I also understood while attending the former fellowship that we weren't supposed to listen to music outside of the assembly of the church -- neither worldly music nor gospel music. The rationale for the latter, I thought, was because gospel entertainers are rewarded financially for their music while the church frowned upon any financial gain from spreading the gospel. Also, their view of the gospel differed from the view of most Christians in the world, so gospel songs were worldly to them.
When I began attending the current assembly, there again was no instrumental music in the church but instrumental music outside of the church seemed more tolerated. People were even listening to gospel music on the radio. I began listening to gospel music on the radio, too; I did tune out whenever a song with the wrong message started playing, there was talk about award programs (praising the artist rather than God and His Son), or rewards for listeners were announced.
Recently, though, one church elder in another assembly claimed that praising God with instrumental music -- even outside of the church assembly -- is wrong. While it would make sense that God wants to wean us off of instrumental music because nothing man-made or earthly will be in Heaven, I am confused by so many different views about one topic. I guess I just got comfortable listening to gospel music and it's more difficult giving it up the second time. Some gospel songs do have a beautiful message. But, I am interested in the view others have on the topic.
First, let me apologize for the long belated response. I'm very sorry that I did not respond sooner.
Second, I pray these thoughts will be helpful to you as you continue to meditate and study this good question.
Churches and their leaders may judge to minimize or eliminate instrumental music for various reasons, which may seem wise to us. However, I think there is a much more important reason, which may be unfamiliar to many. Throughout Scripture both God and His prophets demonstrated an expectation that we adhere closely to what God instructed, not adding to it and not taking away from it. This respect for God and unwillingness to presume upon His instructions and His position is reflected in our attitude toward matters of so-called "silence". That is, some issues may not be explicitly forbidden. Instead God may have only commanded, demonstrated, or implied an alternative. May we only follow the one authorized option (or options), or are we free to pursue all that is not expressly condemned? The ISOT web-site has several articles on this, which I would encourage you and others to read:
specifically commands us to sing songs, not play music. Since He has already specified the form of music He desires, who are we to add to His wishes? More is written here:
Answering Arguments for Instrumental Music
Given that these instructions are also given to the individual - not just the church (James 5:13), I understand our personal, private worship is also restricted to vocal praise. This raises the question for us, "Are we worshipping God, when we listen to spiritual songs on the radio which include mechanical instruments?" If we are worshipping God with such songs, then should we not worship Him as He directed? If we are not worshipping Him with such songs, are they not then "taking the Lord's name in vain", and should we not avoid songs that are blasphemous by definition?
I would love to hear your thoughts and Scriptures of concern.
m273p15c, I appreciate your taking the time to delve into the scriptures to answer my questions. Your reply, with the related articles, are very helpful.m273p15c wrote:Hi churchmouse,
First, let me apologize for the long belated response. I'm very sorry that I did not respond sooner.
I can relate to the warning about searching the scriptures instead of readily accepting the seemingly inspired word of someone of high regard in the church. In the previous church I attended, people became confused when "leaders" showed tolerance for behavior not previously accepted in the church. Speaking on, or simply reading, a Bible verse or passage that contradicted the church's view was considered blasphemous because the ministry was considered infallible.
There is much less emphasis on the ministry in the church I currently attend, but there are those in leadership positions and their wives who are familiar with some of the gospel artists I've heard on the radio. That in itself is rather presumptuous on my part -- using one bit of information to conclude that something is acceptable. But, I also know that one older woman, a widow whose husband was a well-respected preacher, listens to the same gospel radio station that I was listening to.
Not only am I reminded that I shouldn't just assume something is acceptable because someone else in the church approves of it, I am also saddened to think that there are those in the church (just as in the assembly I previously attended) who are staking their salvation on association with a particular church, or even on their association with faithful relatives and friends. I once started talking to the same woman about a passage of scripture that many congregations reject while our congregation generally acknowledges it. The woman said she really didn't understand the doctrine and seemed annoyed that I had even mentioned it.
But, I have a question about instrumental music in the O.T. Was it truly a form of worship when the Israelites used instrumental music to praise God? Or were they being presumptuous, just as David was when he decided to build God a temple? The church I previously attended believe it is presumptuous to erect church buildings because the New Testament churches met in homes. They also believe that ministers of the gospel are to permanently leave their homes (forsaking all) and travel in twos because that is how Jesus initially sent out his disciples.
