Give Me the Bible

“GIVE ME THE BIBLE”

By Wayne S. Walker

     How often have many of us sung the following gospel song in our worship assemblies?

“Give me the Bible, star of gladness gleaming,
To cheer the wanderer lone and tempest tossed;
No storm can hide that radiance peaceful beaming,
Since Jesus came to seek and save the lost.”

The words were written by Priscilla Jane Owens (1829-1907).  The music was composed by Edmund Simon Lorenz (1854-1942).  The hymn was first published in 1883 in Happy Voices for Sunday School.

The song draws much of its language from passages of Scripture like Psalm 119:101-105, which says, “I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word.  I have not departed from Your judgments, for You Yourself have taught me.  How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!  Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.  Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  This passage stresses the importance of the Bible to our lives here on earth.  What are some reasons why I should be asking others to “Give me the Bible”?

It is a star to guide us in life.  I am not very much up on modern navigational methods, but I know from my reading that in olden days sailors primarily used the stars to guide them in their journeys.  In similar fashion, God used a star to guide the wise men to Jesus (Matthew 2:1-11).  But why do we need guidance?   The prophet Jeremiah said, “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).  Sometimes we may feel as if our lives are tempest tossed, like the apostles in the storm (Matthew 14:22-27).  Just as Jesus came to the storm-driven ship, so the Bible points us to Jesus who came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).  In a world of darkness where we frequently cannot see the path and    do not know which way to turn, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12)

It is a light to show us salvation.   All people face times when their heart is broken due to sin and feel like David who wrote, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.  For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me….The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:1-3, 17).  However, in the Bible we have the words of the great salvation that were first spoken by Jesus and then confirmed to us by His inspired messengers (Hebrews 2:1-4).  Thus we can be justified from sin by a faith that comes from this word (Romans 5:1, 10:17).

It is a lamp to enlighten our steps.  Paul prayed for the saints in Ephesus, “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints (Ephesians 1:18).   We definitely need something to enlighten our eyes and to teach us the dangers of this realm below.  God gave us the gospel for this purpose.   “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).  Hence, this lamp alone can show us how to “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

It is a sun shining on the road to heaven.  The Bible makes us wise for salvation and equips us with everything we need to prepare for heaven.  “And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:15-17).  It also reminds us that Jesus was raised from the dead and promises that we shall be too (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 20-23).  Thus, it makes known the hope of a home with God in glory.  ‘Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior” (Titus 1:1-3).

The chorus of the familiar song makes the request for direction from God’s word:

“Give me the Bible, holy message shining;
Thy light shall guide me in the narrow way;
Precept and promise, law and love combining,
Till night shall vanish in eternal day.”

“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19).  If it is my desire to please God in this life and go to heaven when it is over, then my constant plea must be to “Give Me the Bible.”

—in Faith and Facts Quarterly, January, 2018; Vol. 15, No. 1; pp. 62-65

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A Question and an Answer about Water Baptism

A QUESTION AND AN ANSWER ABOUT WATER BAPTISM

By Wayne S. Walker

     Quite a few years ago, more than twenty in fact, the congregation with which I was then working had a “Dial a Bible Message.”  People could call the number and listen to a short recording on some Scriptural topic.  The machine that we used allowed the caller to leave a message, so we invited listeners to ask any Bible questions which they had.  The following question was called in to the Dial a Bible Message, and the answer that I gave to it follows, with some additions.  I thought that it might make for interesting and informative reading.

Question: Is there any virtue in water?  Answer: It is difficult to know exactly what is intended by this question.  The most logical assumption is that it has reference to baptism, since many who object to the teaching that baptism is essential for salvation often say that there is no virtue or power in the water to forgive sin.  Before we can answer the question, we need to look at a couple of plain facts from the Bible.  First, Jesus Himself commanded baptism (Matthew 28:18-20).  He gave it a connection with salvation, saying in Mark 16:16, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”  Can anyone be saved without doing what Jesus commanded us to do to be saved?

Next, the Bible makes it clear that baptism is a part of God’s plan for washing away our sins.  In Acts 22:16 Saul of Tarsus, who became better known as the apostle Paul, was told by a God-sent preacher, “And now why are you waiting?  Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (cf. Acts 9:17-18).  Even though he was already a penitent believer, Saul did not have his sins washed away on the road to Damascus or while he was fasting and praying for three days, but only after he arose and was baptized.  This tells how he called upon the name of the Lord to be saved (Romans 10:13).  He later wrote that his conversion serves as a pattern for everyone else (1 Timothy 1:15-16).

