Route 15 - Instrumental Music/Singing - John 4:24
One of the most frequently asked questions of Christians is, "Why do you not have a piano or organ in your
worship?" These folks deserve a Bible answer. Most of the denominations use instrumental music and a member of
the denominational church would naturally be interested in this particular subject.
Remember the previous lessons that dealt with the doing away of the Old Covenant. Those that use instrumental
music may attempt to justify their practice by going to the Old Testament. Therefore, you may need to study that
lesson with them in connection with this question.
In this study we are only interested in what the New Testament has to say since we recognize it as the standard of
authority for the church of Christ. Therefore, you may need to study the lesson on Bible authority in order to
establish the principle that the New Testament Scriptures must guide us in our religious practice, and not the
traditions and opinions of men.
While traveling this "route" we will examine every passage that has anything to do with the kind of music used in the
church by the first Christians.
Church of Christ
Locks Cross Roads
15 - Instrumental Music/Singing - John 4:24
- This text says nothing specifically about music in worship; however, it does address a principle that we need to
consider whenever we study questions related to our worship of God - ACCEPTABILITY. Jesus speaks of
essential characteristics which all our worship must have in order to be accepted of God:
- In spirit
- In truth
- To "worship in spirit" is to worship from the heart, the inner man. See Romans 1:9.
- To "worship in truth" is to do so in the way which truth marks out. This principle applies to everything which we
bring to God as worship: music, prayer, gifts, offerings, communion, meditations. See John 17:17.
- It takes both acceptable attitude and acceptable action in order for worship to be acceptable to God.
15 - Colossians 2:20-23
- Thayer tells us that "will worship" is "arbitrary-worship." In other words, it is worship which one may devise
according to his own will rather than according to the will of God.
15 - Matthew 28:18
- Christ was granted all authority.
- Has He authorized mechanical instruments for worship in the New Testament? No.
15 - John 16:13
- The Lord promised the apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth.
- Did the Holy Spirit ever instruct them to use mechanical instruments in worship? No.
15 - 1st Corinthians 4:6
- In matters pertaining to worship in the church, we are limited to what is revealed in the New Testament.
- If we include mechanical instruments of music in worship, are we acting on the authority of the written word of
God? No, we are thinking beyond what is written.
- Hebrews 7:14 - When we practice something in the name of Christ beyond what is written, upon what is our
authority based? Nothing.
15 - 2nd Timothy 3:16-17
- Paul told Timothy that by the Scriptures one is "furnished completely unto every good work," but Timothy was
never instructed to use mechanical instruments of music in worship.
- Therefore, what place do instruments have in the good works that the man of God is to perform? None.
15 - Romans 10:17
- Where in the New Testament can one find authorization for the use of mechanical instruments in worship?
- Since it cannot be found, one cannot BY FAITH use mechanical instruments in worship.
15 - 2nd John 9
- Since there is a total absence of authority in the teaching of Christ for the use of mechanical instruments in
worship, can one use such and abide in the doctrine of Christ? No.
- Can they still have both the Father and the Son? No.
15 - Mark 7:7-9
- Since the New Testament does not authorize mechanical instruments of music in worship, when men include
them, are they following the commandment of God or the traditions of men? Traditions of men.
What Kind of Music is Authorized in the New Testament?
15 - Colossians 3:16-17
- This is the only text that directly connects the music question to the need for Bible authority. Certainly, singing is
right! Advocates of mechanical instruments in music cannot say as much.
- Singing is defined as "to render in tones with musical inflections of the voice, to utter a series of words in musical
tones." (The American Heritage Dictionary). To carry out what these verses command does not require any
musical instrument. As a matter of fact, what these verses direct CANNOT be accomplished by a musical
- What instrument ever "taught" (gave instruction to) anyone?
- How does one "admonish" (reprove or warn) by playing an instrument?
- These things can only be done by SINGING the WORDS of the PSALMS, HYMNS and SPIRITUAL SONGS
from a heart in which dwells the WORD OF CHRIST.
15 - Matthew 26:30
- This is the first time we have an indication of the kind of music the apostles of Christ used. What did they do
before they departed? They sang. No instruments here. See Matthew 26:29.
15 - Acts 16:25
- Paul and Silas were singing. Some might ask, "What does this have to do with music in the church?" While this
may have not been an assembly of the saints, it is Christians worshipping God with music. Here in the midst of
trouble, they sang. There is no instrument here.
15 - Romans 15:9
- Paul quotes Psalms 18:49, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalms 117:1 and Isaiah 11:10 in Romans 15:9-12.
- The passage talks about the joy of the Gentiles by their inclusion in the dispensation of God's grace. The
interesting thing about the text is that it says the writer will SING among the Gentiles. There is no instrument
here in describing any music associated with the church of Christ.
15 - 1st Corinthians 14:15-16
- Paul says he will sing in the same manner that he prays - "with the spirit and the understanding."
- Can instruments accomplish this objective in music worship? No
- Paul tells us those that are present must understand what is said.
- There is no place for instrumental music in this text.
- The word says, "Sing."
15 - 1st Corinthians 14:26
- "Every one of you has a psalm..." This word properly means a song of the class of those Old Testament songs
in the book of Psalms.
- The word does not necessitate an instrument in order to give it.
- Remember Colossians 3:16 above, "Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, SINGING..."
- Furthermore, this text establishes clearly that this singing was done in the assemblies of the saints, "when you
come together..." Here is the congregational activity of the church at Corinth.
15 - Ephesians 5:19
- It is often observed that the Greek verb Psallo is found in this text. Literally it means to "twitch or twang" a line or
a string. This may be anything from a carpenter's line to the string of a lyre.
- If this passage is used for authority for instruments of music in worship, STRINGED instruments would be the
only ones allowed.
- However, in this text it is the "strings of the heart."
- This text presents the same problems as Colossians 3:16 and 1st Corinthians 14:15. How can "speaking" (to
talk, to utter words) be accomplished by and instrument? The action here is singing.
- If this passage authorizes instrumental music, it necessitates that all play while they all sing. But, when singing is
understood as the action involved, it is easily seen that congregational activity, congregational singing,
accomplishes the desired result of edifying all that sing as in Colossians 3:16.
15 - Hebrews 13:15
- This passage does not use the word sing, but clearly shows that God cannot be worshipped with machinery or by
inanimate things. God is praised by the "fruit of the lips" from the human heart.
15 - Hebrews 2:12
- Here the writer quotes from Psalms 22:22. This is the "fruit of the lips" which can only be singing (vocal). Isn't it
amazing that of all the verses that the writer could quote from the Old Testament psalms, he never quotes one
that would imply a mechanical instrument of music?
15 - James 5:13
- This passage also indicates singing is to be done. The reason for this singing is a merry heart.
- A piano does not have a heart with which to be merry. Moreover, it is not merry when someone else is playing it.
15 - Revelation 14:2-3
- Sometimes the advocates of instrumental music will go to the book of Revelation, especially this section, to justify
- Here the writer is describing a song, using a simile (as, like)
- A voice from heaven LIKE or AS:
- Many waters
- Loud thunder
- Harps (American Standard Version, New American Standard Version, etc)
- What was done was SINGING.