Tagged: instrumental music Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • TFRStaff 4:54 am on 2016-02-23 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , instrumental music,   

    Hugh’s News & Views (Re-studied The Issue) 


    From the very beginning of the effort to restore original New Testament Christianity, churches of Christ have stood opposed to the use of mechanical instruments of music in worship. This is the case because the churches of Christ in New Testament times did not use instrumental music in their worship. There is no passage in the New Testament that authorizes the use of instruments in worship, and there is no example of instrumental music being used by the early congregations. The music of the church for the first several centuries after its establishment was strictly a cappella (vocal only). (See Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 13:15; et al).

    It is generally recognized that Pope Vitalian (657-672) was the first to introduce the use of instrumental music in worship in about 670. However, many church historians now think that it was not until the tenth century that instrumental music began to be used. Either date puts it well this side of the New Testament.

    When the Protestant Reformation was launched, Martin Luther opposed the use of instruments in worship. When the Presbyterian, Methodist, and Baptist denominations began, they all opposed the use of instrumental music in worship, and did so for several years after their beginning. (For example, Charles H. Spurgeon, arguably the greatest Baptist preacher to ever live, and who preached to thousands every Sunday at the Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle in London for thirty-eight years, never permitted a mechanical instrument to be used in his services.) So, churches of Christ have not always been alone in their opposition to instrumental music in worship!

    Thus, it comes as a shock to read of some churches of Christ beginning to adopt the use of instrumental music in some of their worship assemblies. The elders of these churches, in collaboration with their minister (and often at his instigation), have allegedly “re-studied” the issue and have decided that instrumental music is permissible. It is interesting to note that so far, to the best of my knowledge, no congregation that has “re-studied” the matter has reached the conclusion that the congregation had been right all along in not using the instrument! Rather, because of a clamor from the younger members to adopt the instrument and because of the delusion that its adoption would enable them to hold on to their young people and reach others, the conclusion of the “re-study” seems to have been reached before the re-study was ever done! The decision had already been made before the “re-study” was ever done: “We plan to begin using the instrument in some of our worship assemblies.” How is that for intellectual honesty?

    The study and re-study of Bible subjects is always in order. According to the King James Version of II Timothy 2:15 we are to “study to show [ourselves] approved unto God.” The word “study” in this context does not refer so much to reading, analyzing, and determining the meaning of a text, as it means to give thought to, to be diligent, and to make an earnest effort to be approved of God (see NKJV, ASV, NASB, et al). However, no one can be approved of God who does not study God’s word and does not come to an understanding of His will. Like the Bereans, we are to search/examine the Scriptures daily to determine the things that are so (Acts 17:11), because not everything taught, believed, and practiced in the realm of religion is “so” (cf. I Thessalonians 5:21; I John 4:1). We are to “not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). We are to be ready always to give an answer/defense to everyone who asks us for a reason for the hope within us (I Peter 3:15). In other words, we are to know (based on the Scriptures) WHAT we believe and WHY we believe it!

    But God’s word does not change and truth does not change. The New Testament still says what it has always said about worship that is acceptable to God (John 4:24; 17:17; Acts 2:42; 20:7; Ephesians 5:19; I Corinthians 16:1-2). It needs to be duly noted that not all worship is pleasing and acceptable to God. There is such a thing as “vain worship” (Matthew 15:8-9), “ignorant worship” (Acts 17:23), and “will worship” (Colossians 2:23 [KJV, ASV]). Those who have “re-studied” the question of instrumental music in worship have not produced a passage from the New Testament that authorizes the instrument in the worship of the church. They have not produced an example from the New Testament of any congregation in apostolic times that used instrumental music in its worship.

    Along with a re-study of the matter of the kind of music that is acceptable to God in the Christian age, I would urge elders, preachers, and all members of the body of Christ to re-study what the Bible says about the necessity of having Bible authority for all that we do in religion. I would urge them to re-study how the Scriptures authorize a thing as being pleasing and acceptable to God. The authority in religion is not what I like or do not like, what I agree with or do not agree with, what I see or do not see anything wrong with, what my parents or grandparents believed about a matter, what “my church” has always taught about a matter, or what some creed, catechism, or church manual says about a matter.

    Re-studied the matter? Indeed, I hope so . . . not just the matter of what is pleasing to God in worship, but what the Scriptures teach on a whole host of subjects. One just might discover that the Bible does not teach what one has always been told or what one has always believed or what one has always thought or how one has always “felt” about any number of matters.

