Singing In Worship (Part 2)
There are two different kinds of music: vocal and instrumental. God has spoken in the New Testament concerning the kind of music we must use if we expect to worship Him in spirit and in truth, and that is singing. Singing is the limit of God’s command. God nowhere in the New Testament authorized mechanical instruments of music to be used in worship of the church. A mechanical instrument of music cannot worship God. Only with our voices can we sing praises to God. God does not wish to be worshipped with a lifeless instrument.
People today may think that it makes no difference if they add mechanical instruments of music in worshipping God. In the Old Testament we have the example of Nadab and Abihu who were presumptuous in their thinking that it made no difference. In Leviticus 10:1-2 (NIV) we read, "Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to His command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them and they died before the Lord."
In Leviticus 16:12-13 God commanded, "Then he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar" of burnt offering to burn the incense in the tabernacle. But Nadab and Abihu decided to do it their own way and get the coals of fire somewhere else. They offered unauthorized fire. They died a horrible death because they did something God did not authorize. They were presumptuous. God will not tolerate substitutes for His divine way. God is very particular about the way He wants things done. Just as Nadab and Abihu offered unauthorized fire, is there any excuse for us to offer unauthorized mechanical instrumental music to the Lord?
According to Webster, presumptuous means, "to take upon oneself without permission or authority, taking too much for granted, showing overconfidence, arrogance." Being presumptuous as far as God is concerned is a sin. Psalms 19:13 says, "Keep back your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression." So we see we can also be guilty of presumptuous sins when we "take upon ourselves without permission or authority" of God and add mechanical instruments of music to our worship. We may not think it will make any difference, but Nadab and Abihu thought the same thing. In speaking of people who are displeasing to God, 2 Peter 2:10 says, "They are presumptuous, self willed."
Some may say, "The Bible does not say not to use mechanical instruments of music in worship." But again are we permitted to be so presumptuous? If so we could add anything else without His authority. The Bible tells us we are to use the bread and the fruit of the vine in commemorating the Lord’s Supper. But the Bible does not say we can’t also use chocolate cake and milk. Of course it doesn’t. It would be absurd if we tried to use it. But it is just as absurd when we try to use the same type of reasoning to justify the use of instrumental music in worship.
When God gives a command to do something, does He have to say, but don’t do this, and don’t do this, etc.? No. When God tells us what He wants done, He expects us to do it that way. God’s commands are both inclusive and exclusive. His commands include everything He specifies and they exclude everything He has not authorized. But trying to confine ourselves to what God has authorized is very important if we expect to please Him and go to heaven.
If we add mechanical instruments of music to the worship of God then we have added to God’s word. In the closing words of the New Testament we are warned not to add to His word. In Revelation 22:18, "If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book." We do not have the right to add to God's word. When God says something in the Bible He means it and He will keep His promises.
In the sixth chapter of Genesis we have the example of Noah who was pleasing to God. In Genesis 6:14 we read that Noah was told by God to, "Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark and cover it inside and outside with pitch." In the verses that follow God continues to give Noah the details of construction. Then we read in Genesis 6:22, "Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did." God specified the ark was to be built of gopherwood. Did Noah use gopherwood as God had specified? Yes, Noah did "according to all that God commanded him." Would Noah have obeyed God if he had added pine or oak along with gopherwood? No. He would have disobeyed God by doing something God had not authorized. Do we disobey God when we add mechanical instruments of music, which God has not authorized to our worship to Him? Yes we do.
The use of mechanical instruments of music in worship does make a difference, because God has never permitted man to devise the plan or means for his worship of God. This is very serious, because we will loose our souls through presumptuous sins just as Nadab and Abihu lost their lives through their presumptuous sins. Judgment Day will be too late to find out that we were wrong to use unauthorized mechanical instruments of music to worship God.