Churches of Christ love music. Singing is a prominent—and favorite—part of each service. Most congregations dedicate a Sunday night each month to learn new songs and to sing old favorites. Annual singings can draw thousands of people. Many Christians sing daily as they go about their tasks (James 5:13).

Churches of Christ do not sing a cappella because we dislike other kinds of music. Most of us have as many songs on iPods as the next person. We do not lack financial means to purchase instruments or capable musicians to play them. We are not just trying to be different or stubbornly upholding a longstanding tradition.

Why, then, do we sing a cappella?

The practice is predicated on following the New Testament instead of the Old.

The church is a New Testament institution, purchased on the cross and established on Pentecost (Matthew 16:18; Acts 2:1–47; 20:28). Its rule of faith and practice is the covenant Jesus delivered by the Spirit (New Testament), not the Law delivered to Moses at Sinai (Old Testament).

The New Testament records this transition:

  • Hear Christ, not Moses (Matthew 17:5).
  • Preach gospel to all nations (Matthew 28:18–20).
  • Judged by Christ’s words (John 12:48).
  • Loosed/delivered from the law (Romans 7:1–7).
  • “Christ is the end of the law” (Romans 10:4).
  • “Engraven in stones” law abolished (2 Corinthians 3:7–14).
  • Separating wall removed (Ephesians 2:14).
  • Old nailed to cross (Colossians 2:14).
  • Change in priesthood required change in law (Hebrews 7:12; 9:11).
  • New effective after Christ’s death (Hebrews 9:16–17).
  • Christ came to take away the first law to establish second (Hebrews 10:9).

A new law changed humanity’s response to God. Christians no longer offer animals, keep the Passover, observe Sabbaths and new moons, or avoid pork and catfish (cf. Colossians 2:14–17). Worship is not conducted by a special class of priests; blood is not sprinkled on a mercy seat; and unusual ceremonies involving goats, red heifers, and burnt animals are not required.

In the changeover, God omitted such things as burning incense, golden vessels, colorful tapestries, dancing before the Lord, bitter herbs, and instruments. He kept unleavened bread, the fruit of the vine, prayers, and singing.

Incidental? Hardly. God always meticulously planned worship (Exodus 25–40; Leviticus 1–27). He spent more than six thousand years completing His plan for the church (Ephesians 3:11; Galatians 4:4–5) so nothing was left to happenstance.

The Old Testament is written for our learning but not for our law (Romans 15:4). Going back to the Old Testament for study is helpful in understanding many things, but going back to the Old Testament for any practice obligates one to keep all its ordinances (Galatians 5:1–3; James 2:10).

The practice comes from our understanding of worship and priesthood.

Os Guinness observed, “The modern world has scrambled things so badly that today we worship our work, we work at our play, and we play at our worship.”

Churches of Christ aim never to “play at worship.” Worship is the most important thing humans do. It is a privilege to worship—more specifically, to be one from whom God accepts worship. In the Old Testament, believers offered sacrifices through priests. In the New, all Christians are priests—a kingdom of priests (Revelation 1:6). As a holy priesthood we offer spiritual sacrifices to Him who called us out of darkness (1 Peter 2:5, 9).

Every faithful member can participate in worship. Congregational singing reflects this. Instrumentals, choirs, and solos hinder all-member participation.

Regardless of a congregation’s size, worship always has an audience of one. A God who has everything is in the market for little, but He seeks worship (John 4:23–24). In those few minutes, we have God’s undivided attention. It is when we say thanks for His “unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15) and put a smile on the face of the one who puts a song in our hearts.

The voice is a wonderful gift. You could say God gave each of us a musical instrument to use in His worship. We may not think we have a good voice, but God looks at (listens to) our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). A sincere song from a faithful child pleases Him. The relevant question is not, “Do we have a voice?” but “Do we have a song?” God loves to hear His children sing.

How one approaches God in worship is of fundamental importance. Individually and congregationally, worship is either accepted or refused by God. We must not assume that God automatically accepts anything we offer. He doesn’t. God has always rejected worship He did not like (Genesis 4:4–7; Isaiah 1:13). He does not like vain worship (Matthew 15:9), which (in the context) ritualistically continues human traditions; ignorant worship (Acts 17:20–23), which results from not seeking God’s Word on the subject; and will-worship (Colossians 2:23), which offers what we want instead of what He wills.

True worship is done in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Individually, God only accepts worship “in spirit”—that which comes from proper attitudes, such as reverence, thanksgiving, and humility (Hebrews 13:15). We must examine ourselves before worshipping (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Collectively, God only accepts “in truth” worship, which means according to His Word (John 17:17). We have no authority to put words in God’s mouth, or to ignore words from His mouth (Matthew 4:4; Revelation 22:18–19). Man is not at liberty to select a worship form that appeals to him. The danger for any church is to make worship entertainment oriented. The important thing is not what draws a crowd but what pleases God. Loving God supremely means acquiescing to His will (Matthew 7:21; 22:37–38; 23:23; John 7:17).

The practice grows out of our desire to reproduce the original church today.

The church of Christ sang a cappella in the days of the apostles, so the church of Christ sings a cappella today. It really is as simple as that.

Churches of Christ today strive to be identical to the church in the New Testament (Romans 16:16). Before we practice anything, we verify that it was practiced by the first century church. Thus “proving all things,” we hold “fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21; cf. Jeremiah 6:16). It is the safest approach one can take in religion—the way that is right and cannot be wrong.

No scholar (of whom I am aware) says early Christians used instruments. No Bible verse records it. The phrase a cappella, which now means “without instrumental accompaniment,” originally meant “as in church.” Instruments were available and  widely used in pagan worship and theaters, as well as the Jewish temple, but they were not used by the church.

Standard reference works and music textbooks confirm this. Emil Nauman wrote in The History of Music: “There can be no doubt that originally the music of the divine service was everywhere entirely of a vocal nature” (Vol. 1, p. 177). Wycliffe Bible Dictionary says, “There is no record in the New Testament of the use of instruments in the musical worship of the Christian church.” The Catholic Encyclopedia reads, “The first Christians were of too spiritual a fiber to substitute lifeless instruments for or to use them to accompany the human voice.”

More than five hundred years passed before instruments were used. Chambers Encyclopedia notes, “The organ is said to have been introduced into church music by Pope Vitalian in 666 ad.”

At first, the organ was played only before and after the “liturgy” (worship service). Years later, it was moved into the service proper. Then it caused such controversy that in ad 1054 it led to a split between Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. (Orthodox Churches, with few exceptions, continue to use vocal music only to this day.)

Most Protestant churches did not use instruments until the 1800s. In the time of the Reformation, churches opposed instruments in stronger language than we would likely use today. Martin Luther, founder of the Lutheran Church, called the instrument “an ensign of Baal” (McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia, from Luther, Martin, Realencyklopadie Fur Protestantische Theologie und Kirche). John Calvin, founder of the Presbyterian Church, wrote, “Musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting up of lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the law” (Comments on Psalm 33). John Wesley (1703–1791), founder of the Methodist Church, said: “I have no objection to instruments of music, in our chapels, provided they are neither heard nor seen” (quoted by his personal friend, Adam Clark in Clark’s Commentary, Vol. IV, p. 686). Adam Clarke (1762–1832), prominent Methodist scholar, wrote: “Music as a science, I esteem and admire: but instruments of music in the house of God I abominate and abhor” (Comments on Amos 6). Charles Spurgeon, widely-recognized as the greatest Baptist preacher, wrote in his comments on Psalm 42: “We might as well pray by machinery as praise by it” (Treasury of David, Volume 1, 272). He never allowed instruments in his ten-thousand-seat Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.

These quotations are not given as authority, and certainly not to offend, but simply to show that church history is firmly on the side of a cappella singing.

The practice stems from our conviction that we must add nothing to the Scriptures.

Churches of Christ believe strongly in having divine authority (a scripture) for all we teach and practice. We do this because the Bible says, “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17). “Whatsoever” and “all” are comprehensive words. To do a thing “in Jesus’ name” means to do it by His authority. The Bible warns against venturing beyond “that which is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6) or adding anything to the Bible (Revelation 22:18–19). We must not go out of bounds (2 John 1:9).

What are the bounds regarding worship? The New Testament does not say much about music in the early church. The one time music is used (Luke 15:25), is not even talking about worship, but about the party held for the returning prodigal. A few verses mention pipes and harps (e.g., Matthew 11:17; 1 Corinthians 14; Revelation 14–15), but none in the context of church worship. Singing, however, is mentioned seven times in that context (Acts 16:25; Romans 15:9; 1 Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 2:12; James 5:13).

Singing is definitely “in bounds.”

  • It is commanded (Ephesians 5:19).
  • There are examples of Christians singing (Acts 16:25; 1 Corinthians 14:15).
  • It is in the principle of offering God the fruit of our lips (Hebrews 13:15).

On the other hand, the New Testament is silent on playing songs for God. It is not commanded nor is there any example of the early church using it.

We pray that God will give all of us wisdom as we continue our spiritual journey toward eternity (James 1:2–4).

All who love the Lord share a delight in His praise. Truly may God in all things “be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:11).

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  1. I really enjoyed this article, it is very true and informative. I use to read all the house to house heart from the church I attended. Thank you for all you do for our Savior, sincerely, james

  2. Brother, could you explain what is “Churches of Christ do not sing a cappella….” in your article on the 4th sentence and when i read downwards the statement is actually do cappella during worship. Am I misinterpret something? Kindly enlighten me. Thank you.

    • Hi Janice,

      The author says that churches of Christ do not sing a cappella because of certain factors but because of what the Bible says.

    • If I may, I can explain. He said “Churches….do not sing a capella because we don’t like other kinds of music” like I might say

      I don’t drink diet soda because I dislike regular soda. Meaning, I drink diet soda for a different reason.

      So the Church doesn’t sing a capella be use dislike other music. Sing a capella for the other reasons he lists afterwards.

      Hope that helps.

    • Brother is it written in the bible worshiping using musical instrument will rejected by our Lord Jesus Christ or our father in heaven?

  3. Does that mean the Church of Christ feel they don’t have to adhere to The 10 Commandments… Since they’re from the “Old Testament?”
    Is “old” and “new” testaments even “biblical” since the Bible is a combination of scriptures written in different times throughout its history?
    Does the Church of Christ not consider the WHOLE Bible as the LIVING WORD OF GOD?

