Singing With Instrumental Music and Sin

Is singing with instrumental music at home or in the nursing home a terrible sin?

"As a Christian I understand the Church's reasoning for not using instruments in Church worship, and whole heatedly agree.

"I am now looking for an answer to the question of whether it is sin to play piano and sing hymns at home or at Nursing Homes or other public places. I've been informed by one Church of Christ that it is sin anytime, even at home. I and my family have done this all our lives. My Mother, a great Christian played and we all sang at home, in the car and elsewhere. I and all my children play piano, organ, keyboard. We play all types of music. While entertaining at the Nursing Homes, which I have done on a volunteer basis for 30 years plus, when a resident requests "In The Garden" or "What A Friend We Have In Jesus" or any other song or hymn, I comply and do so with joy. I can't imagine on what grounds I could refuse since this is not a Church Service but an informal sing a long. Sometimes, I receive these requests as "last requests" from dying patients, in which case I will take a keyboard to their bedside and play, sometimes sing and pray for and with them.

"I have been in contact via the internet with someone from a Church of Christ in Miss. He claims that it is a terrible sin for me to play and sing hymns at home or elsewhere with piano or organ. Betty Sue.

The quick answer is no. If sin is innvolved, the preacher is sinning by promoting secular (none inspired) poetry for what Paul calls "the Spirit" in Ephesians 5 or "the Word of Christ" in Colossians 3. The loss of the Bible as teaching resource in song was contested more bitterly than instruments in Catholicism. The word is SPEAK to one another: you CANNOT speak (preach) and sing at the same time. Therefore, believe Paul: sing and make melody in the PLACE of the spirit (John 4) or heart which is the ONLY Place God seeks worship.

Click to understand that God's Mind is to God what man's spirit is to mankind (1Cor 2). The mind and spirit are identical in the Bible. Therefore to sing in the spirit is to sing in the mind: Paul said SPEAK to one another with the Biblical material and then sing AND make melody in the heart. See also Romans identity between MIND and SPIRIT. Then grasp that God's Spirit is never ANOTHER person of a polytheistic "god."

Hello, Betty

First, let me tell you that I do not even slightly endorse the use of even contemporary music in "para-church" meetings or on church property as a "venue" for Rock, Rap, CCM or even "gospel songs." I cringe at those in the Seeker-Movement who will and have done anything to attract the outsiders. I am dealing only with your private practices. For instance, a new cult is the "All Things To All People" which doesn't grasp or care that Rock is an explicit sexual word in the underground of Voodoo influenced "gospel" music. Those who most detest slavery and "poor" nevertheless are always captured by the slaves and the "barbarians." Thus, we see the "mountain music" gaining victory over teaching the Word, and the music of slavery dressed up as a "tippy toeing" into charismatic chaos.

The MUSIC thing becomes an issue because when the group meets, gathers or assembles the word means SYNAGOGUE. Now, there was no "praise service in the synagogue." That was not because strumming a harp and singing to your sheep was a sin: it was because it shows contempt to sing and play when you synagogue for GIVING HEED to the Word of God.

It is not a sin because singing and playing is wrong but because to do so in the fact of Jesus when He promises to be with us to teach us through His Words would insult him and PREVENT Him from teading His "songs and sermons."

On the contrary, if you sang the Biblical text with instruments you would tell people that it didn't bother you to play an instrument while God is speaking.

However, if you sing self-composes songs (a very early heresy) you would tell Christ the Spirit that His songs had no value to you. That is, you put the FEELING and psychological impact of singing (a pagan practice) ahead of TEACHING the Word: you CANNOT teach and sing at the same tim. The AOIDing is equivalent to Aiero or trying to LIFT YOURSELF up into the presence of God. The songs must not just be IN ACCORD with Scripture but they must BE Scripture or you repudiate the sole reason Paul used for "synagoguing" or assembling which was to give heed to the Words of Christ, the "spirit" or "that which is written."

Please take this seriously: which secular singing is not condemned the MUSIC word is never used in the Bible to speak of "worship." On the contrary, music is the MARK which tells God: "We will not listen to your words. The word exegesis, hermeneutics, musica, cantus was and is a form of MAGICA, soothsaying or charismatic prophesying.s

I suppose that if your adversaries are busy worrying about what you do for a dying patient they won't have to worry about the neo-paganism flying the flag of either "gospel songs" or "praise songs" or "contemporary Christian" (an oxymoron) on the one extreme; and "ganging up" on the audience with worship "teams" and theatrical performance in song or sermon or band or "musical minister" on the other extreme. This can happen possibly easier when A Cappella replaces the "square" sequence of song or instrument.

In short, contemporary emphasis upon "worship ritual" has stolen secular songs to be used as "gospel" songs.

However, you have not stolen sacred songs to be used in a non-sacred place.

There is as much or more warning down through the pages of history about adopting the sentiment of the world in self-composed songs to replace the Word of God as there is warning against instrumental or mechanical approaches to God.

