One of the most asked questions by those who visit the church of Christ is, ” Why don’t you use instrumental music in your worship?” It can be answered in just a few words, “We don’t use it because God has not authorized the use of mechanical instruments of music in worship to him.” All that one does is to be done “in his name” (or by his authority,) Col. 3:17 Since he has not told us to use instrumental music, we do not have the right to assume that it is alright to worship him by means of the instrument.
Members of churches of Christ like instrumental music as well as anyone. Often musical instruments are owned and played at home or in situations other than worship services. We can afford them and we have talented people to play them. We don’t want to be different just to be different. It is not a matter of us choosing the opinion of A Capella. music over instrumental music. Rather, it’s a matter of faith, it’s a matter of what God has authorized. What one does in worship must be according to what God has authorized. God has not left the acts of worship to the opinion of men.
Most denominational groups did not use instrumental music until about 100 years ago. Leading authorities in many denominations can be quoted as to why they oppose their denomination using instruments of music.
Whether or not something is right or wrong is not determined by opinion. Opinions of man is not worth the time it takes to hear them. Different people may have different opinions as to what the speed limit ought to be, but the laws of the land determine what it will be. When one violates that law his opinion about what the speed limit ought to be will not satisfy the courts of the land. The same principle is true with regard to one’s relationship to God, even to the worship of God. There may be a variety of ideas as to what will make God happy, but the only way that one can know what he desires is to read what God has written on the subject.
The New Testament is our authority for what God desires in worship. The New Testament does not authorize instrumental music in worship. Even though the Jews used instrumental music to worship God in the Old Testament, they did not when they became Christians.
There are several passages in the New Testament which tell about the worship of the church and all of them authorize singing – none authorizes using instrumental music. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Eph 5:19 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Col 3:16 “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.” Jam 5:13
Can you find one new testament passage which gives us the right to use instrumental music? No! Why? Because it was not authorized by God. We are to walk by faith, which means we walk by the instructions which God gives (Rom. 10:17). Where God has not spoken we do not have the authority to do. (1 Pet 4:11 f; Cor 4:6)
Now, apply this to every act of worship and to the work of the church, and you know what God has authorized and what he has condemned. If God’s authority is required for singing, then God’s authority is required for every act of Worship.