    • These are all great questions.
      1.) Technically, yes. They essentially believe (I was raised in the C of C) Mattew 22:36-40 basically negates the 10 commandments. So, basically, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’. Realistically, if you do just those 2 things, you would still be following most of the original 10 commandments. They also believe we are no longer required to “remember the Sabbath” or “keep it holy”, because that was one of the laws written for the “old church”.
      2.) While I have no idea of “old” and “new” testaments are considered “Biblical”, it is widely accepted that those 2 divisions in the Bible are the pre-Christianity teachings, or “old” testament, and the “new” teachings of Christ, or “new” testament, which has become Chistianity as we know it today.
      3.) Theu do consider the whole book, both old and New Testament, the “Living Word of God”, but they only use the books of the Old Testament for examples, and not for guidance or instructions in reference to what we should do in any situation as Christians. The reason for this is, we are not held to the standards required by the Old Testament law. Those standards were unachievable perfection. They, as do most other religions that are Christian in nature, believe that the only reason Christ could be the one whose sacrifice would atone for all ours sins, is because he was the only one to ever be perfectly sinless or the only one to achieve the perfection taught belt the old law.

      I’m no Bible scholar, not am I an expert on the C of C, but I was raised in that church as well as went to a C of C university. I answered your questions to the best of my knowledge. I hope that helps!

    • Without the Old Testament revelation, no one could fully understand the New Testament. But the Old Testament isn’t our covenant with God. As Christians, we’re under the new covenant (Hebrews 8:6-13). That’s why Christians don’t offer animal sacrifices in worship, stone adulterers to death, abstain from pork, burn incense, or keep other regulations demanded by the old covenant. The new covenant was brought to us through Christ’s blood sacrifice (Luke 22:20) – it’s our agreement with God through Christ. Since God is the author of both the old covenant and the new covenant, many concepts from the Old are repeated in the New – both teach about God. But, the old covenant was about being an Israelite. The new covenant is about being a Christian.
      Before and after the “10 Commandments” God gave many, many other commandments to his people. In general, the actual 10 were mostly repeated under the new covenant – several were mentioned together in passages like Matthew 19:19 and Rom 1:29. (others: 1st = Matthew 22:27-38; 2nd = Acts 15:20; 3rd = James 2:7; 5th = Eph 6:1-2; etc.). Why the Sabbath is no longer applicable as presented in the 10 Commandments is worthy of a separate study.

  4. I really like this article and agree with it. What I find hard to understand is how the Church of Christ can condemn the use of one type of instrument during service/worship time (musical) but has no problems use all kinds of other instruments to “help” make the worship “better”. If we don’t need and or shouldn’t use the one, why use any. I’ve been at more services disrupted from a computer mess up or banners blocking the person up front.

    • Hi Bryan, your question was my question one year ago. May be please allow me to share the point with you.
      I was told by a brother that using instrument during service is actually referring to the tool/equipment such as microphone, projector (to show lyrics on screen) or hymn book. For example, microphone is used to louder the voice of song leader so that everyone can hear and sing along. Isn’t it “helps” to make worship “better”? (to ensure no one misses the beat of the hymn).
      Eph 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord (God commands us to sing from our heart and that is the best melody).
      Moses wrote in Deu 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which i command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
      Therefore, our singing just a cappella as God commands us to do so.

      • A song book, a microphone or a projector screen do not fundamentally change the worship, they aid the worship in helping to carry it out in an orderly fashion. A musical instrument changes the worship by adding an element, that is, tones not produced by the human voice. The melody of a song is to emanate from the heart – a living instrument (Eph. 5:19), not (as Paul states), from a lifeless instrument (1 Cor. 14:7).

        • I know plenty of people that play their instruments from the heart! They are just as passionate (and more so ) as the ones that sing. I think you need a better argument to justify all the other “aids” instruments you think are fine to add.

          • A song book, microphone or a projector screen do not change the worship, the worship is still exactly the same whether they are present or not. Instruments of music do change the worship by adding something that previously was not there. The text is clear, the melody is to be made in the heart, not on an instrument.

          • Sorry Jason,

            But I’ve seen too many churches get totally disrupted because of other instruments. I see it used to add “fun or make jokes” . I’ve also been “fired” from song leading because I wanted to lead a song from my heart but it wasn’t on the play list. The way the churches of Christ are following so many other worldly churches, I bet I’ll be seeing laying on of hands, faith healing in the baby baptistery and everyone talking in tongues before too long.

          • Sorry you have had bad experiences. As you know each congregation is self governing, and each congregation is going to have its own flaws and problems. If song books, and projector screens etc… are being misused, then maybe there is a heart problem that the elders or congregation need to deal with. But the premise still stands that these aids do not of themselves change in any way the worship service.

          • And I will stand by the same reasoning if you can use one instrument to “improve” the worship, you can’t condemn someone else for using theirs. I do not feel there should be musical instruments any more then a big screen and computers. What happen to teaching the preacher to give a sermon without all the bells and whistles? Sing songs from your heart (even if that means changing last minute) and not from some play list. Allowing one instrument in worship but not another is showing the hypocrisy of the Church of Christ!

          • A bit late, but I just found this great article and its good discussions. If I can add a thought, there is a huge difference between requirement and preference. The New Law/ Testament requires singing with our hearts to the Lord. It never says we must use tonal, shaped note, four part harmony or chanting (as long as it is words). It doesn’t state that we can only sing songs from a hymnal (nor does the church endorse one hymnal over another). It is culture and preference that determine these things, as does use of projected lyrics vs. Printed ones.
            The New Law/ Testament states we should gather together on the first day of the week in one place for worshipping God. That doesn’t necessitate a specific building, electrical facilities, benches (with or without padding or ‘assigned’ seating), break rooms, class rooms or nurseries. It is culture and preference that determine where and how Christians can come together for worship.
            The New Law never endorses additional musical instruments, even though they were called for in the Old Law and readily available during the Roman Empire. Thus, we may use music and musical instruments in any capacity, except for weekly worship.
            I hope this helps the discussion. I prayerfully encourage all to read only the Bible and be guided only by what the Holy Bible indicates for our faith.

          • Laura, I’m going to respect fully disagree with you. From my study of the Bible in the New Testament, I do not see that it teaches you can use instruments anytime but when you come together to worship. I used to have that early but from study I have personally tchanged that view. I do not find the word and worship in the New Testament ever referring to the gathering of Christians. It is always used in the context of our life, that worship is our life. From my study I find that either the instrument has to be OK all the time or it has to be wrong all the time. I don’t find anywhere in the New Testament where it’s giving specific rules of what you can do when you get together but not outside of that place. Again, our life is a worship. We are constantly in the presence of God. My own study of gods word says let me to believe that the Bible including the New Testament my own study of gods word has let me to believe that The Bible, and even under the new covenant, that there is nothing wrong with instruments . But it is my conviction either right all the time at the wrong time. I just don’t see New Testament saying you can do this here not here. Especially when it i but it is my conviction either right all the time for the wrong time. I just don’t see New Testament saying you can do this here not here. If I play an instrument and sing to God just like and sing to God just like David did, i’m alone, I’m praising and worshiping God. Bible does say to make melody in your heart, but I can be done as wel bible does say to make melody in your heart, but I can be done while playing an instrument as well, again, just as David did. Again, this is just my personal conviction. I understand that and I’m just sharing thoughts. I respect your understanding as well

          • “that worship is our life”

            John, no where in the Bible is this concept ever taught.

            “but I can be done while playing an instrument as well, again, just as David did.”

            And yet you ignore the very strict regulation of those instruments in Jewish worship. You cannot seek authority for instruments in NT worship from the OT.

      • Funny, you just used the old Testament to confirm your new testament position. Then why not use Psalm 150? All of the psalms of David were made by help or accompaniment of a liar (stringed instrument) which he played. Today many groups use stringed instruments to do the same. With wonderful results.

        • Through out the Bible, Old and New Testaments, man is instructed not to change God’s word. Janice gave NT passage to show what Christians are to do. To pick on her use of OT scripture that demonstrates a Bible wide principle, then use that as permissive to introduce OT scripture on musical instruments to justify NT practice, is both pedantic and twisted.

  5. Interesting viewpoint. I am sorry to say that the last (large) Church of Christ service I attended spent the entire service pointing out how every other denomination/church was incorrect, and they were the only one that was right. Did they substitute the offering of money for the offering of animals?

    • I am sorry you had a bad experience. All Churches of Christ are independent (only local oversight). If you do what the new testament says you will be okay. The name of the church means nothing. I just can’t think of a denomination that follows the new testament besides the Church of Christ. Also if you follow the teachings of Christ it would not be a denomination it would be his original Church. I do know at the Church I attend they don’t ask for donations from visitors. Only members are to lay by in store for the first day of the week.

  6. I appreciate your perspective on this issue, but I have two questions. 1. Do you believe God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow? If so, if musical instruments were pleasing to God as a form of worship in the Old Testament church why would they not still be so in the New Testament church?

    • Yes. Absolutely. But, 1 Samuel 15 teaches that God is pleased by obedience – not necessarily specific actions or efforts. Specifically see I Samuel 15:22. Something that may have pleased God in another context, is only pleasing to God if offered in obedience. Better to offer God what he’s said he wants, than what we think he may want.

      • But instruments were used in the New Testament as well. Where is the “proof text” showing that instruments are now forbidden in worship? The term “making melody” is literally to play an instrument in the greek. So, I’m not sure I follow the line of reason. It seems very presumptuous rather than studious. Not to mention the numerous verses in Revelations to horns, harps, etc. There is not an expressive, explicit verse prohibiting instruments, so why should we add to scripture what is not there? Also the word Psalm in the greek (as in Ephesians 5:19) literally means to play a piece of accompaniment such as voice with instrument. I don’t understand how you can come to this conclusion exegetically. Just some thoughts.

        • Revelation is highly symbolic, generally most passages in Revelation the have musical instruments in them are not literal. And none of them as far as I know are dealing with Christian worship on earth. Yes, there are instruments in the New Testament, but they are not being used in Christian worship.

          The term you are referring to, “make melody” is “psallo” in the original language. It literally means to “twitch or twang”, that is, to play on a stringed instrument”. In the context of Eph 5:19 one is “making melody to the Lord with your heart”. That is literally to – pluck the strings of the heart. To use the term “psallo” to justify the use of mechanical instruments in worship is to literally ignore the context in which the term is being used. The heart is the ONLY object to which the term “psallo” is being applied in this passage.

          There is no “proof text” as you put it to show that instruments are now forbidden, and it is not needed. God has given a clear instruction on what He expects in worship. “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col 3:17) This passage means that we as Christians are to have authority for everything we do. If you ask where is the scripture that explicitly forbid’s instruments in worship, no one can show you. If we ask you where is the passage of scripture that gives you authority to use instruments in worship, you will never be able to provide one. What we do have is God’s clear instruction on what He wants in His worship. To do anything other than what God wants is to show disobedience to His will. One must remember at all times, our worship toward God is not about what we want.