Betty, I have heard the sermons and read the books and I don't believe that most of our people have a remote clue about the Bible and the instrumental music issue. I just get the impression that as long as the sermon outlines hold out the "Bible will remain chained to the pulpit" and the paying "audience" chained in utter darkness and that is the way it is going to be until Jesus removes them as He did during His first advent. Their only tool is to so frighten people that they must do exactly what they are told as the only way to keep out of trouble and be a happy, in-fellowship member. Unfortunately, this meets much of the definition of a cult. However, in fairness it would be abnormal for a literate preacher or a church of Christ to make such claims since they are assuredly aware that what prohibits instruments also prohibits songs out of the human "spirit" unless the writer is a prophet selected and inspired by the Spirit Christ.

For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. 1 Co.14:2

And Bruner, in The Holy Spirit calls "gospel" music "low-level glossolalia" -- just speaking in tongues.

Therefore, you need to work out your own system of faith and practice because some key-removing preachers will not stand up for you on judgment day if playing for dying patients gets you barred from the food pantry.

First, notice that everything I hear except from some primitive Baptists and Presbyterians finds the clergy defending unlawful turf and therefore are driven to one extreme or the other on the music issue.

The First Extreme is Legalism

This view is based on the law that Paul is supposed to have established which commanded "sing." It doesn't matter about the content: "ebenezers" are fine even if you teach that Israel stacked one in the middle of the Jordan river. Increasingly it doesn't matter about style: four different groups singing four different sets of words to four different tunes at four different times. It is just the law which you have to perform as the act of singing so that you can head to the marketplace with your thumb on the scales as "soon as the Sabbath is over."

Your critic makes several assumptions: the first is that there is a law of singing. Your spiritual adviser would probably say that playing Rock and Roll with a piano is not a sin. Furthermore, he would say that singing hymns on the street corner is not wrong. His problem is that playing and singing "sacred songs" at the same time is a terrible sin of one is going to claim to "speak where the Bible speaks." This is the first clue that he has read the books but not the Bible.

The preacher may in fact play the piano or guitar and may entertain people with secular songs or sick humor. He might even play at a funeral.

G. C. Brewer notes that the piano player and song leader in a luncheon club were missing: two "gospel" preachers rose to the occasion and made themselves "human." (A Medley on the Music Question, p. 11-12, Gospel Advocate, 1948)

But Brewer says: "Singing is the law, you have to perform it."

In ancient paganism especially among the Canaanites and Hittites a poem or song was the personal property of the composer. After they died the song was put into the "catalog" of sacred songs and placed in the public domain. Thereafter, you could sing it as your own attack upon the gods. I am afraid that once poems have been put into the "catalog" and filtered through the money changer's hands they become sacred songs. Blue books are more sacred than the gold books--or is it the gold books are more sacred than the red book?

Unfortunately, without knowing it, sentimental poems find their way into the "blue" book or the "red book" or the "praise book" and becomes more inspired than the Word of Christ which Paul called "Spirit." Because this is identical to ancient paganism it may be modern paganism because "things equal to the same things are equal to one another."

Then you can be "sat on the back pew" if you suggest singing a genuine, Spirit-inspired psalm.

The second assumption is that vocal music is an act of worship or "the law of singing" and that law is being fulfilled to the letter in his church. Therefore, he is not a sinner. Alexander Campbell saw singing as a legalism and it didn't matter much what was sung--as long as you bought his song book. The Disciples got Alexander Campbell's book -- which originally had no notes -- pretty close to his death bed. Then every church must buy the establishment song book or there could be no unity in the church!

"Isaac Errett who influenced Campbell to sign over his copyright, had argued that it
was absolutely necessary to the unity of the church to have unity of worship,
and the latter could not be maintained
unless the brethren all used one hymn book--Campbell's.
Accordingly, the Standard and the Society opposed vigorously the publication of any other hymn book. Lipscomb by selling a hymn book printed in Canada had been visited by some of the ire of these men." (West, Life and Times of David Lipscomb, p. 171)

The third assumption is that singing secular songs -- which have their "second incarnation" as "spiritual songs" because they are in the "blue book" -- with the piano is a terrible sin. This is based on seeing "singing as the operative word" rather than Paul's emphasis on speaking and teaching the Biblical message.

However, by "singing for doctrine the commandments of men or women" we perform a magical act. And that is identical to the ancient and modern Pagan view.

Teaching for Doctrine the Commandments of Men

However we might love the sentiment of Fanny Crosby she was not a prophetess. Like Miriam, god didn't select her to deliver His Word to mankind. And if she wasn't inspired then nothing that came off her pen is inspired. However, Fanny over Paul may be selected because we like Fanny's doctrine better than Paul's. Paul still commanded that we sin "The Word of Christ."

Inculcating doctrine which is either contrary to the Word of Christ or different is really based on the Old Testament where mouth religion was "taught to the tune of the hickory stick" through the use of cultic songs sung over and over to drive home some point:

And the Lord said: "Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment of men learned by rote; Isaiah 29:13RSV

NIV Note: b13 Hebrew; Septuagint 'They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men'

This teaching was with the rod -- the oriental incentive to learning -- the pedagogue. We say, "you will listen over and over even though we know that after about five times you can perform the act while thinking about the football game.

