The New Testament commands congregational singing to make music for worship and edification. The early church sang together with one voice as a congregation and never used musical instruments when they worshiped in song.The Christian Scriptures specify singing and do not mention the playing of instruments for praise, worship, and thanksgiving to God (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16). The instrument cannot speak, teach, or thank God with meaningful words. Christ, His apostles, and His prophets commanded singing for worship in the New Testament.
No believer should change the worship that Jesus instituted. The Bible forbids anyone adding or annulling God’s commands (Gal 3:15; Rev 22:18–19). The apostle Paul commanded, “Maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you” (1 Cor 11:2b). Christians can no more change the fruit of the grapevine in the Lord’s Supper than change the fruit of the lips in praise to God (Matt 26:27–29; Heb 13:15). Furthermore, Jesus is sinless and His words are without error, so no one should change His commands or the words of the Holy Spirit in Scripture (John 6:63; Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22; cf. John 16:12–13; 1 Cor 2:13).
Jesus changed worship from the instrumental worship in Jerusalem to true worship (John 4:21–24). Old Testament worship was a physical worship including Levitical priests, a temple, various sacrifices, and musical instruments. New Testament worship is spiritual with Christians as priests offering spiritual sacrifices in God’s temple — the church — including sacrifices of praise by singing with meaningful words (John 4:21–24; Heb 13:15–16; 1 Pet 2:9). According to Jesus, David’s instrumental worship in Jerusalem as described in the Old Testament is not a model for worship in spirit and truth.
Worship is not for show. The Scriptures teach that worship to God is for worshipers to focus on God and Christ (Heb 12:28). Singing loses its purpose when people turn spiritual songs from worship and teaching into a concert or show for amusement and entertainment. Christ preached against worshiping for show as some practiced righteousness to be seen by others (Matt 6:1–7, 16–18).
Understandable words are essential for worship and edification in the assembly of the church. Christians are not to speak in unknown languages within the congregation. The Scriptures exclude speaking in unknown languages without interpretation in the assembly (1 Cor 14:7–19). Furthermore, Paul also described musical instruments as “lifeless” (soulless) and compared the instrument to those who spoke foreign languages in assembly (1 Cor 14:7). Paul expressed, “In church, I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Cor 14:19). The principle stands that nonverbal sounds do not fit the character of Christians singing, praying, and teaching.