When one accepts the New Testament doctrine and becomes a child of God, through obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ, he takes on a responsibility. His life has now been dedicated to serving God and not at his own pleasure but the Lord’s pleasure. Regard this one little scripture and consider what it entails.
And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17 ASV)
Now, what do you think this means? Let us examine the phrase and the power it contains. The following scripture comes from the time Jesus met with his apostles after he had been raised from the grave.
But the eleven disciples went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped [him]; but some doubted. And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. (Matthew 28:16-20 ASV)
Now, fix these facts in your mind. Jesus had been given all authority in heaven an on earth. And notice also they were to teach people to observe all things he had told them. There is no room here for attempting to change anything the Lord has either said or had his inspired writers to say. Nothing. To do the things he has said from his own lips or through his writers, has the authority of God in heaven since He gave that authority to Jesus. And the quote by Paul to the Christians at Colosse specifies that ALL things you do must be done in his name which means precisely, by his authority. You have no doubt heard the phrase that police often use when attempting to enter some home, i.e., “Open up in the name of the law!” That command means by the authority of the law. You do not have the authority to crawl out of a window, or fire a bullet through the door. You must open the door since they have the authority to demand it.
So it boils down to the fact that one must worship God according to the instructions in the New Testament, and add nothing to it. One may ask, how do we know that? The reason is that God has never tolerated alterations in the dictates of His worship… even minute departures. So since we know who had the authority to specify the manner and items of worship, why would one ever desire to change those things? Let us look at the items which are instructed for worship, or shown by example, and inference to see whether or not we are worshipping as intended either by adding to the worship, ignoring some of the worship, or changing some of the worship. None of these are authorized.
First of all, there is example and instructions to sing praises to God and to thereby encourage and uplift our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms [and] hymns [and] spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God. (Colossians 3:16 ASV)
No scriptures exist which say to play instrumental music in accompaniment with singing in New Testament worship services. Nor are there examples of the first century Christians using them, nor are there any inferences of such. They just aren’t there.
Historians all agree mechanical instruments of music were introduced into the Lords church services several centuries after the church was established in 32 A.D. The time, although differences exist, is accepted by most as occurring in the early 600’s and it was then opposed by many.
The most thorough sifting of the evidence was made by James McKinnon. McKinnon noted a “polemic” of the “church fathers” against musical instruments during and after the third and fourth centuries because they were “a symbol of lasciviousness and debauchery”. He also noted that, while this polemic was present in these and succeeding centuries, “early Christian music was vocal”. After detailed survey of the evidence, his conclusions are significant (William Woodson Th.D, Spiritual Sword 1993 via The Christian Courier)
This step was one of many which were instituted into the church worship, and organization. The deacon-elder congregational rule was changed without authorization, and infant baptism, also without authority, was instituted along with many other items during the ‘great apostasy’. God has never allowed his worship edicts to be altered. Even under the Old Testament law, small deviations were harshly dealt with. One only needs to read the stories of Cain and Able in Genesis chapter 4 and the comments made by the writer of the Hebrews letter in Hebrews 11:4. and of Nadab and Abihu.
In the above accounts, notice that the Hebrew writer stated that Abel’s offering was by faith…what this means that he offered the one which God had instructed them to do. While Cain preferred to offer vegetables since that is what he raised, but obviously God had specified a meat offering. So Cain only thought his would be acceptable while Abel knew what he was doing was God’s request.
And notice in the account of Nadab and Abihu, the men did not do something God had told them not to do. But rather, they failed to do precisely what he did say do, and they used fire which he had not authorized them to use. People to day would readily say, “Fire is fire, so what difference could that make?” But in their case, it meant death.
A worship service as required by God, is not a gathering for people to engage in any and all activity they desire. Things not authorized are, musical instruments, whooping and yelling, dancing, stomping feet, clapping hands, pretending to speak in foreign tongues, and such like. Some feel they must ‘get something out of a service’. But the service is to worship God!, He gets pleasure from our strict obedience to him. We are not to be entertained at these services but to edify each other and to offer our praise to God…as He has ordered it. A remembrance of Jesus and his life which he gave for us and it is supposed to be a solemn occasion done with reverence. For more details of the activities authorized, please go to the About Us page of the Piedmont church of Christ where the items of worship are spelled out and links to supporting scriptures are noted.
The items other than singing, required for a scriptural worship service, include preaching (or scripture reading and teaching), prayers, solemn observance of the Lord’s Supper, and free will offering of a portion of our monetary blessings given back to God who gave it to us.
The sooner one realizes that he is worshipping an almighty and all-wise God who is filled with seriousness and expects reverence and obedience from His children, we will all be more pleasing to Him. The worship service is not to be entertainment and gaiety, but a sincere and solemn period of praise and observance of his commands. For Him, not for our entertainment.