    Hugh Fulford

    February 23, 2016

    • Matt Clifton 7:33 am on 2016-02-23 Permalink | Reply


    • Ashby Camp 8:16 am on 2016-02-23 Permalink | Reply

      As I have written in “Music in Christian Worship” (http://theoutlet.us/MusicinChristianWorshipJuly2012.pdf), the claim that the organ was admitted into the church in the seventh century by Pope Vitalian is rooted in a history of the popes that was written by Bartolomei Sacchi (known as Platina) and first published in 1474. As Peter Williams explains in The King of Instruments: How churches came to have organs (London: SPCK, 1993), 44-46, Platina relied on the earlier Italian historian Tolomeo of Lucca, whose ultimate source was the “Life of St. Gregory” written around 880 by Johannes Hymmonides (known as John the Deacon). However, the phrase in Johannes’s work that has been taken as connecting Vitalian with organs – modulationis organum – meant “surely not some kind of instrument (organum), nor even vocal counterpoint (organum), but most probably the approved chant itself and/or its text.” In other words, “the whole story [of Vitalian’s introduction of the organ] seems to be based on a misunderstanding.” It was not until centuries after Vitalian that the organ was introduced.

    • docmgphillips 9:09 am on 2016-02-23 Permalink | Reply

      Would we not be better off if every member of the Lord’s church would sit down and study the Bible for themselves? Why do we insist on believing that “the preacher cannot be wrong?” Have we, like the rest of the world, come to believe that it is the preacher and not the Word that is the final authority? May it never be!

    • Tim Coucke 10:38 am on 2017-02-09 Permalink | Reply

      It is never a waste of time to restudy any subject in light of scripture. It is helpful to include the context of any quotes from the old testament. It is also helpful to include the Hebrew or Greek word meanings. Word meanings from Strong’s inserted into the text…

      Ephesians 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in a set piece of music or sacred ode (accompanied with the voice, harp or other instrument; a “psalm”) and celebrate or sing non-carnal songs, singing and playing on a stringed instrument in your heart to the Lord;

      Colossians 3:16 Let the word of the anointed inhabit in you copiously in all wisdom; teaching (learning) and putting in mind (caution or reprove gently) one another a set piece of music, that is, a sacred ode (accompanied with the voice, harp or other instrument; a “psalm”) and celebrate non-carnal songs, singing with graciousness in your hearts to the Lord.


  • Ron Thomas 6:17 pm on 2015-03-06 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: instrumental music,   

    The wisdom of Otter Creek 

    There is nothing like proper wisdom to get along in this world. When that proper wisdom is godly wisdom, then getting along in this world is much easier. What is better yet is that godly wisdom used and believed moves one in the direction of heaven – and that is better still!

    This is not that way at the Otter Creek Church of Christ (or whatever their proper identifying name is). If the news report is accurate, then just imagine how the Lord looks upon the wisdom of Otter Creek compared to His.

    I have never learned Latin, and I certainly don’t speak an ounce of it. I am well versed, however, in English. My ENGLISH BIBLE still speaks about adding, subtracting, true worship and vain worship.

    Scriptural citations backing the a cappella tradition include a passage in Ephesians about singing hymns and making music in the heart, but Otter Creek’s preaching and teaching minister, Josh Graves, said church history is a stronger influence.

    A cappella is like Latin,” Graves said. “It is beautiful, it speaks to people at a certain level, but the problem is that a lot of people don’t speak Latin.

    “What people in the Churches of Christ call instrumental music, other people just call music. It’s English.”

    • John Henson 7:32 pm on 2015-03-06 Permalink | Reply

      “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe,” 1 Corinthians 1:21. The world by wisdom knew not God.

      • Ron Thomas 8:00 pm on 2015-03-06 Permalink | Reply

        Amen, brother

        On Fri, Mar 6, 2015 at 7:32 PM, The Fellowship Room wrote:


    • Michael Summers 11:43 pm on 2015-03-06 Permalink | Reply

      I did study Latin, and the great irony is that a cappella means “as it is done in the chapel (or church).” The purpose of singing is to praise God from our hearts and to encourage and instruct one another. God is the primary target audience.

      • Ron Thomas 5:18 am on 2015-03-07 Permalink | Reply

        Appreciate the comment, Mike. My wife studied Latin four years, German two. In both languages I am educated by her (she helps in English also).

        On Fri, Mar 6, 2015 at 11:43 PM, The Fellowship Room wrote:


  • John T. Polk II 8:17 am on 2014-07-16 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , fleshly recreation, , , hasty in words, instrumental music, , , , , , , self-justified,   

    (#197) The Proverbs of Solomon 29:19-21-Are We Pampered Servants? 

    Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

    Proverbs 29:19-21: “A servant will not be corrected by mere words; For though he understands, he will not respond. Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. He who pampers his servant from childhood Will have him as a son in the end.”

    The term “servant” indicates someone who works for someone else, and though Moses was “a servant” in God’s House, Jesus took “the form of a bondservant” (Philippians 2:7), He was “a Son over His own house, whose house we are” (Hebrews 3:5-6), that is, the church of Christ (1 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 1:22-23). Jesus’ obedience under Moses’ Law (Hebrews 5:8-9) is our example for obeying Jesus’ Law (Matthew 28:18-20).

