Ask Your Preacher
Where is the authority to entertain oneself with musical instruments? If God doesn't like something, why should I?
Dear Radio Silence,
The Bible never says that God doesn’t like musical instruments; it just teaches that when it comes to worshipping God, we should use our voices as our instruments (read “Instrumental To Worship” for more details on a cappella worship). God also doesn’t want us going to the zoo as a part of worship, but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t like animals! Just because something isn’t part of worship, doesn’t mean that it is inherently wrong the rest of the time.
I am happy to write to you. I am wanting to know how you conduct your worship on Sundays.
God bless you.
Looking For Order
Dear Looking For Order,
The Bible gives us examples and commands for five different elements to the public worship.
- Teaching/Preaching (1 Cor 4:17)
- Singing (Eph 5:19)
- Prayer (Acts 12:5)
- Taking A Collection – Sunday only (1 Cor 16:1-2)
- Lord’s Supper – Sunday only (Acts 20:7)
Of these five elements, two of them are specifically allowed only on Sundays. The others can be done any time the brethren get together. The congregation here in Monroe, WA is a simple New Testament congregation, and our worship is just what you find in the Bible.
Is it right or wrong to use musical instruments during church services?
Dear Musically Minded,
Before we go into the specifics of this issue, it is important to note that how we feel about a topic is not the same as the truth on a topic. We may feel that a certain activity is pleasing to God, but that doesn’t mean it is. God tells us that His ways are not our ways (Isa 55:8) and that every man’s ways are right in his own eyes (Pr 21:2). The issue isn’t whether or not you feel that you are pleasing God when using instruments to worship – the question we have to ask is: “What do the Scriptures say about instruments in worship?”
The fact is that God has given us instruments to use for worshipping Him – our hearts (Eph 5:19). In the New Testament, God tells us to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to Him. He wants the only melody He hears to come from our hearts. Instrumental music wasn’t introduced into the church until over three hundred years after Christ. In fact, ‘a cappella’ singing (singing without instruments) literally means ‘as the church’. There are no examples of the church using instruments to worship God in the New Testament. If we start using them, we are adding something to God’s Word (Rev 22:18-19). All we are ever told to do is “sing and make melody in our hearts”… pluck your heartstrings as you sing to God, and you will make God happy. If a congregation begins to use instruments in worship, they must do so without any New Testament Scripture to back up the practice.
The problem with instrumental music in worship is that it isn’t a part of the Bible pattern, and the moment we start doing things outside the Bible, we have gone beyond what God intended (1 Cor 4:6). Instrumental music may sound appealing to us, but it is just one more manmade additive that adds to the division and confusion found in the religious world.
When I am playing the piano in our worship, I hardly ever feel the presence of God. But when I have the Sunday off, and I am worshipping, I feel God's presence. Why is this?
Not Feeling It
Dear Not Feeling It,
There are two parts to your question that must be dealt with. Before we answer your concerns about how and when you feel close to God, we recommend you read the post “Music to HIS Ears”. After reading that, it may make the second part of this question obsolete because it explains how using instruments as a part of worship isn’t a biblical practice.
The second half of your question deals with emotion. The Bible never talks about us feeling the presence of God. In fact, mankind hasn’t been allowed in the presence of God since Adam and Eve got kicked out of the Garden (Gen 3:8). The angels are in God’s presence (Lk 1:19), but mankind won’t be until the Day of Judgment. God is certainly close to us and affects our lives (Acts 17:27-28), but we don’t have direct contact with Him. So when we talk about “feeling the presence of God”, what we are really discussing is when we feel emotionally close to God. Emotions are fickle. There will be times when you will feel like God is far from you… but you are wrong because He is still watching over you (Ps 9:10), and there are folks that believe that they are close to God, but they are separated from Him because they are living wickedly (Matt 7:21-23). Simply put, we can’t trust our emotions to be accurate. The only way to confidently know that God is near you is to live faithfully by hearing and acting upon His instructions (Rom 1:16).
What if someone who is struggling with a sin and continues to fall but tries so hard… dies?
I Try So Hard
Dear I Try So Hard,
When we die, we will be brought before the judgment seat of God (Heb 9:27). Those who go to heaven will do so because they were faithful (Eph 2:8). Being faithful doesn’t mean you have to be perfect – everyone has sinned (Rom 3:23). However, a faithful life tries to remove sin and conquer it (Jas 4:8). We couldn’t tell you what God would say to someone who struggled but continued to fail at defeating a sin because that isn’t our place to judge. What we can tell you is that sometimes we fail to remove sin because we don’t really work hard enough to remove it. Other times, sincerely faithful people struggle with the same sins their entire life. The only safe thing to do is to keep trying and do whatever you can at whatever cost to exercise self-control and bring your life into subjection to God (1 Cor 9:25-27).