People have debated the topic of mechanical instruments for many, many years. Our topic today is can a Christian use mechanical instruments in worship and, be pleasing to God while doing so?
It is key to keep in mind that anyone who wants to be pleasing to God must follow the standard of authority that God has revealed in the New Testament. Before considering any topic the individual must decide how important it is to them to be pleasing to God. If mankind has no desire or concern about pleasing God than the discussion of Bible topics will accomplish nothing. Let us have the mind that we want to please God and not simply ourselves or anyone else.
Let’s begin by pointing out that the Old Testament is not authoritative today. What was done in the Old Testament time period does not mean that action is approved of or commanded today. The Christian should remember that Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:16 that the old law was taken out of the way when Christ died on the cross, “having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,”. That being said David’s use of the instruments in the Old Testament has no impact on what we do in worship under the New Testament law today.
When a man offers worship to God it must be done according to His commandments. Failure to do so makes worship vain or worthless before God (Mt 15:9). Though a man may do things that they think God would be pleased with we must remember that man’s standard is not God’s standard (Mt 15:8).
As we look at the New Testament, we find no evidence of mechanical instruments being used in worship to God. From Matthew through Revelation, there is no evidence of mechanical instruments in worship. We find no command, no example and no reference that would indicate the use of such things in New Testament Worship. While some may point to Revelation and the references to harps it is important to remember that the book of Revelation is one of the most figurative books in the Bible. With that in mind, when we see the use of physical objects in a spiritual place this only points to figurative language and not literal harps. One would do well to remember that the incense was figurative of prayers in Revelation 8:3 and that it is only logical that the mention of harps is figurative of praise being offered to God.
In Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 we are reminded that the praise offered to God today comes from our hearts. The literal idea is plucking the strings of ones own heart in praise to God. It is important to point out that the only instrument mentioned is the heart and that any mechanical instrument is not justified by these verses as none are mentioned. Also, remember that in the Old Testament the mechanical instruments are mentioned by name each time they are used. The same is done today in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. The instrument is the heart.
Since there is no support for the use of mechanical instruments in New Testament worship today. It would be logical to conclude that the use of them today would be sinful. We would do well to remember the price of sin that was paid by Nadab and Abihu when they offered profane fire before the Lord (Lev 10:1-2). Let us always be willing to do what is pleasing to God and not try to please men.
The Lord’s church has been blessed with great lectureships, gospel meetings, summer series lessons, and the like. These activities take place throughout the country. Brethren come from near and far to attend these events and enjoy the great fellowship and Bible lessons. These events provide an opportunity for the lost to hear the gospel as well the faithful to be encouraged.
When planning for any event, the leadership in the local congregation discusses the requirements to make such an event available. Generally, such planning includes discussions about speakers, accommodations for the speakers, other expenses for the speakers, and expenses for other things for the event. These would include lots of things, including the cost of making lessons available on DVDs, etc. Many congregations make such media available online. The Bible tells us payment for any work of the church should come from free-will offerings (1 Cor 16:1-2).
It is important to keep in mind that some works are overseen by an eldership while others are not. Bible camps are under a board of directors. Children’s homes, many times, also are under a board of directors. The men who write and publish books often do so without an eldership overseeing the work. What’s the difference? Events under the oversight of elders are part of the church. Those that are not under the oversight of elders are not part of the local church work. Churches of Christ may be associated with such works under a board of directors, but it is not equal to those under the direct oversight of an eldership.
Can you imagine the apostle Paul going to a congregation and preaching a lesson and the congregation charging those who want to hear the lesson? That is what some are doing today. There are events taking place across the country charging individuals to hear lessons from God’s Word. I have heard some say that it is okay because we are only charging the brethren and not the lost. Why do we think that is okay? The Bible tells us we should encourage one another, not charge one another. Still, some will say “if we did not charge, this event would not be possible.” Is there an alternative to charging for events? Should a congregation decide what it can afford to do before undertaking a work? We are told to give attention to exhortation, however, how encouraged can one be if they have to pay for it (1 Tim 4:13)?
Having recorded many meetings, lectureships, and the like, one becomes familiar with the cost of recording video and audio and the cost of making things available to the public through various forms. It is not just the charging that is a cause for concern for many, but the amount being charged is also a concern. It seems now, more than ever, we have brethren who are hosting various events, charging individuals who attend, and if they want a copy of a lesson or lessons, they must pay for them also. Some have attempted to listen to a lesson on their home computer from an event only to be told they needed a subscription. However, if they go to a different website where a similar event was recorded, they can listen, view, or download the lesson for free. So, why are some charging while others are not?