Jeremiah prophesied the end of the happy tutors who love to bully and try to beat truth and behavior into people: they are as obsolete as the stump speakers of yesterday where, as Paul would say, "the fools loved to be fooled."

And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. Jeremiah 31:34

Jesus outlawed the "official" teachers or preachers except in the mission field when He absolutely commanded:

But be not ye called Rabbi (by age or rank): for one is your Master (guide, teacher, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. Matthew 23:8

Anyone who can read can teach the "Word as it has been delivered to you" and when you violate this most explicit warning and command you will get nothing but the "commandments of men learned by rote." That is patently paganism.

And the command was followed by most believers for a long time and by Presbyterians and others even today:

A.D. 360

"But considerable prominence was given to the hymns by the Gnostic, Bardesans, who composed a psalter of 150 psalms. However, the 59th canon of the Synod of Laodicea, 360 A. D., enjoined that 'No psalm composed by private individuals nor any uncanonical books may be read in the Church, but only... the Canonical Books of the OT and NT." Int Std Ency., p. 2494

"In competition with pagan musical art, congregational singing began to wane. Basil states that he had 'the Psalms rendered by skillful presentors after the manner of the triumphal Odes of Pindar, the congregation joining at the closing verse, with the accompaniment of lyres." Int Std Bible Ency., p. 2494A

Ephraem also addd his own songs--which were very Biblical--in a musical form in the year 373.

This urge to use professional art to compete with others quite naturally led to the use of professional presenters. It is important to note the earlier statement that the use of music was often in the professionals.

"Psalmody thus came to be increasingly the monoply of trained singers, and the 15th canon of the Council of Laodicea, 360 AD, proscribed that 'no others shall sing in the church save only the canonical singers...who go up into the ambo and sing with a book." (Int Std Bible Ency, Psalms, p. 2494a)

They called them Precenters or Cantors and we call the Musical Worship Leaders. However, McClintock and Strong called it the first heresy largely pervading the church.

"We render our hymns with a living psalterion and a living kithara with spiritual songs. The unison voices of Christians would be more acceptable to God than any musical instrument. Accordingly in all the churches of God, united in soul and attitude, with one mind and in agreement of faith and piety, we send up a unison melody in the words of the Psalms" (Eusebius, 4th Century, Commentary on Psalms 91:2-3).

Melody speaks of unison singing which the early churches clearly understood. Harmony is not melody and serves the same purpose as instruments. If there is no command for instruments, there is no command for harmony. Harmony, in fact, as we know it in "church" is called "organum" or "after the organ." Therefore, it becomes doubly legalistic.

While only about one third of the Psalms were used in the synagogues to be chanted or spoken (religious) rather than sung (secular) the objection to some judgmental Psalms (most of the harped psalms) is based on ignorance that what we have turned into cultic singing was teaching. Therefore, you could speak about bashing out the heads of babies in the context of understanding the Old Testament text. Singing the songs without the historical context will, perhaps deliberately, keep people ignorant.

The fourth assumption -- assuredly false -- is that the songs you mention are the same "songs" Paul commands. "In the Garden" is a secular song and is not one of the three forms Paul defined. I just don't knew whether "the dew was on the roses" or what the "better-than-scriptrue" message is intended to be.

As far as I know my father who died at over 94 never carried a tune in his life. He asked his "pastor" if he thought that he was sinning. The response was: the law demands singing, you do not sing, therefore you are breaking the law and you are a sinner and you know where sinners go.

This is exactly why we have no credibility when denouncing instrumental music as worship.

The assumption is that "singing is the law and if you don't sing you violate the law." If you attend faithfully but do not sing you are still a "drag" on the spirit and are somehow spoiling the "worship" ritual and violating the law just as surely as not listening to the sermon skips one of the "acts" of worship. This, of course, is pure, distilled paganism. And the actual revealed definition by Paul doesn't matter.

The Second Extreme is Legalism

The second extreme which includes machines - instruments made and played as "the works of man's hands" doesn't matter either because "there is no law." That is, only the "core" gospel counts and the epistles of Paul are just his interpretation. Therefore, they insist, we are not bound to a first-century, male chauvinist whose "theology" was in error -- that's what they said when they divided the church and became musical sectarians.

The justification for unlawful instruments is very often based on the unlawful "act" of singing secular songs with a token Biblical or even anti-biblical sentiment by non-instrumental groups. That is, if you can sin by singing secular songs then we can sin by using the instruments. And the actual revealed definition by Paul doesn't matter.

Things equal to the same thing are equal to one another: modern "gospel" singing is called "organum" or "after the organ" and was invented to get the benefit of the pipe organ without "breaking the law of singing." Knew a Jew who had computerized his kitchen: get things ready on Friday and lets the machinery cook his Sabbath lunch--observed the Law and didn't miss a calorie.