How do we discern between what is presumptuous and what is acceptable when passages are interpreted different ways?
In 1 Corinthians 14:26, Paul enumerated various items of worship, including a psalm, with which people were to contribute in the assembly of the church. Again, in Ephesians 5:19, Paul instructed the church to speak "to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs..." My understanding of psalms is that they were sacred poems or songs set to music. David wrote many of the psalms recorded in the Bible for the music director in his court. Some of those psalms specify which instrument(s) or type of instrument they were to be accompanied by (stringed instruments, eight-stringed lyre, harp, flute, etc.). Often psalms even denote pauses (selah) in the lyrics during which only the instrumental music would be played.
In the New Testament, how are psalms, hymns and spiritual songs differentiated from one another? How can we presume that a psalm, which was unequivocally accompanied by instrumental music in the Old Testament, represents something altogether different in the New Testament?
I apologize if my questions seem superfluous, but I am concerned that so many interpretations of New Testament doctrine exist. My fear is that many Christians have decided that whatever was acceptable in the old covenant -- God's covenant with the fleshly Israel -- must be unacceptable in the new covenant and vice versa, unless we are otherwise given specific instructions to the contrary. Such a view seems, to me, to suggest that God was in error and sought to correct those errors in His new covenant. A new covenant was only needed, though, because God's chosen people were disobedient to His will.
Thank you for you for patience with me. I look forward to you sharing your understanding of psalms with me.
First, let me apologize for what appears to be becoming a habit for me – a much delayed response. I pray this will still be helpful despite the terrible latency.
As I have aged, I have come to realize that this is the primary method used by many. If we are not careful, we presume that we and our surroundings are correct, because so many “good” people can't be wrong! Or, so we say to ourselves. However, that is an extremely dangerous justification.churchmouse wrote:Not only am I reminded that I shouldn't just assume something is acceptable because someone else in the church approves of it, I am also saddened to think that there are those in the church (just as in the assembly I previously attended) who are staking their salvation on association with a particular church, or even on their association with faithful relatives and friends.
Luke wrote:“Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” (Luke 13:23-24 KJV)
The majority are not always wrong, and our company may not always be wrong, but there is no way they are always right! If the Lord was even willing to subject Himself to scrutiny (John 20:25-27; 5:31-47; Romans 3:4; 25-26), and if the apostles were even willing to be subject to Scriptural verification (Acts 17:10-11), then certainly all of us are!Matthew wrote:“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14 NKJ)
No, they were not being presumptuous in this case, because God commanded them to do so.churchmouse wrote:But, I have a question about instrumental music in the O.T. Was it truly a form of worship when the Israelites used instrumental music to praise God? Or were they being presumptuous, just as David was when he decided to build God a temple?
We don't have this original command recorded, and we might not have known of it until this time in Hezekiah's reign. It appears that instruments may have been limited to part of the temple worship (Psalm 137), which was originally established during David's time as part of the preparation for the temple's construction. But, regardless of this last question, they were clearly commanded according to II Chronicles 29:25.The prophets wrote: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 by His prophets. (II Chronicles 29:25 NKJ)
This passage raises an extremely vital question on the question of instrumental music: If a command was required to justify and introduce the mechanical instrument in the Old Testament, why would a command not likewise be required in the New? ... Assuming one has already shown that the Old Testament is no longer authoritative, this question seems critical to me.
Well, they may have met in homes, but they also met in the temple (Acts 2:46). The pattern is not consistent, so I could not restrict what God approved. Plus, the command is to assemble (Hebrews 10:24-25). The generic nature of this command provides us some leeway, which we would be remiss to restrict beyond what God restricted.churchmouse wrote:The church I previously attended believe it is presumptuous to erect church buildings because the New Testament churches met in homes.
Again, I think the undue restriction is presumptuous, because the pattern is not consistent. Paul often traveled with a host of companions. Some staying behind and later catching up. Sometimes he was by himself (Acts 17:14-19). Other times he had multiple companions (Acts 12:25; 17:14; 18:1-5; 21:8). Again, we cannot bind, what God did not bind. We cannot condemn what God approved. I appreciate the conscientious desire to diligently adhere to God's pattern, but the two cited cases fail to consider all of God's pattern.churchmouse wrote:They also believe that ministers of the gospel are to permanently leave their homes (forsaking all) and travel in twos because that is how Jesus initially sent out his disciples.
