(We do not do well to overemphasize worship
as if the New Testament included
requirements for “corporate worship”)
In the New International Version, the passage is translated, “Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”Don Deffenbaugh (of Neosho, Missouri) writes, “In this passage Paul is teaching us that as Christians we are to fashion our inner lives and our outward conduct in such a way that it is easy for those around us to tell that we are different from the world and that we are doing the will of God (verse 2). This is said to be our *reasonable service.* The idea is that it is logical for us to give our bodies as a living sacrifice to God. Folks are mistaken who make the passage teach that everything we do in life is worship, as opposed to worship being a specified act or acts done in *spirit and truth* (John 4:24).
“The word translated *service* in this passage does have in it an element of worship, but it really refers to service in general and not to worship in particular. This is easily seen in Matthew 4:10 where it is said that we shall worship (the usual Greek word for worship) the Lord our God and Him only shall we serve (the word that appears in Romans 12:1). Christian service is broader than worship. We Christians are to present our bodies to God a sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service.”
Our brother wants us to realize that living for the Lord every day in every way is good and right. He also suggests that a part of our life is to be set aside for particular “acts of worship” which appropriately honor God and Christ. Shall we not agree that Christians today do designate particular times for assemblies in which particular “acts of worship” take place, some of which are unique to those assemblies?
But does Paul in Romans 12:1,2 refer to assemblies? It’s obvious by reading the text that Paul is not urging that we set aside just part of our lives as times for either worship or service. Is he not calling for us to dedicate all our hours and all our days to pleasing and honoring God by a holy life? Is that not the point of all New Testament instruction concerning worship — an unvarying theme? We are not taught to restrict worship to assemblies of the saints. We are taught to worship God by service to Him every day. This does not mean that we are not to assemble as Christians. It does not mean that we are not to together engage in acts of worship to our God.
But we should notice that inspired writers do NOT ever call for us to assemble for the purpose of worship. They call for us to scatter to worship by serving.
When together, it is suggested that the PURPOSE for our having met is for us to encourage one another, to exhort one another, to testify to one another of the great things God has done. And surely it’s to learn from one another how we can HELP one another serve Jesus.
Worship is always a personal experience. Why would we expect true worship to happen only in crowds? We’re as apt to rejoice in the power and majesty of our Creator when we’re alone in a forest or on a lake or on a mountain or plain as when we’re in any man-made structure seated or standing, with others around contending for our attention.
Worship is recognizing the worth of the person(s) or the thing(s) we worship. This can happen while we engage in acts intended to bring honor and express thanks to that person or object. Meditating on the words of God may for many be an act of worship. Others within hearing of those same words may not be worshipping at all. This is especially true when the words are being sung. Listening to a brother or sister testify to their appreciation of what God has done may lead some hearers to worship God. It may NOT cause worship on the part of other listeners.
Paul is calling for us who love Jesus to LIVE like Jesus. He says that in so doing we ARE worshipping both Jesus and the Father. He does not in this passage or any other writing suggest that we should huddle together in order to worship by engaging in particular “acts of worship” in “holy places.”
We might well wonder why some brethren today think and say that we are obliged to get together to do our worshipping. It’s true that Paul does NOT here say that Christian living is to replace true worship. Neither does he here or anywhere say that it’s in our assemblies that true worship is to take place.
What are “acts of worship?” Some note in Acts 2:42 a short list of what some Christians chose to do while honoring God. They “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
Those seeking to identify approved “acts of worship” say that here in Acts 2:42 they’ve found some acts of worship, and then they say that, with the addition of singing which they want to do, these four things are THE approved Christian “acts of worship.”
How did they continue steadfastly in “the apostles’ doctrine”? It was by asking questions of the apostles, and listening to learn from the replies, wasn’t it? Can we do that today? The apostles inconveniently died many years ago, so we can’t listen to them in person now. But we’ve set up a clergy and we say that listening to a clergyman tell us things which in some way (sometimes) are based on what the apostles’ taught is the currently-possible application of the “apostles’ doctrine.” So we are said to be worshipping God by listening to sermons “in church.”
