We all must realize that we can be wrong and yet always be willing challenge ourselves. One of my greatest stands in the Christian faith that is contrary to the majority of believers. I am persuaded by the divine words that praising God necessitates words and the fruit of the lips (1 Cor. 14:9-15, Heb. 13:15). This is meaningful worship. Musical instruments communicate no intelligible words and to try to worship God is sinful and contrary to the music, the worship, and the Assembly established by Jesus Christ.
I am willing to give up my convictions regarding the use of musical instruments in worship for a broader fellowship among believers if I could be persuaded otherwise. I am not so convicted that I am prejudice, stubborn, or arrogant. I find it strange that many detest such a lack of fellowship with other believers when these convictions are for the purity of meaningful worship in Spirit and truth (John 4:20-24). Numerous conjectures have not convinced me. I will not be persuaded without the words revealed by the Spirit of Christ, since these words are the basis for my spiritual life (John 6:63).
Therefore, I am not convinced by symbolic references to incense and musical instruments, which signify prayers and vocal praise. These allusions to Old Testament worship cannot justify the use of either instruments or incense in New Testament worship (Rev. 5:8ff, 14, 15). No, I am not convinced by the Old Testament form of worship, which is shadow of true worship (Heb. 8:510:1, Col. 2:17). I am not convinced that Christian worship should follow David’s example or words of worshiping with instruments since neither his polygamy for marriage nor his Old Testament offerings are in accordance with New Testament life and worship (2 Sam. 6:5, 1 Chron. 15:16, Psalm 150). In light of the words revealed from Christ’s Spirit, I find musical instruments to be contrary to the very heart of meaningful worship (John 4:24, 1 Cor. 14:9-15).
When I consider the principle of observing Christ’s instructions as Christ has given these to us, I am persuaded by the Lord’s Supper, baptism in Jesus’ name, and the specifics of every instruction of Christ that God made these things as He intended them in His perfection. When Jesus said, “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:29), I find the “fruit of the vine” to be essential to the Lord’s Supper and the bread too. Still, it is pride that would change the bread and the cup of Christ’s Supper into anything else. For Paul delivered the Supper to be practiced in the way Christ instituted the meal saying, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you” (1 Cor. 11:23) and Paul said “keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you” (1 Cor. 11:2). Therefore, I must be consistent in respect toward God’s instructions for music. Since the music instituted by the Spirit of Christ consists of only singing, then I am compelled by my love for Jesus Christ to observe music as God has revealed (Matt. 26:30, Mark 14:26, Acts 4:24, 16:25, 1 Cor. 14:15, Rom. 15:6, Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16, Heb. 2:12, 13:15, Jam. 5:13, Rev. 15:3-4).
I am convinced that Jesus gave perfect and specific instructions to the kind of worship that Christians, His Church, are to practice. The simple truth is that musical instruments like many other additional forms of worship are far from the meaningful worship that Christ intended for us, His Church. Now many skeptically ask, “Where is the Scripture that says, ‘You shall not use musical instruments in worship’?” My answer is “1 Corinthians 14:15”. Christ’s Spirit instructed that words, which are to be used in worship, must be understandable. Christians are not to speak, pray, or make melody without understandable and meaningful words (1 Cor. 14:9-11). The Spirit of Jesus revealed that worship in the Assembly must edify the mind, and so speaking in foreign languages without understanding in the Assembly is condemned by Christ’s Spirit (1 Cor. 14:1-19). Therefore, Paul sets the precedent in 1 Corinthians 14:15 that speaking, praying, and making music must be with understandable words to the point of excluding every meaningless language and noise. Only the blind and dull of heart would exclude applying this principle throughout their life. No lesson can be taught, no prayer can request, and no song can praise by a machine void of meaningful words nor by any foreign unknown language.
Yes, I believe worshiping God in ways in which He has not instructed is sinful. The sin is to disregard God’s instructions as incomplete and imperfect. Yet, God has breathed His words into the Scriptures to the completion and perfection for all good works (2 Tim. 3:16-17). To worship without full regard for the words of Christ is to do evil for which God will judge those who practice such evil (Matt. 28:20). Sure, many may deride the words of Christ and the convictions of those Christians who believe so strongly. They may scoff at the fact that we cannot worship with other believers, who so feel themselves at liberty to add to what God has made perfect, but this won’t move our convictions. They may defame us with prejudice calling us “legalists”, “traditionalists”, “Pharisees”, and the like. They may call our Christian liberty “legalism”. Yet, only a discussion of the words of Jesus Christ can change our minds.
Despite the effort of many to polarize us for our loyalty to the doctrine of Christ, I am not convinced to bend to the misuse of Romans 14 to condemn us for standing upon the doctrines of Christ. Romans 14 does not refer to peace and leniency toward differences over God’s instructions. Romans 14 does specifically refer to an individual’s speculative inferences (from the Greek dialogismos and diakrisis). Romans 14 addresses individual convictions rather than the doctrines of Christ. Congregational customs that are man-made are to be disregarded if such become contentious (1 Cor 11:16). Many misuse Romans 14 applying this to churches who do not conform to their liberties (or restrictions), and so these believers look down on those, who they perceive as “weak” in explicit opposition to “Receive one who is weak in the faith” (Rom. 14:1).
Add to this the general neglect of instructions to the “strong” in Romans 14, which includes, “Who are you to judge another’s servant?” (Rom. 14:4), “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother?” (Rom. 14:10), “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way” (Rom. 14:13), “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (Rom. 14:19), and “Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves” (Rom. 14:22). If Romans 14 could be applied to churches and their positions on Christ’s doctrines, then the use of musical instruments would have to be refrained from in worship, so not to cause those who are as weak as us to stumble.
Yet, if you continue to feel that it is too hard to draw near to God in the Assembly, there are plenty of options for a more engaging worship by turning to scriptural liberties without neglecting God’s commands to introduce amusements. Consider these: teaching from readings (rather than giving advice with some mention of scripture), arrangement of seating where Christians can face one another, the Lord’s table in the center of the meeting, prayers for specific purposes, cheerful singing, more prayers, more readings, and two or three lessons. The Assembly that Christ established in Scripture has every practice of worship that one needs to draw close to God. Let us respect Christ, His music, His Church, and His Assembly. God bless.