The use or rejection of instruments in worship has been a dividing point within the Lord’s fellowship for over 100 years. It is often suggested that the use of instruments in worship is “not biblical” or not permitted because of the “Law of Silence.” While it is not my desire or preference to promote instruments in worship, I do find it to be spiritually immature when Christians speak of it as if it were forbidden by God. This conclusion promotes discouragement among many and is a direct violation of the spirit commanded in Romans 14.
It is the purpose of this brief writing to reveal the biblical record and thereby show that instruments in worship are not only profoundly biblical, but the supposed “Law of Silence” is not violated by them.
PAST: The Lord commanded musical instruments in His worship during the Old Testament.
2 Chronicles 29:25 (NIV) “He stationed the Levites in the temple of the Lord with cymbals, harps and lyres in the way prescribed by David and Gad the king’s seer and Nathan the prophet; this was commanded by the Lord through his prop
PRESENT: The Lord validated musical instruments in worship during the New Testament.
Ephesians 5:19 (NIV) “...speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord...” (Explained below as part of the section entitled, “Instruments in Worship Do Not Violate the Supposed “Law of Silence.”)
Romans 4:15 (NIV) “And where there is no law there is no transgression.” (We cannot break a law that does not exist. Heaven’s hermeneutics do not include a “Law of Silence.”
Romans 14:3 (NIV) “The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.” (“Disputable matters” [14:1] should not be used to make others feel guilty or like they are the focus of contempt.)
TRANSITION: The Lord’s second coming will be announced with a musical instrument.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 (NIV) “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” (The use of an instrument in this passage is credited to the authority of God.)
Matthew 24:31 (NIV) “And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” (The use of an instrument in this passage is credited to the authority of God.)
FUTURE: The Lord, Himself, will provide musical instruments for His worship in the age to come.
Revelation 15:2-3 “They held harps given them by God and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb...”
As seen earlier, the supposed “Law of Silence” is not from God (Romans 4:15). It is a man-made law much like the creeds and edicts of the Catholic Church and the Reformation Movement.
However, even if the supposed “Law of Silence” were valid, Ephesians 5:19 offers Divine validation for accompanied singing to be used within the New Testament worship. (Note: We are often quick to use the original language to define baptism, to be consistent, the original language must not be overlooked in this case?)
Ephesians 5:19 (NIV) “...speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord...”
In Ephesians 5:19 the Holy Spirit commands that New Testament worshippers include various forms of singing, including psalmos (ψαλμός) which is defined as “a striking (of musical strings), a psalm.” The New Testament is not silent on this topic, in fact, one could infer from this passage that psalmos (ψαλμός) is actually commanded.
psalmos: a striking (of musical strings), a psalm
Original Word: ψαλμός, οῦ, ὁ
Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine
Phonetic Spelling: (psal-mos')
Definition: a striking (of musical strings), a psalm
Some have suggested that the focus of Ephesians 5:19 is to exhort music from the heart. True, but does an instrument necessarily interfere with music from the heart? Clearly it does not in the age to come. Revelation 15:2-3 combines the harp with singing in the Lord’s presence. (Note: To any person who would reject the example of Revelation 15:2-3 by suggesting that it is only symbolism, I would ask why God inspired such symbolism if the concept of instruments in His worship was so offensive to Him? Just as it is possible to read the words of the song or follow the music from the bass, tenor, alto and soprano lines while still singing from the heart, it is possible to pluck and/or play a musical instrument while still singing from the heart. Instruments do not violate the command of this passage, in fact, according to the original language, they are a necessary part of fulfilling the command of this passage.
1. Given the obvious pattern of God’s validation throughout the human timeline (2 Chronicles 29:25, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, Matthew 24:31, Revelation 15:2-3), I find it very dangerous to divide over or treat others with “contempt” (Romans 14:3) when they desire instruments in their worship.
2. Given the obvious list of appropriate types of singing commanded in the New Testament (Ephesians 5:19) which includes singing accompanied by striking musical strings, (psalmos, ψαλμός), I find it to be very dangerous to suggest that the New Testament pattern is silent on this topic.
Instruments in worship might not be a person’s preference or they might conclude that it is not best for certain assemblies, but insinuating that it is a sin or that people are unbiblical for desiring them is adding to the Bible. God never gave such a condemnation and we would be wise not to do so by putting words in His mouth (Romans 4:15).
Disputable matters are governed by Romans 14. Unless naysayers are truly going to lose their soul over the matter, they need to be given patient instruction and encouragement to grow up. (Note: It can be just as much a spiritual discouragement to forbid an expression of worship as it can be to allow it. All members of the flock must be considered when offering limitations to worship expressions.)
Back to Top of "Instrumental Music in Worship"
Back to The Church Page
Back to Home Page