A friend of mine, who belongs to a non-instrumental church of Christ, asked me to make a case for mechanical instruments in worship–you know, the use of guitars, pianos, and the like. Here is my brief reply.
1. In the Old Testament, we find the people of God using instrumental music to praise God in worship. For example, in 2 Chronicles 29:25-28, we find not only singing but the use of all kinds of mechanical instruments in worship to God (Psalm 150:1-6).
2. Some churches have argued that this is the Old Testament and therefore not relevant and applicable to the New Testament Church. This, however, is a failure to understand the broader scope of Scripture and the move of redemptive history.
3. While it is true that we do not find the NT Church using mechanical instruments in worship, we also need to keep in mind how and where the NT Church was birth. For Jesus and his early followers, Judaism was their religion. Judaism was the established religion. The Church was birth out of this. It was new and in its infant stage and expanding to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). So all the details of how to worship and what to use in worship were not at the forefront. A person only needs to read the Letters of Paul to discover what were the issues confronting the early church at the time.
4. The New Testament does not forbid the use of mechanical use of instruments in worship. Rather, what we find is the New Testament saying, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4 ESV). The Old Testament is therefore for “our instruction.” It can instruct us in the finer details of how to worship. Let us not forget that the Old Testament was the Bible of Jesus and the early church.
5. Note also, that if the use of mechanical instruments in worship were strictly forbidden, WHY do we find them in heaven being used in praise and worship before Almighty God (Rev. 5:8; 14:2-3; 15:2-3)? Someone might object and say that the book of Revelation is symbolic and therefore not a good reference point to justify the use of mechanical instruments in worship. REALLY? Symbolic or not, the very fact that they are mentioned is instructive in itself. WHY? Because in Old Testament worship, they were used in worship to God and as such, honored God. Now at the other end of the spectrum, we find them being used to praise and worship God in heaven.
What do you think?