Question #10: How Do You Determine Scriptural Authority?
If the “Church of Christ” claims to worship God only as “authorized” by scripture because they sing only (and do not use instrumental music), then where do they get the “authority” to use hymnals, pitchpipes, pews, and indoor baptistries in their worship services? If the answer is that they are “aids to worship,” where does the Bible allow for that? Where is your required authorization? If a pitchpipe can be an “aid to worship” for the song service in the “Church of Christ,” then why can’t a piano be an “aid to worship” for Baptists who may need more help in singing?
The “question” here expresses the kind of confusion over how to correctly ascertain authority that has been fostered by denominationalism. God created us with a brain and he expects us to use that brain. He created us to be thinking and logical beings after his own image (Gen. 1:26). When a person is honestly striving to please God according to what he has commanded in his word, they don’t have any problem determining what is authorized and what is not authorized. The problem with how to correctly ascertain biblical authority, and the principle of authority in general, only arises when people are trying to justify doing something for which they have no authority from God to do.
In ascertaining biblical authority we find two levels of authority. The first and primary level is specific authority. That is, we are authorized to do those things that are specifically authorized by Scripture. Specific authority comes in three ways.
First, we have specific authority to do those things that are explicitly stated. For example, we are explicitly commanded to sing in our worship to God (cf. Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; cf. 1 Cor. 14:15; Heb. 2:12). We are explicitly commanded to be subject to the civil authorities (Rom. 13:1-7). We are explicitly commanded to give on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:1, 2). We are explicitly commanded to be in subjection to the elders (Heb. 13:7). Explicit statements like these simply state what is required. Obviously, such explicit statements authorize us to perform the action commanded.
We also find specific authority in approved examples. We have examples of the approved activities of the New Testament church to follow in our work and worship today. By approved we mean that the example is given as something that the church was doing in obedience to God and is recorded in a positive manner. For example, in Acts 2:42 we have the approved example of the Jerusalem church assembling on the first day of the week to hear God’s word, take the Lord’s Supper and pray. The text refers to the church engaging in these activities in a positive manner with no indication that they were doing anything wrong. This is an inspired example of the activity of the New Testament church and gives us inspired authority by way of that example to do the same today.
We also have specific authority conveyed by means of necessary inference. Simple inference does not provide authority. It must be necessary inference. Necessary means that it is an unavoidably required conclusion to the information provided. For example, Jesus used the principle of necessary inference when he corrected the Saducees on the doctrine of the resurrection (Luke 20:37, 38). If Moses said that God was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob after those three men were dead and God is the God of the living and not the dead then the necessary inference is that when a person’s body dies that person does not die, his soul lives on. That is the unavoidable necessary conclusion.
It is by necessary inference that we know the doctrine of water baptism is included in what it means to preach Jesus (Acts 8:35, 36). The text only says that Philip preached Jesus to the eunuch. However, when the eunuch heard and believed he knew he needed to be baptized in water. Therefore, we must conclude that Philip taught him to be baptized in doing what the text calls “preaching Jesus.”
It is by necessary inference that we know only men are authorized to serve as elders (1 Tim. 3:2). Because an elder must be the husband of one wife and only a man can be a husband (according to God’s divine definition of such) we know that only men are authorized to serve as elders in the Lord’s church. This is how necessary inference works and one of the ways we receive specific authority from God’s word.
When people ask why we do the things we do, we should be able to turn to a passage that grants us the specific authority for that activity by one of these three means. If we cannot find such authority for whatever we do in word or deed (Col. 3:17) then it cannot be said to be done with the authority of God.
But what about the way we do certain things. That is, not so much the specific what but the way we do it. For example, some congregations sing using song books while others sing using projected lyrics. Some congregations have the sermon first and then take the Lords Supper while others do it the other way around. Some congregations sing six songs and have three prayers during their worship service while others may sing eight and have four prayers. Some song leaders use a pitch pipe to get the pitch of a song while others may hum the pitch before beginning the song while others just start singing.
So which way of doing these things is authorized or are they all authorized? To answer this we go to the second level of authority, generic authority. Now the “question” asks for proof that such generic authority exists and where it is biblically authorized. Most thinking, rational people use and understand this level of authority in every aspect of their lives. They only want it thrown out when it interferes with them doing whatever they want and calling it worship. Not to worry though, generic authority is very easy to demonstrate from the Bible, thus establishing its Scriptural nature. Before we do that, however, lets notice some important fundamental elements of generic authority.
Generic authority only exists where specific authority exists. If there is no specific authority for an activity then it cannot be said to be authorized on the generic level. Generic authority is subordinate to and dependent on specific authority. Therefore, generic authority can only facilitate obedience to specific authority.
For example, we have already shown the specific authority for meeting on Sunday for the worship of the church. However, nowhere in any explicit statement, approved example or necessary inference is the time specified. So, because we know the specific day of assembly and there is no specific authority for the time of assembly, we have generic authority to specify the time on a local level. We also have generic authority for meeting houses to facilitate a congregational meeting. We know we are commanded to meet but the specific place is not given, therefore we are authorized to specify and maintain a meeting place by generic authority.
We have specific authority to sing in our worship assemblies. We also have specific authority for congregational singing (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). We are also commanded to have all things decent and in order (1 Cor. 14:40). So, from this we know that having a means of facilitating everyone singing together in a decent and orderly fashion is authorized. So, there is generic authority for things like song leaders, song books, projected lyrics or whatever else would facilitate the kind of singing commanded without contradicting or altering the command to sing congregationally.
This is also a good example for how to determine what is not authorized. We know we are authorized in congregational singing because these passages say each one is to sing to each other one. However, this would not authorize things like solos because a solo is not each one speaking to each other one. It is one person speaking to the rest. So, in order for solos to be authorized a person would have to find an explicit statement, necessary inference or approved example of such being done in the New Testament church. Since there are none we know that singing solos in worship is an unauthorized and man-made form of worship.
Because these passages refer to “speaking” and “teaching” and “admonishing” one another we also know that singing words is authorized. Other vocalizations like humming and imitating instrument sounds is not authorized by these verses. A person would need to find a passage or passages that authorized that specific activity. Since there are no passages authorizing this kind of activity it could not be said to be authorized generically because there is no specific authority being facilitated by it.
Likewise, these passages do not authorize the use of mechanical instruments in the worship of the church. These passages describe and authorize congregational singing. Authority for the use of mechanical instruments in the worship of the New Testament church would have to be found in another passage or passages. Because there are no passages or explicit statement, necessary inference or approved example of the New Testament church using mechanical instruments we know that there is no divine authority for that activity. It is not authorized by generic authority because it is a different type of music than that described and authorized by the text. Generic authority cannot be applied to an activity that would alter or contradict a specific command.
While there may be differences in the way generic authority is used to facilitate obedience to specific authority, specific authority is set and doesn’t change from group to group or individual to individual. Specific authority is unalterable while generic authority will vary from instance to instance. For example, one group meets at 9 AM Sunday mornings for worship while another group meets at 10 AM for worship. Are both groups authorized to meet on Sunday for worship? Yes, by specific authority as found in the approved examples and necessary inferences of the New Testament church (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:18; 16:1, 2). Is the one group authorized to assemble at 9 AM? Yes, by application of generic authority. Is the other group authorized to assemble at 10 AM? Yes, also by generic authority. The application of generic authority can vary while the specific authority is the same, i.e. worship on Sunday. Both groups are simply facilitating the command to assemble on Sunday for worship by setting a time when everyone knows to be there. Whether the assembly is at 9 AM or 10 AM or 8 PM doesn’t matter, it is authorized by the specific authority to assemble on Sunday for worship.
