And take…the sword of the Spirit, which  is the word of God.   Ephesians 6:17


Volume 22, Number 43

Published by
Mt. Baker
church of Christ

1860 Mt. Baker HWY
Mailing Address:

       P.O. Box 30821
  Bellingham, WA 98228
       (360) 752-2692

Bible Classes..........9:30 AM
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Bible Classes.........7:00 PM
All sing last Wednesday

Web sites:
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Editor......Joe R. Price


In this issue:

The History of Instrumental Music in Worship
Joe R. Price

How men and women approach God in worship is of fundamental importance to God. Therefore, it must also be important to us. From the dawn of humanity, God has expected people to approach Him in worship as He prescribes and not as human ingenuity designs (Gen. 4:1-8; Heb. 11:4). The priests Nadab and Abihu were devoured by fire from God because they offered fire God had not commanded (Lev.10:1-2). Other Old Testament examples show God’s insistence upon people worshiping according to His stated will (1 Kgs. 12:25-13:6; 2 Kgs. 17:16-18).

Jesus taught the same principle when He instructed, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jno. 4:24). God’s pattern for authorized and approved worship for the local church is singing, praying, preaching, eating the Lord’s Supper, and giving (Eph. 5:19; 1 Tim. 2:8; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:23-29; 1 Cor. 16:2). We must carefully adhere to Christ’s revealed pattern of acceptable worship (Heb. 8:5, 1-2; Col. 3:17). If not, how are we any acceptable, better, and safer than Nadab and Abihu?

As time passed men became dissatisfied with this simple order of worship. Innovations were gradually introduced and made to the New Testament’s design for true worship. Among these was the use of instrumental music to worship God. God did not command the church to use it; people introduced it. Yes, worship at the Jewish temple during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah included the use of mechanical instruments of music (2 Chron. 29:25). Instrumentalists appeals to that practice to legitimize their use of instrumental music in worship today. They do not tolerate offering burnt offerings of animals on an altar today, even though this was also a part of the temple worship (2 Chron. 29:26-28). Approving one act of worship from the Law of Moses obligates one to practice all of its worship according to Galatians 3:10 and 5:3, something instrumentalists are unwilling to do. 

Using Old Testament passages that approved Israel’s use of instrumental music in worship does not approve its use under the gospel of Christ; the law has been changed (Heb. 7:12). The gospel of Christ commands and approves singing (but is silent on playing) as acceptable music in worship.

History shows the use of instrumental music by the church in worship resulted from human innovations, not from the commandments of God. The following citations illustrate the historical conflict over using instrumental music in worship.

Edwin Dickinson, Professor, Oberlin College: “In view of the controversies over the use of instrumental music in worship which have been so violent in the British and American Protestant churches, it is an interesting question whether instruments were employed by the primitive Christians. We know that instruments performed an important function in the Hebrew temple service and in the ceremonies of the Greeks. At this point, however, a break was made with all previous practice, and although the lyre and flute were sometimes employed by the Greek converts, as a general rule, the use of instruments in worship was condemned.” (History of Music in the Western Church, 54)

John Girardeau, Professor, Columbia Theological Seminary (Presbyterian): “It has thus been proved, by an appeal to historical facts, that the church, although lapsing more and more into defection from the truth and into a corruption of apostolic practice, had no instrumental music for twelve hundred years; and that the Calvinistic Reformed Church ejected it from its services as an element of Popery, even the Church of England having come very nigh to its extrusion from her worship.  The historical argument, therefore, combines with the Scriptural and the confessional to raise a solemn and powerful protest against its employment by the Presbyterian Church.  It is heresy in the sphere of worship.” (Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church, Girardeau, 179)

John Calvin (Presbyterian founder): “Musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting up of lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the law.  The papists, therefore, have foolishly borrowed this, as well as many other things, from the Jews.  Men who are fond of outward pomp may delight in that noise; but the simplicity which God recommends to us by the apostle is far more pleasing to Him.” (Calvin’s Commentaries, Psalm 33)

John Wesley (Methodist founder): “I have no objection to instruments of music in our chapels, provided they are neither heard nor seen.” (cited in Clarke’s Commentary, IV, 684)

Historians and Bible commentators admit the use of instrumental music in worship was added by men long after the days of the New Testament. The religious leaders of movements that now use instrumental music rejected it as an element of “Popery” since it was sanctioned by the Roman Catholic papacy in the seventh century (see American Encyclopedia, XII, 688). Undoubtedly, men introduced, approved, and advanced its use in worship, not Jesus Christ.

