When it comes to what is right and what is wrong often it comes down to the principle of the thing. When it comes to God’s Word, the one principle all Christians must follow is the very thing if not followed will create a denomination. That one principle is to “Speak where the bible speaks and to remain silent where the bible is silent” (1 Pet 4:11). This one principle began in the Garden of Eden and continued through the law of Moses and the law of Christ.
It is because of this one principle that the churches of Christ do not have instrumental music. Sadly, many in the church have been lead astray by denominational doctrine which calls anyone who follows a strict adherence to the law of Christ a Pharisees or what they call “Legalist”. Yet, Jesus commanded his own disciples: “Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do” (Mt 23:3). Oddly, those who scream “Legalist” are worse than the Pharisees. The Pharisees knew the law but did not keep it. The liberals of today neither know the law or keep it which makes them twice as worse than the Pharisees. It is incumbent for us today to practice what we preach, that is, teach God’s Word strictly as it is written and obey God’s Word strictly! Why? Because come the judgment, we shall all be judged by the Word of God, the gospel of Christ (Jn 12:48 f; Rom 2:16).
Is it any wonder that some in the liberal churches of Christ are slowly giving credence to having instrumental music and a few are already using it? Why not? Once you eliminate adding or subtracting from God’s Word, anything is possible. This is why liberal churches support man made institutions. This is why liberal churches have fellowship halls, dancing parties, banquets, leisure trips, camps, parties, etc., all at the church’s expense. This is why some liberal churches have women teachers, preachers, and song leaders. This is why almost all churches of Christ have added another permanent day of worship and commanded its members to attend it as if it came from God.
Many will say, “Are not all these things good”? Have you not read that there is none good except one, that being God? (Rom 3:12) If none is good, then what good can proceed from man? The only reason the gospel is good and saves is because it derived from God who gave it. The only reason that Sunday worship is good is because God commanded it (Acts 20:7 f; Acts 2:42). The only reason Christians abide by the doctrine of Christ and his apostles is because it proceeded from God via the Holy Spirit (Jn 16:13 ff; Jn 12:49,50; Jn 7:16,17). Teaching for doctrine the commandments of men is vain worship, because such turn us from the truth of God (Mt 15:7-9 f; Tit 1:14). “Let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written:“That You may be justified in Your words, and may overcome when You are judged” (Rom 3:4).
Therefore, Christians abide by the biblical principle of “Speaking where the bible speaks and remaining silent where the bible is silent” (1 Pet 4:11). This is why women remain silent in the churches (1 Cor 14:33-40). This is why women don’t teach children or other women in the assembly. Why? Because no such doctrine exists in the new testament (1 Cor 4:6). This is the reason why women are not elders or deacons (1 Tim 2:11-15 f; 1 Tim 3:1-13).
The churches of Christ do not allow sinners to conduct any part of worship. You will never find a sound congregation allowing a Baptist, a Catholic, any denominational member or sinner preaching a sermon, teaching a class, leading a prayer or leading singing. Why? Because this is contrary to sound doctrine. Christian men were to teach and preach the Word of God (2 Tim 2:2 f; 2 Tim 4:2-5). Christians were commanded to teach and admonish one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs one to another (this verily includes song leaders) (Eph 5:19 f; Col 3:16). Only Christian prayers are heard and answered_not sinners (Jn 9:31 f; 1 Pet 3:12).
Sound churches of Christ do not allow women to take on any speaking role in the churches. Women are not allowed to speak, teach, or to lead in the churches. This includes, but not limited to preaching, teaching children or other women, leading prayer, leading singing, or waiting on the Lord’s supper. Even in a woman’s private life, women were not to teach men the Word or to usurp his authority (1 Tim 2:11-15 f; 1 Pet 3:1).
Many teach if the bible didn’t say not to, then we can do it. Others say we are at liberty to do anything God didn’t expressively prohibit. Really?
Nadab and Abihu were condemned to death because they did not act according to the authority of God (Lev. 10:1,2). They used a strange fire which the Lord “had not commanded them” (v. 1). Maybe they thought, “But God didn’t say not to.” Even if they had good intentions, the fact remains that they acted presumptuously, without authority, and were judged accordingly.