Since the usual purpose of the lecture is to inspire or instruct US, one wonders why we would call this opportunity to learn an act of worship. Worship is praise directed to God, isn’t it? A lecture to ones who are not God is hard to classify as worship of God. Yet that’s what we call the sermon, an “act of worship.”
Brethren spoken of in Acts 2:42 enjoyed fellowship together. The modern equivalent is said to be putting money in a collection plate for the church leaders to spend, usually financing first of all a building in which the communal “worship” can be conveniently done, and then supporting the clergyman whose words of wisdom form the chief element of our “worship.” How is this worship of God? Does God call for us to build church buildings and hire a clergy?
Nearby verses show that the early church did no such things. They shared together, but built no buildings and hired no “staff.” Fellowship was much more to them than the contributing of money for someone else to spend. Are we sure that our putting money into a church treasury IS the equivalent of the fellowship which bound early Christians together into a family of believers? Is stewardship putting money into a church treasury? What verses say so?
We’re told that the “breaking of bread” refers to the sharing of the Lord’s Supper (the communion, or sometimes called the Eucharist). In further explanation of Acts 2:42, Luke in Acts 2:46 adds, “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” Most readers would not assume this referred to less than sharing meals together. At that time in that place, those who had food shared it with those who had none. Did they at every meal also remember with a special ceremony the atoning death of Jesus? Perhaps. Perhaps not.
Was prayer reserved for formal gatherings? Obviously not. Was singing done only when the entire group could meet together? Of course not. Who says these four (five if we add singing) acts are the required and approved “acts of worship” for Christian assemblies today? Those who LIVED Acts 2:42 made these things acts of daily living. Should we do less?
Early Christians assembled to encourage and bless one another (see 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14). Part of the time they were together, they engaged in acts we can identify as particular acts of worship to God. That any of these acts were done ONLY when the entire group was together is not stated. Nor is it in any way implied.
Prayer is appropriate any time. In fact, Paul urges that we pray “without ceasing.” That’s not limiting prayer to special prayer meetings or to “worship services.” Fellowship with other saints is appropriate any time. There’s no time when it’s inappropriate, so far as I know. That’s not limiting fellowship to special places or times. Likewise, the New Testament doesn’t indicate that “breaking of bread” (sharing meals or snacks together) is to be limited to special “worship services.” Does the New Testament ever even once speak of “worship services”? We’re encouraged to “study” to show ourselves approved to God every day in any possible way. We’re exhorted to “pray without ceasing.” Why would anyone claim that there are “acts of worship” which are required in and limited to “worship services”?
Our brother speaks of worship being “a specified act or acts done in *spirit and truth.*” Is it thought that our daily living is to be done without recourse to spirit and truth? How can we be living for God, as Paul encourages, if we choose to live apart from “spirit and truth”? Does the Bible speak of particular acts which are required in “worship services” and which are inappropriate at other times for those who love Jesus and seek to live for Him?
The Bible speaks of no “worship services” for Christians! I suspect that ALL our lives are to be lived for Jesus, and that Paul teaches us so in Romans 12:1,2 and in all other passages which are sometimes used to distinguish between “worship” and “ordinary” Christian living. Christian LIVING is the worship we owe the Master. And our worship MUST be personal and individual. It cannot be corporate. Could it be “led” by a worship leader? Does it only happen in Christian assemblies? Surely you will see that is not the case!
We who seek to honor Jesus as Lord have no good reason to speak of our assemblies in His name as “worship services.” We meet, according to the apostle Paul, to edify one another, to encourage one another, and to exhort one another. While together as God’s children, we eagerly say “Thanks” to Him, and we frequently eat together, sometimes including the Meal of Remembrance. The Bible does not call for Christians ever to go to “holy places” to perform “acts of worship” there which we’re not “authorized” to do at other times.