We urge a return to the simplicity and purity of New Testament worship (Acts 2:42). We urge singing as the music approved and commanded by Christ through His apostles. Vocal music in worship honors God, while instrumental music in worship honors men as innovators of worship (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:12; Jas. 5:13; Matt. 15:7-9). Who will you honor? 

The Spirit’s Sword
April 30, 2006 (edited, JRP)


You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS

Hell in the Old Testament
Joe R. Price

Scripture Reading:  Psalm 16:9-11

1. “What do/did the Jews believe about hell?”
2. Brief look at Judaism today, OT, and NT.


  A. Variety of Views on Hell in Judaism.
    1. An “expression of a great kindness.”
    2. Others: Hell only for “utterly wicked.”
    3. Secular Jews deny existence of hell.

II. HELL IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, Prov. 15:11; 27:20.

  A. We Should Not Expect to Find Full, Final Revelation and Understanding of Hell (eternal punishment) in the OT.
  B. Hebrew: Sheol, Psa. 9:17.
    1. Realm of the dead (in general), (cf. NT Hades), Psa. 16:10 (Christ, Acts 2:25-27).
    2. Translated “grave” (Gen. 37:35; Psa. 6:5), “pit” (Num. 16:30, 33), “hell” (Prov. 7:27).
  C. OT Prophets Spoke of Judgment as Everlasting Fire and Shame, Isa. 33:14; 66:22-24; Dan. 12:1-3.


  A. Everlasting Fire Prepared for Devil and His Angels, Matt. 25:41 (30); Mk. 9:43-44.
  B. Jesus Said Hell is Real, Matt. 5:22, 29-30; 10:28; 8:12; 23:33; 25:41, 46.
C. Gospel Saves Souls from Eternal Death, Rom. 6:23; 1:16; 2:4-11.

1. Jews rejected the only Savior, Acts 4:11.
2. Only when eyes are opened to the gospel will they escape sin’s judgment in hell, Jno. 12:48-50.


(Current events in the light of Scripture)

Time Marches On
Joe R. Price

The sky did not fall on Election Day. It did not fall the next day, or the day after that. Your candidate may or may not have won. You may not know yet whether your candidate has won. Your cause may have been approved at the ballot box. It may have been rejected. Whatever the outcomes, do not despair. The earth remains until the Lord comes (Gen. 8:22; 2 Pet. 3:10-12). Until then, the sun will rise tomorrow.

The gospel embeds an eternal perspective into Christians’ hearts, preparing us for eternity as we walk the winding, uneven road of life (2 Cor. 4:16-18).

Until the Lord comes, Christians continue to pray. About everything (Phil. 4:6). Without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). Without being discouraged (Lk. 18:1). For all people, including those with authority over our lives (1 Tim. 2:1-2).

Until the Lord comes, Christians continue to work. Always abounding (1 Cor. 15:58). Because it is day and the night is coming (Jno. 9:4). Because there is a harvest, and laborers are few (Matt. 9:37-38).

Until the Lord comes, Christians continue to love. Each other (Jno. 13:34-35). Our neighbors (Rom. 13:8-10). Our enemies (Matt. 5:44). Above all, God and His word (Matt. 22:37; Psa. 119:97).

Until the Lord comes, Christians continue to fight. The good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12; 1:18). With purpose and discipline of faith (1 Cor. 9:26-27). Against the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:11). For truth against “arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:3-5; Jude 3-4).

Life goes on. “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You” (Psa. 9:10). 


Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated.  11/08/2020

The Spirit's Sword is a free, weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA
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