What about another group meeting on Saturday instead of Sunday for their worship? They have no specific authority to do so, therefore, what time they assemble doesn’t matter. Since there is no explicit statement or approved example or necessary inference giving them specific authority to meet on Saturday instead of Sunday, there can be no generic authority for anything else associated with that unauthorized assembly.
Generic authority can only facilitate specific authority, it cannot alter it in any way. If a practice alters a specific command then that practice is unauthorized. A person cannot make an appeal to generic authority for an activity that alters something else that the Bible specifically authorizes. This is where our denominational friends miss the mark in ascertaining biblical authority.
Because we make the biblical appeal to authority for what we do and in exposing the errors of denominationalism, denominationalists attempt to show that we too engage in things not authorized by Scripture. They say we cannot show biblical authority for song books, microphones, pews, church buildings, projectors, etc., etc., etc. What they mean is that we cannot show explicit statements where these things are authorized. It is true that we don’t have explicit biblical statements authorizing the use of PowerPoint projectors but that doesn’t mean we don’t have authority for their use. Some of these things are authorized specifically by necessary inference and approved example while others are authorized by generic authority.
We have already seen that buildings, songbooks, pitch pipes, set meeting times, among other things, are authorized by generic authority. One of the most common erroneous attempts to show inconsistency is to point out the use of projectors. We have the specific authority to study God’s word together in the assembly of the church (Acts 2:42; 20:7; 2 Tim. 4:2; et. al.). The method of teaching in the worship assembly is preaching. Do we have approved examples of biblical preachers using visual aids for their lessons? Yes, we do (Matt. 18:2-5; 22:19; 24:1; et. al.). So, if Jesus used visual aids in his preaching then, obviously, the use of visual aids is authorized for his preachers. We have authority to use visual aids by the approved example of Christ himself, not to mention the numerous other biblical preachers who used visual aids.
The kinds of objections raised in the “question” is evidence of rejecting God’s authority more so than ignorance of it. To point out the use of pews as an example of something that is not authorized, as though that would justify doing things that aren’t authorized in other areas, is simply dishonest and illogical. We’ve already seen that the church is commanded to assemble. So, where does the Bible specify where the assembly sits? It doesn’t! Therefore, the use of pews as a seating option is authorized by generic authority. Do we have authority to use something to sit on in our assemblies? Yes, by virtue of the fact that we are commanded to assemble. The same goes for having and maintaining meeting houses. In no other aspect of life would anyone question whether or not an activity necessary to carry out somethings specifically authorized was authorized or not. It is only when one wants to rebel against the authority of God that such illogical arguments are made.
Indoor baptistries are authorized by virtue of the specific authority to baptize (Matt. 28:18, 19). The specific authority is to baptize for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Therefore, having a body of water sufficient for baptizing facilitates the command to baptize and is, therefore, authorized. Where the body of water is does not alter the specific command in any way.
Now let us briefly note some biblical examples of generic authority being applied. Noah was commanded to make the ark of gopher wood (Gen. 6:14). But he wasn’t told where to get it or how to carry it. Would he have been authorized to buy gopher wood at the local lumber yard? Yes, in order to facilitate the specific command. Was he authorized to go out and cut his own gopher wood? Yes. Whether he bought it at the lumber yard or went out and cut it himself, the command to build the ark of gopher wood was being facilitated. He was also authorized to carry it by whatever means would facilitate obedience to the specific command without altering it or contradicting other commands.
Jesus commanded the disciples to go and teach (Matt. 28:19, 20). However, the manner of going is not specified. When we look for examples of how the disciples went in the New Testament record we see them going in all manner of ways (ships, chariots, on foot, by messenger, by letter, etc.). All of these ways were authorized because they facilitated the specific command to go. Likewise, today when we go by way of TV, radio, Internet, tract, book, CD, etc., etc, these too are authorized generically by the specific command to go.
We are commanded to do all things according to the authority of Jesus Christ (Col. 3:17). I pray that this article will aid the reader in knowing how to do that.
"For example, in Acts 2:42 we have the approved example of the Jerusalem church assembling on the first day of the week to hear God’s word, take the Lord’s Supper and pray. "
I was confused by this – where in Acts 2:42 does is say the church assembled on the first day of the week? Verse 46 says they met every day. I don't have a problem with meeting on Sunday (that is the day I meet with my local congregation), but I don't see how Acts 2:42 is an approved example of meeting on Sunday. Can you help?
Sure Jeff, glad to.
The church was established on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). This was the Greek designation for the Feast of Weeks (Lev. 23:15-21; Deut. 16:9-11). In Acts 2:41 it says “that day” (the day of Pentecost) three thousand people were baptized into Christ and added to the church of Christ (cf. Acts 2:47). Acts 2:42 goes on to describe the assembly of the newly established church of Christ. So, that first assembly of the newly established New Testament church was on the day of Pentecost. The day of Pentecost was ALWAYS on Sunday. They were supposed to count seven sabbaths and then hold the feast on the day after the seventh sabbath. The sabbath was Saturday so the day after the seventh sabbath would be Sunday. Of the three high Jewish feast days that God could have chosen to address every Jewish male present in Jerusalem, he chose the one that always falls on Sunday to establish the church. From the fact that the church assembled for worship the very first time on Sunday is an approved example for our worship assembly to be on Sunday.
Hope this helps, let me know what you think.
Thanks for the response. I agree that the Day of Pentecost (for all the reasons you gave) was a Sunday. Thanks for the background – very powerful. I think those are very powerful points, in combination with Sunday being resurrection day, that Sunday is the day we are to assemble and remember Christ.
I guess my challenge is that I fear I've read into verses 42-47 what I wanted them to say; a continuation of the day of Pentecost in the previous 41 verses. However, after further investigation and reflection, I see verses 42-47 as possibly being Luke's reflection of the daysweeks following the day of Pentecost, especially in light of verse 46 which says "every day." Do you think that is possible?
Thanks for you response!
I think you have it right in that the context of Acts 2:42-47 is clearly a brief record of the weeks immediately following the establishment of the church recorded in this chapter. However, the fact that Acts 2:42 describes what we find consistently as congregational worship throughout the rest of the New Testament makes it just as clear, to me, that this overview of events begins with the very day of establishment, the first day of the week. The fact that four of the five acts of worship for the Sunday assembly of the church are listed in Acts 2:42 would clearly indicate that the description of "continuing steadfastly" is in reference to what they did in their worship on that Sunday. The text then continues to show their daily activity stemming from what occurred on that day. I do not believe this is reading into the text, I believe it is using sound logic to conclude that the description of the church found in Acts 2:42-47 begins with the same day the church was established and the same day to which the verse immediately preceding refers (Acts 2:41). If you were to describe the course of events stemming from a particular event wouldn't it make sense to start on the very day the event took place? I think that is what you have in Acts 2:42-47.
For someone to try and argue that verse 42 is not talking about the worship assembly on Sunday, or even that it isn't talking about the same Sunday that the church was established, doesn't make sense to me. What is the point of such argument? Is it an attempt to show that the day of worship is not Sunday? Why is it reading into the text to say that verse 42 is describing what they did in worship on the Sunday the church was established? Doesn't it make sense to understand that the apostles would teach the newly added souls how to worship God in congregational worship? Especially considering this was the first day of existence for the New Testament church. Should we conclude that the apostles "waited a while" before they taught the disciples about assembling on Sunday to take the Lord's Supper? I don't see the point in making such an argument unless you are trying to defend Sabbatarian doctrine, which I don't believe you are.
