Image with me for a moment if you will, exactly what it would be like, trying to play professional sports in the wrong venue or arena. Let’s say for instance that two Major League Baseball teams were forced to try to compete against each other… on an Olympic Alpine Ski Mountain course. How would that work? There would be no foul lines, no bases, and parameters…
Or, what if two NFL teams were told they had to play on a baseball diamond… with no alterations? Let’s see, that would mean that one team’s end zone would be only as big as the width of home plate, while the other’s was from foul pole to foul pole (which end would you want?) and there would be no goal posts so no one could score a touchdown anyway. So, how would that work? Or what if the two NFL teams had to play in the ice hockey rink arena? That’d be a hoot wouldn’t it?
Or let’s see; what other absolute and complete absurdities in the form of sports analogies can we come up with? What if NASCAR was told they had to have their drivers compete, cars and all, in a college wrestling ring? Or what if Olympic divers were told that their diving competition at the next summer Olympic games were going to be held in the same arena and on the same court where the basketball games take place – a dive into a hardwood floor from the top of the rafters let’s say?
And now let’s add one final element to the above absurdities and insanities… the losers of any of these competitions will be put to death…
It is blatantly and painfully obvious to anyone whatsoever, that all of the above scenarios are completely impossible. The reason why is because the rules and boundaries which comprise and control the competitions in each of these cases simply cannot be applied when these competitions are taken to the wrong arena. Nothing but complete chaos would arise as a result. And yet… that is exactly the insanity that many Christians allow themselves to be forced into on a daily basis… and why nothing but complete confusion occurs as a result.
For example, I was recently reminded of this once again when I was asked to review a nine page excuse sheet, quoting the same, old, tired and worn out excuses that have been biblically refuted by the faithful of our brotherhood for the past thousand years or so, when it comes to the bane of unauthorized and biblically unacceptable instrumental music in our praise to God as N.T. Christians. Near the bottom of the first page it said something along the lines of (so similar to what I’ve seen and heard so many times before from those with absolutely no biblical case whatsoever for the implementation of their desired will-worship): “Please understand that we are not attacking you or your perspective because we know that you are sincere as well and we would not want you to violate your conscience. But this is certainly a disputable matter and…” (emphasis added – DED). STOP RIGHT THERE! Reading the rest of the paper just became an exercise in complete futility. Did you see what they just did? Did you notice what they just attempted? They just sought, in no uncertain terms, to drag this discussion into an absolutely inappropriate and absurd couple of other arenas, within which this discussion has no business whatsoever of occurring under any circumstances! A couple of arenas wherein the biblical rules of interpretation and application cannot be appropriately applied (anymore than the complete absence of foul lines on an Alpine Ski mountain would make MLB play there anything other than absolutely impossible), and where the outcome cannot therefore be anything other than politically-correct, everyone’s right, wrath of God demanding disobedience!
The two arenas they sought to take this discussion into? The two arenas of “your conscience,” and “disputable matters” (See Romans 14). And this is where many Christians fail – not because of their biblical understanding and reasoning in the end at all, but because they allow themselves to be manipulated into the wrong arena to begin with!
The kind of worship music God has demanded and requires of His N.T. children here on earth is not a disputable matter (or “matter of opinion”) whatsoever. Whether or not a Christian can play cards or board games, what time services will be scheduled to be held on Sunday by each congregation, what color the carpets or songbooks are going to be – these are the discussions to be held in the arenas and under the auspices of matters of conscience, opinion, or disputable matters. Why? Because God has not specifically addressed them one way or the other, but left them pretty much up to us. Anything that God has said absolutely nothing about, pro or con, for or against, positive or negative, or addressed in any way whatsoever within the pages of sacred Scripture, THESE we can discuss in THOSE two arenas.
However, anything that God has addressed one way or the other, either for or against, even if He only addressed it ONCE, is NOT a matter of opinion, but of Revelation – and the faithful child of God must never allow himself and His defense of the truth to be dragged into any other arena other than the “thus saith the Lord” one when it comes to any such thing. It is not a “matter of conscience” but of obedience or disobedience as soon as God says anything about it! And God clearly, concisely, and consistently showed His N.T. earthly children not once, not twice, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven, but a grand total of eight times in the N.T, EXACTLY what kind of music He wanted, desired, and demanded of them to give to Him – EIGHT times total (Matt. 26:30; Acts 16:25; Romans 15:9; I Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5:18-19; Col. 3:16; Hebs. 2:12; and Jms. 5:13).
This “appropriate arena response” reminds me of the denominational lady who recently said to me when she had exhausted every other reason in her unbiblical arsenal that she could unleash in defense of the indefensible and unauthorized addition of instrumental music into our singing praise to God, “Well, I just don’t think God would condemn people to hell for having a piano in the building.” Whoa! Wrong arena! To begin with, any sentence beginning with the words “I think,” I don’t think,” “I feel,” “I don’t feel,” “I believe,” or “I don’t believe” instead of a book, chapter, and verse, “thus saith the Lord” approach is hugely suspect from the start (Isaiah 55:8-9). And secondly, the correct arena for this discussion is not whether or not God would condemn anyone for having a piano in the building, but whether or not He would condemn anyone for substituting or supplementing their own desired elements, either for, or into, what He has clearly commanded and required. And anyone who knows anything about Scripture could only answer that He definitely would – and will (Matthew 7:21-27).
The lines of this arena, and in which this discussion must exclusively take place, are the “Book, chapter, and verse” truths of Scripture. Without them, in the areas and arenas of opinion, conscience and disputable matters, lies more chaos, confusion, and condemnation than the pain and suffering of trying to have an Olympic Diving Competition on a basketball court. And this is far more than just a mere matter of life and death; it is a matter of eternal life and death. Make sure yours is decided in the proper arena when it comes to the discussion and rules of engagement on instrumental music: The “book, chapter, and verse” arena of indisputable, biblical, “thus saith the Lord” truth.
And if you need additional help staying in that arena, please see: www.clevelandcoc.com/?page_id=161, or go to www.clevelandcoc.com, click on “Bible Studies,” and download a copy of: Instrumental Music in Christian Worship/Gatherings Is a Direct Violation of the Word and Will of God.