"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
The theme of the epistle of Paul to the Philippians is joy in Christ. There is no doubt that Paul was an example of joy in Christ as he faced the trials of his life; he could “do all things through Christ” who strengthened him (Phil. 4:13). We, like the Philippians, should follow his example (Phil. 4:9).
But like any of us today, Paul had to learn the contentment and joy that defined his life. And, like us, Paul needed encouragement. He was a prisoner in Rome due to persecution by faithless Jews and men-pleasing politicians; he was misrepresented by brethren whose selfish ambition engendered envy and strife rather than goodwill; and some of his fellow workers were divided in spirit where oneness of mind should have prevailed.
Listen to Paul as he teaches the Philippians saints what would truly encourage him:
“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:1-4)
Notice the blessings that are found in Christ: consolation (encouragement), comfort, fellowship, affection and mercy (v. 1). These are real spiritual blessings we have in Christ. Joy is made complete (“fulfilled”) when brethren are united in Christ: “…fulfill my joy by being likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind,” v. 2). Thus, we correctly conclude that unity is an encouragement to God’s people, but division produces discouragement, doubt and disarray (Eph. 4:1-6; 1 Cor. 1:10-11; 11:18-19; 1 Tim. 6:3-5; 2 Tim. 2:14-18).
Unity with its corresponding ability to encourage will not exist unless and until we eliminate pride from our hearts (see Phil. 2:3-4). Acting out of “selfish ambition” and “conceit” prevents unity and keeps us from encouraging others. This is true at school, on the job, in the home and in the church. The humble heart is not selfish; it thinks of others instead of itself. When our hearts are humble we become great sources of encouragement and joy to others. But, when selfishness reigns in our heart, the needs of others (including the need for encouragement) remain unfulfilled. With the humility of Jesus Christ as our guidepost may we “look out not only for (our) own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4-5).
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 men to approach Him in worship as He prescribes and not upon the basis of human ingenuity (Gen. 4:1-8; Heb. 11:4). The priests Nadab and Abihu were devoured by fire from God because they did not offer the fire God had commanded (Lev.10:1-2). Other Old Testament examples show God’s insistence upon man worshiping according to His stated will (1 Kgs. 12:25-13:6; 2 Kgs. 17:16-18).
Jesus taught the very 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 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; men introduced it. It is true that worship at the temple during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah included the use of mechanical instruments of music (2 Chron. 29:25). The instrumentalist appeals to that practice to legitimize the use of instrumental music today. He would 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 under the Law of Moses obligates one to take all of its worship according to Galatians 3:10 and 5:3, something the instrumentalist is unwilling to do. His use of Old Testament passages that approve the use of instrumental music in worship do 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 not playing as acceptable music in worship.
History shows the use of instrumental music in the worship of the church resulted from men’s additions and 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.” (Psalm 33, Calvin’s Commentaries)
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)
Such citations could be multiplied but space prohibits it. The point is made; 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, man introduced, approved and advanced its use in worship, not Jesus Christ.
We urge a return to the simplicity purity of New Testament worship. We urge using the music commanded by Christ through His apostles; singing. Vocal music honors God; instruments of 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?
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 2:1-4
Devil tempts Christians with wrong thinking about being a Christian, like:
“Why should I bother?” “What is the point?” “What difference does it
I. SALVATION, Lk. 19:10; Acts 4:12.
is a Superior Salvation, Heb. 2:3 (Heb. 1:4-14; Gal. 3:19; Acts 7:53; Gal.
3:18, 21); 10:1-4.
II. HOW SHALL WE ESCAPE…
We Neglect our Great Salvation? Heb. 2:3.
escape if we neglect our great salvation:
The United Nations Security Council has demanded that Iran, a member state of the U.N., cease its enrichment of uranium by Friday, April 28. Iranian President Ahmadinejad said Thursday that his nation would continue to enrich uranium and not bow to international pressures. Also on Thursday U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said it was “highly unlikely” that Iran would comply with current U.N. demands, noting that Iran’s refusal to comply with U.N. demands will test the credibility of the U.N. Rice observed, “It goes without saying that the United States believes that, in order to be credible, the U.N. Security Council, of course, has to act” (“UN must be ready to act on Iran: Rice,” today.reuters.com/news).
This battle of wills reminds me of what goes on between parents and children. When a child openly defies his parents’ will the credibility of the parents’ authority or right to rule is at stake. And be assured, children do test the credibility of their parents (“Will mom and dad really punish me if I don’t do what they say?”) Whose authority will rule in the home; the parents’ or the child’s? When a child throws a tantrum to “get his way” and parents give him his way to “avoid a problem” instead of punishing as promised, the child quickly learns that he or she is really the one in charge.
Such credibility can be regained, but not easily. Authority has to be reestablished; once rule is handed over to a child it is reluctantly relinquished. The child must know the rules and know he or she will be punished if the rule is disobeyed. Then when it is, the child must be punished. Parents must be consistent in their discipline so the child knows he will be punished when he (or she) disobeys (cf. Eccl. 8:11).
“He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Prov. 13:24; see 3:11-12).
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA