OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


     The use instrumental music in worship was never a problem for the first century church.  They simply omitted its use in order to follow the command of the apostle Paul to sing (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16).

     It took hundreds of years before the instrument was used in the worship of God.  When it was introduced, it was very divisive.  Those who promoted it were willing to sacrifice “the unity of the Spirit” (Eph. 4:3) for their carnal desires.

     The use of instrumental music in worship to God has once again raised its ugly head within our brotherhood.  There are four positions that individuals seem to be taking with regard to this issue.  First, there are some who are advocates for the use of instrumental music.  They argue that it is a matter opinion.  They believe that it can be used since God has not specifically condemned it.  They try to prove that the instrument is just an “aid” to our singing.  They use it because they like it.  They see the instrument as a means to an end.  They want to appeal to those in the world in hope that their numbers will increase.  Bible authority is not a factor for them.  They believe they know what God wants in worship, even though they will not consult His will on the matter.

     Second, there are some who can preach it both ways.  They have no true convictions either way.  These individuals stick their wet finger in the air in order to find out which way the wind is blowing.  The position that benefits them the most is the one they take.  Double-minded, wishy-washy, and flip-floppers are words that describe these people.  Rather than saying:  “This is what the Bible says on the matter,” they ask:  “Which way do you want it?”

     Third, there are some who say that they oppose the instrument in worship, but they will not oppose or condemn those who choose to use it.  They do not see instrumental music as a “fellowship” issue.  They believe that God’s grace will cover errors in judgment and Bible interpretation.  Those who hold this position must believe that they know the “real” difference between the important Bible matters and the mundane matters.  They must believe that they have the “real” ability to distinguish between that which is essential in worship to God and that which is not.

     Fourth, there are many who realized that loyalty to God involves adherence to His divine Word.  They realize that we can only teach people to do that which is commanded (Matt. 28:20).  And, that which has been commanded is singing.  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16).  Those who are concerned about doing Bible things in Bible ways understand that when one sings, he is in compliance with divine decrees.  When one sings and plays, however, there is an addition to God’s Word.  Additions to God’s Word are prohibited by God (Prov. 30;6; Rev. 22:18).  This group of people know that when one does what God has authorized in His Word, he is walking by faith (II Cor. 5:7; Rom. 10:17).  This is precisely how God wants the just to live, that is, “by faith” (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38).

     Those who fall into the first three groups do not believe the use of instrumental music in worship to be of vital importance.  Apparently, they have not paid attention to those of the past who have perverted the worship of God (i.e., Cain, Nadab and Abihu, Solomon, Jeroboam, the Pharisees, and the Samaritans).  God pays attention to “how” man worships Him.  He is gravely concerned that His will is honored and strictly followed.  He will not tolerate anything that He has not authorized.  “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17).