The Truth About Paul

We are fully aware that Paul, like Jesus, often spoke in figures of speech to fool the fools. However, some things seem pretty simple.

The "law of singing" is based on the false belief that Paul commanded singing anything which rouses your flesh and which can be peddled as "spiritual fire" but which is rank, raw, unadulterated paganism.

The Spirit of Truth says that:

The LAW is to teach or preach: "speaking" is not "singing" and melody is not harmony. Therefore, harmony is just as much human invention as instruments. Both have their place but not in worship.

The Resource is the revealed Word of Christ the Spirit

The purpose is to teach and admonish with the Word of Christ

The RESULT is singing and melody IN THE HEART

And the direction of flow is unto God. Pagan singing was external but spiritual singing was "in the heart" or even "speaking to yourself." The sign of paganism is that it is entertainment -- directed to the flesh and making us "enjoy" it while learning no true doctrine and often learning false doctrine.

If you put the singing first and refuse to teach the inspired Words of the Spirit then you are violating the LAW as totally as it can be violated.

In Acts 1:20 psalmos is the book of Psalms and in Rom. 15: sing is psallo.

"Psallo is best translated by chant,
not sing.
The Greeks sharply distinguish chanting (psalmodia)
from singing (tragoudi).
The first is a sacred activity;
the second (singing), a secular one. In English, unfortunately, the distinction is not sharp.. Constantine Cavarnos

The Proof Passages -- Only Inspired Text is Allowed


For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Matthew 15:9

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, Romans 15:5

so that with one heart and mouth (voice) you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:6

And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. Romans 15:14

Peter included Paul's writings in the Scripture. And ans Paul excludes anything not Scripture from the past he would assuredly exclude anything not Scripture in the future. If Fanny Crosby was not an inspired prophet or apostle then Paul excludes Fanny Crosby as assuredly as he does instruments. Jesus would define His Words because:

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63

Romans 15:4 = Scripture by the Spirit of Christ (1 Pet 1:11)
Ephesians 5:18 = Songs are Spirit
Colossians 3:16 = Songs are Word of Christ

A modern, human-composed song is a defacto-revelation. If everything that was written in the past is not worthy of being used then we glorify the song writer or song leader and not the Lord. We reject the Spirit of Christ when we refuse to sing the Word of Christ: we worship the spirit of the song writer when we sing the word of the song writer. This has ancient, pagan precedent.

The Greek external melody means "to grind to bits." However, the word melody in English just

means single tones in a pleasing sequence.
unison singing would meet the 'law" as chanting or cantillating was used by Jesus.
Singing was always a secular practice.
At least we are consistent: we sing secular song in a secular way.

In the Apocryphal literature, of David it is said:

He placed singers before the altar, to make sweet melody with their voices. Ecclesiasticus 40: 9.

One heart or spirit and one mouth would be fulfilled by unison singing. Among the Classics you would see melody as the poem was chanted with one voice.

There is no remote hint, command, example or inference about harmony which was a distinctly pagan practice because it indicated that the "gods" lived inside the instrument or singer. We may still believe that the many overtones created by "four parts" is, like the organ, capable of making magical changes. The Britannica notes that:

"Although the music of ancient Greece consisted entirely of melodies sung in unison or, in the case of voices of unequal range, at the octave, the term harmony occurs frequently in the writings on music at the time. Source "Harmony was simply a scale type."

"When children sing the ditty found throughout Europe, "It's raining, it's pouring" (g-g-e-a-g-e), they sing a melody that uses a scale of three tones; two intervals are used, a wide one (minor third) and a narrow one (major second).

Ephraim of Syria noted of the mysteries of the kingdom:

It was greater to me than the ark, for I was astonied thereat: I saw therein folds without shadow to them because it was a daughter of light, types vocal without tongues, utterances of mysteries without lips, a silent harp that without voice gave out melodies.

Harmony as we know it invaded churches about the same time as mechanical instruments. Therefore, by any definition, harmony would violate the law. It would violate the intent of the Spirit because you cannot think about "doing your part" and the words at the same time. It would violate the old medical pledge to "do no harm" because harmony can be emotionally damaging. Harmony also had its opponents.

Harmony then stands on the same foundation of sand as mechanical instruments. Church-house lawyers get around the law by just excluding instruments and making everything vocal. As long as we "sang" then we can easily ignore the rest of Paul's teachings.

Is harmony evil? No. It is just that you cannot comprehend a Physics professor if a band is playing in the lecture hall. Harmony is destructive because it creates a drug-high just as surely as if the preacher injected you with morphine or, as one preacher wanted to do, slip LSD into the communion wine.

The Word of Christ is, according to Jesus and Paul, spirit and life. If we supply our own words out of our own spirit, as Paul warned the tongue speakers in Corinth, then we refuse to listen to Christ.