          • Jason, you say there is clear instruction to what God expects in worship. I completely disagree with that statement. There is no book of worship in the New testament. Also, Ephesians 5:19 in context is not with the “worship. And, more importantly. the term “worship is never used in the NT as some kind of “worship service” in the way we use the term. In the NT, the term worship is always used as what we do in every aspect of our life. therefore, to claim that God is very clear in what he expects in worship means he is very clear in how we live our lives every day and every moment. If instruments are wrong in our “worship service” then one would have to at least conclude that it is sin to use the instrument in any form, in any way, and in any place when singing to God. In other words, Christian music we hear on the radio must also be considered evil. The reason for this is because the NT never says anything like, it is wrong to do this during this event, but not during this one. it never says, you can’t do this during Sunday service, but you can do it at home in your room. Also,Paul says in Ephesians and Colombians to sing Psalms, Hymns and spiritual songs. He clearly is talking about 3 different genres of music. A Psalm was specifically a song played with music

          • “In the NT, the term worship is always used as what we do in every aspect of our life.”

            The Bible in no way teaches any such concept. Worship in the Bible, NT or OT is an act with intent. You will no where find any scripture that supports your concept of worship. The following scriptures are only a few of many that show worship is something that is done with intent.

            “the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you” 1 Co 14:25

            “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,” Heb 12:28

            “Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” Rev 19:10

            “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me” Rev 22:8

    • You have to remember that King David introduced instruments into the Jewish worship. Before King David, instruments were never used in the Jewish worship.

    • Fleming, do you think that we need to be offering sacrifices as they did in the old testament also? As someone commented earlier, the Old Testament is something for us to read and learn from but not to use as our guide.

  7. Could it be that the whole discussion on instrumental or non-instrumental music is an irrelevent issue. Either way, we are saved only by the grace of God, not any form of music. How we express the joy of Jesus’ great gift is probably not as important than that we do!

    • worshiping God with or without instruments is obedience and pleasing to God IF it is done from the heart. Many people sing songs of praise to God out of habit not
      with their heart….they have memorized the words from years of singing the same thing over and over…
      I think we have to be very careful not to read into scriptures to have them say what our ancestors have told us… we need to study the scriptures asking God to open our hearts and minds…I don’t believe there is any “Church” that has it all right….we have to learn to change old habits as we study to grow in the knowledge of God.

      • Not really. It is a matter of preference. No sin listed as to using instruments. If you think it is a sin, then don’t, but don’t try to yoke something with something that is nothing more than a preference issue.

        • Skip you may or may not be correct. I don’t think any of us REALLY knows until we die but that’s another subject. I started in a C of C and my preference is A Cappela. It sounds and feels to me so much more than singing. I can hear and feel the “heart” in the room. Bass drums, electric guitars, organs, pianos, etc all drown out the voices, the harmony, the love. I have nothing against instruments. I just don’t like them in church. My opinion. You can agree or not.

    • Thank you for writing that. Sometimes believers of Christ loose focus on the intent and purpose of God’s grace through salvation. That through Christ and by Christ we are saved and will live with Him in eternity. We are not saved, nor will we lose or remain saved by what we use in worship-the NT doesn’t speak on that. However we can cause henderances.
      Yes we read in decency and in order, but we cannot stop there. If we look into the scriptures without an argumentative agenda to see what God expects: it is loving him and loving one another and spreading the good news so that all people can be saved; it is spending time in fellowship, helping each brother and sister in the faith and being a good example to others; it is acknowledging our sins and short comings and when convicted to ask for forgivness-forgiveness from God and from people; it is holding each other accountable, in love, as we remind them and we also remember, Jesus will be the Judge as we are not capable of making the ultimate judgement call…no matter how well we think we know His word.
      The way one congragation worships compared to another and compared to the scriptures is not what God said will cause a soul to be lost. Do we remember what Jesus said to the disciples when they returned from their assignment. They said to Jesus that they saw others working the same work but these people were not present with Jesus. Jesus told the 12 not to worry about them. Why are we worrying over things that are drawing people closure to God, but are different than we feel is right. Let God deal with them through their reading of the Bible and their hearts and let God be the Judge as he is intended to be. Let us work on unity and strive to saving souls and teaching souls. But teachings souls through love and hope and the Bible and stop causing brothers and sisters in the faith to feel ashamed. Besides, are those that fuss and fight over small matters not concerned that their souls will be in jeopardy of judgment of a millstone being placed around their necks because of the unnecessary divisions caused. Yes this is a small matter because salvation will not be lost on playing a musical instrument, nor will there be salvation to those that do not play one or more. We all who are believers are working to, praying for and have faith in reachng perfection, but true perfection will only be fulfilled when we meet our Lord.

  8. I am impressed and inspired by reading the article you wrote on the use of musical instruments in our worship. God bless you for writing such a beautiful article. I have enjoyed reading your writing. In 1 Peter 4:11 the bible tells us that, “If anyone speakes, let him speak according to the oracles of God.” To me that one Scripture is enough. God bless you.
    Behailu Abebe Endeshaw

    • But dear sister, the oracles of God, mentioned by Peter here, were the Scriptures, the existing old testament. Only the Jew had the “oracles of God”. So then, psalm 150 was part of the oracles of God!

  9. Great article! I often wonder how/why the 10-12 church of Christ congregations that do allow/use instrumental music can do so with so much information on the topic like this elequent article are out there?

    • Because, like myself, I disagree with the argument. You assume that what is said is absolutely correct. Let me ask you this. Do you do to the doctor when you are sick? According the this argument, the silence of scripture, you are in violation of the New Testament if you go to the doctor. Why? Because, after Jesus died we have only two references of what to do if you are sick. One, Paul told Timothy to take some wine for his stomach. And two, James said if you are sick to call the elders to pray over the sick. The only command is to call the elders to pray. Therefore going to the doctor is adding to gods word and in violation of this idea of the silence of the scriptures. We are told what to do if we are sick, and there is no mention of going to the doctors

  10. Interesting view point to state that the Church of Christ follows the New Testament however, I have never heard anyone speak in tongues in a Church of Christ? Clearly in the Book of Acts, we see where Peter stood up and preached the Gospel (Good News) and 3000 were saved (accepted Christ) and what appeared to be Tongues of Fire fell upon them. If you are going to state that instruments are no longer required nor accepted by God, then why aren’t the COC filled with believers speaking in tongues??

    • The tongues they spoke on the day of Pentecost, were so all the people from the other countries could understand in their own Language. It would be like me speaking in German or Russian or Mexican. All the people heard in their own language!

  11. Some Churches of Christ disagree with this article and use instruments when they worship. Do they get kicked out of the Church of Christ? This article makes it seem like no churches in this group use instruments, that’s just not accurate.

    • There are Churches of Christ, and then there are Churches of Christ. There was a split, I believe in the early 1900’s. I’m pretty sure the more pious version doesn’t recognize the other version as a true Church of Christ.

  12. I only have a problem wih the basis of this article as explained by this author when he states ” since it does not mention the use of instruments by the early Church, we have no authority to use them today ” and backs it up with the portion of the verse about not adding to the scriptures. If taken in that aspect, then churches should not have electrical lighting, PA systems, recording media or projrection media as they were not available either. There would be no use of publoc broadcasting of services. Some would argue those are ok, but you cannot pick and choose which parts or pieces you want to justify use of particular itsm or not using another.

  13. proof texting at its finest. I hope you encounter the Holy Spirit at some point in your life and pray that you’ll stop blaspheming him with this nonsense that divides and turns people from Christ.

  14. Great Article???? Really??? If you don’t read greek in Eph 5.19 (sing and play with all your heart…) and Col 3.16 (sing and play)… If you are totally ignorant of first Century Roman, Greek, and Jewish culture…

    It’s certainly OK to sing without instruments, but it’s certainly not a Biblical requirement. The early Christians were even command to sing Psalms… you know.. the Psalms that were to be sung with accompaniment, and that sang of playing instruments! Why would God have us sing about doing something we were forbidden to practice?

    The instrument only became a doctrinal issue when the Civil War split the Stone Campbell Movement. As a ‘unity’ movement, they certainly couldn’t split over a sociological issue so they had to find a scripture to divide over.

    If the instrumental issue was clear in scripture, we wouldn’t have to spend so much time explaining why our view is the (only) right one… But Scripture isn’t clear on it, so we spill tons of ink and still, people can honestly and faithfully come to Scripture and find the opposite view.

    • The tongues they spoke on the day of Pentecost, were so all the people from the other countries could understand in their own Language. It would be like me speaking in German or Russian or Mexican. All the people heard in their own language!
      Ephesians 5:19 says nothing about playing, so why would one of the folks that want music use it?
      Same thing in Colossians 3:16? When we go by the Bible only, we don’t have a problem!

      • In Colossians and Ephesians, when he say sing “psalms….” Instruments was implied. A psalm was specifically a hindrance of music accompanied by an instrument

        • “In Colossians and Ephesians, when he say sing “psalms….” Instruments was implied. A psalm was specifically a hindrance of music accompanied by an instrument!

          False. A psalm could be spoken, sung or accompanied by an instrument.

  15. This is a topic that I have spent much time studying. When I first joined the Church of Christ, I was under the impression that instruments were used all the way throughout Old Testament worship until Jesus came along and then – out of nowhere – they stopped using them. If this were the case, then one would logically assume that the change in Covenants led to a change in the mode of worship.

    However, my initial impression had been false. I had not done enough research on Old Testament worship. It turns out that New Testament worship was modelled after the synagogue worship that developed during the Babylonian exile and carried forward into the first century. Unlike Temple worship, the purpose of synagogue worship was primarily to learn scripture; music was secondary. In fact, for some period of time, it appears that music was not allowed to be sung due to the mourning that was taking place after exile. Even when singing did occur in synagogues, it wasn’t accompanied by instrumental music. Perhaps this is how the word “psallo” went from referring strictly to instrumental music to also including acapella music.

    Why is this important? Because synagogue worship, as far as we know, was never commissioned by God. The mode of worship and the decision to omit instrumental music was a decision of man [also note that God seemingly never condemned these men for implementing a new way of worship in a time where they had no access to the Temple]. Thus, if New Testament worship was patterned after the synagogue, then the lack of instrumental music can only be seen as a cultural practice derived from synagogue worship.

    If the mode of New Testament worship was cultural and not commissioned by God, then how can we make such assertions as to say that using instrumental music could be a detriment to one’s salvation?

    One may respond with Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. However, I am sorry to say that the Church of Christ has grossly misrepresented these passages. Taking the context of the entire chapters into account, both of these passages are making general statements about the life of a new Christian – general “do’s and don’ts” if you will. These passages are not explicit instructions as to the mode of worship, and it is unfair to represent them as such.

    While the “better safe than sorry” approach to worship that the Church of Christ holds is certainly a commendable one, it seems unfair and even dangerous to teach that one could potentially go to Hell for participating in instrumental worship, for the reasons mentioned above.

    • Brandon, I’ve been studying this issue for a little while, and I’m actually stuck on this question of cultural vs. commissioned? If IM is not mentioned in the NT because they didn’t use it for cultural reasons (synagogue practices and being separate from the pagan world around them) then doesn’t that leave music in the category of discernment not commands? If you have writings on the subject elsewhere that you don’t mind sharing, I would be interested in hearing more of your take on the issue. Thanks.

