Thursday, April 28, 2011

Concerning Instrumental Music...

“Now all of you together become a choir so that being harmoniously in concord and receiving the key note from God in unison you may sing with one voice through Jesus Christ to the Father”                
-Ignatius (110 A.D.)
“The use of singing with instrumental music was not received in the Christian churches, as it was among the Jews in their infant state, but only the use of plain song”                                              
-Justin Martyr (139 AD)
“Psalmody was the joint act of the whole assembly in unison.”
-Hillary(355 A.D.)
“It was the ancient custom, as it is still with us, for all to come together, and unitedly to join in singing.  The young, and the old, rich and poor, male and female, bond and free, all join in one song…All worldly distinctions here cease, and the whole congregation form one general chorus.”
-Chrysostom (349–407 A.D.)
“Though Presbyterian churches have decided to permit the use of organs, yet seeing the apostolic church did not use any musical instruments its practice is of more weight in the matter than all the modern churches in Christendom.  Indeed such instruments were not introduced into the church before the seventh century, when it became very corrupt, because it had greatly departed from the simplicity of the gospel.  It is only within this present century that Presbyterian, Congregational, Baptist and Methodist churches began to follow this sensuous practice.  The supposed unanimity in this matter is of too short duration to have much reasonable weight.”                                  
-D.B. Cameron, Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Vol. 1:517, Toronto: Presbyterian Printing and Publishing Co. Ltd. 1889.
“I am an old man and an old minister, and I here declare that I have never known instrumental music to be productive of any good in worship of God, and have reason to believe it has been productive of much evil”     
-Adam Clark (Methodist, and commentator)
“I would as soon as to pray to God with machinery as to sing to God with machinery”
-Charles Spurgeon (preached for the largest Baptist church in England)
“I have no objections to instruments of music in our chapels, provided they are neither seen nor heard!”                                                                                                                    -John Wesley (founder of the Methodist church)
“Musical Instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting of lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the Law”
-John Calvin (Founder of Presbyterianism)
“The organ in worship of God is an ensign of Baal”
-Martin Luther (founder of the Lutheran church)
“The organ is said to have been first introduced into the church music by Pope Vitalian I in 667 AD”
(Chamber’s Encyclopedia)

While our complete concern is not what the majority may or may not believe about a certain subject, it is certainly interesting to note that religious leaders since the 1st century have been convinced that instrumental music in worship was absolutely wrong.  Neither the majority, nor the minority make a thing right or wrong, but rather the authority (standard or rule) by which all are judged (John 12:48; Phil. 3:16; Col. 3:17).
What authority does Christ give concerning our music in worship?  Let his word stand alone as the sole judge:
“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19).
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16).
“What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also” (1 Cor. 14:15).
These are just a few verses, not all, that teach us about music in worship as produced by the voice.  No verses are found in the New Testament, which authorize such use for the 1st Century, nor for the 21st Century.  It is also interesting to note that while instruments were used in Temple worship, they were not used in synagogue worship.  The early church worshipped in that same setting often and according to that pattern according to the New Testament.
~Wayne Rodgers

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Optional or Necessary?

Many denominations teach that baptism is an optional matter, which in no way affects our eternal destiny. One of the world’s largest denominations, which amazingly use a form of “baptism” for their name, teaches that baptism is not essential for salvation, but is necessary for getting into their denomination.  Thus, according to their own doctrine, it is easier to “get saved,” than it is to become a member of their denomination. Strange, isn’t it?