In the Septuagint (LXX) Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs are all Biblical

Psalmos/psalm: 3-9, 11-15, 19-25, 29-31, 38-41, 43-44, 46-51, 62-68, 73, 75-77, 79-85, 87-88, 92, 94, 98-101, 108-110, 139-141, 143

Understanding or wisdom (maschil): 32, 42, 44-45, 52-55, 74, 78, 88- 89, 142

Eumnos/hymn: 6, 54-55, 61, 67, 76

Ode/song: 4, 18, 30, 39, 45, 48, 65-68, 75-76, 83, 87-88, 91-93, 95-96, 108, 120-134

Psalm, hymn and song appear in Psalm 67, 76


And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Ephesians 5:18

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Ephesians 5:19

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Ephesians 5:20

Then all the people together made haste and fell to the ground upon their faces to worship their Lord, the Almighty, God Most High. Ecclesiasticus 50: 17.

And the singers praised him with their voices in sweet and full-toned melody. Ecclesiasticus 50:18.

To be filled with the Spirit is to be filled with the word which is to use "what was written" because Peter said:

Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 1 Peter 1:11

McClintock-Strong identifies the clergy presenter or "song leader" as "the first heresy largely pervading the church."


And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Colossians 3:15

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom;

[If you use the 'word of Fanny Crosby' you have violated one of the clearest commands ever written in the Bible. And if you have to allow Fanny Crosby to chew, digest and regurgite Christ's words then you are showing contempt.

This does not minimize her poetry or her sentiment but sentiment tends to soften rather than to teach.]

teaching and admonishing one another

in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:16

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name (authority) of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians 3:17

Singing secular songs reincarnated as "spiritual songs" have no authority from Lord Jesus. Therefore, such singing is violating the explicit command of v. 17 because Fanny Crosby has no authority from Lord Jesus as a prophet. And it violates the Greek distinction between external speaking (religious) or preaching and singing (secular).


GO to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. James 5:1

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray.
Is any merry? let him sing psalms. James 5:13

Want to have a "weeping and howling" ritual for all of the rich men in the church? No. Didn't think so. How about singing those loud "churchy songs" when many of the assembly are afflicted. Doesn't that violate an explicit law of God? I believe so.

I spoke too soon: saw a TV program with a Mourning Leader!


Jesus wanted Paul to teach what He taught. To that end, "Jesus of Nazareth" would be with Paul as Spirit to "guide him into all truth." Jesus taught what He heard from the Father: to be a faithful "preacher" or "singer" Paul would have to teach what He had heard. Then he demanded that the Colossians teach and admonish with the Word of Christ which they had heard:

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind (spirit) by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled Colossians 1: 21

In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreproveable in his sight: Colossians 1: 22

If ye continue in the faith [the teachings] grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; Colossians 1: 23

Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his bodys sake, which is the church: Colossians 1: 24

Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Colossians 1: 25

Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: Colossians 1: 26

To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Colossians 1: 27

Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Colossians 1: 28

Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. Colossians 1:29

Paul preached and he used the same word in the 'singing' passage. We have no evidence that Paul ever sang a song in his total life.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16

The RESOURCES of speaking or preaching is

Romans: Everything that was written. This was delivered by the Spirit of Christ (1 Peter 1:11)

Ephesians: The Spirit or mind of Christ which is in His Word (John 6:63). That was Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Human compositions cannot be the revelation of the Mind of Christ or Spirit. Therefore, singing human songs repudiates the revelation of the Word.

Colossians: The "Word of Christ" which is Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs which is "everything written" or Spirit or Word. Cutting and pasting the word of Christ and improvizing our own song is not the Word of Christ because no song writer is Christ.

James: The prophets who spoke by the authority of the Lord. Sing Psalms

Paul: To make known the Word of God. The words of men however assembled into a pleasing discourse is not the Word of God. Therefore, it violates the commands of Paul That is the "law."

The Spirit: But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: Jn.15:26

The Spirit of Christ is Jesus Christ Who has received His Post Resurrected state but specificially sent to be both Lord and Christ.

1John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.
        And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father,
        Jesus Christ the righteous:
1John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins:
        and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
1John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
1John 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar,
        and the truth is not in him.
1John 2:5 But whoso keepeth his word,
        in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
1John 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk,
        even as he walked.

Lord Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, Full Deity (Col. 2:9) Did Not Violate The LAW

So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. John 8:28

For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. John 12:49

This is why a primary "worship word" associated with the assembly is to "seek God" through the Word or "give attention to the reading of the Word." We have looked at this concept here.

Jesus hymned a Psalm but he never taught with singing or instruments and in fact repudiated the Jews as "children playing musical games."

The same Disciples of Christ theology which claimed that Paul taught bad theology pervades more conservative churches. The Jubilee and Jubilee-like conferences give vent to the Third Wave or Blackaby view that we get our own "assignment" from God just as Jesus got his.

To claim the right to rebottle and retail the free word of God (Isaiah 55:1f) automatically leads to claiming superiority over Christ. That superiority leads to rejecting what the Father taught and how to say it.