      • April,

        I think it absolutely leaves instruments as a matter of preference. In addition to the fact that it was a cultural adaptation of synagogue worship, I think the other key point of importance is that the New Testament gives us no specific instructions as to the MODE of worship. We’re told the manner in which to worship (in spirit, in truth, orderly, admonishing, etc.), but we’re never told of a specific mode in which to conduct worship. The common arguments here are Eph 5:19 and Col 3:16, which I addressed in my previous comment.

        As far as sources that I have to provide, I think the key is to search from a historical perspective and not a doctrinal one. My primary sources that I used were simple Bible dictionaries. Zondervan’s Pictorial Bible Dictionary and Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary are two that I have used myself. Simply looking up the words “worship” and “synagogue” will lead you to everything that I mentioned previously regarding the history of the synagogue.

        • Brandon I believe the Bible is the word of God and I believe we should be living under the NT teachings. But carry forward SOME of the OT teachings as well. As in some, I mean we shouldn’t be sacrificing animals etc. But the Bible was also translated and interpreted by man. And on that note, no pun intended I have researched the literal meaning of psalm. In Hebrew the meaning of the word psalm (mizmor) is uncertain. But it is derived from the Greek which signifies playing on a stringed instrument, most likely a lyre or harp. There are different interpretations but this seems to be the definition. BUT on the other hand I found “melody in your heart” to mean singing with the strings of your heart, with emotion and commitment and love for God. And I still prefer A Cappela.

    • Brandon, appreciate your comments. I grew up in churches of Christ and for a time was convicted instruments were wrong, mainly because what I was fed. When I got older and did a lot of my own study, I came to a different conclusion and find no fault with instruments. You mentioned how many believe that instruments abruptly halted when Jesus came. This was a point that got to me in connection with revelation. I know that revelation is highly a book of metaphors and symbolism. But if instruments had all of a audden become evil in worship, then why would you even use the picture of instrumental worship in revelation. It seems that would be quite confusing to these Jews and Gentiles who are now being told that instruments are an abomination to use before God. And it even says in revelation that the harps were given to the God. again, I understand it’s a picture, but still seems strange that Gos would choose to use a picture with the people in the first century that the leaders are supposedly trying to teach that instruments are wrong

    • The actual command in Ephesians is found in vs. 18, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit”. The latter part of the verse contrasts the former. The former being that which drives out the presence of the Spirit (that was given to us, Acts 2:28). The command then is to “be filled with the Spirit”.

      How is one filled with the Spirit? The following 5 participles tell us how. So vs. 18 is the “what”, vs. 19-20 is the how.

      1 “addressing one another (speaking to one another) in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs”

      2 “Singing”

      3 “making melody to the Lord with your heart”

      4 “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”

      5 “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ”

      Note the conjunctive in verse 19 between singing and making melody. We are to sing and make melody with our heart (literally to pluck the strings of the heart while we sing). Paul is giving instruction on how we can promote the presence of God in our lives. The first participle is to address one another. When we sing, we do so together, the whole congregation is involved. The direction of our singing is “to the Lord”. The image given by Paul is one of worship, an activity done together, toward God.

      In addressing each other in song we do so in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, in order to teach each other Colossians 3:16. And we do so with a melody in our hearts. What is the melody? Participle 4, giving thanks. When we sing, we do so with thankful hearts!!! Colossians 3:16 states it this way, “singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God”.

      When we sing to each other we are also to submit to each other. In addressing one another and submitting to one another we are placing ourselves in the role of servant.

      Paul is painting a beautiful picture of God’s people turning from the world, turning toward God, and with gratitude making themselves servants of God and one another.

      • I agree that when we sing, we make melody in our heart. Our voice makes melody as well, but the importance is that our heat is making melody to God. I’m very confident that as David played the harp and sang to God, that he was making melody in his heart to God . If he wasn’t, then his praise did not mean anything to God. When we sing accapella, it means nothing if it’s only voice and our heart is not making melody at all. An instrument does not prohibit one from making melody in the heart. They can still sing from the heart and make Millatti to Go an instrument does not prohibit one from making melody in the heart. They can still sing from the heart and make melody to God. Many People who used instruments say the instrument is simply an aid to their praising God

      • Jason,

        I completely agree with you that Paul is encouraging us to do that which will help us to lead Spirit-filled lives, and singing praises to God is certainly one thing that will promote such a life. However, this in no way excludes the possibility of instrumental music because Paul is not giving an exhaustive list here. And, even more importantly, he is not talking specifically about the mode in which we are to conduct corporate worship.

        While verses 19-21 do include acts of worship, one would have to assume that Paul diverted from the context of his writing. The context for Ephesians 5:19 actually begins in Ch. 4:17. The heading in the ESV even calls this “The New Life,” and rightly so because it is describing what the new life of a Christian should look like. He starts by telling us what we should NOT be doing, and then he elaborates on what we SHOULD be doing (“Be kind to one another…forgive one another” – 4:32, “walk as children of light” – 5:9, “make the best use of your time” – 5:16, be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs…” – 5:19). In its proper context, outside of the scope of the mere 3 verses at the end of chapter 5, these appear to be very general commands rather than specific instructions on how we should conduct corporate worship.

        • Brandon,

          God commanded through his servant Paul that we should sing. This is an explicit instruction to those reading on how to be filled with the Spirit. Note that according to this verse alone, we are not free to sing what we like, we have specific instruction on what we can sing. Paul has given authority to Christians everywhere to sing and how to conduct their singing. Christians have no authority to sing any other way, because they have been told what is expected.

          No, this is not an exhaustive list on what activities Christians can or must do in order to promote the presence of God in our lives. However, when it comes to singing, yes, it is an exhaustive list and Christian are bound by it.

          No where in the the New Testament are Christians ever instructed to worship or ever us instruments in a manner that would resemble worship. If we were, one would only have to reference that verse and the matter would be solved!!!

          Instead, those who would promote their use in worship have to refer to the Old Testament, in which they completely ignore all the rules governing their use, or Revelation in which passages are symbolic and not even dealing with Christian worship on earth, or just plain take a single word (psallo), out of context as authority. And finally we have those who argue that God didn’t say we couldn’t. Arguing for authority from the absence of authority, is a completely illogical argument. Are those people seriously going to stand before God at the judgement and tell God “you never said I coudn’t”??? I must commend you though, at least you are using scripture, so many others do not.

          “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name”. Heb. 13:15.

          • Jason,

            I appreciate your comments. However, your response seemed to largely overlook the point of my previous comment. You say that “Nowhere are Christians told to use instruments,” but the fact is that Christians are never commanded as to the mode of worship, period.

            As I laid out before, Eph. 5 and Colossians 3, in their proper context, are commands on what the life of a new Christian should look like. If you claim that the mode of worship must only include singing because Paul – in passing – mentions that the life of a Christian includes singing, then you find yourself in a difficult predicament. Paul also commands us to greet one another with a holy kiss (Romans 16:16) and encourages the consumption of wine for stomach ailments (1 Timothy 5:23), but you do not presume that people must do these things – and especially not ONLY these things.

            Paul’s command to sing was not even a new command. This is what Christians were already doing in worship, and had been for quite some time even during the Old Testament. Paul was not informing these people on how to worship, but he was simply telling them that “Christians worship God.” He merely used the example that they were familiar with. Of course Paul wouldn’t tell them to use instruments, this would make no sense due to the fact that they had adapted the acapella mode of synagogue worship (Likewise, you would not command a new Christian to get down on their knees when praying, or to take the Lord’s Supper as a meal rather than one small piece of bread and a shot of grape juice, although both of these things are certainly permissible). This was no new revelation, and no instruction as to the mode of worship, but simply instruction on how to live as Christians.

            Now if this is true, then there is literally no form of instruction as to the mode of worship. Thus, instrumental music (along with song books, pitch pipes, etc.) all become expedients – aids to worship. I can’t tell you how many times the CoC has used the example of Noah’s tools in building the ark – but the argument logically extends to instrumental music when one considers that we are not instructed as to the mode of worship. We have the freedom in Christ to use them, so long as our heart’s desire is to glorify God.

            As to authority, perhaps it would be worthwhile to point out that, in the Old Testament, only the Priests were allowed to use instruments in corporate worship. This “authority” is now in every Christian, for we are all priests in Christ (1 Peter 2:9). Additionally, while it is commendable to state that we shouldn’t do something without a direct command from God, you must be careful about passing judgment on those who, out of a desire to please God – do something outside of the scope of what has been commanded. In fact, God found favor in David for doing this very thing. In 2 Samuel 7:1-17, David decided that he was going to build a house for God, despite the fact that he had never been commanded to do so. This pleased God, and this is one of the many reasons why David is known as “the man after God’s own heart.” David is also the one who implemented instruments in Temple worship – not God. Yet these things pleased God.

            At best, you may be able to state that instrumental worship is not authorized, but you have no “authority” to say that they are condemned, and I strongly caution you against doing so, my friend.

          • “You say that “Nowhere are Christians told to use instruments,” but the fact is that Christians are never commanded as to the mode of worship, period.”

            Paul’s instructions were to the church, this was something that required congregational involvement, and it was directed toward God.

            “Paul also commands us to greet one another with a holy kiss (Romans 16:16) and encourages the consumption of wine for stomach ailments (1 Timothy 5:23), but you do not presume that people must do these things – and especially not ONLY these things.”

            Greeting one another with a holy kiss is another study, but it is something we should be doing. The consumption of wine that you are using must be placed in its context. Also, wine is often a general term in the Bible and does not necessarily refer to alcohol.

            “Paul’s command to sing was not even a new command. This is what Christians were already doing in worship, and had been for quite some time even during the Old Testament”

            Not correct, the church never existed in OT times. Between the end of the OT and the beginning of the NT is a period of approx. 400 years. However, as you point out, the church sung in its worship and that is all they did when it came to the music of the church. Paul instructed the church in regard to its music, and the church likely had instruction that is not recorded in the Bible. But we see that the church never used instruments in worship.

            “Now if this is true, then there is literally no form of instruction as to the mode of worship. Thus, instrumental music (along with song books, pitch pipes, etc.) all become expedients – aids to worship”

            Continuing to shift base is not an honest way to deal with this issue. Instruments are not an aid, they fundamentally change the worship in a fashion that aids do not.

            “but the argument logically extends to instrumental music when one considers that we are not instructed as to the mode of worship”

            False, we are given instruction. And no, it does not logically follow the example of Noah. The fact is if Christians were authorized to use them in worship we would see examples of their use, we would find commands etc… there is nothing! Only singing is ever see in Christian worship.

            “David decided that he was going to build a house for God, despite the fact that he had never been commanded to do so. This pleased God,”

            False. It is true that David wished to build a house for God, it is also true that God did not allow David to do this, why? Because David was a man of war. It was NOT pleasing to God that David should build this house.