    It is a disobedient servant who will not follow carefully-worded instructions, so that “though he understands, he will not respond” with obedience. No one has become a servant of Christ by confessing to be saved before being baptized (buried) into the death of Jesus (Romans 6:1-7); no servant of Christ ever added mechanical instrumental music to the singing required in worship (Ephesians 5:19-20); no servants of Christ ever murdered to expand the church (John 18:37; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6); no servants of Christ enjoyed the recreation of fleshly appeals (Romans 13:13-14)!

    There is no hope for “a fool” (one who disobeys God) unless he/she repents and obeys God’s Will. One who is conceited must become humbled in order to learn obedience to God: “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise” (1 Corinthians 3:18). The person who is “hasty in his words” is trying to justify him- or herself, rather than listening to what must be changed to please God. “He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him” (Proverbs 18:13). No one can “testify” their way to salvation without doing what God says!

    A pampered servant will soon “think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (Romans 12:3). This is why all those who have been taught that once they’re saved, they’re always saved, and cannot lose their salvation become spiritually arrogant, thinking they are “bullet-proof!” “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Paul addressed that attitude (and doctrine!) when he wrote: “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4).

    Jesus Christ said to His disciples: “Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:16-17). Truly, as Paul wrote, “if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).

    All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

  • TFRStaff 2:09 pm on 2013-02-16 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , instrumental music,   

    Now available: S.H. Hall’s Scripture Studies Vol. 4 

    S.H. Hall’s “Scripture Studies” volume four (1960) is now online. In this book, Hall gives three written replies to the myriad of arguments used to justify instrumental music in worship. One of them is a synopsis of his debate with H.K. Pendleton (who claimed IM was inherent in the word psallo), another is a written debate with R.C. Harrell (who argued it is merely an expedient), and the last is a reply to a tract which claimed instrumental music is scriptural.

    http://www.GravelHillchurchofChrist.com/ebooks.htm (they are alphabetized by author).

    -Brad Cobb

  • John T. Polk II 4:32 am on 2013-02-13 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , His Holiness, instrumental music, ,   

    Psalm 108 

    Vs. 1-5 repeat Psalm 57:7-11;

    Vs. 6-13 repeat Psalm 60:5-12.

    This Psalm was originally written by David as Psalm 57 and Psalm 60, but parts of those have been combined into Psalm 108. Since this Psalm repeats the previous Psalms, the comments are the same as for the previous Psalms.

    Vs. 1-5= Psalm 57:7-11 comments:

    Verses 7-11: David would not take his heart from before the LORD, but kept it  “steadfast,” and ready to “sing and give praise.” In verse 8, David speaks to his musical instruments: “Awake, lute and harp!” Clearly, even David did NOT include his musical instruments whenever he said “sing,” for they were an addition to his vocal praise of God! This, then, is yet another reference to such instruments left behind in Moses’ Law, for Jesus “has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14). Verse 9 points to David’s hope for the future, when God would be praised “among the peoples,” and “among the nations,” both frequently referring to “Gentiles,” which has happened since the church of Christ (the “kingdom of God” Acts 8:12) began in Acts 2. In verses 10-11, God’s “mercy,” “truth,” and “glory” are above the earth and cannot be tainted by anything that happens down here. For God to be “exalted” “above the heavens” means that no scientific discovery, no scientist, no human, can ever see, control, reach or ruin the “Most High.”

    Vs. 6-13= Psalm 60:5-12 comments:

    To be saved “with Your right hand” figuratively suggests that God still helps them with a strong arm (verse 5).

    Verses 6-8: It says in verse 6: “God has spoken in His holiness.” God’s dispensation of the tribes of Israelites is the final Word on the subject. “His holiness” always refers to God, and not a man (Pope, etc.). Jesus Christ gave Himself that sinners who obey the Gospel “might partake of His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). Unless that would make each Christian a “Pope,” then what each Christian may “partake” of is not limited to one individual! It is a profanity for any religion to bestow upon any human the title of “His holiness,” for it is not reserved for one, but to all Christians it is said: “as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). In verse 7, God claims Gilead and Manasseh, both across the Jordan River from the Promised “mainland.” The tribe of Ephraim would lead; Judah would rule; verse 8, God even claimed their enemies: Moab would be a common “washpot;” Edom would be completely crushed; Philistia would shout triumphantly when taken and included.

