppose the direct operation of the Holy Spirit in. this present age??? Whose lobbyists are they? The reader must make his own decision. The author has made his long ago!
7. Or vocal cords vibrate like the strings on a piano. I do this by muscles in my chest and stomach. Why not use muscles that operate the fingers and arms to vibrate metal strings. What would be the difference?
This booklet “Church Instruments A Bible Answer to Anti-Instrument Theology” written by Paul Norris is published by Another Real Truth Publication.