Those whom Jesus fired for taking away the key to knowledge:

The fatal flaw of the Jews was that they wrote their own "sermons" and "songs" and refused to honor the Word of God:

But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? Matthew 15:3

For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. Mark 7:3

Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. Mark 7:13

Couldn't care less! The instrumentalists would say that "Jesus had His dispensation" but now we are in the Spirit dispensation and we can do whatever we please.

The non-instrumentalists would say, "Jesus would not speak anything which had not been revealed" but we are in the Spirit dispensation and we can sing whatever we please. Because His Word has no power we must sermonize it and versify it to give it "revival, fire-breathing power."

There is absolutely no appeal to command, example or inference in modern "singing." Therefore, it is "violating the law" and showing contempt for both the Father and the Son.

The meaning of Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs

In a technical sense Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual songs are the revealed Word of Christ -- if we could inspire our own songs and sermons then Jesus wasted His life! It is called "what is written, Spirit or Word of Christ."

In a historical sense the one mistake the early Catholic church did not make and officially rejected for centuries is the introduction of self-composed or human "inspiration" in its songs. Official councils repudiated it.

With the development of methods of harmony, Psalms were versified and set to tunes but many groups still remain faithful to the Biblical text for its songs.

A psalm or psalmos can be "a sacred ode accompanied with the voice, harp or other instrument." Paul had the option of many instruments but he picked the voice with the melody accompanied by the human heart:

Psalmos (g5568) psal-mos'; from 5567; a set piece of music, i.e. a sacred ode (accompanied with the voice, harp or other instrument; a "psalm"); collect. the book of the Psalms: - psalm. Comp. 5603.

1. The first possibility is that one "makes melody" or psalloed "in the heart" and directs it to God. The Psalms were specifically chanted and memorized so that the "heart" would be so filled to the overflowing with "Spirit" that one sang the Psalm in the heart instead of a "Jello Jingle." Many Jews, Muslims and Christians still do this. This allows the prescribed practice to take place over Sunday lunch.

2. Next, one might vocalize the Psalmos with the human voice. For instance, Paul commands that we "speak" or preach the Psalmos in order to "teach or admonish one another" as well as to "speak to ourselves."

Ask the preacher but he won't allow you to play the harp while he preaches. But, he will when Jesus preaches.

Ask the preacher but he won't allow you to sing four-part harmony while he preaches. But, he will when Jesus preaches.

2. Finally, the Psalmos might be accompanied with the harp or flute. Consistent with Paul's understanding of Hebrew, if melody included literal instruments he was under obligation to specify which instrument. On the contrary, Paul goes even further the other direction and defines literal instruments as carnal or lifeless.

Therefore, no definition of Psalmos demands that songs be "performed" with the voice or harp. The "instrument" is not inherent within the Greek word. Therefore, if we want to "accompany" the Psalmos it is absolutely necessary to define which instrument is to be used: the human voice or a mechanical instrument which Paul defines as "carnal or lifeless." We know that the poems which we call "praises" or Greek "Psalms" were much later appended with a heading which defined how the poem might be chanted to a tune which might be of only five notes.

We are informed that the Jews chanted the prose Hebrew Bible but began chanting the poetic portions after the Return from Captivity.

Early Presbyterian Psalters, by analogy, set the Psalms to metere so that they could be sung with what harmony existed in the 1600s which was not much. Modern psalms, even when performed with an instrument, span a very small range of notes which does not permit the "dog barks" and "water drips" inherent in the discord of modern complex harmony.

Paul's teaching or preaching to one another or pagan singing -- with or without an instrument.

Again, a psalmos is a "sacred ode" which does not include an instrument any more than a Rock tune defines an instrument. This is made clearer by the word ode:

Ode (g5603) o-day'; from 103; a chant or "ode" the gen. term for any words sung; while 5215 denotes espec. a religious metrical composition,

and 5568 still more spec. a Heb. cantillation): - song.

"Psallo is best translated by chant,
not sing.
The Greeks sharply distinguish chanting (psalmodia)
from singing (tragoudi).
The first is a sacred activity;
the second, a secular one.
In English, unfortunately,
the distinction is not sharp.. Constantine Cavarnos

In the religious sense, Paul did not command singing but one-to-one preaching and admonishing one another. The normal teaching method is usually by "speaking" or preaching.

In the secular sense, the goal is not education but entertainment. Therefore, singing is something you do when you are just having fun or trying to "move the worshipers into the presence of God."

The Approved Example of Jesus Christ

One writer notes that in addition to speaking where the Bible speaks we should also "sing where the Bible sings." We claim to "preach Jesus" and this means that we must tell others what Jesus both did and said.

We have approved example of Jesus and the necessary inference for our form of speaking the revealed word.

Paul supplies the absolute command. "Thou are without excuse O man" if you tell others that melody demands instruments.

At the Passover," they did not "psallo" or make melody but chanted a hymn.

This is the "approved example" of Jesus Himself:

And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. Matthew 26:30

Humneo (g5214) hoom-neh'-o; from 5215; to hymn, i.e. sing a religious ode; by impl. to celebrate (God) in song: - sing an hymn (praise unto).

