Instrumental Music

and the Old Testament

We worship God in song without the use of instruments of music for three basic reasons.

1. Christ did not authorize it.


In his Great Commission, he said, “All
authority is given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go, make disciples
of all nations….teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I
have commanded you (Matt. 28:18-20). If you read the New Testament
carefully you will notice that not once do you find any instruction
for the church to praise God with instrumental music. You do however
find several references to singing in worship such as the passage in
Eph. 5:19-20. Remember, Christ is head over all things to the church
(Eph. 1:22). He has all authority and we are to teach men to observe
all things whatsoever he commanded us (Matt. 28:18-20).

2. We are committed to worshiping and serving Christ as did the first Christians.


Historically we know that it was some 600 years before
instrumental music was introduced into Christian worship. It was only
after churches had drifted far from the teachings of Christ and his
apostles and had grown into what is now known as the Roman Catholic
church that this practice was introduced in 670 AD. It caused such a
furor that it was withdrawn and not unto the 12th century did it
become a common practice. The Greek Orthodox Church did not allow the
used of instrumental music until the last century…and even now in
some areas of the world they still do not use it.


John Wesley, founder of the Methodist church wrote that he had no objection to
there being instruments of music in their chapels so long as they were
neither seen or heard during worship. John Calvin, father of the
Reformed and Presbyterian churches, called instrumental music a relic
of popery, of the same character as beads and incense. Charles
Spurgeon, the greatest of all Baptist preachers, refused to allow any
instruments to be used with the singing in his congregation in London.
This list could be extended. We are not unique in our position.

3. Our Bible consists of two grand divisions, Old and New Testaments.

The Old Testament was given to the Hebrew people to regulate their
faith and practice. It is from God and inspired and inerrant, but it
was intended for that ancient form of worship (See Deut. 5:1-3). The
New Testament was given to regulate the worship and service of those
who follow Christ. Note the following verses that tell us that the Old
Testament is no longer our standard for faith and practice. Paul
explains to us that in his death upon the cross, Jesus fulfilled that
Old Law, took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross. He then
exhorted us to “Let no man judge you” respecting its ordinances.
Other verses that teach this lesson are Eph. 2:14-14-15; II Cor.
3:7-11; Heb. 8:6-13. The Hebrews were given specific authority from
God to use instrumental music in their worship. “Hezekiah…set the
Levites in the house of Jehovah with cymbals, with psalteries, and
with harps, according to the commandments of David, and of Gad the
king’s seer, and Nathan the prophet; for the commandment was of
Jehovah by his prophets.” Thus when they praised God with
instruments, they did what God had authorized them to do. If we had
such authority expressed in the New Testament, we could do the same.
But we don’t find such.

When we go to the Old Testament to find approval for instruments of
music, we could also go there to find approval for burning incense in
worship, for a tribal, hereditary priesthood, animal sacrifices,
circumcision, polygamy and other interesting practices. They all
stand or fall together.

If you had been in Jerusalem in the first century and were privileged
to worship with those first disciples do you think you would have had
instrumental music? Today we wish to worship as they did and as the
New Testament authorizes us to do.

-John Waddey


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