Norm said that the use of musical instruments to aid in worship is like using jelly on the communion bread to aid in taking the Lord’s Supper. There’s one big problem with this clever but incorrect analogy – nowhere in the Old Testament were believers given authority to use jelly in any part of worship. However, in the book of Psalms, believers are given permission to use musical instruments in worship.
Ps 33:1-3; Ps 71:22; Ps 81:1-2; Ps 92:1-4; Ps 98:4-6; Ps 147:7
And in the NT? As Norm discussed last night, we have Eph 5:19 & Col 3:16 both talking about “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs”. Last night Norm tried to disarm these passages by focusing on the lack of a specific instrument being mentioned – and claiming that the instrument in question was “the heart”.
1) What about the passages where the heart isn’t mentioned? Like James 5:13? “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.”
2) But the bigger question here is: when the writers of the New Testament spoke of singing “psalms”, to what were they referring? Just general songs that were made up? If so, whey did they make the distinction between “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs”? Those are three different words in the Greek – “Psalms/psalmos” – “hymns/hymnos” – “spiritual songs/pneumatikos ode”. Why wouldn’t they have just said, sing to yourself using songs!
Let’s look at “psalmos”.
1) a striking, twanging
a) of a striking the chords of a musical instrument
b) of a pious song, a psalm
It seems to this amateur student of Biblical Greek that the writer’s use of this word is implicit permission for musical instruments. Either directly by use of “striking, twanging, or striking the chords of a musical instrument” or by use of the Psalms – wherein the permission (some might say command) to use musical instruments is repeatedly given. The first century church would have used the Psalms as their songbook! It’s the only “psalmos” they had!
As to the question of silence, and as had been argued before, the Bible is silent on the subjects of church buildings, audio and visual equipment, worship leaders, located preachers, youth ministers, campus ministers, pitch pipes, tuning forks, Sunday school, and indoor pools for baptisms yet folks feel free to use them because they accomplish a purpose. Any method that fulfills the purposes of God is permissible so long as it does not violate a clear principle of Scripture. We apply the same rule of interpretation to instrumental music.
Finally, these verses which Norm and company throw out whenever they get the chance (Eph 5:19 & Col 3:16) aren’t even dealing with what folks can and can’t do in worship. They are talking about daily living! If you use these verses to conclude that the use of mechanical instruments is wrong in your assembly, then you must also conclude that it is wrong outside the assembly because both passages are focused on daily living.