You can go to PAGE TOP, or continue reading:
Viewpoint tract CW-B11 — TOM OLBRICHT writes concerning the Lord's Supper (he here quotes from his book, HIS LOVE COMPELS). Concerning the apostle Paul’s exhortation to Christians in Corinth who were not honoring Jesus when they ate for that purpose, Tom says, “I wrote the below in my book on the message of the New Testament, His Love Compels”:
Another manner in which distinctions were apparent (in Christ’s church in Corinth) was along socioeconomic lines. In regard to their eating the Lord’s supper Paul wrote,
“When you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, to begin with, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you . . .” (1 Cor. 11:17,18).Rather than showing unity, the manner in which they were eating placarded differences and lack of love.
“When you come together, it is not really to eat the Lord’s supper. For when the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper, and one goes hungry and another becomes drunk” (1 Cor. 11:20-21).The early Christians either had to meet early in the morning, as evidenced from Pliny’s letter to the Roman emperor Trajan, or toward evening as the day came to a close. According to Pliny they met at both times. It was not until almost three hundred years later that Constantine, the first “Christian emperor,” declared Sunday as a day for Christian worship and relatively free from commercial activities.
In all likelihood those who came to the assembly early were the more affluent. They brought the best food and wine. Eating commenced soon after these persons higher on the socioeconomic scale arrived. As the shadows crept over the city, servants and slaves trickled into the house where the believers met. They had been involved in house cleaning and food preparing, or in summer harvesting grains, and in fall picking grapes and olives. They had little to bring, and by the time they arrived, most of the food and drink were gone, and they had to go without.
“One goes hungry and another becomes drunk” (1 Cor. 11:21),Paul chided them.
“What! Do you not have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you show contempt for the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?” (1 Cor. 11:22).
The assembly proceeded, according to Paul, in the following manner. When they commenced eating they took a loaf of bread, broke it, and shared it. Then they ate a common meal.
“In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying . . .” (1 Cor. 11:25).
So the practice was first the breaking of the bread, then the common or agape meal, then after the meal the taking of the cup. Paul’s solution to the problem of the fractured assembly was that the believers wait before eating until everyone arrived. If waiting posed a problem because those who came early became hungry, then “eat at home, so that when you come together, it will not be for your condemnation” (1 Cor. 11:33,34).
The assembly is the place to show unity in Christ, for he came not only to bring at-one-ment with the Father but also with the children of the Father. The agape meal or love feast is also attested to in Jude 12. Because of increasing abuse and no doubt too the growing number of believers, the love feast as a practice declined and some bishops in the second century banned it altogether.
Who could improve on this analysis of the situation? And our “solution” of creating a ritual with each receiving a bit of bread (wafer) and a sip of wine (tiny cup partly filled) is simply NOT the same meal of remembrance which Jesus instituted and which early Christians practiced. Right?
Does that give us something to think about as we plan “worship services” today? May I remind also that there is NO record of the early Christians ever meeting to conduct a ceremonious, ritualistic “worship service”? Paul exhorted these very Corinthians about whom we just read that when they met, they should seek to bless everyone present and encourage participation in edification by everyone present. “EACH” has a song, a lesson, or a word directly from God (as some in that day did have), Paul says. Our “worship services” are not aimed at edifying, are they? Calling them “worship services” tells the tale.
They are aimed at, directed toward, and planned for activities to praise and please GOD rather than God’s people. Aren’t they? The apostle writes,
1 Cor. 14:26 (ESV) What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
It’s obviously true that none today have a language they themselves don’t understand, or an interpretation for such a message from another. The time of revelation is finished with the death of the last apostle of Jesus Christ. But do some still sing? Do some still have a “lesson” which would edify the group? Should they be heard, or not? Why did we decide to change from edification to worship when we assemble in the name of Jesus?
From amazon.com on the internet you could purchase the book, RAISED INTO NEW LIFE, by Ray Downen (it’s Viewpoint study PB-Z01). Part1 of this book (Viewpoint study PB-Z01a) is available at my web site as Raised1 as well as from amazon.com. It can be reached by a link on the home page. The link is located just above a photo of me. If we do not die to sin, we cannot live with Jesus Christ!