It is quite obvious to anyone who reads the New Testament that water does have a role to play in God’s scheme of redemption.  In describing the new birth, Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven” (John 3:3-5).  After Philip preached Jesus to the Ethiopian eunuch, the eunuch asked, “See, here is water.  What hinders me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:36-39).  The same apostle Peter who told the Jews on Pentecost, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38), said after preaching to the household of Cornelius, a Gentile, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” and then commanded them to be baptized (Acts 10:47-48).  Paul wrote that the church is cleansed “with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:25-26).  And the Hebrew writer tells us that before we can draw near to God we must have “our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22).

So in answer to the question, no, there is no virtue in the water.  The water itself does not save.  It is the blood of Jesus Christ that saves us by the power of God (Romans 5:8-9).  However, baptism is said in the Bible to save because it is the divinely ordained means by which we come into contact with the blood of Christ to be saved by God’s grace, being baptized “into His death” (Romans 6:3-4).  This is what the apostle Peter had in mind in 1 Peter 3:21 when he wrote, “There is an antitype, namely baptism, which now saves us—not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”  The virtue of baptism is simply in our obeying God and approaching Him with a good conscience for salvation.

—in Faith and Facts Quarterly; Oct., 2017; Vol. 44, No. 4; pp. 53-55

Something to Sing About

SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT

By Wayne S. Walker

     “John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.  To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:4-6).

One of the major differences between the modern “praise and worship” songs of today and the older, classic hymns is that the vast majority of the former are heavy on personal testimony and emotional appeal but rather light on Scripture, whereas so many of the latter are richly and liberally chocked full of Biblical references and allusions.  Consider the following stanza from “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken” written in 1779 by John Newton, author of “Amazing Grace.”

“Blest inhabitants of Zion,

Washed in the Redeemer’s blood;

Jesus, whom their souls rely on,

Makes them kings and priests to God.

‘Tis His love His people raises

Over self to reign as kings;

And as priests, His solemn praises,

Each for a thank offering brings.”

The language of this stanza, often omitted but thankfully “resurrected” in Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs (No. 125), is obviously drawn from the passage quoted in the first paragraph of this article, which in turn makes application of some Old Testament figures to the church.  In Exodus 19:6, God gave instructions to Moses for Israel, saying, “‘And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”  This single stanza teaches three important gospel facts.

First, the inhabitants of Zion, those who have been saved and added by the Lord to His church, have been washed in the Redeemer’s blood.   “Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.  He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:12-14).

Second, these redeemed ones are kings in that “…God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6).

And third, members of the Lord’s spiritual body, the church, are His priests today, as the apostle Peter proclaimed.  “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4-5).

Now that is something with substance that you can really sink your teeth into as you are “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).

—in Search for Truth; March 11, 2018; Vol. IX, No. 32

How Does the Holy Spirit Dwell in Us?

HOW DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT DWELL IN US?

by Wayne S. Walker

          There is so much false doctrine about the Holy Spirit that constant attention to basic Biblical truth on the subject is both good and necessary. “By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit” (1 John 4:13). Obviously, there is some sense in which the Holy Spirit affects the lives of God’s people today. Since, as the Scriptures clearly teach, references to the miraculous manifestations of the Spirit’s power are limited to the first century, references to the Spirit’s influence today must be understood in a different sense. So the question for this article is, “How Does the Spirit Dwell in Us?”

The Bible teaches that Deity can dwell in man. God the Father dwells in us (I John 4:12). Christ the Son dwells in us (Ephesians 3:17).  And the Holy Spirit dwells in us (2 Timothy 1:14). Since the Father, Son, and Spirit are one in their Deity, whatever is true of the indwelling of the Father and the Son must also be true of the Spirit’s indwelling.  While some take the extreme position that there is no indwelling of the Spirit in the Christian, the Bible teaches that there is such a thing. The major disagreements center on the manner of this indwelling.

The Calvinists teach that the Spirit directly comes into the heart of the elect to produce faith and remove Adamic sin. Holiness people claim a special manifestation of the Spirit or a second work of grace essential to “entire sanctification.” Pentecostals and Charismatics believe that the Spirit dwells miraculously in the Christian today and still performs miracles through them. Some brethren postulate a literal and personal, though not necessarily miraculous, indwelling of the Spirit directly in the Christian’s body, separate and apart from the word. Others say that the New Testament teaches no such concept but that the indwelling of the Spirit is through and by means of the word.

So what does the Bible say about the indwelling of the Spirit and how it is accomplished? First, we must understand the Spirit’s omnipresence (Psalm 139:7-10). God the Father is a person. He is omnipresent, but His person is said to be in heaven even though His presence is everywhere.  The Holy Spirit is also a person. Therefore, to say that the Spirit dwells in us no more means that His actual person is in us any more than to say that God dwells in us means that His actual person is in us. When we say that God dwells in us we are talking about being in a right relationship with Him (I John 4:15). Why cannot we understand the same thing with regard to the Spirit?

