Tom’s Questions for the Churches of Christ

A commenter to this site, Tom, asked some questions under my page “About the Author”, since I was going to briefly respond and found my words concise and yet not brief, then I decided to post. Tom asks,

“Why do the Churches of Christ reject the biblical way of salvation? Why do they not allow women in leadership roles since the bible clearly teaches that women are to be elders, pastors, evangelists etc. Why do they reject musical instruments in worship since the New Testament clearly says we are to use them. I agree with them on rejecting Calvinism.”

Thank you Tom for these good questions. I hope to challenge you and others to reconsider your positions on these matters briefly. I also encourage you to search and reconsider these in more detail throughout these articles.

The Way of Salvation

The churches of Christ strive to teach the complete instructions for salvation. We are saved by the Gospel (Rom. 1:16, 1 Cor. 15:1-4). The Gospel is the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-4). To be raised into salvation into a new life, we must come unto salvation by faith and confession of that faith (Rom. 10:9-10). Then, we must certainly submit to the Gospel by dying to our sins, being buried by baptism into Jesus’ death, and then we are resurrected into a new life (Rom. 6:1-7, Col. 2:11-12). Notice how baptism is not a work, but we do submit to being buried since we can neither bury nor baptize oneself. Also see that for us to be resurrected then we must die to our sins and be buried. There is no other baptism mentioned here since there is only one baptism by which Christ washes His Church with water (Eph. 4:5, 5:26).

Women Teaching Men

We must all agree that God knows more about the roles of men and women than men and women do in any society. Christ’s Spirit teaches that women are to teach women and children (Acts 18:26, 1 Cor. 11:5, 2 Tim. 1:5, Titus 2:3-4). Women do have leadership roles in the churches of Christ. Yes, the Spirit of Christ reveals that women are not to speak in the Assembly (1 Cor. 14:34ff) and that woman are not to teach or have authority over men (1 Tim. 2:11). Men are only presented as church elders, who pastor the church (1 Tim. 3, Titus 1, 1 Pet. 5). Why? Because God gave man this birthright and Adam was not cheated directly in the beginning (1 Tim. 2:13ff). This does not mean that women are inferior. For the Scripture says, “there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28b). Neither does this mean that women must take a lower role in society nor that any past social boundaries on women were consented by God. Society and culture tell us that it is wrong to observe this God-given birthright for men to lead and to teach that women should not have authority over men. Christ tells us that this is all according to His Word. What else can we do but obey Christ? Any bigotry and prejudice here is directed toward Christ and His followers rather than toward women. If someone chooses to stand before God disclaiming Christ’s Words revealed through His Apostles and prophets, then that is that person’s choice. May they reconsider their position.

Musical Instruments in Worship

The Old Testament form of worship is one of shadows and types of the New Testament, the Testament of Christ. Therefore, the OT forms of worship, the OT references in Revelation, and the OT worship (and the polygamy) of David are not New Testament worship. As Christ’s words are perfect and so is the worship that He established, Christians cannot add to them or take away (1 Cor. 4:6, Gal. 3:15, 2 John 9). Christ’s ideal music for worship is only singing in the New Testament with a big emphasis on speaking via understandable words (1 Cor. 14:15). Therefore, Christians being obedient to Christ’s covenant engage only the perfect, sublime, purest, and most edifying form of music by singing words. In conclusion, Hebrews 13:15 defines “the offering of praise to God” being “the fruit of the lips”. Christians can no more change Christ’s words for “the fruit of the grapevine” in the Lord’s Supper than”the fruit of the lips” in praise to God. Instruments, incense, foot-stomping, and unknown languages offer no praises to God, but rather offer amusements of the flesh and the display of talents by pride. For these reasons and more, we find that adding to Christ’s perfect form of music for worship is sinful and hinders the very heart of meaningful worship.

Take care.

About Scott J Shifferd

Minister, church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. Husband and father of four. Email: ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com
This entry was posted in Baptism, Church of Christ and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Tom’s Questions for the Churches of Christ

  1. Brandon says:

    (disclaimer: I am from a non-denominational (instrumental) background) Your disdain for and supposed righteous opposition toward instrumental accompaniment in corporate worship is disconcerting. While instrumental music certainly has been misused and abused before, that does not make it inherently evil and sinful. Has not preaching also been used to further human gain and recognition? One has only to look at many televangelists to answer that question.