    Verses 9-12: If God made the assignments in verses 6-8, then in verse 9, God asks for a leader to step forward and do this. David’s reply in verse 10 is that it was God who gave them victory, and should again. The principle statement in verses 11-12 appears to be “For the help of man is useless.” That acknowledgment sometimes is difficult, if not, impossible, to hear. Jesus heard the Canaanitish woman beg mercy for her “severely demon-possessed daughter” because she “came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Lord, help me!’” (Matthew 15:21-28). “Her daughter was healed from that very hour” just as David’s help from God had come to him. David will emphasize his conclusion with, “My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” If God created “heaven and earth” (and all the scientific evidence demands that He did!), then only He has the power to interact and override what happens on that earth. God sees, hears, and influences the affairs on earth, continually, for “He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17).

    All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

  • Stephen R. Bradd 10:15 pm on 2012-04-09 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , instrumental music,   

    Where is instrumental music authorized? 

    I have a friend whose dad has become a practicing Jew in recent years. He is now essentially a song leader in synagogue. The dad mentioned that the Jews do not use instrumental music in synagogue because it was only authorized by God for TEMPLE use.

    I found this interesting. I know (per 2 Chron 29:25) that the Israelites were authorized to use mechanical instruments under the Mosaic regime, but I had never thought much about the LOCATION of such use. Not just anywhere, evidently–ONLY the temple (that is, only where God dwells).

    If this is correct (and if you can think of counter examples, please share them), then it would suggest something intriguing for Eph 5:19 & 1 Cor 6:19,20. Today, God dwells in us (Christians). And, thus one could reason that God has STILL authorized “instrumental music” today in His “temple” in the sense that we are to make melody to the Lord IN OUR HEARTS (i.e., His dwelling place)!

    I don’t know if this is of any value, but it was a “new thought” for me at least. Feel free to help me ascertain if it is correct or not! 🙂

    • Russ McCullough 10:45 pm on 2012-04-09 Permalink | Reply

      You are dead on. The instrument was always associated with the act of animal sacrifice at the tabernacle / temple. Since Christ was the perfect sacrifice, once and for all….no more sacrifice…not more instrumental music. The synagogue model was endorsed and embraced by Christ Himself and served as a worship model in the NT. That model (pattern) is still in effect today. In reality, the addition of the instrument today calls into question the finality of Christ’s sacrifice. Pretty scary….

    • Terry 10:48 pm on 2012-04-09 Permalink | Reply

      I’m not advocating instrumental music, but to answer your question, in 2 Samuel 6, specifically verse 5, the ark was being brought up to Jerusalem; the procession was accompanied by cymbals, harps, castanets, etc. even though it is not yet installed in the temple. (It’s probably worth noting the ark was being conveyed in a way that was not authorized by God; however, God doesn’t condemn the music, only the manner in which Uzzah reached out to keep it from falling.) Coincidentally, I recently blogged on this topic and the upshot for me anyway is that I just don’t think we can “prove” our point with OT or NT commands. I love a cappella singing, and it is certainly not condemned by God but I choose to not argue this particular point with those who worship where instruments are used. I think we have bigger things to talk about 🙂

      • Stephen R. Bradd 3:08 pm on 2012-04-10 Permalink | Reply

        Interesting point about 2 Sam 6. The touching of the ark was when Uzzah was punished; that we know for certain. We know the transporting on the cart was unauthorized (and the musical accompaniment may have been also). God tolerated certain things under the OT (cf. Acts 17:30); other things He did not tolerate.

        Regarding your closing comments, I suspect Uzzah, Nadab, Abihu, Cain, etc. might think they had bigger things to talk about, too, than simply doing things in a way that cannot be wrong (in this discussion–a capella singing). Someone might argue that we have bigger things to talk about than immersion (“after all, the Bible doesn’t explicitly condemn sprinkling”–they might affirm). Let us not open the floodgates of human opinion. Let’s just strive to be fully pleasing the Lord always (Col. 1:10). Congregational singing (in spirit & truth) is pleasing to God. No one can know today if God is pleased when a piano is added; they may presume to know, but they cannot have any certainty about it (cf. Isa. 55:8,9). More significantly (in my view) is the fact that the brother who forces his presumptuous behavior into the assembly (which is what happened over 100 years ago) needlessly divides the body of Christ. Division is a sin condemned throughout Scripture; unity is commanded (1 Cor. 1:10). God is the judge, but I sure wouldn’t want to stand before Him (as our Christian church friends will) as one who initiated [or MAINTAINED] division over something they view as a matter of OPINION.

    • Ron Thomas 5:08 am on 2012-04-10 Permalink | Reply

      FWIW, Stephen, in the Jewish commentary I have there is no mention of an instrument authorized in one place and not another.

      • Stephen R. Bradd 12:17 pm on 2012-04-10 Permalink | Reply

        I understand Ron. I was relaying the perspective of at least one modern Jew, however (Nick’s father). There are some in the brotherhood who question whether instrumental music was EVER authorized under the OT. They believe David was an innovator and God merely tolerated such for the time being (like He did polygamy). But, I don’t believe those who argue such can deal properly with 2 Chr 29:25. That verse provides clear OT authority for instrumental accompaniment IN the temple. I know of no other verses that provide clear authority for the appropriateness of their use in any other location, however. There may be other examples of their use, but a record in the Bible of an account of action doesn’t intrinsically convey divine approval (e.g., OT polygamy)–though it does imply some level of tolerance on God’s part (cf. Acts 17:30).

