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Sender's name: John Parker

I have a from that is inthe church of christ and he told me that because we worship with instruments that we are sinning? I asked him to show me the scripture and he showed me Col 3:16. I read that and I see at least where he is coming from but I still do not see how you can justify calling instruments in worship a sin when scripture does not clearly state it. I understand the keeping it simple idea in the restoration movement but I feel like the overall context of Col 3 has nothing to do with insruments in worship and you could not justify calling instrumental worship a sin based on this scripture. Please help me understand where the church of Christ is coming from by calling us sinners because we worship Jesus Christ with a guitar.




Most people in the churches of Christ have historically endeavored to speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.  As a result, when a passage is specific on something, most will see the specificity as ruling out everything else.  Let me give you an example.  When God told Noah to build an Ark of gopher wood in Genesis 6, that specificity ruled out God having to tell Noah what kinds of wood NOT to use.  What if Noah had used stray and pitch?  What if he had used Pine?  God didn't say not to use those kinds of things.  God did not need to say, "do not use maple, oak, pine, etc."  The fact that God specified Gopher wood ruled out any other kind of wood.


In the same way, we don't use cookies and milk for the Lord's Supper.  Why don't we use cookies and milk?  God never specifically condemns it.  However, the fact that it was unleavened bread and fruit of the vine rules out anything else.


When we come to the New Testament, there is no instruction for us to play instruments.  However, there is instruction for us to sing with our voices.


"And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father (Eph 5:18-20);"


The passage says "speaking to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs…"  That specificity rules out anything other than singing.  Nothing in the New Testament tells us to play and sing, but simply to sing. 


The real issue is not, "How do I want to worship God?"  The real issue is "How does God want me to approach him?"  There are a couple of instances where God reacts to worship which he did not authorize.  Here is one example:


"Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them.  And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.  Then Moses said to Aaron, "It is what the LORD spoke, saying, 'By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored.'" So Aaron, therefore, kept silent (Lev 10:1-3)."


To worship God in a way he did not authorize is not to treat him as holy.  It is not about what I want, but what God wants.  Here is a contemporary illustration.


Let's say my wife likes chocolate immensely.  But I like gummy bears.  To try and show my love, devotion and honor for her, I continue to bring her gummy bears even though she has told me prefers chocolate.  Does that honor her?  It does not.  It is not about what I want, but about what God wants.  To approach him in some other way dishonors him.


I do not believe that people intend to dishonor God when they try to be innovative in worship, but we must all realize that it is not about us, it is about God.


John Telgren

P.O. Box 452

Leavenworth, KS 66048


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