Hope this helps, let me know what you think.
Tina Dozier says
<Is it an attempt to show that the day of worship is not Sunday?
If Sunday is "the day of worship," does that mean we are not allowed to worship God on Monday?
Actually, 2:42 says nothing about these activities being on the day of Pentecost. It is an assumption and a misreading of the Acts narrative. They "continued steadfastly" indicates that it is a continual activity (they didn't just fellowship, pray and listen to the apostles on the first day of the week alone!). But, any attempt to force the text to say this is on that day is pure assumption. Furthermore, while it is "probable" that this is the Lord's Supper, the same term is used in 2:47 – "breaking of bread" and it is an arbitrary distinction to say that these are different. We are engaged, then, in "eisegesis" – (reading into the text what we want it to say) rather than "exegesis" (drawing out of the text what it actually says). This is, in part, the problem of assuming what we've long held true and trying to prove too much with "proof texts." It is also, in part, a reading of narrative as though it were a rule book or legal document. Indeed, Acts gives us historical precedent, but the reading of Acts as a legal document is reading into it what it is not. While the overall tenor of the NT and historical Christianity points to the 1st day of the week as the day Christians assembled and partook of the Lord's Supper, using Acts 2:42 in this way is a misuse of Scripture and of the context of the passage. It's like using (rather misusing) 1 Corinthians 6:18 (the context of sexual purity) to prove one must not use tobacco. A bad argument, even when a conclusion may be correct, does great damage.
Thanks for your article. I’ve recently been involved in discussions regarding authority. I do have a question regarding your view of solos in the assembly. Does not 1 Corinthians 14:26 include “a psalm” along with other gifts used by individuals for the assembly’s edification? I do not believe here that this is someone getting up to lead a song everyone already knows, but rather someone coming before the assembly with a new song given to them much like a revelation, tongue, interpretation, etc would have been given them on-the-spot so to speak by the Holy Spirit. Would this not have been a solo for the edification of the assembly? And does “teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” require everyone to be singing at the same time? Could one side of the aisle sing the other side and vice versa?…a soloist could then be taught and admonished by the remainder of the assembly? In all the discussions I’ve been involved with regarding singing and musical instruments, it always ends with “singing” is specific therefore musical instruments are unauthorized. I agree, BUT, perhaps the command “to sing” is also more generic than we think. I must always read the Scriptures proactively as my new man seeks to serve his holy God more purely and not reactively, simply to prove my denominational friends wrong.
Kev, thanks for your good comment and question. In response to your question about 1 Cor. 14:26, it should be noted that this is in the context of rebuke for misusing spiritual gifts in the assembly. Paul is specifically rebuking their chaotic manner of everyone just doing their own thing in the assembly (cf. 1 Cor. 14:33). When he says “each of you has a psalm” he is not referring to it as a positive thing or an acceptable manner of worship. The chapter ends with an admonition to do all thing decently and in order (1 Cor. 14:40). If Paul’s reference in 1 Cor. 14:26 be applied to solos then it is a condemned practiced, not an approved one. I don’t believe it is a reference to solos, however, but, rather, to the practice of some singing while other prayed while others prophesied while others spoke in tongues, etc.
If we want to see the decent and orderly manner of singing in the assembly we need to look at the overall context of it in the New Testament. In Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16 congregational singing is most definitely under consideration. The term “one another” in both of these passages more literally means “each one to each other one.” It means that everyone is singing to everyone else. The only way to do this is for everyone to be singing together. Because of the admonitions against chaotic “free-for-alls” in the assembly (cf. 1 Cor. 14:26-40) we would have to conclude that everyone is singing the same thing together for the edification and admonition of all.
Again, in Heb. 2:12, one of my favorite passages on singing, it is said that when the New Testament church worships God in song that Christ is there in the midst of them, singing with them. That is such a beautiful picture of the churches worship of God in song! Notice it says that he would sing “in the midst of the assembly.” That doesn’t mean that he would be singing to the assembly but, rather, with the assembly. Again, the very clear indication here is congregational singing.
We have biblical authority, without doubt, to sing congregationally. But I find no authority anywhere in the New Testament by way of approved example, necessary inference or direct statement for the practice of solos.
Hope this helps, let me know what you think.
Tina Dozier says
Good points, Kev.
John 13:14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
If someone is washing my feet, do I have to be washing his at the same time or even on the same day? If he is bearing my burdens, in my burdensome situation do I also have to be bearing his? What good would that do either of us? I could just bear my own and let him bear his own.
I believe we are to encourage one another, edify one another, and admonish one another with songs, but I don’t know why I have to encourage someone while he’s encouraging me or edify him while he’s edifying me or admonish him in song while he’s admonishing me.
I appreciate your article and your taking the time to explain some of the common viewpoints many Christians have been raised in. That being said, the main concern I have with some of your arguments is the misuse of verses to prove your point. You, as many others before you, have used Eph 5:19 as the bread and butter verse for why we are unauthorized to use musical instruments. If the verse is kept within the context, Paul is giving the Ephesians a detailed description of means by which to be filled with the Spirit. He tells them throughout the entire 5th chapter that they are to walk in love, being imitators of God. He goes on to remind them of where they came from (Eph 5: 8) and not to return but rather expose the darkness for what it truly is. Paul then gives them examples of how they are no longer to be drunk with wine, but filled with Spirit…which is where vs. 19 picks up. So in all of that description, in all of Paul's beautiful encouragement, his words of Eph 5:19 have been minimized to a simple proof text of why we sing acapella and why instrumental music is unauthorized.
I too feel that singing acapella is more close to what God wants in our worship to Him. However, in explaining those reasons, I have learned that simply pointing to a verse and saying, "There, there's my authority for singing the way I do," has done a great disservice to the rest of a beautiful passage. It turns what is supposed to be a letter of encouragement, strength, and depth into nothing but a rulebook that I turn to and point to Rule No. 5,367 states: thou shalt not use instruments.
I have questioned many of my current beliefs and convictions in the recent years. And one of my biggest concerns about Christians today, particularly the church of Christ, is what do we want our legacy to be? I have read letters dating back to the 1st century where a Roman soldier described a Christian he was persecuting. The soldier wrote on and on about how peculiar the Christian was because of his intense love for Christ and his love for other Christians, people who outside of Christ he had nothing else in common. That Christian's legacy was his love. Currently if you ask most anyone today about the church of Christ, they will say, "Oh yeah, they're the ones who think they're the only ones going to heaven, don't use instruments or kitchens." That is sadly the legacy we have created. I don't want that to be my legacy anymore.
I want my legacy to be about my love for Christ and being a servant to others.
Thanks for your good comments. I appreciate your desire to study and grow in the knowledge of Christ. Unlike the ones you refer to as having been raised in these things, I began my study of the Bible independently in 1996 after I was grown. I had shunned the Bible before that time because I thought it was to blame for the religious divisions and hypocrisies of the denominational world. When I actually studies it for myself I saw that denominationalism is the result of twisting and corrupting what the Bible says. I obeyed the simple scheme of redemption found in the Bible, not man-made creed books, and from that time I have not ceased to study and grow in the word of Christ. I was blessed to attend a school that taught me the principles of Bible study rather than trying to force me into receiving as truth any preconceived notions of others. When we study the Bible according to the sound principles as exemplified within the Bible then we will all understand it alike. It is when we are manipulated and coerced into receiving "the party line" that divisions and contentions arise.
