What Does the Bible Say About

What Does the Bible Say About

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Why do churches of Christ not use instrumental music?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Written by Allen Webster, housetohouse.com

 

Churches of Christ love music. Singing is a prominent—and favorite—part of each service. Most congregations dedicate a Sunday night each month to learn new songs and to sing old favorites. Annual singings can draw thousands of people. Many Christians sing daily as they go about their tasks (James 5:13).

One prominent feature of music in churches of Christ is that it is unaccompanied by mechanical instruments. While a cappella singing is not unique to churches of Christ (more than 300 million in several religious groups sing exclusively a cappella), it does differ from many churches. Perhaps you are curious as to why. If so, read on.

Churches of Christ do not sing a cappella because we dislike other kinds of music. Most of us have as many songs on iPods as the next person. We do not lack financial means to purchase instruments or capable musicians to play them. We are not just trying to be different or stubbornly upholding a longstanding tradition.

Why, then, do we sing a cappella?

The practice is predicated on following the New Testament instead of the Old.

The church is a New Testament institution, purchased on the cross and established on Pentecost (Matthew 16:18; Acts 2:1–47; 20:28). Its rule of faith and practice is the covenant Jesus delivered by the Spirit (New Testament), not the Law delivered to Moses at Sinai (Old Testament).

The New Testament records this transition:

  • Hear Christ, not Moses (Matthew 17:5).
  • Preach gospel to all nations (Matthew 28:18–20).
  • Judged by Christ’s words (John 12:48).
  • Loosed/delivered from the law (Romans 7:1–7).
  • "Christ is the end of the law” (Romans 10:4).
  • “Engraven in stones” law abolished (2 Corinthians 3:7–14).
  • Separating wall removed (Ephesians 2:14).
  • Old nailed to cross (Colossians 2:14).
  • Change in priesthood required change in law (Hebrews 7:12; 9:11).
  • New effective after Christ’s death (Hebrews 9:16–17).
  • Christ came to take away the first law to establish second (Hebrews 10:9).

A new law changed humanity’s response to God. Christians no longer offer animals, keep the Passover, observe Sabbaths and new moons, or avoid pork and catfish (cf. Colossians 2:14–17). Worship is not conducted by a special class of priests; blood is not sprinkled on a mercy seat; and unusual ceremonies involving goats, red heifers, and burnt animals are not required.

In the changeover, God omitted such things as burning incense, golden vessels, colorful tapestries, dancing before the Lord, bitter herbs, and instruments. He kept unleavened bread, the fruit of the vine, prayers, and singing.

Incidental? Hardly. God always meticulously planned worship (Exodus 25–40; Leviticus 1–27). He spent more than six thousand years completing His plan for the church (Ephesians 3:11; Galatians 4:4–5) so nothing was left to happenstance.

The Old Testament is written for our learning but not for our law (Romans 15:4). Going back to the Old Testament for study is helpful in understanding many things, but going back to the Old Testament for any practice obligates one to keep all its ordinances (Galatians 5:1–3; James 2:10).

The practice comes from our understanding of worship and priesthood.

Os Guinness observed, “The modern world has scrambled things so badly that today we worship our work, we work at our play, and we play at our worship.”

Churches of Christ aim never to “play at worship.” Worship is the most important thing humans do. It is a privilege to worship—more specifically, to be one from whom God accepts worship. In the Old Testament, believers offered sacrifices through priests. In the New, all Christians are priests—a kingdom of priests (Revelation 1:6). As a holy priesthood we offer spiritual sacrifices to Him who called us out of darkness (1 Peter 2:5, 9).

Every faithful member can participate in worship. Congregational singing reflects this. Instrumentals, choirs, and solos hinder all-member participation.

Regardless of a congregation’s size, worship always has an audience of one. A God who has everything is in the market for little, but He seeks worship (John 4:23–24). In those few minutes, we have God’s undivided attention. It is when we say thanks for His “unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15) and put a smile on the face of the one who puts a song in our hearts.

The voice is a wonderful gift. You could say God gave each of us a musical instrument to use in His worship. We may not think we have a good voice, but God looks at (listens to) our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). A sincere song from a faithful child pleases Him. The relevant question is not, “Do we have a voice?” but “Do we have a song?” God loves to hear His children sing.