While these things are not made into a matter of fellowship. It is a cause for concern. Many congregations across the country and the world work together in making seminars and meetings available to those who wish to attend and do so without having a fee to attend such. Surely, brethren can sit down and discuss ways to do such works without having to include a fee; this will be the subject of the next article.
A question that is asked frequently and deserves an answer is “Can a person be a Christian and not be a member of the Church of Christ?” What we must always keep in mind is that such questions require a Bible answer. Answers based on the standards or the traditions of men are not equal to the word of God. We must always look for what God has said and not what man thinks.
In Matthew 16:18 we see that Christ reminds us of what He built, the church. Not “a church” but the church. “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Paul tells us in Galatians 3:27 that it is in baptism that a person is added to the church, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Paul also tells us in Colossians 1:24b that Christ’s body, which we are placed into at baptism, is the church, “… for the sake of His body, which is the church,” In addition to what Paul, an inspired man of God has said, Peter tells us and shows us that baptism is essential in Acts 2:38, “Then Peter said to them, “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.”
Therefore, we see what the Bible has revealed and we can determine that 1) Baptism is essential, 2) Baptism places one into the body of Christ, the church, and 3) since these things are true then a person cannot be a Christian if they are not a part of Christ’s church. We can also add that since baptism is also for the remission of sins, then salvation is only in the church which Christ founded, and He only founded one (Mt 16:18).
These things being true not because of what I or any man has said but because of what we see in scripture. Since the Bible reveals that a Christian cannot be found anywhere but in Christ’s church then the answer is clear we must be in Christ’s church in order to fit the definition of a Christian as it is found in scripture.
When man is faced with such truths it can be difficult to accept for many reasons. However, if you are to know the truth and want to obey the truth as it is found in God’s Word, then we must accept what God’s Word reveals. A refusal to do so we only result in us being separated from God. Think about it.
The attribute of humility is one that every Christian should possess. We read over and over again how the “haughty” and “stiff necked” are contrary to God (2 Chro 30:8, Ps 18:27).
Being humble leads us to selflessness. The humble person doesn’t exalt themselves but, because of their good works, others, including God exalt them (Jam 4:10). A person who is puffed up only desires to be exalted so that they can boast. A person who is humble desires only to do the works of God and IF they are exalted by others then so be it. We want to be humble and not haughty and we should not do things just so that others can see our works (Mt 6:2-4).
Being humble leads a person to righteousness. A person who is truly humble will desire to do what God has commanded. One of the biggest obstacles for people is their pride. Sadly, many allow their pride to get in the way and, as a result, they refuse to obey God (Pro 16:18). A person who is humble will submit to the teachings of God and not reject them (Isa 30:10). Are we humble enough to obey God when we realize we are not following His Word?
Being humble leads us to everlasting life. A person who is humble is willing and ready to repent when they realize they have committed sin. No doubt there are those who do not want to acknowledge that they have sinned. However, the proud cannot repent unless they humble themselves before God. Felix is a shining example of what happens when we are too proud to make ourselves right with God (Acts 24:25).
By these three points we see that being humble causes a person to be a better worker for God, a better student of His Word, and causes us to be closer to God through our humble repentance. Do you have humility? Are we striving to have more humility?
The Bible tells us Christ was humble for our sakes (Phil 2:8). Are we humble for the sake of the Kingdom of God?
It is important to realize that the Christian must stand upon the word of God. This must be our guide and standard in all of life for the Christian. “For You are my rock and my fortress; Therefore, for Your name's sake, Lead me and guide me.” Psalms 31:3 There are many today who stand for truth and have proven that fact by standing faithfully on God’s Word.
However, there are also those who do not. There exists those who claim to follow and stand on God’s Word but do not. Instead of adhering to the Word of God they redefine terms and interpret scripture to say things that do not fit the context but instead fit the standards of man. This is done for many reasons but it generally comes back to the idea of simply trying to please men.
We must remember it is always important to make sure we stand on the solid rock of God & His word and not on the every shifting sands of the doctrines, ideas and opinions of men. If we hope to ever have heaven as our home we cannot reach it unless we are standing on God’s Word and truly follow it.