        Bottom line–this thread was something of interest to me. It doesn’t change anything regarding what we are authorized to do today in Christian worship. And that leads me now to reply to Terry…

    • Eugene Adkins 6:14 am on 2012-04-10 Permalink | Reply

      I had heard the samething about synagouge worship. Although I had never actually talked to a Jew about it. The only other thing that I can think of that someone may bring up would be the worship found in the Psalms. I know from time to time in the discussion of instrumental music/rock-n-roll during worship, some bring up the example of the Psalms.

    • Terry 9:05 am on 2012-04-11 Permalink | Reply

      Stephen, we’re mostly in agreement. However, it is evident – to us today anyway – that those you mentioned clearly violated a mandate set out by God and likewise God also gives us clear examples of baptism, from the manner in which Christ was baptized (albeit for different reasons) to the multitude of examples of immersion in Acts.. My point on instrumental music is that we can’t “prove” this point with scripture. We can certainly make the case for a capella being pleasing to God and conforming to passages that refer to singing. But I believe we start down the slippery slope of human opinion into a quagmire of legalism when we try to make scripture’s silence say something it doesn’t. If an acquaintance or friend worships where mechanical instruments are present, I’d rather use my influence to explore issues such as obedience to the will of God and how to worship Him in spirit and truth and let them wrestle with their conscience on whether they can do that with mechanical musical accompaniment. I agree I don’t want to stand in judgment for causing any division. Members of our own brotherhood have divided over issues such as one-cup communion, eating in the church building, using modern music, supporting orphanages, etc. All of them felt their position was grounded in scripture too. Thanks for an interesting discussion, and I hope you have a blessed week.

    • John Henson 11:05 pm on 2012-04-15 Permalink | Reply

      For the last two weeks, I’ve been studying this and cannot find any proof that God authorized instruments. There is some evidence that the use of stringed instruments was a custom in idol temples. I’m wondering if David added the practice since idolaters were doing it and he wanted his worship to be like the other nations.

      • Stephen R. Bradd 6:06 am on 2012-04-16 Permalink | Reply

        Hi John. Admittedly, many passages seem to suggest they may have been an innovation of David. But, 2 Chronicles 29:25 removes all doubt, I think, about their divine authorization (at least in the tabernacle/temple)–“And he stationed the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with stringed instruments, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, of Gad the king’s seer, and of Nathan the prophet; for THUS WAS THE COMMANDMENT OF THE LORD [emp. added] by His prophets.”

  • Don Ruhl 12:37 pm on 2012-03-26 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A Cappella Evangelism, , instrumental music, ,   

    This is a post, a long one, from the Word, my heart, and what I see as the street, or more specifically, our local congregations. Don Ruhl

    A Cappella Evangelism

    Let us cease thinking that a cappella music is a disadvantage

    By Don Ruhl

    Do you believe that what is worth doing is worth doing right?

    Do you know what is involved in writing a song? Do you know the skill involved?

    Let us not do the song writers a disservice by halfhearted singing. Some halfhearted singing arises because we are happy merely to be making music without the assistance of man-created instruments, convincing ourselves that all God wants is a joyful noise, as though that justifies doing less than our best.

    Is A Cappella Music a Disadvantage?

    Many people believe that if we used man-made musical instruments we would attract more people. That is a matter of opinion. In the beginning of the church, no instruments were used, yet the early church took over the mighty Roman Empire! However, when we attempted to be like the world, we lost our influence. Instrumental music is an attempt to be like the world, to try to win the world in a way that pleases them. It only works to make the church more like the world, and the world less like the church, leading to the greater use of worldly music. Thus most denominational worship services resemble worldly concerts.

    If a cappella music was effective in the highly entertainment-oriented Roman Empire, it can still be effective in the highly entertainment-oriented modern world.

    Loving Vocal-only Music

    I learned to love vocal-only music, although I still saw it as a negative for many years. The positives of it were obvious to me, but those positives were lost in the overall negative aspect so that I became convinced, along with most other people, that instrumental music attracts more people.

    However, a cappella music is God’s way and His way is always best. We see that in marriage, in the organization of the church, in salvation; let us see it in the music of the church. When people see God’s way, they embrace it zealously. In the end, a cappella music will be more effective.

    A Cappella Music Must Be Done Right

    Many Christians are satisfied as long as we are just singing, acting as though the actual command is do not use instruments of music. Brethren, we do not use instruments of music because God commanded that we do something else. If we do not use instruments, we still have not obeyed God. We obey God when we do what He commanded how He said to do it.

