Why no Instruments? – Clay Bond

Why no Instruments? – Clay Bond

The Psalmist declared, “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker” (Psa. 95:6). One of the greatest privileges we have as God’s creatures is that of kissing toward our Creator in the reverential adoration called “worship.” When we engage in this great blessing, it should be our utmost desire to approach God in sincerity (Josh. 24:14; John 4:24) and to worship Him with our “whole heart” (Psa. 9:1; 111:1; 138:1). The failure to properly prepare ourselves to approach God causes our worship to become vain and nothing more than noise (Matt. 15:7-9; Amos 5:23).

 According to John 4:23-24, our Heavenly Father is seeking “true worshipers.” True worship requires respect: “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him” (Psa. 89:7). True and genuine worship gets Heaven’s attention (Rev. 8:1-4). In fact, when we worship, our Lord Jesus Christ is with us: “In the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee” (Heb. 2:12). 

 If our worship is to be pleasing and acceptable to God, rather than vain and meaningless, we must worship according to the truth of God’s word (John 17:17), using it to establish authority for what we practice (Col. 3:17). This may be done by direct, explicit command, by example or by necessary inference. As Christians, we are to worship God according to the new covenant He has made with us (Heb. 1:1-2; 9:16-17). This new covenant includes new instructions for worship. 

Generally when someone visits a worship assembly or even hears that we belong to the church of Christ, the first question they ask is, “Why don’t you use instruments?” Based on the means of establishing Biblical authority listed above the absence of authority for the use of mechanical instruments can be easily established by simply reading the entire New Testament. In the New Testament of Jesus Christ we find no explicit command to use mechanical instruments, we have no example of Christians using mechanical instruments and no passage(s) in the New Testament which cause us to infer that instruments were used or may have been used by our first century brethren. 

 The argument that the New Testament “doesn’t say not to” is one of the first lines of defense for those who desire instrumental music in worship. One of the things we learn from the Old Testament is that our God has ever been a God of details. For example, in Genesis 6 when God gives Noah instructions for building the ark, He does not forbid Noah to use oak, maple, or cedar. He simply told Noah what to use, gopher wood. Also noteworthy is that the Israelites were never forbidden to move the Ark of the Covenant using carts and oxen as David attempted to do (1 Chron. 13 and 15). They were simply told how to move it (Num. 4:15). What we see in these cases is the “law of exclusion” in action. When our Lord tells us what to do and how to do it all else is excluded. 

Another common argument used goes something like this “David used instruments, therefore so can we.” Evidence can easily be found in the Psalms (Psa. 33, 150) to support the claim that David used instrument in the worship he offered. The first part of this assertion is clearly correct. However, in order to return to the Old Testament for authority to use mechanical instruments, one must reject the authority of Christ, Who sealed His new covenant with His own blood and Who by changing the priesthood necessarily changed the law (Heb. 9:16-17)! 

We must remember that our Lord has infinite capability in His use of language and the written word. His vocabulary is not limited, nor is it incomplete, He forgets nothing. Several times in the New Testament Christians are commanded to sing (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 13:15). In these passages we find a beautiful synopsis of the power of Christians blending their voices together in worship to God. If His desire is to be worshipped and praised by the use of our voices accompanied by the beauty of stringed instruments, drums, and trumpets, I cannot help but think He would have instructed us to do so. 

Long ago Jehovah God said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9). God’s instruction for us to sing, making melody in our hearts is a wonderful commentary on what really matters to our Creator and God. To my human ears, singing accompanied by the music of a well-played instrument is beautiful; but then I am not able, as God is, to hear the music and melody of the heart of man as he humbly worships His Savior. “Why no instruments?” Because our God desires “the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Heb. 13:15).