For that reason I plan to discuss in this article and others where the Christian must stand if they are to be pleasing to God. With that in mind, today we will begin with the Word of God itself.
Notice the following verses which so many of us probably already know by heart. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.“ 2 Timothy 3:16-17 A simple word study reveals that the word “inspiration” literally means “God breathed”. Thus, God breathed out what He wants man to know. The words He has breathed out to man are profitable. These words are not merely opinion or advice they are commands from God. Thus the Bible is not the collections of teachings of men, but is in fact the Word of God. Consider the words of the Apostle Peter when he said “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables...” 2 Peter 2:16a
Why write about the Bible being from God? There are many today it seems that need to be reminded of this fact. There are those today who are rejecting portions of God’s Word and are substituting their own ideas, etc. For that reason we need to be minded that the Bible is not just “some old book” but it contains the Word of God that, when obeyed, saves the soul of man, “…and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” James 1:21b
Let’s never forget where the Christian should stand. The Bible is from God that is a fact. The Bible contains the commandments of God that is a fact. The Bible must be followed, this too is a fact. If we take a stance that declares that the Bible is not from God or that the creeds of men are equal to the Word of God then friends you are standing on the shifting sand of selfish ideas and opinions and those will not provide you entrance into eternal life with our Lord.
Join me next time as we discuss “Where I Stand” regarding the church and the Kingdom.
It is not uncommon, sadly, that some brethren (brothers & sisters) have developed a bad habit of talking to others in a rude & hurtful way. While this may not be intentional, if it is a continual action, it causes the hearer to begin to wonder does it not? Notice the definition of the word rude, “offensively impolite or ill-mannered” (bing.com). Not only are some rude today, some “talk down” to others, this is often done when trying to make the other person feel ignorant or inferior. Isn’t it sad that such attitudes exist in the Lord’s church today?
Sadly, the first example that comes to mind is preachers & teachers. Some today have developed the habit of talking to other preachers, teachers and members in such a way as to convey the idea that they are not intelligent. That’s putting it politely. When questions are asked, some respond with rudeness that includes mocking, poking fun or implying that the individual is stupid for asking such a question. What’s interesting is that often this rudeness does not include an answer to the question at all. Poor manners do not make for a proper answer to any question.
Others can project the attitude of arrogance for multiple reasons. A trend that’s too common today is a preacher being arrogant and rude because of his education. Just because someone attended a school and received a degree does not make that person educated in the scriptures. This point has been illustrated repeatedly and very clearly.
The second example is from individual church members. For example, while it is a good idea to encourage others to read and study their Bible daily, it must be done with love. It’s hard for others to feel love if they are being belittled repeatedly. Another example, is to imply that others do or do not study the Bible because the individual asks a question.
We must be careful to not misunderstand or misinterpret someone’s intentions. A proclamation of Bible truth is not being rude simply because it steps on your toes. Some people say things in a rude way while others believe you are rude for simply saying anything at all, the two are not the same.
The problem it seems for some is that their attitude towards others is not according to the word of God. Some believe the “truth in love” approach is saying the truth because you love them, and that gives them the right to be harsh, aggressive, arrogant, and rude. This is not biblical. Truth in love is just that, we warn, teach, or preach the truth of God’s Word and present it in a loving manner. Just because you have the truth or know the truth does not give you the right to be rude. I have yet to see anyone won for Christ with this approach. Neither will there be many who are encouraged with such an approach.
The solution is one that will seem probably “weak” to those who enjoy the rude approach to which they are accustomed. Brethren need to be encouraged to read and study and questions need to be answered with love. Doing things in love must include love, if it does not we should not be surprised when those who are treated poorly leave the congregation or even goes back into the world. Why attend a congregation where someone’s idea of encouragement is harsh and rude?
Those who have such an approach need to examine themselves and decide if they will change their approach to brethren or not, this would include apologies and repentance to those to whom they have treated so harshly. It’s also a good idea to keep in mind the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor 13:1).
If we love the brethren we will encourage them and build them up in the faith with love in our hearts and not with rudeness on our lips.
When you think of wrath what comes to your mind? We may think of someone who is red in the face. Someone who is yelling & screaming foul language. You may also picture someone who has lost their temper.
What is wrath? Merriam-Webster defines wrath as “strong vengeful anger or indignation”. It’s interesting that wrath includes the idea of vengeance. It’s much more than just losing one’s temper, though that can certainly lead to wrath, it is an excited anger that may lead to lashing out on others.