    Compare our singing to preaching. Is it enough that we preach the word? Before you answer that question, think about some things. Yes, we want only the word of God, but what about its presentation? If you invited someone to the worship services, how do you want the preacher to present the word? Do you want it to be done: Lovingly? Zealously? Interestingly? Understandably? Intelligently? Boldly? Emotionally? Do you want a tear in his eye when speaking of the lost? Do you want him to be joyful when speaking of the wonderful things of Christianity?

    Have you sat in a lifeless and boring Bible class? The truth was taught. Perhaps the teacher did nothing more than read from the Bible and stopped after each verse and asked if anyone had comments. How did that affect you?

    Have you heard boring congregational singing? Should we not put into the singing what we think should be in the preaching?

    Obey the Command to Sing Like Any Other Command

    Sing to the glory of God. First Corinthians 10:31 covers everything that we do as Christians. Now apply what is said here to your singing. Does your singing glorify God? “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

    Sing in love. First Corinthians 16:14 also covers everything that we do as Christians. Again apply this passage to your singing. Does love for God and your neighbor fill your heart when you sing? “Let all that you do be done with love” (1 Corinthians 16:14).

    Sing to the best of your ability. Ecclesiastes 9:10 speaks of the hand, but the principle includes the heart. We readily apply this to other things, but I wonder if we apply it to our singing. We have been so persuaded that we must not use instruments, that we think we are doing our best, if all that we do is not use instruments. There is more. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Colossians 3:23, 24 does not leave anything out. When we sing, have you thought about who is truly listening? “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23, 24).

    What is worth doing is worth doing right. What would change about your singing, if you saw God listening to you? Therefore, learn more about singing. Improve your ability. Sing zealously. Titus 2:14 reminds us why Jesus died. If you witnessed His death, how would that change your singing? “…who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). Singing is a good work.

    Did Jesus die that we might sing apathetically? Some people think that it does not matter how well we sing. How can that be argued after what we have seen from Scripture? Should we not try our best and seek to improve? It is true that we do not have to be professional singers.

    What if we used this view toward preaching? Most of us want good preaching. Yes, we want the word of God, but we want the preacher to be trained and for the sermon to be interesting. Do you know what God expects from us in our singing?

    Our Singing Is to Be Evangelistic

    Acts 16 shows two preachers singing, knowing that unbelievers were listening. The preachers did not see a cappella music as a disadvantage, but without shame sang to God.

    But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:25–30).

    Brethren, that was a cappella evangelism! That was making music God’s way, and it did not include instruments, because Paul and Silas were chained in jail. God’s way was best. God’s way is still best. If you think to yourself that the quality of our singing does not matter because you think that our worship service is only for God, you have made a mistake, not knowing fully what the Bible teaches about our singing.

    Most of the religious world in America knows us as the people who do not use instruments of music. That means they are listening. What do they hear? A group of people who say they are making a joyful noise, but in many cases it is not joyful and it is only noise. However, like the prisoners in Acts 16:25, let them not only notice that we are lacking something, but that there is something else there.

    Let Our Singing Be with the Spirit and with the Understanding

    First Corinthians 14 shows that both the spirit and the understanding are necessary. If you think about it, the singing that touches you the most has both. Why do you have favorite gospel songs? It is not noise, but the words are meaningful, the tune is touching or catchy and it sounds good.

    For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding. Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say? For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified (1 Corinthians 14:14–17).

    In the context of chapter fourteen, Paul is discussing spiritual miraculous gifts. Speaking in a foreign language instantly without having studied that language is a miracle. When a first century Christian did this in front of someone who did not know the language, that Christian was speaking in the spirit, that is, only to himself and to God, and the one listening did not understand what was said.

    Is it possible that the opposite could happen in a non-miraculous setting? That is, we are not singing in a foreign tongue, so the unbeliever can understand what we are singing, but if we are not singing with the spirit, how does that affect the unbeliever?

    If we understand what we are singing, it will change the spirit with which we sing. Notice the words to our songs, and you will see what I mean. By doing these things we help unbelievers understand.

    Sing with Grace

    Colossians 3:16 explains that something resides in our hearts before a song does. When this thing does, grace follows. Is grace in your heart when you sing? How does your singing affect others? Are they learning anything about discipleship? “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” (Colossians 3:16).

    Remember you are singing to the Lord. Does that give you any reason to have grace in your heart?

    If your singing is meaningless, routine and without zeal, it is unacceptable even if you did not use instruments. Purpose to grow in your singing ability even as you grow in your faith.

    Don Ruhl has been preaching for the Savage Street Church of Christ in Grants Pass, Oregon since October 2002. He graduated from the Southern California School of Evangelism (a work of the Buena Park Church of Christ in Buena Park, California in 1980).
    220 NE Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon 97526-1310, 541-476-3100, Rdruhl@aol.com

    • Kevin L Moore 5:19 pm on 2012-03-26 Permalink | Reply


    • Eugene Adkins 6:35 pm on 2012-03-26 Permalink | Reply

      Glad you brought up the part about “singing right.” Good post.

