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And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

Music in Worship (Continued)

By H. A. (Buster) Dobbs

I.  Introduction.
    A.  God has specified in the New Testament the kind of music the 
        church is to make in worship.
        1.  The New Testament tells us to sing, and our music in 
            worship must be limited to singing.  Singing is the limit 
            of the command and ought to be the limit of the practice.
    B.  Mechanical instruments of music were not used in Christian 
        worship until the year 666 A.D., when the organ was brought in 
        by pope Vitalianus.  This and other innovations caused a 
        division in the Roman Catholic church.
II.  Arguments Considered.
    A.  The following reasons are sometimes given for use of 
        mechanical instruments of music in worship of God.
        1.  Mechanical instruments of music were used in the Old 
            Testament in worship of God.
            (a)  In the Old Testament many things were accepted in 
                 worship of God that are not permissible today.  In 
                 the Old Testament worshippers observed the Passover 
                 feast, animal sacrifice, and incense.
            (b)  The Old Testament is not a binding law today (we may 
                 learn many things from the Old Testament by way of 
                 example, but we are not answerable to that law today).
            (c)  Jesus "blotted out the bond written in ordinances 
                 that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he 
                 hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to the 
                 cross" (Col. 2:14).
            (d)  "Wherefore remember, that once ye, the Gentiles in 
                 the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that 
                 which is called Circumcision, in the flesh, made by 
                 hands; that ye were at that time separate from 
                 Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, 
                 and strangers from the covenants of the promise, 
                 having no hope and without God in the world.  But now 
                 in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made 
                 nigh in the blood of Christ.  For he is our peace, 
                 who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of 
                 partition, having abolished in the flesh the enmity, 
                 even the law of commandments {contained} in 
                 ordinances; that he might create in himself of the 
                 two one new man, so making peace; and might reconcile 
                 them both in one body unto God through the cross, 
                 having slain the enmity thereby" (Eph. 2:11-16).
            (e)  We are not today answerable to the Old Law and 
                 therefore do not worship by its rules.
        2.  Mechanical instruments of music are mentioned in the book 
            of Revelation as being in heaven.
            (a)  No first century saint ever used this argument.
            (b)  Four passages in the book of Revelation mention harps 
                 (Rev. 5:8; 14:2; 15:2; 18:22).  None of these is 
                 talking about the worship of the church on earth.
            (c)  The book of Revelation is highly symbolic and not 
                 intended to instruct in ways of worshipping God on 
                 earth.  The book also mentions "the voice of many 
                 waters" and the "voice of great thunders."  It 
                 mentions incense in golden bowls and calls this the 
                 prayers of the saints--that is, it represents the 
                 prayers of the saints.
        3.  Mechanical instruments are an aid to singing.
            (a)  If we can have songbooks and a pitch-pipe as an aid 
                 to singing then we have can a piano to aid our 
                 singing, is the argument.
            (b)  There is a difference in an aid and an addition.  If 
                 a thing helps us do what is commanded but does not 
                 add another element, it is an aid.  Anything that 
                 adds another element is an addition and not an aid.
            (c)  Example:  Noah was told to build a big box out of 
                 gopher wood.  He had to use gopher wood and no other 
                 kind of wood.  He was told nothing about tools for 
                 the building job, therefore he could use saw and 
                 hammer and chisel as aids in doing the thing 
            (d)  In eating the Lord's Supper we partake of bread.  The 
                 bread is placed on a plate.  Though the plate is not 
                 mentioned, it is allowed because it aids us in doing 
                 the very thing commanded.  If we put peanut butter on 
                 the bread we would be partaking of an element not 
                 authorized and it would be wrong.  The songbook 
                 corresponds to the plate and the instrument of music 
                 to the peanut butter.  The plate is not a kind of 
                 music, but the instrument is and adds an element in 
                 the worship.
        4.  Instrumental music is not forbidden.
            (a)  We are not at liberty to introduce into worship 
                 everything that is not specifically forbidden.  
                 Incense, prayer beads, holy water, sprinkling babies, 
                 women elders, and candles sold to assist prayer are 
                 not forbidden, but neither are they acceptable in 
                 worship of God.
            (b)  Think of how the command to observe the passover 
                 supper would have to read if everything not forbidden 
                 was allowed: Offer a one year old lamb (not a horse, 
                 not a dog, not a pig, not a cow, not an armadillo--
                 and on and on and on).
            (c)  When God tells us to do something and specifies what 
                 we are to do, that automatically eliminates any other 
                 thing of the same class.
        5.  Instruments of music appeal to people.
            (a)  So do idols!
III.  Acceptable Worship.
      A.  "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in 
          spirit and truth" (John 4:24).
         1.  We do not have to worship God--"they that worship him" 
             shows choice.
         2.  If we decide to worship God then we "must worship in 
             spirit and truth."
            (a)  To worship in spirit is to worship with the right 
            (b)  To worship in truth is to follow the specific 
                 directions of the New Testament.
    B.  God delights to hear the singing of his children.
Music, Part I

H. A. "Buster" Dobbs, email:
P. O. Box 690192
Houston, Texas 77269-0192
(281) 469-3540

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