"Why Don't We Use
Musical Instruments in Worship?"

by Michael S. Cole, M.D.

Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19).

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:16).

Why do some churches (including West-Ark Church of Christ) teach that it is wrong to use musical instruments to accompany our singing during Christian worship assemblies when the above verses don't precisely forbid it?

I think most will agree that God has specifically instructed (even "commanded") Christians to sing as part of the worship that He expects (even "demands"). Since He has not commanded nor even suggested to us to play musical instruments in worship, we can be absolutely certain that if we don't use musical instruments, then He will be pleased with Christians singing if their worship comes from the heart.

Apparently, the human singing voice, that musical instrument created by God Himself, is the only music that our Creator requires of us during a Christian worship assembly. Adding musical instruments to the worship service, therefore, seems as inappropriate as adding fish to the Lord's Supper. That, too, is not clearly forbidden in the Word of God, but most disciples of Christ would agree that this would not be proper. We have examples from the Bible that it is possible to offer sincere, but unacceptable, worship to God. (See Genesis 4:5; Leviticus 10:1-2; I Samuel 15:22; Joshua 1:7; I Kings 11:38; Jeremiah 7:23; Matthew 6:5; Luke 18:10-14.)

As further proof that we should expressively forbid the use of musical instruments in worship, we know from the first several centuries of church history that singing was unaccompanied in all Christian worship. The Latin phrase "a cappella" comes to us from ancient times with the meaning of singing without instrumental music. Literally translated, "a cappella" means "at chapel." Clearly, this is evidence that at some time in the past Christians routinely worshiped God with unaccompanied singing. Even as recent as the 19th century, religious leaders of most denominations condemned the use of mechanical instruments during worship.

Since we cannot be absolutely certain that God finds the use of musical instruments an appropriate form of worship, then it seems quite foolish to risk His wrath by adding something which He did not clearly authorize us to do during collective worship. Our only assurance of practicing acceptable Christian worship is to disregard man-made creeds and turn to God's Word as our only authoritative guide to worship. Unless we pattern our worship after the first century church, we can have no assurance that God approves of our assemblies.

If you wish to discuss this information with someone, please e-mail West-Ark Church of Christ. Christians there are committed to following the Biblical pattern in worship. Our worship service is patterned after the first century church. You are encouraged to study your Bible so that your praying, singing, giving, communion, and preaching are acceptable to God.

 Read John Lankford's Just the Facts On the Music Question

Do the Psalms Authorize the Use of Instrumental Music in New Testament Worship?

 Learn more about musical instruments from our Web site

 Read more about what the Bible says about worship

  Link to West-Ark's Online Library

West-Ark Church of Christ