            “David is also the one who implemented instruments in Temple worship – not God. Yet these things pleased God.”

            The Bible is indifferent as to God being please about instruments in the worship. Just because God commands something, does not necessitate that God condoned it.

            “At best, you may be able to state that instrumental worship is not authorized, but you have no “authority” to say that they are condemned, and I strongly caution you against doing so, my friend.”

            I do not need authority to condemn something, I need only do what is commands, when God has command something be done, God has condemns everything else. God commands that we sing, we only ever see the Church sing, therefore we sing.

  16. Music in the early Christian Church replicates the original Jewish worship. From the time of Moses (when Israel formed), until the time of King David (approx. 400 years), instruments were never used in Jewish worship. Like modern denominations, instruments were added by man.

  17. This is really fascinating… So in Mark 14:26 – (identical in Matt 26:30) they sung a hymn together (or likely a psalm) then went to the mount of olives…. Why do you suggest this is was done in Acappella? It doesn’t mention either way – with nor without instruments – the same reasoning FOR using instruments could be applied to both?

    Mark 11:10 / Matt 21:9 translation of Hosanna literally means crying out in praise… Surely these are early church examples of the continuing tradition between Old and New testament by the early church founders – who still expressed praise through song, most likely with instruments given they were invented by David many years perviously and were a very active part of their culture by this point? Unless it states otherwise – there is no evidence on either side of the argument?

    It seems to me the Acapella worship is just a style you guys like, which is great – and it’s right to keep doing it! But I wonder why you feel the need to attempt to back it up with scripture, when there’s no scripture saying ‘don’t use instruments’ when you worship – just as much as there’s no scripture saying ‘do use instruments’… Puzzles me a little…

    Bless you guys.

    • Singing and they playing musical instruments are treated as separate activities, see 2 Chronicles 29:28. One will also note from that same chapter that musical instruments were very strictly regulated, just as Christian singing is very strictly regulated. In either case of Christian singing or Jewish worship, neither are at liberty to do as they please. So many refer to the Old Testament to gain authority to use musical instruments in Christian worship, yet so quickly ignore the all of the rules that governed them in Jewish worship. Acappella is not “just a style” of worship, it literally is referring to Christian worship. It is a Latin term that means “as in church” and referred to Christian worship. What we would refer to today as “Acappella” music is more accurately “Vocal Music”, because it in no way resembles or reflects the original Christian worship to which this term refers.

  18. It’s a silly justification for what is essentially a traditional practice.

    CoC always trot out this defense that they shun instrumental worship music because they are attempting to practice first century Christianity without modification. But the fact is, instrumental music is the only facet they insist upon. They practice a delusion that somehow most elements of first century practice can change except their sacrosanct article. The fact is, if they truly intended to practice first century worship, they would be doing so in a house church, chanting their praise without melody, without a pulpit minister, purchased meeting place and assisting elements like hymnals, projectors and amplification. Each member of the congregation would lead the worship instead of established figureheads. There would be no weekly contribution, only a necessary one for mission and support efforts. They would practice fiscal communism and financially support their own members from a common gathering. They would partake of the Lord’s Supper as a communal meal instead of Catholic elements designed to reduce costs. Etc.

    When presented with this contradiction, they will go to great lengths to explain how these changes are not actually changes in the worship, but merely aids that they have introduced in order to support the “first century” worship practice, or make it more practical for modern worshippers . There is no fundamental difference in “adding” instrumental backing to an existing worship song “as an aid” and “adding” melody with four-part harmony to an existing worship song “as an aid”.

    This idea that the Christian church is corrupted with any change introduced is logically inconsistent and the realization of this conflict is what has caused their movement to regularly split into additional denominations and factions over items like music, missionary oversight, slavery, the role of women, etc. The Christian church must evolve like any entity that prevails throughout history, and even the pages of the Bible represent significant modifications to the church’s structure and practice to accommodate needs. It’s a shame that the CoC insists on introducing division into the Christian church because they have been indoctrinated to miss the beam in their own eye.

    It’s unfortunate that most members of this denomination (and despite their protests, it IS a Christian denomination) are not properly educated in the history of their movement. If they had a better understanding of the compromises and mindset of its founders, they might better understand how much of their worship practice is rooted in the 1800s rather than the first century.

    • As someone who has been a member of churches of Christ all my life (45 yrs old) and lived all across the country, I can tell you that there are many in churches of christ today who have come to the conclusion that the argument against instruments is not a legitimate argument. Yes, there are still many who hold to this belief, but there are also many who do not. We may still sing accapella as a tradition, but find no fault with the instrument. My present congregation is arenas a congregation that doesn’t use the instrument, but in truth, the majority see it as a non issue

      • I’m starting to come to that conclusion myself, John. I have also been struck by how inconsistent the application of the silent hermeneutic has been. However, I will continue to worship in an acapella congregation, because that is my preference. Also, those who feel it’s a non-issue shouldn’t look down on those who believe it is wrong. I’ve met many people who feel they are more “enlightened” than other brothers and sisters because they believe instrumental music is a matter of preference. Conversely, brothers and sisters who believe it is wrong to use the instrument shouldn’t look down on those who believe instruments are a matter of opinion.

        • Clint I appreciate your response. I’m on the same page with you. For many years, I believed instruments were wrong. When I became an adult, I started doing serious study on my own and came to different conclusion. Although, I am now convicted by my study, it is in no way a forgone conclusion for me. I may be wrong in my understanding. That is reason I actually enjoy “healthy debates”. I want to hear opposing views, and I want to hear responses to my reasoning and understanding, so I can test my own concessions. fortunately, our salvation isn’t based on having a perfect understanding of God’s Word. It’s very fortunate, because I’m constantly changing my mind on issues over the years. I came to an amazing peace in my life about 20 years ago (I’m currently 45) when I came to the realization that I\my salvation is based on my perfect knowledge of the Bible. Of course i strive to understand it correctly. But I know that one day when I stand before God, I will incorrect in some of my understanding. Again, thankfully, my perfect knowledge will not be the basis of eternal life. Thankfully that basis is that I am washed in the blood of Jesus. I my opinion. this is one area the movement of Churches of Christ steered the wrong over the years. The restoration movement began by saying we are right because of Jesus, but years later began to say or imply that we are right because we do church right.
          I also worship with an accapella congregation, and prefer accapella In addition, I also completely agree that we can’t look down on others for their views or convictions. Like I said before, that was my own conviction for many years. I enjoy debating because it helps me consider other views or points, but I don’t do it as a way to prove that I am right. If that were the case, that would show a lot of arrogance eon my part. I hope I don’t come across that way at all. if I happen to be correct ij my understanding of this particular issue, I know without a doubt there are others in which I am not correct.

        • I disagree. Don’t add to the Scripture. Period. If I conclude something is wrong that is not prohibited in Scripture just because I feel it is wrong, I have added to the Scripture and thus sinned. What if I came to the conclusion that wearing nice clothes to church on Sundays is a sin? After all, Jesus does talk about not looking down on someone wearing lowly clothes, so I conclude that means we are ALL supposed to wear lowly clothes. OK? Are you supposed to just tolerate my insane addition to the Scripture? Or are you rather to conclude that I am addicted to rule-following, and try to teach me the truth more accurately, that Jesus took away the need for following external rules? I agree there’s a fine line that can be crossed into the realm of “looking down upon,” which is wrong because we are ALL lost sheep. But that doesn’t mean I give everyone a free pass to just have their own opinions, regardless of what they are. It doesn’t mean I can’t stand on clear Biblical grounds and teach that such additions to Scripture, no matter how strongly held, are only opinions and therefore represent someone who has a weak faith (Romans 14). Interestingly enough, why does nobody ever talk about the fact that WE AREN’T SUPPOSED TO HAVE WEAK FAITH? We almost reward people for it. We tiptoe around them for sure, all the while stagnating their faith and our own.

      • I have not yet found anyone who can give a convincing argument from scripture that would give us authority to use instruments in worship.

        “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits”. Matt 7:19-20.

        Some say singing only is permitted in worship. Others, that instruments are also permitted. Who is right? Either one is wrong and the other right, or both are wrong. Both cannot be right. Question is, which practice is the good fruit?

        Remember vs. 21, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven”.

        Those who only sing in worship do so not out of arrogance on the position they hold, but from a mind set of obedience to the One to whom we submit. We clearly have instruction to sing, and I have never heard any one contest this fact. Yet there is no instruction or example for the use of instruments in Christian worship… any where in the Bible.

        • Personally I prefer accapella, but my own study leads me to the conciction that instruments are not an abomination to God. You stated that people who only sing do not do so out of arrogance but obedience. The assumption left from that statement is that people who worship instruments do so out of arrogance. I don’t think you have the right to make that statement or judge the hearts of those who use instruments. I personally know people who worship with instruments who are very God fearing people chose to lives in obedience to Him. They would say that they do sing and that the instrument is an aid to the worship, I again being up the building and the money we use for the building. There is no authority or example of using money given to God to pay for a building. In addition, the building wasn’t “introduced” until 500 years after the church began. The same exact argument used to say we shpuldnt use instrumentS ahold have to be used for the building.

          • I have no problem with people repeating what I had said, provided it is accurate. But do not put words into my mouth. I have never stated or ever even implied that those who use instruments do so out of arrogance, and I am deeply offended that you state that this is my view, it most certainly is NOT.

            I and those I know, sing, and only sing out of a desire to obey God, following the specific instruction He has given us. How I view those who desire to use instruments in worship is this. Those that use instruments may be doing so sincerely believing what they are do is right, however they have no Bible foundation on which they can base their practice.

            Saul maybe have be sincere in what he was doing to the church, thinking it was right. But scripture proves he was wrong.

            What I question is the practice, not ones sincerity.

          • Jason, I very sincerely apologize and ask that you forgive me for my careless words. I was very quick to make an assumption from what I read, and responded way too quickly. It was a very unwise, and even a very immature action on my part. I know so much better than to do that, and I am ashamed of how I responded so quickly, without taking more time to ponder what you actually said. I have no excuse; I was absolutely wrong. If I were you I I would have felt deeply offended as well. Please accept my apology. It is truly sincere, and I honestly feel ashamed – as I should.

          • Thank you Jamie, apology accepted. Sorry for my slow reply, real life matters prevented me from seeing your response promptly.

  19. A believer who was immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins is now walking as a new creation, saved by grace. He/She teaches others to do the same. However, he/she chooses to worship with instruments. Or he/she worships in an acapella congregation that uses a praise team. Or he/she worships at an acapella congregation that claps along with the songs. Is this person’s salvation in jeopardy? Is his/her salvation found in Christ alone, or Christ PLUS something else (like acapella music, or no praise teams, or no clapping)? This is an honest question and one I struggle with because I feel that Christianity has become so complicated with all the rules and traditions that one has to follow to get it all right.