This now raises the question as to how this indwelling takes place.  Paul asked, “This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Galatians 3:2). This implies that the means by which we receive the influence of the Spirit in our lives is by the hearing of faith. Ephesians 5:18-19 says that we are to be filled with the Spirit, the result of which is singing praise to God. But Colossians 3:16 says that we are to have the word of Christ dwelling in us, the result of which is singing praise to God. The logical conclusion is that we are filled with the Spirit by means of the word of Christ dwelling in us. We need to remember that the sword or instrument of the Spirit for His work is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17).

All questions about the Spirit’s indwelling cannot be answered in one short article. But there are just too many objections to the idea of a literal, personal, direct indwelling of the Spirit in the Christian to accept it as truth. When we speak of God’s dwelling in us, we are referring figuratively to the influence of God being seen in our lives.  The Holy Spirit dwells in us (I Corinthians 6:19-20). Does this not simply mean that through the influence of His word, He directs our lives to bear His fruit (Galatians 5:22-23)?

— In Search For Truth, January 1997; via The Gospel Observer, January 19, 1997

“Appoint Elders in Every Church”

 “APPOINT ELDERS IN EVERY CHURCH

By Wayne S. Walker

     In Titus 1:1-5, where “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ” wrote “To Titus, my true son in our common faith,” and told him, “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you.”  Since other passages teach that God wants elders in every church, this necessarily implies that Titus was to appoint elders in every city where there was a church, or in every church in every city.  This practice has been followed for many years in faithful churches of Christ where qualified men were to be found.

However, in contrast to this simple teaching of the New Testament, a man named Charles Holt (formerly a gospel preacher, now deceased) and those who follow after him have ridiculed the idea of appointing elders.  In Sentinel of Truth (Vol. 3, No. 4), Holt wrote, “There is no ordaining or appointing of men (or women) TO BE—thus to become—‘elders’ and there is no ‘position’ called for by this term to which one can be elevated” (p. 1; emphasis mine, WSW).  This was written many years ago, in the mid to late 1960s.  Did Holt ever change his mind?  Much later, in The Examiner (Vol. 1, No. 2; Mar., 1986), he wrote, “You do not, can not, make someone an ‘elder’ by ordaination [sic] or appointment….Nor can we appoint or ordain a man to be an elder” (p.  11).  Let us now “examine” what the New Testament has to say about the appointment of elders.

  1. It should seem to be obvious enough that one should not need to say so, but the use of the word “appoint” itself indicates that elders were appointed, i.e., men were appointed as elders. The word in Titus 1:5, katasteses, from kathistemi, is defined in Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament to mean, “to set, place, put…to appoint one to administer an office.”  A similar word, cheirotonesantes from cheirotoneo, is found in Acts 14:23.   “So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”  This term is defined in Thayer’s as “to elect, appoint, create.”  Thus, both passages teach that men were appointed as elders.  For Holt’s assertions to be proven true, he would have to find a passage which reads that men who were already elders (older men) were appointed to do some other specific thing.  The Bible just does not say this.  We must necessarily infer, then, that being an elder is something to which one is appointed, not merely something that just happens or that one simply assumes.
  2. The use of the word “elder” in the New Testament shows that they were to be appointed. It is true that sometimes the term is used in a generic sense of an older man.  But it can also be used in a context where it has an additional meaning.  Again, we turn to Thayer’s which defines the word, “a term of rank or office; as such borne by…among Christians, those who presided over the assemblies (or churches): Acts ix.30.”  This specific concept comes from the Jews and dates back to the seventy elders of Numbers 11:25.  These were not just any and all older men among the Israelites, but a specific group of men who had particular qualifications and were thus chosen as leaders among the tribes to do a certain work.  Similarly in James 5:14 we have “the elders of the church,” that is a specific group of men who could be identified separately from others and who held a special relationship to the congregation.

3. The work that is given to the elders in the Scriptures demonstrates that they must be appointed.  In Acts 20:17-28 we read that Paul “sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.  He told them, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”  The word translated “overseers” or “bishops” means, according to Thayer’s, “a man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly, any curator, guardian, or superintendent…the superintendent, head, or overseer of any Christian church.  Those appointed as elders were to do the work of overseeing.  This kind of work involves some degree of authority.  Christ has all authority (Matthew 28:18).  Thus, no one can take such a work upon himself—he must be appointed to it.  Elders do not just assume or automatically grow into the work of being an overseer but are made overseers by the Holy Spirit through the process of their meeting the qualifications given by the Spirit (1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9) and then being chosen and appointed by the congregation.