Have you ever seen someone lash out at someone else? When stressed, frustrated or flustered one may become quick tempered and lash out if they are not careful. It is always easier to talk about controlling one’s anger but it’s much more difficult to actually do it.
What warnings does the Bible give about wrath and anger? Let’s look at a few examples together.
He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, But he who is impulsive exalts folly. (Proverbs 14:29) When a person becomes angry, especially to the point of wrath, it’s common for mistakes (folly) to be made. This is just another reason to try desperately to control one’s anger.
A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
When talking with others we should not intentionally say or do things simply to get someone “fired up” such an attitude is not only wrong but is not the proper attitude of any Christian.
A man of great wrath will suffer punishment; For if you rescue him, you will have to do it again. (Proverbs 19:19) There are some that you sometimes have to try to calm down, to try to help an individual see reason and relax, the Bible warns that there are those who you may have to “rescue” in this way, time and time again. Let us not be one who needs such rescuing.
While it is not sinful to be upset over some things: sin, false teaching, promotion of error, etc. The Christian will be unable to win people for Christ if their anger is not in control.
Wrath causes harm to himself/herself, to the family at home, the Christian family at the local congregation and is displeasing to God. When dealing with wrath one should consider first why he/she is angry. Is it worthy being upset about? Having wrath because of the weather or a spilled glass of milk is not a good reason for wrath. We may be upset by it or disappointed but anger is not justified.
Second, consider if you are upset about something that has just taken place or it is a result of others things compounded that resulted in you coming to wrath.
Third, let us consider that if we deal with issues or concerns as they come and not all at once, wrath and anger in general will be much easier to keep at bay.
Fourth, keep in mind that those who have a problem with wrath, most often look foolish. A man/woman succumbing to wrath over something for example like sports…will indeed only look foolish.
Let us remember when it comes to wrath, it is a danger that must be kept at bay.
A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, But a fool's wrath is heavier than both of them. (Proverbs 27:3)
By Russ Earl
Throughout history we see repeatedly that man can be and often is, a slow learner. We sometimes take a long time to grasp what the answer is, I am not talking about a math problem.
Man, sometimes must try things, experience things. This is not the best course of action. Though this is often what takes place before he decides, if he ever does, that some experiences are not just overrated, they are sinful and damnable actions.
When faced with sin, man often plunges deeper into the mire of wickedness, before finally surfacing to consider the option of ending any sinful action. Man, sometimes will not consider such until he realizes an action not just as being sinful, but the consequences of it. Man, may see the reality of hell awaiting him because of his actions, or he may not.
Man, will only learn when he accepts the darkness of sin. When we talk about sin being “dark” we mean it’s seriousness, its consequences and the evil actions that define sin. Sin is dark for several reasons.
First, it is dark because it is rooted in evil. Anything that separates man from God is evil and sin certainly separates man from God (Isa 59:2). Second, it is dark because sin does not exist in the light. Throughout the Bible those who are in the light is those working righteousness, not so for those committing sin (Jn 3:20). Third, sin is dark because that’s one of the ways the Bible describes it. (1 Jn 1:6).
Sin is dark because no one can live in sin and walk in the light at the same time. One has to first leave the light, that is walk away from God. “From those who leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness;” Pro 2:13. Man must realize that the battle is real. It’s not something that is imaginary. Sin and its temptations are right before us. Even our own government tempts us to sin by making laws that easily allow us to do so. We must realize the battle against sin is all around us from the world and from Satan himself. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Eph 6:12
This battle against the darkness that is sin is one that must be won if a person expects to see heaven.
When a person obeys the gospel, they put on the armor of God and begin waging the war against darkness. Against sin, wickedness, evil and all those who support and promote damnable acts. Unlike some systems of belief, the Christian doesn’t fight with physical objects but with the word of God and the truth found within its pages.
Today, let us realize, finally the seriousness of sin. We must realize that with darkness in our lives we can never be pleasing to God. Friend, not one person will enter Heaven unless they are pleasing to God. The darkness of sin and its consequences rest entirely on our shoulders. However, through obedience to the gospel we encounter the blood of Christ. His blood removes our sin and lifts the damnable shade of darkness that has hung over our lives until now. Today, is the day to act. Now is the time for you to climb out of the mire of sin and wickedness. When we obey the Gospel, Christ will lift us up out of the mire much like He lifted Peter from the water during the storm (Mt 14:30-31). Sin is serious, sin is dark, sin is evil. Today, through obedience allow God to bring you out of sin and darkness and into the Kingdom. “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,” Col 1:13.