You can go to PAGE TOP, or continue reading:
For about the first 12 years of my ministry no one spoke against instrumental music in worship more than I. To me it was a simple matter of God having prescribed singing, and of playing being a deviation from that prescription. This is an application of what is generally referred to as “the law of silence.”
DOES THE BIBLE CALL FOR A CHRISTIAN “LAW” OF SILENCE? is the question. Does apostolic doctrine include a “regulative principle” to control Christian conduct “in worship”? An evangelist of the Church of Christ in midwestern U.S.A. has written:
My concern now is not about arguing in support of any position but rather about seeing what pleases God. An interesting fact I discovered in later years is that there is no reference to a “law of silence” in the Bible, nor is it recognized there. In fact, it was not recognized in later church history until near the end of the 19th century.
In our generation many think a “law of silence” is taught in scripture, though not by that name, in such passages as Proverbs 30:6, “Add thou not to His words lest He reprove thee and thou be found a liar,” and 1 Corinthians 4:6, “that you may learn in us not to go beyond what is written,” etc. But this line of thought assumes the point at issue, i.e. that to supply any detail of an instruction, not stated specifically in the instruction, is to “add to His words.”
It is not possible to make this one fly, as I am sure we will realize as we think about it further. The problem is a failure to recognize the difference between a principle of silence and an absolute law of silence. I believe the Bible teaches a principle of exclusion based on silence. But I believe the idea of an absolute law of exclusion based on silence is rejected in the Bible.
Brethren discuss the question, “Does Biblical silence prohibit, or does it permit?” This is too broad a generalization. It is not totally either way. Surely we would all agree that silence prohibits — to some extent. After all, when God gives an order, if it doesn’t restrict at all, if anything else will do just as well, then why have a Bible at all?
RAY inquires: Is our subject God NOT speaking? How does God giving an order fit into the subject of God being silent? We might need also to recognize that the bread of remembrance is not in the Bible spoken of as more than just “bread.”
So the question is not, “Does silence restrict at all?” but rather, “Does it restrict absolutely?” If any unspecified detail is supplied by the one carrying out the order, is that a wrong innovation?
For example, on the Lord’s table we have unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine, specified in the divine command. But we also have a plate under the bread. That is not specified in the divine command. Are we “adding to His words” when we use a plate under the bread?
On the other hand, suppose we do not use bread and the fruit of the vine but instead use cornbread and buttermilk? We could put that into a cup and “the cup” is specified. Would we then be more accurate? Wouldn’t this violate the principle of accuracy to what is commanded? Cornbread and buttermilk is something entirely different than unleavened bread and grape juice. But is unleavened bread on a plate something entirely different than unleavened bread without a plate?
These both would violate an absolute, inflexible law of exclusion, but only one would violate a basic principle of exclusion. The bottom line question is not, “Does this work out well in our human capacity to reason,” but rather, “Does it work out well in comparison with Bible teaching?”
Did Jesus say anything about the idea of an absolute law of silence, and if so what did He say? Yes, He did say something about it and what He said was that it is not God’s way. In Matthew 12:1-8 we find the Pharisees criticizing the disciples for picking grain on the sabbath day. The disciples did this because they were hungry, the text says. But the Pharisees did not see this as a justifying factor. They saw only an absolute, inflexible law.
In response Jesus referred them to the Old Testament account of David and his men entering the temple, because they were hungry, and eating the showbread, “which was lawful only for the priests.” The circumstance of their being hungry was a factor to be considered. At verse seven Jesus said that if the Pharisees had understood that it is God’s desire to have mercy, not sacrifice, they would not have condemned the guiltless. At verse eight He added, “For the Son of Man is Lord also of the sabbath day.”
Thus it is a mistake to separate divine commands from the continuing lordship of Christ and of God, and make them into abstract regulations, devoid of any practical considerations. Jesus here rejected the idea of an absolute, inflexible law of exclusion.