In conclusion, the New Testament speaks of “appointing elders.”  That should be sufficient for those who wish to speak where the Bible speaks.  However, no method of accomplishing this is specified.  The passages studied in this article, along with Acts 6:1-6 as an example of a congregation choosing and appointing those to serve among them, suggest four basic steps.  The first is finding men who meet the qualifications.  The second is preparing the congregation by scriptural instruction on the subject to determine if there are any men who meet the qualifications.  The third is selecting those men who are qualified from among the number, done by the entire membership.  And the fourth is appointing or ordaining such men to the office by someone selected for this purpose, perhaps a gospel preacher.  Please notice that the preacher himself does not do the selecting.  That is done by the congregation.   The preacher would merely appoint or ordain them, that is, set apart the men chosen by the multitude in some public way to be recognized for their work.

Thus it is clear from the Scriptures that not only are elders made so by God based on their age, knowledge, and experience by meeting the qualifications revealed by the Spirit, but also they are selected and appointed in the congregation by the action of men based upon those qualifications found in God’s word.  Therefore, we conclude that this appointing involves decisions made by the local church.  The fact that churches of Christ have appointed me as elders for years does not necessarily make the practice scriptural.  But it is fair to say that faithful congregations of God’s people have followed the instruction to “appoint elders” because it is taught in the Scriptures.  We should not abandon a scriptural concept just because Holt and his Examiner bunch question it.  “That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:15)

—taken from With All Boldness; July, 1991; Vol. 2, No. 2; pp. 19-20

Law and Grace

LAW AND GRACE

By Wayne S. Walker

     There has been quite a bit of loose talk, both in days gone by and in more recent years, concerning law and grace.  Some confidently affirm that keeping God’s law has absolutely nothing whatever to do with being saved—we are under grace, not law, they say—and then turn too passages like John 1:17 to substantiate their claim.  Others, in reaction to this, may leave the impression that men are saved only through law-keeping, thus adding more fuel to the fire.  This would occur, no doubt, unintentionally.  But if such be true, then we may need to be more careful about what we emphasize in our preaching.  That the Christian is under law, at least in some sense of the word, should be incontrovertible.  Such passages as 1 Corinthians 9:21, Galatians 6:1, and James 1:25, etc., plainly demonstrate this fact.  The question is, to what extent does keeping Christ’s law play a part in our salvation?

First, we need to understand the nature and purpose of law in general.  Law is somewhat like a boundary, out of which those bound by the law must not go.  We all understand this in relation to civil law (Romans 13:1-7).  The most obvious aspect of law is the punishment of those who decide to break it rather than keep it (1 Timothy 1:8-10).  But this aspect is really based upon a more fundamental fact, which is that law is a communication from a person or persons in authority to those in subjection concerning what the latter must do to be acceptable.  This is the positive side of law; it provides guidelines so that those who want to do well may know how to live properly.  God’s law is no different.

So, are we saved merely by law-keeping?  I know of no gospel preacher or any other faithful Christian who does now believe, or has ever believed, or hopefully ever will believe, that salvation comes solely by observing rules and regulations.  That is why the Old Testament law was repealed.  Of course, that is how God designed it to be in the first place—to show men that they cannot be justified simply by law.  If such were true, there would have been no need for Jesus’s sacrifice.  Those who are unlearned and too lazy to study God’s word for themselves may have misunderstood what others have said concerning this matter and reached a wrong conclusion about what we teach.  But this is not the real issue.  Everyone agrees that we are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Yet, we are saved by grace through faith; and faith, to be of a saving nature, must include complete and trusting obedience to God’s law (James 2:14).  In fact, it is by submitting to God’s law that men enter into and remain within the sphere of His grace.

No one keeps the whole law perfectly.  Again, if we did, Christ need not have died.  All have sinned (Romans 3:23), and sin is a transgression of the law (1 John 3:4).  Remember, if there were no law, there could be no transgression, and, hence, no sin (Romans 4:15).  This is where grace comes in.  God has devised, in His grace, a plan to make up for our imperfections by forgiving them (Ephesians 1:7, Hebrews 8:12).  But receiving that grace and forgiveness is conditioned upon keeping certain laws ordained by God—i.e., obedience to His will regarding the gospel terms of pardon (Hebrews 5:8-9, 1 Peter 1:22, 1 John 2:3).  Therefore, we may say that we are saved by grace, understanding that we depend solely upon God’s grace for a plan of redemption, and not our own human good works; and that we are saved by faith, in that salvation is based not on a system of perfect rule-keeping, but on a trusting, obedient faith.  Likewise, in a very limited sense, we are saved by keeping God’s law, meaning by meeting the conditions of faith set forth in His law.  But none of these things saves exclusive of the others.