We must be very careful, observant, thoughtful, honest, and humble – have a “love for truth” (II Thessalonians 2:9-12). In short, we must ”ask .. seek … knock” and trust that it will be ”given … found … opened” (Matthew 7:7-11). I would encourage you to listen to this sermon and follow the PowerPoint slides:churchmouse wrote:How do we discern between what is presumptuous and what is acceptable when passages are interpreted different ways?
- http://www.pepperroadchurch.org/media/s ... -the-bible
- See also: http://www.insearchoftruth.org/articles ... bible.html
Thanks for your good questions and desire to follow God and His Word. I hope to respond to your latest post soon.
May I offer the following in response to your valuable and most recent questions?
When Paul instructs us to sing and speak to one another in "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" (Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 3:16), I do not believe he is making a distinction. If he is making a distinction, then are psalms and hymns therefore not spiritual, since he is supposedly making a distinction between them and "spiritual songs"? Although there are shades of differing connotation between the 3, I think it would be a mistake to emphasize any such difference. Often Paul uses 3 or 4 words that have very little difference only to emphasize the whole, the completeness of whatever he is discussing. (For examples consider, "whole spirit, soul, and body", I Thessalonians 5:23; "width and length and depth and height", Ephesians 3:18.) This may be similar to what is called a merism, but I confess this is not my area of expertise.churchmouse wrote:In the New Testament, how are psalms, hymns and spiritual songs differentiated from one another?
This is a good and common question, which we have coincidentally answered in other threads. Please see:churchmouse wrote:How can we presume that a psalm, which was unequivocally accompanied by instrumental music in the Old Testament, represents something altogether different in the New Testament?
- isot1801.html – This one pertains to your last post about the Israelites being commanded. I just stumbled across it while looking up the others.
There can be other explanations for replacing the Old with the New beside God being wrong or His people being wrong. It could be that He used the Old Covenant as a stepping stone, a way to prepare people for the New (see Galatians 3:24-25). Furthermore, it seems that the Old Testament is no longer binding or authoritative to us. Just because God commanded or permitted something in the Old, we cannot assume it is authorized in the New (for example, Matthew 19:7-9). There is much that could be said on this point. For now, please let me point you to this article and forum post:churchmouse wrote:My fear is that many Christians have decided that whatever was acceptable in the old covenant -- God's covenant with the fleshly Israel -- must be unacceptable in the new covenant and vice versa, unless we are otherwise given specific instructions to the contrary. Such a view seems, to me, to suggest that God was in error and sought to correct those errors in His new covenant.
Thanks for your consideration and thoughts.
Hi christianthinker,christianthinker wrote:There is very little difference between music inside or outside the assembly as that the saints are to worship God in both areas. We often partition Sunday morning into worship service, but this belies the point that our lives are supposed to be a living sacrifice and active in service to God at all times. If it is dedicated to God and it doesn't go against a command, then it is worship. The Jews continued to worship God as Jews even after they were converted in that they burned incense, obsreved the new moon, went to the Temple, etc. This was worship. Even Jesus and the apostles continued in the Jewish worship. Trumpets were still used in the Temple during the time of Jesus and they went to the Temple. The thing about instruments is that the use of them was never appealed from the OT and silence is not an appeal, it is just silence. We often think that the silence is a mark against, but if this is true, then the silence against the things that the Jewish did was a mark against them, even if they understood that there was no command for them. Gluttony was mentioned numerous times in the OT as sinful, but not in the NT, so did God change His mind on gluttony now approving of it by silence. This from a God who doesn't change. The command to sing means we are to sing, but it doesn't disclude things in concert with singing as long as the singing is accomplished. And this doesn't disclude other forms of worship either, after all things are to be done to the glory of God. Psalms, was primarily a song accompanied by music, as noted in the OT and is not distinctly different than hymns and spiritual songs as they are all forms of worship.
As I remarked after your previous post, your post contains an awful lot of assertion, and it is scant on authority - Scripture references. Please revise your post to cite Scripture for every assertion you make.