The Ones Without Music

If people know anything about the churches of Christ, it’s that they’re the ones who don’t believe in music.

It’s easy enough to prove when you enter one of their church buildings and quickly discover that there is no piano or bandstand anywhere in sight. No organ, no drums, no electric guitar. No music at all. So what are all the song books for? To keep the pew Bibles from getting lonesome?

Singing, you see, is music in its most ancient form. Even the phrase a Cappella means in the style of the church because the earliest congregations did not use any mechanical instruments of music at all. It was many hundreds of years before an apostasy produced a change in worship music, but the original ideal of the New Testament focused upon the words of song rather than instrumental accompaniment.

The letter to the Hebrews commands, “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (13:15). The fruit of our lips describes a sacrifice of words, a worship rooted in ideas, beliefs, principles and convictions. 

A snare drum is too dumb to have ideas. A piano believes nothing. An organ has pedals but no principles. An electric guitar works on current, not conviction. Only the worshiper himself can treasure and remit the sacrifice of praise to God through the fruit of his lips.

The Holy Spirit seems to have left behind Old Testament instrumental music when it came to introducing worship to the church. Where the final psalm encouraged trumpets, lutes and harps, the New Testament is silent about them. With the Law of Moses fulfilled and taken out of the way as an authoritative document, the Christian is left to study and heed the will of Jesus in the New Testament for insight and if God wanted flutes and xylophones, he has the expertise to demand them, but he did not.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:16-17). 

The church’s music has dual purposes – to assist in teaching and admonishing fellow worshipers and to give praise to a deserving God. Words accomplish these goals in a way that no soulless instrument can approach. “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And … be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:17-20). 

Reverence for his will is music to God’s ears.