How one approaches God in worship is of fundamental importance. Individually and congregationally, worship is either accepted or refused by God. We must not assume that God automatically accepts anything we offer. He doesn’t. God has always rejected worship He did not like (Genesis 4:4–7; Isaiah 1:13). He does not like vain worship (Matthew 15:9), which (in the context) ritualistically continues human traditions; ignorant worship (Acts 17:20–23), which results from not seeking God’s Word on the subject; and will-worship (Colossians 2:23), which offers what we want instead of what He wills.

True worship is done in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Individually, God only accepts worship “in spirit”—that which comes from proper attitudes, such as reverence, thanksgiving, and humility (Hebrews 13:15). We must examine ourselves before worshipping (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Collectively, God only accepts “in truth” worship, which means according to His Word (John 17:17). We have no authority to put words in God’s mouth, or to ignore words from His mouth (Matthew 4:4; Revelation 22:18–19). Man is not at liberty to select a worship form that appeals to him. The danger for any church is to make worship entertainment oriented. The important thing is not what draws a crowd but what pleases God. Loving God supremely means acquiescing to His will (Matthew 7:21; 22:37–38; 23:23; John 7:17).

The practice grows out of our desire to reproduce the original church today.

The church of Christ sang a cappella in the days of the apostles, so the church of Christ sings a cappella today. It really is as simple as that.

Churches of Christ today strive to be identical to the church in the New Testament (Romans 16:16). Before we practice anything, we verify that it was practiced by the first century church. Thus “proving all things,” we hold “fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21; cf. Jeremiah 6:16). It is the safest approach one can take in religion—the way that is right and cannot be wrong.

No scholar (of whom I am aware) says early Christians used instruments. No Bible verse records it. The phrase a cappella, which now means “without instrumental accompaniment,” originally meant “as in church.” Instruments were available and  widely used in pagan worship and theaters, as well as the Jewish temple, but they were not used by the church.

Standard reference works and music textbooks confirm this. Emil Nauman wrote in The History of Music: “There can be no doubt that originally the music of the divine service was everywhere entirely of a vocal nature” (Vol. 1, p. 177). Wycliffe Bible Dictionary says, “There is no record in the New Testament of the use of instruments in the musical worship of the Christian church.” The Catholic Encyclopedia reads, “The first Christians were of too spiritual a fiber to substitute lifeless instruments for or to use them to accompany the human voice.”

More than five hundred years passed before instruments were used. Chambers Encyclopedia notes, “The organ is said to have been introduced into church music by Pope Vitalian in 666 ad.”

At first, the organ was played only before and after the “liturgy” (worship service). Years later, it was moved into the service proper. Then it caused such controversy that in ad 1054 it led to a split between Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. (Orthodox Churches, with few exceptions, continue to use vocal music only to this day.)

Most Protestant churches did not use instruments until the 1800s. In the time of the Reformation, churches opposed instruments in stronger language than we would likely use today. Martin Luther, founder of the Lutheran Church, called the instrument “an ensign of Baal” (McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia, from Luther, Martin, Realencyklopadie Fur Protestantische Theologie und Kirche). John Calvin, founder of the Presbyterian Church, wrote, “Musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting up of lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the law” (Comments on Psalm 33). John Wesley (1703–1791), founder of the Methodist Church, said: “I have no objection to instruments of music, in our chapels, provided they are neither heard nor seen” (quoted by his personal friend, Adam Clark in Clark’s Commentary, Vol. IV, p. 686). Adam Clarke (1762–1832), prominent Methodist scholar, wrote: “Music as a science, I esteem and admire: but instruments of music in the house of God I abominate and abhor” (Comments on Amos 6). Charles Spurgeon, widely-recognized as the greatest Baptist preacher, wrote in his comments on Psalm 42: “We might as well pray by machinery as praise by it” (Treasury of David, Volume 1, 272). He never allowed instruments in his ten-thousand-seat Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.

These quotations are not given as authority, and certainly not to offend, but simply to show that church history is firmly on the side of a cappella singing.

The practice stems from our conviction that we must add nothing to the Scriptures.

Churches of Christ believe strongly in having divine authority (a scripture) for all we teach and practice. We do this because the Bible says, “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17). “Whatsoever” and “all” are comprehensive words. To do a thing “in Jesus’ name” means to do it by His authority. The Bible warns against venturing beyond “that which is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6) or adding anything to the Bible (Revelation 22:18–19). We must not go out of bounds (2 John 1:9).

