Sing Praise to the Lord Most High
David wrote, “I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.” (Psalms 7:17) Some people are surprised when they visit churches of Christ and find we sing without the use of mechanical instruments in our worship. We do not do this just to be different even though, God's people are to be different. "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." (1 Peter 2:9) We simply “sing praise to the name of the LORD most high” because this is what He has commanded of us.
Following is what the New Testament teaches concerning honoring God with our music:
Matthew 26:30 "And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives."
Acts 16:25 "But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them."
Romans 15:9 "And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, And sing to Your name."
I Corinthians 14:15 "What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding."
Ephesians 5:19 "Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord."
Colossians 3:16 "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."
Hebrews 2:12 "Saying: I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You."
Hebrews 13:15 "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name."
James 5:13 "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms."
Worship in spirit and truth. John 4:24 teaches that our worship must be "in spirit and in truth." "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." As beings made by God, we owe Him our obedience and reverence. To be acceptable to this eternal, infinite Spirit, our worship must be of a spiritual nature, that is it must come from our heart and it must be in truth. It must not only be sincere, but done according to that Divine revelation which He has given to man. The New Testament authorizes singing from our hearts as the way to please God. How can a Christian use something not authorized by God, like instrumental music, and at the same time say He is worshipping God "in Spirit and in truth?"
Worship must not be corrupted. Singing in our worship makes a difference because God has never allowed man to devise his own plan of worship. In worship and in life Christians must be guided by the New Testament. Worship is corrupted when things not found in the New Testament are added. Paul warns, "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." (Galatians 1:6-9) Cain's sin was that he did not worship as God directed. (Genesis 4) Let us be careful that unauthorized worship, like the addition of instrumental music, does not become our sin also.
Worship in the name of the Lord. In Colossians 3:17 we read, "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." Something done "in the name of the Lord" is done by the authority of the Lord. When we sing it is done "in the name of the Lord." Playing mechanical instruments in worship is not commanded and therefore cannot be done "in the name of Christ." When we “sing praise to the name of the LORD most high” we are obeying the commandments of Lord our God. Let it never be said of us, "You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you..." (1 Samuel 13:13)
Worship must be done by faith. The Christian life is a life of faith. Our faith comes from hearing and understanding God's word. (Romans 10:17) To live by faith the Christian must live by the teachings of God's word. Since there is nothing in the New Testament authorizing mechanical instruments of music in worship how could one use them and claim to be worshipping God "by faith?" Romans 14:23 says, "...for whatever is not from faith is sin." Instruments cannot be used in our worship by faith; therefore to use them is sin. The whole question of instrumental music in worship involves our respect for the word of God, and the authority of the New Testament in the realm of worship.
Worship in song is according to the New Testament. God commanded singing. "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." (Colossians 3:16) When God commands that something be done, this forbids the doing of anything else. God commanded Noah to use gopher wood to build the ark. That command forbade the use of other kinds of wood. When God says "sing" that forbids "playing." Worship in song is according to the New Testament. Men use instruments of music in worship, not because it is command by God, but because they like it. Remember the words of Matthew 15:9, "In vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men."
As a result of our desire to worship God just as Christ directs we do not and will not use solos, choirs or instruments of music in our worship. In our worship we sing, we teach, we admonish and we lift up the name of Christ. Mechanical instruments in worship are completely the innovation and introduction of men. Those who use instruments in worship openly violate the plain and positive requirements of Jesus that His followers shall walk by faith. The Christian just cannot afford to add to or take from the teachings of the New Testament. To become a Christian, you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10), repent of sins (Acts 2:38), confess Christ (Acts 8:37) and be baptized to be saved. (1 Peter 3:21) Become a Christian today! Worship "In spirit and in truth!" Our desire must be for God-honoring worship and not human-centered services.
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street, Greenville, Alabama 36037