I appreciate your concern for maintaining the purity of the context of passages, however, I think you will find numerous biblical examples of passages being used to demonstrate points of truth that may not be the main point of the context the passages are found in. As long as the point being made doesn't contradict the context of the passage and cause it to be used out of context then it is biblical to use passages this way. For example, in Exodus chapter three, the context is Moses' commission to deliver Israel from Egypt. It has nothing at all to do with the doctrine of the resurrection. However, Jesus uses a passage from this context to make a valid point about the doctrine of the resurrection (Luke 20:37-38). Did Jesus use the passage out of context? No, he made a logical conclusion from a passage that in no way contradicted the context or took it out of context. While it is true that the context of Ephesians 5:19 is walking in wisdom, the manner in which singing is described can, and should, be used to demonstrate the biblical manner in which we are to praise God in song, without doing damage to the context or taking the passage out of context. It is not a matter of being "more close" to doing what God wants, it is a matter of determining from clear Scripture what God wants and doing that.
I think, also, that you are attributing to me what you may have heard from others. I don't teach that Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 2:12; etc., forbids the use mechanical instruments in worship. I said that these passages authorize us to sing. If we want to play then we have to find other passages to give us authority for that practice. Since we find no approved examples, necessary inferences or explicit statements for the use of mechanical instruments of music in the worship of the New Testament church, such cannot be practiced by God's authority. The fact is, if we don't have biblical authority for what we do in worship then our worship is vain and not accepted by or efficacious with God (Matt. 15:7-9). Something is either the doctrine of Christ, and we can demonstrate it as such from Scripture, or it is the doctrine of men that produces vain and ineffectual worship. Since the use of mechanical instruments of music in the worship of the New Testament church cannot be demonstrated from Scripture it must be the doctrine of men that makes for vain and ineffectual worship.
Your comments about a "legacy of love" and turning the Bible into a rule book, while well intentioned as they may be, are misguided. This is one of the ways that liberal minded apostates have attempted to remake the church of our Lord, which he purchased with his own blood (Acts 20:28), after the image of man-made denominations. It takes the twisted and sick worldly idea of "love" and attempts to bring the Bible into subjection to it, rather than being transformed into the biblical image of true and beautiful godly love.
That fact is, the Bible is our "rule book" to know how to please God (Gal. 6:16; Phil. 3:16; 2 Tim. 2:5). If I didn't love the souls of men I won't spend myself trying to save them through the power of the pure and undefiled Gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 4:15; 1 Pet. 1:23). If all I cared about was myself and getting my own way then I would just preach whatever would put the most money on my pocket and let my hearers be comfortable in their error. I would not make myself the target of all manner of vile accusations. I would just preach a social "feel good" gospel that would get us all to hell together. It is because I love you that I will suffer whatever I must to try and save as many as I can by the preaching of God's "rules" without compromise. That is the "legacy of love" that Christ, the prophets, the apostles and the evangelists of the Bible left behind.
According to your desire for a worldly love, you are basically saying that you are willing to compromise anything and everything to have people think you love them. If it is hard or potentially offensive to someone, according to this idea, it should be put aside (i.e., compromised).
Please do not allow what others say about the church shape your thinking about the church. You are listening to liberal minded enemies of the truth and letting them shape your thinking about the church. What if we did the same with how we think of Christ? (Matt. 9:3; 26:65-66; Jn. 10:33; Mark 3:22). The Bible doesn't teach that everyone will love us (2 Tim. 2:12; Jn. 15:20; Gal. 1:10; 5:11). The antichrist world will never love us because they hate the truth that we stand for. Our "legacy of love" is for Christ and his righteousness (Rom. 8:35). Because God so loved the world that he gave us his only begotten Son to be the sacrifice for our sins (Jn. 3:16), we love him (1 Jn. 4:19). Because we know the love of Christ, we are constrained or compelled to express his love to the world (2 Cor. 5:14). How did Jesus express the love of God? He told people unwaveringly and unapologetically how they had sinned against God and what they needed to do to repent! Why would we think that we show the love of Christ by tolerating sin and every manner of man-made whim being practiced in his worship? Christ didn't do that! He told people their worship was vain because of their man-made innovations. He told people they were hypocrites and blind guides. Did he love them? Without a doubt! If he didn't love them he would not have worked so tirelessly to get them to repent and escape the devil's hell. Did they love him in return? No, they reviled and persecuted him. They spat on him and beat him. They hung him on a tree!
Meg, the fact is, you cannot find the kind of "legacy of love" you are talking about being expressed toward any of God's righteous servants in his word. The righteous prophets of the Old Testament were killed by those who rejected God's love. The righteous apostles, prophets and evangelists of the New Testament were persecuted and killed by those who rejected God's love. How we dishonor their righteous souls when we seek to avoid any manner of persecution by appealing to the world's sick twisted corruption of "love" in tolerating and even welcoming man-made rejections of God's love.
I pray this will help you stand strong in defending the truth of God's word (Jude 3) as it is the expression of God's love for man. He didn't leave us to wonder how to please him and come up with our own vain attempts. He gave a clear and easy to understand word to guide us in serving him. Don't ever let anyone tell you that you are being unloving because you uphold the truth of God's word and reject any compromises.
I hope this helps, let me know what you think.
Tina Dozier says
Great thoughts, Meg!
Eliud Gamez Sr. says
I had doubts about the use of song books, microphones, etc during the worship, But I learned from the theme Ascertaining Biblical Authority
there are two levels of authority, Specific and General Authority.
Thanks Bro Norm for your wise and comlete explanation.
QUE BUENO SERIA QUE PREDICARAS EN ESPAÑOL.
Tina Dozier says
You said: “For example, Jesus used the principle of necessary inference when he corrected the Saducees [sic] on the doctrine of the resurrection (Luke 20:37, 38). If Moses said that God was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob after those three men were dead and God is the God of the living and not the dead then the necessary inference is that when a person’s body dies that person does not die, his soul lives on. That is the unavoidable necessary conclusion.”
That is not the unavoidable conclusion I come to. If Jesus was discussing the doctrine of resurrection, which He was, then the unavoidable conclusion is that these men are dead and therefore, since God is the God of the living, these men will be RESURRECTED. I don’t see that it has anything to do with their soul living on. Jesus is proving the resurrection, not the immortality of the soul. That’s how I see it anyway. If their souls live on while they aren’t resurrected, then Jesus’ words didn’t prove the resurrection. They didn’t NEED the resurrection for God to be the God of the living since they were still living somewhere. But since they were dead, NOT living, the resurrection had to take place for God to be their God and be the God of the living. Maybe I’m wrong but that’s how I see it.
Thank you for your question concerning necessary inference and bible authority.
I believe that you are half way there, but just not going far enough to answer the question. "What is being resurrected?" Something MUST be immortal, in order for a person to live on after the body has ceased to function (died). It certainly is not the physical body, for it is in the grave decaying. You are correct that Jesus is making a case for the RESURRECTION – but WHAT is going to be resurrected?
Jesus reminds us, "be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matt 10:28ASV).
Now then, what is able to be killed? ANSWER: The physical Body – What is NOT able to be killed? ANSWER: The immortal soul.
The word "destroy" should not worry us, because it is not the same term as we often think of, as being 'annihilated' – but this word in the Greek simply refers to God's ability to deliver the lost soul to eternal misery. BOTH the immortal soul and their new spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).
"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:36-37KJV).
