How many church squabbles and divisions over music could be avoided if people would simply follow the Biblical pattern? Part of the problem is that people put way more emphasis on music than God does; so much that some give the impression that music is what church is all about.
What if nobody in a church knew how sing? Would an assembly be less godly if they didn’t always have music? Some have gone so far in trying to maintain a traditional, professional image that they hire pagans to entertain them?!?!
Let’s look at the New Testament pattern for music:
When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching… Let all things be done for edification. (1 Cor 14:26)
Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord. (Eph 5:18-19)
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (Col 3:16-17)
These three Scriptures are pretty much the extent of New Testament teaching on music. Let’s ask the basic questions:
When: The assembly is mentioned, but music is certainly not limited to the assembly. Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Where: New Testament Christians proclaimed the gospel publicly, but they assembled from house to house. Picture highly relational home churches meeting several times each week.
Who: Each one who had prepared an edifying psalm to deliver did so. This allows much diversity in each church and promotes tolerance. Variety is the spice of life. Contrast this with the modern tradition of a designated style of music led by designated song leaders. Disagreement over the designated style has caused many church splits.
What: We’re not interested in just any music. The Scripture says spiritual songs that teach and admonish one another, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Someone could teach and admonish the assembly with a psalm or lead the assembly in a group song. Let all things be done for edification.
Why: Music fills you’re mind with images, good or bad. Philippians 4:8 can definitely be applied: whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
How: Psalmos, the Greek word for psalms in the Scriptures above, is the same Greek word that the New Testament uses to reference the book of Psalms in the Old Testament. (See Luke 20:42, 24:44; Acts 1:20, 13:33) The book of Psalms describes a tremendous variety of music.
psalmos (psal-mos’); NT:5568 from NT:5567; a set piece of music, i.e. a sacred ode (accompanied with the voice, harp or other instrument; a “psalm”); collectively, the book of the Psalms.
psallo (psal’-lo); NT:5567; probably strengthened from psao (to rub or touch the surface; compare NT:5597); to twitch or twang, i.e. to play on a stringed instrument.
(Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
If you’ve never heard, you’ll be surprised to know that some denominations claim that musical instruments are not to be used in the assembly of the saints. How do you think God feels about people creating laws where He hasn’t?
In vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men. Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men. (Mark 7:7-8)
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Gal 5:1)
If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use) — in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. (Col 2:20-23)
God didn’t have a problem with musical instruments in the Old Testament; He doesn’t have a problem with them in the New Testament; and He doesn’t have a problem with them in heaven. (See Rev 5:8, 15:2) If God doesn’t have a problem with them, why should we?
It is good to give thanks to the LORD and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night, with the ten-stringed lute and with the harp, with resounding music upon the lyre. For You, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands. (Ps 92:1-4)