Summary: The 1st century Christians rejected the use of manmade instruments of music in their worship to God. The reason they did so was the same reason why they rejected animal sacrifices and other elements of the old law. This sermon examines this in detail.
Why New Testament Christians Reject the Use of Mechanical Instruments of Music
There’s a general attitude building among the Lord’s church about mechanical instruments of music that tends to be a bit fuzzy. We are seeing a number of large congregations that are making a switch to include instrumental music services. They think it’s not that critical, that it’s not that big of a deal. When this shift in attitude is characterized in one generation, then the practice is sure to follow in the next. This is a subject that is important.
We teach and rightfully so that the commandment to sing is a specific command and not general thus prohibiting the use of MIM. We teach and rightfully so that we are not to go beyond, adding to or taking away from what is written and that the use of MIM is not authorized. We teach and rightfully so that the first century Christians rejected their use and continued to do so for about 700 years after Christ. And these reasons in and of themselves are enough to reject their use in our worship to God.
What we don’t often teach is the reason why they were rejected and forbidden. What is it about them that makes them unsuitable? What is it about their use that makes them so wrong? Why did our first century Brethren utterly reject their use and continue to do so for so many centuries?
Many people say they are authorized because they are used in the OT. Yes they were used in the OT but so was animal sacrifice. We don’t see anybody slitting the throats of lambs and splashing blood on an alter now do we? Or burning incense in a brazier in front of the veil in the temple. We are going to approach this topic from the historical use of them in OT worship and examine why, where and for what they were used and then make some applications to our worship today and we will see conclusively why it is so very important their use is rejected from our worship today.
Please read the text from 2 Chronicles 29:20-31
20 Then Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of the LORD.
21 And they brought seven bullocks, and seven rams, and seven lambs, and seven he goats, for a sin offering for the kingdom, and for the sanctuary, and for Judah. And he commanded the priests the sons of Aaron to offer them on the altar of the LORD.
22 So they killed the bullocks, and the priests received the blood, and sprinkled it on the altar: likewise, when they had killed the rams, they sprinkled the blood upon the altar: they killed also the lambs, and they sprinkled the blood upon the altar.
23 And they brought forth the he goats for the sin offering before the king and the congregation; and they laid their hands upon them:
24 And the priests killed them, and they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for all Israel: for the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering should be made for all Israel.
25 And he set the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king's seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of the LORD by his prophets.
26 And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets.
27 And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the LORD began also with the trumpets, and with the instruments ordained by David king of Israel.
28 And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished.
29 And when they had made an end of offering, the king and all that were present with him bowed themselves, and worshipped.
30 Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the LORD with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped.
31 Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the LORD, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the LORD. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart burnt offerings.
I think it’s important when we study this particular subject and begin to put the historical context to it, that the New Testament practice of worship in song is proof that the atonement for our sins has been paid. Our singing and practice of worship without MIM has everything to do with the cross of Jesus Christ. The popular argument, and rightfully so, is the silence of the New Testament scriptures. But this lesson will show that when we look at the Biblical, historical context of MIM, it will come alive to you that it is an evident token of proof that the atonement for our sins has been paid.