      • Don Ruhl 7:59 pm on 2012-03-26 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you, brother, and let us sing with all our might for the glory of God, the edification of the saints, and the salvation of sinners!

    • John Henson 7:59 pm on 2012-03-26 Permalink | Reply

      Amen, brother! Obey the command because it is what God specified! What did the preacher say was the entire matter? “Fear God and keep his commandments…”

  • J. Randal Matheny 2:32 pm on 2011-12-08 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , instrumental music   

    History and sociology trump theology for 21CC 

    The 21st Century Christian company has decided to include in their listing churches of Christ that have adopted instruments of music in worship.

    From reports we’ve seen, they’re letting the historical or sociological concerns trump doctrine.

    But just because someone was once a part of us doesn’t mean they belong to us. Seems John said something along those lines.

    My prayer today is that ministries, schools, publishing houses, and other associations die with their founders. They seem to have a predilection for going astray.

    • Eugene Adkins 2:44 pm on 2011-12-08 Permalink | Reply

      Is there a link that verifies this? We (the congregation) was about to order materials from them for the first time but we may change our mind. I would have to talk to the elders about it.

      • J. Randal Matheny 2:45 pm on 2011-12-08 Permalink | Reply

        It’s on the Christendom Chronicle site, for one. Not purchasing from them is a legitimate option.

    • Eugene Adkins 4:02 pm on 2011-12-08 Permalink | Reply

      I sent them an email directly asking. Waiting for a reply.

    • Gregory Alan Tidwell 6:24 pm on 2011-12-08 Permalink | Reply


      You wrote; “My prayer today is that ministries, schools, publishing houses, and other associations die with their founders. They seem to have a predilection for going astray.”

      As the seventeenth editor of the Gospel Advocate, I am glad our publishing house didn’t shut its doors after Tolbert Fanning.


      • J. Randal Matheny 6:51 pm on 2011-12-08 Permalink | Reply

        Hi, Greg, thanks for the comment. I almost deleted my statement, but decided to leave it as a declaration of frustration, hyperbole, which I hope will be evident. It ought not to detract from, nor discourage us from giving thanks for, those wonderful exceptions like the GA which have maintained the course for so long.

  • Stephen R. Bradd 9:00 am on 2011-06-29 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , instrumental music   

    Why the Christian Church Should Give Up Their Instruments 

    I posted an article with this title on Audio Evangelism on Saturday. I figured it would get some replies and it did. It does not present the traditional arguments (which we have done on AE before and which are good) but approaches the theme from the perspective of the Independent Christian Church–who view the instruments as an expedient. Even if the NT did contain authority for the instrument’s use in worship (which I don’t believe it does), there is a compelling argument from 1 Cor. 8 which should cause our friends in the Christian church to give up their instruments.

    Read the article HERE.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, particularly if you disagree.

    • J. Randal Matheny 11:12 am on 2011-06-29 Permalink | Reply

      Stephen, it’s a good statement of the case, one that has been made countless times before, to little or no avail.

    • Jason Longwith 12:23 pm on 2011-06-29 Permalink | Reply

      Stephen, thank you for the article. It is very thought provoking and I pray that it will lead to further conversation with many.

    • John Henson 12:54 pm on 2011-06-29 Permalink | Reply

      Good work, Stephen. Perhaps if they understood Acts 17:24-25, they could see their error.

    • Ron 2:34 pm on 2011-06-29 Permalink | Reply

      You have been saying this for a while, and I think you did a good job. Looking at it from the CC perspective, I understand your implementation of 1 Cor 8 to the discussion. While I am not as comfortable with this approach as you are, surely there may be some good use of it.. I understand that you are not conceding anything with regard to biblical authority and, given your effort in this regard all I can say is GOOD JOB!

  • Richard Mansel 12:08 pm on 2010-07-28 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: instrumental music, ,   

    Singing Psalms 

    I have a post on my blog addressing the idea that if we can sing Psalms, we can use instrumental music. Join the discussion to help the truth be taught.

  • Richard Mansel 7:27 am on 2010-07-27 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , instrumental music,   

    Regulating Our Worship 

    “I believe there is such a thing as pure worship that is a according to the will of God and it should be our goal to have such worship in the church. Our worship should be governed, not by our own personal desires or preferences, nor by the culture and society in which we live, but by the Word of God alone”

    [Written by John Price, a Baptist preacher, who makes his argument for why mechanical instruments in worship are a violation of God’s Word in “Old Light on New Worship,” page 12].