When one considers the state of which the church is in today, we have both reason to boast and reason to be concerned. It is common for some to mention the “good ole days” of the church. However, bragging about the “good ole days” is not the answer.
When one talks of the “good ole days” it seems that they are convinced that those days are over. Some will boast of the great debates, the great preachers and their lessons, and the many conversions of the lost. Has that much really changed? While we may not have one every week, is it not true that we still have debates today? Yes. Is it also true that we still have tremendous preachers who bring powerful lessons from God’s Word? Yes. Do we still have events that result in several being converted? Yes. It’s also true that the church grew by large numbers during these “good ole days”. However, the church is still converting souls today. It’s still proclaiming truth and it’s still refuting error. The growth of the church may have slowed, but the good days are far from over (Gal 6:9). I believe that we could be on the verge of a great surge if we, as Christians will work together. If, and only if we will stand for truth, expose and refute error and humbly proclaim God’s Word, giving Him the glory for all that is done.
It seems, that there are multiple reasons for the problems we face today. First, man has more to be distracted by today than ever before. The vibrant color and temptation of sin is literally at the fingertips of man, every second, of every day. It flashes in the face of men, women, & children throughout the day. Many, because of this constant 24/7 onslaught, have created for themselves a heart of stone for religious matters. However, at the same time, the church has been able to use similar venues for the cause of Christ. The internet in general (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc) have allowed the church to reach more people, more easily than ever before. It seems that the use of such tools for the cause of Christ are often grossly underestimated or completely ignored.
Another problem we still face today, sadly, is our own brethren. It’s curious that some encourage debates like in the “good ole days”, but when we ask Bible questions of our own brethren who are teaching error, many times we are met with ridicule, anger and contempt for doing so. Yet, these still maintain we should have more debates? How confusing! On the same note we have many who when teaching error have no desire to discuss it with those who disagree. For these teachers of error the possibility of debating the topic is out of the question.
Today we must realize that if we are going to reach the lost, we must use the venues available to us, without compromising the cause of Christ. We must warn, encourage repentance and when necessary, remove ourselves from the fellowship of those who refuse to repent. We must encourage and support those who proclaim the truth without compromise. More will be accomplished if we labor together to do what was done by the Apostles; proclaim truth, expose and refute error, and warn the sinner and the apostate. That’s not enough though, we also need to support those who do such acts, who “fulfill their ministry” (2 Tim 4:5b) and save souls from hell by doing so (James 5:19-20).
Let’s not reminisce about the “good ole days” let’s work so that those days never end. After all, didn’t the good days begin in Acts 2? The church EXPLODED in size, adding thousands on just one occasion alone! We must labor together while respecting the ways things were done before and the way things can be done today. Those good days can and will continue if we labor to please God in all we do as evangelists and as members of the body of Christ. It’s time to stop comparing then and now, it’s time to work together as fellow laborers and heirs together in Christ (Rom 8:17).
Blogs, such as this one, are common. In fact, perhaps thousands of blogs by brethren of the Lord’s church exist today. Numerous writers contribute and write on various subjects. Thus, over time authors gain “followers” who subscribe and “follow” them. No doubt there are many bloggers in the brotherhood who provide sound and encouraging material week after week.
However, there are those who are followed because their ideas are different, writers who only search for something “new” to discuss or write about (Acts 17:21). Sadly, some are more concerned with commercializing their “brand”, instead of promoting sound Bible truths. Thus, they gain followers who not only read their flawed writings week after week but followers who also promote such commercial minded individuals and their flawed ideas.
It seems many are promoting & sharing materials by those who are teaching things that are not just “different” but are completely contrary to God’s Word. Sadly, some only read and promote the writings of some individuals because they are “well known” in the brotherhood and not because of any sound teaching. Everyone would do well to compare any writing with God’s Word (Acts 17:11).
When sharing, and promoting articles and their authors online and elsewhere one must consider what they are sharing and why. Are you sharing something because it is truth or are you sharing and promoting something simply because a “well known” brother has written the article? Sadly, some have promoted writings of some “well known” brethren and in doing so have also promoted false teachings.
Let us be encouraged to promote and share sound doctrine and remember by doing so we promote the person who deserves it the most, Christ.
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