Stop Playing With God’s Praise
“I appreciate the ride home very much Joe, thanks,” Chuck said as both he and his co-worker climbed into Joe’s car Thursday afternoon after work. “I didn’t think it would take two days at the garage.”
“No problem Chuck,” Joe replied. “I’ve been wanting to talk with you anyway about something and this’ll be a good chance to do that.”
“What’s on your mind, Joe?” Chuck asked cheerfully.
“It’s about the whole instrumental music thing we discussed a little bit ago. Now I really appreciated the whole ‘pearls and puzzles’ illustration and everything – and I understood it very well. But really, what’s the big deal about instrumental worship music anyway? None of the other churches I’ve ever tried seem to have a problem with it. And besides, I was just talking to my brother whose father-in-law is a Baptist preacher, and he said that the bible never says we can’t use it, so why the fuss?” Joe blurted out all at once, wondering what Chuck’s response would ultimately be. After all, he thought to himself, if God had as big a problem with it as Chuck and the church of Christ seemed to think, then surely there should be some biblical reason… right?
“He’s exactly right, Joe,” Chuck responded. “There is no New Testament verse anywhere, specifically stating that we are not to use instruments in our songs of praise.”
Joe smiled smugly. “Finally!” He thought.
“There doesn’t have to be,” Chuck continued, “and here’s why. When God specifies for us exactly what He does want, He doesn’t have to tell us all the things that that means He doesn’t want. We see this in multiple passages throughout scripture. For example, in Leviticus 10:1-2, God incinerated two of his priests, Nadab and Abihu. Do you know what for Joe?” Joe shook his head no, wondering why he’d never heard a sermon about these two before…
“For using fire on God’s altar that He had not specifically told them to,” Chuck continued. “You see, God had told them very specifically where they were to get the fire from to place on His altar, and when He did, it automatically excluded all other sources. He didn’t have to expressly tell them all the other places in the world that they were not to get fire from; when He told them where they were to, that excluded all others. What it really boils down to is a matter of faith and trust in God.”
“The same can be said for King David, the great ‘man after God’s own heart.’ God had given extremely specific instructions as to how He wanted the Ark of the Covenant moved; it was to be borne on the shoulders of the Levites. David however, had a different idea. Duplicating the precedent of those pagans who did not know God’s specific instructions, David tried to move the Ark using two milk cows and a cart. God was so angry with David that He killed Uzzah the priest as a sign of His divine displeasure. Why was God so angry? –Remember: He had not specifically said His people couldn’t use the cart and cows – but He didn’t have to! When God had instructed that the Ark was to be borne on the shoulders of the Levites, that excluded all other options – without God having to list every single one! And the reason for His divine displeasure was because David didn’t exhibit enough faith and loyalty to God, to do it exactly the way God had said!
Remember, Jesus said, ‘If you love Me, you’ll obey My commandments.’ Hebrews 11 records many examples of the fact that in order to be pleasing to God, we must have faith enough in Him to do exactly what He said, exactly the way He said to do it. And I can show you eight bible passages regarding the type of music God requires in New Testament worship, and every single one of them says ‘sing.’ But neither you nor your brother’s preacher can show me one single New Testament verse where God says to ‘play’ can you Joe?” Joe shook his head somewhat hesitantly.
“And when God says ‘sing,’ He doesn’t have to follow that up with, ‘Now what I mean by that is, don’t whistle, don’t hum, don’t play an instrument,’ don’t whatever,’” Chuck continued. “Can you imagine how thick that would make our bibles? By stating specifically how He does want something done, God has successfully eliminated all other kinds of… well, ‘fire’ if you’re Nadab and Abihu; ‘Ark transportation’ if you’re David; or ‘musical expression’ if you’re a New Testament Christian.”
“And instrumental music is a different form of music than vocal or acapella,” Joe said thoughtfully.
“Yes; and to show just how serious God is about this ‘silence’ – or not having to note all the exceptions when He gives specific instructions – consider that, according to Hebrews 7:13-14, even though God’s message through Moses ‘spoke nothing’ concerning priests and whether or not they could come from the tribe of Judah, He didn’t have to! When He said they must be from the tribe of Levi, that settled it – even to the point that His perfect Son, Jesus Christ Himself could not have served as the one exception,” Chuck said. “Take a good look at that passage when you get home tonight Joe. It really proves the point. God doesn’t have to tell us not to use instruments in order for it to be so. All He has to do is exactly what he did. And when He said ‘sing,’ eight times, that settled it.”
“Wife called and asked me to stop and pick up a couple of gallons of milk and a loaf of bread,” Joe said as he pulled into the local Hopeland grocery store. “And she didn’t have to say, ‘Now what I mean by that is don’t buy eggs, bologna, paper towels, bottled water, or anything else. When she said ‘a couple of gallons of milk and a loaf of bread,’ that eliminated all those other things,” Joe conceded. “I see what you mean. We use that logic everyday – it’s not just a bible thing.”
Chuck nodded. “And it would be a ‘big deal’ if you instead brought home something other than what she specifically called to tell you to, wouldn’t it Joe – such as a bottle of laxative and a bag of onions? But because you love your wife and trust her to know what she’s talking about, you simply go in and get her what she wants, without her having to state what she doesn’t, don’t you Joe? So why should it be any different with those that love the Lord?”