Modern man still rebels against the silence of the Scriptures. For example, the New Testament affirms that the first day of the week is a day of sacred significance (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 16:2), but is silent regarding any authorization for man to keep the Sabbath. Yet, in spite of the New Testament silence regarding the Sabbath, many, like Jeroboam of old (I Kings 12:25-33), devise in their own heart their own time for worship rather than respecting God’s specified time.
Furthermore, the New Testament authorizes vocal and verbal singing, with the melody made upon the human heart (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). As one searches through the pages of the New Testament for a command, approved example, or implication authorizing the use of instrumental music in worship, he is met with a deafening silence! To borrow the phraseology of Hebrews 7:14, we can say, "For it is evident that our Lord authorized the vocal and verbal singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs; as for instrumental music He spake nothing.
Of course, it is at this point that many religious folks will race to the Old Testament in an attempt to offer Divine approval of instrumental music. This activity, on their part, reveals two very important facts. In the first place, their action demonstrates the fact that they feel a need for authority. But in the second place, by running to the Old Testament, they are, in fact, admitting that authority for instrumental music cannot be found in the teaching of Christ and the apostles.
If there were even one approved example in the New Testament of God’s people using mechanical instruments of music in their worship to God, it would not be necessary to bypass the New Testament to hurry to the Old Testament. This is proof positive that the pages of the New Testament are silent about instrumental music.
Furthermore, we have been discharged from the Old Testament, and we are bound and governed by the teaching of the New Testament (Rom. 7:1-4; Col. 2:14; Heb. 7:12; 8:6-13; 9:15-17). God’s New Testament specification to sing and make melody in the heart is just as exclusive of any other action (playing, humming, etc.) as a written specification to your painter to paint your house white is exclusive of your authorizing him to paint it any other color. There is simply no authority for mechanical instruments of music in New Testament worship.
This study has by no means exhausted the rich implications of what it means to speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent. However, we have demonstrated that this restoration slogan is worthy of commendation and imitation because it is based squarely upon the truth of Holy Scripture. In the 1800’s, the plea was a refreshing one to the multitudes who had grown tired of denominational hierarchies patterned after the doctrines and commandments of men. We must have confidence in the power of such a plea to capture the imaginations of men and women of our time who are weary of the same things. New Testament Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; rather, it has not been tried by the masses.
The gospel is still the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). Thus, all creeds, dogmas, disciplines, manuals, catechisms and policies of men are cast aside and replaced with the legislation from the sole head and chief monarch of the church, Jesus Christ (Col. 1:18; 5:23). His legislation is found only within the sacred pages of Holy Writ. The faith has "once for all been delivered" (Jude 3) and Jesus will judge humanity based on the words that He has spoken (John 12:48; Heb. 1:1,2).
Our task is to motivate men to hearken unto Jesus and the apostles through whom He spoke (Matt. 17:5; Acts 3:22; John 16:12-15; 1 Cor. 2:9-16). If we could accomplish such a task, religious division (as it exists today) would vanish away and the restoration of primitive Christianity would be realized. Therefore, let us lovingly, clearly, and urgently call this world back to the Bible, and as we do so, let us make sure that we speak where the Bible speaks, and that we are silent where it is silent!
Just because an echo has the last word does not mean that it wins the argument.
by B. J. Clarke
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