We know without doubt that these hymns were certain Psalms from the book of Psalms. See our notes on the LXX above.

Matthew 26.30 When they had 'hymned" they went out to the Mount of Olives.

I believe that the Latin agrees with the common understanding that "singing was using the normal inflections of the human voice." Especially when you are confessing God the Father by the use of a hymn or prayer which gives HIM the glory. Mature males then and probably now do not agree to get together to appease God with singing.

Matthew 26.30  et hymno dicto exierunt in montem Oliveti

Hymnus , i, m., = humnos, I. a song of praise, a hymn: “hymnus cantus est cum laude Dei,Aug. Enarr. in Psa. 148, 17; Ambros. Expos. Psa. 118, prol. § 3; Lucil. ap. Non. 330, 9; Prud. Cath. 37 praef.; 4, 75: “divinorum scriptor hymnorum, Lact. 4, 8, 14; Vulg. Psa. 60 tit.; id. Matt. 26, 30.

Psalm 60 A teaching poem by David, when he fought with Aram Naharaim and with Aram Zobah, and Joab returned, and killed twelve thousand of Edom in the Valley of Salt.

There is no SINGING TUNEFULLY involved in hymning:

Dīcoto say, tell, mention, relate, affirm, declare, state; to mean, intend (for syn. cf.: for, loquor stands for the Gr. eipein pros tina,
Ontōs , Adv. part. of eimi A. (sum), really, actually, verily, with Verb
Alēth-ēs a^, Dor. ala_thēs , es, (lēthō,
I. Hom., Opposite. pseudēs, in phrases alēthea muthēsasthai, eipein, agoreuein, alēthes enispein
3. of oracles, true, unerring, “alathea mantiōn thōkonPi. P.11.6, cf. S.Ph.993, E.Ion1537; of dreams, A.Th.710. “alēthei logō khrasthaiHdt. 1.14
        Opposite Epos
1. song or lay accompanied by music, 8.91,17.519. b. generally, poetry, even lyrics
        5. celebrate, of poets, “Aiantos bian
Acts 7:38 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:
Romans 3:2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
Hebrews 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
1Peter 4:11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Luke 2.34 and Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which is spoken against.

When Dico is translated SING it never speaks of tunefulness:

Dīco, 4. To describe, relate, sing, celebrate in writing (mostly poet.): “tibi dicere laudes,Tib. 1, 3, 31; so, “laudes Phoebi [Apollo, Abaddon, Apollyon] et Dianae,Hor. C. S. 76: “Dianam,

Laudo, I. to praise, laud, commend, extol, eulogize, approve
1. To pronounce a funeral oration over a person:
3. To praise, compliment, i. e. dismiss with a compliment, leave,
        to adduce, name, quote, cite a person as any thing: sermo
Sermo , ōnis, m. 2. sero, qs. serta, conserta oratio, Of prose as opposed to poetry
b. of verses in a conversational style, To Inculcate
II. Transf., a manner of speaking, mode of expression, language, style, diction, etc. (cf. lingua): 

Being inspired, Paul used the word:

Hymnos (g5215) hoom'-nos; appar. from a simpler (obsol.) form (to celebrate; prob. akin to 103; comp. ); a "hymn" or religious ode (one of the Psalms): - hymn

Ado (g103) ad'-o; a prim. verb; to sing: - sing

The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament .

In the beginning the Jews are said to have chanted the prose history of their people. This was not worship in our sense of the word but education which is the meaning of edification. Later, they added the poetic parts of the Bible.

In the New Testament where Paul "commanded" we know that "the Word of Christ" or "spirit" as well as the terms psalms, hymns and spiritual songs were the inspired Biblical text. Only much later was other parts of the revealed Word added as "songs."

"In the NT there is still no precise differentiation between ode, psalmos, and humnos. e.g., in Col.3:16 or Eph.5:19,

in contrast to a later time, when ode (canticum) came to be used only for biblical songs (apart from the Psalms) used in liturgy.

[Note: this still leaves no authority for non-inspired songs]

"From the NT passages we may gather the following elements in the concept or the Christian ode as also confirmed from other sources.

"a. Odai are the cultic songs of the community. They are not sung by the individual, out by the community gathered for worship.

Of a piece with this is the anonymity or the early authors, as also the attachment to OT tradition. Only in the 2nd century are the authors sometimes mentioned. In the Didascalia, 2, (See Apostolic Constitutions) we can still read:

'It thou desirest hymns, thou hast the Psalms of David."'

"b. The ode is inspired. This is shown by the epithet pneumatikos, though it does indicate more generally its religious character. . . . With the inspiration or hymns is linked their improvisation, e.g., in I C. 14:26 (cr. Acts 4:24); Tert. adv. Marc., 5,b; Apolog. 39,18." (of course, Paul condemned songs which came out of their own "spirit" unless they were inspired prophets)

See our chart of just Singing here.

