Instrumental Music In Worship (2)

Donald P. Ames
Tampa, Florida

First article: Instrumental Music In Worship (1)

Continuing our review of arguments advanced in defense of the use of instrumental music in worship, we want to again bring out the importance that it is not what we want, but what God wants. God has laid down certain limits in the scripture (2 John 9, 1 Cor. 4:6, Gal. 1:6-10) which we must abide by. If our lives are not in accord with these principles, we have no part in him (1 John 1 :5-10). There, our authority in this practice is of great importance. So, continuing:

"It's Just An Aid."

Instrumental music is not just an aid, but it's an addition of another kind of music. When a black board has been used, a song book, etc., nothing more than what is required has been used, but when the instrument has been added, we have not only singing, but playing also. This is adding another kind of music unknown to, the word of God. Also, if fails to "aid" in fulfilling the purpose of music: "Teaching and admonishing," "speaking one to another" (Eph, 5:19, Col. 3:16). Instruments actually work AGAINST the purpose of singing, drowning out the words and making it often impossible to understand the teaching involved. So, from these facts, we call see that not only is it not an aid, but it is addition, and that rather than aiding, it hinders and obstructs the very purpose of singing. Singing has a purpose, and it's not to please men but God (Col. 3:16). God is seeking the "fruits of the lips" as His praise ( Heb. 13:15).

"It's a Matter of Expediency"

Actually, this argument assumes the very thing it is to prove: that it is permissible. Paul says, "All things are lawful for me; but not all things are expedient . . . All things are lawful for me; but not all things edify" (I Cor. 6:12, 10:23). To be expedient, a thing must first be lawful, and also edify. Instrumental music is not lawful, and, as seen above, doesn't edify (in the Bible sense). Therefore, this argument is worthless as a defense of this practice.

"You Have Them in Your Homes"

First of all, let's point out that Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16 are both individual in their nature and don't permit singing praise to God with the instrument in the home or church. There's nothing i n the passage limiting it to the church only. Again, the singing of secular songs with a piano is one thing, and using it as all act of worship is another. The act of washing is okay-and adviseable-in the home, but Christ condemned the Pharisees for trying to make it an act of worship and binding it on others (Matt. 15:1-9). Don't confuse the two. I may like peanut and mustard sandwiches, but I've got no right to add them to the Lord's Supper and make it part of worship to God.

"It's Justified by the Greek Word Psallo"

Many objections could be advanced against this argument. All the scholars translating the King James and American Standard Bible have translated it "sing." However, it is now said they (and the providence of God) didn't leave us a reliable guide, and that unless one knows Greek, he doesn't know what God expects of him. This excludes the mass of the public, leaving them in the dark, as they are unfamiliar with the Greek language. However, the English is sufficient by itself! God has not hidden His will from the public.

Also, being individual in their nature, Eph. 5 and Col. 3 are now no longer matters of "expediency" but have now become commands for EVERY PERSON to have his OWN instrument to psallo on. No amount of argument can get around this point. Then too, it is now a "must," rather than a "may." If it be argued that context determines if it's to be included, context will rule it out in every instance. Even Eph. 5:19 says to psallo "WITH THE HEART." However, now we are told we must have an instrument to do it on, rather than being able to do it as Paul instructed.

But, does the Greek word actually authorize it? Those defending it on this basis have the fond habit of lifting out the middle part of Thayer's definition and assigning it that meaning in New Testament times. But, what does Thayer's Greek Lexicon really say ? "In the New Testament to sing a hymn, to celebrate the praise of God in song." He does not say it includes the instrument "In the New Testament." To this could be added: Arndt and Gingrich, Abbot-Smith, Robertson, Vine Vincent, Green, and many others. In fact, nearly every lexicon reads the same way "In the New Testament."

While psallo included it in the Old Testament, the word has changed its meaning and excludes it in the New Testament. At one time it also meant "to pluck out the hair," but surely no one will try to give it that meaning in the New Testament. Why then give it another out-dated translation? Examples of this in modern times is seen in the word prevent, which formerly meant precede (I Thess. 4:15 -KJV and ASV). Words change their meaning, and such has been the case with psallo, as all lexicons agree. There is no justification in the Greek either.

In conclusion, we note the instrument severs one from Christ (2 John 9, Gal. 1:6-10), and makes our worship vain (Matt. 15:8-9, Mark 7:7-8). It is no part of the revealed truth (John 16:13, 2 Tim. 3:16-17, 2 Pet. 1:3), and hence cannot be done by faith (Rom. 10:17). It cannot be justified by the Old Testament, the New Testament, heaven, the silence of the Scriptures, as an "aid," or a matter of "expediency"-and the Greek fails too. The usage in the home for secular matters in one thing, but it fails to justify it for worship. In view of these facts, we ask if the desire for a few moments pleasure to the ear is really worth denying all the teaching of the Bible for? Why not take the Bible plan, the way we know is both right and acceptable unto the Lord?

Truth Magazine IV:7, pp. 8-9
April 1960