We need to learn that what God has said can’t be properly respected unless we respect God’s silence. John tells us that to respect God’s silence, or to expect to pay the consequences of God’s wrath (Rev 22:18,19). Paul wrote to the Corinthians that they were not to go beyond that which was written 1 Cor 4:6 We should be satisfied with what God has spoken, and abide within the Word He has given. No act of worship, or good deed we do is accounted to us for good unless God commanded us to do it. God requires nothing more than our strict adherence to his Word, and will accept nothing less.
If we speak where the bible speaks and remain silent where the bible is silent, it is self evident that certain things will remain the same and some things will change. The question is whether or not we have the courage to change our life to fit God’s will, or do we attempt to change God’s will to fit our lives?
If we go by the new testament, without adding or subtracting from it, all will obey the gospel of Christ. The gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:1-4). In order to obey the gospel one first must hear the gospel, for faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Rom 10:17). If we believe what we have heard from the heart and confess such with our mouth (Rom 10:9,10); If we repent and are baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38); Then are we added by Jesus Christ to the One church which he paid for with His own blood (Acts 2:47 f; Acts 20:28).
The name of this church bears the Lord’s name (Acts 4:12): (e.g. church of Christ (Rom 16:16); church of God (2 Cor 1:1); church of the firstborn (Heb 12:23). The doctrine of this one church would be free from the traditions and doctrines and commandments of men (2 Thess 2:15). This one church would teach only the doctrine of Christ, which is the apostolic doctrine, which is the doctrine of God (2 Jn 9 ff; Acts 2:42; Jn 7:16,17).
This one church would worship God in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:23,24). This means the church would come together each Lord’s day to partake of the Lord’s supper and to give of its means (Acts 20:7 ff; 1 Cor 16:1,2; 2 Cor 9:6,7). The church would sing with their voices without the accompaniment of instrumental music (Eph 5:19 f; Col 3:16). There would be qualified elders and deacons in every church (Acts 14:23). Preachers would preach sound doctrine in and out of season (2 Tim 4:2-5). Faithful men would be teachers, following the traditions of the apostles (2 Tim 2:2). Faithful women would remain silent each time the church assembled (1 Cor 14:33-40). The same doctrine which guides the first day of the week guides also all other assemblies. Christian men still teach, lead prayer, leading singing and guide the church.
Ever since the first century, faithful churches of Christ have taught the basic bible principle of “Speaking where the Bible speaks and remaining silent where the Bible is silent.” God has informed His people that this is His will in both the old and new covenants. In Deut. 4:2 we read, “You shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish ought from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” Also, “add not unto His words, lest He reprove you and you be found a liar” (Proverbs 30:6). This principle continued in the new as well. “That in us you might learn not to go beyond that which was written” (1 Cor 4:6). “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles (very words) of God” (1 Pet 4:11). There was these two ominous warnings which tell us the penalty of altering God’s Word: “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:6-9). “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; And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev 22:18,19).
These warnings should cause even the most unlearned in the scripture to conclude that it is most foolish to tamper and attempt to change the word of God to fit our own desires. The Bible has proven itself time and time again and it certainly does not need to be changed. What it demands is to to be believed and practiced in order to have saving power of one’s soul.
If we only spoke the oracles, the very words of God, the church would be united in truth (1 Pet 4:11). Paul commanded the churches to: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor 1:10). How can we all speak the same thing when we are following the ever changing doctrines of men? Only the doctrine of Christ remains the same in and out of season. The commandments of men turn us from the truth, not to the truth (Tit 1:14).
If we didn’t go beyond that which was written there would be no more church supported orphanages, colleges, or benevolent societies ( 1 Cor 4:6). There would be no more special collections separate and apart of what was commanded in 1 Corinthians 16. There would be no more church supported banquets, parties, leisure trips, camps, entertainment, etc. The church would be ruled by it’s elders and not the elders of other congregations. The church would be sufficient to instruct its members, to assist the needy saints, and to do the work of the church without the aid of man-made institutions (Eph 4:11,12).
Once we go down the road that a little error never hurt anyone; Once we start following the false doctrine of (the bible didn’t say not to); Once we stop adhering to God’s Word for all of our authority (Col 3:17), the church we attend will no longer be the church which Christ built, but will be the church in name only. As I said before, so say I now again, “It’s the principle of the thing”, and the principle which guides every sound church of Christ is “Speak where the bible speaks and being silent where the bible is silent”.