Instrumental Music in Worship (Pt. 1)
Is instrumental music really a big deal? Does God condone the use of mechanical instruments in worship? There are a lot of people today who believe instrumental music is OK in worship. In dealing with this subject, it is important to let the Bible speak. In this article, we will answer the question: does God authorize instruments in worship today?
There are two covenants in the Bible. The first covenant is the old covenant that God made with the Israelites. Under the old covenant God had a pattern for how He wanted the Israelites to worship Him. Instruments were used, but only the Levites were allowed to play in the house of the Lord (1 Chronicles 15:16; 2 Chronicles 29:26). Today, God has a new pattern for spiritual Israel. The Bible tells us that we are under a new covenant with Christ being our mediator (Hebrews 9:15). Under this new covenant God has given us instructions on how He expects us to worship Him: we are told to use our lips to offer up praise to God (Hebrews 13:15).
In Colossians 3:16, Paul writes that we are to “admonish one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in our hearts to God.” In Ephesians 5:19, the text clearly says, “speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.” The words “making melody” is the word “psallo” in the Greek, and it means to pluck or pull. Many use this to promote the idea that we are to “pluck or pull” on musical instruments; however, Paul gives us how we are to make melody—with our hearts. This was the moment where he could have explicitly stated the accompanying of instruments was permitted, but he did not. Instead, our hearts are the organed instruments on which we make melodies to God.
Man's ideology will never trump God's word. If the Bible tells us to sing, that's what we ought to do. Worship today should be based on the patterns found in the New Testament. The Bible tells us that the old covenant is obsolete (Hebrews 8:13). Being under the new covenant means that we are to follow the teachings of Christ and His apostles. To follow the law of Moses would be futile (Galatians 4:9), but to follow the law of Christ and His teachings would be rewarding. When surveying the New Testament, mechanical instruments were never used by Christians in the first century. God never authorized the use of it. One has to wonder, then, why there are instruments being used today and who propagated the idea. In the next article, “The History Behind Instrumental Music,” we will discuss the history of instrumental music being incorporated into worship.