A "Culturally Relevant Church"

Albert E. Farley

I recently wrote to a congregation in West Virginia that had reportedly begun using instruments of music in their worship, asking them whether this was true and, if true, when did they begin doing so. Their letter did not directly answer my question but referred me to their web site that would reveal "what we believe is Biblical teaching in relation to a culturally relevant church." On their web site I learned that they were beginning the use of instruments of music in their worship. Their reasons for doing so were the same old, worn, weak arguments that have been long used by the denominations to justify their use of mechanical instruments of music in their worship and that have been soundly defeated with the Bible by faithful defenders of the truth over and over again over the past one hundred years.

The main authority for their change appears to be 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. Paul said, "And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some ...," Friends, when the apostle Paul wrote these words to the church at Corinth, he spoke only of matters of indifference. However, the gospel plan of salvation and worship are not matters of indifference; they are matters of salvation. Mark 16:15-16; John 4:20-24. It does matter what we do to be saved; it does matter how we worship God! Matthew 15:9. See also Acts 17:25, Colossians 2:18-23.

A strong effort is now being made by false teachers to view the use of instruments of music in worship as a small matter of no consequence. They say it is not a "salvation" issue. However, instrumental music in worship is a matter of major consequence that strikes at the very heart of true worship. In John 4:19-24, Jesus revealed the two vital components of true worship. "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (24) The term "in spirit" refers to worship that is from the heart. "In truth" refers to worship that is in accordance with the revealed will of God. Jesus said these are a "must." In John 17:17, He spoke of how His true disciples (worshippers) were to be sanctified (set apart). "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." We are not to be conformed to this world but are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds that we may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God! Romans 12:1-2

There were no instruments of music used in early church worship services during the first century of her existence. None, period! Read the New Testament. Why? Although the Jews used instruments in their temple worship, Jesus said a change was going to be made when the church was established. John 4:23. The early church used psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; but their melody was made in their hearts unto the Lord. Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16-17. Yes, some of the psalms of the Old Testament refer to instruments of music, but some also refer to animal sacrifices and dancing. (Psalm 20:3; 50:8; 51:19; 66:13,15; 118:27; 150:4) Will congregations who seek to be "culturally relevant" engage in "insignificant" dancing, animal sacrifices, offering of incense, etc., in worship? Where will the end of their foolishness lead them in their efforts to be "culturally relevant?"

Today, when advocates of mechanical instruments of music make reference to instruments being used by David in the Old Testament or when they refer to instruments in the house of the prodigal son for their authority, they show a woeful lack of serious Bible study or an intentional desire to deceive. Unfaithfulness to God results in eternal damnation of the soul.

Dear reader, the only "authority" elders have to bring instruments of music into Christian worship is "People like it, and we are going to please the people."


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