    As far as Scripture goes, I find it curious that you place King David’s worship and his polygamy (I am assuming that which you are referring to is Bathsheba) on the same level. Since God no longer allows polygamy, he no longer takes delight in David’s forms of worship? Psalm 33 says to “play skillfully.” Music was not part of Mosaic Law (like sacrifices and things of that nature), so why should it be something done away with in the New Covenant? Frequently in the New Testament the words “psallo” and “psalmos” are used in reference to worship, their root meaning being one of striking/twitching/twanging on a musical instrument. Granted, they are not in reference to corporate worship…but what New Testament passage explicitly does address corporate worship practices with regard to music/no music…or for that matter, outlines for a service, or how long the preaching should be? To take it a step further, the Bible also doesn’t address having lights, heat, air conditioning, padded pews, or coffee before the service, but you don’t see arguments over whether or not it is glorifying to God for us to be physically comfortable during church.

    When it comes to what you refer to as “inventing your own forms of worship,” does Paul not say in 1Cor 10 to do all for the glory of God? He says in Colossians, as well, “and whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Can painting a picture not bring glory to God? Can composing a song (with instruments) not bring glory to God? Everyone has different gifts and talents – some are exceptional speakers, some are gifted writers, some are phenomenal musicians, etc. Music can and should be used as a medium through which we can bring glory to God, the giver of all good and perfect things.

    I can bring glory to God by working at my job to the best of my ability and not sitting around all day on Facebook and messing with my fantasy football roster. I can worship God through my attitude in rush hour traffic on the way to work. I can worship God with how I respond to a dishonest mechanic whom I know is trying to cheat me. Corporately, we can show a painting done by a congregant, read a poem by a member of the youth group, or have musicians on stage, all for the sake of glorifying God and recognizing that the God who created the plant and animal kingdom with so much color and variety also did that with his most precious creation, man.

    I have come to believe that corporate worship styles (instrumental/non-instrumental) should be preferential. This article actually says things more eloquently than I could… http://truthmagazine.com/archives/volume36/GOT036059.html

    Know that I say things in humble love – I don’t claim to have all the right answers, nor do I think you have all the wrong ones. Though Jesus Christ is indeed the only path to salvation and eternal life, none of the “denominations” or “sects” of Christianity have all the right answers. We all get a couple things wrong here and there. The important thing is Jesus, and Him crucified.

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    • Brandon,

      I appreciate your reply being kind and right to the point. You make a strong case as strong one can be made. I have honestly considered the points that you have made. I hope that you will allow me to show why I must differ and challenge you to reconsider.
      David designed the temple, changed the priesthood, and added instrumental by God’s instruction. Under the Law, David could practice polygamy, worship in temple, offer sacrifices, etc. This is what figuratively pictured in Revelation regarding worship in heaven, which mentions incense and an altar. These physical forms of worship were shadows and have changed from the physical in the OT to the spiritual in the NT. The Temple is now the Church (1 Pet. 2:5). The priests are all Christians (1 Pet. 2:5). The offerings are our good deeds (Heb. 13:16). The incense is now prayers (Rev. 5).

      Psallo does not mean to strum or to pluck. It can include strumming and plucking, but psallo simply means music, which the New Testament is clear that the perfect and complete words of Christ have established singing as Christ’s music for the Church. Praise is defined as the fruit of our lips (Heb. 13:15). We can no more add other music to the fruit of our lips than we can add other juices to the fruit of the grapevine in the Lord’s Supper. Actually, there is reference to psallo is the gathering of saints in Ephesians 5:19 and 1 Corinthians 14:15. First Corinthians 14:15 is all about singing with the mind and that music must consist of words without the addition of music in the form of another language. If I can’t sing praises in a foreign language, then how much more could I ever consider trying to praises God without words (cf. 1 Cor. 14:9-15).

      I absolutely agree with you that the Bible “doesn’t address having lights, heat, air conditioning, padded pews, or coffee before the service”. Yet, these things are not addressed in scripture while music is. I do not believe that silence forbids. I do believe that Jesus’ words are perfect when He addressed anything, like music, the Lord’s Supper, and baptism. I’m not going to baptize in flower pedals or something other than water, because Christ’s Spirit told us how. The same is true for music being verbal and meaningful consisting of words.

