Singing In Worship To God

George Erwin

"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. See Ephesians 5:19.

In all ages God has told men how He wishes to be worshipped, and we must be faithful to Him. The difference in the worship of Cain and that of Abel is that Abel did what pleased God and Cain did not. Genesis 4:3-7; Hebrews 11:4. As Nadab and Abihu worshipped God, they used fire which God had not commanded. It cost them their lives. Leviticus 10:1-3. In the Christian Age, Christ instructs us how to worship. He sums up true worship in John 4:21-24.

Only the worship authorized by the truth of Christ is accepted by God. Doctrine (teaching) based upon human creeds, opinions, and feelings makes our worship vain. Matthew 15:9. Much worship is based upon human preference, man's entertainment, or convenience, and is not acceptable to God. By Christ we "offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips ..." Hebrews 13:15. True disciples of Christ must base their service upon His truth. John 8:31, 32. We cannot worship God ignorantly and please Him. Acts 17:22-31. Some do what pleases them rather than God; thus, they are engaged in "will-worship," which is condemned. Colossians 2:20-23. We must not blindly follow those who do not know the will of Christ. Matthew 15:13,14.

The following Scriptures specify the kind of music God wants now: Acts 16:25; Rom.15:9; 1 Cor. 14:15; Eph.5:18,19; Col. 3:15-17; Heb. 2:l2; and James 5:13. These passages show that Christians are to SING as they worship God. Not one Scripture authorizes instrumental music in worship during the Christian Age. The references to harps in the book of Revelation are symbolical and do not refer to the worship in the church here upon the earth.

If the Lord desires instrumental music in worship, He would have revealed it in the New Testament. He "has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us." 2 Pet. 1:3. "Whoever goes ahead and does not abide in the doctrine (teaching) of Christ does not have God." 2 John 9. God does not intend for us to add anything that is not revealed in His word to worship. See Gal. 1:6-12; Rev. 22:18.

Many religious leaders have rejected instrumental music in the worship of God. Martin Luther said, "The organ in the worship service is a sign of Baal." John Calvin, "Musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting of lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the Law." Joseph Bingham (Church of England), "Music in churches is as ancient as the apostles; instrumental music, not so." Thomas Aquinas (Catholic), "Our Church does not use musical instruments, as harps and psalteries, to praise God." John Wesley, "I have no objection to instruments of music in our chapels provided they are neither seen or heard." Of course, the churches of which these men were members later adopted instrumental music.

Paul Henry Lang speaks of "the exclusion of musical instruments from the early Christian Church." Music in Western Civilization. Hugo Leichtentritt wrote, "Only singing ... and no playing of instruments, was permitted in the early Christian Church." Music History and Ideas. Joseph Bingham said, "The instrument was not so much as known till the eighth century." Works, London Edition. "That instrumental music was not practiced by the primitive Christians ... is evident from church history." Fessenden's Encyclopedia. "Instrumental music being unknown ... in the Primitive church." McClintock and Strong Cyclopedia. In commenting on Ephesians 5:19, Conybeare and Howson said, "... let your songs be not the drinking songs of heathen feasts, but psalms and hymns; and their accompaniment, not the music of the lyre, but the melody of the heart."

When we sing in worship to God, we edify one another by teaching a message in harmony with the Word of Christ. Col. 3:16. Instead of making melody upon musical instruments, we make "melody in the heart ..." Eph. 5:19. Also, we praise and thank God for His greatness and for His goodness to us. Col. 3:17. -111 Heather Court, Scott Depot, WV 25560.


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