Jesus here is showing the value of the immortal soul. It is the soul, the immortal side of our being that we were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). It is the 'soul' that lives on, and the 'soul' that will be resurrected at Christ's return.
Yes, Jesus was proving to the Sadducees that there will be a resurrection of the 'physically dead,' yet 'spiritually alive' (the immortal soul). Therefore, God IS the God of the living. Therefore it is the case that Jesus' words DID prove the resurrection, as well as the existence of a immortal soul. IF not, WHY not?
Since the resurrection of Jesus was after three days, "Praise God, He Arose." When we are baptized, born again, and arise to walk in Newness of Life, Q.: "Are we not re-enacting the gospel, the death
on the cross, burial And Resurrection… in baptism Contacting the
blood of Christ the forgiveness of sins-receiving the Holy Spirit Promised gift? When our physical body dies, if we were born again while we were alive and our soul is safe "in-Christ," there is no fear of the Second death. As being Resurrected in Christ, will also share in the Second Coming and the promise of Salvation.
We are alive again(because we "were" dead in our sins) and if faithful unto physical death, (it seems that in Luke 20 Jesus is saying, don't worry about if we are married in heaven or not, this will be the "New Age)."Sounds like this does infer that Abraham, Issac, Jacob are the servants that died "saved"(under the old law, obedient, are physically dead, yet alive spiritually in God(they are to be included in the resurrection.) "For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him.” This only makes since to me that he is God to those who have put God on and have decided to live for Him during the lifetime they lived physically.
But, the scribes decided not to ask Jesus any move questions, maybe they were getting too close to seeing His Righteousness.
Jesus connected himself to the past to wash away all sins under old law as well as new, he spoke with authority of how God will be in view in the Resurrection. As Mary(the sister of Lazarus) realized Jesus was the Resurrection and the Life.
Does this perhaps reinforce that the saved of all ages, unto God, will be blessed with the "New Age" of Heaven? Those who are His He Knows. Those who have been his in the past can be resurrected and rewards with eternal life after the grave. Anyways, those dead in sins are not living reborn in Christ, even though they are physically alive.
Regarding the point about alive vs dead. Mike that was an excellent answer. But my Q. is: Doesn't dead carry different meanings. Dead in Sins. Dead meaning asleep, or in the bossom of Abraham (*safe)or without water for the tongue(*unsaved? well, that is another topic. Jesus did preach to those below during the three days, declaring His Victory accomplishing God's promised being the Messiah. At any rate, there will be a grand reunion of the saved at the end of time at judgement day where all will be judged and Resurrected.
Also, Tina,regarding worship, Everyday it is important to be
the Living Sacrifice His children are to give Him, not only exemplify
the Christian Life on Sunday, as Obedient to the Assembly,but
we must obey Him everyday, and edify each other so that we are not Hardened by sin. Hebrews 3:13. Gal. 6:10 Be good to all men, especially the household of faith.
Either we prove His Word or we are offending Him. This study is extremely important. We must be Sound in Faith and Sound in Doctrine according to Timothy and Titus. I believe Norm is right on track when it comes to getting our Authority from Christ, the Bible
speaks Commands to Obey, Gives Approved Examples, and Necessary Inferrence.
Eliud Gamez Sr. says
I am studying about congregational singing in New Testament church. I want to clarify two questions.
1.-Is it true that Amos pronounced a curse upon those who, like David introduced instrumental music into Hebrew worship?
2.-Choirs and solo supporters say that the entire congregation must sing every word simultaneosly. They say “If we can not have choirs and solos, you can not sing in four-part harmony.
How can I respond to them?
I just came across this on a web search I did to find quotes and references for the way many conservative churhces of Christ read the New Testament and teach authority to help me on a paper I’m writing. I have been there. I preached EXACTLY everything you are saying here, but through further study have come to a different view. There is SOOO much I’d like to say, but for the sake of time will limit myself to just a few comments, specifically as they pertain to comments you make about those you disagree with.
“When a person is honestly striving to please God according to what he has commanded in his word, they don’t have any problem determining what is authorized and what is not authorized. The problem with how to correctly ascertain biblical authority, and the principle of authority in general, only arises when people are trying to justify doing something for which they have no authority from God to do.”
With all due respect, this is a very arrogant statement. You are basically saying that among all who love the Lord and are striving to serve Him and humbly submit to His will, the only ones that are really striving are those of the view you hold. I regret to say that I too once thought that to be the case, until I started actually listening to what others were saying and what they believed and why. What I found were good honest men who had sought the truth diligently and come to different conclusions than you in so doing. That doesn’t make them right of course, but please, let’s address the issues without attacking the character of those we disagree with.
I too once preached that those who used instruments and did all sorts of other things did so only because it’s what they wanted to do and they then sought to twist the scriptures to find approval. But brother, such is simply not the case at all. Are there some who fit that description you gave? Certainly. But many who have come to different conclusions than you do not. They are good honest men doing what they do not because it’s what they want, but because they are striving to do their best to glorify God and sees approval for doing so in certain ways that you do not. Again, that doesn’t make them right, but don’t attack someone’s character. Only God knows the heart.
“Most thinking, rational people use and understand this level of authority in every aspect of their lives. They only want it thrown out when it interferes with them doing whatever they want and calling it worship. ”
You are here essentially calling all those with whom you disagree unthinking and irrational people only care about doing what they want to do and care little or nothing about glorifying God. I can only assume that you either have never had a heart to heart talk with many brethren who disagree with you, or that you have just so prejudged their motives so that there is no way they can disagree with you and still be a thinking rational person who seeks to glorify God above all else.
“The kinds of objections raised in the “question” is evidence of rejecting God’s authority more so than ignorance of it. To point out the use of pews as an example of something that is not authorized, as though that would justify doing things that aren’t authorized in other areas, is simply dishonest and illogical.”
I’m afraid you have missed the point in those of us who say such things. Certainly we don’t think pointing out one thing as unauthorized would somehow authorize something else. Yes, that would be dishonest and illogical, and I know of no one who has ever been so ignorant as to make such an argument. If you do, please provide quotes and references rather than making an unfair generalization that attacks the character of everyone you disagree with. The point we make when saying things such as this is that your application of your hermeneutic is inconsistent. We are simply pointing out inconsistencies in hopes that you will realize that something is wrong with your paradigm and how you read the New Testament.
Meg had some comments about leaving a legacy of love, which I thought were great comments. To them you replied:
“Your comments about a “legacy of love” and turning the Bible into a rule book, while well intentioned as they may be, are misguided. This is one of the ways that liberal minded apostates have attempted to remake the church of our Lord, which he purchased with his own blood (Acts 20:28), after the image of man-made denominations. It takes the twisted and sick worldly idea of “love” and attempts to bring the Bible into subjection to it, rather than being transformed into the biblical image of true and beautiful godly love. ”
Such comments are most certainly not misguided! Love is the essence of all scripture. Love is the command on which hang all the Law and the Prophets. God Himself is Love. Indeed, if we are to be His children, our legacy too should be Love, and Meg is right on in stating that such is not the legacy churches of Christ have made for themselves. It is not a twisted and sick worldly idea of love that Meg was talking about, as is obvious from the example she gave. She gave an example of one doing what Jesus said was the ultimate act of love-laying down your life. That man she mentioned laid down his life for his King! Brother, with all due respect, how in the world do you make that out to be a sick twisted worldly idea of love??? That is precisely the precise personification of agape love!
