By S. Leonard Tyler
Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:19, in contrast to being drunken with wine, “But be filled with the Spirit,” and in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” which means when combined: Allow the teaching of the Spirit to fill you heart, guide your thinking, control your speech, direct your actions and fill your life with faith, love, confidence, assurance, happiness, peace and everlasting hope to the overflowing of joyfully singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to teach one another and praise Almighty God.
Singing is very vital to one’s spiritual life. In fact, it should be a heartwarming influence in the assembled church for worship. It demonstrates not only the true spirit of the assembly but also yields a mighty influence upon the minds of those assembled to open their hearts to the truth, wisdom, and admonition offered in this joyful manner. Such an attitude is very advantageous to the acceptance of all spiritual blessings, even truth itself with genuine love. Singing praise with grace in the heart unto the Lord is a most expressive and demonstrative way in which any group can make known truth, wisdom, and the purity of their own faith in an appreciative, joyful manner. it is a wonderful way to express convictions.
We are to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, making melody unto the Lord. Some have made a big thing of the different types of songs to be sung. But it is rather difficult to determine the terms used sufficiently to definitely distinguish between them. It is accepted that each term originally denoted a distinct kind or type of song, but within one song two or three types are often involved or combined. Psalms are devoted as praise to ‘God such as David’s Psalms, but hymns are also deeply emotional and devoted to God. Spiritual songs, perhaps, are more exuberant, moving in spirit but may be highly devoted to God in praise and admiration. It is the combination of all the deep feelings and loving emotions one has for God and his great desire to make known to others what being a Christian means to him, as well as transmitting the wonderful message to others for their salvation.
We recognize that many religious leaders in a desperate effort to find scriptural authority or justification of their mechanical instruments in worship call attention to the fact that in the Old Testament originally “sacrifice” implied animal offerings. But we inquire, does that authorize or justify animal sacrifices in acceptable worship under the New Covenant (Rom. 12:1)? The response is definitely negative, “No.” Then would psalms being sung with musical accompaniments under the Old Economy justify the use of mechanical instruments of music in worship under the New Covenant? The answer is definitely negative, “No.” We are living under the New Testament today and not the Old. The instrument upon which we are to make melody is the heart (Eph. 5:19).
Psallo means a plucking, twitching, to pull and let go again, or the vibration of a string, per usual in the Old Testament usage, mechanical instrument. However, in the New Testament we are told very plainly what the instrument is upon which we are to make melody; it says, “singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.” It is “speaking to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” or “teaching and admonishing one another.” This can not be done with a mechanical instrument to play the melody. The Lord did not practice or teach any such thing; neither did His apostles. In fact, no instrumental mechanical music was ever a part of the New Testament church’s worship. Historically, this statement stands. We mean with the approval of the doctrine of Christ. If it is, please give chapter and verse for it. “But it does not say not to have it,” some respond. No, neither does it say, “not to have ham and coffee on the Lord’s table.” Does that justify ham on the Lord’s table? Remember our faith stands in what the New Testament says, not in what it does not say. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with grace in your heart to the Lord is one great and effective way to demonstrate the fulness of spirit and richness of truth which fills the heart with the deepest feelings of love and purity of life. It is demonstrative of praise and thanksgiving to almighty God with emotions seasoned with truth.
Guardian of Truth XXX: 7, p. 212
April 3, 1986