      You’ll have to show me where I mentioned “inventing forms of worship”. I do believe in not altering what Jesus made perfect. Yes, we should do all for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). Yes, all good deeds are spiritual sacrifices and worship to God (Heb. 13:15). Be very careful Brandon. You mention people’s talents, but you don’t allow all talents in the assembly. Will the talent of a surgeon be permitted or the baker cooking pies in the Assembly? Will the athlete be allowed to display ability in the Assembly? See, you only allow for art in your assemblies. Regarding their talents, may they do it to the glory of God. You’ll find that this talent show approach was addressed in 1 Cor. 12-14 where people who could speak in tongues by the Spirit. They used this talent and used it wrong when they made show a greater spirituality than others by doing this in the Assembly. Speaking in tongues without meaning in the Assembly was wrong and they were not to speak, pray, or sing in such languages in the Assembly. See some things are forbidden in the Assembly even spiritual gifts given directly the Spirit of God. I hope you will study and seriously consider this. I think I make great points here.

      I write this lowly consideration that I may be wrong. I hope you’ll consider my points, which I also present in love. May God bless us in the study of His words.

      PS For more about Psallo see https://godsbreath.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/psallo/.

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  2. Yes. This site teaches the necessity of baptism in Jesus’ name for salvation at which point the Holy Spirit is sanctified and justified by the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 6:11, Eph. 1:12-13, John 3:5, Titus 3:5).

    It is presumptuous to assert that the Gift of the Holy Spirit is essential for salvation or needed to confirm any more the Gospel as though Christ’s words given through His Apostles and prophets are not complete. By which, this Gift is not necessary since God’s Word has been confirmed (Mark 16:20, Heb. 2:1-4, 1 Cor. 13:8ff). Though Christ’s Spirit dwells in me, I have not received the Holy Spirit, the Gift, since there are no Apostles of Christ to lay hands on me (Acts 8). For further discussion I refer to comment under this article on the Gift of the Holy Spirit.

    I plead with you not be arrogant in prejudice toward those who strive to be Christians only and put aside denominationalism. As for a discussion of the Holy Spirit, I urge that we both be honest to reconsider our position in Christ’s Words given to the Apostles and prophets.

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  3. bible man says:

    thanks for your reply brother Shifferd…have you been baptized in the name of Jesus christ..you said
    “but rather they are faithfully obedient to Christ.” so are you abedint to the word of God…in the name of Jesus was the only way any one was baptized in the bible…and have you receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. ? it’s for you….Act 2:39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. ….you see that you.. thats you my brother and i tell you God is still calling he is calling you…sorry was I not meaning to be slanderous to you. Gods peace to you brother….

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  4. bible man says:

    Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
    if God liked music in the OT he likes it in the NT…God don’t change

    # 7- “HOW DOES A PERSON JOIN THE CHURCH OF CHRIST?”
    By simply becoming a Christian. Just as in the New Testament, we have no special rules for joining our fellowship and no votes are taken to screen potential members. When one accepts and obeys the gospel, Christ adds him or her to the universal, worldwide church (Acts 2:47), and then that believer joins a local group of disciples to continue his or her growth and service to Jesus (Acts 10:26)
    . ….Y’ALL FORGOT..
    Act 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    you got to have the holy ghost!!!!!!

    #6- “WHY ARE YOU SOMETIMES CALLED ‘CAMPBELLlTES’?”
    In the early 1800’s two men, Thomas Campbell and Alexander Campbell (father & son), came to America. These two Presbyterian clergymen became leaders in the religious idealism that sprang up after the Cane Ridge revival, and became involved in the Restoration Movement.
    They believed that Christianity had become too institutionalized, divided, formalized, and denominational. They left their denominations and rallied around the Bible as their only religious guide. Their intent was to bypass the confusion of denominational differences and go back to the simple New Testament forms of worship and church life.
    Since the Campbells were two of the main intellectual leaders of this movement, and since Churches of Christ are descendants of the movement, some people have called us “Campbellites.” However, Churches of Christ insist on wearing only the name of Christ and not the partisan names of human beings.

    y’all don’t follow God ..you follow man,,,, ‘CAMPBELLlTES’ like it are not that what you are!!!!!!!!!