Further you said:
“According to your desire for a worldly love, you are basically saying that you are willing to compromise anything and everything to have people think you love them. If it is hard or potentially offensive to someone, according to this idea, it should be put aside (i.e., compromised). ”
No, that is not what we are saying. Look again at the example. The man laid down his life, and would NOT compromise his faith, despite the persecution. Comments like this are evidence that you are prejudging the heart and comments of anyone who disagrees with you. Brother, please realize this!
Further you said:
“Why would we think that we show the love of Christ by tolerating sin and every manner of man-made whim being practiced in his worship? ”
Who are you referring to here? No one said we show the love of Christ by tolerating sin. As no one said such a thing, you are just putting words into the mouths of those you disagree with. Whether it be your direct intent or not (having been where you are for many years, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are not) you are prejudicing your readers rather than accurately informing them. This is a natural thing that happens which we don’t even notice when we have pre-judged others ourselves, as you have pre-judged the hearts and minds of those you disagree with.
Further you said:
“Meg, the fact is, you cannot find the kind of “legacy of love” you are talking about being expressed toward any of God’s righteous servants in his word. ”
Brother, Meg was not talking about love being expressed TOWARDS God’s servants, but being expressed BY God’s servants.
There is much more that could be said about hermenutics and how we are to read and apply the New Testament, but such would be futile until your heart is open to hearing and honestly considering other viewpoints without all the misrepresenting of others and judging of others hearts that runs throughout your discourse.
All that being said, let me state again that I was once where you are and preached exactly what you preach. I understand very much the mindset, and know that I certainly was guilty of the same things I charged you with, and then some. I was so caught up with a zeal to teach what I believed to be the truth that I didn’t even realize the condition of my heart and attitude towards others. Of course I don’t know your heart, so understand that I am not saying your heart is not right. Only God knows. But your attitude towards those you disagree with does seem rather manifest, and we will never reach the point where we can all gather together in love and humility to honestly consider His word and seek His truth as long as that attitude and many of the comments of which you made about those you disagree with are present.
Please think and pray on these things and give them some quiet reflection.
Here's a scripture that points to legacy:
" Surely He scorns the scornful,
But gives grace to the humble.
The wise shall inherit glory,
But shame shall be the legacy of fools.
Personally I have seen that the church is not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, the power to save…- Rms 1:16. So heres what I would say, (because I think I am "most anyone today" because I am a sinner just like everyone else) and speak in subjection to God and in the Light of the Love of God. So, the legacy i have seen reflects exactly what I see as the church of Christ today and in the past. Here is my statement of Love, and appreciation:
To my Brethren: "I Love You"……
"Jesus Christ built the most glorious church I have ever seen. The love I have seen and experienced as a member of the church has always amazed me. I have felt awe and amazement that even when I was weak, there was love from my brethren. Even when I was lost and left the congregation, when I returned, after quite a few years, I was accepted back, with open arms. With tears, and with love. The Christians prayed for me the moment I returned and still do today.
I have experienced humble men and women, who have studied, prayed and cared. Men and women who have listened to the cares I have and sat on pews or stood in parking lots, spent time on the phone and gave of their time and lives to make my faith richer. The men that have spent hours studying the bible and preaching and teaching and proclaiming that Christ is God's Son.
The sermons on love and I Corinthians and the messages on Paul. Studies and Bible Reading, Old Test., New Test., Original Greek, Hebrew. Some of the greatest servant ministers that have expressed the scriptures I owe great gratitude to and love. And to their wives that have shown to the congregation great care and love. To the fellowship, songs, food, clothes given. To the women have prepared for the grieving at funerals.
The love and the tears prayed for the sick and the numberous sick with cancer or illnesses. The food pantry servants that have been willing and able to be humble and go and spend time to serve and aid the poor. The love of the Bible school teachers to prepare lessons and greet Children that have needed to hear God's word. The bible studies done on tables at buildings and in resturants and in homes and work lunch tables. I see that love, that care, that sacrifice that priority that goes to preach the gospel.
The men and women that have confessed their sins and corrected their lives in order to give God back the control of their lives, after being hit by satan's darts and "not give up " and repent and humble their lives before God. I've seen Men and Women say they are sorry for their sins and cry their eyes out.
Jesus love and building his church does shine still and I have seen it in the past, I have seen members of the body of Christ door knock, pass out flyers, invite their neighbors to know Christ, to experience Christ , to worship Him, to pray, to go to Panama, China, Russia, and into their own backyards in America to reach out to tell others that their is a God is Alive.
The Men and women who help others. The singing to admonish one another, or humbly giving of their means, without a # placed on the plate they give, yet give God the glory of any and all works done under his voice and to please him.
Who humbly yet boldly speak out to stand up for the principles of Gods word, to encourage their brethren.
The church that continues to preach and deliver the gospel and stress keeping the gospel Pure and Not to be soon removed from the simplicity that the gospel spells. Messages of The entrance into the Kingdom of God by the calling of the Gospel, the answer of a good conscience towards God in baptism, the love that we never can outgrow or do without… that message is still being preached and proclaimed by preachers with the Gospel of Peace. I've heard it and seen it.
The men that protect their women, that love their women and sisters in Christ and would hurt if she hurts. The men that protect their men when it comes to sins that tempt the mans heart to stray God.
This is the church of Christ that I have known and seen and heard and owe a debt of love to. This is the the bride Christ prayed for to be One in Him. Thank God He built it.
Sure I have seen mistakes too. But, that is why God inspired Hebrews 13 , so that we could remember that we need other Christians everyday to help us to stay out of sin.
If we are studying and asking God for His righteousness and the Guidance of the Holy Spirit, Praise God for any and all attempts to find unity in Christ and His Church.
Meg, I want my legacy to be about my love for Christ and being a servant to others too, and I believe, that giving God Glory for the good that my brethren have done over the years is a shining light.
To him that overcometh the world, there is to be given a crown of righteousness. I hope others that see members of the Lords church doing the best they can, will also see Christs love, and will forgive us where we faulter.
What does the statement I just wrote have to do with musical I's… Perhaps it is that the praise we give God in His church and the love we have for one another is exemplified by how much we follow Christ 's example.
Lord willing, Norm, in God's wisdom, would you please expound on the passage of following Christ- doesn't it say in the New Testament that Christ sang? It points back to your points on Biblical Inference, Commands to Obey, and Examples to Follow, doesn't it???
Eliud Gamez Sr. says
Anyway thanks Bro. Norm. but up today I did not get any answer to my last doubts in your site.
In regard to my doubts about CONGREGATIONAL SINGING, I understand that Amos (Amos 5: 20-25) did not pronounced a curse upon who like David introduced instrumental music into Hebrew worship? it is God who is rejecting all of the features of their worship because of the gross sins of the nation. Let me know your biblical opinion
Concerning if we can or can not sing in four-part harmony. I do not know what is biblical correct.
More doubts are coming up in my mind about this theme.
1.-In congregational acappella singing, who is the four part harmony really for? Is it more for our benefit than it is for God?.
2.-Where is any authority in the NT authorizing a song leader?
3.-Is the use or non-use of an instrument would seem to fall into the category of adiaphora: that is, a thing that is free or permitted because it has neither been commanded nor prohibited in explicit terms as revealed in the New Testament.
Hope you or your comentators give me some Biblical advice or answer to my doubts.
Regarding singing in four part harmony, we would need to examine the practice to see if it facilitates the biblical command or if it contradicts it. We know that the New Testament does not authorize four part harmony specifically, but what about generically?