  20. For a long time the mantra of the Restoration Movement has been “Speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.” The New Testament is silent on the topic of instruments (neither for nor against) and yet we’ve done a lot of talking.

    • “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col. 3:17)

      No one would dispute from this passage of scripture that Christians are to have authority for every thing they do. And from Eph 5:18-19, Col. 3:16 no one would dispute that Christians have been authorized to sing. Yet, Christians are not free to sing anything they wish. Why? Because in those passages they are given specific instructions on how to sing and what to sing. Inherent within the command are restrictions (though not explicitly stated as such).

      Question: Where in the Bible are Christians instructed to play instruments?

      Simply put, there is no instruction to play instruments. Since there is no instruction, there is no way to know how they are to be used, or what is to be played. The Bible is completely silent on their use in Christian worship. Why could Jesus not be a priest after the order of Levi? Hebrew 7:14, “For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests”. One cannot argue FOR authority from the ABSENCE of authority.

      One is not expected to follow rules and traditions of men. One is expected to follow God’s will. God has said nothing about musical instruments, so we should not use them. God has said to sing. Therefore, we should sing.

      • The argument assumes that Biblical silence is prohibitive. How can we determine when silence is prohibitive and when it is permissive? The Bible is silent on other issues and yet we practice those things today. Also, in other passages we have a clear-cut example of the first century church engaging in a certain practice and yet we don’t do that same practice today. When is it okay to ignore a first-century practice and label it as “cultural” and when is a first century practice binding? How do we know?

      • Paul says to give to help the poor and those who spread the gospel. So, by you reasoning a church is wrong to use money for buildings, utilities, etc. there is no command or example for using money given to God for this purpose. In fact, we know the early church met in homes. So, any church using money given to purchase a building is in violation of the silence of scriptures. And it is not necessary to purchase a building to spread the gospel. The church was very successful spreading the gospel across the world, while meets in homes. That is the problem with the silence of scriptures approach. In all my years and travel, I have never met a church who is completely consistent with it

        • The Church is commanded to assemble, whether in private homes or in a communal building that a congregation has purchased is incidental to the carrying out of the command.

          The early church also met in catacombs, should we then all be meeting in catacombs also? Or should we use a little common sense?

          The early church also only sang in their musical part of the worship. Mechanical instruments were never used. I’m only using your logic here.

          • Jason, I may be wrong, but think you missed the point I was trying to make. My point was if we are going to stick to this rigid approach if “silence of the scriptures” then we cannot use money given to God to pay for buildings. I’m personally not against using money for buildings. But, if we use the principle of “silence of the scriptures” to say instruments are wrong because it only says to sing and doesn’t mention instruments, then consistency demands you use this principle for everything in the NT. The NT gives two specific purposes for use of money given. One, to help the poor, and two, to financially support those teaching the gospel. Therefore, we are told what money was used for. There is no command or example of money being used for anything else. If you are going to use the same principle that you use to state instruments are not authorized, then you have to also say that using money given by the members to purchase a church building is unauthorized. There is no authority or example to do such thing. Money was only given specifically to individuals live while they taught the gospel and to help the poor.

    • If we were really silent on all issues, we would not go to the doctor when sick. After Jesus died there are only 2 references of what to do when sick. One, Timothy was told to take wine for stomach. And two, James said call the elders and gave them pray. There is no mention of going to the doctor, but there is a command what to do. Therefore, according to the silence of the scriptures approach, going to the doctors violates Gods word/command.

      • A little common sense is needed. The Bible does not deal with every issue of life, and it does not give us all the answers that we might desire to the questions of life. But God created us as intelligent creatures, He gives us principles and rules to guide us. We no longer belong to the child estate, God expect us to make decisions and act in a mature fashion. We are to be good stewards our all that we have, and we are expected to treat others we we would like to be treated. This would include taking care of our bodies and taking care of others. As I said, one needs to apply a little common sense.

        • Common sense would indicate that if instruments were ok in the Old Testament and not directly forbidden in the New Testament, then they are still ok. That’s my common sense. I respect that your common sense has led you to a different conclusion. Looking to the New Testament as a rule book to replace the Old Testament is what leads to these arguments. Jesus fulfilled the law and paid the price for ours sins. The new rule is to have faith in Jesus as our Savior. Whatever mistakes we make, or errors in understanding, have been atoned for by his blood. If we have to understand and obey perfectly to get to Heaven, none of us will be there. We have freedom from sin, but not a license to willfully sin. God created us all and gave us our personalities and intellect. If the Bible were so clear on these points, there would be no debates. I was brought up with the understanding that people that weren’t church of Christ were just heathen sinners that didn’t care what God has to say. It turns out that they, in general, were very scholarly and just see things differently. In this day and time we might be better off reaching out to non-Christians, than spending time arguing about who has the most correct worship service.

  21. This issue should have been put to bed in the past several years…the arrogance required to condemn instrumental worship based upon a few texts rather than a summation of God’s heart for his people is astonishing. To say that the heart honestly offering its best to God can only do it with a voice gives God no credit whatsoever and limits the heart He created….ludicrous. Give your best to God has always been the sacrifice He required.

    • Incorrect, God has not always asked that our best is good enough. He has always ask that our obedience is to His will is what He desires. We can give our best every day, it will never be good enough, that is exactly why Jesus died for us.

  22. Hmmm.

    Original Bible manuscripts did not have chapters and verses. The early church didn’t use manuscripts that had chapters and verses.

    Using the logic presented in this article, it is therefore not right to use chapters and verses. The Bible never mentions chapters and verses, it is silent on their use.

    But you are quoting chapters and verses.

    How is that any different rationale than instruments?

  23. Paul says in Colombians 5:16 and Ephesians 5:19 to sing, “Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” Paul speaks of 3 different genres of songs, and it is my understanding that Psalms specifically meant a song accompanied by an instrument. I have heard people say that ter Psalm changed its meaning over time, but I have found no evidence for this claim. Also, if it did change, then what did Paul believe a Psalm was, as he obviously found it to be a specific type of song.

    I also have a problem with the idea that if the New Testament doesn’t say it, then it is should automatically be considered forbidden. This is basically the hermetic of the silence of the scripture. The problem is, if we take this to the extreme, we find problems. For example, the New testament say “to sing” but doesn’t mention the instrument, and therefore the idea is that it is forbidden. Lets try this same method of study with the idea of what to do if you get sick/ There are only 2 things that the New testament says to do (after Jesus died and under the new covenant) when you get sick. One, Paul told Timothy to drink some wine for his stomach, and 2, James said to call the elders and let them pray for the sick person and anoint with oil. Notice, the command is to call the elders and have them pray. That is the only command of what we have to do when we get sick. There is zero mention of going to doctor, therefore by the “silence of the scriptures” approach, going to the doctor is forbidden, The only command in the New Testament of what to do when you are sick is to call the elders to pray. Anything else is adding to God’s Word/commands.

    • These are good questions. I’ve also struggled in recent years over the inconsistencies I’ve seen in the teachings and practices of today’s Churches of Christ. I believe I will always be affiliated with the Church of Christ denomination because I admire their goal of simple, New Testament Christianity. However, no group is perfect and what I would like to know is when Biblical silence is prohibitive and when is it permissive? When is a first-century practice binding and when is it not? I see clear examples of the first century Christians meeting every single day, and yet we don’t bind that on our group today. We have clear examples of women praying and prophesying and yet we don’t allow them to speak. The Bible is silent on the practice of hiring and paying full-time ministers and yet we continue to do so. Who’s right? Who’s wrong?

      Or maybe Christianity isn’t that complicated. Maybe it all comes down to what Jesus said “Love God. Love people” and to “walk in the light as he is in the light.” Maybe we should respect each other’s opinions, not dividing ourselves over who’s right or wrong, but ultimately realizing that we are all in the wrong (Rom 3:23) and we all need the grace of God.

    • “Paul says in Colombians 5:16 and Ephesians 5:19 to sing, “Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” Paul speaks of 3 different genres of songs, and it is my understanding that Psalms specifically meant a song accompanied by an instrument”

      A psalm can be spoken, sung, or accompanied by an instrument. In Eph. 5:19 we are to “speak” one to another in psalms… making melody with the heart… In Col. 3:16 we are to “sing” psalms.


  24. Churches have always been divided on issues…hence the different denominations. I can’t help but feel that God might be shaking His head on things like this while Satan is clapping gleefully about the division of and tension between God’s children.

    Say someone is searching the internet to find out more about Christ and those who follow Him. That person comes across one of the many articles like this one that is an “I’m right, everyone else is wrong. If you don’t do it the way I interpret the Bible, you are doing it wrong” articles. Then they scroll down and see all the comments of so called Brothers and Sisters in CHRIST bickering back and forth. Is that person who is seeking to find out more about Christ finding out more about Christ and HIS LOVE or are they seeing division and bickering that no one would want to step into the middle of?

    So maybe a better use of our time, efforts and energy would be to tell the world, “I am saved by my loving savior Jesus Christ! He died not only for my sins but for yours too! He loves YOU more than you can comprehend and is longing for you to turn to Him, accept His grace and His love and live your life by His side! He will NEVER leave you or stop loving you! Just say the words, and YOU will be His! If you have more questions, just ask me! I LOVE to talk about my LOVING savior!” Isn’t that the message we are told to spread?

  25. This is a well written article explaining why the CofC does not use instruments. I have been a member of the CofC my whole life. However, I disagree wholeheartedly with this article. Anyone not of the CofC should know that there is a very large number of CofC believers that believe instrumental worship is ok along with me. Several CofC churches do have instrumental worship services. I attended one for several years. I grew up hearing exactly what was stated in this article. When I became old enough to start studying for myself I found that God loves instruments as worship. He demands instruments in the Old Testament and we read in revelations of instruments in heaven. So if he loved them before, and loves them in heaven now, what sense does it make for him to consider them sinful or wrong on earth? The old law is abolished yes I agree. The new law brought a new path to salvation. Not a new worship. Not a different God. Well it says to sing in the New Testament and only says to sing. Well I sing right along with the instruments. As does the entire congregation. All together. I love instrumental worship and so do many other church of Christ members. Again, very well written article.

    • Israel demand they have a king like the nations around them. God granted this request, but He did not condone it, rather He gave them a king as a punishment. Moses allowed the Jews to divorce their wives, but clearly this was not God’s intention or desire – Matt 19:8.

      For the first 400 years (approx.), the nation of Israel did not use instruments in their worship. The worship of the early Christian Church accurately replicates the original Jewish worship in that only singing without instruments took place. King David introduced instruments into the worship, this is why they are referred to as “the instruments of David” 2 Chronicles 29:26. Hezekiah stationed the Levites according to King David’s command vs. 25. It is unclear from this verse if God condone their use or not, how ever He gave command through the prophets. It is a possibility that God commanded their use as it was His anointed that gave the command to be used. Singing and the playing of instruments in this chapter are treated as separate activities. The playing of instruments ONLY by the Levites took place ONLY while the burnt offering was taking place. However, the singing continues after the burnt offering has finished.