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    • You have forgotten that obeying the Gospel means being resurrected in Christ to live faithfully, and not inventing your own forms of worship and works of the Holy Spirit. We have the indwelling of the Spirit as much as everyone else who have obeyed the Gospel. Therefore, these are of the church no matter name on the sign, but rather they are faithfully obedient to Christ.

      Everyone who reads the New Testament knows that Acts 8, 10, and 11 teaches that the Gift of the Holy Spirit was the promise and outpouring of spiritual gifts as seen in 1 Cor. 12 including healing, prophesy, and speaking in foreign language to evangelize (1 Cor. 14). They also know that these signs, wonders, and powers were done to confirm the Gospel (Mark 16:20, John 20:30-31, Heb. 2:1-4) through the Apostles and prophets (Eph. 3:1-5) being written in Scripture. By the Scriptures, the Spirit speaks to all Christians as Acts and Hebrews quote the Spirit by quoting Scripture. Paul revealed that every Scripture is God’s breath and profits to doctrine, to reproof, to correction, to instruction in righteousness that the person of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

      You forget that the churches of Christ existed before the Campbells. There are church locations marked and dated back 10-50 years before the Campbells became Christians only and even came to the US. The history is here on this site dating the church back to 4th c. with no separation from the 1st c. Church. Campbellite is slanderous term for though who seek to be Christians only.

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  5. On your account: Musical Instruments in Worship, you say:
    ‘Instruments …amusements of the flesh and the display talents by pride …is sinful and hinders the very heart of meaningful worship.’

    May I repsectfully ask you in this instance to perhaps speak from your own personal experience and for yourself and not judge the motives of my heart?

    The instrument is pure, as is a glass – is it not what we do with it that determines who we are, what comes out of our heart, and not the instrument?

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    • First of all, I didn’t judge your heart. God judges our hearts. The heart of those who add to Jesus’ words are revealed. Yet, you sound convicted, because I point out that instruments are contrary to true worship. We can see one’s fruit (Matt. 7:20), and this is not judging. Jesus said, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matt. 15:18-19).

      The words we speak and the things we do show our heart. You may mean well by musical instruments, but so did the Corinthians by worshiping in foreign languages, which were given to them by God. Yet, Christ’s Spirit revealed to the Corinthians that understandable words are the basis of worship in assembly (1 Cor. 14:9-15). Instruments communicate less than foreign languages, and these languages are forbidden without interpretation being given by God to reach a lost world (1 Cor. 14:21ff). How can we then worship with instruments and expect Christ to be happy with our addition? Words are the heart of worship. We can neither teach nor pray with instruments, and we cannot praise with them. Yet, words being the fruit of our lips are essential and we cannot change this any more than the fruit of the grapevine and its meaning in the Lord’s Supper.

      Many have claimed to serve God and did so in error as seen among the various religions and the man-made inventions among churches. Yet, the sincerity of the heart does not justify the willful ignorance of the heart. Many people don’t like the idea of being able to sin in their ignorance and even in willful ignorance. This does not change the truth that we must be diligent to find the truth and be diligent to find teachers who are willing give up all traditions, denominations, and their family finances to diligently search and know the Truth of God’s Word.

      Much of what I say is in alignment with earlier convictions of Christians (not that this justifies error). The “Puritans” discussed the need for a regulatory principle or normative principle for the worship in assembly. There is either one or the other. Jesus’ either allows everything for worship within unity or He has defined His worship very specifically. Study this. Look at the words of Charles Spurgeon and all reformation believers before 200 years ago. There is an article here on Spurgeon’s thoughts about this. Look at the convictions of the “Puritans” who destroyed the organs and pianos in the 17th c. Why did they do this? Are those promoting instruments judging them? Being against the use of instruments in worship was once the conviction of all believers apart from the Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican churches.

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  6. Tom says:

    You have taken the bible completely out of context in order to justify your beliefs.

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    • Do you mean that people shouldn’t take passages out of context and apply that to their lives or to church today? May be you need to give some more details to deflect our responsibility to observe all things that Jesus commanded toward a relative no-conflict stance toward Jesus’ words.

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