From Eph. 5:19 (et. al.) we learn that our singing is to be congregational, with each one singing to each other one. Where solos and choirs actually contradict congregational singing, the whole congregation singing in four part harmony does not. It is a form of congregational singing. It is within the scope of the commanded form of singing. Also, historically, the early church had the practice of responsive singing, which practice also went back to the practice of singing in the Hebrew Synagogues. Responsive singing is where one part of the assembly would sing a stanza and another part would answer them with the next stanza. As with four part harmony, the whole congregation is singing together. Four part harmony or responsive singing is a form of congregational singing and does not contradict the principles taught in Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16, Heb. 2:12 or any other New Testament passage on singing.
Now, regarding your questions:
The concern of who a particular aspect of our singing is for really comes from the argument against the use of mechanical instruments that says the use of such is purely for our enjoyment and has nothing to do with pleasing God. While that is true, we have to be careful that we don't get the idea that there is nothing about our singing that is supposed to be for our benefit. The singing is supposed to "admonish," which means to instruct or even correct and rebuke (Col. 3:16). So there is a part of our singing that is for our benefit, it is to "teach and admonish" the congregation. Four part harmony is a way to do that which does not alter or contradict the specific command
There is a great deal in Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16 that would be contradicted by the use of instrumental music. Our singing is supposed to be "speaking," an instrument can't do that. It is supposed to be "teaching and admonishing," instruments cannot do that. It is supposed to be congregational but with instruments some are playing and others are singing. Instrumental music does not facilitate our singing in any way whatsoever.
As to the authority for a song leader, this is something I covered in the article above. The fact that it is to be done congregationally and that it is be done decently and in order (1 Cor. 14:40) would imply that there are authorized means to sing congregationally in an orderly manner. One of those ways is to use a song leader. The song leader facilitates to singing. There is nothing about the use of a song leader that alters or contradicts the specific commands. That does not mean that the use of a song leader is the only way to sing congregationally in an orderly manner but it is the most logical and immediately apparent means to that end.
The use or non-use of mechanical instruments is not simply a matter of judgment. The use of mechanical instruments actually contradicts the commanded music of the New Testament worship. We are commanded to sing congregationally, that cannot be fulfilled with the use of mechanical instruments. We are commanded to teach and admonish with our singing, that cannot be fulfilled with the use of mechanical instruments.
The use of Adiaphora for biblical doctrine is applying Stoic philosophy to Scripture. According to this idea, if the Bible doesn't specifically forbid something then it is a matter of judgement and we may choose to engage in that thing or to not engage in it. It is a matter of liberty that is neither right nor wrong in and of itself. However, this man-made philosophy does not fit the teaching of Scripture. In the Bible, if something is not authorized by specific or generic authority then it is forbidden. Several passages establish the fact that biblical silence does not allow for those things on which it is silent. Rather, those things are forbidden. Silence forbids!
For example, We are to do all things by the authority of Christ (Col. 3:17). That is, we must be authorized in what we do by the word of Christ. If the word of Christ is completely silent on a matter then we have no authority from Christ and, therefore, it is forbidden. Hebrews 7:12-14 says that the Law was changed of necessity because Christ could not be High Priest under the old Law, he was from a tribe that Moses spake nothing of as concerning the priesthood. The fact that Moses did not say any other tribe could produce priests forbade priests from any other tribe. Moses did not have to say that they could not have priests from Judah or the other tribes because he said were the priests were to come from. He specified a tribe for the priesthood and was silent about priests from any other tribe. Because no other tribe was specified they were forbidden from being priests.
Scripture does not explicitly forbid the use of honey on the bread of the Lord's Supper. But if someone were to say that the use of honey on the bread was acceptable then I would ask them to show me the verse authorizing such. Simply saying that the Bible doesn't say you can't do something is not authority to do it. Likewise, just because the New Testament doesn't explicitly say you can't use mechanical instruments doesn't mean that you can. You have to be able to show where it is authorized. Adiaphora, as it's applied here, is not a biblical principle.
I hope this answers the questions you are having about the use of mechanical instruments of music. It really comes down to just one simple question, can you show me where the New Testament church ever used it or authorized its use? Before I am willing to engage in an activity I need to see where I am authorized by Scripture to do that thing.
Jeff B says
Here's a couple of short answers to your questions.
1. I don't really have an answer other than to say that sometimes a song is written for a four part harmony and that they're just following the song.
2. 1 Corinthians 14:40 says that we should do things "decently and in order". A song leader simply helps us to do that.
3. There are many things that aren't explicitly forbidden in the Bible. For example, God told Noah to use gopher wood to build the ark (Gen 6:14). However, He didn't explicitly forbid oak, maple, or any other types of wood. So, do you think that God would have allowed the ark to float if Noah had used any other wood besides gopher wood? Also, God told Moses to speak to the rock in order to get water from it. God, did not explicitly forbid Moses to strike it. However, Moses did strike it, and, while God still provided the water, He forbid Moses from ever setting foot in the promised land (Numbers 20:8-12).
Likewise, God hasn't explicitly forbidden musical instruments. However, in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 God has specified what he does want us to do, sing and make melody in the heart.
Btw, sorry no one answered your questions sooner. Norm recently updated this site and accidently took down the widget that informs us of new posts so we didn't know that anyone had posted.
Eliud Gamez says
Thanks a lot Brothers Norm and Jeff, your biblical answers to my questions clarify my doubts, I agree with you regarding four part harmony singing, I found out that
given the simple fact that men and women do not sing in the same range, defeats the argument that harmony cannot be used in congregational singing. Even while singing in what is called "unison" multiple notes at octave intervals are being sung.
The reason we have harmony is because the human voice doesn't produce a single note. We sing a base note upon which are numerous harmonics. We preceive a blending of harmonys when those harmonics line up. Barber shop singers refer to "ringing the rafters" when multiple harmonics line up because the frequencies reinforce each other and the result is a louder sound. If only pure notes were required by God, then it would be impossible for the human voice to produce.
May God continues blessing you for sharing Christ.
Eliud Gamez Sr.
I'd like to see how you answer this matter. In Ephesians Chapter 5 verse 19, we read that we are to speak to ourselves in "Psalms." Here is the Greek for Psalms: psal-mos'
From G5567; a set piece of music, that is, a sacred ode (accompanied with the voice, harp or other instrument; a “psalm”); collectively the book of the Psalms: – psalm. Compare G5603.
We have "melody." psal'-lo
Probably strengthened from ψα?ω psao? (to rub or touch the surface; compare G5597); to twitch or twang, that is, to play on a stringed instrument (celebrate the divine worship with music and accompanying odes): – make melody, sing (psalms).
So, here is the scripture specifically telling us to speak and teach one another in psalms which is defined as involving music. How do you explain this? Also, cannot making melody, which is defined as involving the playing of a string instrument, in our heart, just mean to make music from our heart, or with "all of our heart" as the expression goes? In everything we do, we are to from the whole heart right? If I were to play a piano for God, can I not do it in my heart, or with all my heart? Doesn't that mean the same thing? I've heard you say that a good Greek expert would say that if there is no instrument specified, it only means singing, but can you only appeal to me from the scriptures and not from what a Greek expert might say?
Some more questions, if you please. If God is the same always, then why did he allow the Jews to praise him with instruments? If he liked such then, why not now? If he didn't like it then, why did he allow David to command us to praise him in such ways? Thorough answers would be appreciated, thank you. The Inquirer.