      Amos 6 is dealing with Israel and their attitude, their heart was far from God. Note verse 5, “who sing idle songs”, an idle song because their lives did not reflect the words that were being offered to God. “who like David invent for themselves instruments of music”, not an outright condemnation of instruments being used in the Jewish worship, but a condemnation of Israel who were taking liberties and doing what they wanted. Ironic that the writer uses David and his instruments to illustrate this point.

      You say that “the new law brought a new path to salvation, Not a new worship”. You fail to realize that it was a man who changed the national worship of Israel and introduced instruments where for the previous 400 years there were none. You also ignore that, only certain instruments were introduced, and ignore all the rules that governed their use.

      • We know that divorce is wrong; the Bibl is clear on that. And, scriptures says Moses allowed it because of hard heart. Where does any scripture say or even imply that David’s use of instruments was against God’s will. Their is no scripture that says or even implies that instruments were allowed because of harness of heart. In fact, many of the Psalms are a complete collection of David’s songs played with instruments. Not only is his use of instruments not condemned, they are supported by the Spirit, by the very fact that they are scripture God’s Word. The only conclusion we get from Psalms is that David’s worship was absolutely accepted by God.

        Ephesians says to make melody in your heart. So, even if someone is singing accapella, it’s possible the person is not making melody in their heart. And, Vice-Vera, David could play the harp and sing, and make melody in his heart. In fact, since his praise was accepted by God, it shows h must have been also making melody in his heart, which is the most vital part of our praise to God.

        • Jamis,

          You are ignoring point that instruments were used in Jewish worship, and only introduced by a man 400 years after that national worship had been established. You also ignore all of the rules that governed their use in their worship.

          You revert to the Old Covenant worship and the Jewish use of instruments in that worship to give authority for their use in New Covenant worship. You ignore the fact that they were never used in Christian worship, just as you ignore the fact that they were never used in Jewish worship for hundreds of years. And in both cases they were introduced by men. Amos 6:5 does not portray their use in a very good way.

          Yet, you argue that Ephesians says we are to sing “psalms” and that psalms were always accompanied by instruments, therefore instruments are permitted. This could not be further from the truth. Yes, psalms could be accompanied by instruments, but they could also be spoken or sung without instruments. In fact psalm 90 is a prayer by Moses, which just goes to shown instruments were not mandated just because something was classed as a psalm.

          There is no one part or aspect of our worship that is any more important than another. However, it must be sincere and according to God’s word.

          “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” Heb. 11:7

          “For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” Rom 4:3

          In these 2 verses both Noah and Abraham did what God commanded them and it was counted as righteousness.

          “Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.” Lev 10:1-2

          The counter point to Noah and Abraham is Nadab and Abihu. They offered to God that which God had not command, and God took their lives. God has commanded Christians to sing, He has not authorized Christians to use instruments in worship. ANY use of instruments in Christian worship is without authority.

          Remember, you are the one in the affirmative position here, not me. The burden of proof is upon you. You must give from scripture, authority for their use.

          • Janis, I understnd the whole argument and using examples of Noah and Nadab and Abihu. For years I held that conviction and used those same examples. But, from study I have changed my view and understanding, and have found flaws in this hermenuetic, which is basically the silence of the scriptures. If you take this rigid approach that basically says something is not mentioned then it is prohibited, then you have to be consistent with this in everything. As you mentioned, instruments introduced by man. Yet, we don’t have God condemning them. In fact, we have people like David uses instruments, and many of his songs which he wrote that were sang and played with instruments are now a part of God’s word.
            But here the the thing. You said I’m in the affirmative position to give authority for it’s use. Are you consistent with that? Do you worship in a building that was paid by money given to God? Buildings were not worshiped in for 500 years. Buildings, (including synagogue buildings) were mans addition. But here the the more serious point, to go along with the Nadab and Abihu type argument. In the NT we have two specific examples/commands for what money given to God was to be used for. One, it was used to help the poor. Two, it was specifically used to financially support people so they could spend their time spreading the gospel. We don’t have any command or example to use the money any other way. Buildings are not a necessity. Homes can be used, as they were for hundreds of years. So if you stand by this hermenuetic, then you are in the affirmative position if you see no problem with using money given to God to pay for buildings, (electricity, kitchens, gyms, fellowship halls, church vans, etc) You must give scripture and authority to using money given to God for it’s use of paying for buildings, etc.

          • “But, from study I have changed my view and understanding, and have found flaws in this hermenuetic, which is basically the silence of the scriptures”.

            It is sad that it comes to this. That in order to justify instruments in worship you have to reject basic laws of interpretation, rather than come up with scripture. You are arguing for authority from the lack of authority. Your logic is a paradox, and cannot stand.

            “But here the the thing. You said I’m in the affirmative position to give authority for it’s use. Are you consistent with that?

            And you have yet to reference ANY scripture to support your position.

            “Do you worship in a building that was paid by money given to God? Buildings were not worshiped in for 500 years”.

            The earliest confirmed church “building” is located in Dura Europos near the Euphrates River. It was a house that had been remodeled to serve as a church building in approx. 232-233 AD.

            “The requirement by command and example for Christians to assemble for the purpose of worship (Acts 20:7; Hebrews 10:25), implies (and thus authorizes) a place of some sort at which to meet”. – Wayne Jackson.

            “Secondly, the assertion that no special buildings for worship existed until the 4th century, has been disputed by some very notable historians. For example, Joseph Bingham (1668-1723) of England produced a massive work (ten volumes) which consumed twenty years of research. Titled, The Antiquities of the Christian Church, it is recognized generally that this scholarly effort “has not been superceded” (Cross 1958, 173).

            Therein, Bingham declared that the views of some “in these last ages” [i.e., in his day], which suggest that the Christians of the first three centuries had “no distinct places of worship,” does not hold up under careful investigation.

            Bingham calls attention to the work of Joseph Mede (1586-1638), who did a detailed refutation of this claim, “collecting the authorities of the ancients, which for the three first ages [centuries] prove the being of Christian churches” (Bingham 1865, 277-282). A massive amount of evidence was introduced from the writings of the “Ante-Nicene fathers.”

            Bingham concluded by observing that while larger facilities certainly became more voguish after the advent of Constantine’s administration, nonetheless the early saints “always had places peculiarly set apart for Divine worship” (282). The English scholar said this fact was “undeniably” proved.

            Others have noted that while the early churches frequently met in a member’s home initially, eventually many of these houses were donated to the body of Christians and became buildings especially dedicated to the church’s assemblies”. – Jackson

            In the Old Testament God’s people were encouraged to give for the purpose of building a place of worship, and did so very generously. In the New Testament we can see the church assembling together. It is not unreasonable to expect any group of Christians to give to a common fund to take care of any incidental expenses associated with coming together, and there are expenses regardless of where they meet, be it in a home or communal building either rented or owned. The only way not to incur any financial liability is not to assemble in the first place, which is contrary to both command and example that we see in the New Testament. So Jamie, your assertion about church buildings is simply not very accurate. A congregation owning a building is simply incidental to the congregation assembling for worship and in no way violates the silence of the scriptures.

            So it seems the argument that you put forth falls flat on it face.

          • Jason, first, I just noticed I responded to you earlier as Janis. For some reason I thought I was responding to a “Janis”. Not sure where I got that. But, I wanted to be sure you don’t think I was ridiculing your name; I would never do that. In fact, I enjoy discussing this issue with you. I enjoy discussing issues with people who hold different opinions. It helps me to continue to challenge my own convictions. It’s not about trying to prove “I’m right”. I hope you also got a chance to read my apology (regarding an immature and careless response from an earlier post. I meant it sincerely.

            AS to your previous comment,I disagree that the argument falls flat…. You stated, “That in order to justify instruments in worship you have to reject basic laws of interpretation…” The basic laws of interpretation you speak of are not God inspired,and while agree with the hermemuetic of “silence of the scriptures” to a degree, I due find flaws in it’s interpretation. For example, there are those farther to the other side that would go as far to say that only one cup can be used in communion, as point to the interpretation of “silence of the scriptures” to make their point. They would argue that you and I reject the basic laws of interpretation when we take liberty to use more than one cup. I believe they are wrong in their understanding, but he point is, they would still claim to being interpreting by the hermenuetic of “silence of the scriptures, an interpretation of scripture made by man. I still stand by my argument of the building, I find it interesting that you referenced the OT and and paying to build “God’s house” for several reasons.

            One, I don’t believe that really has any connection to today, given God does not have a house (according to Stephen in Acts 7). We do meet in God’s house when we get together or go to meet God; we are constantly in the presence of God. Therefore, money used to pay for a meeting place is not the thing as the OT people using their money to build “God’s House”. Second, I really find it interesting you even use the OT as some type of reasoning for using money to pay for building, but then you reject any OT references to praise with instruments being acceptable to God on the basis that it was under the old covenant. Seems to me both references/examples would have to be rejected to be consistent.

            Personally, I have no problem with money being used for buildings, but my reasoning is that I don’t believe that authority has to be given for every single thing that we do. Fro example, I don’t believe we have to have authority to use more than one cup for communion. The point was to take communion. In the same regard, I don’t believe we have to have authority to use an instrument with our praise. The point was to praise God, and to praise God from the heart. I believe this can still be accomplished with an instrument, just as David praised God from the heart and his voice, while playing an instrument.
            You made the argument that money has to be used for Christians to meet. That is true. But money set aside for God does not have to be used for a meeting place. So to me, that argument falls flat on it’s face.I have a home and I pay for my mortgage, utilities, etc, regardless if we use my home for meeting place or not. It is not necessary to use extra money (money given to God) to spend on a meeting place. gain, I have no problem with using money on the building, but I would if I held the same interpretation of scripture that you do.
            Again, we have clear commands/examples from Paul that money was to be used for supported those with means they need to live while spreading the gospel, and to help the poor. There is no authority to use this money for any other reason.You quoted Wayne Jackson as saying, ““The requirement by command and example for Christians to assemble for the purpose of worship (Acts 20:7; Hebrews 10:25), implies (and thus authorizes) a place of some sort at which to meet.” That is absolutely true, that verse authorizes we have a meeting place. it does not authorize to use money given to God fora meeting place. Again, it is to necessary. Christians can meet in homes, in which they are already paying for.
            A meeting place for Christians in no way calls for having to spend the money given to God. My wife and I lived in China for a few years, and every church we knew of was meeting in homes. None of the money given by Chinese Christians was being used to pay for a meeting place. It is not necessary. The NT states what to use the money for, and gives no authorization to use the money in any other way. This is the same argument that is used to using no instrument. The NT says “to sing”, and gives no authorization for anything else.

