By Lindsay Allen
Yes, I am aware that orphan homes and instrumental music have little if anything in common. They are coupled together in this article in order to teach a lesson with as much clarity and simplicity as possible.
Our brethren who endorse the use of money from the church treasury to support institutional orphan homes are opposed to instrumental music in worship. In support of their position they readily cite Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, and other passages of Scripture as authority. I could not agree more. When one stands on a thus saith the Lord, there is no controversy. Those who handle the word of God honestly know that God has authorized only vocal music in the worship of the church. Those who bring in instruments of music are guilty of rebelling against divine authority.
Now, with the music question scripturally settled, what about church support of orphan homes? That question must be scripturally settled as the music question and every other issue concerning the work and worship of the church. Where is Scripture for the Lord’s church to support out of its treasury orphan homes, or any other secular institution? Has God placed orphan care on the church? If so where is the Scripture? Surely, God is as much concerned with the care of orphans as he is with the kind of music in church worship? Yes, God has always championed the cause of widows and the fatherless. The Old Testament is replete with God’s care for the widows and the fatherless. “Do not remove the ancient landmark, nor enter the fields of the fatherless; for their Redeemer is mighty; He will plead their cause against you” (Prov. 23:10,11). God is as interested in the fatherless and widows in the Christian age as in any other age.
But to whom has he entrusted their care? Let the Holy Spirit answer. “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: To visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (Jas. 1:27). This is the only reference in the New Testament on the care of orphans and it is addressed, not to the church but to individual Christians. It is clear and definite as Ephesians 5:19 and/or Colossians 3:16 on church music.
James 1:27 excludes the church or any other organization through which the church might operate just as Ephesians 5:19 excludes the instrument. If God had in-tended for the church to use instrumental music in worship he would have so specified. Likewise if God had intended for the church to care for orphans he would have so specified. Brethren, let us be satisfied with God’s arrangement. Those who reach out with their own means to care for orphans, or help others in need not only bless those in need but are blessed themselves. “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Nothing takes the place of personal involvement in the Lord’s work. Helping others bear their burdens helps to build one’s character for eternity.
Finally, to all Christians, a timely warning. There must be more than mere words in the Lord’s work. James’ warning is timely, “Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only” (Jas. 1:22). Words apart from deeds are futile. It is easy to become negligent about our duties to orphans and others in need. There is no better incentive to diligent and faithful service in these things than the parable of judgment in Matthew 25:31-46. Brethren, may all of us be faithful stewards of God.
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: 2 p. 23
January 19, 1995