By: Clement Ntukogu –
DOES GOD APPROVE INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC IN CHURCH? If yes, which instrument?
Clement Ntukogu explains his view on the use of instrument of music in the church to be wrong. He says; “the argument that instruments of music may be used because the Bible does not prohibit their use, is wrong.” see argument below.
Does the gospel of Jesus teach us to praise God with instruments of music? The purpose of this study is to examine whether “mechanical instruments” of music are acceptable to God in our worship of Him today. Our goal is simply to determine God’s will and to encourage everyone to follow it with conviction.
We have no personal ill will toward others. But God’s word must prevail. We must stand for truth and help others correct their lives where necessary. Singing or playing: which does God want? In 2 John 1:9; the Scripture says, “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son”.
Can we use musical instruments in the church? Some churches deny the use of musical instruments in their churches because they do not see them clearly used in the New Testament. Therefore, many ask if it is okay to use musical instruments in worship. The answer is best given by Scripture.
Where believers wish to please God, the question of whether to use instruments of music in worship receives serious consideration. Although mechanical instruments of music, organs, pianos, and the like, have long been a part of traditional religious worship, Christians wish to know if their use is in accord with the will of God, or if their use is only in accord with the traditions of men.
The Bible, indeed, never condemns the use of instruments of music in worship, but neither does it command their use. Many things we know to be wrong are not condemned by name in the Bible. Thus, we can never assume that we have God’s approval to do an act when no scripture teaches against that act.
In the New Testament, which is our guide today, the apostle, Paul, says that faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17) and that whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23). This is another way of saying that if you cannot find command or example for an act of worship in the will of Christ (as recorded in the New Testament), you should not do that act – Matthew 28:20.
Thus, if an act of worship is done without scriptural approval, it is done without faith, for faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Because that which is not of faith is sin, it is unnecessary that the Word of God prohibit the act; it is only necessary that it be un-commanded.
Hence, the argument that instruments of music may be used because the Bible does not prohibit their use, is wrong.
God has always required that man obey His directions; faith is defined as man’s obedience to God’s will, and man’s actions contrary to God’s will are called sin. Although the way in which God deals with man changed at the time of Christ’s death, but yet God remain unchanged.
Thus, God (who expected obedience in Old Testament times) expects obedience in New Testament times. This includes our era, today. In speaking of historical occasions in the Old Testament, Paul, in Romans 15:4 said, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope”.
One of these historical occasions is when God dealt with the first of mankind, Cain and Abel, the children of Adam and Eve. The jealousy which ended in Abel’s murder began when Cain made sacrifices to God that was not of faith. Abel, however, in following the directions of God, acted with obedient faith, thereby pleasing God.
Hebrews 11:4 says of this, “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks” Telling of Cain’s and Abel’s sacrifices, I John 3:12 relates, “Not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous”.
Man’s wisdom would say that there was little difference between the sacrifice of Cain and that of Abel. Cain, a farmer, gave from his fruits and grains, things he had raised. Abel, a herdsman, gave of his flock. Both made sacrifice; however, only Abel obeyed the word of God while Cain pleased himself.
This is no, small, trifling matter as these scriptures have shown. The lesson is clear; like Abel, we must act from faith, and acting from faith means acting from the directions of God, not from directions of man’s invention. Revelations 22:18 tells us that we must not go beyond that which is written.
In the Old Testament, God commanded Jewish worshippers that musical instruments were to be used, and when and where – God was specific (2 Chronicles 29:25-28).
Likewise, God has commanded, in the New Testament, the kind of music He wishes in modern Christian worship, and that is singing. Colossians 3:16 reads, “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” Similarly, Ephesians 5:19 instructs, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord”.
This is what the Scripture says about Jesus Christ and His apostles, “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives”. In these passages, God establishes three kinds of music proper for New Testament worship:-
- Psalms are God’s words (usually from the Psalms but not always) put to music.
Hymns are formal expressions of praise or declarations of God’s truth.
Spiritual songs are songs that deal with the spiritual life and are the most personal of the songs.
Other specific instruction, or examples, are recorded in Acts 16:25, Romans 15:9, Heb. 2:12, I Cor. 14:15, and James 5:13. Nowhere has God condemned the use of mechanical instruments of music in Christian worship, but nowhere has He commanded their use.
When God specifies His wishes, things not commanded are automatically excluded. Instead of listing instruments (the New Testament passages on the church never mention any musical instruments), God gives His churches a statement of purpose for music in this dispensation.
Because of the examples of Cain and Abel, and of others, and because God has made specific request for singing, God’s people dare not act beyond faith by adding mechanical instruments of music to the worship services. God has always expected men to obey His revealed will.
Punishment has often been the lot of men, who in seeking to worship God, do so in ways pleasing only to themselves. We, as Christians, must seek, therefore, to please God even in things, such as the use of instruments in worship, which the traditions of our society name as being unimportant.
Thus, the Word of God which directs us today, the New Testament, does not command that instruments of music be used. God requires us to “worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). The Bible does not require musical instruments in church for worship services, but musical instruments are certainly not prohibited.
First, our songs should teach us since we are to be “teaching one another” with them. In order to do this, they should be doctrinally sound and should teach the basics of biblical doctrine. We use songs to teach the alphabet to our children and God used the song of Moses to teach Israel of their relationship with God (Deuteronomy 31:19-21).
We should use music to teach as well. As such, they should be speakable; that is, of sufficient quality that they can be spoken (Ephesians 5:19). They should be good poetry with good content so that the words without the music still have a great message.
Second, our songs should “admonish” us. This means they should warn of sin or danger and urge to proper action in our Christian lives. I see very little of this in our music today. As a rule, modern church music neither teaches nor admonishes, a direct affront to the command of God in Colossians 3:16.
Third, our songs should praise and exalt God. We sing them to the Lord and they are an integral part of our worship of Him. With them, we make melody to the Lord and sing to Him.
Fourth, our songs should speak to our hearts. We sing them with grace. That is, they help us.
We make melody with them. They stick with us because they are a pleasure to sing. We sing them as we go about our business of the day. Modern music has emphasized (and perverted) praise and popularity while ignoring the teaching and admonishing ministries of proper church music.