But Jesus was very devoted to the principle of exclusion. He was sent to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” and He kept that in mind and went to them. When He sent out His disciples on the limited commission, He told them to go only to that category of people. Yet in Matthew 15, when He was approached by a gentile woman, pleading for deliverance for her daughter who was demon possessed, He stated this fact, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” (Verse.24) but at verse 28 He said, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter in that very hour was healed!
Was Jesus disobedient in doing this? According to an absolute, inflexible law of exclusion, He would be. But according to the principle of exclusion, He simply accommodated the desire of God to have mercy. It seems we are inclined to misunderstand many times in the same way the Pharisees did. In their preoccupation with minute “letter of the law” details, they overlooked the weightier matters of the law and actually ended up opposing the will of God.
In the restoration movement this began to happen near the end of the 19th century. The leading architect of the concept was Daniel Sommer. Evidently in a very strong desire to close the door of the church against “innovations,” he changed the principle of exclusion into an absolute law of exclusion, and coined the phrase “law of silence.”
In 1889 at Sand Creek, Illinois he delivered his “Address and Declaration” to 5,000 brethren who had gathered in their annual meeting. His closing words were, “Thank God we will never be bothered with the Christian church again.”
He saw as absolutely condemned any religious action not specifically ordered in the New Testament, especially instrumental music and missionary societies. Of course he was inconsistent in application of it, as everyone is who tries it, condemning some unspecified things and accepting other unspecified things, such as song books, church buildings, etc. But he was joined by the strongest leaders of the church at the time — Moses Lard, Ben Franklin, and others, and the “law of silence” became a fixture in non-instrument Churches of Christ. In the following 100 plus years division after division has occurred, every one of them being based on “the law of silence.” Like the Pharisees, the intention to bind the law of God extremely precisely, ended up transgressing all of God’s commands about tolerance and non-judgmentalism.
This “law of silence” became quite a sacred cow to this part of the movement. In an attempt to justify it a considerable amount of misinformation has been put forth. I would urge anyone studying the subject to research the following questions:
1. Did the Greek word “psallo” (used by the apostle in Ephesians. 5:19 & Col. 3:16) mean to “sing only” at the time Paul used it as instruction to Christians?
2. Some “early church fathers” rejected instrumental music in worship. Was it because they thought there was no scriptural authority for it?
3. John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon, and other “reformers” bitterly opposed instruments in worship. Was it because they thought they lacked scriptural authority?
4. What reason did Alexander Campbell give for disapproving instrumental music?
2. The early church fathers thought that instruments were authorized in scripture. They still used the book of Psalms. But some thought instruments were evil in and of themselves and therefore those scriptures must have been used figuratively to refer to the human voice, the vocal chords, etc. Clement set forth that idea and gave as a reason, “for the only pacific instrument is the human voice” (The Instructor).
3. John Calvin literally hated use of musical instruments. During his reign many expensive church organs were dragged out into the yard and beaten with horse whips and chopped with axes. Some later reformation leaders felt similarly.
4. Alexander Campbell grew up in Scottish Presbyterianism and heard this viewpoint all his life. Later his denunciation of instruments was not based on any “law of silence,” but rather on the premise that they appeal to the flesh, not to the spirit, and are about as appropriate “as a cowbell in a concert.” CONCLUSION: The 3 possible positions relative to instruments “in worship” are —
God commands us to use them,
God forbids us to use them, or
God does not rule on it one way or the other.
The first two have no supporting N.T. passages. The third one has many. When Jesus was on earth He worshipped at the temple where instruments were used and said nothing in opposition, as far as we have record, and He attended synagogue services where they were not used and said nothing, as far as we have record. Many other N.T. situations could be cited to confirm this, but space prevents that here. My conclusion is that what God wants is praise on the human voice. If man expedites that with rhythm or harmony on an instrument, the offering of praise on the human voice is unaffected as far as God is concerned.