What are the bounds regarding worship? The New Testament does not say much about music in the early church. The one time music is used (Luke 15:25), is not even talking about worship, but about the party held for the returning prodigal. A few verses mention pipes and harps (e.g., Matthew 11:17; 1 Corinthians 14; Revelation 14–15), but none in the context of church worship. Singing, however, is mentioned seven times in that context (Acts 16:25; Romans 15:9; 1 Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 2:12; James 5:13).

Singing is definitely “in bounds.”

  • It is commanded (Ephesians 5:19).
  • There are examples of Christians singing (Acts 16:25; 1 Corinthians 14:15).
  • It is in the principle of offering God the fruit of our lips (Hebrews 13:15).

On the other hand, the New Testament is silent on playing songs for God. It is not commanded nor is there any example of the early church using it.

We pray that God will give all of us wisdom as we continue our spiritual journey toward eternity (James 1:2–4).

All who love the Lord share a delight in His praise. Truly may God in all things “be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:11).

Dangers of Debt

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Dangers of Debt

Proverbs 22:7 "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is slave of the lender."

Biblical Warnings on Debt

  • It is slavery! (Proverbs 22:7).
    • We cry over the evils of slavery in our country, and certainly great evils were committed.
    • The Bible is full of debt / slavery passages (2 Kings 4:1-7; Matt. 18:23-35; Luke 7:40-43; Neh. 5:1-5).
    • But we voluntarily submit ourselves to slavery by continuing to pay for things when we don’t have the money at the time.
      • Slaves to the car payment.
      • Slaves to the MasterCard, Best Buy, Sears, J.C. Penny, Kohl’s.
    • Romans 6:16 – Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
  • “Sell the oil and pay your debt, and you and your sons live on the rest” (2 Kings 4:7).
    • This gives us the divine order.
    • It’s not live, and then pay the debt.
    • It’s pay the debt, and then live!
    • Pay your debt, don’t run away from it (Psalm 37:21).
  • Do not become surety for someone else’s debt.
    • Prov. 6:1-5 – Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter…
    • Prov. 11:15 – He who is surety for a stranger will suffer for it, but one who hates being surety is secure.
    • Prov. 17:18 – One who lacks sense gives a pledge and puts up security in the presence of his neighbor.
    • Prov. 22:26-27 – Do not be one of those who shakes hands in a pledge, one of those who is surety for debts; if you have nothing with which to pay, why should he take away your bed from under you?

What are the spiritual consequences of debt?

  • Entangled (2 Timothy 2:4) and choked with the cares of this life (Luke 8:14).
    • Where your treasure is, there your “heart” will be also (Matthew 6:19-21).
  • A lack of ability to help serve in the kingdom of Jesus Christ because our finances are locked up in debt and our time is locked up finding ways to pay it off.
  • Slavery to the world, unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14-18).
    • We usually hear this passage applied to marriage.
    • Have we ever thought about applying this passage to debt?
    • When we join ourselves into yokes of financial slavery with unbelievers, it will harm our effectiveness in the kingdom’s work.
  • Strain on the marriage.
  • Why do people have 2nd and 3rd jobs, and work hours and hours of overtime?
    • Many times it is the debt!
    • So we send ourselves and our spouses into slavery because we keep wanting!
    • The Biblically defined purpose of work is:
      • To provide for necessities and feed the household (Gen. 3:19; 1 Tim. 5:8)
      • To help those in need (Eph. 4:28; Acts 20:33-35)
      • To assist the preaching of the gospel (Gal. 6:6; 1 Cor. 9:9-14; 1 Tim. 5:17-18)
      • To have a little enjoyment and rest from our labors (Eccl. 3:12-13).
    • How much of your paycheck is going to debt?  Who is your master?
  • Freedom is not truly experienced (Gal. 5:13).
  • The things we have purchased with debt are not fully enjoyed because we keep making the payments.
    • What if that car was yours free and clear?
    • What if that vacation was paid for with cash?
    • What if that TV is yours, and you got a sweet deal because you paid with cash?

