Instrumental Music in Worship to God
Why do we sing? What is the purpose God intended for our singing? I would like to look at the three following passages Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16 and James 5:13. First in James 5:13, there is a statement about singing included with some other closing statements made by the author. "Is any among you suffering? Let him pray! Is any cheerful? Let him SING". Therefore, the first purpose or reason one would sing would be because they were happy or cheerful. Next in Colossians 3:16, the scriptures give us some more reasons to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. These reasons are to teach each other and admonish each other. In the first part of the verse, we are told we should let the words of Christ dwell in us. Then we see the reason we sing is to teach each other the word of Christ. It is also the word of Christ we should use to admonish one another. The word "admonish" means to "remind or warn". Therefore, we learn here that our singing should be for the purpose of teaching the word of Christ and reminding/warning people of the word of Christ. The last passage I can find which speaks of the purpose of singing is Ephesians 5:19. This passage says, "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." I really don't find any purpose in additions to those pointed out in Colossians 3:16. So to review, the purpose we sing would be because we are cheerful, or to teach and admonish our fellow Christians.
Now that we know the purposes we should sing, the next step is to ask the question at hand? How should we sing? Now we can explore the use of instruments in our music. Let me start my saying there isn't a passage, which condemns the use of an instrument in our singing psalms, hymns or spiritual songs. However, there are passages, which tell us how we should sing. Our goal should be to please God. Colossians 3:17 tells us that whatever we do in word or deed we should do everything in the name (or authority) of the Lord. God has revealed to us in His Word how we can please him. Therefore if the Scriptures instructs us how we should sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, then we are excluded from singing any other way than that which has been revealed in Scripture. So let us look at the following two passages again Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. Ephesians 5:19 begins, "speaking to one another". This obviously is the use of the voice. Next in the verse we are told to sing and make melody with our hearts. In this passage there is no mention of anything outside the body and spirit of the person doing the singing. The song is to come from the voice and the melody is to come from the heart. Likewise in Colossians 3:16, we are told to sing (use of the voice) with grace in our heart unto God. Once again, all of the elements of the singing in this verse are of the body and the spirit of the person. So I hope these passages have affirmed the fact that adding an instrument of music to our singing would be adding to the word of God. Not because God has forbidden it, but because he told us to do it a different way.
The last question is whether there is a difference between singing in a worship service when all of the Christians of a local congregation come together and singing in a gathering of a few Christians in someone's home. Well if you agree the two verses above teach we should sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs without the use of instruments, I would ask you if the context of the verses are instructions for a assembly of the local congregation? The context of Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19 are instructions to individual Christians. Therefore, the lessons taught in these passages apply anytime a Christian is singing pslams, hymns and spiritual songs whether in their home, at a small gatherings at a brother or sister's home, or in the assembly of the saints together.