—taken from Vanguard; Mar. 23, 1978; Vol. 4, No. 6; p. 10

The Latest Arguments for Instrumental Worship in Light of the Scripture

THE LATEST ARGUMENTS FOR INSTRUMENTAL

MUSIC IN LIGHT OF THE SCRIPTURE

By Wayne S. Walker

     Back in 1990, I had the opportunity to attend the first night of a debate on the subject of instrumental music in worship that was conducted at Georgetown, Ohio.  Dennis Lewis of the Georgetown Church of Christ, an independent Christian Church, affirmed that the use of mechanical instruments of music in the worship of God is scriptural.  Paul Vaughan, of the Brown County church of Christ, denied the proposition.  The purpose of this article is not to review the entire debate (I was not able to return to hear all the speeches).  However, I would like to review some of the newer arguments made during the debate in favor of instrumental music in worship.

After several years of separation between the independent Christian Churches and New Testament church of Christ, there has been a push in recent years, primarily from leaders in the Christian Church, to lump instrumental music in with other matters of personal opinion or individual conscience and thus establish some grounds for “unity” between the two groups.  Unfortunately, some of the more “liberal-thinking” lights among us have accepted these overtures and appear willing to compromise on the issue for the sake of peace.  In the debate which I attended and in the paper One Body, several arguments of recent vintage have been made to justify this compromise, and they need to be examined in light of the Scriptures.

We are now being told that the New Testament teaches that all things which are not explicitly forbidden by the doctrine of Christ may be done by men living today without their being guilt of sin in so doing.  This is just a reworking of the old “the Bible doesn’t say not to” argument and shows a lack of understanding about the nature of authority.  It is not necessary for God explicitly to forbid everything that He does not want.  Hebrews 7:11-14 shows that whatever God does not authorize, either generically or specifically, is sinful.  He reveals what He wants us to do, and we must simply leave it at that.  To do otherwise makes human wisdom rather than God’s word our authority.

It is also being affirmed that instrumental music is all right because of the nature of worship.  Some would say that there is no specific form nor content for worship commanded in the New Testament.  Then they redefine worship to include whatever comes from man’s sincere desire to serve God, so long as it is not explicitly forbidden.  Thus, if a person’s desire to serve God expresses itself by using instrumental music in worship, that is acceptable.  But this just is not true.  When men praise God with music, whatever the circumstances, God has specified the form—singing, and the content—psalms, hymns, and spiritual song (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16).  There is a vast difference between what God has authorized as worship and what fallible human beings may want to do in their misguided attempts to serve Him.

Another argument being used to justify instrumental music in worship is that we are now under a covenant of grace, not a covenant of law.  It almost sounds as if the argument is that we can do things not authorized by God’s law, and His grace will take care of it.  Of course, denominational folks have been making this same argument against the necessity of baptism for years.  But, again, it is not so.  Grace and law are not mutually exclusive.  Of course, we are justified by grace, not by law, but this has always been the case.  When we sin against God’s law, we can receive forgiveness through His grace as we repent.  Yet, He still expects us to keep His “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25) because that is the boundary within which His grace is found.  To go beyond it is to remove ourselves from the benefits of His grace.

Surely, no Christian should be a harping hobby-rider on any one subject—be it instrumental music, baptism, institutionalism, divorce, etc.—to the exclusion of other important topics.  We must preach the whole counsel of God.  But those who do not understand the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them.  Through the years we have been faced with many arguments for instrumental music in worship—“psallo” includes the instrument, instruments are only aids to singing, the Old Testament authorizes instruments, there will be instruments in heaven, etc.  We need to be aware of these as well as the more recent arguments and how to answer them from the Scriptures so that we can teach our children, ground those who are babes in Christ, keep those who are weak from falling into this error, maintain the purity of New Testament worship, and generally meet Satan head on as he seeks to conquer us on this issue.

My own family background was in the Christian Church.  My grandparents and then my parents left the Christian Church many years ago, and they taught me well why.  Like Abraham’s attitude towards that country from which he had come out, I do not seek an opportunity to return to religious error, because I desire something better—the simple truth of God’s word.  It is my fervent hope and prayer that we all shall continue to search the Scriptures daily and stand for the truth.  “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God.  He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son (2 John v. 9).

—taken from With All Boldness; July, 1990; Vol. 1, No. 2; p. 26