In your own definition of psalmos you give "with the voice…or other instrument." So in the definition you gave for the word it is acknowledged that the voice is an applicable instrument for this type of music. Also, that word requires that the instrument be specified in the text. The only instrument in the text is the heart. So, even if the word does refer to plucking the strings, it would be the heart strings in singing praise to God.
I might be willing to say that "making melody in your heart to the Lord" could mean "from your heart" except that the Greek word en doesn't mean "from." You couldn't say it means "from the heart" with the Greek word en being used. It means "in the heart." The Hebrews writer said that we praise God with the "fruit of our lips" (Heb. 13:15). Playing a tune on an instrument is not "the fruit of our lips."
I'm not sure where you got your definition of the word "psalmos" but here is what Louw and Nida say about it:
Notice, "with the possible implication of instrumental accompaniment." The word itself does not require instrumental musical. It can but it doesn't have to. It cannot be referring to instrumental music in this passage because if it was then every member of the church would be commanded to play an instrument. It says lolountes heautois, that is "speaking to one another" in the present active plural. Meaning "each one speaking to each other one." That's congregational singing. Or, if what you are saying is correct, congregational playing on stringed instruments. Are you going to say that every member of the congregation is supposed to be playing on stringed instruments at the same time? I didn't think so! But, every member of the congregation is supposed to be singing together in congregational singing, as the Greek tense of the statement clearly shows (cf. Heb. 2:12).
You ask me to appeal to you only from the Scriptures but you yourself bring up the Greek in trying to prove me wrong. Yes, I can make my point just from the Scripture because I can show you where it says "sing" in our English New Testament but you can't show me where it says "play" without trying to use a limited and contextually wrong definition of a Greek word. How about that!
When the Hebrews writer says that Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:18), it is talking about His divine nature. He is eternal, ever loving, ever just, ever holy, etc. Those attributes of His character and nature will never change. However, does that mean he doesn't change in what he requires in religious observance? If it does then all that incense, candles, robes, animal sacrifices, feast days, sabbaths, etc., etc., would still be required for our religious observance today. If not, why not? Why is it that you can pick one thing from the Old Testament and say, "I want to keep this one." What about all the rest of it? Are you going to go back to the Old Testament for everything else they did in their worship of God? I didn't think so!
The crux of the matter is this, you can't find a single passage anywhere in the New Testament where the early church used mechanical instruments of music in their worship of God. You can't even find any historical references to the use of mechanical instruments of music by the early church before about the 12th Century. Try doing an etymology of the word "a Capella." I think you might find it interesting.
Zamokuhle Biyela says
greetings. may I know something here about the approved example. Does an approve example stands alone as the command? I mean can we use the example alone without some sort of a command to accompany it. I have been asked this question several times that is it a sin not to follow the example or a sin is breaking the command? They say if we believe that Acts 20:7 is an example one can easily decide to break bread on any other day since there is no command. Sunday is the command found the this example than it will be a sin to break bread during the day or and not or the upper room both found on the example in Acts 20:7-9.
secondly, Paul taught till midnight we are told that midnight would mean Monday morning that is after 0.00 at night. so Paul partook the Lord Supper on Monday so the Church is at liberty to partake it on any other day.
Thanks I wait for your reply I wont be available till Monday. Stay Blessed
Zamo Biyela South Africa
In his book, “When is an ‘Example’ Binding,” T. B. Warren says, “No one can understand the Bible without recognizing that all that the Bible teaches it teaches either explicitly or implicitly. …to say that some proposition (or the conjunction of a number of propositions) implies another proposition is to say that it is impossible for the proposition(s) which serves as evidence to be true without the conclusion also being true.”
The way this principle applies to ascertaining biblical authority from approved examples is seen very clearly in Acts 8. In that chapter, we have the example of Philip evangelizing Samaria. It says, in Acts 8:5, that Philip “preached Christ to them.” It goes on to say, in Acts 8:12, that Philip “preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.” Again, a third time, it says, in Acts 8:35, that when Philip taught the Ethiopian eunuch, he “preached Jesus to him.” So, in these examples we have Philip preaching Christ to various groups. Obviously, these examples set forth the approved conduct of Christians evangelizing. We are authorized to “preach Christ.”
There is also the example of how people responded to Philip. By their example we have the implied truth of what it means to preach Christ. In Acts 8:12, Philip’s hearers responded to hearing Christ preached by being baptized. Again, in Acts 8:36-38, when the eunuch heard Philip preach Christ, he too was baptized. The eunuch asked, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Nowhere in Acts 8 is the command given to be baptized. In this example, Philip is never said to have preached baptism. Yet, the Samarians (Acts 8:12), Simon (Acts 8:13), and the eunuch (Acts 8:36) all knew they had to be baptized. Therefore, this example of evangelism also includes the necessary inference that preaching Christ includes teaching people the necessity of baptism for the cleansing of Christ’s blood (cf. Romans 6:3-5; Acts 22:16; at al).
While I in no way encouraging the isolation of text, this example does stand on its own for what it authoritatively teaches. That is, it is clear in this example that preaching Christ is authorized and that preaching Christ includes the necessity of baptism. If there were no other explicit statements concerning evangelism, this example would stand alone as authorizing evangelism as approved Christian conduct and that such evangelism includes the teaching of baptism for the remission of sins.
In reference to the example of communion in Acts 20:7, the premise that the church observed the Lord’s Supper on Monday is not valid. It explicitly states that the church came together to break bread (i.e. take the Lord’s Supper) “on the first day of the week.” That is Sunday, not Monday. It then says that Paul preached until midnight after it says they came together to “break bread.” Later, it says again that they broke bread, this time in reference to the church having a meal together (Acts 20:11; cf. Acts 2:42, 46; Jude 12). This example has nothing whatsoever in it that would authorize the Lord’s Supper on Monday or any other day. The only example we have for the observance of the Lord’s Supper by the New Testament church is that it was observed on Sunday (Acts 20:7; cf. 1 Cor. 11:18, 20, 33; 16:2). If a congregation observes the Lord’s Supper on a day other than Sunday then they do so without any biblical authority whatsoever.
The nature of any example is that there will always be incidental information included. For example, where the church was meeting and the kind of lighting they had is incidental information. If the upper room part of the example is to be bound as authoritative then why not that they were in Troas? They were not just in an upper room. They were in an upper room in Troas. So, if the place is binding then the place would have to be an upper room in Troas. Obviously, that cannot be the case. While having “many lamps” in the worship area might be a good thing to do, it certainly would not be a binding part of the example. If it were then it would be “unscriptural” to worship in a dimly lit room. The significance of the “many lamps” is to point out that the meeting continued until well after dark, even to daybreak the following day (Acts 20:11). It is important to differentiate between the essential part of the example and the surrounding incidental information. The example shows the conduct of the early church observing the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week (Sunday). It says that is what they came together to do, that and to hear Paul preach. The service continued an extended period of time, likely because this was the last time they would see Paul. Certainly, there would be nothing wrong with a congregation recognizing a special need for an extended service and continuing with the teaching of God’s word all night long. However, the observance of the Lord’s Supper is specifically stated as being on the first day of the week.
Zamokuhle Biyela says
Thank you Sir. The information given is more than helpful to me. I hope you wont be bothered by me asking some questions on this subject even more on other biblical related subject. if I may ask your permission once more to translate the material covered on this page into Zulu language. I mean only the part where you explained how we ascertain biblical authority. I felt that it was more helpful for a growing church like ours here.
Yes, you are very welcome to translate any of the material on this website for your use. I am thankful that you find this website useful to you in your study and teaching of God’s word. I pray that it will be used to His glory.