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

“WE HAVE 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

#bible-study, #hughfulford, #instrumental-music, #worship

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.”

#instrumental-music, #otter-creek

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(#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.

#bible-study, #church-of-christ, #fleshly-recreation, #fool, #god, #hasty-in-words, #instrumental-music, #jesus-christ, #murder, #obedience, #once-saved-always-saved, #proverbs, #saved-before-baptism, #self-justified, #worship

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.

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

-Brad Cobb

#ebooks, #instrumental-music, #worship

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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.

#bible-study, #book-of-psalms, #daily-bible-reading, #god, #his-holiness, #instrumental-music, #pope, #worship

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! 🙂

#dwelling, #heart, #instrumental-music, #temple

This is a post a long one from…

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

#a-cappella-evangelism, #a-cappella-music, #instrumental-music, #singing, #worship