Authority of the Scripture Concerning Instrumental Music – Bill Jackson

Bill Jackson

Jesus Christ indicted the Jewish leadership of His day for “not knowing the Scriptures” (Mat. 22:29), and He showed His belief in the power of the Scripture in citing it in answer to every temptation Satan placed before Him (Mat. 4:4, 7, 10). The Lord directs us to the Scripture in all matters pertaining to worship by His statement, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). And the Lord identifies that truth as being the Word of God! (John 17:17). Thus, we find the Scriptures are authoritative, furnishing us completely (2 Tim. 3:16-17), and forming the basis of our eternal judgment (John 12:48).

As we consider the issue of instrumental music, the pertinent question then must be, “What saith the Scripture?” We have a record of approximately 63 years of the history of Jesus’ church in the New Testament and the record is inspired, complete and authoritative. What do we find in that volume? We find a complete silence as to the use of mechanical instruments of music! That silence, in keeping with the repeated statements as to what God does sanction in worship, is a thundering voice of God against the use of the instrument!

May we illustrate what we do find in the New Testament? In reference to Jesus and the apostles, we find them singing (Mat. 26:30). Saints of God at worship in a jail cell (Acts 16:26), in their public assemblies (1 Cor. 14:15), and in instruction that applied in any circumstances of worship (Eph. 5:19;Col. 3:16), are found engaged in singing! The praise offered to God is called the fruit of lips (Heb. 13:15), and in any circumstances of joy the expression that God expects of us in terms of music is to sing (Jam. 5:13). More, even Old Testament pictures of the Christ coming into the midst of men, and then worshipping the Father, are pictures of the Lord in song (Rom. 15:9; Heb. 2:12). And there we have it, from the Scripture: All that is said about worship of God, in terms of music, from the time of Christ throughout the revealed history of the church, and it is vocal music, and vocal music only! When we ask, “What do the authoritative Scriptures say?”, we have the answer!

Mechanical instruments of music, in this Christian age, do not have Scriptural authority! The origin of such is in the realm of man’s desire, and against the Scriptures! It is important to note that: (1) there is absolute silence as to their use in the New Testament; (2) no verse authorizes such; (3) no inspired writer recommended or used such; and, (4) we have no record of a New Testament congregation that practiced such!

And, with all that has been said, we must also note the warning that if any go beyond what is written in the doctrine of Christ then God is not with that person (2 John 9)!

We go further in noticing that Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 do indeed specify the “instrument,” and that is the human heart! God knoweth the heart (Acts 15:8), and the worshipper thus expresses “from the heart” his devotion to God. The Scripture not only speaks against the mechanical instrument, but in favor of the instrument God places in each of us! The use of vocal music only in worship of God is one of the marks of the New Testament church of Jesus Christ. We call upon all men to obey the gospel of Christ, and to worship him in every way as the Word of God directs! That worship will not be with mechanical accompaniment!

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