The bread with a plate under it is not something different to the bread without a plate under it. A song with an instrument is not something different than a song without an instrument. Surely if either expedient were a damning sin, something would have been said about it in the Bible. But to draw lines of division over “disputable matters” is a serious sin, stated explicitly and often in scripture. That seems to me an important consideration. -- Olan Hicks, P. O. Box 1253, Searcy, AR 72145-1253 Ray remarks — If God says to NOT do anything, it’s wrong. If God says to DO it, it’s necessary. Are not all other questions matters of opinion where every Christian’s best judgment must be respected by his brethren? During the church age we have not one example of congregational singing in apostolic days. Congregational singing is not commanded for Christians. Why would anyone be justified in teaching that God requires more than the solos of which the Bible speaks? And even the solos are NOT commanded — they’re only spoken of with approval. Inspired men never use the phrase, “in worship” for Christians. Why do we do so? Did God instruct us to make ANY laws concerning Christian “worship services”?
Go to topThe University fired him because he decided God didn’t object if talented brothers and sisters praised Him with instrumental music. Bailey McBride says David Lipscomb University administrators made the right decision. What do you think? Read in the Christian Chronicle about the firing of Doug Vornado because he came to realize that the anti-instrument law was NOT from God.
CS-B01 Do Christians
Sing ON Their Hearts?
Some foolishly say the musical instrument
with which we sing must be our heart.
We do well if we sing FROM the heart.
Writing in the Christian Chronicle, editor McBride says — “The use of instrumental music *in worship* [Ray Downen remarks – the phrase *in worship* is a catch-phrase used to mean more than it in fact means, it is here used by Bailey McBride in its *special* meaning] was one of the most divisive issues our *fellowship* [he refers to the religious groups now identified as the Disciples of Christ (Christian) denomination, Churches of Christ/Christian Churches, and Churches of Christ (a cappella) which in the 19th century WERE together as an undenominational fellowship of Christians-only] experienced at the end of the last century (around 1900) and the beginning of the 20th century. Growing up in the 1940s, I heard sermons regularly on individual responsibility *in worship* and the importance of the heart as the instrument of praise. … ”
I’m sure that such sermons were frequently preached and heard and even believed by some in the years between 1870 and now. But why? Consider some facts. The church of God began in approximately 30 A.D. There’s no record of early Christians opposing use of musical instruments by Christians who met together. In the first days, the churches owned no buildings, had no hymnals, and if all sang together it was not mentioned in the inspired record. With one possible exception.
Paul and Silas were thrown into a Philippian jail. Near midnight they entertained the prisoners by together singing about the Lord. This proved to be an earth-shaking experience, just as when several had gathered in Jerusalem one day to pray because Peter was in jail and they had every reason to suppose he would soon be killed by enemies of the church.
Paul and Silas both sang, apparently together. Other mentions of singing in the New Testament apparently are of solo singing, as James speaks of happy Christians singing to express their individual joy, and as Paul speaks of “each” saint sharing a hymn (or a word of prophecy from God) with the brethren. We have no reason to suppose the singers or the prophets “led” while the group sang or prophesied together. What Paul says is that the one sang or prophesied—not that one “led” while everyone somehow all sang or prophesied together.
But what Bailey McBride testifies is that the sermons he patiently listened to encouraged a different type of participation than the inspired writers spoke of. The “individual” responsibility “in worship” was that each person was to join in every congregational song, and to say amen when someone else led a public prayer. And, of course, to say amen when “the preacher” gave a talk while everyone else respectfully and politely just listened.
The Bible doesn’t talk about that type of participation, for early Christians weren’t expected to just be an audience when the church met together. And the preachers couldn’t really have MEANT that singing was to be done with the heart as the musical instrument — if that had been the case, no one could have heard the singing. Hearts beat at varying intervals. We hear of heart murmurs. But hearts have no vocal chords with which they might sing. Hearts pump blood. They don’t sing. Yet we are encouraged to sing to be heard. Our singing surely should be FROM our hearts, but for us to be heard by others, every song must be performed using other physical means than our hearts. The musical instrument most used is the human voice.
We are exhorted to sing FROM the heart and serve FROM the heart, but not ON or BY the heart. “Heartfelt” means FROM the heart or WITH (as source) the heart. But just as we confess Christ WITH the mouth, we musically confess Him with the aid of voice and breath. It’s NOT just in the heart that we sing to God or to others. It never COULD be that way.
So it seems to me that every sermon that shaped the thinking of Bailey McBride about how to act “in worship” and how to sing with “the heart” as instrument was a tragic waste of time and thought. It is not physically possible to sing ON the heart or WITH the heart (with the heart as the instrument). Our singing should be done FROM the heart, but WITH the instruments by which God enables sound to be produced. Hearts may burn, or we may have heartburn, but hearts cannot produce singing that others can hear except when our hearts lead us to use OTHER instruments to produce the sounds.
Throughout the centuries musicians have praised God upon musical instruments. God has never indicated displeasure with the practice except when the lives of the singers were out of harmony with hypocritical words of praise. Hypocrisy is condemned. Use of musical talent is encouraged.
Christians are to pray without ceasing. And in the same way our lives are the worship to which God calls us. Nothing is said in the Bible about Christians meeting “for worship.” Instead, we’re told that everything done while we are together is to be done for edification of the gathered saints. NO inspired writer directed or implied that our meetings were ever to be “worship services.” Why would any Bible teacher use the unscrptural phrase “in worship” to refer to Christian assemblies?
Anti-instrument brethren split away from Christ’s church in order to practice their “worship services” in ways they felt were demanded by God, but that God never had directly spoken of. No inspired spokesman ever said there was something wrong with Christian use of musical instruments. So far as we can tell from the Bible early Christians used musical instruments whenever they wanted to do so and could safely do so. Oftentimes their meetings had to be conducted secretly, and musical instruments would have betrayed the fact that they were meeting. Yelling, shouting, or loud singing were probably also no part of their gatherings.
Of course God didn’t REQUIRE that singing always be on or with musical instruments. Nor does He now do so. Christians are pilgrims on earth, called to carry the gospel (rather than musical instruments) throughout the world. Our citizenship still is in Heaven. If in any country we can safely meet and use even loud instruments, surely we’ll not offend God by doing so. It’s a shame if some think we can’t sing WITHOUT instruments, for we surely can and often should enjoy singing a cappella. I always prefer to do so.
Through the years times changed so that when Martin Luther realized how wrong church leaders had become, most singing “in church” was being done by a priest and choirs rather than by the people, and usually the church building was large and expensive and boasted of its fine pipe organ on which much of the music-making was done.
Protestant reaction led several prominent early Protestants to rebel against all that was wrong in the Roman church, and ALSO some things that were not wrong — such as musical instruments. So several early Protestants insisted on only a cappella singing (with the human voice alone). Most Protestants in time realized their error in opposing use of musical instruments, so that today most Christians freely use any musical instruments in their assemblies or anywhere.
Christians who study the Bible see no clergy in God’s church. Instead, it’s taught that every Christian is a priest. And worship is not done just in “sacred” places where “worship leaders” tell the brethren exactly what rituals they are to perform in order to please God and worship “acceptably.” “In worship” is a situation that should never occur for Bible-believing Christians. That is, times set aside when ONLY worship is to be done, and where it may be implied that only THERE is worship to BE done. We who love Jesus should worship Him wherever we are every day. To claim that worship is only to be done “in worship” during a “worship service,” is to seriously misunderstand the Christian Way.
We are not called to “sing only.” Few rules govern our assemblies. God does not specify which musical instruments may accompany our singing, or that none may do so. He does not require only one container for the Lord’s Supper ceremony; nor only one piece of bread to be ritualistically there “broken.” Some men do make such laws. But God didn’t make even one such requirement. P> I suggest that those sermons Bailey McBride heard on “the worship” were a waste of his time and the time of everyone else who listened. Many preachers today try to preach what the Bible DOES say instead of things it does NOT say. And that’s certainly an improvement. Wouldn’t you agree?
Go to top