Old Arguments About Instrumental Music
One of the most important questions concerning religion is where do we get our authority? Just because a practice has been in place for several years does not mean that it is authorized by the Bible. The Bible declares that we must have authority from God’s Word in matters of religion (Colossians 3:17; I Peter 4:11).
The use of instrumental music in worship can be traced back to about 600 A.D. The use of instruments in worship, however, cannot be traced back to the New Testament. The majority of denominations today use instrumental music in their worship. Those in the denominational world seem to use the same old false arguments attempting to justify their use of it in their worship. Faithful Christians also seem to use many of the same old arguments that have been tried and proven to defeat error by showing that there is no Bible authority for the use of instrumental music in worship today. In this article I will set forth some of those old arguments in support of instrumental music and refute them.
One old argument used in support of instrumental music in worship is “they used instrumental music in Old Testament” (II Chronicles 29:25-28; I Chronicles 25:1; I Chronicles 25:3; I Chronicles 25:6; I Chronicles 28:8; II Chronicles 7:1-6; Psalm 149:1,3; Psalm 150:3). However, II Timothy 2:15 tells us we are to “rightly divide the word of truth.” Good Bible students understand the differences in the old law and the new. All men living today are under the New Testament (Galatians 3:19-25; Galatians 5:3-4; Colossians 2:14.) Under the old law they kept the sabbath, offered animal sacrifices, had a Levitical priesthood. The men made annual trips to Jerusalem and a host of other things that were peculiar to that law. If instrumental music is authorized today in worship just because it was used in the Old Testament then all the Old Testament items would also be authorized by that same logic.
A second old argument used by some attempting to justify instrumental music in worship is to say, “the Bible doesn’t say not to use it.” This group seeks to justify its use by the simple fact that it is not expressly forbidden in the Bible. Those in this camp simply fail to understand the principle of the silence of the Scriptures. This principle can be illustrated from Hebrews 7:14: “For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.” Notice that the argument in [bible Hebrews 7:14] is that since there was no Bible authority for one from the tribe of Judah to be a priest after the Levitical order, and since Christ was from the tribe of Judah, He could not be a priest of the Levitical order. If the Hebrew writer had used the reasoning of many today concerning the use of instrumental music in worship he would have said, “Since God nowhere specifically said that no one from the tribe of Judah cannot be a Levitical priest, then the Bible says they can.” Also think about Noah and the ark. God said for Noah to use gopher wood. Would it follow that since God did not say “thou shalt not use pine” that Noah would have been obedient to God had he used pine? What about the Lord’s Supper? The Bible nowhere says “thou shalt not use Coke and pizza on the Lord’s table.” Does silence mean that pizza and Coke are authorized? No, it does not! We should all remember the Bible authorizes by what it says, not by what it does not say.
A third argument used by some is to say “Instrumental music will be in heaven.” This argument is taken from a misunderstanding of Revelation 14:1-3. When we read this passage we find John said he heard a voice “as” the voice of many waters, great thunder and harpers harping with their harps. John heard “voices” that sounded like those things mentioned. If the presence or absence of something in heaven authorizes or excludes today on earth consider Matthew 22:30 where our Lord said, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage.” Would this passage prove that marriage today is wrong? No!
A fourth old argument is for those who use instrumental music to attempt to justify it based on the statement “we like it.” They may say we get a real blessing from it, or perhaps they say people like it so much that when we have good musicians perform we draw large crowds. This argument sounds like the people in the book of Judges: “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” If the statement “we like it” authorizes instrumental music in worship then anything and everything that men like would be authorized in worship.
These and other old arguments have been around for years; however, they fail in showing that instrumental music is authorized in worship. People may like it and they may use it but the New Testament does not authorize its use in its use in worship. We must follow only the Bible as our pattern and it teaches us to teach and admonish in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. When we do this we obey God.