  • Richard Mansel 1:29 am on 2010-06-04 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , instrumental music, ,   

    Instruments of Music in Worship 

    I have added two items to my blog that explain why we do not use mechanical instruments of music in worship.

    A lengthy article.

    A lengthy outline, filled with quotes from secular and denominational scholars explaining that the early church did not use instruments in worship.

    I hope you will be edified by them and share these links with others who are searching for truth.

  • Richard Mansel 2:45 am on 2010-05-31 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , instrumental music, , , , ,   

    Catching Up and New Items 

    • I have added something new to my blog: Do you think new converts in the early church ever asked why they didn’t use mechanical instruments in worship? Why would they have not? Everybody does today. What are the implications of that? Read my post and join the discussion.
    • I was baptized in Fort Smith, Arkansas in August, 1980. I did the white-knuckle thing for a year or so. I finally made the decision and preached my first sermon the next year. It amazes me that that sermon was nearly 29 years ago. My first sermon and my first book were on the same subject. That’s symmetry!
    • I preach in an Army congregation, so today I spoke on Army Values and how they will also make us better Christians.  The sermon was very well-received. I am deeply humbled by serving a military community.
    • One of our men preached his first sermon tonight and I was thrilled. He was “discovered” less than four years ago through our door knocking efforts. He was baptized and immediately became involved. A couple of years ago, his wife was converted and they are very faithful. Now, he is already preaching. He has been a great encouragement.
    • I am blessed to have been asked to speak in the Preacher’s Files Lectureship this summer and at a Wednesday series in Florida. I don’t get asked that often, so I am always thrilled and humbled. I also have several writing projects the rest of the year.
    • As far as being Wired, I have a cell phone and a laptop. Years ago, a congregation  I preached for bought me a pager. I am so glad we are past searching for pay phones and hoping you won’t get mugged in the process. I’ve been online for around 14 years and on discussion groups ever since. I have learned so much from them. I think I am a better thinker and student of God’s Word and human nature, as a result.
    • Pray for Randal Matheny’s travels and fundraising.
    • God  Bless you. I appreciate our Fellows!
    • I will be finishing up the New Testament on CD tomorrow. I am still on track to listen to it each month this year.
    • I just finished listening to something fresh: A biography of a book. Hew Strachan analyzed Carl von Clausewitz’s classic book, “On  War,” which has been used as a manual in military colleges all over the world. Strachan  examined “On War” in light of the developments of the day, including the wars that Clausewitz participated in and was influenced by.  Plus, the ideas and flow of Clausewitz’s writing. Dry, but interesting. However, it is certainly not for everyone.  🙂
    • Mike Riley 8:13 pm on 2010-05-31 Permalink | Reply

      Richard, wish you and everyone a happy Memorial Day with family and friends. Yes, we have been praying not only for Randal and his fundraising efforts, but for the solution to your physical infirmity as well. We are looking forward to hearing you preach at the Preacher’s Files Lectureship (if not in person, then online).

      • Richard Mansel 11:03 pm on 2010-05-31 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you, Mike. It will be an honor to see you. I am the first speaker on Friday. Don’t know how many will be there. 🙂

  • Richard Mansel 6:58 pm on 2010-05-23 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , instrumental music,   

    “There is no divine authority for instrumental music in New Testament worship. There is no command for it, no example of it, no record of it in scripture, no support for it in history, and no mention of it in religious service for hundreds of years after the New Testament era. If we believe in the authority principle then there simply is no place for the use of instrumental music in sacred worship”

    Alan Highers
  • J. Randal Matheny 9:47 pm on 2010-04-08 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: instrumental music, ,   

    No intention of changing 

    They won’t change, but we are changing. That’s why Roy Deaver wrote the article, “I Left the Meeting Scared” back in 1967. And how right he was to be!

    I missed this when Weylan posted it; glad to see it up.

    • Weylan Deaver 10:41 pm on 2010-04-08 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for mentioning, Randal. I was trying not to use TFR as a vehicle to publicize the Biblical Notes site (but am certainly not opposed if someone else wants to do it). That meeting my granddad writes of took place before I was born. I suppose compromise is nothing new, but that the devil just repackages it every so often to make his deep lie the most appealing to shallow convictions.

      • J. Randal Matheny 11:40 pm on 2010-04-08 Permalink | Reply

        I appreciate the desire not to make TFR a place to post links. But now and again isn’t bad. You make me feel old, not being born in 1967. The evil one knows how to pop out the “new and improved” label every so often while selling the same old dirt. Instrumental music is a big deal, because it touches on the Lordship of Christ. His authority is at stake. When people think it’s an indifferent question, they are indifferent to the Lord Jesus Christ. Thanks, Weylan.

    • Ron 5:46 am on 2010-04-09 Permalink | Reply

      A great read.

compose new post
next post/next comment
previous post/previous comment
show/hide comments
go to top
go to login
show/hide help
shift + esc