Instrumental Music In Worship: From Heaven Or From Men?

Vernon W. Kerns

Jesus asked the Chief Priests and the elders, “The baptism of John–where was it from? From heaven or from men?” (Matthew 21: 25) This question should be asked about many religious activities and beliefs of today, including instrumental music in worship; what is the answer? In the Scriptures, we read, “ ‘. . . in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ” (Matthew 15:9) Again, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) Anything in worship coming from men is not according to Christ and must not be practiced.

In the Old Testament, we are told, “And he stationed the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with stringed instruments, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, of Gad the king’s seer, and of Nathan the prophet; for thus was the commandment of the LORD by his prophets.” (2 Chronicles 29:25) God gave the command in the Old Testament; however, Jesus said nothing of instrumental music being used in New Testament worship. He could have, but He did not. Our instruction comes from Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,” (Ephesians 5:19) and “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:16) Think on these things.

In John 8:31, Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” Do we want to be disciples indeed (true disciples)? How then can using something Jesus did not command make us His disciples indeed? Again, in John 14:15, Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Is the use of instruments in worship loving Jesus and keeping his commandments? 

The Hebrew writer says, “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,” (Hebrews 5:9). Jesus said nothing of the instrument in worship; He could have, but He did not! Is using instruments in worship obeying Jesus? No, it is not. Will He save those who use it? 

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) Since the Scriptures make a man of God complete and the Scriptures make no mention of the instrument in worship, can the instrument help to make a man of God complete? 

In 2 John 9 we read, “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.” Since the use of instruments in worship is not authorized in the Scripture, and we choose to use those instruments, are we abiding in the doctrine of Christ? Will the instrument build a relationship with God? I think not.

When considering the use of instruments in worship, we must ask ourselves whether that use is of heaven or of men. When people use the instrument in worship today, it has no connection with Christ; it is from men! Since there is no direction from the New Testament Scripture to include the instrument in worship, it must be of men and, therefore, it has no place in Christ’s church! -1440 Tanner Fork Road, Shock, WV 26638. 304-364-546.

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