What Jesus demanded of true worshipers:

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. John 4:23

Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The Lord is his name: Amos 5:8

Seek means to give attention to or worship:

Baqash (h1245) baw-kash'; a prim. root; to search out (by any method, spececially in worship or prayer); by impl. to strive after: - ask, beg, beseech, desire, enquire, get, make inquisition, procure, (make) request, require, seek (for).

Paul told Timothy to do the same thing:

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 1 tim 4:13

Give attendance is a "worship" word:

Prosecho (g4337) pros-ekh'-o; from 4314 and 2192; (fig.) to hold the mind (3563 impl.) towards, i.e. pay attention to, be cautious about, apply oneself to, adhere to: - (give) attend (-ance, - ance at, -ance to, unto), beware, be given to, give (take) heed (to, unto) have regard.

Using a "musical" term, the Psalmist noted that:

I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah. Ps.77:3

I call (Mention, burn incense) to remembrance my song (h5058) in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search. Psalm 77:6

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." John 4:24

With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Isaiah 26:9

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye (1) take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the 2) day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 2 Peter 1: 19

What was the Spirit resource for worship according to Jesus:

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63 I

Ask the preacher but he won't allow you to sing four-part harmony while he preaches. But, he will when Jesus preaches.

There is no command, example or inference to "sing" as an act of worship.

On the contrary, the LAW is not to sing but to teach in the same way Paul preached.

We preach or teach by speaking the revealed Word of Christ. We add to or subtract when we sing instead of preach or teach and use the modern invention of harmony or instruments. Not even Jesus or Paul would invent their own message. When Paul's words didn't work he resolved to preach only what Christ had taught him

The RESULT is that people are taught and admonished or warned but not made to feel good. Those who sell the "spiritual feeling" or entertainment are just drug pushers who "see godliness as a means of financial gain."

The RESULT of the LAW (if you will have one) is "singing and melody" and are internal as "worship in Spirit and truth." Many early groups practiced "silent singing" and Philo saw some value to external singing but held that internal singing or meditating was the spiritual ideal.

Not a single "poem" in the blue book or red book are "spiritual" or "gospel songs." They are all sentimental poetry often by people who felt sorry for themselves and the "spiritual" feeling induced is more often that of self pity or just sentimentality. Not a one of them is inspired. Therefore, whether it is sin or not who can tell but the modern "Jubilee-like" praise book totally violates the commanded resource, method and purpose of Paul's message.

Because the songs and sermons and prayers came out of the Corinthian's own spirit their "assemblies did more harm than good" (1 Cor 11:17NIV) and the watching unbelievers saw the whole performance (with or without instruments) as a form of madness.

If Pavoratti comes into your church and says: "I see that you are all singing opera" you are to take that as ridicule and not a compliment because he, like Paul, is thinking, "but you don't all have the gift, do you?" And so the watching world will have their "fires" quenched and go away.

Remember that the total validation or affirmation which the non-evangelist preacher receives is to get you to dance to his tune. They tried that on Jesus and even death on the cross was preferable. He can often recite the words of Scripture but doesn't have a clue about the "spirit" contained therein. Because he refuses to listen to the Word he will not and perhaps cannot change. Therefore, you will have to do what is in your heart even if failure to keep the jots and tittles of the preacher's laws means that they refuse to help the widows and orphans. If you follow the rules to get the help you will sell your soul and just encourage the evil.

Singing with the instrument when the people come together to learn would be a sin because it puts drug-induced feelings over the Word of Jesus Christ. At the same time singing without instruments but singing our own sentimental, effeminizing poetry accomplishes the same purpose of telling Jesus like the Jews told the prophets: "We don't want to hear any more from God."

Jesus quotes Isaiah to warn about self-composed songs and sermons:

Ye hypocrites (actor, stage player), well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, Matthew 15:7

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. Matthew 15:8

But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Matthew 15:9

But he answered and said, Every plant (doctrine), which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Matthew 15:13

Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Matthew 15:14

But what does this mean? Simple, Jesus says, if the doctrine comes out of the mind and mouth of a human teacher which has not been put there by the Spirit of God it is defiled and will deffile all who listen to him.

Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and

speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the Lord. Ezek 33:30

And they come unto thee as the people cometh,

and they sit before thee as my people,
and they hear thy words,
        but they will not do them:

for with their mouth they shew much love,
        but their heart goeth after their covetousness. Ezek 33:31

And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song
        of one that hath a pleasant voice,
        and can play well on an instrument:
for they hear thy words,
        but they do them not. Ezek 33:32

And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them. Ezek 33:33

But how can we not be concerned when we see these agents blathering out of their mind to impress "fools who love to be fooled?" It seems difficult to grasp but Jesus seems to say that people get what they deserve because if they loved the truth they would have fled long ago.

Unfortunately the extreme of trying to lead the worshipers into the presence of the gods with instruments like all ancient pagans, gets its "authority" primarily from the other extreme of violating every command, example and inference about singing in the inspired Word.

Kenneth Sublett

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