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What Does the Bible Say About..Instrumental Music in Worship?

Hi, I am totally confused on the issue of musical instruments in worship. When I first heard it, it sounded like a man's interpretation. When I read what people say, it sounds like a bunch of scripture lawyers. I believe the bible is the word of God. I believe that the only thing that changed from the old to new is concerning Christ and the fulfillment of prophecy. I understand that to burn incense or sacrifice animals is to insult what Jesus did for us. I understand that most of Psalms is prophecy, teaching etc. However, you can't ignore psalms 150. It seems pretty much point blank. The question is, did God stop wanting people to praise him using musical instruments? What about "Jesus Christ" the same yesterday, today, and forever? I know you are not supposed to add to the word, but you are not supposed to take away from it either. I try to listen to what God says through the Bible. I certainly don't know everything so if you could help me to see something! I'm missing I would appreciate it.

Answer

Sometimes the discussion of whether or not to use instruments in the assembly does degenerate into arguments, sometimes twisting scripture. Some argue that the New Testament says to sing, but not to play instruments, so its silence in that regard is binding. Others argue that the silence in regard to instruments makes them acceptable, since God didnít expressly forbid them. I personally find both arguments lacking in merit in many ways.

One good argument I have heard and used is that the instruments used in the Old Testament are much like the other trappings of temple worship, such as incense and the priestís clothing. Since the Old Testament worship, according to the book of Hebrews, was a ďshadowĒ of the true worship, then we donít need to go back to the shadow, but stick with the substance. Incense is one example. Since Revelation 8:3-4 shows that our prayers are symbolic incense to God, we donít need to offer real incense with them. Our singing would be similar.

While I consider it a good argument, it is still weak. A stronger argument is that the Jews did not use instruments in worship after the destruction of Solomonís Temple. They consider the use of instruments in the synagogue to be wrong because they were specifically part of the temple worship. So for five hundred years before the beginning of the church, and for almost five hundred years afterward in the church, instruments other than the human voice were not used. If the apostles and the church of the first century did not use instruments in worship, then their controversial addition five hundred years later seems more and more like one of those additions made by men.

Your specific question is, did God stop wanting people to praise him using musical instruments. If we are to take Ephesians 5:19 as specifying that the human heart is the musical instrument he now wants, then we can say that this would be when he "changed his mind," even though it is not really a change.

To me, the bottom line has always been that the Bible never requires instruments. Even if they were allowed in the temple worship, they were never required. I know of few people who would say that we can worship God by singing, but it must be accompanied by an instrument. Most would say it is acceptable to sing without them. If it is acceptable to sing without them, and possibly questionable to sing with them, then why not be safe and sing without them? If the Jews themselves would not sing to God with them, other than in the Temple, why should we?