Money Management

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Money Management

 

Biblical Principles on Money Management:

  1. Doesn’t matter how much money you make.
    1. Ecclesiastes 11:4 – “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done” (TLB).
    2. If you are faithful with a few, you’ll be faithful with much (Luke 16:10).
      1. Wishing for $50,000 a year when you can’t manage $30,000 doesn’t solve the real problem.
      2. If I can afford a brand new van, expensive jewelry, and a fancy cell phone, but can’t pay for my own food, then my priorities are out of order.
      3. There is a time for government assistance for those who truly need it, but there is also a need for this society to expect people to take personal responsibility.
      4. Those who truly need help should not feel (or be made to feel) guilty (Deut. 15:7-11).
    3. Philippians 3:18-20 – Whose god is their appetite…but our citizenship is in heaven.
    4. “There is desirable treasure, and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man squanders it” (Prov. 21:20).
    5. “He who loves pleasure will be a poor man, he who loves wine and oil will not be rich” (Proverbs 21:17).

 

  1. Be in control – know what’s going on!
    1. Is money my master, or am I a master to money!
    2. Good stewardship requires me to be wise with money.
      1. Stewardship implies faithfulness (1 Cor. 4:2; Matthew 25:14-30).
      2. Proverbs 27:23 – “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds.”
        1. We don’t have flocks and herds, maybe, but we do have a checking account!
        2. Does God want us to know what’s going on financially?  YES!
        3. Develop a budget, get good advice on how to do it.
      3. Luke 14:28-30 – The principle of counting the cost is taught / expected by Jesus.
    3. It requires me to plan!
      1. Proverbs 16:3  – “Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.”
      2. Proverbs 21:5 – “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.”
      3. Proverbs 24:27 – “Prepare your outside work, make it fit for yourself in the field; and afterward build your house.”
    4. I have to be a grownup now (Eph. 4:14; 1 Cor. 13:11; 14:20; Heb. 5:12-14).

 

  1. Little by Little
    1. God did not drive out the inhabitants of Canaan all at once, He did it “little by little” (Exodus 23:30; Deuteronomy 7:22).
    2. We need patience in all areas of life, especially finances (James 5:7-8).
    3. Proverbs 28:20 – “A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who hastens (is in a hurry) to be rich will not go unpunished.”
      1. Impatience got you into this mess; impatience will not get you out of it!
      2. Compare to weight loss (you worked 20 years on that figure, and want to change it in 1 month).
      3. When you are in a hurry financially, bad decisions abound!
      4. People trying to get out of messes get very impulsive and desperate; they end up making things much worse, for an example see David in 2 Samuel 11.
    4. Is it worth the investment, if we do things God’s way? (Gal. 6:9).

 

  1. Simply My Life.
    1. Simply your banking and budgeting.
    2. Use cash as much as possible.
      1. You see the money leaving you.
      2. You don’t have 300 receipts in your wallet!
      3. You know what is in the account, instead of living in a fog because you have so many outstanding transactions.
    3. Do I need _____________?  When is the last time I used it?
    4. How much money do I spend caring for and storing things I never use that just clutter up my house?

 

 

Rethinking Money

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Rethinking Money

 

A Matter of the Heart

  • Proverbs 23:7 – For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.
    • This passage was in the context of MONEY!
    • Proverbs 23:4-5 "Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven."
  • Matthew 6:21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
    • Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."
    • Psalm 62:10 "...if riches increase, do not set your heart on them."
  • Luke 8:14 "...but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures..."
  • Money isn’t the problem, is it?
  • We must be renewed (Ephesians 4:23) and transformed (Rom. 12:1-2) in our minds.

7 Deadly “Money” Sins

  • Selfishness (See Nabal, 1 Sam. 25:11, and the rich fool, Luke 12).
  • Covetousness (Luke 12:15; Col. 3:5).
  • Impulsiveness (Prov. 14:29).
  • Impatience (Prov. 13:11; 20:21; 21:5)
  • Lack of communication / unity (The virtuous woman and her husband, Prov. 31).
  • Ignorance (Prov. 1:5; 22:6-7).
  • Failure to plan (Prov. 24:27).

Money is God’s…He lets us use it.

  • The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow to it (Prov. 10:22).
  • The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof (Psalm 24:1).
  • “My God shall supply all your need” (Phil. 4:19).

Money is primarily earned

  • Gen. 3:19 – By the sweat of your brow…
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:10 – If a man won’t work, neither shall he eat (see also 1 Thessalonians 4.
  • See also (1 Thes. 4:11; Acts 20:35; Ephesians 4:28).

