A MEDLEY OF MATTERS AND “ISSUES”
“There is an abundance of New Testament evidence for vocal music (in the worship of the church, hf); none for instrumental music. Jesus and the eleven apostles (without Judas Iscariot) sang a hymn as they left the upper room where the Lord had instituted the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26). James encourages singing as a means of expressing joy, and prayer as an appropriate reaction to suffering (James 5:13). Paul exhorts Christians to sing with grace in their hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:16), and to sing and make melody in their hearts to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19).
“Some references to singing place it specifically in the Christian assembly. A prophecy in Psalm 22:22, cited in Hebrews 2:12, pictures Christ in the assembly of His people singing praises to God with them. The Corinthians sang in the assembly, and Paul reminded them that the assembly is for the edification of the saints and urged them therefore to sing with intelligible words (1 Corinthians 14:15)….
“Throughout the New Testament, ‘singing” is given apostolic approval, and consequently God’s approval. Sometimes reference is to individual Christians singing praises, as Paul and Silas in a Philippian prison (Acts 16:25). Sometimes it is speaking of Christians edifying one another in corporate assembly (1 Corinthians 14:15). Every reference to Christians worshipping and praising God musically specifies they were singing. In no instance were musical instruments mentioned as being present or used” (Dr. Cecil May, Jr.’s “Response to a Sermon ‘For’ Instrumental Music,” a sermon preached in a church of Christ in Montgomery, Alabama, Summer 2017, defending instrumental music in worship).
I was recently told by a Facebook friend that a very fine religious publication for which I regularly write was “issue centered and issue driven rather than Christ centered and text driven.” The amusing thing about his observation is the fact that in his blog and FB postings he is constantly harping on two “issues”: 1) the value of the Old Testament and its connectedness with the New Testament (which all informed students of the Scriptures recognize and affirm, though no informed student believes the Old Testament is what governs God’s people in the Christian era), and 2) women preachers (which he believes to be scriptural in spite of what Paul writes in I Corinthians 14:34 and I Timothy 2:11-15). Were it not for these two “issues” he apparently would have little about which to write, other than from time to time to speak in favor of instrumental music in the worship of the church, to belittle the necessity of a baptismal candidate understanding that baptism is “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38) or some equally valid Bible reason, or to promote his “heaven here on earth” theory. But he apparently does not recognize his own “issues centered and issues driven” concerns! If consistency is a jewel, then some folks have lost all their jewels!
My same friend referenced in the preceding paragraph chides me when I say “grace, but,” indicating that indeed we are saved by grace, but not grace without faith in Christ and obedience to the gospel. At the same time, however, when I proclaim that baptism is “for the remission of sins,” he injects his own “but” into the equation by saying, “But baptism is not the only thing that is ‘for the remission of sins’ ” (Acts 2:38). Again, I marvel at such inconsistency and blindness.
Speaking of “issues,” a cursory reading of the ministry of Christ in the four gospel records, the book of Acts, the letters of Paul, Peter, James, Jude, and John, and Christ’s letters to the seven churches of Asia (Revelation 2 – 3), shows that the New Testament is greatly concerned about issues—both doctrinal and moral! And with the recent defection of a former gospel preacher to Unitarianism, and others through the years to the Disciples of Christ and other assorted denominations and Community churches, and with alleged gospel preachers now defending homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and transgenderism, it is time—in fact, way past time—for some serious moral and doctrinal “issues” to be addressed from their biblical perspective. Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” (Matthew 12:30). That draws the “issue” pretty tightly, it seems to me.
If homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and trangenderism are not wrong, pray tell me just exactly what such folks were washed from, sanctified for, and justified from in I Corinthians 6:9-11! The old apostle was clearly right when he said, “But evil men and impostors (seducers, KJV) will grow worse and worse (proceed from bad to worse, NASB), deceiving and being deceived” (II Timothy 3:13). These “filthy dreamers” are doing just exactly that today (Jude 8, KJV). Once the wall of the authority of the Scriptures is breached a gaping and ever widening hole develops allowing anything (and I do mean anything!) to be accepted as right.
August 18-20, D.V., I will be in a weekend meeting with the church in Greenway, Arkansas. I have been going to Greenway for forty-four years. My first meeting there was in 1973 and this will be my 13th with them and my first week-end only meeting. In all, I have been going to Clay County, Arkansas for fifty years, preaching in four meetings with the Pleasant Valley church between 1967 and 1971. I love the folks at Greenway and look forward to being with them once again.
Enjoy the eclipse on August 21 because it is a rare experience, but protect yourself against an eclipse of faith!
August 15, 2017
August 18-20: Greenway Church of Christ, Greenway, AR
August 27-30: Belinda Parkway Church of Christ, Mount Juliet, TN