However, the definitive answer to our headline question is not what any religious group teaches, but what does God’s Word teach?  Since God’s Word will be the standard of judgment at the last day (Jn. 12:48), we ought to pay careful attention to what the following Scriptures teach:

Mark 16:16 - "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved…"
Acts 2:38 - "…Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…"
Acts 22:16 - "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."
Galatians 3:27 - "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."
Romans 6:3-4 - “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
I Peter 3:21 - "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:"
According to these passages, baptism is necessary in order to be saved, to have our sins remitted, to wash away our sins, to get into Christ, to put on Christ, and to answer God with a good conscience. How could it be any clearer than that?  You literally would have to have help to miss the point that baptism is an essential element of salvation according to the teaching of the Gospel.  To those who truly love God and want to “keep his commandments,” this is certainly not even an issue.  What will you do in response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ? 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Love Perfected

"for God is LOVE"
I love studying the book of First John.  For in it, we see a correlation between the love of God and the love we are to have for our brethren.  In chapter four, John wrote: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.  In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.  No man hath seen God at any time.  If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:7-12)
He has shown His love, “he loved us, and sent his Son…for our sins” (v. 10).  The apostle Paul would say to the Romans, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).  Conditioned by our “walking in the light” (v. 7), He shows His love to us by a continued forgiveness of sins, as stated by John: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).  The idea of forgiveness is one that is pleasing to the spiritual and emotional side of man.  Obviously, the spiritual side of man is pleased because his soul has been cleansed from sin, and the emotional side of man is pleased to know and have assurance that he has been forgiven of the sin against him and the guilt which it has brought.  Therefore, He now treats us as righteous.
The love for our brethren is to be shown as well.  John writes, “If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (4:11).  This is the same type of love that God had for us, which brings about forgiveness.  Only true love can allow one to forgive a wrong done against them and let it be as if it has never happened.  This is the idea of true forgiveness.  Our relationships with our brethren are so important for the work of Christ.  John writes in his gospel, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34, 35).  This love is to be a recognizable trait in the body of Christ to the world around us.  If we are living righteously, then we will show love to one another causing us to forgive one another as God has forgiven us.  “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses” (Matt. 18:35)
We can have assurance of eternal salvation in Christ Jesus, if we meet these conditions:  being born of God (5:1), walking in the light (1:7), doing His commands (2:3), loving God and loving our brethren (4:20-21).  The apostle Peter stated it very simply: “…Love the brotherhood…” (1 Peter 2:17).  Let us remember the correlation between the love of God and our love to one another.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Who Reads The Labels, Anyway?

How many have misread a label?  How many have failed even to read the label on a product?  There is a story of a lady who put super glue in her eyes thinking it was eye drops.  Fortunately, she quickly received proper medical treatment and her eyes were saved.  She attributed the mishap to “not reading the label.” 

Smart shoppers will always read labels and know how to get the most for their purchases.  In making legal transactions, we should always read the contracts.  When administering medicine to self or children, of course, we should read the labels, so as not to overdose or mix with another medicine that might be in the precaution lists. 

Spiritually, let us notice some results of “reading” the Bible:

When Paul was on his second missionary journey from Antioch, he preached in a synagogue of the Jews at Berea.  The Bereans were a receptive audience.  Notice the commendation they receive by Luke: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11, emphasis W.R.).  Their nobility was because of their paying attention to the detail and studying the Scriptures.  This led many to obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Just as with medicines, food labels, and contacts, spiritually, the apostle Paul explains how simple and important it is to “read the label: “Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:4).  At closer look at the context around verse 4, we will notice that God revealed something that had previously been a mystery (hidden) in other ages.  Now God, through Paul, was making known this mystery to all mankind.  We have it written for us with the expectation that we would understand it and attain the proper knowledge from it.  

Simply put, by reading the Bible, one may come to know everything, which God has revealed and confirmed (2 Peter 1:3, 21-22).  We should become accustomed to using the phrase, “What saith the scripture” (Galatians 4:30).   We can “read the label” and know exactly what God expects of us.  As we read every fact, command, and promise of God, our faith is built and has a sure foundation (Romans 10:17; 2 Timothy 2:19)

Christianity is a taught religion.  We must have knowledge of the truth, if it is to be obeyed (1 Peter 1:22).  Let us resolve to learn the Word of God and live by its teachings.  Read the label.