          • Sorry for all the typos and misspellings in my last post. I typed it quick and should have edited it before posting

  26. Thank you for the article
    May Christians…. New Testament Christians ….Always speak where the Scriptures speak and reverence the silence of the scriptures as well . May we always be obedient to The Gospel.

  27. As I read this article, the concern I had was not about musical instruments, but rather the disregard for God’s instructions (Torah) found in the “Old Testament”. Jesus was a “Jew”, an Israelite, and followed those instructions perfectly as an example for us all. Those instructions, referred to as law, are covenants between God and whosoever will obey. A study of covenants will show that they are ongoing. Jesus didn’t do away with all previous covenants, he added a new one to them, or more accurately renewed the old ones. The words that Jesus spoke were instructions from Torah. He just added a new dimension to them. How can one say that we don’t need to follow the “Old Testament” when that is exactly what Jesus taught. The church did not replace Israel and God’s people. If we are to truly be reconciled to God, we must become a part of Israel through belief in Jesus and by following God’s instructions given in Torah.

  28. I attended a Church of Christ who’s congregation split up over this issue of musical instruments (a piano) being brought into our church. This issue drove such a great division between the members the congregation that it lead to around 50% of the church’s congregation leaving that Church of Christ and starting their own non-instrumental (cappella) Church of Christ a few miles down the road. I will never forget the last Sunday service at that church! After the preacher finished his sermon and closed the days services, he asked that all in attendance that day to gather together around inside the church walls in a big circle and hold each others hand as he prayed for all the people of our congregation to find a way to heal our divisive struggle on this issue! All the congregation reluctantly circled the inside of the church building with hands held as we were asked and the preacher prayed ending the services! I have never in my life heard such a deadening silence as the divided congregation exited the church building that Sunday! About half the congregation’s people were never to be seen in that Church of Christ building again! I stopped attending that (and any) Church of Christ not long after that incident! I did know what then, but I did know that there was something wrong with the Church of Christ! I have since attended other churches and mostly done lots of Bible studying on my own! I figure that if a Church of Christ can be ripped apart by a struggle of the Flesh of a minute, trivial, and non-significant issue such as no instruments or instruments (cappella or non-cappella), then they do not worship God & Jesus correctly, and could never survive a real significant issue of man’s struggle against the forces of Evil! IE: Ephesians 6:12

    • From my study, I don’t find issue with using instruments. However, I would not call it trivial issue. Although it may seem trivial on the surface, many people have a strong conviction from their study of God’s Word that it would not please God to use instruments while worshiping Him. Therefore, regardless of what the correct answer is, it would be sin for those people to use instruments because it would go against their faith; it would violate their conscience. Again, I personally have no issue with instruments. i currently worship in an accapella congregation. I would never push fro instruments in our congregation ,because I know their are members in our congregation that cold not worship God their any longer if that were done. It would violate their conscience before God to do so. You may see this as a trivial issue, and see those who think the instrument is wrong as weak in their understanding. (I’m personally saying people who believe the instrument is wrong are weak; I believe it’s simply their understanding from scripture). If that is the case, what does Romans teach us about this? It says we are not to cause those who are weaker to stumble. I would argue that bringing in an instrument into a congregation where half the members see a problem with using instruments is wrong would not only be unwise. I wasn’t there to see exactly went on with your congregation. But it appears like the split took place because some people decided they were going to use the instrument regardless of what the others though about it? What choice did the people have, who couldn’t worship God with instruments according to their understanding and faith? To do so would have been sin. Roman teaches that even if something isn’t sin, but you believe it is sin, then it is sin to so do. it seems to me that half the congregation was left in a position where they had no choice at all but to split and worship somewhere else. I a sorry that you had to go through a split as they are very painful. I worship with a church that had a split seven years before I got there. I’ve now been with this church 11 yeas, but the effects of the split are still very present and their is healing that still needs to take place.

  29. I’m just wondering if you have any brethren that are mute and their only means to sing from the heart is through musical instruments?

  30. The article is informative and scriptural; but there was one issue that was not mentioned that I believe helpful in understanding why instrumental music should not be used. Before addressing that issue, I would like to state something I’ve noted among many of my religious friends. It has created a lot of the misunderstanding and differences among those religious groups claiming to be Christians. The issue is that of determining religious authority. Both the old and the new testaments stress the importance of it. Duet 4:2 and Gal 1:6-9 are 2 examples emphasizing its need.
    Now to the unmentioned issue. It is based on Hebs.7:12-14 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. 7:13 For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. 7:14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.
    These scriptures point out one of the rules of interpretation. The rule is when God tells us what he wants all else is excluded. God told Moses that priests -especially high priests – were to come from the tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron. The Heb. writer states clearly that it was not necessary to write a list of those excluded. That was done by God’s silence on any other tribe being priests and his clear statement as to who could be priests.
    That rule of interpretation has not changed, Therefore when our new testament only authorizes vocal music and is silent on all else the only way to interpret that silence is Only vocal music is ordained by God.

  31. Do C of C wash feet as in John 13:14-15 (KJV)
    14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
    15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

  32. I see your point of view, but, it seems that there is a hint of Phariseeism in the works. They made all kinds of rules for Jews to obey which Christ denounced. I don’t believe it matters if instruments are used or not. David played his harp when singing to the Lord. It’s what’s in your heart and spirit that matters.

  33. I have attended many services at the Church of Christ….love the accapella music but………. My whole family have God given music abilities …. If God did not intend for us to practice music with instruments….WHY would HE give those talents to so many???? And why should those talents NOT be used in HIS worship services when they are gifts from HIM????
    This has been a burning question all my life and even though you have “explained” very well…. It still doesnt answer THAT question!

    • Agreed Marquita. It would seem that in the Church of Christ, we are encouraged to bury that talent, but to invest others for the kingdom. I have never heard any non-instrumentalists give a good use of the talent of playing an instrument for the kingdom. The parable of the talents makes it clear that God gives each of us talents, with the intention that it is our job to invest them for the kingdom. It is interesting to me that no one has a problem with a preacher using his God-given talent in front of an audience for the betterment of the kingdom, but most hard line Church of Christ folks would have a problem with a guitar player standing in front of a group of people and using his/her God-given talent for the kingdom.

  34. The Head of the Body, Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus) promised, through the prophetic voices of the psalms, to both SING and PLAY instruments THROUGH HIS BODY, the Church, praising the Lord!

    Psalm 22:22 and Psalm 71:20-22 is the voice of the Messiah promising to sing WITH stringed instruments AFTER HE IS RAISED FROM THE DEAD!

    In both these psalms, the key phrase “I WILL” speaks of a SINGULAR VOICE promising to sing and play instruments in the midst of the assembly! Who can deny it?

    If we, in the churches of Christ, reference Hebrews 2:12, which is referenced from Psalm 22:22, as a “proof text” for a cappella singing only by changing the “I WILL sing praise” in the psalm to “THE CONGREGATION WILL sing praise” does not consistency and honesty demand that we also change the “I WILL SING WITH THE HARP” in Psalm 71:22 to “THE CONGREGATION WILL SING WITH THE HARP”?

    If not, why not? Was it not the Messiah who was “brought up again from the DEPTH OF THE EARTH” (Psalm 71:20) agreeing with the prophetic voice of David, speaking of the risen Christ, in Psalm 16:10 according to the Apostle Peter in Acts 2:29-31)

    Perhaps, if we in the churches of Christ would have kept THE COMMANDMENT OF THE LORD (1 Corinthians 14:37) to let or allow the Spirit-filled members of the Body who come together “having a psalm WITH various stringed instruments” (1 Corinthians 14:26) as the Spirit of Messiah IN THEM gave them the grace to manifest His presence IN OUR MIDST then this controversy would have never been a “test” of FELLOWSHIP!

    How else will the RISEN MESSIAH fulfill His promise written IN THE PSALMS, concerning HIMSELF (Luke 24:44-45) to SING and PLAY stringed instruments, if not through His Body, “in the midst of the congregation?

    Speaking the truth in love and provoking the Body of Messiah to unity!!!

  35. Just goes to show that the Church of Christ is more about appearance and adherence to its own arbitrary rules and less about love and acceptance. I wouldn’t expect any different from a group of unintelligent simpletons who believe that beating your children is how to correctly discipline them and that God’s love is limited to only a certain few. Those are what I was taught growing up, and that is why I am an atheist today. Your Jesus must be so proud of the way you all turn people into atheists!

  36. This is such a surface, insignificant issue. Misses the heart entirely. More concerned with following rules than true worship. It’s almost a waste of time to sit here and type this. Many are reading this and assuaging their own guilt for double-mindedness and repetitive sin in their own life, because it makes them feel better to be “in the right” with men they view as correct. This argument talks about how the OT law has been done away with, using that as a defense to not use instruments, but the ENTIRE argument is built on the assumption that there is still a law in effect that has anything to do with our actions! People who think this way have simply replaced the OT law with the “NT law,” which is rather ambiguous and gray (because it doesn’t exist), which is why arguments like this generate so much disagreement. Romans is very clear: We are not under law! Unless, of course, we subject ourselves to it voluntarily (hint, hint). There are MANY MANY things we do in worship that are not “authorized” (there’s that rules-based thinking again) in the NT. Why do we capitalize on this one, arguably one of the most ambiguous of them all? There are also many things that seem to be much more clear directives in the NT that we have no problem ignoring (like women covering their head). Let each one be fully convinced in his own mind, as Romans 14 says, and stop passing judgments on disputable matters. Then go make better use of your time. Get right with God in your heart, not in your hand. Let Him change you from the inside out through being FILLED with the Holy Spirit. Go serve people. Tell your story of redemption. Get into people’s lives. And if those people are not from the Church of Christ, I dare you to see if you can find ANY significant difference between the two of you that would prevent you from having unity.

  37. I wish the writer had cited his or her source for this part: “At first, the organ was played only before and after the “liturgy” (worship service). Years later, it was moved into the service proper. Then it caused such controversy that in ad 1054 it led to a split between Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.”

    Everything I’ve found online about the East-West Schism says the primary catalysts for the split were disagreements about the role of the Pope and the addition of the filioque to the Creed. It is misleading to state that musical instruments were a major contributing factor to that split.

  38. What is God? God is Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth. What is truth? “Thy word is truth.” Law is the word of God. Jesus did not do away with the law, he fulfilled it. He said, a new commandment I give you – love one another.
    In itself, that was not a new a commandment, He went on… Love on another as I have loved you. He loved them not because of anything they were or did or because of what it would benefit him. He loved them unconditionally because he knew they would gain from it. He loved unconditionally, putting his desires and wishes aside for the good of others. That is how the law works. Initially it is a schoolmaster and we live by the letter until we master it or it masters us. Then we “behave or do the right thing ” out of concern and love for others, not because we are afraid of “getting caught breaking the law”. That is what is meant by the spirit of the law. We go beyond fear of punishment of self to love of protection and well being for others.