Instrumental Music in the Worship – Is it Biblical?
Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17-18).
“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14).
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity” (Ephesians 2:14-16).
“Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. … For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God” (Hebrews 7:11-12, 18-19).
“For the law can never make those who approach perfect” (Hebrews 10:1).
“All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’ Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, ‘The righteous will live by faith’” (Galatians 3:10-11).
“Whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Someone might ask, “What’s wrong with using a piano in our worship to God?” The answer is quite simple – the New Testament doesn’t say we can.
There’s not one single New Testament verse to which we can turn and gain from it that the first century Christians used an instrument in their worship to God. Yet, we read, “Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:18-20).
A piano, or an electric piano, or a guitar, or a tuba adds to the simple commandment of God to sing and make melody in our hearts to Him.
“For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18).
Someone might argue that instruments were used in the Old Testament, so why can’t we? Quite simply, because the Old Testament is not our authority anymore – Jesus fulfilled it and nailed it to the cross, thus removing it.
Again, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’ Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, ‘The righteous will live by faith’ ” (Gal. 3:10-11).
Some don’t realize the contradiction when they seek authority from the Old Testament to have a piano or any other musical instrument in their worship to God, while ignoring the selfsame authority of the Old Testament for offering animal sacrifices for sin; circumcising every male (Genesis 17:12); worshipping God on Saturday (the seventh day of the every week), stoning to death “outside the camp” those who don’t observe the seventh day of the week with holiness (Numbers 15:32-36); making tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners (Numbers 15:38); and all the other commandments which God commanded under the authority of the Old Testament!
We cannot simply pick and choose those commandments from the Old Testament we like, deliberately leaving out the ones we don’t – “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’ But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘the just shall live by faith.’ Yet the law is not of faith, but ‘the man who does them shall live by them.’ Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:10-14).
What Did Jesus Teach Concerning Instrumental Music?
Jesus said, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him— the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak” (John 12:48-50).
There’s not one verse in which Jesus allows musical instruments in worship to God. However, by Jesus’ example, we know that they sang hymns – “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26).
While Paul and Silas were imprisoned, they “were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25). Since nothing is mentioned of anyone using a musical instrument in the accounts with Jesus in Matthew and Mark, and here in Acts with Paul and Silas, we must see this as proof of the apostle’s tradition set forth in Ephesians 5:18-19 and Colossians 3:16 of singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.
“Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle” (2 Thessalonians 2:15). Paul did not command them to abide by Old Testament traditions, but by their word and by their epistles.
2 Corinthians 8:10 establishes that the apostles of Jesus were given “authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction” (and see 2 Corinthians 13:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:9).
Again, we’re to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
The Old Testament is very important, but it is not the authority of God for us today. If anyone strives to live by any rule which can only be found in the Old Testament, then he must live by every rule of the Old Testament.
“What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:19-29).