(When I was a Preacher for the Christian Church)
By Dan Goddard
Men have long been prone to go beyond the limitations of God's word
in their zeal to serve Jehovah. Zeal for God is commendable when it is
coupled with a knowledge of God's will; but when one allows his zeal to
drive him beyond the confines of Bible teaching, it is catastrophic. As
He delivered His law to the Israelites, God said, "Ye shall not add unto
the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it,
that ye may keep the commandments of Jehovah your God which I command
you" (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32). For the Israelites to keep the
commandments of Jehovah was for them to observe His word without
addition or subtraction. Any other course was to invite the Father's
displeasure. That the same principle holds true today is shown in the
1. Paul's instruction to "learn not to go beyond the things written" (1 Corinthians 4:6).
2. Peter's admonition to speak as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11).
3. John's warning that those who go onward and abide not in the teachings of Christ "hath not God" (2 John 9).
4. The closing words of the Revelation letter is cited against those who
would "add to" or "take away from" the words contained in "the book of
prophecy" (Revelation 22:18).
In view of such perspicuous statements, it would seem that men would see
the folly of going beyond God's written word. That they do not is
evident in prevalent religious practices.
A case in point is the use of instruments of music in worship. Here
is a common practice, yet one for which there is not a vestige of
scriptural basis. It's existence depends upon going beyond God's
Many advocates of instrumental music, both seeing and readily
admitting there is no Bible authority for their practice, seek to
justify instrumental music from other viewpoints. Let us notice some of
the arguments I used to justify this unscriptural practice.
Argument: It is true that musical instruments in Christian worship
are not mentioned in the Bible, but neither are church buildings, pews,
lights, and many other things - things which we all readily accept.
Answer: Here is a failure to distinguish between worship and the
place of worship. God has specified acts of worship, but not the place;
yet a place of worship is essential in keeping God's command to
assemble. Whether it is under an oak tree or in a building equipped with
pews, lights, baptistry, etc., the place of worship is authorized in
the commandment to assemble (Matthew 18:20; Acts 20:7; Hebrews 10:25).
Authority for a church house can also be found in other scriptures, but
there is no such scriptures covering instrumental music in worship.
Argument: But you have Sunday School. The Bible does not mention
this. How can you accept this, but condemn instrumental music in
Answer: Christ said teach, but He did not specify how (Matthew
28:19; John 4:45). Methods of teaching are left to human judgment.
Sunday School or Bible Class (as we prefer to call it) is only a means
of teaching. Instrumental music is not a method of doing anything God
has commanded. Surely, no one will say it is a means of singing.
Argument: You do not object to the piano in the home. How can you use it at home, but not in the church?
Answer: If one is worshiping, it is just as wrong for him to use the
instrument at home in private as it is in the assembly. Anything that
is morally right is permissible for the home, but only that which is
commanded by God can be used in worship.
Argument: But all Christian life is worship. When you use the
instrument at home, you are actually worshiping. When you refuse to use
it in the assembly, you are being inconsistent.
Answer: All Christian life is service, but not all Christian life is
worship. Everything that one does is to be in harmony with God's will,
but not every act is an act of worship. God's word is comprehensive,
governing both our every day activities and our activities in worship.
The use of "worship" in the Bible indicates that it has reference to
special acts of homage. The Apostle John fell down before the angel of
God in a definite act "to worship". The angel reproved him and
instructed him to "worship God" (Revelation 22:8,9). This act should
have been directed to God, not the angel. One is hard pressed indeed
when he bases his case on such obvious assumptions.
Argument: We use the instrument of as an aid to singing.
Answer: Instrumental music is more than an aid. It is an addition to
God's plan. Illustration: God's specified gopher wood as the material
out of which the ark was to be made. Suppose Noah had used cedar or
pine. Such would have been a violation of God's plan. Now if God had
commanded the ark to be made of wood, there would have been no
violation. But He specified gopher wood. This excluded all other kinds.
God has specified the kind of music to be used in worship. Instrumental
music is another kind. To use it is to despise the plan of God.
Argument: I see no harm in it and I am going to use instruments of music regardless of what the Bible says or does not say.
Answer: You may not see any harm in it, but this does not mean God
does not see harm in it. Remember, our worship is to please God, not
ourselves (Colossians 3:17).
Let us sing, making melody with our hearts to the Lord, as God
commands (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Let us refuse to go beyond
that which is written.
- via the Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere Church
of Christ, Belvedere, SC. Ken Chumbley preaches for this congregation,
and he may be contacted at their website: