By RON DAVIS
I read with great interest the article written by Dennis “Skip” Francis, the Preaching Minister for the Grant Street Church of Christ. It appeared in the Leader & Times Aug. 16, 2013 on Page 2B. The article was titled, “Is it Worship?”
In his article. Francis seems to imply that worship with instrumental music is not authorized by the God’s word. In fact, the article asked the question, does it, namely instrumental music, please God? And I gleaned from his remarks that his ultimate conclusion is no.
Since he asked the question, I would like to provide an answer.
Francis concludes his article by indicating that we must consult God’s word to determine how he wants us to worship him, and furthermore, call on the authority of Jesus that only exists today in his word.
I am sure that many who read his article are asking the question: What is he talking about? However, as one who has been affiliated for many years with those who believe as Francis does, I felt the Spirit of God stir in me to challenge what I believe to be a very twisted understanding of God’s word.
In short, many that support Francis' view believe worshipping with instrumental music is wrong and sinful on the basis that there is no clear New Testament teaching on the subject. They utilize a hermeneutic (method of interpretation) called the law of silence. They believe God is silent on the subject of instrumental music so therefore he does not approve of it.
Many have argued (myself included) that Psalm 150 commands the use of instrumental music. This passage says: “Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with the tambourine and dance! Praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord.” (Psalm 150:3-6 ESV) It is obvious according to this passage God is okay with instrumental music to the point that he commands it. But the Anti-Instrumentalists say that instrumental music in the worship assembly is an act without Scriptural authority. In debating this issue, those aligned with Francis will say, “The scripture you quoted is from the Old Testament. The Old Testament has been nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14).”
This is yet another strange and twisted hermeneutic that has been passed down for over a Century This hermeneutic, or interpretive method, simply says that the entirety of the Old Testament is dismissed and null and void of any authority for the New Testament Church. Colossians 2:14 says, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it away, nailing it to the cross.” (KJV) Another translation says, “having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” (NIV)
The idea that 76 percent of the Bible is dismissed because of this misinterpreted passage is absolutely absurd.
I would like to challenge those who reject the use of the Old Testament as a source of authority for the Christian Church today. It was not the Old Testament that was nailed to the cross, but instead the legal bond or “rap sheet” that was nailed to the cross. Our sin, not Law, was nailed to the cross symbolically with Jesus in his atoning sacrifice. God’s gracious forgiveness canceled the bond. Paul describes the Greek word “cheirograph” interpreted “written code” which he likens to an I.O.U. This I.O.U. is what was nailed to the cross. When a criminal was executed on the cross, it was customary to nail a list of his crimes on a stake above the criminals head. We see an example of this sign placed above Jesus’ head in John 19:19-22.
The passage in Colossians 2:14 speaks of something being nailed to the cross. That something was not the Old Testament but it was our sin debt, our rap sheet. It is an interesting fact to note that if Paul was discussing the Law in this passage, (i.e. the Old Law, the Old Testament), if he was concerned about the Law why he never ever used the word a single time! Not even once is the word law (Greek “nomos”) used in the book of Colossians. A strange fact if it was the “Law” that was nailed to the cross. Furthermore, I would like add that according to 1st Corinthians 10:11 the Old Testament was written for our admonition and 2nd Timothy 3:16-17 tells us the Old Testament was written and preserved especially for the benefit of Christians. It (The Old Testament) was not against us, our sin was against us.
In addition, I would like to offer another challenge with regard to Biblical authority. I believe Francis is subscribing to the belief that strips all authority from the Old Testament on the misguided assumption it has been nailed to the cross. As I had mentioned it has not been nailed to the cross, and if we read the New Testament closely we’ll see that the Apostle Paul often speaks of the Scriptures. He is speaking of what we Christians call the Old Testament. It’s fascinating to see what he is basing his authority on. It is the Scriptures, the Old Testament. In just the Pauline writings alone we see that 180 times Paul argues from Scripture, i.e. The Old Testament. Paul uses the Old Testament as his authority for Christian beliefs and practices. Dare I mention the Lord Jesus is in the habit of doing the same thing? How can people divorce the Old Testament from the New Testament? They fit together like a hand and glove.
I would like to conclude with this question: If instrumental music was okay in the Old Testament, in fact, it was commanded as we see in Psalm 150, however, in the New Testament according to a strange and twisted method of interpretation, it is considered wrong, sinful and unauthorized by God, but once we die and go to heaven, we can’t help but notice that it is okay again! The New Testament speaks of instruments of music filling the realms of heaven. In fact, the New Testament reveals to us that the sound of the trumpet (from heaven) will announce the coming of the Lord. Does not God’s word tell us that the Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8)?
In response to Brother Skip Francis’ question; YES it is worship! Worshipping God with instruments is, in fact, authorized, acceptable and approved by God.