Money is not promised equally to everyone.

  • Parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30).
  • If you work hard, save, invest, plan, and take risks in business, should you not be rewarded more than a person who sits around and waits for the government?
    • Social justice and redistribution of wealth is destructive.
    • When we do not expect people to work, we cripple our society for generations to come.

Money is a tool

  • It is our primary means of doing commerce.
  • Make yourselves friends by unrighteous mammon (Luke 16)
  • People used money to support:
    • Ministry (Luke 8:3; Phil. 4:10-19).
    • To support our families (1 Timothy 5:8).
    • To support those in need, both Christians and non-Christians (1 Cor. 16:1-3; Gal. 6:10; Eph. 4:28).
    • To have a little fun (Eccl. 3:13).

Money must be controlled

  • Money is paper and metal, it has no power in and of itself.
  • Money does not corrupt.
  • Our heart must change before our handling of money will ever change (1 Tim. 6:10)

Our attitude toward money and our use of money affects our fellowship with God

  • Luke 16:1-14 – Parable of the unjust steward
  • Matthew 25:14-30 – Parable of the talents
  • Malachi 3:8-10 – Our giving (Proverbs 3:9-10)
  • Haggai 1:3-7; Matthew 6:33 – Our priorities

 

Practical Tips for Saving Money

  • Eat at home.
  • Buy used cars.
  • Shop at the thrift store.
  • Cancel unneeded services.
  • Use couponmom.com
  • Use cash instead of constantly swiping a card, you can see your money being spent, the visual effect is important.
  • Wait for off season to purchase things (buy spring clothes in the fall, Christmas decorations after the holiday).
  • Having a good budget.
  • Go to the grocery store with a list (don’t go hungry, either!).
  • Pay credit cards off every month.
  • Making extra principle payments on mortgage.
  • Have an emergency fund.

 

 

Abortion

Friday, July 31, 2015

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…”  Jeremiah 1:5

"For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well."  Psalm 139:13-14

 

Luke 1:26-45

  • The angel Gabriel announced to Mary her own miraculous conception, but also informed her that Elizabeth has “conceived a son” and she was in “her sixth month.” This was not a fetus, it was her son.
  • The baby (John the Baptist) leapt for joy in his mother’s womb. Is a simple collection of cells capable of joy?
  • Elizabeth called Mary the “Mother of My Lord” which indicates that Mary was a mother even when the child was in the womb. This baby in her womb was not a simple collection of cells, it was a child with an identity.

If a man hurt a pregnant woman and she lost the baby, the man’s own life was forfeited (Exodus 21:22-25). What value did God place upon a baby in the womb?

Job 3:16 speaks of a miscarriage and refers to “infants that never saw light.” It is not a glob of goo, it is an infant.

 

The Bible shows absolutely no distinction between a child in the womb and a child outside the womb.

  • The same words in Hebrew and Greek are used to describe them.
  • The same value is placed by God on their lives.
  • The same God formed them and knows them.
  • The same penalty is placed on those who kill them.

"They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons, and shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with the blood."  Psalm 106:37-38 

 

Our nation is sacrificing our own sons and daughters. Millions of unborn babies have been sacrificed by their parents upon the altars of convenience, lifestyle and utter selfishness. Politicians, presidents, judges, representatives, governors, etc. have promoted this abominable holocaust upon our most vulnerable citizens. Doctors and organizations like Planned Parenthood have made themselves rich over the slaughtering of unborn children. They lined their pockets with the blood of the most innocent and precious gifts of God. God will bring certain and fierce judgment upon any people that commit such atrocities.

He will also bring swift judgment upon those who “approve” of such practices, and all those who sit idly by while our nation is decimating a whole generation (Romans 1:32).

 

Forgiveness can be found, however, in Jesus Christ for all sinners, including those who had abortions and those who performed abortions. You must come to Jesus, believing in Him and confessing Him with your mouth as the risen Lord and Christ (Romans 10:9-10). Jesus is calling you to repent of your sins and to be cleansed by His blood; He can set you free from sin by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Acts 2:38). Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to wash away your sins, be buried with Him in His death, and you will be set free from sin (Romans 6:1-7; Acts 22:16). God’s power that forever lives through the blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse your conscience and set you free (Hebrews 9:14; 10:22).

 

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